I was running late to school. My professor knows that I’m always a few minutes late because I have to make my rounds with my gang… quick kisses and prayers and out they go. I try to make sure I don’t start driving away until their bodies have completely left the vehicle. It’s been close a few time. “Maaaahm. I’m not even out.” I squish up my face and offer a half grin, “Sorry love.” Oh they give me so much grace. Continue reading
Do you ever act in a way that catches you off guard? “Uhhh… Why did I just do that?”
We were sitting in the office waiting for Dr. Chu to come in. Karin very quietly asked, “Do you want to pray together before the doctor comes in?” I paused for a moment, and declined. I shook my head. There was no look of shock, no scolding or raised eyebrows. She just gently nodded her.
What a week.
We (Karin, Swati and I) met with the neurosurgeon on Wednesday. There is so much I want to say about this day, but in hopes that I don’t vomit out every thought I am having at once, I will start with the basics. Continue reading
If you are married, I encourage you to keep reading, because you have single friends whose lives are not like yours. They need your understanding. They need you to take the time to learn what it is like to walk in their shoes- as a single woman- as a single mom. Continue reading
Well, Bob this has been quite a day. I moved through my morning with much emotion, allowing myself to feel everything. If I focus on the good that you have brought into my life, then this is it; I enjoy the moment. Bob, because of you I have slowed my life down. I see more. I feel more. Even when it is hard I want to feel.
My day started with my favorite (and most handsome) Starbucks date.
Monday mornings are our time. I buy him Starbucks and he gives me his undivided attention. Some might call this a bribe, but I refer to this as mother-son bonding time with a little incentive. This morning was especially sweet. I asked him if he would pray for me and he did. It was simple. It was him. And then we did one of our favorite things. We laughed. We laugh well together, Jake and I. He loves to show me funny text and he couldn’t wait to share this one with me…
I laughed so hard, that I had to pull the car over because I couldn’t see. You see, dear Bob, all you have done is made laughter more precious. Who knew this is exactly what I needed this morning… a glorious nipple joke.
I dropped my Jake off and headed out to Cedar Sinai. I was directed to a certain parking lot. I pulled in and ran into the front building with a few minutes to spare. As I was asking directions to the imaging center, the gal saw my parking garage ticket in my hand, “Ooooh honey, you do not want to park in there. It will be over $20 by the time you are done.” I dropped my head onto the desk. If I moved my car, I would be late. I hate being late. She directed me to another garage on the other side of the building. As I ran out of the building, I could hear her yelling after me, “You better run faster, sister.”
I jumped in my car and headed out. As I exited the garage I inserted my ticket- $5.00. What! I hadn’t even been scanned yet! I explained to the parking attendant my situation, “I had the wrong garage,” but she wouldn’t budge. And then it happened. Yep. I knew it was a matter of time. I started crying… again. Over a stinkin parking fee. I knew it was lame, but I could’t help it. I tried to make them stop, but they just kept falling out. This is ridiculous, I thought, you just spent twice this amount at Starbucks. Let it go, but it didn’t help. Sometimes, dear sisters, we just don’t make sense- none at all- and that is okay. Sometimes we just have those days.
She got the manager and I cried to him, ” You see, I have this brain tumor named Bob and I am just trying to get to the right parking area so I can have a scan done and now I am late.” Poor guy, he didn’t even know what hit him. “Bob- who’s Bob? Never mind that… It’s okay lady,” he said wide-eyed. He scrambled as fast as he could, “We will get you out of here.” I wiped my snotty nose and tears as I tried to apologize and I zipped through. Definitely not a proud moment for Bob and I.
I couldn’t find the correct parking so I finally landed in the cancer area. Close enough.
I made it. I looked like a wreck, but we did it, Bob. We made it. I gained my composure as I waited for my turn. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. Here we go. They called me back. I followed a young kid in scrubs through a maze of corridors. I just want to move through this well. They led me back to the changing area. It seemed surreal. I began to think back over this past year as I changed into my hospital gown; this was my fourth MRI this year. My fourth.
