I will not be afraid

As 2017 is closing, I found myself feeling very afraid for the new year. I had just found out last week that the sky was not, in fact, the limit when it came to how much the car insurance would be paying of my medical bills. Apparently there is a PIP (Personal Injury Protection) limit with your insurance company. So I had to call up my insurance adjuster and get a good idea where we were at with that. Sounded like we had enough left. He wasn’t worried. However, the next day, I found out that the PT office stopped billing my insurance two months ago. I’m guessing because five bills were not paid that were submitted, but I had already talked to the insurance adjuster the week before about that. All he needed was some chart notes to process those. He was going to call and let them know.

 

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.

 

They, on the other hand, decided I was past my PIP limit. And instead of finding out what my insurance was or if I needed to switch to another physical therapists office because they don’t take my insurance, they chose to do nothing. They didn’t alert the people in the office who work with me every time I go in, they didn’t call me and ask me what my next step would be, they didn’t call the insurance adjuster and see what the problem was. Nothing. So, now, two months worth of bills have not been processed and that amount that is left of my PIP is now looking like it may not be enough. And my little butt is still not healed, to make it worse. Technically, it’s my SI joint causing the pain, but when it starts acting up, it feels like it’s my butt that is hurting. (This area is the small triangular joint between the sacrum and the ilium bones of the pelvis. Or the sacroiliac joint.)

 

I have called you by name and you are mine.

 

 

So I was feeling afraid. Afraid there’s not enough left in the ‘pot’ to cover the expenses left. And angry. Angry that the people in the billing office didn’t care enough to see the red flags and check to see what the next plan of action was. Which would have alerted me sooner that the car insurance will not be covering the bills until I am all better, but I need to switch over to my health insurance. I also found out that the chiropractors office, while taking my insurance, doesn’t take my plan. So I am switching to a plan they do take so I can continue seeing them in the new year – but is it in time to shuffle the last few weeks of bills over to getting paid by my health insurance rather than the car insurance so they physical therapists office can hurry up and get their bills in and paid before the last piece of the pie is gone, so to speak? I don’t know.

 

In God I Trust; I shall not be afraid.

 

But, after a couple of days of being afraid I’d end up in debt in the new year, and with my SI joint pain still not fixed. I decided I was not going to start the new year afraid. I felt very strongly about it. And to back up my feeling that God does not want me walking into a new year in fear, at church the other day, the guest pastor was ending his sermon asking people to take a moment to think about what their fears are for the new year. I have 3 big ones. That I won’t get healed from this SI joint pain, that the rest of the money left from the PIP won’t be enough to cover my expenses for the last two months, and my mom’s cancer. The pastor reiterated what I was already feeling. God does not want us to be afraid. Let go and let God. (That’s harder than it sounds, most times.)

 

For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear.

 

I haven’t talked about my mom’s cancer for a while, but it’s still on the table. And at my mom’s last cat scan, they saw two tiny spots – about the size of the end of a pencil eraser that had doubled since the last cat scan. Small, but growing. Not good. She is still on a trial program with OHSU. We still don’t know for sure if she’s on a placebo or the trial drug, but something is beating back the cancer so we assume she’s on the trial drug. We’ve been told that ultimately, even this new drug can’t beat her type of cancer, just buy her time. We know all this. We also know that somehow, out of all the people on this same trial program right now, her doctor said she was doing the best.

 

Peace I leave you

 

 

If I look back to last year, I remember starting the year feeling like the word ‘grace’ was my word for the year. I felt it was my word for my mother and her cancer. I posted this article ‘What’s grace got to do with it?’ Now, a year later, I’m going to answer that question. Last October, my mom was given 14 -16 months to live. Maybe a year and a half to two years at most because she was in good health when the cancer hit. It has been over 14 months since that diagnosis and my mom is still here. No, we don’t know what the future holds for her because this disease called cancer is a nasty one. But what we do know looking back at this past year is that all along the way God placed her in the right places and the right times with the right doctors to get her on this trial program with OHSU that is currently saving her life. So, what’s grace got to do with it, indeed? In this case, everything!

 

Grace changes everything.

 

So if I am feeling very strongly that I am not supposed to start this new year in fear, then I proclaim right now: I Will Not Be Afraid! No, that’s not a ‘word’ for the year. Nor is it a resolution. It’s a statement. There is no rule saying you have to make resolutions or pick one word to define your year. Do what feels right for you. Making this feels right for me. I may even need reminded of that if bad stuff starts happening later this year. But for today, January 1st, 2018, I will not be afraid.

 

Start being excited about what could go right.

 

Looking back at the past year, I am thankful that my mom is still here, by the grace of God. I hope that you will continue to lift her up in prayer as we journey through another year with her cancer. If you feel like throwing in any prayers for me and my journey of healing or that God will somehow do the loaves and fishes trick with my PIP insurance to cover all the remaining bills, I’ll take those prayers as well.

 

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

 

Happy New Year to all! And remember, each day is a new day. His mercies are new every morning, not just every year.

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5 ways to embrace darkness in your life

What do you do when you feel like you’re going through a dark time in your life? And it just keeps going. Like you’re in a tunnel with no end in sight. I feel like I’ve been in this stage for over a year now. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m ever coming out of it. Like I’m walking through the fog, only able to see part of the path in front of me – not knowing where it will lead, but blindly proceeding onward anyway.

