Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Scraps of Things

First, I'll tell you about a new tween series I just stumbled upon at the library: The Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick. Currently, there are four books, the most recent just came out last month--about a group of mothers and daughters in Concord, Massachusetts, who, against the daughters' will, are forced into a book club together. Among the daughters we have Emma, the chubby bookworm; Jess, the introverted farm girl; Megan, the snobby fashionista; and Cassidy, the hockey player.

The first book runs in tandem with Little Women; the second, Much Ado About Anne, with Anne of Green Gables; the third, Dear Pen Pal, with Daddy Long-Legs; and the latest, Pies and Prejudice, with...well, I'm sure you can figure that one out. The books deal with all sorts of contemporary pre-teen issues: bullying, trying to fit in at school, loss of a parent, getting a step-parent, getting a new sibling, being embarrassed of your mom, trying to balance different types of friendship, romance, etc. vis a vis the heroines of literature and seeing how they had to deal with the same situations.

Here is a Library Journal Review of Pies and Prejudice:

"With four effervescent heroines, several budding romances, an ambitious cooking venture, and a hefty pinch of drama, Pies has instant teen appeal, even more so if readers are Anglophiles. When Emma's family announces they are moving to England for a year, the book club selects Pride & Prejudice in honor of their adventure and keeps up regular meetings via webcam. Austen fans will appreciate the character nods: Emma deflects the advances of a Mr. Collins-like oaf, Megan falls for the amiable Simon Berkeley (aka Mr. Bingley), and Cassidy spends much energy detesting Tristan Berkeley, the obvious but nonetheless enjoyable Mr. Darcy character. For teens who may not recognize these parallels, the author makes them clear with quotes at the head of each chapter, as well as pointed comparisons made by the characters themselves. With interesting facts about Austen interspersed throughout, and a visit to relevant sites in England incorporated, this book makes an excellent introduction to one of the most masterful–and popular–writers of all time. Don't be surprised if 12-year-olds start checking out Pride & Prejudice after reading this teen-tailored adaptation."

In short, the books are sweet and funny (and clean) and I wish I had written them, but my hat's off to Heather, who also has a really fun blog. I would say the books are perfect for 9 to 12-year-olds, but I bet 13- and 14-year-olds would enjoy them, too. Also 41-year-olds.

In other news, today is the last day of school for this week because tomorrow are Parent-Teacher conferences, and Friday is a teacher in-service, which is the brilliant way our school escapes the drama of Halloween every year.

I got Lucy's first quarter report card the other day, which is what we'll be discussing at the P/T conference. This is my girl who every day, when I ask, "How was second grade today?" without fail answers, "AWESOME!" I'm not worried. At the beginning of the year at the parents' open house, her teacher told us that at least in the first report card, she does not give grades above "3" (Consistently achieves the standard) or "S" (Satisfactorily meets expectations). The highest grades are 4 and E. Lucy got one 4, for her independent reading goal, and one E--in art. The rest were mostly 3s and S's.

Here was her teacher's comment: "Lucy has adjusted well to 2nd grade. She is a fun-loving and creative child. Her skills are solid at this time. She loves chatting--often at inappropriate times, which I hope to help her curb. She is delightful!"

I dunno--does this lady get my daughter, or what? I think we will have fun, "chatting" together tomorrow.

Oh and just to add--the other day, Lucy came home and said, "Mom! We rearranged our seats at school and now I'm next to Lily and Tomas so we can chat as much as we want to!" I put that as my status on facebook, and my friend Tom said, "Somehow I'm seeing Lily as Ethel and Tomas as Ricky."

Lastly, tonight is Trunk or Treat at AWANA, and the girls are supposed to come dressed as their favorite Bible character. This was their conversation coming home from church last week:

Lucy: I want to dress up as either Queen Esther or that Egyptian princess who got Moses out of the water.

Elaine: I'm gonna dress up as Eve.

Lucy: ELAINE! That means you would go to AWANA without any clothes on. Not even your UNDERWEAR.

Elaine: Oh. I do not get that at all.

I told them that I had already bought the Halloween costumes they wanted (that have nothing to do with the Bible) and I don't know how to sew, so unless they want to wrap themselves in my pashminas and be Mary and Martha, they can just wear their playclothes like always since it will be dark out in the parking lot and no one will notice anyway.

