Monday, June 27, 2016

Constant Companion

I've been bone tired since about 4 pm today. Barely functioning. I was just going to read my devotion and go to bed, though in the back of my mind have been some subtle reminders that I haven't written on my blog in a while though it's on my to do list next to my bed. I saw that on the list as I climbed into bed to do my devotions and was determined to ignore that reminder- I am  too tired to write anything.

Yet here I am. :-)

I started reading that devotion book again, Jesus Calling, wondering if what I read this evening would inspire a blog post for tomorrow or the next day. Wanting just a few peaceful words for this evening to help me sleep well.

Instead, I got a reminder that I can trust God on this journey. He will be a Companion for me. And immediately I got the chorus line "He's my constant Companion" stuck in my head from Francesca Battistelli's song, "Constant", going through my mind.

So now I've got that blog post I was wanting to write, only it came with an earworm that I won't be able to get out of my head until I've done something about it. I knew I had to get out of bed, grab the laptop, and start writing.

On my medical journey, I'm in another waiting point. Last week I found out that I don't have cancer (or at least not likely). Based on the blood test and MRI images, it looks like endometriosis, bilateral endometriosis to be precise. I have blood-filled cysts on both ovaries. The gynecologist wants to send me to an endometriosis specialist; he also recommends surgery to have the cysts removed. So the GYN gave me a referral to the specialist and now I'm waiting to hear from his office about scheduling an appointment to talk about treatment options.

I'm no longer at the fork in the road waiting to hear if it's cancer or not. I'm now on a path and will be working with professionals to determine the best course of treatment of bilateral endometriosis for myself. Through this all, He continues to be my constant Companion.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Note to Self

This song causes me to stop and think. Usually the first thing I think of is dancing; I like the strong beat and it makes me want to move. The second thing I thought of today is: what would I say?

I really agree with the part of the song about how the choices I've made are what has made me who I am today. I've pretty much always agreed with that statement. Would I want to change who I am? Of course there's some areas of life where I'd like to smooth things out so that the lessons aren't so painful, but as any teacher or parent will tell you, sometimes kids have to learn the hard way. The struggle makes us stronger if we persevere through it so I wouldn't want to take away the lessons that have shaped who I am today. There are some lesson, though, which I wish I wouldn't keep repeating, that I would learn sooner. Or lessons that I wish I had learned younger.

I was just telling a friend the other day that I wish I had done more dating when I was younger. I wasn't interested in dating until my recent adult years and there are some painful lessons I wish I would have learned at a younger age. I believe it might make it easier for me to "bounce back" as an adult, if I'd learned some of this at a younger age. But maybe that's just my personality that will always feel things deeply; since we can't go back and change the past I'll never know.

Even now there's some things I wish I could go back a few months or even a year to tell myself. But would changing or knowing that one little things affect other areas around it? Would it alter other events? I don't know. But I can give my future self some words of wisdom....

Dear Future Me:
- Don't beat myself up.
- Extend compassion and forgiveness to myself and others.
- If a man doesn't want the whole package then it's ok to move on.
- I am amazing (even if I'm the only one who sees it sometimes).
- Listen to my body and my intuition.
- Feel my feelings, but don't get stuck in them.
- Trust God. Talk to Him regularly and read His Word.

Friday, June 17, 2016

What Does This Mean?

Driving home from volleyball  at 1:30 am, I wondered if there was a blog post in me. Is there another song and Bible verse that had touched me and helped me lately? Nothing came to mind, so I decided that when I got home I would just get ready for bed and do my nightly devotion.

As I read the thoughts for June 16th in "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young, I had to keep rereading the words of the second paragraph. It was about following a path. God will take each of us on our own unique journey; what works for one person may not work for me. What works for me may not work for others, so I should not feel overly proud of my own choices and push them on others, while I also should not feel shame or regret if what works for others doesn't work for me. God has designed a unique path for each of us to take.

But then I got to the final sentence. It has the words from Micah 6:8 in it: "act justly, love mercy, walk humbly." What does that mean? (How very Lutheran of me to ask this!) How do I apply that to my journey?

See, I had just determined, while reading prior sentences, that whatever happens in this journey I'm on, whether it's endometriosis and treatable, cancer and treatable, or cancer that is untreatable, whatever lies before me, I'm going to honor God through this journey and praise Him through this. And then of course this song by Lauren Daigle came back to me. I'd thought about it earlier today as something that I might incorporate into a future blog post.