So how did Bob and I do, well…. we decided to handle it by doing this…
and then this…
As I walked back to the big room I asked the tech if I could get a few picks. I explained that I was logging my adventure- Bob and I. He seemed amused by the whole thing. Apparently I was the first patient who asked if they could take a selfie with the Bob-o-matic 5000 (aka MRI machine). While I couldn’t take the phone near the machine, he was more than happy to snap a few picks.
Another tech joined in on the fun and asked if I wanted a picture with him. He was the tech of the month. I would have said yes, but I was told we were now running behind thanks to all of my shenanigans.
We did a little small talk as he prepped me for the machine. I shared that I used to teach high school long ago and was now in school once again. We chit chatted a little more as he inserted plugs into my ears, followed by a headset that allowed him to speak to me from the other room. He locked my head in nice and tight with a plastic contraption and I was good to go. He informed me that he would be pulling me out in about 40 minutes in order to inject dye into my system for the contrast image. That was it. In I went.
I nodded off for a bit and then next thing I knew, I was on the move. I blinked my eyes, which I always keep shut even when I don’t fall asleep (because it does feel a little eerie in there). The tech was standing by my side. He was saying something but I couldn’t hear him or see him very well because off all the paraphernalia. He leaned over as he was preparing my I.V., and continued talking. “I can’t hear you… the head set,” I mumbled, as I shook my head. He lifted my headset off. ” How are you doing in there?” he asked as he felt for a vein. “Oh, good. I guess.” Silence. “I bet those high school boys thought you were the prettiest teacher.” What… is this a joke. I looked at him sideways through my very attractive plastic halo. “Oh, come on,” he said, “Don’t tell me those high school boys didn’t have a crush on you.You were probably the most beautiful teacher on that campus” I started to chuckle. Of all times. I mean I never, like NEVER EVER, get hit on and now… like right now. Oh Lordy, Lord. What in carnations is going on today! If anyone ever tell you God doesn’t have a sense of humor, then they don’t know my God. I told him I was flattered, and then very gently suggested that maybe we should focus on getting the IV into my arm. He obliged, finished the job and in I went again.
Well Bob, we made it. We did it. We did it well. The emotions were there and so was my Jesus and we did just fine. I had a thought as I was driving home, Bob. I wanted to thank you. Yes, thank you. Oh, I am not thankful that you came into our lives, but I am thankful for what you have taught me. I never would have known that I could walk through something this challenging. I wouldn’t have known that my God was BIG enough to carry me through. In all my tears. In all my mud. I am grateful that I have had a chance to see what my faith looks like when it’s walked out. So thank you, dear friend, thank you for that.
Why am I not writing? Why the lack of posts?
Sometimes there is nothing to write; there is nothing to say. Sometimes it just needs to be quiet. We live in a society that thrives on noise and busyness- busyness in our lives- busyness in our thoughts. We go-go-go and our minds race-race-race. What if we were to say no more- enough? What if we were to take back moments that held silence as sacred?
So, there it is. I haven’t blogged, because it’s been quiet here. My mind has been quiet. I like that. Quiet. I move through my days enjoying my friends, laughing-chatting- sitting with them in their pains and struggles. I engage with my kids, kissing little noses and hoot and hollering at their sports games. My thoughts have been with them- present with them. Don’t’ get wrong here, I’m still up in my head; I talk with the Lord, discussing points here or there, telling him how much I love him. I give myself little pep talks interspersed through my day, “Let’s take care of us. Let’s get some sleep, you know that activity where you actually close your eyes and rest.” But for the most part I am present, present in the moment. Fully engaged Fully there.
Sometimes we need to stop our lives and take care of ourselves, be present with ourselves. Let’s take care of ourselves, dear sisters. Even if we can only carve out little pockets of time to recharge, let us hold those times sacred.
