Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Recon Redo- Main Surgery

It's been a week since I got home from the hospital.

The surgery went well.  My surgeon says it's the hardest part but I don't agree. Being put to sleep is the easy part in my book, the hardest part is waking up and facing the recovery.  Not just the healing part, but the being still and not doing part. 
The first few days are pretty much a blur- filled with really good pain meds, very little movement and from what I'm told,  me entertaining my nurses, friends and family with all sorts of great truth and made up lies about puppies.  Did I mention the really good pain meds?

Coming home is always a mix of thank goodness and figuring out the basics. How to get comfy- where to sleep.  Where I can be part of chaos without it swallowing me up. 

For days I felt a little like a Christmas tree adorned with colorful bruises and hanging ornaments (JP Drains).  Did I mention the hard part?  There is something unnatural and a little depressing seeing your body look a bit like a war zone.  I look in the mirror with disgust. Rex lovingly reminded me that this is not the end, it's just the beginning and we're not done. Recon is a work in progress and isn't completed with one surgery.   What I see now is not what will be, this is a journey. Have I mentioned how blessed I am to have him?  

I can't help but wonder if, when God looks at us He shakes His head in disgust at the war zone we create for ourselves.  He sees the holes and scars- swollen and battered bodies because we are still His work in progress.  Our relationship with Him is a faith journey.

Aren't you glad that He doesn't give up on us when He sees us in this "in progress" state. I sure am.

I had my first post-op visit yesterday.  He said I'm doing great- and was able to take out ALL the stitches.  The doctor was able to take both drains on my right side out- he said that never happens.  I told him I had a lot of people praying.  I don't think he knew how to respond- he just smiled.  Only one drain came out on the left, so my friend, #4 will be hanging around with me for at least another week. 

Other than him fussing at me for stopping the pain meds and "doing too much" it was a very good first visit.  He says I'm rushing it. 

I was physically unable to list my arms the first few weeks after my surgery 10 years ago, so I guess because I can move my arms this time I confused that with being allowed too. Did I mention the hard part?

We are so blessed and grateful for the prayers and support of our friends, family and VHBC Life's Journey Sunday School and church family. The meals, sweet gifts and notes of encouragement are huge.  And our rocks- well, you know who you are.  Thank you! Please know that if I don't respond immediately to a FB note, email, phone call or message it is not that I don't love and appreciate you. 

I'm still feeling a little spacey extremely tired and my focus is still a little off - I've been known to fall asleep with phone in hand between likes :)

Week one down, let's take on week two---- within my guidelines, of course!

Happy Wednesday y'all!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Redo I Didn't Want to Do Again.

Almost 10 years ago, I went through the darkest days of my life.  Scary days- when I wondered if life would ever be okay again.  Pain-filled days that spilled into the night and seemed to all run together.  Days where I was literally helpless and had to depend on my church, friends, coworkers and family for everything from helping me to the bathroom to driving me to the Doctor to taking me for walks to regain strength.

They were the days that followed my double mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries and there were hundreds of them. Those dark days.

How glad I was when they were over.  Done.  Healed up, energy back and living life with the expectation of forever perky.  

I was a survivor in the earliest possible way- no chance of breast cancer ever again and I was feeling good.  Finally.  

For about 4 years. 
Then the complications began.

It was subtle at first so like I normally do, I claimed being fine and pretended nothing was wrong.  And one week turned into several, turned into months, turned into years. And several visits to the surgeon, each one a little more obvious there was a problem.   The perky was not forever.

And now here we are in a place so distant yet way too familiar.

Monday morning, I'll drop my boys off at school and then head to the hospital for major surgery.  Undoing what took 4 surgeries and 13 months to accomplish the first time, and we'll start over. 

Can you keep a secret?  I don't want to.

I'm struggling with this one.  I know I'm not supposed to fear.  I know God is bigger than my fears. 

Have you met my younger kids? 
How many different appointments we juggle for the two of them?
Do you have any idea how much laundry I do? 
And how often I wash my hair? 

Complications, well they like me. 
So there's this battle I've been having for a few months now-
What if... Stop It, God's in control.
What if.. Stop It, don't be afraid.
What if...You know better, Robin!  

There's something unsettling about knowing what to expect. The first time I went through this, I expected it to be six sweet weeks growing closer to Jesus and then back to normal.

I planned to spend hours upon hours in prayer and bible study-  just relaxing in post op vacation, propped up in my chair pouring over the Word.  And praying.  Lots of praying. 

