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Mother-Lode



Practical Christianity, kitchen-table-culture, subversive hospitality, storytelling...



Updated: 2015-09-16T16:17:53.668-06:00

 



Pocketful of Hope - ACFW Colorado Flash Fiction Entry

2011-11-16T15:02:57.936-07:00

The flash fiction contest at ACFW Colorado begins with three prompts:Opening Sentence: There she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool, kissing my father.Non-Sequitor: She found the diamond bracelet in the back seat of the car.Last Word: the tear in her dress.And one month later, it ends with no more than 1,000 words weaving them into a story. Better leisure mental gymnastics than the New York Times crossword!Here's what I made of them.POCKETFUL OF HOPEThere she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool, kissing my father. Instead of killing him. Or herself. I expected after her prison years, she’d shove him in – wheelchair and all. I’ve often replayed the accident with the ending I’ve longed for – Dad rolling over the lip of the deep pool, sliding into the hungry river beyond. Last time I saw Miss Gerstein, dear old Dad was coolly tipping her in the deep end, figuratively of course. The police called it a suicide attempt. They never did figure out what really happened, but I knew. Still, what could I have said? I the ten-year-old son of the chauffer, and she the governess. ***** Miss Gerstein had left Lord Albert and me wrestling with fractions, while she went on an errand for Lady Carlisle, but we had shadowed her like T.E. Lawrence’s Arab scouts. As she burst into the estate’s garage, we heard a slam, then a cascade of little pops like a ratchet wrench twirling. A man’s muffled oath. A single pearl rolled into view. The door closed swiftly. We crouched below the window. “So sorry! I’ll just …” “No!” “Whaaat? This is Lady Carlisle’s! Martin!” We had to see. Through the grimy glass, a diamond earring winked as it swung from the lip of the workbench drawer my father tried to block from view. Rising like an avenging angel from a hail of grounded pearls, our beautiful Miss Gerstein displayed the distinctive diamond clasp. My father turned, crowbar upraised. Miss Gerstein flung out a prohibiting hand. I remember it like a flashbulb still, frozen colorless against the dusty sunshaft. My memory shatters on that image, fragmenting to flashes of motion, echoes of conversation. “Wait, Martin!.....blood, too?” …”never blackmail…” My father hunched, tense. “Take them back. I’ll never tell…my word…Otherwise…” Miss Gerstein’s hand gentling, pitying. My father slowly nodding, an odd, calculating look in his eye. Two bent backs, harvesting the pearls. A flash in my father’s hand by her pocket as he opens her car door. A miniature comet arcing through her back window. Rumble of the garage door. Oily smoke from Miss Gerstein’s shabby Mini. Two boys running for the safety of arithmetic. Later that afternoon, Lord Carlisle leaned into the school room. “A word, Miss Gerstein,” he held the door open. Surprise and sorrow washed across her face as she glimpsed my father flanked by two police officers in the hallway. I glanced out the window. A policewoman searched Miss Gerstein’s car. She found a diamond bracelet in the back seat. “No, Miss Gerstein! Please…” I lunged for her hand. Missed, but tore open her pocket. The diamond earrings from my father’s drawer shimmered to the floor, sparkling like tears. As my hand spun her toward me, her heel came down hard on one earring. The ‘diamond’ splintered. All the air, all the color drained out of the room. From a far country I heard Lord Carlisle, “A thief – and a forger! Get her away from my son!” It took a hundred years for the cruel curve of my father’s smile to register as understanding, then fear on Miss Gerstein’s face. They were leading her away in handcuffs. I looked from my hand to her torn dress, overcome with dread and shame. She looked back at us as long as she could, trying to smile, trying to signal something. We couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, couldn’t hear. We watched the brief interrogation from the schoolroom window. Miss Gerstein shook her head decisively. We strained to hear. “Where’s the money, Miss Gerstein?” The stream was a diamond bracelet bey[...]



Readers' Choice Winner(s)

