the twist in the journey

It’s been two weeks and a day since I learned something very new and important about myself: I have cancer. It’s leukemia, and it’s treatable. It’s not a guarantee. Nothing is guaranteed.

Over those weeks, so much has happened, and so many feelings and realizations I have yet to document, even to myself. For now, I want to express something God gave me yesterday morning as I was trying to stay still in bed, lying next to my husband in the early morning. The night before, we read together from Job 40-42, where God at last answers Job’s laments with the only answer that really matters: I AM God.

It was a lot to take in as hubs read aloud, yet comforting and humbling. This now brings to mind one of my favourite lines in all of literature, from C.S. Lewis’s Til We Have Faces:

I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. What other answer would suffice?

Having slept on that truth from Scripture, particularly the very end,

Then Job answered the Lord and said, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

I awoke with a jumble of contemplations, questions, and prayers. And the more I talked with God, the heavier I sensed His presence on me, like one laying a warm, steady hand on my back that was also a poultice for anxiety and despair.

And here is what came out of the depths of my heart:

who am i to deserve the beauty of the stars?

the adoring affection of my husband’s eyes.

the refuge of sleep.

the glory of colours.

the gift of words.

letters from friends.

the comfort of my mother.

the deep friendship of my sister.

the capacity of my legs.

the wonder of air plants.

of all plants.

the squishiness of puppy faces.

the smile of a favourite baby.

my whole family intact, and together right now in one house.

appliances that function.

the sweet chill of a popsicle.

feeling my husband’s feet when mine are cold.

the glimpses of my dad that show through sometimes.

a fire in the hearth every morning.

an afternoon of snow.

that nausea can end.

the freedom of my mind.

who am I to receive? i am free. i am undeserving of freedom, yet i am free. because the Lord is my hope, my soul will live forever and i have nothing to fear regarding separation from Him.

 

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Then I wept, such profound sobs of acknowledgement of God’s greatness as I’ve not experienced in years. I have had a clear purpose for my daily life and longterm ideas before, but now, it’s focused even more narrowly. So all I could muster to speak after this visitation was, “I’m going to tell people how good You are.”

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God is too much for me to handle.

And He is always enough.

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More updates on specifics regarding my condition are available on caringbridge.org, if you search under my name. Here, I hope to simply do more of the same – to write about how God is our one true home. That’s all I care about and it’s all that matters.

to the next bend of the journey

Every couple of weeks I’m hoping to give updates about our home adventures. I have a tendency to want to end my posts with a wrap-up message or conclusion, but not everything comes together that neatly in life, so why should it here? I’m not really doing this to provide you with sermons every few days. Let’s be real.

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The visits are calming down. The frantic things are fading and now we’re gearing up for bigger, long-term things. We have a couple of weekend trips planned, but beyond that, nothing.

Nothing, except home repairs, church investment, relational growth, marriage perpetuation, another term of full-time classes, and I might keep doing laundry. We’ll see.

Friend. Sometimes things seem pretty much laid out for the next while, and you think you can see what’s coming, and it looks mundane but also like a lot to handle.

That’s where we are. God’s grace has shown itself this past week in our marriage. A few days ago, a huge storm blew a tree onto our house, and that threw off our groove for some reason. Hubs was in the middle of 53 papers (or 3? same thing?) and having no internet and no light became stressful for me, even though I wasn’t directly impacted. At that point, maybe both of us just realized how crazy life can be and how much we need each other’s help. The next day we teamed up to bring our home back to livable conditions – mowed the grass, cleaned the floor, washed every dish, etc. And now we’re in the final push of papers before a little break between terms. We’ve been able to be light-hearted, which is huge because I’m editing and critiquing my husband’s writing like, every day. It’s like we can see that space just ahead where we can breathe, and we’re pressing on together for it.

And we’re tired. And aside from classes, the break will still have all the other normal things.

I’ve been reading so many resources about rhythms and habits, doing a bunch of e-courses and perusing blogs and downloading people’s advice into my brain. I do feel like we are making it through this term much more sanely (or maybe I’m talking about just me) than last fall, when we were going through so much more and living in San Francisco. That time around, we got to the holidays and I felt lonely and drained and bitter. So this is going better.

