Castaway

dingy

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.

~Winston Churchill

I’ve missed you all.  I’ve had “behind the keyboard withdrawals.” I find this wonderful forum or as I like to call it:  my c-blog therapy sessions behind the computer, help to keep my spirit soaring as I express my heart.  I won’t get into too many details about my computer drama causing my longer than normal absence, but let’s just say when the hard drive goes unexpectedly on your computer and you lose all your files and pictures because they weren’t properly backed up . . .big girls do, in fact, cry.  Actually, they bawl.

As many of you can guess by now, I’m about as right-brained as one can get.  As such, my scattered mind makes me more of a creative thinker than other, perhaps more organized folk.  I’m wired by feeling and intuition as opposed to sequence and logic when gathering information.  I tend to visualize the whole picture first then work my way backwards to fit the pieces together that create that whole picture.

Over the weekend, the boys wanted to rent a movie—one that in all honesty, I’ve had no interest seeing, despite all the acclaim it has received.   Life of Pi was the chosen feature presentation and all I can say is that my initial “non-interest” turned to—WOW!  I was truly blown away by every aspect of the film.  Sadly, I’ve never read the book, a New York Timesbestseller that the movie is based on.  Perhaps if I had known how incredibly rich in symbolism and full of deep truths this gem was, I would have read the book ages ago and been more than eager to see the movie.  Actually, I’m usually not fond of endorsing movies based on novels, because often the film doesn’t live up to the book.  However, book or no book—the movie was wonderful and moved me to tears.

Pi, the film’s protagonist, is a shipwrecked castaway that spent over 220 days at sea.  This boy, in the face of unimaginable tragedy and inconceivable adversity, brings the viewer into a truly magical journey—weaving a fantastic story in the face of a cruel reality— the story, becoming his life vest of survival.

Do you ever notice that during times of great suffering and tribulation come unexpected, powerful moments that give meaning and purpose to life?  Often these moments become the very necessary tools for survival.  Pi’s storytelling became his means of survival.   In fact, the Bengal Tiger in the life boat with Pi, is the symbolic side of him that though he wishes to escape from, he instead embraces, learning how to live in both opposition and partnership with it.

Though I refuse to be defined by it, breast cancer is unfortunately in my life boat whether I like it or not.  Though I’m also opposed to embracing its hold on my life, the truth is . . . it’s real and I need to be in partnership with its place in my life, so I can positively bring hope and light to others who may be a castaway in the face of darkness.

My appointment on Friday was semi-optimistic and difficult all at once.  The oncologist confirmed that what I’ve been feeling on my skull is real, discovering that in addition to the lymph node at the base of my skull, the bone above that area feels different because there is another lymph node on top of the actual bone.  She honestly felt these areas were “normal” and not to worry about them because the size of the lymph nodes are not at a worrisome size.  Meanwhile, the pathology report I’ve never actually held in my possession finally was printed . . . and honestly, that was more difficult to look at than I had thought.  Though I have hope and trust in the plan laid out before me, the truth is the staging is a bit scary to look at in black and white.

The same earnest hope in the face of a cancer diagnosis still comes with the reality that there’s a bad side of breast cancer—not all “pretty in pink” as the awareness ads dangled in front of us make us believe.   In fact, the reality is that in the U.S. alone, breast cancer death rates among women are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.

Reality can indeed sometimes scare us . . .  but it’s okay to acknowledge it and even talk about it, as long as it exists in partnership with God’s promises.  Like Pi, I’m but a castaway on the open sea, ready to use this moment to produce an inspirational story of hope and survival that blesses many.

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.   

~Psalm 119:50

Riding the Wave

girl-surfer

(transferred from my CaringBridge site created on 3/9/13)

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”

~ Helen Keller

It seems like “chemo-Thursdays” always falls on a birthday or holiday.  This past Thursday was my birthday and it was wonderful to have some ultra-special people with me:  my mom and my sister in addition to my three little princes.  As per normal, we livened and lightened up the infusion floor . . . birthday presents and all!

