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I’m sorry, did you say cancer? And thoughts on “getting over it”

I asked the nurse practitioner what it could be. She replied, “Well, it could be nothing. Or it could be cancer.” And this is what I learned…

get over it real

 

 

I’ve had a myth in my head for far too long. A myth that said when things get hard – unbearable even – you have to just keep moving and eventually it will pass. Head down, hand to the plow…keep moving. Get past this and it will be okay on the other side.

Advice was a lot easier to give when I was in my early 20s.

“You’ve just got to get over it.”  That was usually my advice. Maybe because I thought time was supposed to heal everything just like the Hallmark cards prophesied. Skimming past a situation with your fingers crossed that it won’t be too tragic is a solution. Get over it. Skip it and pray it never catches up to you.

As I’ve gotten older I have realized the faultiness of my advice. It seems life’s arm has gotten stronger and the curveballs it throws are harder and leave bigger marks. There are some things we can’t just get over.

Last week I started having unusual symptoms. I went to the doctor who was equally concerned. Tests were scheduled for this week. I was told that it could be cancer. Maybe other things were said, but that was pretty much all I heard.

For the next five days I had to try and live life as usual until test results came back in. I realize that for many people dealing with illnesses waiting five days isn’t too bad, but for me it was almost unbearable. Waiting to find out if you have a tumor or not hangs over each minute no matter how hard you try not to think about it.

By the time Saturday morning rolled around I discovered that I had two choices. I could go on, pushing through my days acting like everything was okay. Ignore the problem and it will go away. Ignore the thought patterns and eventually they will blur into everyday thoughts. I could wait until the situation changed and then my fear would subside.

I could learn how to cope like this. I could “get over it”. 

Or I could walk through it. Acknowledge the moments my heart started to panic and resist the urge to drown myself with aimless distractions. Stop hiding from the distress that surfaced with every quiet moment. Ask the hard questions. Throw punches at Jesus for bringing me to a place that didn’t feel safe.

I wrestled with myself, my imagination and the beliefs I desperately wanted to cling to. In the end I had a deep internal peace. Whatever the lab results told me, I was going to be okay. Tumor or no tumor, I decided I wouldn’t let fear dictate how I lived.

On Tuesday I got the tests back. It was not cancer.

There could have been another outcome. I could have just “gotten over it”. Shoved all the flaring emotions under the bed. Taking a deep breath when the news came in that I was fine. Then resume business as usual, keeping the debris of my heart hidden beneath the bed. Hoping it doesn’t slide out when the next hurdle in life comes.

And that is what happens when we try to get over it. It is out of sight but never quite gone. Slowly making its way back into the middle of our lives when we aren’t looking. Jumping at us whenever the next situation triggers it.

This is the myth so many of us believe when it comes to moving past our pain and weakness.

We stuff every moment with business or mind-numbing media. Some choose to fill their glasses with elixirs to make them forget and others laugh on cue – God forbid anyone see them cry. We work like puppets praying that someday – hopefully soon – we will wake up and it will be gone. All the pain, fear and insecurity.

Maybe one day we will wake up to realize we are no longer being hunted by the shadows of our past. But it has been my experience that things are rarely “gotten over”. They are ignored and avoided, but never conquered.

Sometimes the best way to get over something, is to just go through it. —> click to tweet

I wonder what would happen if we chose to just walk straight through our fires. If we quit trying to tame our pain into bitesize pieces that we have to digest for the rest of our lives. Sometimes our mountains we face just can’t be ignored anymore. We’ve got to cross those cliffs and walk through the forests. Cause there is no getting over something like this.

There is no getting over your breakup, your loss, your abuse, your addiction, your diagnosis or your shame.

There is just getting through it.

Acknowledging instead of ignoring. Looking at the photos, feeling the pain. Laying on the cold tile ’cause there is no easy recovery from a blow like this. Crying the tears and writing out the words your heart utters silently inside. Letting ourselves grieve the things we have lost or the fear of what may be. Going there bravely when everything in us screams to run away.

We don’t sit down or give up. We don’t walk around it. We simply walk through it – asking God to carry us when we are past the point of our own strength.

Look around you, friend. I’m not sure where your feet are standing at the moment. I don’t know what you are needing to walk through right now.

But you are destined for good places. Beautiful things are ahead for you – the kind that take your breath away for all the right reasons. Take heart friends. You can get through this.

