One Word: 2016
If you live in the Mid-West like me, then you probably either ventured outside today or dreamt of it. I know I hurried through my to-do list in record speed in an attempt to head to my sacred part of my fenced in yard: My garden.
As my fingers jotted down the numbers in the check register and as my OCD need for organization updated the color-coded Excel "Bill" spreadsheet, my mind was pulling weeds and hand-tilling the first of four raised beds to prepare for the upcoming seed sewing season.
As quickly as I could put on my tennis shoes and chug the last little bit of my morning’s cup of coffee, I was out the door. I almost sprinted to the garden beds. As soon as my feet hit the top soil—they sank in. And my heart sank as well. I’m only in year two of my gardening experience, but even this amateur knows that mud is not an ideal medium to work in the garden.
I stomped my tennis shoe into the ground, frustrated, and headed back inside. What was I supposed to do with my day now?
Ah, yes. I have 300 pages of a book to read and edit. My book. That should keep me busy. It’s not what I wanted to do, but it still must be done. My first entry into the book was my One Word for 2015. I’ve spent the last six weeks trying to figure out what 2016’s word is supposed to be. I’m a little late to the party, I know.
To be honest, I’ve spent the last ten months trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be, and so the word doesn’t seem like such a pressing matter when you can’t even figure out your future, huh? I knew I needed to take some time off from work early last year, but never thought I would still be home, a year later.
There have been times that sitting at home has more than caught up to me. It’s depressing. It’s boring. I can only do so many Pinterest projects and take so many Buzzfeed quizzes, ya know? I’ve always said I wasn’t meant to stay at home. Bless you moms and dads who do! Having said that, though, I am praying really hard that I will do what God wants me to do in my life, and not what Whitney wants. This is pretty hard for me. If I'm brutally honest, I’m a pretty selfish person. I typically do what I want, when I want, and how I want.
I made a vow, though, that I would start praying and waiting for the answers, rather than just jump in and question later. Have I been 100% successful at this? Absolutely not. But, I’m trying, especially when it comes to the BIG things.
So, as of now, I’m working from home, taking care of the kids, and writing when the Spirit says write. I have my dreams and my goals, but I know that if they are what God wants, they will happen when they are supposed to.
So what does this have to do with my word? Well, everything. I can’t plant seeds in my garden because I’m waiting for the mud to dry up. I’m not out speaking to the masses or leading a non-profit cancer fundraiser because I’m waiting on God to open those doors. I’m not even dressed for the day and it’s almost 2 pm because I’m waiting to go get children.
Waiting. It seems to be unpopularly popular with me these days. Since I was born without the patience gene, it’s pretty much awful. But, still, I will wait.
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”- Lamentations 3:25
The garden will get planted and I am sure it will produce fruit. If it doesn’t, we live a mile from the grocery store. I am sure I will be called to work again, one day. (Crossing my fingers!!) But, if I stay at home for awhile longer, I have to trust that God is using me here, even when I can’t see it.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”- Proverbs 3:5-6
I am being called to wait.
How about you?
We all get bad news.
The dress we wanted doesn't come in our size. The transmission has gone out on the car. The place we were going to have our party at has flooded. You're having twins. (Ha.)
The list goes on and on and on.
These things annoy us. They cause us to get angry, or panic, or stress over finances we may not have, but they don't hit us at the heart. Well, finding out there are two babies coming instead of one will definitely hit you somewhere.
Sometimes, though, we get news that rocks our core. Shakes our hearts. Hits us so hard that we actually stop breathing.
We never forget those days, moments, minutes when we receive news like that. They stay with us. Good or bad, happy or sad, they stay with us.
I will never forget the day that one of my closest friends, Karen, (mother to my sassy little Goddaughter ;)) called to tell me bad news. It's been about 5 years ago now. I was driving on Main Street, passing the Casey's just a few blocks from my house when the actual words escaped her lips. Breast Cancer.
She was living in Oregon at the time, which felt like half a world away. I listened to her fill me in on the details. I listened, but I don't know that I heard. It felt like a slow motion conversation and when all was finished and all of my thousand questions had been answered, she said, "I'm gonna let you go so that you can cry now."
Karen knows me well. She knows that I will be a rock for as long as I have to be a rock. I will be the face of stone, the heart of stone, and the pillar of whatever I need to be the pillar of while I am in front of the class. She knows that in a group setting, I will be the one who has to stay strong. Not because I want to, or because I don't care, but because I just feel like that's my job. But, she knows that when our fingers have pressed "END" and she has no chance of hearing me choke out a sob, that I will break. It's probably the thing I love the most about her, though. I love that she knows I need to break down, and that she knows I need to do it alone. And above all of that, that this is HER pain and HER story that I'm breaking over, yet she let's me break alone anyway. I love that so much about her.
