saturday, august 31, 2013.
I hold close our beloved feline friend as The Music Man drives us to the veterinarian. He has been with me for 12 years and sick for the last three, but in recent weeks he has deteriorated to the point of pain. We want to keep him with us but it is selfishness to prolong his suffering for our own comfort. He purrs clear and strong as I pet soft and swallow hard. This is the moment I get the call: I am cancer free. Minutes later, we hold our breath as our friend breathes his last. It is a flood of feelings and everything is all at once. Life. Death. Joy. Sorrow. Freedom. Finality. Our fight is over. His life is over. I am sad but I am healed. Life is hard but God is good. I remember the ecstatic moments of celebration we shared after Nurse Nicole's mistaken cancer free declaration three weeks earlier, and am thankful to have had them because celebrating doesn't come easy just now. It is Friday, August 30, 2013 -- twenty weeks to the day since my womb was emptied.
On Wednesday, two days prior, I awake and randomly pull up the website for a church in California which we have heard of but know next to nothing about. I click on the sermon given just days earlier, entitled "Kisses From A Good God", and head to the kitchen to do dishes while I intend to only half-listen during the moments when I can actually hear. Before I turn on the water, which I know will drown out the sound of the speaker's voice, he starts talking about cancer... which of course piques my interest, so I stop for a moment and offer my full attention. His own cancer journey doesn't end with a miracle, it ends with a surgery. He talks about honoring the doctors which God uses to help save peoples' lives. He talks about how surgery is not a second-class healing. He talks about how tragedies like death and divorce and cancer often cause us to resign our dreams... like the dream I have at sixteen to be a teacher, or the dream I have a seventeen to be a pastor, or the dream I have at eighteen to be a musician, or the dream I have at nineteen to be a missionary. But life is cold and cruel to me, as it is to all of us at times, and with two crushing blows I willingly surrender myself to working for the man, and before I know it I am hopelessly adrift in a sea of cubicles, utterly surrounded by white noise. The work itself is not at all a sign of mediocrity or complacency or succumbing to defeat -- mediocrity is my complete abandonment of my dreams and sense of purpose on this earth. The first blow is a fall from a loft which leaves me walking with a cane just two months before I am set to move overseas as a missionary. After two short-term trips to Russia, and numerous elsewhere, I am to be a musician on the lead team stationed in Moscow which escorts short-term teams all around the country. But suddenly I can't walk far or stand long or carry much or go be a missionary at all. The second blow is when someone I love makes it clear, in the most painful and persistent ways, that I don't measure up, not as a person and certainly not as a musician, and I definitely don't deserve to dream such lofty dreams. I mistake his word for truth and obediently lay my dreams to rest alongside my naivety and my integrity, and I become a mere shadow of a puppet. My dreams have long been dead and gone, but suddenly I find myself in my living room, sobbing in front of the computer, talking to God like he can hear me, and literally signing my name on a piece of paper in a conscious act to re-sign up for my dreams.
I send The Music Man a text that I feel like we are supposed to go visit this church, Bethel, instead of do our customary hike-a-mountain-in-the-North-Cascades thing in late September, which we do every year for our anniversary. We have never talked about Bethel before, I have no reason to offer, and nothing in particular is happening there that weekend, yet something draws me. He soon replies that maybe we should check out Bethel's school of ministry, and sends me a handy link to the school's website. I assume he means we should pop by while we're down there for the weekend and since I am at the kiddie pool down the street with Little Buddy and some friends, I don't bother to check it out until The Music Man returns home and we look at the site together. My first thought is in slow motion, "ohhhh noooo. I think we are supposed to do this." It is a moment of total excitement and absolute horror. It means leaving our home and life and job and everything we have here to move to California.
This is serious. If we are going to do this we have to quit The Music Man's job, then apply for school, then have a Skype interview, then get accepted, then find someone to sublease our apartment (which I refuse to leave outright), then find childcare for Little Buddy, then find a way to generate $30K to pay for school and living expenses and said childcare, then move out of our home of five-and-a-half-years, then drive two states away, then find a place to camp out in our van while we work to secure a more permanent situation -- all in that order and all in a mere 11 days.
We make a short list of non-negotiables if we are indeed going to go: complete healing of cancer, confirmation that we should go, a rainbow, permission from our landlady to sublet our apartment, and the blessing of The Music Man's place of employment to leave on such short notice.
Thursday, August 29, we have our friends at the Healing Rooms in Bothell pray with us, together as a couple, for direction. We say we have a "big decision to make" but don't let on in even the most subtle way about what we are considering. Music from Bethel plays on the radio while the staff at the front desk talk about Bethel. A few ladies pray over us and declare that God is commissioning us to go, that the Lord has ordered our steps, that he has anointed us for healing ministry (this is like the 5th time that we have been told this in the last 3 years), that we are going to be trained, equipped, and released for supernatural ministry, and that this time of prayer together will be confirmation for us for timing and leading. It's pretty much a slam dunk. The Music Man returns to work while Little Buddy and I head home and wander across the street to the lake. A triple rainbow awaits and I laugh and cry and holler like nobody is watching.
Friday, August 30, The Music Man quits his job. His boss is super understanding and gives us his blessing to chase after our dreams. That afternoon, we take our sweet kitty, who can now barely walk, to the veterinarian for the third time in a week to have him put to sleep, when we get the call that I am cancer-free.
Saturday, August 31, our landlady gives us her blessing to find a tenant to sublet our apartment.
In three short days our five non-negotiable criteria are fully satisfied and we complete our applications for school. Now we just have to pray we get accepted...