When the Unexpected Happens

I have several blog ideas stewing in my mind, some with notes, some without.  Yet, I cannot complete any of them today because life has happened and taken an unexpected turn.  My friend, Amy, had a seizure last Thursday.  It was the second major seizure she’s had in her lifetime.  The first happened six years ago, when she discovered she had a stage 3 brain tumor.  Monday she found out she has an inoperable, aggressive tumor — grade to be determined on April 1st when she has surgery.

Unlike the last prognosis where the doctors were hopeful to eliminate almost all of the tumor, the latest is that they will be eliminating about 20% of the tumor to not ultimately save her life in the short run, but to buy her time, months.  Six years of clear MRI scans, and now the latest scan showing a massive tumor that has grown in four months, has brought about incredible disorientation.  It’s difficult not to be in a place of despair.

So, I’ve despaired.  I’ve pleaded for time.  I’ve felt rage and anger.  I’ve reflected on the what ifs, the possible what-could-have-been-dones.  And then yesterday, I’ve felt hope.  I believe my hope is substantiated, not in science but in God.  I don’t feel like I’m just making a despairing situation, hopeful.  (I may be I am because of shock or denial or a mixture of both — I’m open to that.)  But, I’ve also found real hope in the God of history who rescued a group of people faced with death many times — the Jews.  In my meditation time, a very specific time came to mind.  It was genocide approved with no chance of it being reversed.  This story, Esther’s, reveals to us a time in Ancient Persia where Haman, intent on acting out his envy and revenge towards an entire people group, the Jews, convinces King Xerxes to charge all Jews as enemies.  After about a year’s time, all Jews were to be put to death.  In that historical period, once a King sends out a proclamation, HE CANNOT TAKE IT BACK.  He cannot say, I made a mistake there will be no annihilation.  It must be carried out.  That is, until Queen Esther, a Jew, dares to go before the King (whom he hasn’t called for 30 days and has the possibility of being immediately put to death for initiating contact without his summons) and asks him to dinner.  She proceeds to ask him and have him accept her dinner invitation two more times until she fills him with what he has allowed to be decreed.  A bit more happens and essentially, King Xerxes pronounces that the Jews can now defend themselves and thus, none of the Persians pursued annihilation.  This shortened version doesn’t really do justice to the story of the tremendous hurdles these men and women of this story had to make.  Time and time again, it seemed as if there was no hope and that the Jews would be annihilated.  Yet, God delivered them.

It is this same God who delivered his people that has caused me to hold onto hope.  It’s not a radical hope that would hope in the disappearance of the tumor altogether.  I haven’t found I possess that kind of hope — too much of a scientific in me.  But it’s a bit hope based on renewal and redemption.  God coming down in the present in the form of doctors, medicine and His people that I hold onto my hope.  I’m praying for an annihilation, an annihilation of the tumor.  I’m praying that radiation and chemotherapy will destroy the inoperable tumor just as it killed the octopus legs that were left in her brain six years ago.  I’m praying for time.  Time to see her youngest go to Kindergarten.  Time to see her son and daughter graduate high school.  Time in the form of years, not months.

I believe in a God who parted the Red Sea.  I believe in a God who turned water into wine (and not just a little).  I believe in a God who saw the trouble of the world and became troubled Himself.  So he sent, not someone else, but His Son.  To be crucified, hung on a tree — given a death worthy only for thieves.  This God, rose Him from the dead three days later and He is now seated on the right hand of the throne with His Father.

Essentially, I believe that whatever the outcome, God is here, present, as he’s been for all of time.

Would you join me in holding Amy and the Jensen family in your prayers?


