Category Archives: faith

That one time I tried a mohawk…

When I first learned I had cancer, I wasn’t sure how to respond.  There was an element of disbelief, of shock, and of grief.  Ironically, I was not scared, not for my life, not for my health or my future.   I knew it would change things, being uneventfully healthy for so many years, one expects to live a very long time.  What would be a reasonable expectation for that now?  Would I get 10 years?  20 years? Most likely not the 50+ I was expecting.  Would I lose my breasts? My hair? My eyebrows?  Would I be less of a woman? These questions were fueled by conversations with friends and from my daughters, they were things I never thought to ask myself.  I was unprepared, rarely venturing into self questioning of my mortal limitations.  Young people tend to be invincible in life, maybe some people dare to ask the scary what if’s… I was just trying to figure out how to live now.  Some of those questions are not for me to know the answers to yet, and I realized I am not willing to negotiate with God on such matters, HIS plan for me is sovereign.  

I have a great oncologist, she told me flat out that I would lose my hair.  As I talked with others they tried to soften the blow and comfort me with well-intended stories. I heard over and over, “some people don’t lose their hair.”  Their encouragement was sweet but left me questioning if I would be one of the lucky ones?  Growing up, I remember my Grandma tweezed her eyebrows right off and used thick liner to draw on her eyebrows.  I am not sure if that’s where it stems from but I have a fear of losing mine…  I have caught my youngest daughter praying at night that mine would stay put.

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My oncologist suggested I try a “transition cut,” something shorter and with bangs. This was so that should I want to wear a wig, it would be a more natural transition. I looked up the closest Aveda salon and booked an appointment, first for my girls, then I picked a stylist for mine.  Annie, was quiet with long wavy hair and streaks of fun color.  She did a great job.  I haven’t had bangs since grade school.  When I looked in the mirror, I was surprised at how much I looked like my oldest sister. 

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This was also a turning point for me, does losing your hair have to be sad?  It actually was freeing to try a new hairstyle with such a low commitment.  Two weeks later, on a Wednesday before my second chemotherapy round, I went to see the oncologist. She was surprised my hair was still looking as full and radiant as ever… then she told me “sorry, but you’ll lose it this week.”  Sure enough, the next day strands of hair began to fall like light drizzle before a storm.  I have heard people say their head is itchy and when they scratch the hair falls out.  Mine felt much more like the soreness of being in a tight pony tail, and when you brush your hair, or run your hand though it collects between your fingers.  By Friday, the strands turned to clumps, and for as long as I ran my hand through the hair, the clumps would continue to fall out.  My hair was noticeably thinner but not patchy.  I filled several small garbage bins in my room and bathroom with mounds of hair.  It became inevitable to me that I could not do this much longer, it was impossible to shower. 

I called the stylist who gave me the transition cut, her first opening was Monday night.  So Saturday and Sunday,  I left my hair secured in a pony tail, to slow the shedding.   In high-school I kept my hair long, even on the swim team.  I would coil it up under a swim cap to keep it out of the way.  It was during this time that I began donating my hair to locks of love.   I loved the shock value of it, rarely would I tell my friends before I went to get the required 10+ inches off.  Normally I just go by myself to get my hair done but this felt very different, I was the one affected by shock.  This wasn’t a trim by choice, but a forcing of giving up control.

I thought of what I wanted this hair raising event to look like.  I looked online a bit to see what other chemo fighters have done but found few positive personal stories. Was there some empowering moment to  shaving your head?  Some girl power – breast cancer – maiden voyage, right of passage celebration, that I should be willing to share with others?  Who would be comforting for me to have with me?  I decided I wanted to share it with my sisters.  Could we have a little fun with this so it was not all emotional? 

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Thankful that I had at least met my stylist once before and had shared a little of my story, I didn’t need to explain, or send her searching for clippers.  She offered me a little glass of wine, I took it knowing I could only take a few sips, perhaps it would put my nerves at ease. I sat down in her chair, and then I asked for a Mohawk.

I saw a slight smile on her face as she started to take the fastened pony tail out that was literally holding the hair on my head.  As she trimmed away, I heard her say, “I have to throw out everything I know and just respond to your hair.”  My hair was falling out so quickly now, every time she teased out the hair to trim with the scissors, it dropped from the root.  My oldest sister took a swipe with the clippers then retreated around the corner, I don’t think she wanted me to see her tears.  