Tired of the cold and feeling a touch of Spring fever (even during the lovely chemo-induced fatigue and allover malaise), I’ve been busy thinking about warmer thoughts . . . like surfing.  I love watching surfers being challenged by huge waves.  To the ordinary swimmer, like myself, being in the midst of such a wave would frighten me to the core.  To the seasoned surfer, however, that same wave is precisely what produces their tremendous thrill.  Many of you may remember “soul surfer,” Bethany Hamilton, who in 2003 at only 13 years old, while relaxing on her surfboard waiting to catch a good wave—in a split second, lost her arm from a great white shark attack.  Amazingly, this talented, faith-filled girl got right back in the water, surfing with one arm—less than a month after the attack!

Thrill-seeking has always been the subject of much speculation, from Sigmund Freud’s “innate death drive” philosophy to some modern psychologists’ view that dangerous activities make us feel more alive.  In reality, though, thrill-seeking behavior can mean different things to different people.

Though I still have a bit of a risk-taking drive in me, I’ve grown more conservative over the years—especially as a mom . . . in a way hoping that my boys will not completely follow in some of my crazy footsteps.  John will laugh while attesting to some of my craziness, like on the slopes.  From the moment we started skiing together, even as a beginner, I would hit the slopes—racing to the finish, often times on trails I had no business being on.  For me, it’s all about the thrill and challenge, and ultimately the whole experience in the moment.  I guess most people will both seek and avoid risk at different points in their lives.

Now if my slope were instead replaced with that ultimate wave, a surfer’s dream . . . I’ll be honest, I’d be running for the hills.  Cancer, in many ways . . . has become my wave.  I would love to run far away from it . . . or simply remain in the still waters.  Some people will say of one going through a cancer trial as “brave.”  I laugh when people say that to me because the truth is bravery is about the furthest from the truth in my reality.  A firefighter running into a burning building is what I envision as brave.  I would do anything to run far away from this, not toward it.

Though Bethany describes that tragic morning on her surfboard as her Tsunami moment, infringing on her pro-surfer dreams, she also realized that bad things happen to everyone.  “But for me, knowing that God loves me and that he has a plan for my life—that no shark can take away and no contest result can shake, is like having solid rock underneath me.”  Wow . . . what an amazing young woman.

I desperately seek to apply the same thrill-seeking behavior I’ve often sought in life to meet me on this latest adventure—the very wave I would love to avoid and fight against.  The truth is, tribulation, suffering, and persecution—are the very things that produce abundant joy in us.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2–4

God tells us that trials produce perseverance . . . perseverance produces character; and character brings hope, which never disappoints.

I’m on the board, ready to put my sights on the wave before me.

Thank you my friends for your constant prayers.  My regular chemo-Thursday will be changed to Friday this coming week as I meet with my oncologist to further examine the lymph node at the base of my skull.  Please continue to pray that this is nothing.

I in turn will:  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

Mastering the Keys with Precision

piano keys

(transferred from my CaringBridge page from 3/5/13)

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.

~ Bob Marley

This weekend, I had the distinct privilege of experiencing one of my favorite jazz pianists and composers—Joe Sample.  Working with the likes of Miles Davis, B.B. King, Eric Clapton and George Benson (to name a few), Joe incorporates jazz, gospel, blues, Latin and even classical style into his amazing compositions.

Jazz.  There’s something about listening to it that brings such peace to my spirit—in many ways like a deep soul massage.  Just thinking about Joe Sample’s music relaxes my shoulders.  I’ve always found the best musicians to have a distinct sound that can easily be discerned from the ears of a true fan, even if you were blindfolded.  Sample could play a simple melody like Chopsticks on the same Yamaha as hundreds of other pianists, and still have it sound incredibly unique to him.  At one point during his performance, he talked about all the painful hours he has spent exercising his fingers.  He continued to share that the exercises were not about how well he could execute an entire piece of music, but instead how well his fingers landed on each key.  The precise placement of his fingers touching each key—determined the kind of sound only he can produce.

This past week was tough.  No sugar-coating . . . it was exhausting, trying and demanding of all my focus and energy.  “Mental drain” sums it up well.  In a moment during the week when my spirit seemed too weak to think let alone pray, it brought priceless encouragement to see one of Colby’s scriptures on my mirror:  “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7)  Because He cares for you.