 

Into the unknown

Into the unknown

 

On Sunday, the pastor at my church was saying he was sensing some of us have been oppressed by the enemy for a long time. Yeah. Sounds about right…

The thing is, at some point last summer, I felt like God was telling me he was going to restore me. But oddly, it was at a point where things looked like they were going in the right direction anyway. It didn’t make sense. Things didn’t keep heading in the right direction for me to recover financially, but they had started. Now, I find myself wondering if he was referring instead to my mother and the cancer we did not yet know about that was about to be revealed. And if not, could I trade my promise and apply it to her? Which lead me to my first point.

Bargaining: My bargaining goes somewhere along these lines.So, God, not sure where that restoring is that you promised me last summer, but could we please take that word and apply it to my mom’s cancer? It’s more important. I’ll live below the poverty level for the rest of my life if you can just restore my mom instead.’ 

 

Another nut, please.

Another nut, please.

 

Like living below the poverty level for the rest of my days on planet earth sounds fun. So then I bargain some more. ‘But you can restore my mom’s health and me as well. Because really I’m not going to feel restored if her cancer gets worse and I’m doing better financially. Taking her cancer away is a part of restoring me, so really, could you restore both me and my mom? Let’s apply that word ‘restore’ to all aspects of my life.’ Like, you know, why not go big or not at all?

I keep running into this verse lately: Hebrews 4:16 “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” So I’m approaching the throne of grace with confidence. I’m holding Him to his promises and making sure I bargain for Mamacita’s life as well. Hopefully I don’t look like Mr. Chipmunk here. With his cheeks stuffed full of nuts but still begging for more…

 

Ain't too proud to beg

Ain’t too proud to beg

 

Let Go and Let God: I feel like I keep playing certain songs over and over again. The main one I’m stuck on lately is Thy Will by Hillary Scott and The Scott Family. I’m not sure if it really makes me feel any better as it’s basically saying Thy Will be Done when really what I want is my will to be done. But it helps me to let go and let God. And that’s important. Maybe I feel like on the one hand, God is telling me to approach the throne of grace with confidence, but on the other hand as this song says: Sometimes I’ve gotta stop, remember that You’re God and I am not… Woah. That’s a hard one when you’ve got a loved one fighting cancer. Like, just kick this cancer to the curb already!

 

Letting go...

Letting go…

 

Listen to music that makes you feel good: A couple of days ago, the song What a Feeling by Irene Cara from the movie Flashdance was going through my head. So I played that one over and over. Finally had to stop playing it because it’s a pretty upbeat song and I didn’t want to re-hurt my tailbone which is feeling way better and on the mend right now, but needs more time to be fully healed.

The next day my mom and I were heading down to OHSU to meet with her doctor and then do her chemo. I was worried that the news from her latest cat scan would be be bad. It wasn’t good news last time. Since she started on the new trial through OHSU, they keep having to take her off the new trial drug she’s on because of dangerously high levels of GGT levels in her liver. She’d been off the pills for a week before getting the cat scan. Her weight is down – not a good sign in a cancer patient because it could mean the cancer is winning. And here I am listening to What a Feeling and trying not to dance my tailbone into a setback in the healing process. But, it made me feel better – imagining us getting good news instead of bad at the doctor the next day and dancing our way across the Tilikum Crossing Bridge. (Which is near where her doctors office and the chemo ward are.) Trying to mentally prepare myself for the worst while hoping for the best.

 

Mt St Helens as seen through the Tilikum Crossing Bridge from OHSU

Mt St Helens as seen through the Tilikum Crossing Bridge from OHSU

 

Channel peace and serenity: Just before my mom and I left for OHSU a couple of days ago, I saw a picture I’d forgotten to post from a couple of weeks ago. It looked so peaceful and tranquil and I knew I needed some of that peace for the day. So I thought it fitting that it somehow hadn’t gotten posted and was just sitting there waiting for the perfect time for me to post it. A reminder that whatever was coming, we’re in God’s hands ultimately. And those are good hands to be in.

 

Peace and serenity

Peace and serenity

 

Embrace the darkness: You know that saying, ‘The nights always darkest before the dawn’. Know that you’re dawn is coming. And not all dark things are bad. As my mom and I sat at the doctor’s office, the doctor was showing us the tumors. This time the news was good! The tumors had shrunk down in size – one of the original ones on her lungs was back to it’s original size, and the other one that was a bit bigger was smaller than the second cat scan she’d had but still bigger than the first time. And then he pointed to the middle and said ‘But it’s darker here in the middle. Even darker than the last time.’ That’s actually good news when it comes to looking at a cat scan of cancer tumors! The contrast stuff they give my mom before doing a cat scan makes those things light up like Christmas tree lights, so the darkness in the tumor actually means they’ve gone necrotic. They’re dying out! Whoohoo!!!!!

 

It's always darkest before the dawn

It’s always darkest before the dawn.

 

*On a side note, another dark thing that isn’t bad is dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate! But not the kind that is so dark it tastes like baking cocoa. Blech. Maybe I’m more of a semi-sweet/dark chocolate lover. I’ve decided Dove Dark Chocolates are the perfect blend of dark chocolate. Not so dark they are bitter, but not yucky milk chocolate as well. And dark chocolate is actually good for you. I’m sure the kind that is really good for you is the really dark bitter kind, but any dark chocolate is better for you than milk chocolate. So yeah, yum. Dark chocolate rocks! So feel free to buy yourself a nice dark chocolate Easter bunny for Easter. You can thank me later…

 

Dove dark chocolate

Dove dark chocolate

 

Photo credit: Chipmunk photo credit – ankakay Ain’t too proud to beg via photopin (license)

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