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May 5, 2014 · 12:09 am

How My Christian Friends Turned Me Jewish

Today, we have a guest post from Elad Nehorai. I first discovered him through the Huffington Post when his article about how he didn’t love his wife when he got married went viral. I’ve loved his writing and blog since then, and was thrilled when he agreed to post on Lark & Bloom today. So, high five your screen and give him a big Lark & Bloom welcome.

headshotElad Nehorai is a writer living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Five years ago he became a religious Jew in the Chabad Hasidic community and has since written about his experience extensively, most recently in his blog Pop Chassid. You can find him on Twitter as @PopChassid and Facebook.

I remember when I looked at him and I argued, the way he looked at me, almost like he was sad. And I remember thinking, how dare you, how dare you be sad for me.

I was a secular guy in college, and I had spent the last few months living with a bunch of Christians. I ended up there because one of my best friends happened to be a Christian in college, and I thought maybe it would give me some sort of order if I moved in with him and his friends.

I was surprised how quickly I became friends with his roommates, how quickly I opened up to them and how quickly we shared our thoughts and experiences despite me being in a completely different place than they were.

But something always happened when we brought up that word. That word I could hardly bring myself to speak. I spit it out like it was a disease whenever I said it.

Religion.

Gross. Add the word “organized” in front of that and, as far as I could see, you had a crud salad. A mix of everything wrong with the world.

So when one of those friends and I argued that one night, and I argued louder than I ever argued before, and he calmly answered my questions, and I stamped my feet and got angry about all those things, about how they make no sense, how they’re oppressive, how they’re foolish, so foolish, and all he did was calmly answer, and then give me that look for a second like he was sad, like he felt bad for me, I remember how badly I wanted to punch something.

But instead we just argued the whole way down the highway as I drove and I pointed my finger up and down and he answered, answered, answered, I couldn’t help but feel like there was something going on here, something I was missing. Here was a guy, calm as a cucumber, and me, frustrated as all hell.

It didn’t hit me that night. Instead, like most of our arguments, we went into our rooms afterwards, and I was frustrated and sad and quiet, and wondering how someone I respected, how someone I thought so much of, could believe in his gobbledygook. It made no sense.

And I remember how eventually things became a sort of neutral peace about these things with a few eruptions of debate punctuating our quietude every now and then.

And I remember how for weeks, months, a year, I watched them quietly, trying to understand this weird breed of person. These people who I never would have respected if I never met, and now I couldn’t help but admire. This whole group of Christians who were cool and hip, but got all weird and bizarre when they started saying things like, ” I put my trust in Him.” How they were are all artists and deep thinkers and intelligent people.

It made no sense.

There’s an experience that you have when your views are challenged. When your worldview, one that you’ve held all your life is being dismantled in front of your eyes.

It’s kind of like the stages you go through when something tragic that you can’t compute has happened in your life. Denial, anger, confusion.

You’re in a state of cognitive dissonance. Where something has to give in the way you think and believe, or your brain might explode from the conflictedness of it all.

I remember going through that with them, with those people that proved to me that being religious doesn’t mean being stupid or not thinking for yourself or being a mindless sheep.

And I remember having this realization at some point, maybe it was as late as when I started to become religious myself, that maybe I was the one who was brainwashed. Maybe I had been led to believe false things. Maybe I was a victim of a system that turned people against each other just because of their beliefs.

It wasn’t one of those things that just hits you at once, but slowly creeps up onto your shoulder, and tells you with a whisper in one ear that you’re the very thing you fear, that you argue and throw a fist around for.

And soon I started to look back on other people I knew in college, the people who helped convince me that this is how religious people are, and I remembered how they were, how they judged others, how they looked down on whole societies of people without really knowing them or their beliefs. How they judged everything based on books they read and websites they visited. And the whisper grew louder.

Because those were the people I should have been waving my finger at. Those were the judging, stereotyping, sheep. And so was I.

As the whisper grew into a wailing siren, and I began the transition into becoming a religious Jew, it took me a while to stop getting angry at those people who I felt had brainwashed me. I started to realize that I felt bad for them, just the way my friend felt bad for me.

These were people who were sacrificing so much in their lives for these beliefs they didn’t even know they had. They were extreme secularists, living lives based on gender studies classes and an echo chamber of beliefs that distracted them from looking at the world in a truly open way.

And now, it truly makes me sad, and I realize that maybe, maybe, it’s a patronizing sort of sadness (although I hope not), to see a world of people who judge, who criticize, who attack religious people and just anyone with a different belief than themselves because they are a part of a combine that tells them to do so, that says they shouldn’t judge anyone except who their society has confirmed is eligible to be attacked.