All the same, I have decided to work on some small habits that will grow into firmer, bigger ones, and give us a flow to life. And give me discipline. Is that something you’re given? Because my birthday’s coming up.

Here are some of those rhythms (I like that term better):

  • Rise early, enough to read Scripture, pray, eat breakfast, and look like an adult person.
  • Therefore, go to bed early, enough to get no fewer than 7.5 hours of sleep.
  • Exercise. Get strong, boost that immunity/stamina, and be a little lighter on my feet.
  • De-clutter. I’m going to start that “magic of tidying” stuff!

I can think of so much more I want to do! I want to write more too. So many things. But graduate school taught me that small wins create momentum for greater success down the road. And I definitely want to move down the road. Because we’re on a journey, you and I, and I need to make progress.

This might be actually a great analogy for me, because on walks and hikes, I am always the one who randomly sees a “special” leaf or aweome rock and MUST stop to inspect thoroughly. Maybe bring it with me, who knows. And if there’s a brilliant cloud, I need to stop and just stare until it dissipates. Maybe backtrack to find that colorful flower I just did a double-take for. I like taking it all in. I like studying something, really understanding it, mulling it over.

It’s great to do that in life. It’s great to ponder your current spot. Obviously I think that.

But also it’s time for me to use the feet and move along. It’s time to set my sights on the next summit. How will I get there? Probably by focusing on getting to the saddle. I’ll get to the saddle by focusing on this next bend in the trail. The next bend.

The next bend, these small rhythms, will take me, one day, to the culmination of so many goals.

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I’m so grateful for this momentum right now, even in the midst of the mundane, tired stuff we encounter predictably. I don’t really know what I’m doing.

And you, dear ones? Where are your rhythms taking you?

 

 

this part of journey involves chaos

Every couple of weeks I’m hoping to give updates about our home adventures. I have a tendency to want to end my posts with a wrap-up message or conclusion, but not everything comes together that neatly in life, so why should it here? I’m not really doing this to provide you with sermons every few days. Let’s be real.

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Hi friend,

Our two-year anniversary was two days ago! And except for that day, I will not have seen hubs for a week. He’s been globe-trotting. But joy of joys: this coming weekend I’m going to meet him in San Francisco and see my dear friends there! It’s been six months since I’ve seen that crazy place.

As usual, life seems to be so full. Hubs is back to taking full-time classes, and I’m working finally, and we’ve had family visit twice since we returned from Europe a month ago, and now a friend is living with us until he finds a more permanent home. Just the everyday stuff.

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And then hubs went to Thailand for a dear friend’s wedding, and now he’s in San Francisco on business. And eventually he’ll sleep.

Good reader, I don’t doubt you understand, I’m tired. Tired but so grateful. For warm days and sun, for flowers unprompted, for growing relationships and reconnecting ones too, for a free headlight installation, for the hospitality of friends, for the softness of the pillow at night. For the laughter. For the 100-year old piano my godparents gave us! For the tenderness of tiny babies and for grapefruit juice and that fresh sweet corn from the farmer’s market. Picnics by the sound. And cappuccino foam.

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Oh and the sunsets.

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This is a time of dire conscious pause, of sitting for a while when we get home from work, to just be and breathe before we make dinner and start homework. You’ve got to, friend. You’ve got to stop when you see a fascinating leaf on the way to the coffee shop, even if you’re rushing to get there. You need to look your loved one in the face as they recount a story, even if you have the world’s longest list waiting.

I need to. And let’s take a moment between tasks to breathe deeply and let our shoulders go and tilt the head, and give thanks. Maybe smile your mouth a bit.

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I’m trying not to resent this season. I really truly wish hubs and I had more time to just have fun, to connect. The last time he had the double load of work and class, the term ended with me a frazzled, bitter person. And I wasn’t angry with him but with the circumstances that made things hard for us. So this time around, knowing all that, I’m hoping to overcome the circumstances.

I’m hoping to grow close to Jesus, who is always available. I’m hoping to be master of my schedule, rather than the other way around. I’m hoping to cherish my people and make sure they know it, because there’s no way anything I need to do is more important than that. I hope we can do something in the wilderness soon.

I’m hoping and other than that I’m just trying to get to work on time.

🙂

xo,

Emily

p.s. And you? What are you hoping, and what are you learning in the chaos? Any advice for one like me?