2010-09-18T14:18:33.288-06:00

Well the votes are in - from all over the place. I'm sorry to report that you were no help at all! ;D Out of four choices, you voted in a three-way tie for first place. *Sigh* So I will just rely on your helpful comments to make these better.Today's installment is Episode 1 of the web-series thriller, Favorite Haunts. Favorite Haunts By Kim Anderson All rights reserved to the author. 2010. Mother-Lode Media EPISODE 1 SCENE 1 Seventeen-year-old LEXI stands on her front porch, checking her wayfinding gear. She looks up, noting the surveillance cameras at the corner of the house and on the light pole down the street. There is absolutely no one on the street. She scrolls through various screens on her cell phone, showing the nanny-cam views of the interior and exterior of her house. LEXI sees herself in the porch shot. She takes a step casually and disappears from the nanny-cam screen. LEXI (Nodding with satisfaction) I’m in the zone! She frowns, scrolling through the screens again. LEXI Where is he? TROY (grinning from the bush beside the porch) I’m in the zone, too! Twelve-year-old TROY is loaded with hiking gear, all ready to go. TROY You weren’t thinking of leaving without me?! LEXI No, just worried about being off the grid too long. TROY (nodding sympathetically) Yeah. Dad will go all renegade on us. Do you think we should wait til after the evening sweep? LEXI No, we’ll lose the light. We’d better hurry. They begin to walk away from the house, under a tree that screens them from the cameras. They flip their cell phones to screens that show maps of camera angles along their street, and navigate a course that leaves them out of camera sight. As they walk they converse. LEXI Don’t worry. I’ve been working on a project that will allow us to be gone as long as we want without tipping Dad off. TROY Yeah? LEXI Look! LEXI thumbs off the camera-plot map on her cell phone to play a nanny-cam recording of herself studying, then one of herself making dinner. TROY That only works for you! LEXI snaps down to a recording of TROY playing a video game. TROY If Dad sees that for hours, I’ll still get killed! Maybe we should just file for a hiking permit like everybody else. LEXI Relax! I’ve got lots more. I just need a few more cuts and I’ll be able to patch it into the security cams on a loop I can control from here. Besides, you know we’d never get one without a "responsible adult" on the request. She taps her cell phone. They have arrived at the end of the street. Pavement is locked off at the entrance to a hiking trailhead. The sibs hesitate, peering into the trees. TROY still has the camera-plot map up. The display shows a solid barrier of camera-coverage lighting up the edge of the forest for as far as the display shows. LEXI (wistfully) Remember when Mom used to bring us here and we thought it was a game walking single file in her footsteps? TROY (nods, trying to be brave) I miss Mom....It’s like all the air went out with her. LEXI Yeah, the accident changed everything....(she gathers herself) I hope it didn’t change the song. They stand in the last camera-free zone and whistle a 3 or 4 note signal. They look at their cell phone maps. Nothing changes. LEXI Maybe we weren’t loud enough to trip the jammer. They try again. This time the camera coverage blinks off their cell phone maps. They sigh with relief and start running. SCENE 2 A law-enforcement office bristling with computer monitors. It is lit only by the many computer screens. One monitor has a blinking light and and irritating claxton sounds in time to the blink. The officer manning the monitor swings around in her chair to call her supervisor. SAM Sir! Surveillance perimeter breach: sector 5! COL. RUGER (Leaning in to look at SAM’s display, reaches down to adjust the view.) That’s right down the street from my house! We see the same display the kids we[...]



Becoming Bardic

2010-07-13T00:16:27.956-06:00

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Cancer has given me the opportunity to re-invent life. I've always wanted to write fiction. It used to be that people understood when an argument was well-made and would be persuaded by reason. Not any more. Now people need a story. They are persuaded by personal connection and emotion. They need a bard, not a lawyer.

I've had fun this spring and summer working on the lyrics for my second daughter's musical tribute to American service men and women. See the progress on the project at 21 Gun Salute. In the course of researching for the lyrics, I've been able to interview some wonderful vets, read some fascinating military bios and even some heart-stopping poetry penned by our warriors and their families. Now I'm ready to tell other sorts of stories.

Trying to decide which to write first.
The mystery: A Levite detective in an ancient city of refuge must find the real human trafficking culprits before they dissolve King David's precarious reign into civil war.
The fantasy: Renowned inventor Daedelus discovers that his inventions for sinister King Minos have destabilized both the foundations of Atlantis and his own son's sanity.
The action-thriller: In an America groaning under an oppressive regime, a young man is drawn into a web of intrigue when he begins to find in his geo-caches messages from his dead mother.

What would you most like to read?




Frankenstein and the Illustrated Woman

2010-06-15T21:06:01.208-06:00

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Well, radiation has been a funny thing. It has changed my perspective on a couple of deeply-held prejudices. Take tattoos. I always swore I'd never have a tattoo. But I'm coming out of radiation with not one but FOUR. OK, they are in places that never see the sun and the radiation techs use them to line me up in the laser grid so that I get blasted in the right place every time. So I'm not exactly the Illustrated Woman. Still, the tech who gave me my first tattoo swears it is a butterfly. I can't see it myself - really - I'll have to take his word for it.

And then there is the idea that modern science has done away with the old Frankenstein lab model. Every day, I climb onto a completely flat, completely rigid table which lifts me up through a laser grid somewhere near the ceiling into the mechanical embrace of this slowly spinnable robot armed with every kind and speed of lightning. Stacked all around the edges of the lab are weird impressions of life-sized body parts. Some pressed into distressed plastic molds. Others just suggested by Lucite curves: put your elbow here, grab this post and drape your neck over this roll. The creepiest ones are mesh busts that fit over the head like the Man in the Iron Mask.