After the kids go to bed (and sometimes before if I am in desperate need of refueling my own tank) I will take a few moments to just be. I love to grab a cup of hot tea and sit in my rocking chair on my porch. (I am convinced everyone needs a rocker) When it’s cold I will wrap myself up nice and tight in a warm blanket and sit there quietly sipping my tea. I focus on my breathing- focus on the moment. As my little one likes to remind me, ” inhale Jesus and exhale worries”, and she is right. I inhale love and exhale anger. I inhale trust and exhale control. Inhale. Exhale. I slow life down and just ‘be’ in the moment.
Sisters, find these moments to just be; to be quiet; to be present; to just be you. It is in these moments, dear sisters, that you will see that life is truly beauty-full.
I don’t feel like writing.
I don’t feel like feeling today.
I stumbled across a heart breaking story of a darling 29 year old girl who was diagnosed back in January of this year with a brain tumor, a different kind than Bob. She was originally given ten years to live. Ten years. And they were wrong. Dead wrong.
I sat watching the video with a colleague of mine. We sat there sober afterwards. I finally whispered, ” I think that is my fear. What if they got it wrong?” Thank goodness D was there to catch me. (not trying to hide his identity, that’s just what I call him, “D”) I sobbed and sobbed. What if they are wrong.
I moved on with my day, but I was angry- no, I was pissed. I didn’t want to be where I was. I didn’t want to feel. I just wanted to disappear.
So, how can I go from trusting and loving the Lord one day and in the throws of my pain and fear the next…. because sisters, I am human. If my $50,000 education in therapy ($45,000 for tuition and books and $5,000 for coffee, lattes and wine to get me through the program. I might be slightly exaggerating, but you get the point) has taught me anything, it is to move towards how your pain. Embrace it. Let your anger or hurt sit for a bit and see what rises to the top. Trying to cope with our hurt by shoving it down doesn’t solve a thing because it won’t disappear. Oh, we think it will; we think that if we just push it down far enough or drown it out we won’t have to deal with it, but pain doesn’t play by our rules. It keeps surfacing and resurfacing, rearing it’s ugly head, leaking out every which way. But, pain that is moved towards- embraced- now that is where the healing takes place.
So tonight I gave myself space to be angry. Angry at the world. Angry that it’s me. I know a lot of other people that are mean and crotchety; who aren’t active or eat healthy; they should be the ones going through this, not me. I don’t want it to be me. I don’t want to be here. I want to be falling in love. Having a baby. Planning for the future. Anywhere but here. I am angry, God, and I am angry at you. This is too much. Too much.
I let it sit and I let it be okay.
Okay to be angry. Okay to be hurting.
Okay to not point to Jesus right in this very moment.
I let it be okay to stay right where I was… and then I talked to myself. “You talk to yourself?” Yes, I talk to myself. We listen to lies all the time in our heads saying that we have failed, that we are not good enough, or we should be more like this one or keep a house like that one. I figured since we have all that going on, it’s time to start butting in and caring for ourselves- being kind to ourselves. So yes, as crazy as it sounds, I talk to myself. “You’re just fine, ” I tell myself. “Of course you are angry. You’re scared and you’re afraid” I give myself room to feel and then I gently, very gently, remind myself of the facts. Okay, so here is what I do know. I am doing everything I can. I have been proactive. This is not easy, but I have done everything in my control. I can go only on what my doctors have told me. I will have the MRI and I will know soon. I end with the most important fact of all…..
Alisa, God has not abandoned you in this moment. He hasn’t Because love never leaves. Love never abandons. He loves you right where you are and He knows you love him.
And slowly… slowly, my breathing calmed… and peace returned.
There is a story I want to share. It’s a story that reminds me daily that my God sees me. He sees me and Bob and the kids. He sees all that my eyes can see and He sees what they cannot.
