Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Middle Place

This summer I have been frequenting our local library. I have really enjoyed reading lots of different kinds of books and participating in their Summer Reading Program. I am totally going for the prizes and get to enjoy some good books in the process. :-) If anyone has any recommendations for good reads, I would love to hear them.

Recently, I read 2 books by an author named Kelly Corrigan. The first one I read was entitled "LIFT" and was a quick read. It only has about 80 pages and I think I read it in less than an hour. The author wrote this book as a letter for her two elementary school-aged daughters. I was struck by a section in the book where the reason for the title was revealed. She was sharing a discussion she had with someone who was an expert hang-glider. The person revealed what was required to be successful at hang-gliding, "Basically you go from thermal to thermal looking for lift." When the author asked the question about what exactly was a thermal, he explained that a thermal was a column of hot air surrounded by turbulence. Instead of avoiding turbulence as one might think, it is actually the only way to get altitude or get lift. When the author questioned why would he even want to take the risk because the thermal is surrounded by so much turbulence, he responded that he LOVED hang-gliding and it was worth the risk. This part of the book really made me stop and think that sometimes going through turbulence is worth the risk to do something that you love or passionate about. I am not always a risk taker so this has encouraged me to step out of my "safe place" and begin to look for thermals. :-)

The other book I read by Kelly Corrigan is called The Middle Place. This was her account of a time in her life when she and her father were both diagnosed with cancer and going through treatments. She discussed feeling like she is in this "middle place" where she is trying to care for herself, her family and her parents and the struggle of how to balance all of that. MAN, did that ever resonate with me with things going on in my life right now. While I have not been diagnosed with any life-threating illnesses (and pray that nothing like that happens...I have enough on my plate), I still totally connected with this author's story. Given the issues my dad is having with his health, I feel as if I need to be there doing what I can do to help my parents...but at the same time I struggle with not spending enough time with Anna and Mark. Then when you add other responsibilities of life, it just feels as if I am in this "middle place" trying to balance everything. The Middle Place is definitely a strange place to be. One thing that was so striking in this book to me was the comparison the author made between her reactions and her father's reactions to the turmoil in their lives. Her father had a strong faith and had an upbeat and positive attitude throughout the whole ordeal. Conversely, the author is pretty open about her lack of faith. I know that as I am in this middle place I want to be a person who completely relies on her faith to balance everything that is going on.

Anyway...I really enjoyed both of these books. I think they were well written books and I would have enjoyed them even if I hadn't connected so much with the author's story. As far as the recommendations of good books, they do not have to be books that make me think or allow me to connect on a deep level. I love a good novel that allows me to escape and enjoy characters. I am OK with total fluff and enjoy reading lots of different genres. So feel free to recommend anything...from books about Sparkly vampires and werewolves TO sappy chick lit TO stories about a boy wizard! :-)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Will I Ever Learn?

Today I had an experience that is not new to me, but it seems like whenever it happens I am always taken off guard. That is this: When you ask God for something, you shouldn't be surprised when he actually does it!

Let me dad has been struggling with health issues for about 20 years. Most recently, he has had 2 heart attacks over the course of 6 weeks and they have found several lesions on his liver. Right now, he is in the hospital for his most recent heart attack. He was supposed to have a biopsy of his liver this week but because of his heart issues and the blood thinners he takes that had to be put on hold. However, in the meantime, he was connected with an oncologist who began working with him while at the hospital. She examined the CAT scan that showed the lesions on the liver and then ordered numerous tests and blood work. Once she received the results, she discovered that he had an elevated CEA level which is an indicator of tumor activity in the body. A normal reading is typically 4 and his is at 34. That coupled with the results of some other tests, the CAT scan showing signs on the liver and the fact he was given a medication in the past that can lead to cancer (particularly in the colon) later on all pointed to the fact that he had COLON CANCER than had SPREAD to his LIVER. The oncologist thought this, my cousin who is a nurse in oncology thought this and all of my diagnostic research on the internet confirmed this. (By the is really never a good idea to look up symptoms on the internet.) :-)

Based upon this information, he was scheduled for a colonoscopy this morning at 8:30 AM and then we were to meet with the oncologist at 11:00 to discuss the results and options. So, I headed to Valparaiso this morning fully prepared to hear that my dad had colon cancer that had spread to his liver. I got out the door a little bit late so I knew I would not make it there before the start of the test, but figured I would arrive before the test had concluded...especially since I was expecting them to find cancer. However, I was only about halfway to the hospital when I got a call from my mom that said they found ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in his colon. Well, I was shocked (so was everyone else I think...particularly the oncologist)!

However, I should not have been shocked. As Mark and I prayed for my dad, I specifically asked God that they would not find any cancer in his colon and that everyone (including his doctors) would be shocked by that. Guess what...that is EXACTLY what happened! They didn't find any cancer in his colon...even though all the tests indicated that there should be cancer there. I knew God could do that...I mean he is the God of the Universe. However, I was still surprised when it actually happened.

I wish I could say this is the first time that I have been shocked when God actually did something that I had asked for that seemed pretty impossible. However, this seems to be a constant theme in my life. I can think of countless times when I have asked God for something really big and when it actually happened I was shocked that he actually did it. Instead, I should have been thanking God for what he did. It is frustrating that I seem to have such a lack of faith when it comes to this.

I have no idea what is going to happen with my dad. The next step is to have a PET scan to determine if the lesions in the liver are cancer and if there is any cancer anywhere else. Who knows what that will show and he may very well have cancer.

However, I am going to ask God that the PET Scan shows no cancer and if that truly happens I won't be shocked. I will just remember that I serve a Great Big God who is bigger than anything that life throws our way!

And if my dad does have cancer, I will still remember that I serve a Great Big God who is bigger than anything that life throws our way! :-)