Instead of crowing, "It's aliiiive!" every morning, the techs chirpily tell you to lie absolutely still. One day I had a cough, so I was sucking on a cough lozenge. My tech asked if I could stop moving so much. Not the coughing - the sucking. Catch 22! Luckily, they have a high-tech device to help prevent you from feeling like you're going to fall right off their little bench: the toe rubber band. I am not kidding! Before your head locks down into its mold, the techs have your toes tucked into this industrial strength rubber band. Actually, that's the most comfortable part of radiation.

I am happy to report that I have taken my last trip on that Frankensteinian elevator! I have had only minor blistering, which is already beginning to heal. The much-feared fatigue is just now rolling in. Sort of a delayed reaction. I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, and trouble staying awake when I do. My physical therapist tells me that I should expect some relief on that front in about two weeks - maybe a month. Resuming my exercise regimen next week should help.

Meanwhile, our Lord and my children are making sure that I have plenty of reasons to get up in the morning. I am directing the dramatization of Mendelsohnn's Elijah at church next week. (Check it out here! ) Petra has been back and forth between here and Stockton, working with me on the libretto for her musical tribute to American servicemen and women, 21 Gun Salute. Chloe graduated from DU with great fanfare, and is moving to LA next week to pursue a post-graduate program out of Pepperdine University in film producing. Robert will soon finish his Eagle Scout rank, and is working on his lines (sometimes with me) for Petruccio in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.

It's good to remember that when our capacity for enduring pain is expanded, so is our capacity for entering into joy.




Inventory

2010-05-12T19:37:00.771-06:00

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These days when people ask me how I feel, I have to stop and take inventory. It's that already-but-not-yet thing. Already better, but not yet well. I am glad to report that the chemo toxins are noticeably decreasing, although not in a straight line. I no longer have to steam my eyes open every morning, even though my eyes still sting and water. My hands and face only burn in the evenings, and they never peel. And there is a sort of peach fuzz on top of my head. On the other hand, my fingernails are falling off.

Radiation has begun, and is much easier to tolerate than chemo. I have only had a couple of days when I felt so exhausted that I thought I couldn't move – and that didn't last all day. Though it was kinda spectacular when I fell asleep at work – during a phone call. Luckily my boss laughed.

Those episodes have been a merciful indicator of things to come. At church, I am working on a production of Mendelssohn's Elijah, which is going up in mid-June near the end of the radiation treatment. Now I understand what it means that I will experience a debilitating level of weariness most of the time. So I'm able to view my work on Elijah as more of an exercise in equipping others and less of an opportunity to direct.

This weekend, the Lord surprised me with a scholarship to the Christian Writers’ Conference in Estes Park. Respite, fellowship and hope for future usefulness! His kindness and your continued prayer strengthen me for this last nasty phase of treatment.




Unity of the Body

2010-04-19T17:39:03.506-06:00

Zac Hicks has an intriguing analysis of the value of using the Common Lectionary as an aid to Bible study and worship. He rightly points out that this is one tool of the Holy Spirit to knit the scattered bones of the church back together as so many read, study, pray and worship around the same texts week by week. It is also a way to be joined together in ordering our time, all of us dancing to the same delight in the same celebrations throughout the year; all of us pacing to the measure of His work rather than to the commemorations of our various States or to purely personal memorials and agendas. I have been working on a cycle of daily Bible studies based on the daily readings from the Lectionary. The set for Lent is complete, and will soon be available for personal or group study. Below is a sample lesson. I'd love to hear your comments. Is it clear? Easy to use? Does it draw out the themes that echo among the Old and New Testament readings for the day? Thursday: Beloved Enemies Readings Ps. 35, 148; Romans 11:25-36; Deuteronomy 30:11-20 Discussion & Study 1. What point does Moses emphasize about the Law in Deut. 30:11 – 14? 2. Where does David turn for justice when he is oppressed, according to Ps. 35? 3. Who were David’s most painful enemies according to Ps 35:12 - 17? 4. On what basis does he make his plea? Why can he expect God to take up his case? 5. Who had become the enemies of God’s people in Paul’s day (Rom 11:28)? Comments Our worst enemies are the ones we helped and trusted. The ones we counted as friends or family. David’s anguish is increased by the nearness of his enemies. But in his pain, he does not take matters into his own hands. David pictures himself in the Court of Heaven. He asks for the Judge to plead his cause on the basis of His covenant, and proceeds to give evidence of his oppressors’ abuse of that covenant. He lays before God, his complaint and trusts in God’s justice and mercy. He calls for God’s punishment on the wicked and His defense of the righteous, but David understands that, particularly in the case of once-friend enemies, he himself might not know who the wicked are. “Judge me,” he says. God knows not only the outward violations, but the inward ones as well. He knows the particular wounds and rottenness in the oppressor’s heart. He is the only one who can truly mete out justice. But God’s purposes in His justice go far beyond simple retribution. His justice not only gives the wicked his just desserts and the oppressed relief, but it produces restoration of the offender. Israel in Paul’s day had become the enemy in God’s bosom and the God-fearing Gentiles had taken David’s place. Paul exhorts these Gentile converts to take up David’s wisdom. For God is not merely shaming and confounding covenant-breakers, but He is preparing an unprecedented union as well. Because of God’s rejection of Israel, both Israel and non-Israel know the wrath of God, so that those physical descendants of Abraham and those spiritual descendants of Abraham who fear God will be unified by their experience of God’s grace. They will all be Israel together, beyond all pettiness, beyond all betrayal, beyond all pain. Does one near you oppress you? Do not seek revenge. Lay your complaint before God, who is just beyond Justice. His grace will not gloss over wickedness; will not merely excuse the destroyer. But His justice will produce real healing and real unity. [...]