I would describe my current state as near a proverbial collapse state.  Interrupted sleep for three nights in a row, along with the “springing forward” has worn me down.  I’ve run out of patience.  Joy has been blocked by my stress.  Gratitude has taken a backseat to envy and “if onlys.”   And my pride is on all time alert as we kick of March Madness.  It’s as if my self-worth hinges on testosterone filled late adolescents’ ability to put a round ball through a hop AND my psychic abilities to predict WHICH group of them will prevail on any given day.  No wonder I’m near collapse!  As I confessed in my last post, I need like to win.   I can’t help envy the days when I was able to ditch all my responsibilities to watch the excitement of the basketball games.  Now, I try to sneak glances wherever I can but I’ve reframed from downloading the app on my iphone because as I’ve said in my first sentence, I’m beyond filled up – projects need to be finished before stress levels will decline.  Blogging happens to be a great way for relieving stress for me and since Eden is in science class I have a few minutes to share what’s been on my mind.

Recently, I watched the documentary, Chimpanzee, with my children.  I’ll admit I have ambiguous feelings towards Disney because of the consumerism connected with their movies.  But I’ll admit that Disney consistently produces quality and this movie was no exception — it was beautifully done.  If you haven’t seen it and want to, I’m about to SPOIL it so skip to the end.  SPOILER ALERT — STOP  READING AND GO TO LAST PARAGRAPH We were all heart broken when Oscar’s Mom died.  But seeing him rejected and basically left to die himself by his community was even more devastating.  No one helped AND THEY COULD.  My only hope became my knowledge that Disney wouldn’t leave us in despair (it’s a kid’s movie after all!) so it was with anticipation I waited for a reversal of fortune.  Disney didn’t disappoint but I wonder if any of us expected the redeemer to be Freddy, the leader of the community.  This dominant male was his most unlikely candidate to take him in, yet he did.

Several things hit home.  Disney isn’t the only one who never leaves us to despair, God doesn’t either.  He promises to never leave us nor forsake us and He doesn’t, no matter what the circumstance.  Even when it feels like He has left us, He hasn’t.  Why do I know this?  He has never broken a promise.  Secondly, God often feels like the most unlikely candidate to take me in.  He is the maker and creator of the heavens and the earth.  Yet he says I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.  He knows every HAIR on my head.  He calls himself a shepherd who leaves no sheep behind.  He tells us that Jesus sits at the right hand throne intervening in prayer for us.  He is the most unlikely candidate, yet he “grooms us, cares for us, teaches us, and lets us catch a ride on His back.”  We know we are one of His by the way he attends to us, just like Freddy had loyalty from his community by pouring into them.  I’ve definitely had times in my life where I did not feel cared for by God.  I’ve felt deceived by God about certain decisions I’ve made when I felt like he didn’t reveal to me other ways.  Now, I’ve come to realize that it isn’t as easy to tell what’s on Him and what’s on my own sinful nature of wanting to do things my way.  I’ve come to realize that despite all the misgivings in my heart towards God, that he counts me as one of His own.  Besides rejecting Him, there is nothing I can do to cause Him to leave me and I find great comfort in that reality.

Third, I was reminded that unity is greater than strength and numbers.  Unity is far more powerful than individual strength.  It’s so hard to remember that in moments of challenge and pain because in these moments, I want to rise to the occasion.  More accurately, I want to get rid of the pain.  So I barrel forth, impulsively at times, trying to overthrow the challenge in front of me rather than gathering my supports, getting people on board and moving together.

Finally, I observed an intense loyalty and trust the community of chimpanzees had on their leader.  They were willing to die for him and more clear, he was willing to die for them.  He led them on the attack.  He went after the toughest attackers.  He was committed to defending his community’s land to the death.  I hope that should my trust ever be tested, that I trust in God.  I hope that I have written on my heart, not even death can separate me from the love of God and from that love I fearlessly attack that which tries to separate me from the “land of milk and honey.”  Now I’ve been in some spiritual deserts, which makes it difficult to imagine God taking me to green pastures and a more fulfilling place.  In my experience, time and time again I’ve come out of that desert experiencing the richness and fullness of life and that feels like green pastures.  There is something to be said about serving a God who exists fearlessly – sacrificing His Son and loving me in my sinful existence, especially when I’ve repeated failure (and will continue to do so) to love Him in return.

