Friday, March 11, 2016

'Cause I'm B-M-T!

Please, channel your inner-metalhead and chant this with me:
....'cause I'm B-M-T
B. M. T.

Thank you AC/DC for defining "badass" throughout my high-schoolhood. This little blast of creativity has helped offer up a more fun way of starting this post than what I've been feeling: "Sucks to suck."

So, anyway, you guys - here's the update you've all been waiting for and I'll cut right to the point:

The hematologist-oncologist and the team of immuno-hematologists have all recommended that Dan have a bone marrow transplant within the next three months.


Did you just feel sucker-punched? A blow to the gut?

Because that's how I have been feeling. Our doctor (Dr. McCoy - hematologist-oncologist) gave her recommendation to us 2 weeks ago, and the immuno-team last week. And in spite of all that talk a few weeks ago about being detached from the outcome, I just have had a hard time grappling with this.

Truth of it all: I don't want it. I don't want the 5 days of chemo so intense that it decimates your system. I don't want the month-long hospital stay while we wait to see if Dan's body will accept the new life-force. I don't want the 100 days of in-home care he'll need. I don't want the year of waiting. The second year of waiting. I don't want the anxiety and worry and helplessness that I feel right now to continue for all that time.

I do want healing for Dan; I do want a cure for Dan. But I don't want him to have to endure all of that. I want Jesus to come right now and take it all away. Honestly, right now, I don't even know what to ask for in prayer.


So, there's all of that. It's been hard for Dan coming to terms that should everything go well - the recommendation is for him to spend two years not working with livestock.

[yeah. another sucker punch.]

I think that's what makes this all so hard - knowing the risks, and the waiting - and that it will change your life no matter the outcome - makes it really hard to just say, "Ok!" Let's do it tomorrow!

But, every week that we meet with our doctor, we are reminded that this is waiting in the wings, so I guess it's time we let all of you in on the plan, too. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


This past weekend, I attended a women's retreat hosted by our parish. It was great. Very Catholic - in a very good way. We closed with a woman's testimony (Karen Rutherford) - the mother of our priest, Father Mark. [Yes, Catholics have testimonies.] and Karen! - if we were more southern, more African-American, and less white-midwestern, we probably would have been yelling, "PREACH!" over, and over, and over again.

One of the key points in her story was that we have got to be on our guard against the devil. She specifically quoted Ephesians 6:10-15. She had us sing "Strong Tower" by Kutless.

and, boy, did I need it today.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that "our enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour."

Today, I tried a new class at the gym. My friend, Karen (not Father Mark's mom), and I have been going to the gym for almost two months about 3-4 times/week. We've been lifting, running, and getting stronger.

We tried a barre class: specifically "Barre-Be." And that is not an accurate name. It should be called "This will kick your ass, punch you in the gut, and take your lunch money." It was hard. So hard, that about 15 minutes in...I almost had a break down.

I was on the verge of not just tears - a full-on, " I can't do anything. My life is so hard right now, and the last thing I need is something that is this hard that I have chosen to do" melt down. I was so close to just letting it all go that I had to physically stop, breathe, and ask God to give me the strength - mentally, emotionally, and physically - to keep going.

God helped me. I kept going. I was not going to cry. I'm tougher than that.

Ephesians 6 describes spiritual attacks like this - as flaming arrows. My battle, apparently, wasn't through. After the almost-meltdown (which was during mat-work), we moved to the bar. barre? barre. This allowed us to now have view of the wall of mirrors. [yea - half-hearted/self-conscious cheer]

[Now, I understand that the mirrors are designed to help you work on your form. But, really. Did men design these - or just gorgeous women without body image issues?]

Those arrows were pointed right at my exposed self-consciousness. "Wow. You really should have worn a different shirt. Ugh. Those love-handles. Look at those. Wow. Wow, I am actually the only person here with love handles. Coooool.... Wow. Look at these pants; they really emphasize my thighs. Wow, I actually have the biggest thighs here. Cooool.... Oh my gosh. I thought I was doing so good. ...I am never doing this class again." 

As I changed and tried to sift through this defeated spirit, my first desire was to go to Mass tonight and just get some Jesus in me. I realized that these thoughts are arrows trying to ruin me. But, they don't need to. I don't need to let them.