Burning Questions

2010-04-18T12:42:01.380-06:00

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So I've just completed the last cycle of the bad-boy chemo drugs. I'm looking forward now to a week of getting ahead of the damage they have done to healthy tissues as well as cancerous ones. My naturopath said this week that it's the patients who feel the effects of chemo the most who seem to have the lowest recurrence rates. I certainly hope he's right in my case!

Tomorrow, I'll begin the Herceptin and Avastin infusions alone. They aren't the ones causing all the awful side effects. And I don't have to prepare for them with a several-day fast. The Monday after that, I'll begin radiation - every day for 6 - 7 weeks.

So the burning questions are: How will that hit me - will I tan, burn or glow in the dark? Will I lose ALL my fingernails in the wake of chemo? How soon will there be life after naptime? and...(cheesy organ chord)did all this work?

Really, only time will tell.

So today, I'm celebrating the no-fasting zone by having dinner at the Olive Garden.




The Joy of Eyebrows

2010-03-31T07:48:59.868-06:00

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I never really appreciated eyebrows properly til now. They let you know where your face begins and they punctuate your expressions. I'm glad I've still got mine - mostly.

On Monday, I had my last really toxic chemo! Like eyebrows, it marks the place where I can expect healing to begin. I will continue to have infusions every three weeks of herceptin and the experimental drug avastin, but they don't carry the toxic wallop of the full chemo treatment I've been getting.

Thank you for your prayers. I had no emergencies at this treatment. And while my face is burning, most people think I've just been out in the beautiful spring sunshine. It reminds me not to celebrate quite yet. I will still need to expect the full round of difficulties for the next three weeks. Then I can begin to make real headway against the damage done to my healthy systems by the chemo.

I will see the radiation oncologist in mid-April and find out what that regimen will entail.




Tantrums

2010-03-11T22:36:44.832-07:00

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I'm so grateful for a bit of a respite in last chemo cycle! This time my body has figured out new and sinister ways to demonstrate its total rejection of these toxins.

I had been looking forward to a full day of conversation and writing with Petra during the infusions, but while I was soaking in the ice water, the rest of my body broke out in a rash. The doctor responded with a massive dose of Benadryl. So much for conversation – though I think I remember saying some Mad Hatter-ish things as I dozed off. I was especially glad that Petra was with me, though, I would have had to call someone to drive me home.

Yesterday, my face went up like a torch and I spent most of the day wearing ice packs. Today, I'm able to get along with aloes alone, though I look like Godzilla. And then there is the amazing nausea. I have great nausea meds, but they all make me sleepy.

None of this has happened before in this way, so it's clear that it's a whole new world this cycle. I have no real idea what to expect. But there are a number of things that won't change: the loving support of all of you, my determination to find new opportunities in my situation, and the mysterious purposes of God.



Laughing

2010-03-03T21:33:46.395-07:00

Closing in on the next to last chemo (cheers!). I will begin the pre-chemo fast on Saturday, and will have the infusion on Monday. My energy level is sustained much better during the fast now that I am drinking Kangen water. In fact everything has been so much more bearable this cycle since they reduced the dosage of the most toxic drug. Sure, my eyes still water & sting and my hands and feet feel sandpapered...and I often feel after eating that I'd rather return dinner than digest it. But everything has ratcheted down a notch. It's been suffering more on the level of having a bad case of the flu – so ordinary that I have been unable to find anything to mock. (Or maybe it's that chemo-brain has finally set in and prevents me from seeing things creatively...Ack!) So instead, I thank God for a bit of respite, and for the end being in sight. Petra will be home on Spring Break for this chemo treatment, and we are planning to spend the time writing the libretto for her musical tribute to America's soldiers. Friends and relations have not forgotten to encourage me with cards, meals, flowers and kindness through this long, long distress. Every day something more to thank God for. Robert reminded me the other day that God's laughter scatters and destroys His enemies. He is not laughing because they are destroyed, but they cannot stand before His mighty mirth. So it is not so much my laughter that matters, though it may dimly reflect His in its power to quell my nausea. May God enjoy the deep comedy in my situation and may His laughter scatter all His enemies here. May none of my dear ones be among them._____________________________________________________________Thanks to mrldust.wordpress.com/2009/02/ for the funny photo. [...]



