Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rain of Grace

Ann Voskamp says…

"Grace holds you when everything else falls apart — and whispers that everything is really falling together."

It's always the little things.  The Birthday Cards that arrive, unexpectedly in the mail.  She is the coolest of friends from Texas, and she loves us big.  The boys, with neither of their Grandma's with us any longer, have felt the empty space in a tangible way.  They still hovered by the mail box, hoping for a little Birthday acknowledgement.  The day after they stopped looking anymore, cards arrived, from Texas.   I may have been the giddiest one of all.  There is an ache within me, for me to fully know, the boys will celebrate birthdays.  That they will be loved, and cherished.  That the community that has surrounded us, will keep them at their center.

Last Tuesday I met with the Neurosurgeon, Dr. Adam Jackson.  He shook hands with us as he walked into the room, swiftly striding over to the computer on the desk next to me.  

No moments of small talk.  No getting to know one another, conversationally.  He jumped in, with the hardest words, right away.

"Well, you are stuck between, a rock, and a hard place, aren't you?"

"Blink.  Blink."

I've stopped being able to absorb more sadness.  I'm detached in a way, but facing forward, listening to the stark reality of his words.

All I can do is stare blankly, and blink.

I'm sitting rather precariously on my seat, observing.  Wondering where he is about to take me.  He is going to go on, despite anything I might say.  So I sit.

He flips on the screen and my scan springs to life in mere moments.

He begins to tell me, anatomically, where my tumors reside.  As he begins pointing out the structures of my brain using terms I have vaguely heard before, I suddenly flash back to Graduate School.

The professor was Dr. Dahlhouse.  He was short statured, but had a booming voice.   He had moved from Jamaica, and his accent was thick.  He was funny and warm.   He was passionate about the human body.  And despite our limited time together,  he wanted us to have an in-depth look at the complexity of the human body and how it all worked.  So our Anatomy & Physiology book, was a Med School book,  used at UND.  

I literally used to sit with a dictionary, trying to decipher the words being used in each sentence of that book.   The amount of sheer memorization in that class, made it feel like a full time job, on top of which, we had to decipher some of Dr. Dahlhouse's accent. 

Suddenly, Dr. Jackson, wheels back in his chair.

I'm jolted, back instantly, in the exam room.  Dr. Jackson is no longer verbally dissecting my brain.  

Instead, he is asking me a question.

"What do you want to do with your life?"


"Because if you want to sit in a boat, and fish all day long.  I might be able to help you."

"We can make a long incision along your hairline, and peel it all back.  Then we'd make the hole and drill through the bone and resect whatever we can of the tumors."  

I'm suddenly feeling more Grey's Anatomy, and where is Dr. McDreamy anyway?  

But Dr. Jackson goes on.

"But if you want to talk.  Or form sentences.  Or use words.  Or think.  Then this is probably not the procedure for you." 

"Blink, blink, blink."

"Because you look like you're highly functioning right now."

And since the first rule of medicine is to "do no harm."  Then I shouldn't do surgery on you.  Its far too risky.

"As is any needle aspiration of the tumor for a biopsy.  Too risky." 


Do you know how hard it is for me as a brain surgeon,  to tell you I can't do surgery on you?"  

Do I know…?  No, I know nothing.


"I'll tell Dr. Foster I think we should watch and wait. " 

"But if you should decide you do want to proceed, than please feel free to contact me again."

Double blink.

"Grace loves us when we are at our darkest worst and wraps us in the best light."  
~Ann Voskamp

A week later, and I still don't have any answers.  And neither do the doctors, so far.  I've tried to do some internet research, but I've clicked away each time, because "darkest, and worst" are in bold face everywhere I turn.  

So I turn back to Ann Voskamp, who is  prose-worthy, as well as praise worthy.

And she says:

"You don’t have to know how to do it all.
You just have to choose to be all here, right where you are.

His grace meets you in the moment — and you will miss it if you are worrying about future moments.
Lock your thoughts in this moment — and you get to live the freest of all."


  1. You describe these heart wrenching moments in a way that makes us feel as if we are in the room with you. But of course we are not -- you are going through the worst of times with a spirit that shines through. hugs to you and your family.

    1. In a way, Joan, I feel as though I do take you all with me, even if only in spirit. I am relieved I don't feel as though I am doing this alone. Thank you for your sweetest of words. xxoo

  2. Joan is correct, it feels like we're with you, the way you take us along with your words.

    My first thought was that saying: "tomorrow is a mystery, yesterday is history. Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present. Cherish it." And I know you do.

    I pray that daily grace rains down on you, and that the Lord provides the best light to shine on your path. I believe He will.

    I wish it were not like this for you. That things could be simpler.

    I love how you started the post by mentioning how your son's birthdays were remembered in a special way. No detail is unseen by the one who knows us best. Hugs to you, dear Vicky.

