To say that the last few weeks have been tragic and overwhelming would be an understatement. We live in a world that is “broken shalom”—not the world God intended. He created us to be in beautiful and intimate community with Him and with each other. When sin (which is pride and the desire to do things MY or OUR way which separates us from God’s intention for us) entered the world, the shalom God created was broken. But God gave us a Redeemer through Jesus Christ and we know that he is with us, he never leaves us, and he is continually renewing and uniting hearts here on this earth despite the brokenness. The great news is that one day all will be redeemed, restored, and reunited in Christ. There will be no pain and suffering and the creation that we have here on earth will be renewed and ours to behold and enjoy with God the Father in eternity.
Yet….we suffer on this earth, with trials in all areas of the world. With hate and injustice, and broken relationships and hurting families. With poverty, and disease, and hunger, and human trafficking and vitriol spread with violence and with words.
The past three weeks have been filled with tragedy in my life. One of our own precious church members died, with his wife and two young sons left here to grieve, mourn, and move forward each day. And then the horrific hate crime with the shooting at the Chabad synagogue in Poway, our sweet and love filled community.
And… my infusion chemo started. The first round was awful. I had every side effect they told me to expect. Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, agitation, heightened sense of smell and taste (nothing good), and a bit of vertigo (walking into walls and doors). The next week I felt better and stronger, and then I had to go to round two. That week was better. No nausea or vomiting. Still the agitation and lack of focus. And then the hair loss started. At first it was finding hair all around the sink, the shower, on my clothes. And then it hit hard. Huge clumps started coming out. I tried not to wash or brush my hair, but even when I touched it to put a hat on, clumps would fall out. I have made it through six years of having cancer on and off and never completely lost my hair. I have to say that I really am doing okay with this. I pulled out my hat collection and went to the wig studio today. I walked out with two new wigs and I will add my earrings and accessories and do my best to stay in step with my signature style. My friend Dee Dee went with me and we had lunch afterward and I felt so happy and renewed.
This week I have had a better appetite, but then I pay for it later. I am trying to stick to basics (fruit popsicles are my friends) and eating bland food like rotisserie chicken and rice. I am incredibly thankful for the meals people bring so that Micah and Greg get fed. It is a true blessing. I have been hiking and I even made it to my spin class a few times (going at my own pace) and these things always make me feel stronger and help me through. But what has helped the most has been the incredible outpouring of love through text messages, prayers, phone calls, cards, and all the support my community (you all) give to me and my family.
At the same time all this has been going on, there have been many precious moments that remind me that life is beautiful, despite its brokenness, and it is beautiful because of community. Because of people who love and grieve and mourn and lament and offer themselves to each other through the suffering. God shows Himself through each of us, and I see it every day. I continue to focus on the joys…which include…..that our family has some exciting news…(no, I am not pregnant)….
Micah has made his college decision and he will be going to the University of Denver in the fall. #DU. It is a perfect fit for his goals—it is a private college located in an urban area, yet with grounds that are green and lush and buildings that look like Yale was placed in Denver. Most important—it has a fantastic business and entrepreneurship program and art studio that will help him pursue his dream to own his own fashion design company. We are thrilled. And to make it sweeter, he will be one hour away from Noah who will be a senior at his college in Fort Collins CSU. It makes for a one stop shop for us to see our boys when we visit.
Which brings me to our next exciting news…(no, we are not adopting another puppy)…. We bought a house in Fort Collins, Colorado. It will be used as a rental for Young Life college students, starting with Noah and his roommates this year and then hopefully using for continued ministry in the area. It has an unfinished basement that we are building out to be used for AirB&B or VRBO for people and parents visiting their kids in college. We are so blessed that we were able to do this due to the sale of my dad’s condo after Ric’s death. We are excited about the possibilities that this home will have to love and serve Young Life college students and their families.
Despite the tragedies, I have seen the Spirit of God in all this. He makes himself accessible and intimate amidst suffering. It is then that we see Him with such clarity because He is real! He is here! He gives light and hope. Our church came together in love and support for our family whose husband died. Our city and community came together with two vigils, one on the night of the shooting, and another at Poway High School where 4,000 people gathered in solidarity in an interfaith gathering of love and unity. These are the times where we see the light; we see the hope. As Bob Goff says, LOVE DOES. And as one of my heroes, Mister Fred Rogers said, “In times of crisis, look for the helpers. There are always the helpers.” I see this now, being lived out in the broken shalom. People being the helpers and the lovers and the supporters and the prayer warriors.
But our greatest Helper is Jesus Christ himself. He came to be our Helper, to walk alongside us when we are confused and scared and helpless. When suffering comes because of broken shalom, Jesus says, “I am with you.” As we gather and we help and we mourn and lament, we know that one day the broken shalom will be restored and renewed. Jesus will redeem us to the shalom and perfect peace that He intends for us. And while we wait, while we suffer, while we help and support, He is with us saying, “I give you shalom NOW, in your hearts….you have My shalom.”
This gives me hope and strength. We have one who is our Help, who is our peace, who is our joy.