Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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There is a time honored rite of passage called the Snipe hunt.
When I was about 12 years old, I got welcomed into the club.
I was on a camp out with the youth group from St. Henry’s Catholic Church. (I think St. Henry might be the patron saint of men who smoke pipes.)
We had backpacked into the woods, ate a large amount of canned beanie weenies and sat around the campfire, farting and giggling.
It was a memorable trip into the deep woods of north east Oklahoma. I don’t mind saying that we survived some pretty harsh conditions, we hiked for minutes, our tents flooded one night AND we ran out of Vienna sausages.
Then late one night, as we sat around the warm, safe fire, we were told by the older dudes that the conditions were perfect for a snipe hunt. Evidently, The perfect conditions were a moonless night and a bunch of gullible 7th grade boys. We were instructed that we were going to catch, and probably kill, and possibly eat the exclusive wild snipe.
We were ready!
We were MEN and we were ready for the hunt. Snipes were described to us as cross between a wild mongoose, a Pygmy goat and an electric eel. Needless to say we were horrified but we were men so we hunt…right?
We were given  a musty burlap bag and 2 sticks and carefully worded instructions: The older guys would take us into the snipe hunting grounds and help us find the perfect spot. We were to stand there, expectantly, with our bag ready to snag a snipe. We also were told to bang the sticks together and make the snipe  mating call, which sounded like this: “kissy kissy woooo!” The snipes would then run into our burlap bags. It sounded pretty easy…a little scary, but simple…right?
So we did it.
The older guys separated us and led us away from the fire.
They took us out and left us alone in the dark with a burlap bag making kissy noises.
We waited and waited and waited.
It was dark and scary.
It’s really not fair, being 12 years old is already a really hard and confusing time. It’s even harder when you get left in the dark. There were weird completely unfamiliar outdoor noises.
Here’s the part of the plan that we didn’t know:
When we were really creeped out and about to lose our minds the older jerks…I mean guys snuck up on us and scared the crap right out of us. It was all a lot of fun…if you were an older guy.
I was crouched in the dark with my burlap bag making kissy noises. I wasn’t a big fan of the dark at home, but in the woods I was consumed with wide eyed, crazy fear. Right about then, my friend, Arthur’s brother, Phil, snuck up and GRABBED MY LEG!!!
My finely tuned survival skills kicked in and I did what came primal.
I had two sticks so I used them. I started beating the crud out of Phil with my sticks.
He was yelling “LUKE…LUKE…IT’s ME!!!”
I shouted back: “I KNOW!!”
I still feel kinda bad about that, Phil was a really good guy.
Here’s what I realize now, I should have stayed close to the fire.
I should never have let anyone lead me into the dark.
At the first mention of hunting mutant beasts called snipes, I should have just said “you know what, I’m good. I’m gonna stay here by the fire and make some s’mores”.
When you get left in the dark, there are weird completely unfamiliar outdoor noises…
scary noises that give you goosebumps…
noises that whisper doubt…
noises that tell you that you aren’t enough, that your situation is helpless, that there is no hope.
We wander into the woods, away from the fire, not realizing that fear lives in the shadowlands.
Fear grows strongest in the places further from the fire.
I have found that the safest place for me to be right now is holding hands with the fire.
I need to live as close as possible to the fire.
Which is easier than it sounds, because, in a crazy twist of flame, the fire burns INSIDE me!
That’s as close as you can get!
That should also make it tough for me to ignore the light.
But, sometimes I do.
I wander off into the darkness and I listen to the noises of fear and doubt.
I’ve got to find my way back to the fire.
It’s not hard.
He is always there.
He is close, ready to consume me in His holy heat.
The fire gently whispers to me, “you are bigger than you think you are, you have experienced the indwelling of the infinite. You are a habitat for the Holy.” He assures me that I’m never alone. He tells me the truth and tells me which way to go.
He sings campfire songs of healing and wholeness.
I sit in the fire and I’m warmed.
I just wish I had some s’mores.