There's only so much a mom can do, can I get an amen? To go along with that, I'll leave you with this great post by my friend Alysa. Now, knowing her, she probably would whip up Bible costumes on a moment's notice...but she'd never make you feel bad that you didn't! Love you, girl!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Somebody's Knocking at Your Door

A couple weeks ago, the doorbell rang. Usually when that happens, the UPS man has dropped off a box from amazon, so I went to the door to get it. Instead, it was a lady from the Jehovah Witnesses. I opened the door and listened to her talk; she read me some verses out of the Bible and gave me some literature…and promised she would come back again soon to talk with me.

When I closed the door and went back to the living room, I felt ashamed that I hadn’t said anything about what I believe. I just listened and nodded my head. I just remember growing up, whenever we saw the JWs or the Mormons canvassing the street, my mom would say, “Quick! Lie down on the floor until they go away!” I wasn’t prepared for that lady—I thought she was an amazon box. I would have lain down on the floor and waited until she went away if I had known.

Recently, a friend of mine posted something on facebook about Christopher Hitchens. I commented on his post because, wait for it, I kind of like Christopher Hitchens. If you’re unfamiliar with him, he’s one of the most famous atheists in the world today. While I disagree with many of his premises and his life philosophy, I don’t disagree with him on everything, and frankly, he’s a great writer and I enjoy reading him.

My comment on my friend’s post led to a small interchange, which led to an extensive correspondence that we took to email—because my friend is a dedicated atheist as well. Hitchens is one of his heroes.

My friend and I ended up discussing and examining each other’s viewpoints on God. We've been asking each other questions and listening to the answers. We've been having what Os Guiness calls, “civil discourse in the public square,” except it's not that public.

During our correspondence, which has been pretty extensive, my friend has been nothing but gracious and courteous, genuinely interested in what I have to say. Also—he is far better read, more intelligent, and much better at asserting his views than I am. I’m thinking if you were on the fence and you read our letters, you’d probably end up siding with him.

He has read the Bible from cover to cover. He’s also read Lewis, Chesterton, Augustine, Aquinas, Tillich, Buber, and more. Kierkegaard is one of his favorites. During the course of our letters, I felt utterly inadequate. I don’t say that for people to come around and pat me on the back and say I did a good job. I kept thinking of the verse from I Peter: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” I tried to do that, but as I said, my friend could give a much better defense for his viewpoints and beliefs than I could for mine. Honestly, I was still metaphorically lying on the floor, waiting for the doorbell to stop ringing.

At one point, he asked me this question, in lieu of my acknowledging my own occasional doubts: “But if you've had an intimate relationship with Creator of the universe, why would you ever again have reason to doubt His reality? (I know that once I've met someone, I no longer question whether that person exists.)”

Here is my reply:

Yes, I do doubt sometimes. Because I am just a weak human being with an average intellect. I look around at people and think, "Am I the only person here who believes this stuff? What if I am totally deluded? Other people seem to be doing just fine without God."

Even though I have felt and known God's presence and love and goodness, I get exhausted with life and tired and wonder if it's all just some big cosmic joke.

You mentioned that you don't think the world is an awful place. I agree that this world is beautiful and is filled with wondrous things and places and people and relationships. Watching the leaves change, hearing my kids laugh, enjoying a great meal with is good, and I try to be conscious of all the good things and be thankful for them.

But two hours ago, I stood at the curb in a small town and watched as a motorcade went down the street, followed by a hearse, carrying a 19-year-old Marine who was just killed in Afghanistan. He had been there only 3 weeks. Someone handed me an American flag to hold, but I had a hard time thinking about duty and honor and freedom, when all I could think about was that young boy’s—because really that's all he was—that young boy's mom. I kept having that Kipling poem run through my head:

Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

Yes. I do think this world is an awful place and though I know and love God, sometimes I wonder where He is and what He's doing and why. Also, I can't see Him.

But when I doubt, I go back to what His Word has said, as in Hebrews 4:16 "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Or I go to one of my favorite statements, written by St. Paul "Nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day."

For me, the reassuring reality is not in the strength of my grip on God. It's the strength of His grip on me.”

This conversation has been challenging me to think a lot this past week. I have taken numerous courses in evangelism, systematic theology, hermeneutics, and apologetics. I don’t know if they’ve helped me much at all—not because they weren’t good classes, they were—but because they were a long time ago; I’ve forgotten a lot; and in the meantime, life has taken over, I’ve had two little kids, and I read a lot of Kipper the Dog books these days, instead of philosophy and theology to sharpen my mind and defend my faith.

