A couple of you have asked a similar question recently, “Where’s Dan?” Why haven’t we heard anything from the blog? Does silence mean things are bad and you are not feeling up to writing? The truth is that I have been extremely busy the past few days and I have not taken the time to post anything. I have spent time in the office planning for the fall and beyond. Last week was filled with meetings talking about life, spirituality, and how we move in the midst of what are sometimes extremely difficult and hard situations. Last week was a good week. It was the first time I really felt like myself in a very long time. I was still very tired at the end of every day. I often needed a nap in the middle of the day. I missed a very important time of worship on Wednesday night because my body was screaming at me to stop and be still (I listened and went home when I really wanted to stay and be with those who do such a great job of leading us into the presence of God). Looking back I think the most exciting thing is that I did not feel like I was held hostage by “chemo brain” this past week. While I am not sure “chemo brain” is an official and formal medical term it is (in my humble opinion) a very real thing. Just as my body moves in slower and more deliberate ways my mind has not been as sharp. Remembering names, appointments, tasks that need to be accomplished have all taken a lot more effort than normal. Reading, something I used to enjoy, has become a chore. I have to really focus on what I am reading and there are times I have to read a paragraph two or three times to catch the authors point. This past week it felt as if “chemo brain” was releasing its grip on my mind. I am not sure that is reality, it was just how I experienced last week…and for that I praise God and am extremely thankful.
Just as Nancy, Rayann, Joseph and myself have been transitioning into understanding and living with my “new normal” my parents are going through a very significant transition. My parents have lived in the same house the entire forty-eight years of my life. Their home in New Baltimore, NY is a special place. It is near the Hudson River, has a pond, two story barn and acres of woods and land for young boys to run and explore. There are lots of memories and history wrapped up in the place we have called home. It is fun to walk through the house, over the land, and through the barn and just think of the stories that are found there. I was helping Dad clean out the barn and came across the spot in the floor where my brother fell through a trap door and magically dropped from the second to first floor in seconds…it brought a smile to my face. God has blessed our family in amazing ways with that property. The time has come for my parents to move to a smaller home and they have chosen to find a place near Nancy and myself. These past few weeks have been filled with house hunting, putting in an offer on a home and beginning the transition process. Friday and Saturday meant a quick trip to NY so we could sign papers and get all the contents of my Dad’s shop, the barn and garage. It was a very quick trip but we got a lot accomplished. We were all encouraged by how much got done in such a short time period. There is hope! We will make it through this transition. I am excited to have Mom and Dad living near by. The last time we shared life on a regular basis I was eighteen years old. Once I left for college I would come home to breaks and vacations but life took on an energy of its own. The closest I have lived to my parents over the past thirty years was about five hours. Having them fifteen minutes away will be nice and I look forward to a new stage of life together.
Speaking of transitions. I had the privilege to speak at JAM Daycare’s graduation this past week. What do you say to four young children who are getting ready to head off to kindergarten? I have been asking them to think about staying another year at JAM because I am going to miss them. Not a single one has even hinted that they like the idea or are even concerned about my feelings. Instead I get words like, “I will write you a letter,” or “I will see you when I pick up my sister.” Nowhere in their thought process is there any consideration of staying another year. It is exciting to see them so eager to move onward and upward. They have a desire to learn, to experience new things and there is little that is going to stand in their way. As they stood up on the platform I told them how proud we were of them. I talked of how much we were going to miss them and then I gave each of them a gift. We chose to give them a Bible. The same story Bible my children used as they were growing up. It is bright and bold, filled with pictures and tells the great stories of the faith. It captures the story of God alive and well, working in the lives of men and women throughout history, just as He is working and moving in these four young children. I pray we have the eyes and ears of children to see and hear what God is up to.
The “Old Normal”
Every now and then there are flashes of the “old normal”. Moments where I feel more like myself and find I am thinking and behaving like the “pre-cancer” Dan. The other day Nancy came home from work to find I had painted lines on our driveway. She just stopped and looked at the driveway and then at me and asked what in the world I thought I was doing. It was pretty clear to me. Our driveway has a pretty wide and open area. People come to visit and they do not know where to park. They end up parking in the middle of the lot, making it hard for anyone else to come or go. Rather than have a myriad of conversations about parking…paint lines…make it clear where people are to park. It works for shopping malls, doctors offices, church parking lots…why not my driveway? I had Rayann check online for the legal parking spot width. We got out my tape measure and started to mark out the lines. Once that was done all you had to do was use the special striping paint and it was done. No more questions, no more confusion. Everything decently and in order. Nancy just stood there shaking her head. She threatened to park on top of my lines. I think she was joking. As she headed off to the house she said, “You are feeling better aren’t you?” “You certainly are acting more like yourself.” I was not sure how to take that. I quickly stopped thinking about her comment as I was distracted by the idea of “assigned parking spots” with names painted on the pavement. How cool would that be!
There are moments like these when the “Old Normal” peaks through. I am glad to feel like myself again. I am thankful that I am learning how to balance the New and Old Normal and allow them to live in harmony with each other. I am prayerful that the lessons I am learning about life, peace, and walking with Abba Father in the midst of this “New Normal” are not forgotten or pushed to the side as the Old Normal becomes more and more a part of my life once again. Too often the lessons we learn in the midst of seasons of suffering or pain are quickly discarded once balance and a sense of normalcy returns to our lives. I want to remember this journey. I want the lessons to stick. I do not ever want to return to who I was. In a very real way these past few months have set me free to be the person God has been calling me to be for the past forty-eight years.
This may sound odd. Yet in a very real way it feels as if God has used my Cancer diagnosis to “set this captive free.” Four months ago I would have told you that such a diagnosis would have been a sentence leading to captivity…a very limiting and restricting pronouncement. It has not been easy. The journey has and continues to be hard. Yet I am more clear on what is important, meaningful and worth my energy and effort than ever before. I know what I am willing to expend effort and energy on. I also know what is not life giving nor meaningful and I have less of a problem walking away from it. I am freer to live the life Abba is inviting me towards. I pray I continue to walk and move as someone set free.
GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME …ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD