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Therapy, the Sea and Gratitude

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We woke up a bit late on Friday for our therapy appointments.

It is no surprise.

After a very long day of appointments on Thursday, we stayed up late and then slept in a bit more than expected. After the emotional roller coaster on these doc visits and scan days, it takes time to come down.

We had a slew of therapy appointments lined up for the day, so we showered, dressed, ate, and rushed out for morning therapy. 

While in the car on the way, I felt a nudge on my heart to pay attention. The sky was clear, spring was in the air. We needed a bit of rest. Not the kind of rest that requires sitting, but the kind of rest from commitments and the roller coaster of emotions.

We needed time to not think about anything—sometimes, all we think and feel is: “What is next? What time and where do we have to be next?”

I heard the voice loud and clear., “Take them. Get them out of here. You know the best therapy.” The day was far too nice to waste. 

I quickly called the girls who were at home working on their studies and told them to pack up; we were hitting the road. They had already been sharing where they longed to spend their day.

I glanced over at Jon to be sure he agreed with my spontaneous, living-in-the-moment ways. His approving ear-to-ear grin was enough to know we were on the same page. 

There is no therapy like breathing in the salt air and being by the sea.

We decided to take school on the road and trade therapy for a bit of “Thera-sea.”

As quickly as we pulled into the parking lot, we zipped out and hurried home. 

I made a few calls to cancel appointments, ensure the dogs could be let out, and connect with a friend who lives by the sea. I have been trying to once again see this friend who calls herself the Junk Gypsea, since we met last summer. She knows full well about being a caregiver of one living life with brain cancer. I am grateful for her continued and consistent support and perspective as she calls and texts me often. 

The timing could not have been more perfect. Traffic was smooth sailing, and time in the car allowed us to listen and pray to the Consecration for peace with the universal church. Doing this brought peace to my own heart.

So we played hooky yesterday from our usual things and skipped town for a few hours.

The stars aligned, and we met our friend by the sea. 

It was the therapy we ALL needed.

Once we arrived at our destination, we strolled through a shop of all shops, slowly walking and talking with our friend who has a welcoming spot filled with treasures in the shop. If you know me, this kind of sifting through the beauty of makers and creatives is another therapy for me. It also get my creative juices flowing as we are dreaming and discerning next steps.

Together we broke bread, laughed uncontrollably, and ate the most delicious lobster roll for an early dinner. And I stole a moment to kneel before the altar in a Church—Our Lady by the Sea. By now, you know how Special Stella Maris is to me.

We strolled in and out of a few more shops, never checking our watches, only capturing time in our hearts—making memories.

As we prepared to head home, we pulled over to make one last stop to inhale the salt air and allow sand to collect in our shoes. We captured a brilliant sun descending on the day.

For a moment, we simply lived, walked free, and were consumed by abundant joy for this sacred time. 

I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the Feast Day of The Annunciation, Mary’s Fiat, but by giving my people a Yes Day.

Never underestimate the power of saying yes.

And speaking of Mary and her Fiat—Thank YOU for saying YES to joying our Family of Prayer Warriors.

Last year on, March 25th, we sat with our doctor as she shared the findings of an MRI and we processed the news about the suspicious spot. 

We were watching this spot since it first showed up on the scan on the last day of 2020. Not the best way to end an already tough year.

“It is more likely this is tumor progression and less likely scar,” the doctor shared her sober and solemn wisdom with us.

At the March 25, 2020 visit, we agreed on a new treatment protocol. It included a trial drug, a few days of heavy radiation, a summer of infusions interspersed with our spontaneous travel log as we attempted live our best life. This was also the last day we all hugged my mom before she made her month long journey toward home.

And the spot kept growing. 

Once the kids were settled at college, it seemed we had no other choice but to opt for surgery. We knew there would be risk.

We didn’t want surgery, but we wanted a chance. So we trusted.

It’s been almost exactly six months since that surgery, a stroke, some loss of function, endless rehab, gain of function and continued hope. 

Recovery continues every single day. Sometimes it seems a slow process, and other times it—success—appears out of nowhere. In due time, we will likely share more about this, the process, the rehab, function, recovery and where we go from here. 

No matter, the attitude and gratitude are still the same. 

Jon just keeps going and working. He keeps smiling and laughing and never gives up.

He never complains.

This is why I wanted to get him to the sea.

Standing by the sea is one of those places I will always feel closest to God. No doubt it was poignant that we could do this today. Just as I was unsure in July 2020 if we’d stand beside the ocean again, we did in March and August 2021 by the generous gift of two different friends. 

Here we are in March 2022. I am sure you can only imagine how much these moments matter to us. Jon and I have made a lifetime of memories by the sea. We will take each moment as another miracle to record in the books.

On this day, I stood in front of the vast open ocean and miles of sand where no one else stood but us. I was in awe of the moment.

Flocks of white birds flew above the water and stormy sky while the sun rays created a reflection of fire as it lowered behind us. 

I was convinced it was the Holy Spirit—dove and fire—covering us.

I thanked God for giving Jon and me the strength to keep going when we had to keep being asked to wait. 

Wait

Trust.

Pray.

Hope.

Believe.

Thursday, two days ago, we had an MRI once again—the one I asked you to arm us in prayer the MRI would be clear. 

It is not lost on me that exactly one year later, we have been given hope and renewed life once again.

It was visibly apparent the doctor was pleased with the MRI. Though behind a mask, I know a smile never left her face. The news was that worthy.

As we enjoyed our day, Jon walked around with confidence and joy. 

As we strolled through our sacred time where we could inhale the salt air, I noticed a slight skip and strength in his step, and a beaming smile never left his face.

We thanked God for answering our prayers and yours for a good scan and for evidence the treatment continues working.

I am grateful we skipped therapy yesterday. I am grateful we traded it for the “thera-sea”

I am grateful we can take school on the road—it is why we know educating the girls at home is best for a time such as this.

I am beyond thankful I could kneel before the altar and thank God inside a church named for his Mother—one of my favorite titles of Mary—Stella Maris.  

I prayed for each of you—our community of prayer warriors (loved ones and strangers)—praying for our family. 

Thank you for joining us to pray for our specific intention for the MRI to show no tumor progression and for a sign that the current treatment keeps things from returning and growing.

WE ARE GRATEFUL THERE IS CURRENTLY NO TUMOR PROGRESSION. THE TREATMENT SEEMS TO BE WORKING AND THERE ARE LITTLE TO NO SIDE EFFECTS.

We are beyond thrilled for the way God continues to show up in not just answered prayers but also in the way He shows us He has control of all of this and the people he sends to walk with us on this journey.

It is an honor to share our story with you and receive your many messages filled with prayers, encouragement, and love.

Likely today, we will rest from all of the walking, driving, and smiling and a bit of shopping therapy.

Currently, as I type this, I hear Jon resting—inhaling and exhaling—as peacefully as the ocean laps upon the shores.

As he is resting, I am writing, praying, dreaming and discerning some next big steps for us—“Whatever God wants.”

We are so very blessed. 

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