But the whole interchange with my friend has brought to my mind the great 20th-century theologian, Karl Barth, who spoke and taught and wrote so eloquently and at such length, particularly on the transcendence of God. Yet when someone asked him to sum up his theology and the millions of words he had written, he answered simply this:

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

I don’t know how to say it any better than that.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I had this blog post written in my head, all about the stress of life, and then I realized, why would you want to read about the stress of our life? I'm sure you have enough of your own. Then I saw on Anne-Marie's blog that she did some fun question thing that she was tagged for, so I'm just going to lift that idea, without being tagged. And maybe I'll change some of the questions too. So, here you go:

Given a plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I would go either to Cornwall, England, or to Japan. I've always been fascinated with Japan, ever since I did my country report on it in 6th grade. I'd want to tour a lot of Japanese gardens and check out lots of Japanese dolls.

Besides the Bible, what is your favorite book and why?

My favorite book (say it with me now) is Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. I go to it for comfort or advice or inspiration. If I ever write a book, I keep thinking of it as a modern Stepping Heavenward, then I get intimidated since that's like saying writing a modern Pilgrim's Progress or something. It has so many favorite quotes of mine, but one I think of on a near-daily basis is this: "Suppose, then, you content yourself for the present with doing in a faithful, quiet, persistent way all the little, homely tasks that return with each returning day, each one as unto God, and perhaps by and by you will thus have gained strength for a more heroic life."

My other favorite book (among many of course) is L.M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle. Just because I love it. But someone needs to design a new cover for it.

Do you re-read favorite books? If so, which ones?

I'm a huge re-reader because if you have books, you have friends, and who wouldn't want to hang out with your friends over and over again? Basically, if I enjoy a book, I'll reread it again at some point. There are some I make a point to re-read every year, such as Little Women and Jane Eyre. I recently reread The Great Gatsby (pure brilliance). Some I haven't read for awhile and want to read again soon: Graham Greene's The Quiet American. Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.

What is the biggest difference (other than gender) between you and your husband?

We're very different from each other, but probably the biggest difference is that he's an extrovert and I'm an introvert. We've both come each other's way somewhat over the last 15 years, but it still is interesting sometimes.

What is your favorite soup?

Definitely my mom's minestrone in first place, but in second place is Italian wedding soup. I have a great recipe for it that I got from my cousin's husband, Yang. I always say I learned how to make great Italian soup from a Korean guy.

If calories, weight gain or health were no object, what food would you eat all you wanted of?

Oh, you know, flax. Or alfalfa sprouts.

Actually, cake. Chocolate eclair cake. Carrot cake with that cream cheese frosting. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Poppyseed cake with caramel frosting. Cake in almost any form.

I think that's all for now, and that was much less stressful than my original post, so aren't we all thankful? I won't tag anyone to do this, but feel free to steal if you're running dry on blog topics!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

School Pictures

First, an update about my dad: The surgery went very well. He was in the OR from 1:30 until around 6:00, the doctor came to talk to us. He was pleased with how it went, though it will be a fairly long road to recovery. We finally got to see Dad around 8:30 at night, but of course he was completely out of it. I'll see him later today; he'll be in the hospital for a week and then in a rehab facility.

Next, here are the girls' school pictures. Forgive the poor quality--I took a picture of a picture, and not very well. I haven't figured out how to work our scanner yet, so pictures of pictures it is.

Here is Lucy Nan, 2nd grader:

And here's Elaine Frances, Jr. Kindergartner:

Both of them decked out in bows by Bowture, of course!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Belated Birthday

Last Monday was Darren's birthday, but we were on our way back from Door County so we didn't make a big deal of it. And let's face it, he is not like me. He doesn't really want anyone to make a big deal for his birthday anyway. But I think he should still succumb to our ministrations and let us sing to him and buy him presents and make him a birthday dinner.

So, that's what we did yesterday evening. We all decided to meet at my dad's house because today he'll be going into the hospital for a reconstruction of his spine. I packed up the food--Italian beef, pasta salad, Mrs. Fischer's potato chips (evil, evil, addictive food item)--and the cake: orange crunch cake decorated with salted pecans to look like Miss Cleo Marple the cat, who hates all of us except Darren. More on that later. Oh, so much more.

Chuck and Rome came too, and Rome brought cinnamon rolls like my mom always made for birthdays and also apple-parsnip soup, which was made on her show this week.

We all gathered around that table for the first time since my mom has been gone. While I was setting it, I wasn't sure what to do with her place. Should I sit there? Should I leave it empty? I ended up rearranging everything so that it just wasn't there anymore. But it was OK.