I’m grateful for the awareness that I need others.  I’ve recently been struggling to get to my 6 am workout because I’m not a morning person to begin with and every year the time spring change messes with my internal clock.  So, I’ve asked a person to keep me accountable to get up because I must.  It’s awful and I can’t do it alone.  I need support in using kind and gentle tones with those around me because no one likes to be talked too with condemnation or anger.  My husband and children let me know when I’ve crossed the line.  I’m writing a book and I’ve let others know so they can encourage me and ask me directly if I’m putting in the time.  I’ve also been privileged to ask others how they are doing and encourage them in specific things they’ve shared with me.  My hope for this blog is that we can encourage one another and be known, feeling unified in nothing more than our desire to live well and be present.  And if you find yourself fighting your own fight, may you find others, maybe even through the blogging community, that will be with you so you’re not alone.



Skills and Trash Talk

I can’t help it, I’m obnoxiously competitive.  It’s like I have some genetic impulses, which “rise to the occasion” when I smell the possibility of winning some THING.  The winning for pride’s sake thing is a bit beyond me.  I want GOODS.  Last year at this time, I won an iPad3 from a fitness company, EPIC, in their “transformation challenge” where you had to lose body fat, gain strength and gain quickness.  While, I never smack-talked any of the gals I was competing against (I do have some self-control), I just couldn’t help chanting phrases to the guys like, “I’m going to win, I’m going to win” while doing handstand push-ups or sprinting up Signal Hill.  I was THRILLED to win the iPad but sad to end the smack talking.  The every day gym environment is not a smack talking one and please, it gets obnoxious!

With that said, I did find one flower in the desert, one gem in the rocks – all metaphorically speaking of course.  The past week at workout, I was blessed with a impromptu foot quickness, agility challenge by one of the coaches, which I won (of course!).  I couldn’t help but scream with delight, “you’re falling behind, come on, come on!”  How obnoxious, I know.  It’s like it’s not even me in my head.  Words and thoughts just pop out without filter.  I feel no self-consciousness.  There is no “put yourself in their shoes” pauses before I speak.  Out it rolls, whatever verbal jousts I can throw.  You will be happy to know I’ve yet to smack talk my children. I’m well aware they’ll need too many therapy sessions for other things, why add another thing to the mix.

I also don’t gloat.  And maybe this is a prideful post or maybe it’s a post that I’m sharing my strengths since I’ve been willing to share vulnerabilities.  Trash talking isn’t something I put on my resume but believe me, I’D LOVE TOO!!!!  I can be that good.  When I played basketball in Venice Beach on Saturdays during my college years, I found myself in several situations where men really wanted to hit me.  While we all know words can hurt, I quickly learned words can lead to fights in a basketball game, especially if I’m giving the person “a clinic” during the game.  (Remember, I don’t gloat.)  So, in that environment, I sadly turned off the smack talking lest my male friends fail to rescue me one more time for an “in your face type of guy.”  Now, I can be a good sport.  I played college basketball and I DID NOT smack talk the other team.  I let my skills do the talking.  Maybe that’s why I couldn’t help it in so many other situations, I WANTED to be one of those smack talkers but loved sweet talking the referrees more (and they as a rule do not like smack talkers.)  Lastly I’d like to point out, I’m a good sport, except if you are smack talking me and winning, then I’ll be pointing out this and that character trait that makes you a loser.  I’m kidding!  Well, except when I’m getting beat by my husband….