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We managed to cut and shave off the sides, leaving a row of hair down the top of my scalp.  The product she used worked double-time as she styled the row upward and effectively glued it in place for a photo-op.  Being around artists (and high-schoolers), I am accustomed to others expressing themselves through radical hairstyles, clothing choices, tattoos, and piercings.  I have always maintained a more traditional look, even though I house some of the same unique personality quirks and radical thoughts on the inside. I am not sure if I would have ever had the guts to shave my head or try Mohawk on my own.  I am glad I did it, who knows next time it may keep a little longer!

After the Mohawk I asked Annie to shave off the back just leaving the elevated patch where my bangs would be.  This I chose to shave off myself. 

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Looking in the mirror for the first time was a bit shocking.  I could clearly see my face without the framing of my hair.  I was relieved that my facial features and ears were symmetrical, something I teach often to students in art class.  I am so thankful my ears aren’t off kilter.

DSC_0429What now?  How do you end a little session like that? Reality set in and little tears began to form in the corners of my eyes,  my hair was really gone (or so I thought in that moment.)  They all sensed my emotion, and in my best defense to lighten the mood,  I turned to Annie speaking sarcastically  “This is the worst haircut I have ever gotten, it is way too short, I demand to speak with your manager!”  We all burst out laughing.  Annie, told me later that was one of her favorite parts of the night.

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My other sister who had been quietly watching, exclaimed that the baby inside of her was kicking and moving around.  Then I realized this event of losing or lessening became a moment of embracing and celebrating.  There is something beautiful about going with life, if I would have fought it, feared it, raged against it, I would have missed the sweet moments, the tears, and the laughter.   It’s not hair that makes you beautiful, it’s loving others from a deep place in your heart.  It’s about sharing life moments with each other, not getting all caught up in how they’re played out.  It’s about making memories and recording them. It’s about responding joyfully and mostly it’s about new life.

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“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

 

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Circle of Gratitude

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We have been so blessed on this journey, I wanted to record some of the specifics in a meaningful way.  It has been the little things, the “coincidences,” the prayers, the perfect gifts, the comments that have been the overwhelming signs of a gracious maker and provider.  It seems this is the moment he has been building my faith, family and friends for.

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7

When I saw this gratitude wreath from one of my paper stores, I knew this was how I wanted to display my blessings accrued over the last three months. Each leaf is small but together they create a beautiful story.  I am thankful I am not in this alone. Continue reading


When you take the leap, and the ground gives way…

9I have been trying to write this post for weeks… at first I was anticipating posting a picture of a shiny new RV that would carry our family to neat places around the country.  We planned an epic adventure, a family sabbatical, one of trusting God and waiting on his timing to reveal what was next for us.  We looked forward to reconnecting as a family, investing in our girls who are rapidly approaching tween years, exploring the beautiful land of the free, and living in the space between.  But in the last few months our plans have taken a drastic change, an unbelievable turning of events.

After we were finished at camp,

after I gave my two weeks notice to the school,

after I communicated the plan for our family sabbatical,

after we found the perfect RV and researched our route,

after I packed half our house,

after I thought the change was enough, I went to the doctor…

Continue reading


raising strong girls and the tooth fairy

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My daughter, age 7,  lost a tooth this week.  We are not particularly organized nor faithful about the “tooth fairy.”  Yet she is particularly motivated to earn money to buy her own mini ipad… So she promptly washed her tooth off, put it in a baggie and wrote a note.  “Can I have $20, please.”

I chuckled, “You think that the tooth fairy is going to give you twenty dollars… for a little tooth… that you have barely been faithful about brushing…”  I kind of couldn’t believe her note, although the “please” was nice.

How bold and courageous a child’ s request can be.  I was quick to dismiss her demand but then took pause, who am I to squelch the dreams of a child.  While it is not my responsibility to give her everything she wants or asks for,  it is my joy to give her what she needs.  It is also my intention to train her to be a strong young girl, who is full of faith and serves a BIG God.  It is HE who gives us good gifts, not to pacify our selfish desires but to benefit others and advance kingdom work.  It is also He who encourages us to ask in HIS name.

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we lose our courage, we have heard “NO”  so many times that we don’t bother to ask anymore, dream anymore, or pray BIG anymore.   We learn to be content with the broken way of life, making God small,  living half of what he has planned.

I want to teach her that we serve a BIG God, who does BIG things, who makes a BIG difference.   If I truly believe that, do I live it?   Have I lost the courage to ask for BIG things from God?  Do I ask for only what seems reasonable, or safe or do I  trust the sovereign God to meet our needs and be our provider.

