In a time when so much is changing,
that what matters most
stays the same.
Betcha didn't know this: I used to work at WORLDS OF FUN - back when it was brand spankin' new and the GRAND OPENING drew thousands of us to interview for summer work! I was a part of all that! I think it was like 1973 - 1975 when I spent my summers in the Merchandising department. Merchandising got me because I wasn't good enough to make it into SHOW PRODUCTIONS - where I REALLY wanted to work, auditioned and dreamed of spending my summer on stage.
One of the perks of being an "ambassador," besides the cutesie little uniforms we had to wear, (argh) was the unlimited free admission! One would think one would get sick of the place after working six, often seven days a week and lots of double shifts - but I have great memories of that job and remember some of the most fun times of my life hanging out at the park before or after my shift - riding rides and hanging out with the other employees. I nearly always worked the day shift, then a bunch of us who got off work at the same time would clock out, change clothes and return to the park in our civies for the evening. After a year or so, I was promoted to Day Off Relief Manager, so I was a manager at a different store each day or evening - filling in for the manager who was getting his or her one day a week off gave me the chance to meet tons and tons of new friends! I loved that job! I remember the nights when I'd work, I'd drive in early to spend time in the park before I had to start my shift. It was just so new, so exciting, there'd never been anything like it around Kansas City, they made us feel like we were "cream of the crop" to have been hired and it was such a great place to meet guys! (Aha! The truth exposed!) This was also back in the day when I was able to ride any ride in the parkwithout the slightest twinge of feeling like tossin' my cook's, no matter how up and downy it was or how spinny around it was. (Alas, those days of having a strong constitution are long gone and now I struggle keeping my dinner in place just riding in a car - on a straight hiway.)
Wow...my how I digress...
Anyway, the FINNISH FLING in the Scandinavian section - was one of my all time least favorite rides, but ironically, it was also the one that I never missed doing - no matter what! NO ONE MISSED THE FLING! It was the place to meet! Besides the Zambizi Zinger, it was THE RIDE to ride, too! Looking back - that need to ride was probably just to prove I could tolerate it without making a splashy mess...if ya know what I mean! Things like that were important back then! All this was back in the day when tube tops were prevalent civies and flip flops were the only summer shoe we knew - - so the FLING was more than a bit daring -sometimes startling! No...really.
(LOL "No...really" makes me sound like Melanie! :)
The FINNISH FLING, for those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about, had a side door where we walked into this contraption that felt like we were standing inside a giant whiskey barrel. (Sometimes it smelled that nasty, too.) We'd lean against the carpeted wall, they'd slam the door closed and the barrel slowly began to circle, gradually accelerating, faster, faster, faster and rapidly, the riders became literally SMASHED against the walls by centrifugal force! The power plastering your body against the side was so strong that you couldn't even pull your head away from the wall much less lift an arm to retrieve an on-the-move tube top! (Hence, the crowded observation deck!) Once in awhile, the esteemed veteran riders managed to bend their knees, but most people struggled with blinking! Just as you'd think you couldn't bare another ounce of pressure against you, the bottom dropped right out from under you - it just fell out of the barrel and there you were...plastered against the wall - dangling with no support and the only thing keeping you from falling was this nauseating spinning! It was great fun. Not. And then you waited...and often it felt like forever...and then you waited some more. Finally, the spinning would stop and the floor would gradually return to support you.
Life is a lot like the FINNISH FLING. Life is a place we love to be, surrounded by friends, good things and good times, but there's just something about it - maybe the challenge, maybe the curiosity, maybe the faith - that no matter what happens to us, we just keep coming back for more.
Sometimes life presents us with a fun ride...sometimes, it becomes our least favorite ride to ride. Like the FINNISH FLING, we generally walk through the door of life's adventures voluntarily - anticipating fun and wonderful things ahead. Sometimes even though we don't really understand why or what provokes us to do such a thing, we step in knowing it's not in our best interest. Sometimes, we have no choice - we take it as it comes...no matter what...for whatever reason.
Our lives spin with busy-ness, responsibilities, stress, finances, emotions, illness and the veritable combination of life's "ride" serve to add boost to the spin. Before we know it... we find ourselves SMASHED against the wall...with little or no wiggle room. And then, just when we think we can't bare another ounce of pressure against us, the bottom drops out from under us! At that moment - life as we know it, seems suspended in time. We can't lift ourselves away from the force that's pressing in on us. Life is like that.