    1. Susan- that is what sees me through. Those small gifts, that remind me we are in His hands. Shortly after my appointment last week, we went for dinner, and ran into a friend we hadn't seen in a long time. She surprised us, and very quietly paid for our dinner. Again- through those kind and generous acts- I am reminded how His provisions are with us. Thank you for also, being with us- your words are always a balm to my spirit. Hugs to you dear friend~

  3. Highly functioning. Yes, you have been, and it's been so amazing. I am so amazed at how you have been living your moments this whole while, Vicky. It is astounding really, yes, miraculous. And I am so very grateful that some of those moments have been lived in my company. What a gift to me. What a blessing. This is scary stuff you're facing, dear friend, and keep going back to the light. And that is where you need to dwell. In the light. Hang on to that. You are loved. We are here. We will remain. XXOO

    1. I am trying, Roxane. Its been a challenge. I don't think my mourning and grieving have lifted much. I have been feeling pretty sad, but also know I don't want to "burn daylight," as my mother would say. So yes- am trying to go with the light and pray it will help lift me and restore me. Thankful to have you here- more than words can ever say :)

  4. Still praying for the tumors to shrink. Can we all band together at a certain time every night and visualize the tumors shrinking? Energy follows intention.

    Love and hugs to you and your family.

    1. Kass- that is such a great visual- and a gracious offer. We could try to set something up, couldn't we? What are your thoughts? Love and hugs to you!

    2. Kass....I'm in for this.
      Prayer warriors we are!!!!

    3. Let's do it. The friends who organized the fund-raising could get the message out. It's a powerful form of prayer.

      Have you heard of Masaru Emoto? 1999, Dr. Emoto held a gathering of around 350 Japanese citizens who had all offered their prayers to change the pollution in Lake Biwa – the largest freshwater lake in Japan. I suggest we use the limitless energy filling the universe. Along with Dr. Emoto, I believe positive energy can penetrate elements. If we are all visualizing and saying the same prayer at the same time every night, we would all be united in such powerful energy. No matter what our individual beliefs, all of our deities would be there.

  5. Oh, my. Lovely words from Ann to cling to during these days. I'm fairly certain no one is equipped to make the kinds of decisions that you're facing, and so I am praying that you can cling to the fresh grace God provides every morning and that you will not grow weary. Hang in there, friend.

    1. Melissa, I am in the middle of weary already. Still grieving, and just plain tired, if I am being honest. So yes- its the Grace that is gift and I am clinging to it. I love that you remind me its fresh every day- that helps too. xxoo

  6. Vicky still praying for your miracle! God is faithful! Love and prayers my sweet friend!

    1. Thank you, Kay- so deeply appreciate your prayers and love- sending love right back to you~

  7. Vicky, so hard to read all this and not think of the story of the fishermen at sea that were tired, frustrated, and exhausted. Jesus said for them to throw their nets out on the other side, of course that required trust, but also I learned that they had to do something different and then Jesus multiplied. So hard for me to comprehend but I know my Jesus is worthy of all His promises. So even as you feel tired and exhausted, you are a beacon of God's glory. Perhaps you can't see it, but we can just as you can so clearly see Ann Vos Kamp's. We see it in your writing and in your living. So you are multiplying even when you are sick you are a witness and isn't what it's all about??? So may you feel love through "our" prayers so that the Lord will restore your strength and courage, give you wisdom, fill you with perseverance, and give you peace and comfort so you can BE wife, BE mom, BE friend, BE witness, BE believe. You are a gift and I love you - Kathy

    1. I'm so touched by your precious words- filled with hope and promise. So thankful- my eyes rest on each one and I soak it in and pray you know, what a gift you are to me. Love you sweet friend~

  8. I always love reading your heart! While my eyes fill with water, my heart and spirit strongly press in for so much faith and hope! I reach in deep for Him to meet every need of yours. And I pray - circumstances just suck sometimes and its in those times I dig deeper for more faith and hope -- love you!

    1. I love that, Tiffany- yes, "pressing in." That is exactly what I need. So thankful for your perspective and faith-filled words. Love you sweet friend!

  9. I am so sorry Vicky.
    Surgeons just know how to cut. All he said was that cutting could do more harm than good.
    People know this already so this information is useless to you.

    I guess you have to live for today, hope they don't grow and try to find ways to shrink those tumors. There is proton therapy that might keep them small. This might buy you at least 5 years and who knows what else will come up by then?

    They have clinical vaccines that may help. They fight the existing tumors.
    You have nothing to lose to ask.

    There is also gene therapy to kill the gene growing these cells.

    Salt injections kill cells.

    Oxygen kills cells.

    There is still a lot out there to help you. Doctors only do what they can do but some things you can do yourself at home. Keep doors open.
    The most important thing is not to lose hope and keep fighting the good fight.
    The surgeon was right in that you can live well till the very end and Vicky, no one knows
    what can happen a minute from now.
    The world is full of stories today.
    You can't sit and dwell on that. Concentrate on life my dear.

    1. Oh Vic- the work you put into all of this- thank you. Its true, there are so many options to consider- some more mainstream than others. I won't stop looking for the right thing for me- you can count on it. xxoo

  10. Hmm... does he know how hard it is for you to sit there and hear all that he dumps out at you without the grace and compassion that I believe all doctors who deal with patients in life crisis situations should have? I think it should be a requirement in their field.