So if you are wondering, no she didn’t receive $20, and she was quite disappointed, but we ended up having a great conversation and a brainstorming session on how to earn some extra cash.  For my not particularly clean child, this could be a win win.

 


operating on a 3G network; grace, gratitude & generosity

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2013 has been a year of gravitating to “G” words.  It happened slowly over the seasons starting  with Grace this spring as I prayed over a theme for the spring women’s retreat and a resonating phrase in a song,  “soaked in grace.”

I picked up Gratitude this summer, as we watched many friends and family sending their kids to camp, resulting in life impacting experiences.  It is so awesome to work and live in such a place where people travel to “get away from life”, “draw closer” and “be in nature”.

I pondered Generosity this fall,  what does that look like in response to time, money, giving of talents.  Surely others have extended generosity to us, what are we called to share and give during this season.

As families are often complicated I have been very thankful for a sister on each side, who have continually helped me focus on Christ and dive deep in prayer before family get-togethers.   Durning a conversation with my SIL,  I was sharing my 3 words which she quickly dubbed  my 3G network… clever lady… and how can I upgrade to the next platform?

After holiday parties and birthdays, I have been dwelling on Gathering.  Truly this is a word to reflect on, and a challenge for me to open my home and heart to others.

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hold me near

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This weekend I got away on a little retreat, well really I was taking a class but I was alone for the six-hour car ride.  I found myself thinking, praying and singing (very loudly and badly…) to pass the time.  Of the little music  I had with me this song was from one of the cd’s I listened to repeatedly, “hold me near” by Karla Adolphe/ enter the worship circle.  It is based on one of my favorites, psalms 73.

Hold Me Near

Hold me near when I’m restless
Hold me near when I’m bitter
Hold me near when I”m rebellious
Hold me near until the end
 
Hold me near when my heart is broken
Hold me near when I’m ignorant
Hold me near when I am jealous
Hold me near until the end
 
But as for me my feet almost gave out I nearly sold my heart
It’s good to be held by my Father it’s good to be where you are
 
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We are creating these theme/scripture paintings as one of the spring crafts for the women’s retreat.  I just had to try it out ahead of time with some left over supplies I had at home and the lyrics from the song & psalm 73.  I love reading into the phrase,  it just has layers for me.

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Happy Easter.

I finished my vases in time… they didn’t make it to the gallery but this one made it to my table.


Hope & Friendship

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This afternoon I went to a community Good Friday service. What a sweet thing to see so many of our local churches and families worshiping together.  We were able to walk there in the sunshine, as a family.  I needed that, sunshine, walking, family, friendship, hymns, hope, and sacrificial savior.

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Also today, I was able to catch up on a few pieces of “homework.”  Using mishima technique I created these two raised tiles.  A daffodil for friendship and Iris for hope.  I can’t wait to see how these fire – I think I like using white clay.

Hope Iris


38

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This weekend I get to celebrate 38 with a special somebody, we’re celebrating with a little SanctusReal and JJHeller tonight LIVE.

Also In addition to MORE SNOW DAYS…and SICK DAYS, I have been getting ready to take over a gymnasium with crafts for our upcoming womens retreat.  I love testing out new DIY ideas. This week I made these giant 10″ crepe flowers! Just a few more ski days and I’ll be ready for spring… DSC_0862


forget the bunnies


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I wish I could say this was purely by discipline that I am working ahead on Easter projects.  But truthfully it is fueled by my new dining room table.  I have been slightly obsessed with tablecloths, vases, plates…. decorative stuff that I put little value on previously.  After following a few internet rabbit holes (pun intended) literally everything I saw was completely designed around fluffy bunnies and eggs. What a sad thing this holiday has become…

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As if plastic eggs could ever replace the amazing story, of love, death, resurrection, and redemption found in the Bible.  I know hospitality is more than decorations and menus,  it is about the welcoming.   Oh to share a meal and have ones home reflect  the warmth of the Savior. It’s a learning and making season for me.   I am enjoying my Mains book , “If Christians, corporately would begin to practice hospitality, we could play significant roles in redeeming our society.  There is no better place to be about the redemption of society with the captive, the blind, the downtrodden, the more we realize that in this inhospitable world, a Christian home is a miracle to be shared. ”  Do you have an Easter or Lenten tradition in your home?

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Daffodils have long been some of my favorite spring bulbs.  Emerging warm yellow blooms from the snow-covered ground.  I carved two new daffodil blocks and used old printers letter stamps to lay significance in the clay.  We’ll see how these fire up and fill with spring blooms.

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