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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What’s grace got to do with it?

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but will sometimes pick a word to define the year – a tradition my sister started years ago. This year, my word is grace. (Not sure I even remembered to do this last year. I think the year got off to such a bad start I didn’t even bother.)

Why grace, you ask? I’m not even sure myself. But after finding out my mom’s cancer had spread to her lungs which meant she had stage 4 cancer and was then given a time frame for how long she would live, I was devastated. I found myself sitting in church hoping to find some sort of encouraging word or miracle or just some sort of hope to cling on to. During the worship, I was just sitting there trying not to cry. Not singing. Praying. They were singing some song and the word grace popped out at me.

Later, as I sat there – again, not listening very well to the pastor – just praying during the service, the word grace popped out at me again. I left feeling kind of confused. I’m praying my little heart out about my mom’s cancer and the word that I keep hearing is grace. But I shrugged it off. It’s a church, they talk about grace, but it didn’t really make sense to me as far as my mom’s cancer goes.

A week or so later, I was telling a friend about my mom’s cancer. She prayed God’s grace on my mom and our family. As I was walking to my car, I glanced down at a text from my sister, also about grace. I’m feeling like I’m supposed to be getting a message from God here, but I’m really confused. What’s grace got to do with it?

So, on the way home I found myself wandering through the Japanese Garden at the Main City Park in Gresham. Pondering this question and taking photos. I didn’t get any answers then about why I’m feeling the word grace so strongly in conjunction with my mom’s cancer…

 

Holly bush in the Japanese Garden

Holly bush in the Japanese Garden

 

Another month goes by. And I’m still not getting a clearer picture on the grace thing. I’m telling God I don’t understand this word grace. I think of it as meaning forgiveness for sins or wrongdoing. Or being saved from sins.  Being graceful. Having grace. I just don’t understand.

 

Pink Camellia

Pink Camellia

 

That week in church, the pastor was talking about grace again. With an example:

Have you ever been in a long line, say at they bank, and you’ve been waiting and waiting and the line is barely moving. You’ve finally managed to shuffle a few feet forward when a friend comes in and says “Hey, come outside, you’ve got to see this.” 

You don’t want to go. You tell them you can’t, the line is barely moving, you’ve made it a few people forward, if you go outside, you’ll have to go back to the end of the line again. 

But, your friend is insistent “You need to come outside now and see this.”

Finally, you reluctantly go outside, only to find out that a bank robber slipped into the bank and held it up right after you walked out the door. You feel relieved. You feel grateful to your friend for insisting they needed you to see something outside when you didn’t want to leave the line. You realize that it was only by God’s grace that you were spared from being inside of that bank at the time it was robbed.

 

Japanese Garden - Gresham Main City Park

Japanese Garden – Gresham Main City Park

 

Grace.

 

A touch of color

A touch of color

 

Ephesians 2:8; “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”.

 

Zen

Zen

 

Still feeling like it’s a wimpy word for the year. My sister picked Fierce. (You can read what she wrote about it at the end of this blog post.) I want to be fierce. Dressed for battle. Wearing my cancer kicking combat boots. Armed to the teeth. Instead, I feel like, with my word, I’m standing here, at the bottom of a glass mountain. Wearing a long flowing white dress. Barefoot. Looking up. Trying to figure out how I’m going to scale this slippery glass mountain to get to the other side. My armor isn’t going to help me now. But maybe some of those grippy socks would help. Better yet, suction cups on my hands and feet. Pretty sure this is not going to be a graceful assent, but I’ll do the best I can. Tuck that dress up, PNG style so it’s out of my way, and up I go!

 

Graceful curves

Gentle curves

 

If all else fails, by the end of this year, I’m going to give up on this grace thing and start smashing this stupid glass mountain to pieces with a gigantic hammer!

 

 

When faced with a mountain, I will not quit.

When faced with a mountain, I will not quit

 

What’s grace got to do with it, indeed? Still not sure, but I’m guessing for me and my journey with my mom’s cancer – everything.

 

 

My sister’s word for the year post:

 

Been trying to wax poetic about the New Year for days. Last year may have been an enigmatic weirdo.

This year has dubbed itself,
“the Great Unknown.”
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Picking one word isn’t gonna cut it for 2017. So far the veritable weirdsmobile has suggested: courage, light, hope, and perseverance. This makes me cry.
It’s already a year in which the other shoe has dropped. My Mama found out she has stage 4 cancer a few months ago. What does one say to that? (nothing ladylike, I can assure you)
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
So, 2017, I’ll tell you what I think.
I’ll take your pile of words, the shoes that won’t stay on your feet, and throw in an adjective:
Fierce.
You better believe it.
Fierce Love, Fierce fight, Fierce hope… Fierceness to all of the nonsense and hogwash going on the world.
And I ain’t the only one.

There’s a whole posse of us up in here.

 

Fierce

Fierce

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Art: Cory Godbey

 

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