I can't recall a lot of details from that conversation, but I remember her saying "I am gonna beat this."
And beat it, she did.
She whipped that cancer like it was standing still. And she did it stronger and braver than anyone I know. I never heard her cry about it. I never heard her complain about it. I never heard her talk like she was a victim, a loser, or defeated. Because, she simply wasn't.
In no time at all, she was cancer free. And soon, they were back in Sedalia. I have gotten to enjoy her for the last couple of years. Not as much as I should have. Not as much as I would've liked. But, one of my favorite things about our friendship is the fact that we both know we are both tremendously busy people. We know we can't be with each other 24/7. But, we make it to the important things. And, if weeks pass by and we don't talk, it doesn't matter. I don't fret or worry that something has happened or that I am loved any less. We simply pick it right back up.
But, like many big companies do, her husbands job relocated, again. This time to the windy city! I do love Chicago, but I hated to see them go. So, a couple months ago, they packed up and headed out. It's totally sucked. I have missed her so much and, of course, my sassy little Goddaughter, too.
So, like any good Facebook creeper does, I made sure to "Follow" her. I don't want to miss anything. People tend to get lost on my thread. I couldn't let that happen. Recently, I had seen her ask for prayer. Urgent prayer......with no other details. Of course, when you know her history, your mind goes to awful places. And like I would do with any good friend, I said, "What the crap?" I sent this via text pretty late one night. And when she said she couldn't talk about the details, I cried myself to sleep. I just knew that something bad had happened. And I knew it was cancer.
The next day, though, she called to let me know what was really going on. It had nothing at all to do with cancer. It was still a stressful situation, but it didn't rock my core, ya know. She said, she was sorry that she had led me to think about the cancer. She said, "My back has been hurting, though, so I'm gonna get that checked out next week. The oncologist wants to do some scans just to make sure all is well, given my history." She thought she had pulled a muscle. Or had scar tissue from previous surgery. I felt better and kind of ridiculous for crying the night before.
Her scans showed a mass on her spine. And a couple days later she had and MRI and yesterday, the PET scan.
Karen has Cancer. Again.
I've gotta say after I typed that last sentence, my cursor just sat there blinking at me for a long time. What do you say? Not a lot.
I listened to her and her husband tell me the details via phone. And I listened to the plan of attack. I listened to her rattle off game plans, numbers, and thoughts. I listened to the best case scenario, and I listened to the worst. (Tomorrow will tell us if it's in her liver, too.)
I did not hear her cry. I did not hear her choke up. I did not hear her say, "Why me? Why again?"
Instead, I heard, "It's going to be a long road, but we are going to fight this."
So, in my usual fashion, I pressed that red "END" button and I stopped breathing. For just a second, I stopped breathing. I let tears fall down, and I let air escape me. I guess you emotionally normal people would call it sobbing. ;)
And then, I thought about Karen. I thought, 'My gosh! We are talking about KAREN! Karen will not be sitting there sobbing. Karen will SUCK IT UP! And Karen will fight.'
So, good, bad or ugly, she's coming for you! The saying shouldn't be, "Fight like a Girl." The saying should be, "Fight like a MOM!" Because, she's fighting. She is gonna fight like she has 3 kids and a husband that need her. And she isn't going to stop.
But, she needs our help. She needs a wee bit of prayers. OK, so A LOT of prayers. She needs the scan tomorrow to show that this cancer isn't in her liver. We need a small victory in that. And, for whatever reason that it is hardwired into my brain, I feel like I must stand up and fix things! Can I cure cancer? No. Can I even get my own blood drawn without calling my dad crying at the age of almost 30? I refuse to answer that question....
BUT! I have a lot of friends and acquaintances, especially on social media. My mom says it's ridiculous... until she needs something. And, I have a blog. And I feel like I can use it for good. I feel like if no one else ever reads another thing I write, that's fine. Just read this. Read it. Pray. Share it. Pray. Talk about it. Pray. Tell your friends. Pray. Tell your church. Pray. And when that's all over, do it again.
She's a mom to 3. She's a wife. She's a daughter. She's a sister. She's a friend. She's MY BEST friend. She's a child of God.
And she's much too young to be going through all of this. Again.
So Read. Share. Pray. Repeat.
"God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved."- Psalms 46:5
Whitney B. Cromley
Follower of Jesus.