I was doubly blessed to have my mom join me on Thursday for chemo.  While we were able to have some great one on one time, I was also able to share some of my struggles with her.  Though I can’t imagine the intense pain a mother must feel having a sick child with no way to fix it, my mom always encourages me while also allowing me to have moments of weakness, moments of human frailty—without going into meltdown zone because of my lack of optimism.  Though people don’t mean to communicate additional stress, often a sick person feels pressured with an expectation to be perpetually positive.  “Stay positive” is the mantra of choice.  The mentality behind the saying is sensible and wise, yet with it comes the added anxiety of probable failure.  Instead, my mom listens earnestly, never discouraging me from expressing honest pain.  She’s the perfect best friend/mother combination—loyal, unconditional, honest, loving and true . . . never letting me sit in worry and confusion, but also never dismissive about my feelings.  I thank God every day for her.

Sometimes we put our Faith in full compositions, instead of individual key strokes.  I often find myself busy praying over the big picture instead of the smaller, intricate steps that would be easier to hit with ease and precision.  I need to exercise my Faith the same way Joe exercises his fingers . . . not on a mission to perfectly execute my ballad of sorts.  Instead, the crux of this composition laid out before me is about the way my fingers graze each key.

I recognize that every step along the way of this trial is going to be difficult, even unbearable at times.  If I look too far down the road, it will be easier to falter.  Instead, I need to look at the placement of my feet, one step at a time . . . trusting the Lord’s lead.

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” ~Oswald Chambers

This week marks week 9.  Almost ½ way there!

 

The Architect

Boston

(Originally posted on my CaringBridge page on 2/27/13)

The space within becomes the reality of the building.

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Though perhaps not as magnificent as other larger cityscapes, Boston’s skyline at night is magnetic.  Whether approached from the north or the south, I always find myself drawn to it.  I remember when Logan was really little, he was in awe by this vertical city stretched out before him, and he began a series of questions:   “How does somebody make those buildings so tall?” . . . “How do they not fall down?” . . . “How long does it take to build one?” . . .   Always earnest in his questions, Logan refuses to settle for the vague-vanilla parental answers we often provide.  So each time I tried to give him a somewhat “knowledgeable” answer about tall buildings, architecture and construction, the reality of my lack of knowledge became evident to us both.  Finally I waved my white flag of defeat and explained to him that I didn’t know a lot about these towers in the sky, and maybe it was a good subject for us to learn more about.

We discovered that to build a skyscraper, careful planning is required.   It can take years to build.  A foundation must be dug a few stories deep below the earth, after which cranes are used to raise a steel frame up into the sky to form the superstructure with steel and concrete beams.  Both the foundation and the superstructure are needed to support the weight of the building—so the complete structure of the skyscraper must be finished before the most important insidecan be started.  It’s amazing to think that modern skyscrapers are also designed to hold off strong winds—safely able to swing a bit in each direction without damaging the structure.

Today marked exactly two months since diagnosis.  As far and wide as the road seems to loom dauntingly ahead on this highway to healing, it’s both encouraging and mind-boggling to think that in a mere 62 days since I heard the words Invasive Ductal Carcinoma—the day my world spun off its axis, I’m already on day 49 of chemotherapy, eight weeks into treatment.  It still seems blurry to me . . . an unreal reality wrapped up nicely with a big ‘surreal’ bow.

Yesterday, sitting in a small, narrow exam room watching a DVD on breast reconstruction, my mind wandered instead to architectural design.  This was my first plastics consult, and as I sat there in my Johnny after the video ended, waiting for the plastic surgeon to come in—I suddenly felt completely claustrophobic in the space.  I started sweating and had to really talk myself out of the intense urge to bolt from the room, Johnny gown and all.  I’ll admit I’ve definitely had a few Valium moments since diagnosis, but the sick feeling of sheer panic that confronted me in that room came out of nowhere—an anxiety I haven’t felt before.  I closed my eyes and finally managed to pull it together before the surgeon came in to meet me.