You may be wondering if this post is a trip down memory lane, a confession about my character impulse control problems, or about something more important that I’ve yet to mention.  I won’t keep you waiting for long.  This post is about MARCH MADNESS!!!!  March Madness is the most thrilling, adrenaline rushing, smack talking event OF THE YEAR.  It’s like all my pent up smack-talking impulses get saved for this epic event…the road to the finals!  Not everyone loves my gifts of smack-talking, I’ve gotten kicked out of pools because I’m too obnoxious (that, and I won, by a lot, against a bunch of guys, that’s a story for another time).  After that, I decided only my extended family can really appreciate my brilliance in smack talking so I’ve subjected blessed them with my presence.

Here are a couple of samplings from over the years,

“So the only exciting race in this bracket is to see if Brian can upstage me and Bryce by beating us by one and two points….I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight worrying about being upstaged by such a pathetic loser.  Did I mention I was doing an envy talk tomorrow?  Offer still stands if you need those notes….if not because of me, then because of the brilliantly minded man I married who is claiming to be “at one” with God in his picks, fulfilling God’s calling in his life. 

Anyone want to visit us soon?”

And then another…

Oh please, I have to let you all win sometimes or you wouldn’t play with me
ever again.  I heard all the complaints from the first year and knew I had
to give you all a chance.  Example, beating Brian in basketball when my
right hand was in a cast and he had use of both hands, well his self esteem
has never recovered.  I’ve learned from this experience.

That’s why I didn’t stay true to the Pac-10 and see Arizona through and UCLA
out of the first round, then there was the pick of Wisconsin, well of course
this was a dead give away that I was trying to let someone else win.  But
this is getting boring…just search your heart and you know that what I’m
saying is true.

This best, most intelligent, etc. bit — you know who that is, think oldest
girl in the competition.

I’m almost crying over the thought that the tournament is ending.  I’ve felt
closer to all of you right now than all year long.

If you believe this, then you probably believe that Bryce actually made his
picks from something other than admiration for uniform colors and cute

Your loving, most inspiring, sister, daughter, and wife”

Anyone want me in their bracket pool?  Find some friends, or at least people who start out at friends, and join.  It’s a blast.  No money necessary.


One of my favorite things of the new year is to identify new areas of growth I’d like to focus on.  This is pure bliss for an INTJ like myself.  Planning, planning, planning gives me a “sick, sugar” rush.  However, I’ve found that as my life has gotten busier with children, figuring out new routines that intentionally create change has been a challenge.  This year has definitely been disappointing.  I was supposed to have done a financial budget by the end of January.  It’s March and I just got it done.  My spiritual discipline for the year is meditation and I have yet to figure out a time of day I can do it consistently.  It’s not that I need it to be at the same time of day but I like it to be because I find I do it when it’s consistent.  I’ve even “goaled” fun intentionality’s such as doing something fun with girlfriends once a month and I’m one for two.

So, at the beginning of March, I find myself asking, what needs to be different?  How am I going to get moving towards what I think it important?  Though time will tell whether this is the complete answer, I’m recognizing the importance of rest, relaxation and laughter.  There will always be laundry to do, pages to write, things that can be improved but if I don’t schedule in (or be intentional) about that which is fun and restful, then I’m going to continue on this trajectory of not creating space for newness.  A week into my “experiment,” I’ve had greater mental space by scheduling in a 30 minute quiet/rest/reading/napping time in the afternoon.  I’ve ironically gotten more done in less amount of time.  I’ve also had space to “pre plan” date nights, family outings and “me” time so I’m not living in that which is directly in front of me or feeling urgent.

Now, lest I give the impression that all is “fixed” and resolved, it isn’t.  I am writing a book and didn’t put in the ten hours of writing I needed to this week.  I didn’t practice meditation every day, in part because I completely forgot on some days.  I’d hoped for more times of fun with my kids and just didn’t make it happen because I was bogged down with getting “necessary” things done.  However, I’m not beating myself up, which feels wonderful.  I’m not trying to “pull” up my bootstraps and make it happen.  Instead, I’m listening — listening to He who resides within me, listening to my internal messages, listening to my family’s and friend’s input and listening to the rush of goodness I feel when I dance, laugh and tickle my kids.