    I will never forget the moment a young doctor came into the ICU to tell us the news he knew we were sooo eager to know. Would our Daughter be OK?.... and he just walked in without much introduction, stood at the foot of her bed, barely looked at any of us and said.. well, she'll never be the same again. *sigh

    Turns out all these years later, she's pretty damn close to the same. Thank God and whatever miracles were bestowed on us, we did not have HIS attitude.

    Praying you find good answers, peace of mind, life yet ahead of you... and compassionate doctors like Dr. P who can see you through it all - XO

    1. Had this been a few years back, I would have struggled with his direct and honest assessment of the situation. I was more sad at the news, than I was at him.

      I'm still in awe over the miracle of your daughter's complete recovery, Karen. That is what truly gives me hope- stories just like hers. xxoo

  11. You've taught us over and over to live in the moment...but in the past 2 weeks - when Mike was in the hospital and I was fighting a fierce battle with fear, you reminded me again...only grace for the moment- that's what you said. That's what you live ...I want grace for you - past - present AND future...that's what I want. What I'm praying...but for now, you stay dear one...right here in the moment. We're with you in some very small way. holding you-loving you from here ...xo

    1. Oh goodness, your sweet words have me in tears. You and Mike have been in my continual thoughts and prayers. We have always found a way to be there for each other- and I love that we won't ever let that stop. It may seem small- but it feels so big, Robin- love you- xxoo

  12. With every blink, my heart is torn....and I want to be able to do something. To do more. For you. For your family.
    I am going to make SURE I send your boys a birthday card on their birthdays from now until forevermore.
    And....I am counting on the fact that you will be there to see them open that mailbox and get their cards.
    And...I am counting on you keep on keeping on, sweet friend....just like you have always done. These times are hard ones for you. You have gone through so much in the past year.
    Please, call me or text me or email you if there is anything more that I can do for you or for your boys.
    I love you....even though I've never seen you or met you. I love you, my friend.

    1. Yes, yes with the promise of birthdays cards for your boys, Vicky! Me too, Jackie. Me too! And I too am counting on you, Vicky, being there to see them open those cards, my friend!!

    2. Thank you, Linda. I would want the same for my sons in this situation.
      Thank you for joining me in this.

    3. Miss Jackie, I wish you could see me smiling as I see your sweet face show up here. The love I feel from you has seen me through so much- more than I could ever say. So grateful for you, just being here- it touches me so. I am touched both you, and Linda would remember my boys in that way! Love you friends~

  13. My Mom had a brain tumor the size of a small grapefruit, between the left and right lobes. They warned of the issues surgery could cause, but they also knew she needed it. (She was already falling down, etc) She was already planning a six month leave from work, IF she was able to go back at all. She was back to work in a month! Everyone was shocked!

    I can't imagine the amount of stress all of this causes you, but I sure admire your strength!

    1. Oh my… I'm holding my breath as I read. Wow. Yes- if I were having symptoms- we would be in an entirely different position right now. Thank you for sharing about your mom and her wonderful outcome.

  14. Oh sweet friend,
    With every word of your telling of that doctor visit, I so wish I was there to hug you. My heart just aches and my tears are flowing. I love you Vicky. I m so, so sorry that the news was so hard to hear.

    I know, dear friend, that you are already in the midst of weary and sad and hearing all of this news, delivered in such a clinical way, must have left you and your superman feeling overwhelmed. I so wish that doctor had showed compassion and caring in delivering his message.

    But what I know for sure is that like Ann said, "Grace loves us when we are at our darkest worst and wraps us in the best light." And you, sweet Vicky, and not only wrapped in His Almighty grace and light, you are wrapped in our prayers, in our love, in our support, no matter what. You are wrapped in caring and holding and weeping... always. You are wrapped and held in the good days and awful days. In the good news and very hard news.

    We will NOT stop believing. We will not stop praying and hoping and seeing you healed. At this time of weary for you, we will, with our prayers and love, pick you up and hold you in His healing light.

    That is a promise, Vicky. From my deepest heart of hearts to your heart. I will be here, loving you, no matter the news.

    To the moon and back, soul-sis. To the moon and back!

  15. Linda- I'm reading your beautiful words and they touch me so. I just want to say a big thank you for the grace you continue to show me. I feel the love, and strength and so much compassion in each word you share- I'm completely out of words, tonight. Just know I am loving you right back, soul sister :)

  16. I'm sitting here drumming my fingers on the keys, trying to make my response worthy of this post. OF course, I can't. Vicky, your writing, your life, your love--is all so close to God right now. And the Grace He's giving you spills over to us.

    I love you. From one writer to another, did you realize how powerful your "blink, blink" sentences are? That what you say in those two words says everything? I don't think you know how fantastic a writer you are.

    But I do.

    I love you.

  17. Vicky, I wrote and lost my comment twice on my iPhone two weeks ago. Then I determined to come back on my computer and life here went into warp speed. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I can't imagine what you went through, what you're going through, as you process this news. I saw on FB that you may be going to Texas so I'm moving on to your next post with a sincere apology for not being here.....


I welcome what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to grace me with your thoughts and words!

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