The lengthy appointment was filled with the challenges, possibilities, impossibilities, risks and “rewards” associated with the future rebuild of the imminent teardown that will follow chemotherapy.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  ~ Hebrews 11:8-10

Though I’m overwhelmed by the path laid out before me, I know in my heart of hearts that I need to surrender to God, so that He, the trusted architect of my life might use this “structural” teardown moment to help refill and build up the space within my tower—the most important part, the reality of the building.  Though the structural process takes time and effort, the final inside portion of the architectural plan is the integral part of the finished product.

Please pray that as I sway in the wind, I will remain confident and secure in the plans and purposes my architect and builder has carefully crafted for my life.

Waiting for the Orchid to Bloom

White Orchid

(originally posted on my CaringBridge site on 2/22/13 )

Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like its heaven on earth.

– Mark Twain

Orchids.  There’s nothing quite like the rich elegance each orchid blossom exudes.  Early on in my relationship with John (that beautiful, “pre”-honeymoon phase), he would always have exotic flowers delivered to me at my office in Boston.  It was during that time, that I developed a deep adoration for the exotic—particularly rare, stunning orchids.

Carrying a plethora of meanings and symbolic references around the world, orchids are universally regarded as a symbol of love, wisdom, beauty, and innocence in most cultures.  While their blooms are distinct and stunningly beautiful—sadly, unless conditions are exactly right, their limited life span may be cut shorter.  If you keep them in direct sunlight, for instance, their blossoms may scorch.  Though I always knew that many flowers live in symbiosis with fungi . . . what amazes me most about orchids in particular, is that they are ultra-unique—because without their strong relationship with fungi, their seeds are unable to germinate.  So basically, this cooperative relationship is what ultimately gives us the beautiful, delicate, deliciously-aromatic “fever” for the orchid blooms.

Fungus.  What do you think of?  All I can think of is:  nasty.  Athlete’s foot, mold and yeast . . . to name a few.  Though not a fungus, I’ll even throw cancer into my nasty image of fungal disease.  How can something as beautiful as an orchid thrive on a relationship with a loathsome, utterly nasty organism?

Yesterday marked week 7 of chemo.  Almost half way there!  Though it was my long day in town, I had an extra special treat of having my boys with me.  Additionally, it was John’s birthday!  I called it the Dana-Farber “birthday-field trip” day.  They were actually looking forward to the outing.  Nothing like a school vacation week filled with pajama days, cousin sleepovers, rollerblading, Cape Cod . . .  and Dana-Farber.  Yay.

It was actually a wonderful day.  I needed the boys to see where I spend my Thursdays—what happens to me while I’m there, while ultimately showing them that this place where I receive medicine that makes me feel yucky some days— is really not a depressingly bad place, but rather a place filled with hope, love and healing.   The staff were amazingly creative and generous in giving them a field trip-esque adventure.  Beginning with the lab, several nurses gathered, having the boys pick out colorful wraps for my IV site, explaining how the needle goes in, leaving a little tube behind that the medicine goes through.  Next, they allowed them to put my blood in the Pneumatic tube and walked them through the process of the tube getting across the street to be tested.  It was genius.

When it came time for my EKG and oncologist visit, I had them sit with John in the waiting room.  There were many questions I needed to ask, some of which might be a bit overwhelming and potentially scary.  I was happy to hear my EKG was normal.  The oncology team noted that the lymph node on the base of my skull had reduced in size, along with the main breast tumor and axillary nodes.  All good stuff!  Still, though, I carried with me the many looming questions I had regarding staging, etc. etc. etc.  Y’know, all those questions that enter my mind at 3 AM and keep me up, as I desperately try hard not to research online.  In my heart of hearts, I hoped that perhaps through the great shrinking progress that was being made, maybe my ultimate cancer staging would change.  Unfortunately, that’s not how this adventure works.  Your stage is your stage form inception.  Therefore, based on my diagnosis, I am officially a Stage III breast cancer—all based on tumor size, node involvement and metastases—currently looking like no distant metastases to bone or organs.  As for the occipital node issue, sadly, there are no real answers to possible connection with infiltration of the lymphatic system.  We just have to “hurry up and — wait.”

I know God has plans for my life, regardless of the outcome of this cancer encounter.  Without a shadow of a doubt, I know that He is not only busy working out my details, but also busy working out the details of the lives of my precious family and friends.  He’s most definitely in the business of using every opportunity for His glory.