But what does it look like to honor and praise God in the midst of this, while also walking humbly, acting justly, and loving mercy? So I decided that I should look up some of those words to get a better picture of what they mean so that I can integrate this into my journey. Here's what I found on

Humble: to not be proud
If I'm walking humbly through this process, I'm not honoring myself and boasting how great I am, instead I am praising God for how good He is. NO MATTER WHAT. Hmmm... I can do that. It might be hard at times to remember to praise Him when things are tough or if the diagnosis is scary, but I can definitely work on growing in that area.

Just (root of justly): righteous; guided by truth, reason, and fairness; in accordance with standards
Acting justly in this process I will be guided by God's word (truth), and doctors (experts who will tell me the truth about the situation), and my own reason about what is best for me. I will treat the diagnosis according to standards I have for my overall health and well being, while being guided by professionals.

Mercy: an act of kindness, compassion, or favor
Ahh.... this I can do! I can treat myself with compassion and kindness during this journey. Treating myself, and others, with compassion is something I have worked very hard at over the last few years and I've made great progress. Now it will be time to really put this new skill to work. I can do this.

Hmmm... these are some interesting things to ponder. Even if God chooses to not "move the mountains I'm needing Him to move", I can walk humbly, act justly, and love mercy to bring Him glory through all of this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Under the Sea

A few days before my MRI I saw this image on facebook:

Image from AICenters

Too bad it's a children's MRI machine, not an adult-sized MRI machine. MY MRI machine was not as cute or fun, but my MRI tech (if that's what you call it) was friendly and warm which helped.

My friend Matty met me at the hospital beforehand and sat with me while I filled out paperwork. He chatted with me and kept me distracted before going in.

They called me back and I expected to see him about 45 minutes later when the procedure was finished, but knew that there was a chance that if it ran long he might have to leave for an appointment he had.

After stashing my purse and metal objects in a locker, I had to sit and wait a minute while they finished prepping the room. ...and of course my mind started to wander and a few tears came to my eyes, but didn't fall. I determined to not worry by talking to God and giving Him all my cares. I started praying and pretty much didn't stop until after the procedure. I sat up straight, took a deep breath, and talked to God.

The MRI tech came and got me. I entered the room, set my locker key on the table, slipped off my sandals, and climbed on the table. She prepped me for the IV, strapped me to the table, tucked a blanket around me, and away we went.

I closed my eyes, and started singing Christian songs in my head (since I couldn't sing them out loud because I wasn't supposed to move). I started with Psalm 23, then went to Psalm 3, and then some children's songs that I would sing at chapel with the students at school and a few hymns. And then my mind kept going to the song "Diamonds" by Hawk Nelson that I started my day with. I think I sung myself to sleep, because other than occasionally hearing her (the tech) say "this next one's going to be about 5 minutes"... then next thing I knew she was bringing me out to put in the contrast IV, sending me back in for a few more "5 minute" scans, and then out for the final time.

I retrieved my things from the locker and discovered that it was 4:20! Over an hour had passed and it really only felt like 30 minutes. My way home I kept hearing the song "Diamonds" in my mind on the way home. I couldn't focus on the radio (so I turned it off) because that song was so loud in my mind.

Thank you Jesus for sending your Spirit to bring me peace. And thank you, friends, for your prayers, warm thoughts, positive vibes, and warm wishes.

Next step is to wait for my doctor to return from his vacation and let me know what the MRI shows so we can talk about the following steps. Continued prayers, warm thoughts, positive vibes, and warm wishes are appreciated.


As I sat in bed finishing up my bible study time this morning, a couple different powerful thoughts were running through my head. The loudest one was the chorus of this song:

The other thought was God's Word to me: Draw near to me and I will draw near to you. (James 4:8 paraphrased)

As I prepare to go in for my MRI this afternoon, as another step in my journey of this new chapter in life, I am reminded by this song and this Bible verse that God will use this to make something incredible of me, and that I need to stick with Him through this. He will see me through. He will be my strength. He's already near me, I just need to open up my heart and acknowledge His presence. I need to cling to Him, like a life raft in a stormy sea - He is my hope, my help, my refuge, my shelter. He is also my peace in this storm.

So, I'm thinking that over the next days and weeks I will use song and Bible study as primary ways of doing this and that I will focus many of my future blog posts on this - sharing songs and Scripture that are encouraging to me.

