I don't know.

This started out as a FaceBook post. It started simple.

My dad has cancer.

How simple and complex that one statement is! I knew I couldn't put just that, although that's the only thing that's been running through my mind. I know people will ask questions: What kind? What's the treatment? How are you doing? How are your parents doing? Can we do anything to help?

The first two answers are easy. It is thyroid cancer, and since he already had his thyroid removed, the next step is to do radioiodine treatment. Except for the skin cancer that I had a few years ago, it is the most treatable cancer, with the highest survival rate. He sees his doctor on Monday. We'll know more specifics about the treatment then.

The next question is the most difficult, because I really don't know how I'm doing. I've been processing for days. It's not real to me. Something as abstract as cancer can't possible hurt my daddy

My daddy, whom I still call when my husband is out of town and I hear a noise outside. My daddy, whom my sister called from California when she couldn't find her car. I'm sure she knew he couldn't help her in any other way than calm her down and talk her through it. It's just that... he fixes things. That's what daddies do, right? How can there be something he can't fix?

 I've never seen him fight anyone, or even play a contact sport. Still, he's not somebody you want to mess with. I remember how he could look at us from across the room - or **shudder** straight down from the pulpit - without saying a word, and we knew we had better change our behavior immediately. Not because he was going to hurt us (he's a pastor, most of the time we would have rather he spanked us than give us a lecture, trust me!), but because we knew that it was not acceptable. I've had grown men tell me that they had a crush on me in high school, but would never date me because they were terrified of him. This wasn't some punk kid, either. It was a good guy, one, who, at times, reminded me of my dad. My dad stands up when he feels something is wrong, and I don't know that I've ever seen him lose that fight. How can something I can't even see or feel or touch possibly hurt him? 

He and my husband are the 2 most godly men I know. I always seek both of their advice on anything serious. He's my favorite preacher. In a recent situation in our church, I thought he was making the worst mistake. He told us to wait, and let it work itself out. It did. With as minimal impact on our church body as one could expect. He's made mistakes. I know he's not perfect. But one of my favorite things about him is that when he knows he's made a mistake, he comes to you and apologizes. I don't agree with him on everything. But he let's me think what I think with only a small amount of teasing. (If you know my dad, you're smiling at that, because you know he just can't help himself.) How can something that God could control possibly hurt my dad? 

It could, theoretically, hurt him. ("It won't. It can't," my heart says, "Something like this can't hurt him.") I can't think about that. As far as God goes, I know he's not upset with God about it. As cliche as it sounds (and I hate cliches so it pains me to write this), maybe this is God slowing him down. My dad does not know how to slow down on his own. Maybe that's not it at all. Maybe God just allowed this to happen. 

For right now, the answer is as simple and complex as my original Facebook status: I don't know. I don't know how I'm doing. I don't know what will happen. I don't know how I'll deal.

I also don't truly know how my parents are doing, though they say they're doing ok with it all. In the end, they're still the parents, and I doubt they would let us know if they were truly worried. I understand that, even if I would like to know how they're really doing.

I also don't know what to tell you to do to help us. Pray for us. Love us. Hug us if we need it. That's about it. I'm sure there will be more things to do when my dad gets his treatment, so, if you're inclined, ask again, and we'll be more specific.

A few things I do know: I know that there is a loving church family here to support us, and family far away to support as well. I know that my heart is overjoyed and filled with gratitude for that. I do know God doesn't promise us that our lives will be full of rainbows and unicorns as Christians. So, we'll take this in stride, see where it takes us. We'll see how this changes our faith, how it affects our lives. I know that I'll learn something through this, as will the rest of my family. I know that nothing reaches us that doesn't go through God's hands. So, whether it's His idea or not, we'll take it and go forward. I know that I will look for the blessings in the journey we're taking. I'll seek out the joy in something that is difficult. By God's grace, I'll find that joy, show it to my children, and become better for it.

Hooked on a Feeling

I sat down in the tub the other day after a long day. A long day in which I argued with my chiropractor (one of the smartest ladies I know) about losing weight. She, and her assistant (who's also really smart) were saying things like, "Don't worry about the scale." "It will happen." "You're doing the things you need to be doing, just keep it up."

I impatiently replied, "I just want to see the numbers go down!"

Me and numbers. We have a terrible relationship. It's not even love-hate. It's just hate. I hate numbers. I hate math. I teach English. (I never tell my students I hate math, though, so don't worry, math colleagues.) Honestly, if someone is talking and I hear too many numbers, my mind immediately stops comprehending. 

Numbers when it comes to my weight and size are even worse. They've made me cry. They've frustrated me to no end. They've gone up and down with pregnancy, nursing, and weight loss. These numbers have defined my worth for me at times. I would look down at those numbers just above my toes and think about how I've failed, how I'm fat, a terrible person.

In the tub, I sat down, and had this odd sensation. A simple sentence popped into my head, a sentence I've probably never thought and almost certainly never spoken before: "I'm beautiful." I can't explain it. My hair was in the same sloppy ponytail that it usually is at the end of the day. What was left of that day's makeup was likely incredibly smudged from the face-smashing at the chiropractor. The water was hot, so I was sweating. I have five kids, so there are always bags under my eyes. And yet, there was this moment where I felt not cute or pretty, but truly beautiful. There was no one around me, no sweet child calling me a princess or my husband saying something nice. It just came over me. It made me wonder.

What if I stopped focusing on numbers and started focusing on feelings? What if I searched for this feeling rather than a number on a scale? For nearly a year, I've weighed myself almost daily. What if, instead of looking to the scale to see "how I did," I looked to how I feel?

I reflected on the way I feel when I run. The way I feel when I do yoga, or swim. The way I feel when I do one of those things better than the last time I did them. I feel strong, worthy, in control of myself. Or, the way I feel when I eat pizza: that feeling of a solid lump in my belly, making me tired and leaving me slumped on the couch. As opposed to the feeling when I eat something healthful: I feel light and energetic and happy. I thought of the way I feel when I take time for myself. I feel at peace and at ease. I feel rested and prepared.

What if a simple shift in my focus - from external to internal - changes my life? I might lower my weight and sizes and even BMI in doing this. I'll likely gain better health and more energy. But, I think I'll gain so much more than that. Comfort in my own skin, confidence, intuition, the ability to control what I eat and how I feel. I think this could allow me enjoy the journey, instead of focusing on my destination.

I'm putting my scale in the garage tomorrow. I won't look at it for two months. I'm going to focus on my internal scale and let that be my guide. I'm going to focus on doing the things that make me feel healthy, beautiful, light, at peace. This won't be me eating whatever I feel like eating, but me choosing my actions based on how they will make me feel, physically and mentally, after I'm done.

Anybody willing to take this journey with me? Because, you know, a journey is so much better when travelling with friends. <3

I've used my limited computer skills to make a little reminder for myself. Feel free to use as well.