{one word} not alone . . .

IMG_5083one word. 365 days. that’s the premise.

truthfully, i am hesitant to go on the one word journey again. the last time i chose a word, it changed my life. completely.

{courage} flipped my life upside down.

{courage} moved me from east to west.

{courage} healed me.

choosing a word for the year is not a choice i take lightly. i haven’t chosen one for the past few years because no word has chosen me. i have thrown words around in my head, but no word has flown in my face and brought me to my knees. so i’ve waited. believing that if I was meant to walk a one word journey again, His word would find me.

early friday morning, i returned an email to a dear friend who was asking what my resolutions were for the year. i told her i didn’t have any. that i have found that resolutions were only as strong as our human resolve, which is equal to the strength of our flesh which isn’t strong at all. and likely explains why the treadmills at my gym are packed until mid-january much to the chagrin of us “regulars”.

resolve alone isn’t enough to endure and persevere.

in jest, i mentioned that once upon a time, i had chosen a word. and that that word changed my life. that no word had picked me. and i didn’t know if i was ready yet to face another year quite like that again. little did i know that hours later on a seemingly innocent trip to costco a word would choose me. and not just one word, but two.

as i sat in my car a new to me song filtered through the speakers . . .

when i walk through deep waters
i know that You will be with me
when i’m standing in the fire
i will not be overcome
through the valley of the shadow
i will not fear

i am {not alone}
i am {not alone}
You will go before me
You will never leave me …

through these trials You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul …

-kari jobe, “i am not alone”

the words washed over me as two small tears spilled over my eyelids and down my cheeks. reminding that no matter what the storm ahead of me may be, i am {not alone}. period.

if i am in the fire i may be burned but will not be overcome

i will endure the valley of the shadow because He is with me

even if i feel lonely, the truth is i am {not alone}

2014 was a doozer … filled with the hard kind of blessings. late february brought a cancer diagnosis. mid-march brought surgery and a cure. june brought pa school. september brought sickness. october brought a scary few weeks. november brought disappointment. december marked the closing of a chapter i had believed would be my fairy tale. now pondering a very different future than the one i thought was sure just months ago.

while there were many beautiful times mixed in with the broken, it was a hard year.

to say i was ready to see 2014 go would be an understatement. yet here i stand. still alive to tell the story. and while i feel alone in a dark room as 2015 knocks on the door. i am choosing to speak truth from the start.

i am {not alone}

despite the lie my feelings are screaming. it’s time to embrace the word(s) that have chosen me and dance into the next adventure. . .

. . .whatever it may be.

post-op appointment. . .


on friday, we went to see dr. shen for mom’s first post-op appointment. disclaimer, we seriously love dr. shen and would recommend him without reserve to anyone who needs a surgical oncologist. in mom’s terms, “he’s just precious.” not sure that a renowned surgical oncologist with top notch training and a resume a mile long would love that description, but i think it fits him perfectly. unpretentious, crazy smart, even tempered and a smile that puts even the most type A wired for sound person at ease ((cough, cough, lauren, cough)).

dr. shen had all wonderful news. he feels confident that he removed all of the tumor with good margins. he said that there is a less than 10% chance of any recurrence of the tumor. we will go back to see dr. shen in a year for continued monitoring to make sure that if mom is in that 10% we catch it early. he also said that mom experiencing (for all intents and purposes) no pain was truly miraculous. and to that we say – prayer produces miracles. in true mom fashion, before he left she told dr. shen she certainly hoped he never had to operate on her again 🙂

today, we went to wake forest baptist because i had an appointment at the medical school related to starting PA school. to get to the appointment we parked in the parking deck and had to pass by the surgical waiting room. after the appointment, we stopped in. mom remembers “our corner” from her brief time there before going back to the pre-op area. i was able to share many of the stories from our wait. 

i showed her where everyone was. we talked about who stopped by to wait with us.

of meeting matt, our very favorite surgical anesthesia fellow. his kind smile and reassurance that he would take great care of mom. and the peace that overwhelmed me when he said, “your mom is the nicest, most amazing woman i’ve ever met.” i know from firsthand experience how patients who are nice, amazing, and loving get above and beyond our best as providers as we are so unaccustomed to grateful and gracious.

i told her the stories of “our people” upon seeing others hurting in their wait stepping over to offer listening ears and prayers.

i told her about our “circle up” when we received the call that she was done and doing great. and how the family adjacent to us ran up after our prayer of thanksgiving and just had to know our news. and told us the story of their granddaughter who was in the OR. and then we offered prayers their way.

i told of the lady who waited alone. no family except her beloved a hallway away in a very risky surgery. i’ll never forget her tears of joy in rejoicing with us.

we feel blessed beyond measure. staggeringly overwhelmed by the goodness of a God who has shown us great mercy. and we say. . .

“to God be the glory, great things He hath done. . .”

this post is very long, so i will pause here. but we want to share with each of you who have journeyed with us about life post-cancer. . .

about adversity.

and stories.

and unspeakable joy – despite the outcomes.