I’m sad because I realize these people are sacrificing something for their judgements.

They’re sacrificing self-awareness.

A self-awareness that can only be had by looking at ourselves honestly and deeply and realizing that we don’t have all the answers, that the world is deep and dark and mysterious, and that things like feminism and politics and “Occupy”-ing have been distorted into distractions, distractions that come with a cost. Like when a woman chooses that she will not have children until later in her life just because that’s what is accepted practice.

Because that choice isn’t inherently wrong, but that lack of self-awareness that has pervaded our culture, those choices that aren’t really choices, because people have been convinced that their choices are intelligent simply because they live in a vacuum that tells them what choices are intelligent. That’s criminal.

And that’s why I’m sad about those people, and maybe it’s patronizing, and maybe it’s arrogant.

But there was a time when I thought my friend was arrogant. And he changed my life. Thank G-d.

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October 10, 2013 · 3:11 pm

what Italy taught me about getting lost

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photo cred: Galaxy Eyes

Want to know a little-known fact about me? Amid the Type-A drive and tendency to hurry, I adore being lost. It is true that I am 1/32nd Cherokee & can tell time simply by looking at the shadow of my horse…but, I do in fact get lost often. Like my first 24 hours in Italy.

My friend Connie & I flew into Milan with maps and whimsy. The plan was to catch a train to Slovenia for a few days and then explore some fine Italian cities. After landing we headed straight to the main train station.

Oh, but wait. There was a national train strike when we arrived & we were stranded. Did I mention it was fashion week? I was stranded in a train station during fashion week. Whoops.

There we were surrounded by very eccentric fashionistas & a  large group of angry Russian women. I’m not exactly sure why there 20+ Russian women, but for some reason they filled the women’s restroom and were not inclined to share it. The restroom was the only warm spot in the entire train station and the Russians had dibs on it apparently.

Through some United Nations style negotiation, my friend Connie was able to get us on a train to Venice.  Hungry & barely awake, we lugged ourselves off the train in Venice & began the hunt for our hotel. It was called Hotel Albergo.

It was just after 10pm when we got to Venice. We spent what seemed like days saying, “Scuzi! Dove e Albergo?”. The boisterous Italians would flash a smile, point a direction & say a slew of words we couldn’t understand.

It didn’t take long to realize our mistake. Albergo wasn’t the name of our hotel. It was the Italian word for hotel. Hours we spent going from albergo to albergo hoping to find one that had our reservation.

Dizzy from wandering around the canals, Connie & I stumbled upon a midnight mass & sat in the back row happy for a rest. So I sat there. Watching a foreign expression of worship in a strange place was pretty powerful to me. The droning of the prayers & devotion of these silhouettes  lit by midnight candles were enchanting.

I looked at these worn faces around me. We sat together in this ancient church for the same reason. To find Rest. When it was over our feet shuffled back along the canals continuing our search for lodging.

Luckily, or perhaps by divine providence, we found it a few minutes later. The owner’s son was attending the front desk of the small hotel. I don’t remember his name, but he was possibly the only ugly Italian male we saw during our visit.

He had the hots for my friend & proposed every time we came through the lobby. Oh, the Italians.

To be honest, we spent pretty much the entire 10 days lost in Italy. Each step of the trip had been calculated before we left. I spent $1,000 total on the 10 day trip. Yes, that is INCLUDING airfare. (Just try to beat me on travel deals, I dare you). Despite my best planning efforts, the entire trip was a series of missing trains and loosing ourselves in winding alleys. We were even in the wrong country at one point.

That’s just the way life goes sometimes. We get lost, away from our planning & calculations. Lost in strange towns with people we had no intention of meeting. We end up heading north instead of south & going when we are supposed to stay.

Our 5-year plan for our lives gets stuck in an old journal & God has created a new route for us to take.

It is scary and thrilling at the same time.

Italy taught me to surrender the expectation and embrace the adventure. My plans are nothing compared to His. We should put down our maps more often & get lost.

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August 13, 2013 · 3:07 am

the marriage equality debate & why Easter is right on time

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source: unknown

I have been asked several times these past few days to comment on the marriage equality debate that has been front & center this week. Well, I am not going to tell you what I think the courts should do & nothing in this post is a hint at it either.  But I will say this:

Easter couldn’t come at a better time. I’ll tell you why.

It is an important discussion. What is marriage & what is government’s role in it all? I am not here to make light of the issue or suggest you stop communicating your beliefs. This is a diverse group of readers. You range from missionaries to lesbian couples. I am sure that opinions run strong and are deeply personal.