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I find myself in an abandoned discotheque on the outskirts of downtown. The lights are dim, the music has faded. The aroma of fried food and perfume is thick in the air, in my weakened state this gives me a coughing fit. I find a warm can of Fresca on the bar counter, it helps my lungs to settle.
In my search for healing, this is where I’ve ended up.
I know I’m going to have to dance.
I walk out onto the rundown dance floor.
The mirrored ball is dusty and broken.
It doesn’t matter…
I know I’m going to have to dance.
I just have to find my song.
It’s a simple groove…three steps.
I move towards the miracle.
We are halfway through the scheduled treatment!!
Three treatments down, three more to go!!
We find ourselves dancing in the in-between, and we are learning the rhythm of this twisted little tango.
It’s like a three step groove on an old dance floor.
We are learning the steps, what once was foreign has become familiar.
Three steps…
Step One…
Treatment week is like a middle school ballroom dance. I have an assigned partner that I have to learn to move around with, a pump that is literally part of me. We dance to the soft syncopation of drugs being pushed into my body, this week is awkward.
Step Two…
The week after treatment is like a mosh pit. I slam dance with a long line of side effects. This part of the dance is painful and vulnerable and everything tastes like unleaded gasoline.
Step Three (FINALLY)…
This is the week that I currently find myself dancing in.
It’s a wonky waltz.
This is the recovery week.
This week…
My blood counts are good, the strangeness has settled down a bit, I’m getting a little rest at night.
I still can’t feel things with my fingers, that doesn’t keep me from pointing toward Heaven while I move.
This is the week when I’m built up before we start all over and I’m broke down again.
It’s a messed up rinse and repeat.
But, it’s all a part of moving towards the miracle.
I’ve learned the rhythm just in time for the back half of the dance.
In my head I rehearse the unforced rhythm of grace, it gives me a backbeat.
I’ve gotta listen to the right music and find the groove.
As I dance, things that were engineered for my captivity and demise are broken.
Three steps.
I know that I’m going to have to dance.
In the suddenly shiny and whole mirrored ball, I see the reflection of the miracle.

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As I write this, Hurricane Florence has made landfall in our home state of North Carolina. Our beautiful coast is being beat up and battered. We are four hours inland, we have been told to expect high winds, heavy rain, and power outages.
Our local over caffeinated meteorologists and friendly media people have told us to get prepared and hunker down.
Hunker down is actually really solid advice.
Hunker means to squat down and stay put.
It means to settle in and take shelter.
It’s good advice when storms hit.
Hunkering is really tough for some people.
They aren’t wired to hunker.
They would much rather hustle.
But sometimes you just got to hunker.
Since beginning my battle with the belly bully, pretty much all that I’ve done is hunker.
My job right now is to heal.
Sometimes, healing requires hunkering.
So, I hunker.
In fact, I have become an expert on the fine art of hunkering.
So, I want to share with you some helpful hunker help.
There are hundreds of books, blogs, and self help seminars to help you hustle, but surprisingly few can teach you how to hunker.
Fear not…
I am here for you.
Here are some things I have learned:
• Follow instructions! Listen to the authorities and experts, even when they seem to be overreacting. They might see things that you don’t.
• Learn some new card tricks! Sometimes we don’t like the hand of cards we are dealt in life, Don’t quit the game.
Learn some new card tricks.
• A good book can take you anywhere. If you are feeling cooped up, grab a book…not a text book, get some fun fiction and let it help you escape. In the last week, I have sailed the Caribbean and flown the Millennium Falcon.
• Snacks are important! Stock up on snacks. Everybody seems to stock up on bread and milk, evidently they plan on surviving on French toast. I would rather stock up on beef jerky and root beer. Get a variety of snacks that you like. Variety is important because sometimes things don’t taste the way you expected.
• Talk!
Spend time talking to God.
Spend time talking to your hunker buddies.
Remember to listen.
• Learn something. As long as we are living, we should be learning. The hunker times are powerful teachers, pay attention!
• Relax.
Take a breath.
Take a nap.
Squat down and stay put.
Settle in and take shelter.
Hunker!!

Game Face.

Posted: September 14, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland., Uncategorized

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I love this picture of Carolina Panthers tight end, Greg Olsen.
It is the perfect example of a game face.
Off the field, Greg is a family man. He’s warm, He’s fuzzy, He goes to PTA meetings.
On the field, you really don’t want to mess with him. He is a 6’5” beast.
Like those of us who have never played in the NFL, Greg Olsen has also had times off the field when he’s had to put on a game face.
His son has had serious health challenges.
The kind of hard times that draw you together as a family.
The Olsens have had to put on their game faces and fight for their boy.
Let me see your game face.

It’s a swagger or snarl that you bring out when things are about to get tough.