Monday, June 13, 2016

It's Ok to Cry

I need a moment.

I feel tears welling up and ready to spill if I let them.

My trainer keeps telling me to find ways to manage my stress better. No eating or drinking away the stress. Reduce my stress he says.

I KNOW! Seriously, I'm not trying to seek it out. Life is happening. Events are conflicting with my plans for me. Surprises are popping up; some wanted, some not. Health issues. Relationship issues. Work issues.

Adulting is hard.

And sometimes tears are the best way for me to feel my feelings and let them wash over me so that I can move on.

Sometimes I need to do this alone. Sometimes I want to be held. But almost always I just need to feel the feelings and let the tears flow so that I can move on.

I'm gonna be ok.

I AM ok.

But in this moment this is hard. No judgment. It is what it is and that's ok.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

New Chapter

Mike Weaver, the lead singer of Big Daddy Weave, reported in an interview that they were scheduled to sing this song live at the same time his brother, part of the band, was in the hospital for a mysterious blood infection that led to a double amputation of his feet. And they weren't sure how they could sing this song during such a difficult time, but they were reminded that Jay's story isn't over. (Read more here.)
"If I told you my story
You would hear hope that wouldn't let go
If I told you my story
You would hear love that never gave up
If I told you my story
You would hear life but it wasn't mine

If I should speak then let it be

Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
To tell you my story is to tell of Him"
I read this story on Facebook, right after my morning devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries about the importance of friendship (read it here). I was on my way to go to pick up my friend Chloe on my way to a very important doctor's appointment and I was very grateful that she was accompanying me.

Back in March at my annual physical, my doctor was doing my pelvic exam and we discovered that I was very tender. He had me scheduled an ultrasound exam for a week later. My doctor said the exam showed a cyst on my ovary, but that was normal during a menstrual cycle, so he wanted to have another ultrasound done in six weeks to see how it changed (because it's supposed to change). 

At the follow up ultrasound in May the doctor saw something that concerned him - continued growth of the cyst so he referred me to a gynecologist for further tests and treatment, which brings us to the day that I read the story on Facebook about Jay Weaver facing a double foot amputation. 

The song, the devotion, reminded me that whatever happens at the doctor's office, I am blessed to have my good friend Chloe go through this with me, and that God will use this experience as part of my story. My story is not over, no matter what the doctor diagnoses me with.

My gynecologist reviewed my primary care physician's notes and the ultrasound information and then said what he thought it might be - endometriosis or ovarian cancer. 

I took a deep breath and listened. 

He and I talked about my symptoms and the next steps. He sent me to get some blood drawn and referred me to get an MRI so he could get a better picture of what's going on inside of me. He said if it's endometriosis it might be treatable with birth control hormones, and if it's cancer he knows a great oncologist just across the street. 

The comic I read while I breathed and got my blood drawn.
And then I took another deep breath, then I went to get my blood drawn. And I kept breathing through the blood draw.

And I kept breathing on the drive home. 

And as I breathed, I reminded myself that no matter what this turns out to be my story isn't over. This is the next chapter of my story. Perhaps my story will be helpful to someone. Or perhaps someone else's story will help and encourage me. But no matter what, God's not done with me yet. This is not the end - it is a new chapter. Another beginning.

Monday, June 6, 2016

West Coast Salsa

Jan 2014, my first date with "Fred"
Two and a half years ago my interest in dancing was piqued by a man I was dating. (Let's call him Fred, like Fred Astaire....) He'd taken ballroom dance lessons in college as his PE elective and was now infected with the dancing bug. Our dates would revolved around good food (he's a foodie) and dancing. Fortunately for us, Seattle is a great place to get good food and go dancing!

At the time, I weighed about 265 pounds. I wasn't comfortable in my body and I wasn't comfortable moving my body that way. I was overweight and didn't want to be seen. I wanted to hide my size but longed to feel the freedom of moving my body gracefully, sensually across a dance floor.

As he and I dated over the course of the next six months, I was working on losing weight so I was getting smaller. We hit a patch where we broke things off for a few weeks. But since I was already bitten with the dancing bug, too, and now feeling slimmer I wanted to try dancing. I bought a Groupon and signed up for lessons at Belltown Dance Studio in Seattle.