After dinner, the girls were so excited for Darren to open his presents. Before we left this afternoon, Lucy had written poems on typing paper and taped them all over the patio door for him. At dinner she had a card she picked out herself at Target and written her own message. The girls and my dad all gave Darren different types of bird feeders and bird food, because that's what he wanted--basically, my dad has turned us all into bird-watcher nuts.

Elaine was doing a little dance of impatience beside him because she couldn't contain the secret of her card any longer. First, she had actually written "Daddy" on the envelop and "Elaine" on the inside all by herself. But the real reason was that when Daddy opened the card (which she did for him) it played, "Who Let the Dogs Out?" This was also something she picked out at Target. Actually, she first picked out a cat in a tutu that when you opened it, it played "Dancing Queen," but I convinced her that she probably liked that a lot more than Dad would. So, "Who Let the Dogs Out?" it is.

The rest of the evening, she would sneak up on Chuck with the card and play it because he couldn't stop singing it either. While we were doing the dishes he said, "Now I'll have that stupid song in my head forever. I just got rid of 'The Entertainer.'"

I said, "The Scott Joplin song? How did you get that stuck there?" and he said, "No, Billy Joel's 'The Entertainer,'" which called for us to belt out together:

I am the entertainer,
I come to do my show.
You've heard my latest record,
It's been on the radio.
Ah, it took me years to write it,
They were the best years of my life.
It was a beautiful song.
But it ran too long.
If you're gonna have a hit,
You gotta make it fit--
So they cut it down to 3:05

Then we took some turns playing on the piano, and the girls begged Darren to play "Heart and Soul" with me, which he's supposed to play the plain, boring bottom part, but he always showboats and tries to steal the limelight from my showy top part.

When we got home and I tucked the girls in bed, Lucy said, "Mom, I have to tell you something I just want you to hear. You know, I think people are like llamas."

I wanted to burst out laughing because it was so random, but she was very serious so I kept it in check.

She went on, "You know how when llamas get married and one llama dies, the other one is so sad. People are like that, too. We're just better together, aren't we?"

"Yup, Luce," I told her. "People are better together."

Then Elaine piped up from her bed, "Mom, why is Packa going in the hospital tomorrow?" and I explained to her, "You know how Packa took such good care of Manga while she was sick? Well, now his back is all worn out, and he needs to get it fixed. Like when you make a tall, straight tower out of blocks, but then you knock it over? That's what Packa's back is like. And the doctors are going to make a nice, straight tower out of it again for him."

"Do we get to keep any of the pieces?" she asked.

So today, Chuck and Rome and I will be at the hospital with my dad while Darren holds down the fort here. The surgery will take about four and a half hours they say, so if you think of it, prayers are appreciated.

At least we'll all be together--we know we're better that way. And if you hear anyone singing "Who Let the Dogs Out?" you'll know why.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pie and Pandora

Now that fall is here, it's time to turn the stove back on and start some baking. Over the summer if you ask me what's for dinner on any given day, it's probably a) sandwiches, b) pasta salad, or c) sandwiches and pasta salad. But now it's back to regular food and extra baking with ingredients such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

My friend Mary, and she really is my friend even though we've not officially met, recently posted about pie. I don't know why, but after I got my new laptop in August, I cannot comment on anyone's blog except my pastor's. That sounds oddly rigged, but I'm sure it's not. So I was dying to comment on Mary's about pie, but I just emailed her instead. This turned into three or four back-and-forth emails, all about PIE. And we still haven't exhausted that discussion. Then she posted again about pie, but it doesn't have a title so I can't link to it. Then I figured I better post about pie, so here I am.

We talked about our favorites, and it made me think about all these pies my mom would make: rhubarb, lemon meringue, strawberry (a slice of spring in pie form), my ultimate favorite--her Swiss apple (Mary wanted to know what Swiss apple is, and it's what other people call Dutch apple or French apple. But my mom was Swiss, so it's Swiss apple), and pumpkin--which is my dad's favorite but not mine. Something about the texture is weird to me. But my dad will eat it for breakfast.

I make a caramel apple upside down pie that my family seems to like, judging by the fact that it's never around for very long. I'll give you the recipe if you want.

