Archive for the ‘Postcards from Cancerland.’ Category

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Diana made a new friend at Walmart a few days ago. 

My amazing wife is working a second part time/weekend job there to help pay some bills.

(BTW…even if you don’t work there, Walmart is a really good place to make new friends and that is one of our goals every time we are there. We are proud to be Walmart people.) 

She was being trained by a lady with an amazing assortment of tattoos, including a breast cancer ribbon engraved on her neck. 

Diana doesn’t have any tattoos…yet.

But as the spouse of a heavily tatted dude, she appreciates the art and story behind the ink. 

Diana and her hardworking coworker were in the meat freezer. 

Di asked her about her tattoos.

The lady didn’t skip a beat while loading heavy boxes of beef into a cart. 

She cleared her throat and said “I had Non-Hodgkins lymphoma eighteen years ago.”

She doesn’t have it anymore.

Right there in a chilly meat freezer, a new friend dropped a bomb on my wife…

A big hope bomb.

Possibility exploded in her spirit right next to some salami. 

BOOM!

In the last few months we have been bombed countless times. 

Hope bombs…

Prayers…

Kindness…

Encouragement…

Words of life…

Acts of love…

Protein shakes…

Socks…

Laughs…

Amazing creative gifts…

Texts and instant messages…

Songs and stories.

We have been the incredibly grateful targets of so many Hope bombs.

In the last few days we have received envelopes stuffed full of hope. 

We are unbelievably thankful. 

Hope bombs seem to ignite at just the right time,  they release positivity and possibilities. 

They have showered strong love all over our souls. 

We have learned that God drops hope bombs. 

He does it in unlikely places and unlikely ways.

He will use whoever he wants to do it. 

God drops hope bombs to remind us that we are not alone. 

God uses people as friendly fighter pilots to drop hope bombs. 

Most of the time, it seems that they don’t even realize the power behind their words and actions. 

It is so ridiculously beautiful. 

It’s also contagious!

As the incredibly grateful targets of so many Hope bombs, we can not wait to drop some bombs on other people. 

You dropped a bomb on me, baby. 

Thank you!

Don’t Dig!

Posted: December 6, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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Live Naked.

Posted: December 5, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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“It’s a jungle out there, it used to be a garden.” – Tonio K.
You are probably familiar with the story.
It’s a tale as old as time.
The Maker created the happiest place on earth for His kids.
They came along and threw away the FastPass.
They broke the small world after all.
In the beginning…
Adam and Eve chose to nibble on the forbidden fruit.
That changed EVERYTHING!
They broke the ONE rule and broke EVERYTHING else.
The change was immediate for them…
They looked down at their suddenly public privates…
GASP!!!
They realized that they were NAKED.
 
Genesis 3:7  “Suddenly their eyes were opened to a reality previously unknown. For the first time, they sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths.” (The VOICE)
It was a shock!
For the first time they had something to hide!
They created their own crude loincloths.
Suddenly vulnerability was a shameful thing.
It makes you wonder, who were they hiding their nakedness from? It was just the two of them and God (and the lying, thieving snake).
But, in the beginning, they were created naked.
Nothing to hide…
Here I am.
Vulnerable…
Honest…
Real.
Since then every single human being has been born naked.
But, live naked?
What if living naked is the original ideal idea?
Relax! I’m fully clothed as I write this.
I’m not talking about losing your shirt.
I’m talking about losing your shame and secrets.
I’m not suggesting a nudist colony, I’m talking about symbolically dropping the fig leaves and living with nothing to hide.
Living naked is simply being honest about the fact that we are imperfect and broken.
But, that’s really hard.
It’s not like us to like us.
So…
We still make our own crude loincloths to cover up our true selves.
We find new fig leaves…
Performance,
Appearance,
Possessions.
We cover up our shame, secrets, and shortcomings.
When I first found out that I had cancer, a few people asked me how I was going to handle it. Was I going to keep it private?
Was I going to let people know about what was happening?
My answer was easy, I wanted to live wide open.
I wanted to share the story with anyone who cared to listen.
The whole story…
The beauty and the beat down,
The process and the pain,
The wonky side effects,
The weakness,
The chemo farts,
All of it.
In the course of tests and treatments, I have dropped my pants and lifted my shirt for a whole lot of people.
At first, it was embarrassing, but I eventually got to the point where it just didn’t matter.
I suddenly felt no shame in symbolically doing that for anyone else.
In doing that I connected with people on levels that I could have never imagined.
I connected with my Maker on levels that I could have never imagined.
We all hurt, we all screw up.
We might as well be honest about it.
When we live raw and wide open it opens the door wide for real connection.
It creates the opportunity to hear two raw, powerful words…
“ME TOO.”
The key to being your “best self” is actually being yourself!
Life is much less complicated when you live naked.
It’s harder NOT to live naked.
You have to have a better memory. You have to remember where you put all of your fig leaves. You have to remember all the lies you told.
It’s easier just to live honest (or naked).
Get real, get raw.
The crazy twist of fate and fashion is that when we live naked the Maker clothes us in HIS garments of grace…
Righteousness,
Peace,
Joy!
Drop the fig leaves…
Let’s get naked.