Mine were like this,
but in black!
Fred was really getting into West Coast Swing, so that's what I tried to sign up for. I wanted to see why he was so into it. Unfortunately, I had missed the deadline for the 6-week class signup. Instead, I opted for salsa, which also looked fun and sexy.

Birthday dance at my lesson studio, June 2014
After my first salsa lesson I was hooked. I went out and bought a pair of dance shoes that cost over $100 and I forgot about West Coast Swing, or any other type of dancing. I was in love with salsa! I took lessons on Sunday afternoons and then went to the socials on Sunday nights to practice what I had learned. I also started checking out socials at other locations. By the time my birthday rolled around 3 months later I was at one of the biggest ballrooms in Seattle doing a birthday dance that took my breath away!

And then I moved to Utah.

With no car.

I had no transportation to go dancing until last February when I was dog-sitting. The owners let me use their car and so one Friday night I took myself out to a Valentine's salsa social. I was still in love with salsa! Alas, the owners came back from their vacation and I had to return their car to them, but my love for dancing was reignited. I found friends to go dancing with who would pick me up.

Fast forward to June...

Ready for birthday dancing!
I invite a few girl friends to help me celebrate my birthday by going dancing. We got there extra early and there was a ballroom dance social going on. I got pulled onto the dance floor and learned how to rumba and foxtrot! It was kind of fun, even if the crowd there is mostly older folks.

In July, my roommate went out of town and let me use her car for the whole month! I was so excited! I was able to get out and DO stuff. I start taking group dance lessons on Tuesday nights, volleyball on Wednesday nights, and ballroom AND salsa social on Friday nights. (Oh, and I bought myself a car at the end of July so that I could keep going to these events... and work in the fall!)

At the Tuesday night group lessons we learned American/ballroom tango. There I met two men who impacted my dance life in big ways. The first man introduced me to the Gallivan Center, where many of my dance classmates went after lessons for a free public concert and dancing. Through dance lessons and dancing at the Gallivan center, man number two came into my life.

My trainer and I both use dance as our cardio!
Man number two, Sage, became my East Coast Swing dance partner. (And later down the road he also becomes my friend and personal trainer.) Sage and I danced together regularly on Tuesday nights at the Gallivan Center and on Friday nights at the ballroom dance socials at Ballroom Utah.

Sage and I develop a dance connection and he introduced me Argentine Tango, his passion, in December of 2015. My deep connection to salsa is now making room for other dances, including the Argentine Tango. I love the connection and sensuality of this dance, perhaps even more than the sensuality of salsa.

Jump ahead a few months again to February of this year. My friend Chloe, who I invited to go salsa dancing with me for my birthday, is good friends with a man who enjoys many kinds of dance. One night in February he took us to a West Coast Swing social in Sandy. I was immediately reminded of Fred who was intrigued by this dance. And now I'm captivated, too!

That night we met a friendly guy named Josh who is quite good at West Coast. He had a big smile and made us feel welcome. Unfortunately, I got sick, and we didn't go back for several weeks.

But it's too late. I was bitten by the WCS bug and I'm hooked. In March I went a couple times, but by April I'm sold. I become a regular at the Saturday night socials. And in May I started going on Friday nights... at least the nights that my (East Coast Swing) dance partner can't go to the ballroom socials.

I'm addicted. I love West Coast Swing. Sorry, salsa, WCS is now my #1, but I'll be back to dance you too this summer.

Oh, and I'm much slimmer now, so I don't mind moving my body and being seen on the dance floor.

Sunday, June 5, 2016


For many years now I've longed to be a wife and mother. I want to have and be a companion and partner. A partner in life, and in crime. Someone to do life with, have adventures with, to give and receive love with.

But lately a voice in my head has been saying "what if...." What if you don't have kids? What if you never marry? Will I still be ok if these what ifs happen?

Is my dream changing?

Or is this fear creeping in? My birthday is in a few days. I'm getting older, closer to 40. And sometimes I feel afraid of what the diagnosis will be regarding the lesion and cyst the doctor found during an ultrasound. What if treatment of those means removal of my ovary or uterus?

So is my dream changing, or is this just fear?

I don't know, but as I read Psalm 37:4 as part of my evening devotion, it has brought tears and my heart is crying out to God for his peace.

And the words of a Taize song fill my heart and mouth:
O Lord hear my prayer
O Lord hear my prayer
When I call, answer me
O Lord hear my prayer
O Lord hear my prayer
Come and listen to me