In the midst of all these pie thoughts, I ran into my friend Toby at the library and we started talking about pandora. If you don't know what pandora is, it's a site where you can create your own radio stations, as many as you want. If they play a song you don't like, you can thumbs down it and they'll never play it again. When I first told my brother about it several years ago, his comment was "Finally. The Internet's starting to pull its weight," and ran off to create his Lyle Lovett station. Toby and I were comparing our stations, and here's what I've got (some I ran home and created after talking to her):

Choral Music

W.G. Snuffy Walden--acoustic guitar music

Carl Davis/Thomas Newman--guys who write soundtracks, such as "Cranford," "Pride & Prejudice," "Little Women," "Shawshank Redemption," etc. etc.

Wynton Marsalis--classical, you can also have a Wynton Marsalis jazz station, which I'll probably add

Harry Connick, Jr.

Judy Garland--holiday station; you can have a Judy Garland non-holiday station, too

Yo-Yo Ma

Travis Cottrell/Robin Mark--worship music

Keith Green/Larry Norman--old school Jesus music

Van Halen

Dave Grusin

Frank Sinatra

Chris Botti

Der Kommissar (80s)

Bruce Hornsby

Natalie McMaster (Irish)

Liz Story (piano)

I'm telling you, the best way to spend an afternoon is to turn one of your pandora stations on, get your pie ingredients out, and start baking.

Right now this is my personal favorite to bake to. I think it automatically infuses food and makes it taste better.

OK, so what's your favorite pie and pandora station?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Picture This

It's been an interesting week or so. A week ago last Friday, I went to the women's Bible study I go to, and Elaine came with me since she doesn't go to school on Fridays (there's childcare provided). About halfway into it, they brought her in to me, and she was trying not to cry. Very unusual. I picked her up and she whispered, "I want to go home. My ear is hurting." So, we went home and, wherever you were that morning, if you heard earth-shattering screams for about 25 minutes, it was Elaine.

By the time we got home though, she was half-crying, half-asleep, so I gave her some Motrin, put her nightgown on her, and popped her in my bed--where she spent most of the rest of the day sleeping, off and on and drinking ginger ale.

The next morning she popped out of bed and said, "My ear's feeling better," so we went on our full day of errands, the four of us. On the way home in the afternoon, Darren looked back at her in her carseat and saw her--white as a ghost, sleeping, and with some unidentifiable yellowish goo trickling out of her ear and down her neck.


He called a friend right away who fortuitously happened to be working urgent care at the clinic by our house, and he said to bring her right in. Diagnosis? Her eardrum had ruptured. And the other ear was infected, too.

The next day, all of us except Darren stayed home from church because our throats and ears hurt and we were coughing like barking dogs. And I'm just thinking, "We're supposed to leave for Door County in 4 days."

But, leave in four days we did, and it was glorious. You'll have to take my word for it because I packed everything and asked Darren to bring one thing, ONE I tell you, the camera--and he forgot it. That's two trips to Door County in a row that we haven't brought the camera.

So, you'll have to just try and picture it all in your mind: turquoise blue water and sky, maple leaves such a bright red it almost hurt your eyes, evergreen mixed in to soothe, and showers of aspen leaves, sprinkling down like handfuls of gold coins.

The weather was some of the nicest we've had too--it can be dicey in October there, but it was so warm and sunny we didn't even need jackets and could eat outside (at the Cookery, natch). Somewhere along the line, I picked up Elaine's ear infection, so I felt kind of cruddy all while we were there, but it almost didn't matter.

We still went to Peninsula Park every day to walk in the woods; we went to the harbor in Rowley's Bay to walk on the beach; we drove the country roads with the fall trees making an arch above us.

I read one pretty good book and one not that great one and one awful one. Darren and I finished watching all the episodes in our latest TV addiction, Doc Martin. We ate cinnamon rolls and cherry/almond scones and thin crust pizza and other Door County specialties, until we both declared that we are 100% back on the healthy eating program from now until Thanksgiving.

We got back late yesterday afternoon, and I have a garbage bag full of laundry to do and things to catch up on, and I grocery-shopped this morning since all that was in the refrigerator was a carton of moldy strawberries and some milk that was well past its sell-by date.

I wish so much that we had had our camera with us since there were a lot of moments I wanted to capture. But I know that I'll always remember some of the little moments--Lucy going out in her nightgown with Darren to look at the stars; Elaine running down the beach, yelling, "Daddy, Daddy, look at the big shell I found!"; both girls, giggling, bent over a game of Sorry.

They're all titled the same thing in my mind: "This is now--when the girls were little."