I have watched on Facebook as people have been attacked for changing their profile picture to support marriage equality. I have watched people being attacked for not changing their profile picture. I have seen slanderous things being said about people I know.

Have your beliefs, express them and exercise your right as a voter. That is what makes America beautiful in my opinion.  My prayer is that this week we don’t become arrogant in our opinions. I hope we never think that the “other” people are the problem. Some people are extreme and fanatical, but most people have a good reason they believe the way they do.

I feel like we miss an opportunity for helpful dialogue when we begin to dislike the people we are talking to. It begins to shift from people not supporting gay marriage to disliking people who do support it. And it shifts from  people supporting gay marriage to disliking people who do not. I wish we listened to more of the ‘why’ after finding out the ‘what’.

Which brings me back to Easter. It is the ultimate story of love. The story of a God who so deeply longed to have relationship with us. We were each broken in our own way and unable to reach God on our own. He didn’t demand what we could not give. And so He came. God sent His son, Jesus, who died on a cross and paid every price that we should have paid. His payment on the cross bought our freedom. It bought my freedom.

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem before His death, the people surrounded Him shouting “Hosanna!”.

Hosanna. It means “save us”. This is what Easter is about. Save us!

Hosanna isn’t “Jesus save those liberals and gays who are ruining our families and destroying our nation.”

Hosanna isn’t  “Jesus save those narrow-minded Christians who are promoting discrimination and hate people who don’t believe what they believe. “

Hosanna. Save us. All of us.

Easter is just as much about God saving us as it is everyone else. Our addictions no one knows, our envy and manipulation, our fear and all the things deep in the hidden places.

Easter is coming just in time. Believe it or not, I think our nation is actually crying “Hosanna” this week.

So, as we engage in this discussion and prepare for Easter this weekend, let’s be humble.

Lets come together , put down our stones we love to throw and with one voice cry “Hosanna”…God save us.

( please leave comments, but disrespectful ones will be deleted )

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March 28, 2013 · 8:00 am

this kinda sums up how I felt yesterday.

 

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via Heather Inglis

On days like today I am so very thankful that I follow a really big God. When I was in college I dreamt of law school, prosecuting dictators for their war crimes, helping run political campaigns, planting churches by the hundreds…and lets be honest…we all secretly hope to be discovered for some deep wealth of gifting. Be interviewed by Oprah, have 100,000 followers on twitter, and run the circuit of late night talk shows.

This is what my day looked like. I cleaned the house. Went grocery shopping and ran errands. Went hunting for socks that were separated in the laundry. Pulled a Lego out of my son’s bottom (no, I’m serious ). Made dinner. It is really easy to feel average on days like today. Who wanted to know my opinion and ask for advice? My six year old. Thats pretty much it. What did I run today? The vacuum.

On days like today there is a temptation to look back at all those dreams of potential and God’s heart for this earth. Its so easy to feel like they are slipping away. Then I remember. I spent all day caring for people. Just like Jesus. I didn’t learn law, but I helped Sophie learn to read. I didn’t use my skills at logic and deductive reasoning inside of a court room…but they did come in handy as I helped my kids  learn how to  resolve their conflict.

I can end my day knowing that I was loved today and I gave love in return. What could be better than that? Really, all the dreams in our hearts are put there by God. Because He has dreams for us. I don’t really have ambition to participate in war tribunals or run political campaigns anymore. But I still beat to see justice established in my generation. I want to scream at the top of my lungs for all those in the world who are trapped in silence. God knows that. He made me.

Life is full of seasons. Some people are running campaigns longing for the day that they have families. Its the nature of longing. Every season has it…until we get to Heaven. In the midst of waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled we have grace to thrive in our season. Resting in the truth that God is faithful. He isn’t constrained by time limits, resumes, or people who feel hidden. He sees, He knows, He calls. I am at peace.

Now I am going to clean the kitchen.

5 Comments

March 22, 2013 · 8:00 am

why Christians shouldn’t sing karaoke

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via Matt Humphrey

Have you ever played iPhone karaoke? The person puts in earphones, plays some music,cranks it up and sings along. They can’t hear themselves …just the music. And you can just hear them singing, but not the background music. It is one of the best games ever invented. Like Chess, Battleship or Girl Talk. (anyone remember that one?) Please, try it. May I suggest choosing Mariah Carey or Coldplay for your cover songs? Well, I just did.