Life is like that when Wall St. sends our 401K hopelessly spinning. Life is like that when the doctor finds something you don't want. Life is like that when job cuts jeopardize your income. Life is like that when tragedy strikes. When the bottom drops out from under us, we HAVE to be prepared for what's next.
I've learned, more often than not - the HARD WAY, that it is a very good thing to have a strong foundation beneath us - before the pressure ever comes against us! We can't wait until the bad hits - we have to be proactive and prepare our strength and faith ahead of time. It is a very good thing to have a strong relationship with God - a relationship that is the foundation we can depend on through everything so when the bottom falls out, we can still function in Him.
Isaiah 40:31 says: But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Waiting on the Lord is kind of like waiting on that barrel to stop spinning and the floor to return. Sometimes it seems like an eternity of waiting...but it's worth the wait.
I'd LOVE to be able to tell you that I'm at a point in my spiritual walk to be able to honor this verse: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” -James 1:2-3 (NIV) but the fact is, there's not a chance I could admit that. There's no way I feel "pure joy" whenever I face trials!
Just when I was convinced I was strong and could totally trust God in everything that might happen to me, (mostly because of all He's been faithful to show me over the past year or so,) Dr. Swaiki found a lump in my armpit. There was not an inkling of "pure joy" in my heart Wednesday afternoon. Instead, I struggled. I felt weak, helpless, sad, afraid, weary of all the cancer stuff and yes, angry - the exact opposite of "pure joy." I was angry at cancer and how it has turned our world upside down. I was angry that so many people are struggling with that awful stuff and the diagnosis is increasing. I was angry that I lost my CANCER SUCKS pin! Everything about Wednesday upset me. So I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt Wednesday afternoon that my relationship with the Lord had a long, long, long way to go and grow. Once I settled down though, I knew that God was going to be able to use this to teach me more, to develop perseverance, and strengthen my faith and trust in Him.
So, ashamed that I was facing my Lord in prayer with such anxiety, crabbiness and trepidation, I TOLD Him everything I was feeling. (He already knew, but it felt good to say it.)
This afternoon - in a darker moment of my journey, I was surrounded by love and prayers. Mom was home praying for me. Jess was in Columbia praying. LeAnn was on her knees. Many of you were offering intercession. Mike took off work and drove me to my appointment and Micah left school early to sit with her daddy while he waited.
So my FINNISH FLING became a FINISH FLING by 3:50 this afternoon. My world was spinning. ...had been for two days! After a mammogram of Minigua proved everything fine and dandy, I think I felt the spin slow down a little - one down - one to go. I was then escorted to the sonogram lab where the next hour was spent with warm goo being pushed around my armpit - from the inside of my arm, to my back, to my front, and down to the lower end of my ribcage. Over and over the tech searched - stopping, pressing, moving over the same spot repeatedly, speeding up my spinning world again - but eventually she whispered that she found "nothing at all suspicious looking."
But then the doctor came in to follow-up and just "double check." He said very little. I wanted to hear him talk. He was an odd little man who was too quiet for my comfort level. I waited and the spinning returned, figuratively - not literally. He was an intense little man who didn't say anything. I asked him a question - don't even remember what it was - he said, "Why do you ask?" argh! He scooted the transponder up and down. He moved it to the right then the left - he still said nothing and so my spinning was starting not only to return, but it was getting faster fast! There was no comfort in his silence.
Finally though, he slipped the transponder back in it's warming holster, handed me a wash rag and said, "Have a great weekend, Debra! (I'm ALWAYS Debra when I'm in trouble or around a doctor!) You look fine - there's nothing even remotely suspicious looking and I couldn't even locate a lymph node - they must've removed them all! Have a good rest of your Friday." and walked out.
I felt the floor of the fling return beneath my feet - the spinning had stopped and the scary two-day ride....was FINISHED FLING.
Who knows what Dr. Swaiki felt during the exam, but it clearly concerned him. My arm was down at the time he felt the lump and my arm was up over my head during the entire ultrasound check...maybe that made a difference. ? ? ? I'd been sick last week - with fever - maybe that had produced some kind of lymph node swelling...maybe that made a difference. ? ? ? Maybe whatever was there faded because of answer to prayer. ? ? ? Today's doctor assured me that "it can take years" for an area that has been "traumatized with so many surgeries" to settle down and stop changing. He assured me that it was the right thing for Dr. Swaiki to send me for a check anytime he feels something suspicious - but this time - "there's nothing to worry about."