Chemo #4 Saved by the Belles

2010-02-18T16:33:23.585-07:00

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I hadn't realized how discouraged I have been over the last chemo cycle until I tried to get ready to go to chemo this time. It was like getting a squalling 4 year old to settle down for the dentist. Finally, I had to call in the big guns: my mom AND my sister. They came to take me in and stayed to distract me with a scrapbooking project. Good thing, too, I really don't know if I could have frog-marched myself in for another round of dreadful.

My doctor was sympathetic, looking over all the difficulties of the past three cycles. She agreed to reduce the dosage of the worst chemo drug. And I soaked again in the icy water during that infusion. I'm also trying a regimen of drinking ionized, alkaline water that is a standard of care in Japan.

So far the worst symptom I've suffered this cycle is a short visual migraine. We are only two days into the cycle, so I'm still on alert for the next version of ick, but I'm grateful for no burning in the hands and feet and no infections elsewhere.

Did you ever notice how often David says in the Psalms, "I will sing", "I will give praise"? It's not "Isn't life grand? I feel like singing!" Looking at David's life, I notice that he had sad, hard times more often than not. His marvelous praises were more an act of will than a bubbly high-five. I'm there. I will give praise, even though I can't manage the sparkle.




Revenge of the Toxins

2010-02-06T22:03:20.792-07:00

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While I continue to be daily grateful for almost pain-free hands and feet, the chemo toxins are having their revenge in new mischief. This round,they have hammered my mucus membranes, burning eyes, sinus, and digestive tract. I have contracted infections in sinus and urinary tracts. I am stumbling around like the Mummy, shedding the seared remnants of skin cooked in the last round, honking inarticulately, eyes too filled with rheumy tears to see where I'm going. Plus, I always look embarrassed; the burning is happening on my face.

I think I really scared the guy standing behind me in the grocery line. He happened to catch sight of my face under my hat brim as I turned to collect bags. He jumped back like a guilty three-year-old. Robert, who had very prudently driven, brazened it out, grinning at the guy as he took my load and escorted me to the car. Gotta love that boy!

To console myself, I am holing up (as much as possible)to draft that Great American Novel I've always wanted to write, as well as assisting Petra with the libretto for her musical tribute to the American soldier. Good times. The spirit is not fettered; it will take its own revenge.




Humble Orthodoxy

2010-02-03T21:34:53.387-07:00

So often we falsely contrast truth and grace. I like this little film riff on Josh Harris' new book, Dug Down Deep. Words & visuals beautifully woven.
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DugDownDeep_Shook.mov from Covenant Life Church on Vimeo.




Seeking True North

2010-02-01T16:33:02.718-07:00

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When I started chemo, several friends who have survived cancer advised, "When you begin to lose your hair, just take charge and shave it all off. You need to have some way to take control." I liked that idea. Me over cancer. Me wryly living that dream all of us women have embraced on some dark bad-hair day of simply shaving it off and starting over. I'm a take-charge kinda gal.

But when the hair began to fall in sheets and clumps, I knew there was something else I needed to affirm. I have cancer because God is in charge, not me. All the things I have taken charge of have been taken from me - at least for a time - because I need to remember that truly I am NOT in charge. And however it looks from here and now, that is a good thing. So I needed something to remind me that I will seek God's direction and be still under His guidance.

No, I didn't shave. I tried to enjoy the emotional satisfaction of actually being able to tear my hair out when things got intense. But it wasn't fun enough. I knew I was just waiting in a trackless darkness for God to...do something.


Then Richard Fudge's Visual Prayer Journal project came across my radar through the Creative Edge Artist's Network. He and God arranged for the Journal to reach me during my most discouraged cancer time so far. Designing a page that reflects my determination to wait on God's direction helped me come to terms with the feelings of helplessness, and to frame my prayer for His will to be done in and through me.

The background is a map of the Arctic Ocean sea floor, the darkest, most trackless place on Earth, a place where even a compass is useless. As the tsunami of troubles obliterates all known landmarks, God's Will is the only true north my heart will seek.

Photo is True North by Kim Anderson, 2010. Click on photo for a larger view.