We all have those days…
hard, gray days when we have to press through.
We encounter cold days that offer more pain than promise.
We have to tackle opponents that we didn’t see coming.
THAT is when it’s time to put on our game face.
Sometimes we have to be strong for someone else, we share their fight and we wear a game face for them.
I have seen my wife’s game face often during this fight.
She is a beast.
Let me see your game face.
This is NOT “fake it til you make it”.
This is finding strength that you didn’t know you had.
It’s not putting on a happy face.
It’s drawing on resources that you only discover in the midst of the fight.
It’s letting those resources being reflected in your countenance.
Game faces are almost never pretty,
They are gritty,
They are sweaty,
They are more beast than beauty
They are hardly selfies.
They get your face in the fight.
They tell your opponent…
“I showed up and I mean business.”
It’s your mountain moving face.
It’s the face that won’t take no for an answer.
It’s the face that refuses to sit down, shut up, or move to the back of the bus.
It’s the wild eyed look that says…
You can stand me up at the gates of hell,

But I won’t back down.”

 
I CAN not…WILL not give up.
 
it’s looking the bully in the eyes and saying…

I know your reputation.
I know your record.
BUT…
I know the ONE who fights for me.
The ONE who is good, 
The ONE who is greater. 
 
 
Let me see your game face.

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I like BIG books and I can not lie.
Some people don’t, I can’t deny.
I know people who only read the first and last chapters of a book.
They don’t have time for the in-between, so they skip all of the other chapters or they skim over the inside stuff.
I think that’s sad…
They miss the plot, they miss the character development.
They just want to know how the story starts and ends, and they end up missing the story itself.
True confession: I’ve actually tried to do that in real life.
Maybe you have too?
We want to skip the tough chapters.
We don’t want the pain or the conflict.
We look for shortcuts.
The problem is that shortcuts short circuit the story.
We try to avoid the hard chapters.
We don’t want to stick around when the story gets get old, or boring, or uneventful.
We run from impossible.
We really want to skip over the demanding sentences.
We don’t want to look the dragon in the eyes.
When we take the hard stuff out, we also take out chances to learn and grow.
We miss the plot, we miss our character development.
We miss getting to know the other characters.
In the chapter that I presently find myself in, I’ve come to realize that skipping the hard stuff is not an option.
The dragon is standing before me, his hot breath is on my face.
I can’t just skip to the happy ending.
There are no short cuts to the castle.
Wherever you find yourself in the story of you, I encourage you to let it develop!
Don’t skip a chapter.
Learn from it all.
You won’t want some pages to end.
Some chapters will hurt like hell and you will try to rush through.
Don’t try to run from the pain.
Take pen in hand and choose to write stories of resolution and hope.
Slay the dragons.
Storm the castle.
You won’t always get to choose your adventure.
But you WILL always script your reaction.
SO…
Pick up sword and shield and fight,
Or fall in love,
Or take a nap in a field of sunflowers and rest,
Or play in a waterfall with a unicorn named Jack,
Believe six impossible things before breakfast,
Be brave and kind.
Just don’t skip a chapter.

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We just got back from the Doctor.

We got the results from the CAT scan a few weeks ago!
After the first two treatments…
This next part is best read in an Oprah voice:
 WE HAVE SHRINKAGE!!
The good doctor said that overall there is about a 40% shrinkage in the masses.
On a scale of 1-10 he is putting my progress at a 9.
WOO to the HOO!!
The belly bully is being beat down.
The fight goes on!
Round Three is almost over.
We are going the distance.
We have three more rounds.
There will be no quarter given.
This round has been interesting, a few new pains, coughs, flutters and quivers.
I’ve been a little wobbly kind of like a drunken pirate.
At times it has felt like I have a Spider-Man beach towel stuck in my head.
I’m learning to navigate the pump that is continually attached to my chest a bit better, I think that by the time this is over I will be able to do an impressive dance routine while swinging the pump around like a bulky baton.
I was sitting in the big vinyl infusion chair this morning thinking “WOW! This is a little like Mardi Gras” as I was hiking up my shirt and showing my man boobs to assorted medical professionals and passerby. Then it was a little hurtful when I realized that no one has thrown plastic beads at me.
But the bottom line is we have good news and the belly bully is being beat down.
As a short dude, I didn’t think I would ever be thankful for shrinkage…but I AM!!
Giddy Up!!!

When I lost my chullet…wait…can we just have a moment of silence for my dearly departed weird beard?

Thank you.

Anyway…when I said goodbye to my hairy little friend. I had several wonderful individuals step up and send me solutions for my suddenly naked chin. Here are some of the fake facial hair ideas…