Thank you, God, for staying with me to the FINISH, for being the firm foundation beneath my feet, the Light on my path and the hope that is in me. Forgive me, Lord, for my doubts and fears - and help me always to trust in You completely and unconditionally. In Jesus' name - Amen
THANK EACH ONE OF YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS! I believe God hears them - and I believe Dr. Swaiki felt a lump that was no longer there today! YOU were each instrumental in that fling being finished. Nothing is impossible when God is centered in it - and nothing is coincidence when Jesus is involved!
When the bottom falls out from under you - wait patiently on the Lord - He DOES answer prayer. He DOES slow down the spin and He DOES love us enough to use it to teach us how to grow in our love, faith and strength in Him.
In His grip and thankful for praying family and friends,
P.S. YES...we celebrated after receiving the good news! Mark drove to the Plaza from Blue Springs and the four of us ate outside in the SONshine at Cheesecake Factory! It was the best Friday I remember in a long, long time!
I saw the Oncologist today - hoping so much he'd bump me from having an appointment with him every three months to maybe every six, even five would be a treat; but instead, he found a lump under my right arm - Minerva side - same side where I had the mastectomy. I am scheduled for a sonogram this Friday at 2:30 at the Breast Center at St. Luke's to make sure it's not a "lymph node we may've missed." For some reason unbeknownst to me, he also ordered a "diagnostic mammogram" on Minugua, my left side, so I wonder if something must've felt suspect there, too.
It was a pretty emotional ride home - alone, in the car, with bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-70 - but it's nearly 10 p.m. I've wrestled with it, talked to God a whole bunch, taken a nap, got a little protein in me and now I'm ready to face whatever comes. My self-talk has become a routine conversation of late - I find it's important to not only contact God, but remind myself of His promises, assure myself of what I know to be true, revisit the blessings that have come from having cancer, and realizing that every step is another step of faith. I am positively glad I know God with an intimate closeness because I KNOW He will continue to carry me.
Now for some other news...Mike was walking across the shop at work last Thursday and just as he stepped over an air hose
that was stretched across the floor, someone on the other end picked it up making a classic TRIP WIRE beneath Mike's feet. He crashed to the floor, with a full body slam. He laid there awhile to take inventory and when he finally got up, he had a bum right knee (the one he's had two surgeries on), a bad pain in his left hamstring, awful pain across his chest, neck and shoulders and his left hand was limp. After a few hours at the Workman's Comp doctor, x-rays and various other checks, he came home with a diagnosis of torn cartiledge in his wrist. There was a hairline fracture, too, but the pain wasn't where the break was - it was where the cartiledge was injured, so he's wearing a brace for awhile, visiting the doctor once a week, and still working. He seems fine, but I can tell his hand is still tender because he usually keeps his wallet in his back left pocket, now when he goes for it, it's a right handed grab. Luckily, it's been really slow at work, so he hasn't had too much trouble managing the weakness in that left hand AND he's a righty - so that helps, too. His grip was measured - 100 pounds on his uninjured right hand and 20 in his left...so that's a pretty significant weakness. He's so funny though, always adding a ray of sunshine, he came home the day after it happened and said, "It was so boring at work today, I just about decided to fall again, just for something to do."
Jess has been feeling lousy pretty much since her couple months in Saltillo, Mexico, so Dr. Mallouk put her on antibiotics last week. She is feeling "maybe a little better," but still struggling with some other stomach and intestinal issues that may or may not be connected to her work trip, so if you would please keep her in your prayers that she might be healed of her nausea, bloating and all the other accompanying yuck that she's living with, it would be awesome and very much appreciated!
Special thoughts and prayers go out to our little friends, Tyler and Lily, their mommies and daddy's, too! Also, aunt Florence and her family - - who has been in the hospital or rehab center for months on end with little improvement. Finances are becoming a huge concern. My friends Cliff and Diane's whose mom is needing 24 hour care. Also, please pray for my friend Carol M. whose daughter in law recently received a possible diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and our custodian Steve's wife who is a cancer survivor but had a mass biopsied today. Finally, let's fervently pray for our President and our Presidential candidates. Our prayers ARE heard, my friends!
God doesn't promise us a life ride without ups and downs...but He does promise to stay right there with us during those highs and lows, giving us His peace. I'm learning that a rollercoaster wouldn't be at all interesting if it were all level and straight.
There must be lows for us to appreciate the highs.
In His grip,