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As I write this the season of Advent has just begun.
Advent is the time leading up to Christmas.
It is time to anticipate the celebration of the inconceivable idea that God was conceived as a human.
Jesus came as a baby to rescue humanity and he brought hope, love, joy, and peace.
Advent is basically the season of waiting for God to show up.
I find myself in a season of waiting.
I find myself waiting for hair to grow back. I’ve been told that when my hair grows back it will be different. It could be curly or a different color.
I’ve been hoping that it would grow back red so that I can identify myself as transginger.
If that doesn’t happen I’m hoping for really thick black chest hair. The kind of chest hair that makes me look Italian, and gives me a place to hide my car keys.
I find myself waiting for some things to get flushed out of my body. There are still crazy things, like steroids and drugs, that are acting like that one person who is in no hurry to leave the party. They just keep hanging out, eating four hour old BBQ cocktail weenies and telling the same stories over and over.
I’m ready for my unwanted party guests to leave.
I find myself waiting for strength. I’m getting stronger every day, but I’m waiting for the day that I can salsa dance and roundhouse kick small shrubbery.
I find myself waiting for answers. What is next? What has happened? I go in for a test in a few weeks, then we wait for a few days for answers. This is the place where waiting is the toughest. As we wait, thoughts dance around in my mind. Loud time released thoughts of both probability and possibilities compete for my attention. As I wait, I find it’s better to focus on thoughts of impossibility.
AND THAT IS WHY…
I find myself waiting for a “let there be no doubt”.
let there be no doubt what happened here.
let there be no doubt who did this.
let there be no doubt that God showed up.
Advent is the season of waiting for God to show up.
That is where I find myself.
“But I will look to the LORD;
I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.”
—Micah 7:7

HEY YOU GUYS!!!

Posted: November 28, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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One of my favorite movies ever is The Goonies.
What’s not to love? It’s a classic underdog story, there are PIRATES, a puke story, and it produced one of the greatest music videos of all time, “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” by Cyndi Lauper.
It is pure eighties greatness!
In case you haven’t seen the movie 1,873 times like me, let me give you the film factoids:
the heroes are a group of misfit kids who live in a place called the “Goon Docks”. Their families are about to all be evicted because their homes are being demolished and turned into a country club!
How’s that for drama?
Led by a slightly sickly dreamer named Mikey (who is destined to become a Hobbit!) they set out to save their homes from demolition, and, in doing so, discover an old Spanish map that leads them on an adventure to unearth the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy, a legendary 17th-century pirate (and the original Goonie). During the entire adventure, they are chased by a family of criminals named the Fratellis, who want the treasure for themselves. Mama Fratelli is one of the scariest movie mothers ever. They end up saving their neighborhood and capturing the bad guys and learn some serious life lessons along the way.
 
The largest lesson (and one that I’m putting into practice during my current adventure) is…

Goonies never say die.
If you get knocked down, get up again!
Don’t quit.
Don’t let fear hold you back.
Life can be hard, stuff happens.
Don’t give up.
Goonies never say die.
Some other lessons are…
The Goonies are not the cool kids, or the rich kids, or the popular kids.
They were misfits.
We are all misfits sometime.
The Goonies learned that the adventure is more fun when you are with friends.
Speaking of friends, when we judge others by outward appearance we can miss the opportunity to make some of the best friends.
Chunk and Sloth show us that when we overcome fear and refuse to mistreat people who look or act different than us, incredible relationships can happen!
We all have days where we feel like The Goonies.
We even have days where we feel like Sloth.
Rise above.
Never say die.
Be kind.
Share your Baby Ruth.
We all have bad days, we all have rough spots, we face bullies.
Never say die.
Turn bad days into adventures.
The worst days can create some of the most amazing memories.
There are friends to be made, there is treasure to be found even on the worst of days.
Outsmart the things that would bring you down. Leave booty traps AND booby traps for your bullies. Leave little truth bombs that demolish the lies and remind you who and whose you are!
Realize that even though you might be a Goonie from the wrong side of town, you ‘R’ good enough!
Grab the map and let’s look for the treasure that is hidden in today…
But, first let’s all do the truffle shuffle.