The reality was that I couldn't read- at all- without my insides feeling like they'd explode.  I couldn't focus on anything for more than a few minutes.  I couldn't pray. I was empty.  Instead of praying and reading and thriving- I survived.  The ticking clock was my enemy and my friend.  It reminded me my life was slipping by and that  life would eventually come back.

People made me anxious. 
Noise made me cry. 
I couldn't breathe without pain for months. 

Perspective changes when you're on a different side.  Looking back, I see how God was teaching me about real prayer and worship.  It isn't always the audible prayers.  Some of the sweetest times with my Jesus was the 3am talks without a word spoken.  Eyes wide open, perfectly still in that hateful recliner in the dark; waiting for the train whistle that became my friend, signaling the sun would come up soon.  Waiting for the joy He promised would come in the morning.  Waiting morning after morning after morning.

And finding it, when I remembered that joy ain't just a happy feeling.  It's the settled assurance that God has everything under control and I can trust Him.  It was learning humility- 'cause when you can't go to the bathroom by yourself you find yourself humbled by the friend who gives new meaning to going with you.  It was learning to ask for and receiving help from others; both people I'd known for years and some I didn't know at all.  It was learning empathy- for people who suffer- without an end in sight.  I found it when God slowed me down to stop- and it, that joy didn't feel anything like joy at the time.

And He is doing it again. Slowing me down to stop.

So, I'm struggling with the dread of the days ahead and the chance to experience joy again- in new ways that I expect God to show me.  

Whatever the days ahead are- REX ALLEN thank you in advance for taking on the hard stuff not once, but twice.  I love you more than you know. 

Got your Mammogram?  What are you waiting for?

Happy Saturday y'all!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Life's Messy"

"And it's supposed to be.  We're doing Jesus work, and Jesus' life was messy."

Some might say it was a chance meeting at Target.  I hope she didn't notice I hadn't yet got my makeup on- I had been fighting tears all morning.  She couldn't have known that the boy's inferno had been building in intensity for several weeks and erupted last night.  It was ugly.  It was very messy.

She had no way of knowing that last night Rex and I had sat in a dark, finally quiet living room with two sleeping boys in our laps- asking the same questions we've been asking for years.  What were we thinking? What are we doing?

We aren't equipped for this, we don't have the answers.  We're failing.  And the guilt.  Oh my the guilt.

The guilt because it'  I feel compelled to clean it up.  Pretty it up.  Make it presentable.  To make real life look as happy and carefree as some of the pictures.  The pictures we catch when it's good.  Or, when it's close to good.  I've said it before, if a picture says a 1000 words, there are thousands more it doesn't say.

I want to clean the messy up so the daycare won't falsely accuse my son because most of the time he is guilty.  I want to clean up the messy so he can function at school without a call or note home-again.  I want to clean up the messy so his new Awana leader doesn't greet me with a report of his disrespect. I want to clean up the messy so we can do life with joy. I want to clean up the messy so we can let down our guard and rest.

I look for just the right thing to clean the mess with.  I grab the "why" for his behaviors but to most it just sounds like excuses. People in general don't care why.  It doesn't matter to them that RAD never goes away. 
How long has he been with you now? 
Shouldn't he be over his rough beginning?
Have you tried discipline?
Do you really believe he remembers that stuff, he was so little? 
It's clear with just a bit of discussion that they just want the messy gone too and think I can clean it up with a magic eraser.

Messy is hard.  Messy is exhausting.  Messy is scary.  What if it's messy forever?

And so we do what we know.  We pull out the mops and the brooms and we remind each other as we parent this messy life that we need to step back and remember what we've learned in our failures. Don't get hooked.  Allow his rage at the screaming spot and not in the kitchen.  Don't take him in public more than necessary.  Model Jesus.  Love unconditionally because he is pushing to prove that we won't.
And we fail.

So we throw up our hands and say to God -we don't know what to do.  And as if He forgot, we remind Him that we're doing what He called us to do and we wonder why it feels like we're doing it alone?

But even Jesus had a messy life too, remember?  He hung out with prostitutes, thieves and liars.  Even His friend denied Him.  He cried and felt anger.  He was tempted and He asked God if there was another way.  Yet He kept loving.  Unconditionally all the way to the cross- knowing He may not be loved back.  

Just before walking in to Target, I had heard "I will praise you in this storm" for the hundredth+ time and I was feeling a little on the edge of sanity.  One of the first times I heard that song was at my friend's funeral.  Usually when I hear this song my mind goes back to the day we buried him.  It was Troy's song.   Today when I heard it- it was different.  It was for me. It wasn't about death, it was about living in the messy-living in the storm. Seven years so far of the messy. 