Paul (in Ephesians) and Peter both exhort - push - us to recognize that we must be alert. We must be on guard. Attacks will come at us when we start making in-roads to becoming the best version of ourselves (walking the road toward holiness and away from self-destruction). An attack is not a defeat (it's actually a sign you are getting somewhere).

Let's remember to utilize our power:

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.  Ephesians 6:10-19

 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.   1 Peter 5:8-11

 As I drove away from the gym, "Strong Tower" started playing in my head; my sign from the Holy Spirit, that He's got this.

America without mercy is just a-i-a, which is a lot like ay-yi-yi

This message has been tossed around in my head for months now. Months. Since November, when politicians first started swearing to board up the country and refuse Syrian and Iraqi refugees...and I've let it sit here. Sit here, stewing, hoping that at some point the country would be shaken from this bad dream that seems to be gripping us.

Yet, here I still sit, watching a dream morph into a nightmare believing that at some point, we'll wake up - gasping for air, yes - but thankful, it was all a dream.

I have no idea where to start. So, I'll just say this: Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy.

What is mercy - but a picture of the God's loving kindness (hesed)? His willingness as the father of the prodigal son, who wished him dead, to stoop down and embrace his son? His willingness to reach down low into the muck and mire, risking his reputation, to pull up a child - or even an animal - destined to die unless one reached out?

This is what each of us, whether we embrace the mercy of Jesus or not, has been offered. This is what we, for those who call ourselves "believers" have received. THIS is what we, as believers, must offer to others.

To do so, though, we must first recognize that we are in the muck and the mire - and we are not those on the sidelines helping others out...we are simply extending a hand to our fellow sinner - and together, we grasp the hand of our Father. This is the image God revealed to me on Saturday while I was talking to him about a guy that I don't particular care for (and no, it wasn't the Donald; just a fellow parishioner that I don't even know well - so I'm just being judgy)...and the image I saw was that his hand was necessary for me to even get closer to the surface because he was closer to the surface than me [that's how much I am in the muck].

Mercy is not just between us and God. To be the body of Christ is not just between us and our church or just between us and people who believe like us. To be the body of Christ, we must be showing mercy to every body. We must be willing to risk ourselves so that another might live.

...and what I see from my beloved America is, instead of living the freedom that comes from being the body of Christ - fear.


We are afraid to be open to any new group of people, to admit the imperfections of our history and past - because, God forbid, we won't be great, any more.

That is never what made us great. What made America great was unity - and geez, when in our history have we experienced unity in all things? (never!) But, we recognized that in our great freedom, that we must show mercy: we must recognize my neighbor as better than myself; I must consider the needs of another as much as I consider my own. A spirit of brotherhood united even when we disagreed on the specifics.

Didn't it? Or is this just my idealization of America? Because I really don't know, anymore.

There have been dark times in our past. People have been oppressed. Admitting these things doesn't make America small. Repentance leads to reconciliation. Maybe "your people" had nothing to do with slavery because they weren't even in America yet. I get it. That doesn't mean you can't listen to those whose family stories have been defined by a great, dehumanizing, injustice. We must listen and acknowledge for some healing to begin.

The immigration issue won't be solved with a fence. It is not simple. Every day people risk their lives to wander across a mountainous desert...for what? To be greeted by a country that spits at them, locks them up, and sends them back? I guess I don't understand why it's such an arduous process to allow immigrants. What happened to Ellis Island? Why can't Nogales and Douglas and El Paso and San Diego become beacons of hope like Ellis Island was for my ancestors?

Because some might be drug dealers? Some might be rapists? I think we've got Americans who are drug dealers, rapists,, what are we really afraid of? [which is the same argument I'd pose for allowing Syrian and Iraqi refugees to come]

For those of us who call ourselves Christians, it becomes especially pertinent to fight our fears and embrace those who are hurting, sick, alien - different from us in every way. No, America may not be the same America from your childhood - but, that's part of the beauty, right? We are grasping each other's hands and swimming toward life.

The aspiration of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is not found without being in a community. To be an island is contrary to the Gospel...and the Gospel is Truth, is it not? We don't get to choose our community. We've got to struggle in this together.

To close...just don't give in to fear, ok, America? Don't succumb to hate or division. We are better than that. We must be better than that.