Cold Comfort & Warm Hearts

2010-01-28T13:49:18.000-07:00

As you know, I particularly dreaded this chemo round. So God's comfort began before treatment on Sunday. Our church had a special Ascent service, a modern hymns movement concert and worship service that included communion, foot-washing, healing anointing and prayer. The music was beautifully done and encouraged vocal improvisation that I really enjoy. Then the music took a more contemplative turn as worshipers were invited to the ministries at the sides of the sanctuary. It is distressing to me when I am too sick to come to communion, so this was His gracious banquet to strengthen me. The prayer warrior I spoke with for prayer knew my general illness, but not the details. Unusually, she anointed my hands with oil, not my head. Coincidence? I thought it was all over, but an old friend pulled me aside and wanted to wash my feet, "because she loves me". It was an astonishing revelation of the Body of Christ. Some fed the spirit, some the heart and some...comforted the poor broken places they didn't even know they touched. Chemo #3 yesterday began rather discouragingly, when the nurses had trouble accessing my port. The port is a surgically-implanted catheter into a major artery, giving access with minimum damage to veins to all the infusions I'll need plus allowing all the blood samples to be collected easily and with a minimum number of stabs. The tubing inside had gotten both kinked and clogged at the end. The nurses were creative and patient, but they still had to draw blood at another site. The good news is that they got it working for the chemo infusions - so no damage to peripheral veins. This could become a real problem, since this port should serve me for a whole year. This time, I tried my naturopath's latest suggestion for minimizing the debilitating burning in my hands & feet. While I was taking the bad-boy chemo infusion, I immersed my hands and feet in icy water. This constricts the blood flow, limiting the amount of taxotere that is delivered to the afflicted areas. I had a bit of swelling & burning in my hands last night, so I thought it hadn't worked. But I took some Apis (made from bee venom - go figure), and by morning, all the swelling & burning was gone. So maybe we have this under control. I will know for sure some time around Wednesday. Meanwhile the "Merry Maids" from church came to make my house feel like home again. Not only did they clean it top to bottom, changing sheets and towels, but they left a fragrant soup in the crock pot, and my favorite flowers smiling out of surprising nooks throughout the house. Best of all, they left the benediction of their special prayers in all the living areas. Mom & Dad completely rearranged their lives to schlep me around town in case I should be too dizzy after chemo to be a safe driver, and then to be with me overnight as well. My cup runneth over. [...]



Wigging Out

2010-01-22T19:03:25.255-07:00

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So last weekend, my wallet fell out of my pocket on a walk. Naturally it had disappeared when I retraced my path a few minutes later. I was closing bank accounts when it hit me. I'll need a new drivers' license...with a new OFFICIAL photo...of me! I ran through my options. I could go bald (aackk!), a scary proposition for everyone concerned. I could wear a hat...which they'd ask me to remove (see option 1). I could wear a scarf, be mistaken for a Muslim, and be profiled every time I go through airport security for the next 3 years. I had to go lie down.

Finally, a friend offered me a loaner wig in pretty much my hair color and a very different style than I am used to. All I had to do was put it on to feel like someone else. Would the DMV think I was someone else, too? I'd have to risk it. Luckily no one in officialdom suspected, and I will see the resultant photo next week. Will I have to mutilate or 'lose' it? Time will tell.

My next chemo is Monday. I dread this one than I expected. I can see that each treatment hits me harder than the one before. All my dear family will be out of town for most of next week.

But I'm not deserted. A group of ladies from church will be cleaning my house while I'm taking the treatment - I'll come home to a sparkling house. I will be leaning hard on my Mom & Dad for driving & emergencies - bless them! And our deacons are bringing over meals several times during the week.




CarePages echo #2

2010-01-13T16:11:58.190-07:00

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Becoming

Thanks for your prayers this weekend. Monday I took a turn for the better and today, I'm beginning to feel human again.

My Doc chirpily told me on Monday that all of my difficulties were within the bounds of normal expectations for this type of chemo. Well, the burning hands & feet concerned her enough to consider reducing my taxotere dose in the next round. While I'm glad to know that I won't be having to spend my most miserable days in the ER, I'm a little daunted by the prospect of anticipating this stuff in the ordinary course of affairs.

At this rate, I'm useless for a good ten days following chemo. I find being a virtual invalid as difficult as the actual symptoms. My good friend, Sandy, a breast cancer survivor, put things into perspective for me over coffee last week. "Asking for help is one of the things God wants you to be able to do."

It was an Aha! moment. These disabilities are practice for expanded ability. Ps 104 reminded me today that the waters that drowned and shrouded the mountains as they rose as scars on a broken earth, are the same waters that nourish man and nature today. All wine-gladdened feasts, all forested wonders, all mysteries of the seas flow from springs that frolic down the craigged remnants of that terrible judgment.

So once again, it's not about what we have been. It's about who we must become.