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Looking at the World Through Pink-Colored Glasses

We didn't find out before our girls were born that they were, indeed girls (I figured they were because that's what I'd asked for, but that's another story). At my shower for Lucy, I got a lot of little sleepers in white, green, and yellow. So it was a big thrill for me when she was finally born, and Jennie and her mom, Mary, came to the hospital with a pink bag containing a pink ruffled outfit, pink hat, and pink shoes.

It's been non-stop pink at our house ever since. As you can see from our blog tagline, "You never have to pray about pink."

Now October has rolled around, and I don't know what it looks like for my international friends, but here in the U.S., it's officially Pinktober--the month where many of the products in the stores are pink, there are pink ribbons everywhere, and even when you open yahoo or Google, there is pink. Pink, for Breast Cancer Awareness.

The title is a little ironic to me because if there's one thing I actually am aware of, it's breast cancer. Not long ago when I was over at my dad's house--and do I call it that now? my dad's house, instead of my parents' house?--and he had gotten my mom's death certificate in the mail. It was one of those things where you don't want to look at it but you're compelled to, so I opened it. There was her name, her birth date, her death date and location, and under "Cause of Death"--Breast Cancer.

I remember the first time my mom got breast cancer--10 years ago. One of her sisters had died from it, but it was a shock nonetheless. She went through surgery, radiation, and two courses of chemo until they could pronounce her "cancer free." But the doctors told her, "Your cancer was not estrogen-based [as much breast cancer is]. It was an aggressive, genetic cancer, so there is at least an 80% chance it will come back."

When it did come back, I remember sitting in Mom's living room with her and her saying, "I'm at peace. I know it's time. People keep wanting me to join things, to join the fight against cancer. I'm so tired. I just want to be around someone who doesn't have any plans or goals."

"Like ME!" I told her.

"Yes," she laughed. "Like my dear daughter."

And of course if you read this blog, you know our whole journey: through more and more pain and some treatment and hospitalization and saying goodbyes and hospice and always that cancer, over taking everything, until one day, when it had invaded her brain and distorted the world so terribly for her, my mom--who never murmured or complained--held her head and cried, "Oh, this cancer, it's tormenting me!"

A couple of days before her death, a friend of hers came to visit the hospice and we stood together over Mom's bed, crying, and her friend said, "Isn't cancer so evil?"

One of my great struggles has always been fear. I have gone through the wilderness any number of times on that issue, my mind running the worst possible scenarios, my heart racing, waking up in the night, heart pounding and sweating with anxiety. I have memorized verses and hymns, so that any given time I might be saying or singing (usually in my mind so I don't wake anyone else up!) things like, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone oh Lord, make me dwell in safety" (Ps. 4:8) or "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid" (Isaiah 12:2) or "When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie, my grace all-sufficient will be your supply" (How Firm a Foundation).

It helps and it calms and reassures me so I can go on again.

And now that Pinktober is here, and everything from Campbell's soup to Swiffers are pink (I have a pink Swiffer, of course!), I will not lie. I am afraid. I've been to a breast cancer specialist at Northwestern who told me, "Most women have a 1 in 300 chance of getting breast cancer. You have a 1 in 21 chance. But you knew that already, right?" Well, I guess I feared it, but I didn't know it until you told me (thanks!). Aggressive genetic cancer.

I'm afraid to get a checkup. I'm afraid to get that phone call. I'm afraid of chemotherapy and tumors and dying in agony and leaving my girls without a mother. I told my internist at my checkup this summer--you know, the normal kind: breathe in, breathe out, open your mouth and say "ahh," the harmless kind of checkup--"It probably sounds silly, but I'm a little afraid to go get a mammogram. Not because of the procedure, but what if they find something?" He said, not unkindly, "I'm going to tell you what I tell my wife: 'I don't care. Get yourself over there now and get it done.'"

I'm so thankful for everything the Susan G. Komen foundation has done with regard to furthering the fight against breast cancer. Did you know that in at least the last 10 years, maybe more, not one grant, piece of research, advancement, anything having to do with breast cancer has not been touched by the "pink" foundation? The fact that we now set aside this entire month, draped in pink, is amazing to me.

I do my part in donating when I can and buying pink products, but I'm not out there raising funds or going on the walks or being visible in this fight. It's all too mixed up in my mind for me right now. It's too scary, honestly.

I listen to the song "In Christ Alone," that we closed my mom's memorial service with over and over, and right now, the line I keep repeating to myself is this: "From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny."

He commanded my mom's and He commands mine. I'm going to try and trust and not be afraid.

But this month, and every month, I am praying about pink.