I love how orchids share multiple flowers on a single stem.  My desperate prayer is that through my “fungal” encounter with this thing called breast cancer, I will not only bloom in the cooperative relationship with the fungus of this trial, but through it, each of you will bloom. I want every life I touch to have hope and courage to get through any and all of the trials and tribulations that come your way—those fungi moments that would love to bring us down—replaced instead with the exquisite, exotic, beautiful blooms of beauty.  Our orchid moments.   We must remember, every test is a testimony waiting to be shared.

Isaiah 48:10 tells us perfectly:  “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

Life in a Snow Globe

snow globe

(originally posted on my CaringBridge page on 2/ 17/13)

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Snow globes.  Children always seem to have an innate attraction to them.   Once upon a time, I distinctly remember that giddy feeling, especially during the Christmas season when stores would display beautiful collections of these magnificent little transparent worlds frozen in time.  Instinctively, I’d rush to stir up the beautiful, idyllic scenes in each one, watching the snow gently fall over each perfect little landscape.

As I found myself pondering magical snow globes this past week, I’m not sure why, but I recalled a moment in a disturbing, but brilliantly written novel by Alice Sebold I read several years ago—The Lovely Bones.   I distinctly remembered a part in the book referring to a snow globe.  I found the book on one of my shelves and looked up the part that came to memory:

“Inside the snow globe on my father’s desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect on the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, “Don’t worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He’s trapped in a perfect world.”

Trapped, isolated in a world being stirred up beyond one’s control is most definitely a lonely place.  The penguin, in many ways similar to how I see myself some days . . . stood lonely, frozen in time, with no control over anything going on around him.

On Tuesday night, while I was running my hands through my long, lavish locks (just kidding, they don’t exist)—I felt a very real, immovable lump at the base of my skull, an occipital lymph node, as it were.  John felt it and insisted I call the doctor in the morning.  Without having an active infection that could cause it, and also already having positive axillary lymph nodes, it was unsettling to say the least.  On Wednesday I called, and the oncology team asked to see me on Thursday prior to chemo, to check it out.

Thursday arrived—Valentine’s Day, and my four princes blessed me with love.   First and foremost, John and I were both overwhelmed by our three little men who wrote us a beautifully-written letter expressing their appreciation and love for us  . . . we were both moved to tears.  They had also put their own money together to buy us a Valentine’s Day gift.  It was beyond heartwarming.   I was later greeted to 2 dozen long-stemmed roses to beautifully color my office . . . from all my boys.

The pre-chemo Valentine’s Day blessings continued, as my best Valentine’s Day gift arrived, meeting me at work to be my Dana-Farber date . . . Jean McAdams-Jenkins.  Those of you who know Jean, know that she is that gift that keeps on giving.  As she says, once you’re in her life, you are there to stay.  So true.   Thank God.   Though I would have withdrawals, you could actually go months without seeing Jean, but just as if time stood still . . . as soon as you reunite, it would seem not a day had lapsed.   She is low maintenance with style.  Always there no matter what.  There’s not a day that goes by that Jean isn’t praying for hundreds of people . . . seriously.  The list, though miles long, is never forgotten in her memory.   I have absolute confidence that if there were no one else on the face of the planet praying for me, Jean would be.   Additionally, her life is a living, breathing testimony of God’s miracles—she is a 15-year pancreatic cancer survivor.  That is just one of the many ways her life has been an example of God’s merciful love and grace.

Needless to say, I was blessed beyond measure to have Jean with me on Valentine’s Day.  You always know you’re in for lots of laughing intertwined with many more moments of wisdom and thoughtful reflection when you’re with her.

I was seen by the oncology team regarding the enlarged lymph node.  Though there is a possibility that the node is in fact cancer-related, there is also a possibility (my hopeful one) that this could be a Nicole-variable.  A lymph node that may just be part of me.   They are thrilled by what they are seeing with regard to chemo-shrinkage in the breast and other nodes . . . and are hopeful, that if this were cancer-related, it too will suffer the consequences of the juice.   Time will tell.  In the meantime, they are keeping it under close weekly watch and have measured it for comparative purposes.