Jump the Track.

Posted: November 27, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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Do you remember the cars at Six Flags that you “drove” around on the big track?

They were supercool sports cars that (if you were 42 inches tall) you got to take for a spin. You climbed into the shiny red car, hit the gas, and turned the wheel, and you THOUGHT you were really driving.

The truth was that the cars were attached to the track, the rails just guided them around the same old track again and again.

You would start and end up at the same spot, the loading station that usually resembled a old gas station.
Chemo is kind of like that except that every time you come back around to the filling station, your car gets heavier and less comfortable.
It’s a cycle…you go around the track again and again and again.
I went around six times.
You spin the steering wheel to no avail, the car does what it is supposed to do.
UNTIL…that magical day when you get to jump the track and take off in a blaze of glory.
You aren’t driving nearly as fast as you think because you are pretty sluggish, but you are out of there!
You ring a beautiful gold bell on the way out as a way to say “YEEHAW!”
I jumped the track a while back and I’ve been trying to put some distance between me and the killer cure.

It’s good to see chemo in the rear view mirror!

The farther I get away from it the stronger I get.
I had my bloodwork done yesterday and it all came back really good. Last week was ROUGH, the side effects did a number on me! But, I’m feeling much better. My strength is coming back. Now it’s just a matter of getting the chemo drugs and steroids out of my stomach and system.
I am scheduled for a PET scan in a few weeks, than we get the results a few days later.
The results will determine what’s next…
a party or plan B.
We are believing BIG for a party, a BIG party where my granddaughter and me can wear matching tiaras and dance silly dances.
In the meantime…
We drive…
We put the pedal to the metal…
We get busy living, and laughing, and loving.

Losing my Chins.

Posted: November 23, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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I have a confession to make.
When I lost my beard a while back, I didn’t handle it well.
It had been my constant companion for years.
We were quite attached.
It was the first thing I saw when I looked in the mirror.
Suddenly, it was gone.
I looked in the mirror and, instead of chullet, I saw chins.
SERIOUS chinnage.
I was suddenly very self conscious about my abundance of face.
After all, a good beard covers a multitude of chins.
I wanted more jawline than jowls, I wanted strong chiseled features that made me look like Dwayne  “the Rock” Johnson.
Instead I saw fleshy neck.
I felt my chin made my head look like a slightly misshapen Vienna sausage.
So when I messaged family and friends or took selfies, I conveniently cropped out my chins. I made it look like my face began somewhere around my bottom lip.
I considered only wearing turtlenecks.
I tried to stretch my face to distribute my chunky face.
My wife called me on it.
She asked why I was erasing part of my face.
She seems to be fond of my face…all of it.
I’m quite fond of her and her opinion matters more to me than anyone else’s.
So, I looked in the mirror again.
I realized that I’ve always had chins.
It wasn’t an issue until I fell into the trap of chin comparison.
In an Instagram world, we feel the pressure to filter and crop.
We want to offer the world a different version of ourselves, something less real, not as flawed.
We banish the blemishes.
We take pictures from flattering angles to try to hide the things that make us feel less.
We try to hide our chin, or wrinkles, or butt, or gut.
It carries over to other things too.
We don’t want people to see ALL of us, whether it’s our face or our finances.
We see the seemingly perfect social media life of others and we don’t want to come up short.
So we prop ourselves up to measure up to unreal expectations.
We are so afraid to be left behind that we never let ourselves be truly known.
Comparison is a cancer.
It steals joy.
It kills individuality.
It’s a crime against humanity.
We are quick to compare our condition and station.
In the last few months, the Instagram world has given me front rows seats to see people living amazing lives while I’ve been confined and restricted.
When I compare, I always come up short.
BUT, here’s the unchanging deal…
I’m NOT them!
I’m not meant to live their life and they aren’t meant to live mine.
If they are my friends, I should celebrate when their life is amazing, instead of compare and covet.
Stop comparing.
Comparing opens the door for complaining.
Complaining turns me into an art critic instead of an artist.
I criticize the art that the Creator made in me and others.
I think He takes that personal.
I would rather celebrate the uniqueness of you and me.
AND that includes my chin.
Real wins.
As I write this, my weird beard is making a comeback.
I’m growing the chullet back, not to cover anything, but to celebrate EVERYthing.