CarePages posts now here, too

2010-01-12T10:27:19.058-07:00

After receiving several distressed messages from friends whose computers don't want to be friends with CarePages, I agreed to post the CarePages notes here as well. If you want to subscribe here, you can set your preferences to email you when I post, just like on care pages. See the sidebar. Sorry to all of you who are seeing this for the second time. Here are the last two CarePages posts.Chemo #2: Natural Therapies Pay OffThis second round of chemo started with 2 hours worth of labs and tests. (They took more blood than sparkly Edward.) But the results showed that the fasting across the chemo toxicity, and the naturopathic supplements (not to mention the prayers) have been having a significant protective effect. Most of my blood counts were still in the normal range, only two dropped just below the line. And my kidney function, which is expected to be impaired by the Avastin trial, actually increased! I am very encouraged because the first round of chemo is an especially heavy dose the Doc calls the loading dose. The rest of the treatments are smaller maintenance doses. Today I will start a few new supplements to combat the Hand & Foot syndrome reaction, which is already showing itself again. I am hoping to upload a music video of a setting for Ps 123, which I wrote, before my fingers get too burned to play. Ps 123 has become my theme song for cancer. I'm not in charge; I'm not in control, but I'll take my cues from the Master whose hand I watch intently. Watch for it on my blog: www.mother-lode.blogspot.com If you subscribe, you can set your preferences to email you a note when I update there. You can also follow me on Twitter @KimAMotherLode. When I tweet about cancer observations I use the hashtag #kcancer As the Stomach TurnsWell, this morning (Sunday) I woke to find the world spinning at a different rate than my insides. It must have been a riot watching me try to walk to the bathroom or even to sit up. Of course, none of my gentlemen watched (the girls are back at school). They leaned in to brace me to the straight path. Against my better judgement, but in obedience to Dr's orders, I spent most of the day in the ER trying to run down the cause of my extreme dizziness & vomiting. The ER did its best to find out: CAT scans, x-rays, blood tests - the whole nine yards. In the end, they sent me home full of Benadryl and nausea meds with a big shrug of their collective shoulders. Jack says the good news is that they ruled out brain tumors and other shadowy horrors. I just feel sheepish - and slightly green. I think the good news is that the dizziness has mostly passed. I have kept my dinner down, and had a good nap into the bargain. I was well enough this evening to go to a gathering of church musicians, in celebration of God's power not to let this disease have the last word in my life. Tomorrow, I have a follow-up appointment with my oncologist. Please pray that she will have some insight into the dizzy episode, as it doesn't seem actually to be over. My hands & feet continue to blister, making basic chores mostly beyond me. Grr! [...]



Things You Can't Do Without Cancer

2010-01-09T01:00:38.940-07:00

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Faithful followers will recall that God served me up this little Short Term Project (STP) this fall: breast cancer. And that I resolved (not merely) to beat it. So I've been looking for the things I couldn't have done without it. Thought you might like to have a preliminary look at my current list.

Without cancer you can't:
  • Participate in clinical trials for new cancer drugs or natural therapies.
  • Tear out your hair in clumps for emotional release or personal revenge (ask me later).
  • Justify ordering people to fetch, carry, scrub, cook, open jars, or be your hands and feet without feeling guilty.
  • Dress like a pirate queen in a business setting and keep your job.
  • Inspire half a dozen co-workers to stick with the South Beach Diet through the Christmas holiday.
  • Find a moral imperative in a hair-do or lack thereof (story for another day).
  • See sunsets, snowstorms, Christmas trees or children's faces clearly enough.
  • Catch a glimpse of the Bride in all her compassionate splendor as she dispenses gifts from Christ's bounty.



New Year's Eve - the Backward Glance

2009-12-31T10:48:15.907-07:00

Something old seems new in present circumstances. Do you look back on brokenness? What comes next? Mary's Ointment Have I been broken…nothing works. exposed I try to be good That was lovely once upon a time I thought you loved me....it wouldn't Be safe, but glorious. I never spitting blood dragging limbs Dreamed true. He was smell the myhrr shattered alabaster. Fool. Spent too much To tell a dead man scent-gilded hair she'd mourn. All one: feet or floor, Puddled perfume mortar won't she Artist! clean up this Perfect mosaic of Redemption! Let me bring the shining shards of ruined Hopes, of half-made glories To You whose broken body is my health. Make me, like You, to show In glittering tesserae God's grace as I could Never know or tell While whole. Copyright 1996. Kim Anderson. All rights reserved.Photo of Sonia King's mosaic, "Spinoff". http://mosaicartsource.wordpress.com/2008/07/24/mosaic-art-source-summer-news-update-mosaic-art-source-gallery-featured-mosaic-artist-sonia-king-dallas-texas/ [...]






Lizard Woman

2009-12-30T17:47:08.891-07:00

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Well, I'm officially ready for the freak show. The steroids finally got ahead of the burning hands, but now everything that burned is peeling. Aaand the hair is going.

To tell the truth, it does feel like I'm half dead. Nothing tastes right. I'm touching life through a stiff film that flakes off as I bend. Even my eyes fog over like some snake shedding its skin.

"Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise thee? Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?" Ps 88:10,11.

David thought the answer was "of course not"; he was asking for deliverance. I think that since Jesus' resurrection the answer is actually, "Exactly! Yes." The dead rise to praise Him every day. So will I.