I think of the Dad in The Lovely Bones, assuring Susie of the Penguin’s nice life in the snow globe . . . trapped in his perfect world.  Though I feel Susie’s worry in the face of isolation and loneliness—having no control over the circumstances swirling all around me, the dad’s right.  In the midst of the inverted globe, life’s disasters and worries stirring about, the penguin remains immoveable— in a sense trapped in a perfect world.

There is nothing more meaningful and real than knowing earnestly your life is in the Lord’s hands.  I love the verse in John:  “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you . . .” (John 15:5-7)   It’s not that we make a wish and get what we wish for . . . instead it’s all about the steadfast dependence on Him.  As long as we remain in Him and His words remain in us, our desires will align with His will, and our prayers will reflect that.

It is in my best interest to embrace my scene in this snow globe.  I am safe there.  He will allow the snow to swirl around me, yet I can remain safe in His presence . . .  unharmed, immoveable.  It is a perfect place to be.

I can truly do nothing apart from Him.  Even when shaken, I hope to remain steadfast . . . abiding in the one and only true Vine.

Thank you all for being vessels of encouragement and support.  Please continue to pray.  I feel them.

Loads of love from the globe.

A Tumultuous Privacy of Storm

snowed in

(originally posted on my CaringBridge page on 2/12/13)

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields, seems nowhere to alight:  the whited air hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven, and veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.  The sled and traveler stopped, the courier’s feet delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit around the radiant fireplace, enclosed in a tumultuous privacy of storm . . .

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (An excerpt from the Snow-Storm)

There’s something so romantic and nostalgic about being snowed in . . . the privacy and cozy isolation—blissful.  Yet in all the beauty that the endless blanket of heavy snow creates, like many things, it can be deceiving.  While many of us were comfy-cozy, bundled up by a radiant fire, watching the storm blow around outside . . . sadly, there were many people tragically hit by its force—some lost homes, while others even lost lives.

“Nemo,” apparently the name weather folk chose to call this blizzard of 2013, seemed an ironic choice to me.  After all—how does a blizzard of “epic proportions” get named after the Latin word for “nobody”?  How can something so big and powerful be a Nobody?  Nothing?  Null and void of existence?  Goliath, perhaps . . . but Nemo?  I guess, though, just like the very meaning of blizzard—sometimes a blinding series of unexpected, and often times, unpleasant occurrences find us along the way.  Life’s little nothings that come out of nowhere, turning our world upside down.

As you know, my “Nemo” of epic proportions decided to blow in around Christmas, disrupting my little corner of the world.  Just as this past weekend proved, in the midst of an epic storm, time seems to almost stand still.  Blizzards seem to force people into slowing down, allowing no excuse to be in a rush to go anywhere.  In a sense, they bring people together.

Late Friday night, in the darkness, as the winds were gusting and the electricity began flickering off and on, I wondered what would be waiting at the break of dawn.  Soon enough, when Saturday morning emerged, there it was:  a whimsical winter wonderland—decorated with over 2 feet of snow.  It sat heavy on the trees and in some parts of my backyard, appeared Narnia-like.  As I stood gazing at the sweeping “white” all around us, I suddenly gasped and winced as I noticed a massive oak had fallen from the neighbor’s yard through a fence into our backyard.  Ugh.  As time seemed to stand still in the allure of tranquility . . . very real destruction actively existed in the darkness.

What else will materialize from the wake of this epic storm named Nobody?  The aftermath of a blizzard sometimes doesn’t reveal itself until the snow melts—then a trail of surprises are left behind.

Will my personal “Nemo,” my tumultuous privacy of storm, leave a trail of dark surprises, or will it leave a lasting impression, a forever imprint on the hearts of those its impact has touched?  Will I one day be sitting back, recalling my blizzard of epic proportions as a life-changing moment of clarity?  A point in my life where time stood still and through its pause, my eyes were open wider to the real treasure all around me?

When the snow melts, I pray that my heart will urgently align with all that really matters . . . the Love that surrounds me . . . the “forever” treasure I wish to store for purposes beyond this miniscule stop along the path of eternity.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  ~Matthew 6:20-21