It’s the kind of story that you hear and you don’t really know what to make of it. It’ s easy to dismiss if it didn’t happen to you, but when it does… when it does, you find yourself at a crossroads. Are you going to try to rationalize it away or as crazy as it sounds, is it possible that God is speaking to you.
I was celebrating my 38th birthday with friends. We laughed and joked and hugged as we dined at Lemonade, one of my favorite restaurants in Pasadena. I left feeling full- a full stomach- a full heart. I felt loved. My dear friend, Karin, was spending the night. As the night winded down, we chatted for a bit about the next day. Karin has signed up for a special prayer time in the morning and then we were hoping to hike later that afternoon. As I drifted off to sleep, I recall not thinking of anything in particular, just thankful, thankful for my friends and my family. My cup was full.
That night I had a dream. I was pregnant and I somehow knew that it wasn’t my baby (it’s so odd how you just know things in dreams. I wonder if that’s what heaven will be like. Sorry, tangent:) I was carrying the baby for someone else. One minute I was pregnant and then next moment I blacked out. When I came to (in my dream) my six year old, Alex, was standing in front of me with the baby. Alex LOVES babies, so that wasn’t too hard to imagine. She was grinning from ear to ear, but I was in a panic. “What’s the baby still doing here,” I shouted. “It’s not ours.” “I don’t know mom, but isn’t she cute,” Alex squealed as she bounced her up and down on her hip. I felt stressed. I took the baby from Alex and I thought to myself, “She is hungry. She needs to eat.” I don’t know how I knew that, but I just did. I knew we didn’t have any food, so I headed outside. I opened the front door of my house and it was flooded, with water pooling right up to the door. I closed the door and took a few deep breaths. Then I opened the door a second time to find the waters had gone down and there was baby formula sitting on my front porch. I grabbed it, and some bottles on the grass and came in and fed her. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this baby is really hungry. She eats like a three month old.” And then I woke up.
It was such a bizarre dream; I relayed it to Karin over coffee the next morning. “What do you think it means,” she asked. “I don’t know,” I mumbled, shaking my head, “ but it was definitely different.” God, are you trying to talk to me?
After her prayer time, Karin opted for a nap while I took off to tackle my favorite mountain. Returning a few hours later, I realized I didn’t have my keys, so I knocked on the door. As I did so, I noticed a small package sitting on my front porch. It had been delivered with the mail. I bent down for a closer look and was startled by what I saw. It was a box of baby formula, like real formula. I started freaking out. No, freaking out is an understatement. I started to scream. “Karin! Karin!” I was now knocking like a mad women. She opened the door still a little groggy from her nap. She looked bewildered as she was trying to decipher my jumping up and down and pointing at the ground. And then she saw it… yep. Baby formula So now there were two of us. Yelling. “Whoa.” Bending down. “What the heck.” Jumping. Screaming. “This is crazy” Neither of us touched it. We just kept staring at it and yelling and laughing. Baby formula on my front porch.
So what do you do with something like that, besides freakout and jump up and down? I’m not sure. I know many would feel there is an interpretation of some sorts, that the baby means something and so forth. I have had a few years to think about it and what continues to stand out to me is this simple message:
“Alisa, if you have ever doubted it before, if you ever doubt it again, I want you to know that I see you. I see you. I see every detail. I knew when this formula would arrive and I knew where it would be placed. I knew the moment you would have that dream and I orchestrated it all. Alisa, I see you. I see every thought-every hurt- every joy- every trial. I see it all and I love you dear one. I’m crazy about you. I love you, dear one, I do. I love you to the moon and back.” I have kept the box of baby formula on my nightstand for two and a half years as a reminder that …
I am seen. I am known…. and I am loved. The God of the universe… He is near. .
Sisters, if there is one thing that remains with you today, let it be that HE SEES YOU. He hasn’t forgotten about you. He hasn’t lost interest. He is wild about you. He knows you. He knows every detail of your life and He is near. Take heart dear sisters, He is near.