Cover songs are interesting things. For those of you who are not as schooled as I am in the ways of music, when you “cover” a song it means you sing someone else’s song. Now that we are clear on that…I think Christians listen to too many “cover” songs. Where in the world am I going with this, eh? (that “eh” was a shout out to my Canadian readers. I see you peeps. )

I think  Christians sing too many cover songs. We can easily surround ourselves with all the Christian things. All the books, the music, endless conferences and podcasts…and we feel stuck. Can’t seem to get over the hump. Stuck in patterns of fear, doubt, insecurity, addiction…take your pick. If truth sets us free, why are we still trapped?

You may have gone to a concert and heard a great band singing “Yesterday”. It was the Beatle’s lyrics and notes…but you didn’t hear the Beatles. You just heard their music. It isn’t the same thing.

If you go to a show & hear Paul McCartney sing “Yesterday” …then you have heard The Beatles. His performance of the song is so genuine, powerful and mesmerizing…not like the cover band, no matter how good they were. Just because the same music was sung, it didn’t come from the same source. And it didn’t have the same effect.

I love worship music. I love conferences. I love podcasts and books that unwrap revelation. But they don’t set me free. They don’t break the patterns in my life. Their purpose is to point me to the Source. Listening to a pastor tell you what the Bible says, isn’t the same as knowing what the Bible says. Just like listening to someone sing “Blackbird” at a karaoke bar isn’t the same as the Beatles.

I was in a meeting once and someone said that speaking truth was like throwing a speedboat in front of you and the momentum from the boat pulls you along behind it. That’s how Truth propels us and gets us un-stuck.

When we sing someone else’s song there is no speedboat. Just a big wake. It moves us and rocks us…but it doesn’t take us anywhere. And in a few minutes everything is back just as it was, and you have to wait for another wake to come by.

That’s not how we were meant to live. We are supposed to be pulled by a speedboat, not waiting around for a wake. If we want to move into the next place God has for us, we  better attach ourselves to the speedboat. God Himself. Fresh Revelation. The Original Source. Listen to cover songs along the way to encourage you holding onto the line…but don’t let go of your rope trying to grab onto a cover band along the way.

You were not made to be moved by something. You were made to move things.

8 Comments

March 6, 2013 · 3:45 pm

some tips for red lips

I have gotten several requests for this post lately. So… here you go! Sorry guys. Come back on Thursday.
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It may scare you. Intimidate you. Would you be brave enough to leave the house with it? Can you pull it off. Yes. You can. Red lipstick is your friend. The benefits of a berry pucker is huge.
Red lips make you look classic. The pop of color on your face gives the illusion of being well rested. As a mom I use this trick alot. But my favorite thing is that red lipstick makes even a pair of jeans and a simple T-shirt look like a chic outfit. It is a 30 second thing that creates a very big impact look.  I have two small kids. Not a lot of time to get ready. Honestly I do my hair & make up in ten minutes total.
On a day when I need an extra punch I put on red lips. I feel confident & polished. Its amazing what it does for your mood. I always get compliments when I wear it. Following the compliment most women then say:
” I wish I could wear red. But I can’t “
I am here to say that you can. You just have to get the right shade and right formula. So, here is my very practical lesson of the day. Some tips for red lips:
  • Create the perfect canvas for a red mouth by keeping the rest of your makeup smooth & simple. Mascara, concealer and some foundation. Maybe a hint of subtle blush if you are older and or don’t have much natural flush. But keep color minimal.
  • Exfoliate your lips. (You should be doing it anyway). Get a toothbrush wet and lightly brush it over your lips. Now you have a smooth surface.
  • Dab a lip balm on your lips to keep them looking soft under your color.
  • Use a neutral lip pencil that matches the shade of your natural lip, not the lipstick.
  • Choose the right shade. Red lipstick varies from coral to burgundy.
    • If you have cool undertones look for blue-based reds. Think crimson or a pinkish coral.
    • If you have warm undertones look for reds with a bit of orange in them. Classic fire engine red or coral.
    • Deep complexions can wear rich shades like burgundy and dark berry.
    • If you don’t know what your complexion is look at the veins on the underside of your wrist. If they are blue then you have a cool complexion. If they are green then you are warm.
  • Pick your formula. You can go for a classic, retro matte red. Or opt for a sheer red gloss. It just depends on the overall effect you want and how bold you wish to go. If you have thin lips stick with a gloss.
Okay. Red lips are my favorite. Give them a try!
 

6 Comments

February 27, 2013 · 1:56 am