Christmas Stories

2009-12-22T14:47:13.650-07:00

One of our traditions at Christmas is to tell each other stories, sometimes in person, sometimes in print, sometimes in music or video. We want to savor new aspects of that richest story we enter at Advent. Won't you join us? An Epiphany We've never been rich, but we thank God. There really is something about scarcity that sharpens the sensibilities. When it comes to gift-giving times, the desire to be able to gift the ones you love with something of real value is almost a physical ache. And it brings into clearer focus some of the reasons why Jesus came to us in poverty and lowliness - not only to feel our weaknesses, our miseries, but also to feel that sharp longing to have something to give... On my birthday near Christmas, three little packages shone bravely from the festive table. The first, urged upon me eagerly by Elizabeth, our eldest, was wrapped in an origami envelope of Byzantine complexity. The shining contents cascaded and clicked sensuously into my hand: a necklace gathered of all the lost and secret bits of the jewelry our sometime princesses have worn in their day. She had even sacrificed a couple of real Venetian glass beads that had been handsome vases in her dollhouse. Together they were a talisman of childhood's delights. Then Winston, with ingenuous grin and self-deprecating wag of the head, thrust two carefully folded sheets of paper into my hand. "I love you, Mommy!" he breathed. The papers showed a four-year-old's pen and ink jungle inhabited by an ark-full of dinosaur stickers. Just days before, feeling wealthy with the proceeds of her first babysitting job, Elizabeth had bought each of her siblings a small present. These dinosaurs had been Winston's. With a miserable sigh, Anne pushed her offering closer and handed me another origami envelope. She plopped down next to me, studying my face as I read the careful second grade script, "I didn't have much to work with. Love, Anne". I blinked and swallowed hard. Inside her box was a bird, soaring wings outstretched. It was too large to make a convenient ornament, but its curves whispered, "touch me". Anne alone had seen hidden possibilities in it as it lay in a jumbled garage sale box last summer and had rescued it with her last nickel. Now it wore fairy tale colors and sparkled with a crusting of make-believe gems that would have done credit to the Emperor's nightingale. Anne glowed like a star next to me, urgent with the hope that I, too, could now see the fabulous beauty in this homely bit of plastic. And those wings arched with a burning radiance, thundering accompaniment to the heartbreaking "Gloria!" blazing from otherwordly throats, the love song of the Bridegroom, argent with the hope that we, His beloved could see our ransom, our resurrection, our Redeemer in a pauper's newborn. With such gifts, we shall never be poor. December 1996 All rights reserved. Kim Anderson [...]



Advent: Crushed Head, Bruised Heel

2009-12-20T18:39:06.302-07:00

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Advent invites us to consider - no, to dance - the measure of memory and of longing. Christ has come; Christ is coming. It is not enough merely to think. It might be enough to journey, to wait, to bear the shame to shudder under the angels' song, to labor, to cradle, to wonder. It might be enough to live His coming. Every year He comes into a new place in each of us personally. And He uses the wildest media. The things we discard, disregard, dread.

This year, for me it is illness and humbling. I have cancer. I am not in control. My cells have forgotten their duties. I have forgotten what it means to be human. Judah had forgotten what it meant to be God's people. Surgery at the end of the old Church calendar carved out the deadly flesh that spread still more death. The chemotherapy coincides with the beginning of Advent, the new year of our Lord.

I am looking for Him. Will He "reconcile the violence in my heart"? Will He purge the demons of my past and read, somehow, the longings I have buried under the limping drive to make some kind of a difference to His Kingdom? What kind of new birth can I expect in the stabled darkness?

Surely He will come. Even Time serves Him. I expect to hear the Gloria, to rock the limp weight of new life...something. But I will not settle for a substitute.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
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Artwork by Kim Anderson. Crushed Head, Bruised Heel. Ink on glass, 1978.



How NOT to (merely) survive cancer

2009-11-16T19:14:45.764-07:00

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Did you catch Kyle McDonald's One Red Paperclip? In which, an enterprising guy traded for a year for a house, starting with one red paperclip? Maybe you saw SuperSize Me! in which a brave guy with questionable intelligence ate only McDonalds fast food for one month and proved that it will make you sick - and fat. These short term projects or STPs are the thinking man's reality TV.

Well, some are born to STPs, some achieve STPs and some have STPs thrust upon 'em. A few days after my last post God thrust upon me a one-year STP: breast cancer. One year to lose hold of all the projects I’ve chosen. One year to be the needy one, the un-able, the circumscribed. One year on the Tilt-a-Whirl of chemo, radiation and clinical trials. One year to focus on saving my own life (something about that just seems wrong to a lifetime, frontline Christian :p).

Nevertheless I still have choices, in the grace of God. So the STP that I chose is: How NOT to (merely) survive cancer. I will be looking for opportunities that come to me uniquely because I have cancer. Hands in the air, screaming my lungs out, I will be hoping to step off the ride next Thanksgiving, wobbly with triumph, with something more than (merely) my life in my hands.