I have had a few messages, friends asking about the headaches and ringing in my ears, so I thought I would clear up a few things.
Is Bob causing all that ruckus- the pounding headache- ringing in my ears? I’m not sure and I think that’s what makes it hard. Where most people have headaches or pressure in their head and dismiss it, I can’t. Talk about trying not to over react….sheesh. I have had issues with my neck and tinnitus since I fell and broke my pelvis in 2013. The doctors discovered that I had also suffered from whiplash due to the fall. Clearly, I need to work on my ‘falling’ skills.
Two weeks ago, I was rear ended while driving with a friend one evening. (because God-forbid life be normal and uneventful for one stinking month) My neck hurt at the time of the accident, but then it disappeared. A week passed and my neck and head started throbbing once more, which is pretty common with neck injuries. I went to see a chiropractor who quickly assessed my situation and came to the conclusion that it was from the accident and that most likely I had inflamed the same area I had injured when I fell. I was so relieved to hear that; “I thought it was Bob, uh, I mean my brain tumor.” Note to self, make sure to not address one said brain tumor as Bob while in public.
With regards to Bob, the doctors gave me a very positive prognosis, with a 93% chance that their little death ray gun (aka gamma knife radiation) zapped the poor little sucker and froze him so He can’t take up any more space in my brain.
Because of my allergic reaction to pain medication and the horrible experience I had when I broke my pelvis 2013, the idea of brain surgery is, well, daunting, although very unlikely. The problem comes in feeling the need to prepare myself to hear anything at my next appointment with my neurosurgeon, which is set for October 15. “It sounds like you are expecting the worst,” my sis lovingly offered. She was right. I was. I was stuck there, like a broken record.
“If I can only prepare myself for every possible scenario, then I won’t get hurt again.”
Isn’t that what we tell ourselves;” If I am in control and I can prepare, then I won’t get hurt,” running scenario after scenario through our heads… and in the meantime, we are losing the joys right before our eyes. Oh we may be physically present, but our mind is elsewhere.
So, dear sisters, rather than fear what could be, let us take a brief look at what may lie ahead, and then move on. MOVE ON. MOVE ON TO THE JOYS.
Bob, but I WILL NOT let you steal my joy today. Bob, I delighted in making nutella and strawberry filled crepes for five sleep-deprived kiddies this morning. You were not even a thought in my head when I hung out with my amazing family, dishing with my sisters over Clooney’s new bride. Bob, you were no where to be seen as I worshiped in church tonight, my arms reaching for a God that is much greater and more powerful that you could ever be. Bob, there will be times that I will talk about you, plan for what changes may come, and then I WILL MOVE ON. MOVE ON TO THE JOYS.
Last night I wasn’t feeling well. My head was pounding and my ears were ringing.
After grabbing my kids from school, watching my daughter’s volleyball game and making dinner, I crawled onto the couch, placing an ice pack over my eyes. A few minutes passed, then a few more. Oh Lord, I so wish you had skin on because I really need to be taken care of right now. I heard little footsteps. “Mama” I opened my eyes to find this.
The tears started to form. Hot tea and a love note. My heart melted. Oh Lord, you do take on skin. I just never recognize it as you! They spilled over my cheeks as I reached for my phone. Alex started giggling and turned her head towards my son who was sitting on the other couch; “There she goes again, Jake. She’s blubbering.” Oh, bless’em.
As much as we love these moments and love sharing them with others, this is only part of the story. Sisters, let me tell you what you didn’t see. That same little angel left her lunch at home this morning and had a full-blown melt down on the way to school. In the last 24 hours I have been told that I am the most wonderful mom ever- like ever ever- and that they wanted to trade me in for a new mom, preferably one that allows cell phones at the age of 12. Uh no, not happening.
So if you are struggling- children- spouse- job- health- I want you to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It’s tempting to fill in others’ stories with ease and perfection. The perfect kids. The perfect husband. The perfect job. But sisters, that is not the case. That is not the case!!!