I was sure by now
God, You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with You"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with You"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

She didn't know today when she reminded me that life is messy how much she was encouraging me.  No judgement. Just a hug, a smile and a love-filled reminder that we do it because we're called to be Jesus to these our children and He never promised it wouldn't be messy.  But He did promise that we're not alone in it.  He has never and will never leave my side.

I believe her because she understands messy.  She spends her days being Jesus to others in a messy world. 

So we'll keep taking the mercy and grace that's new every morning- we'll throw our hands up in praise to the One who's riding the storm with us.  And we'll pray that our boys eventually feel safe enough to give up control.

Happy Messy Tuesday y'all!

Lyrics to "I will praise you in this storm" by Casting Crowns.

Friday, September 6, 2013


It's Friday. One of my favorite writing days, because it's writing with abandon.  Free writing with Lisa-Jo Baker and encouragement and good reading with friends I've never met. 


Red was never my favorite color. I used to be afraid to wear the color red because it demands notice.  Whether it's bright red hair, a spring jacket or really fun shoes- if you walk into a room with red on, somebody is gonna look. And you used to never catch me in red lipstick or nail polish- that was just plain floozy. 

RED- it's fiery and hot like the color of a face who realizes her skirt has fallen down or angered to boiling over the treatment of her son.

RED-it demands to be noticed- and gets attention like the cherry red Ferrari Isaiah dreams of, the check marks on school work or those red circles that scream Target.

RED- is bright and full of life- like blood that trickles from a skinned up knee or the transfusion giving new life to a frail and sick body.

And I can't think of red without hearing the songs about Jesus play in my head... Oh, the blood of Jesus, Oh, the blood of Jesus. 

Maybe it's age, wisdom or just not caring what people think about me anymore but I'm liking red more and more.  I recently bought a red denim jacket- yes I look like a flag when I wear it- but it makes me happy- almost feels like a transfusion when I put it on.  I feel energized.  That red nail polish and lipstick- it's my husband's favorite.

So go on- don't be intimidated by the red.  Go get you some!
Be  Inc (RED) ible!

Happy Friday y'all!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

You. Me. Away.

So my man and I went away for the Labor Day weekend.  We were celebrating our anniversary (the 27th one back in June). 

When planning where we'd go this year- we decided on Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg TN.  The fact that it is just a few hours from home may had a lot to do with it.  And,  the fact I am a TN girl and love any chance I get to go home didn't hurt.    Go Vols!

After back and forth between hotels and cabin rentals, we decided to stay at The Inn at Christmas Place.  It was a very good decision. Such a beautiful hotel from entrance to exit and every room in between; we wanted to enjoy it as much as we could.  It's Christmas 24/7- 365 and we do love us some Christmas.


With so many things to do in the area we tossed several adventurous options around.  Zip-lining- which I love.  Go-Karts.  Dollywood.  Tanger Outlets.  River tubing. 

But let's face it- our life is a crazy non-stop no rest for the weary adventure.  Some days getting from sun up to sun down feels like zip-lining off a 450 ft. platform - free-falling tethered only to God Himself to get us safely down. 

Since everything we considered involved a lot of energy.effort.enthusiasm and crowds we opted to do what we usually just envy other people for doing when they post it on Face book.

We slept late.
We napped.
We drank many cups of coffee and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the courtyard each morning.
We sat in the Jacuzzi by the fireplace and watched HGTV.

our lovely breakfast view each morning
We talked without interruption about our dreams and our boys and we solved all our problems. 
Well, in theory. The reality is we filled our cups with rest so we could come back to our daily adventure and spill over into our boys' lives.

And we ate.
We took advantage of having some of our favorite people close by and invited them to join us at the  Applewood Grill.  They did.

Sweet Norah with her favorite great aunt and great uncle (wink)

Owen, Keith (my baby brother I adore) and Audrey

Keith and Angie (my sister-in-law equally adored) arriving with the littles

Rex and me, enjoying the porch swing while we waited
Sunday we got wild and crazy with our lunch plans and headed to the Dixie Stampede.  Eating chicken, taters and corn on the cob, without silverware , while watching trick horse riders, wild buffalo and ostrich races... well it doesn't get much better than that.

Until dinner which was curling up by the fireplace and eating pizza delivered to the hotel.  And watching TLC.
my favorite spot- could stay here forever

Wild and crazy, that's us. 
---On any day other than a get-away day.

In front of the Scripture tree in front lobby

So what about you.  Tell me about your favorite get-away... wild and crazy or restful and nap filled?

Happy Thursday y'all!

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