Now this is where we continue the story but from the memory after my surgery, for Josh wouldn’t let me be writing it down as we go to the hospital. Friends I understand that this seems impossible for me to remember with all this detail and I truly can’t even begin to understand how it could even happen. Hold on tight because this story is like no other. Everything I am writing is based not on what Josh or Bren remember or remind me but what I actually felt and remember myself…I’m laying here telling myself that there’s no way you are actually believing this is true, I realize it sounds crazy, absurd and many will doubt if this is true. Especially you Adam Weatherby, I’m sure you are rationalizing that this must be due to the drugs still in my body. Now that may be true, or as a nurse explained to me when you have brain surgery, the trauma of the surgery itself can cause heightened sensory perception. Maybe this is what I am experiencing and if it is, then when my brain is finished healing these acute sensory feelings will be lost.
What a shame that will be, but if it does then that is how the journey was suppose to be. Let me catch you up to speed before we continue driving up to the hospital, so that you can comprehend what is to come. My mind is so open, so free, so uninhibited that I cannot even ponder words, they just are and I have no filter so whatever I truly feel gets said, like I don’t even have the choice in the matter! I have never spoken so exact in all my life and I couldn’t even generalize if I wanted to. I know this sounds completely bizarre, it is!
So we leave the hotel, it’s 7am and we are only about 10 minutes from Cottage Hospital. We drive to the front entrance, it has valet parking… Only a hospital in Santa Barbara would have valet parking right? This very nice looking man comes over to give us our valet ticket, gosh darn it I can’t remember his name, but he is so patient and gentle. He keeps telling Josh “take your time Sir” and “I will take good care of your car, don’t worry!” Curt, my mom’s husband, my third earthly Dad in my life emerges from the lobby… He kisses my cheek and gives me a gentle hug.
As I walk into the lobby I see those two that I’m ready to see… Brenda and my mom Jackie! They are here ready for this day, we are all ready for this day! We are suppose to make our way up to the 2nd floor surgical waiting room, so we head that way. The man says you may take the elevators or the stairs, we opt for the stairs because I never want to ride elevators and I could use the exercise… I hadn’t been able to do any activity since I received instructions from my Nuerosurgeon, the 26th of October.
We arrived and the counter was empty. We started chatting I was telling them all about our glorious night and dinner, but I don’t have to remind you…it’s all in the blog. Well we kept looking back and no check-in person and then finally a nurse opened the door and poked her head out and asked if I was Mrs. Lee? Yes was my response and she seemed a little stressed because the check-in person should have been out there and now she was behind schedule. Her name was Shari, she is my pre-op nurse. Nice lady, we talked about our kids…. Both having a boy and girl. Her daughter plays volleyball in Boston, no kidding!! We were showing each other pictures of the kids on our phones.
I was trying to remember names and for Shari the nurse, I just thought about my friend Shari Jantzen, same spelling! So Shari the nurse, got me all ready and then my inner circle of three were allowed to come in… Josh, Brenda and Mom. We just kinda hung out for a bit then Brenda gave this look to my Mom and said “Ok Mom let’s give them a little time together, surgery should start in 5 minutes.” So the girls took off, Josh and I had some time to talk and try to settle down, the 5 minutes turned into about 30 because everything was running late. Finally the 3-D MRI was ready for me, they use it during surgery so I was whisked away but this quiet fellow Francisco… I’m not sure how I’m remembering his name but he’s so memorable.
I’ve only had the one MRI before and it’s really not my fav thing so I’m not super excited about this … I don’t really have a choice so in I go. It’s just a bunch of loud noises and beeps and jolts and crashes for about 30 minutes but better than last time because I don’t have a headache this time! The MRI is done and I’m basically ready for surgery, I am so ready to begin I can’t tell you and I don’t know how I am not scared but I just keep reciting verses in my head to calm down. Philippians 3:10 is on my lips as I wait on the gurney …
“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him; perceiving, recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly.”
I am wheeled into the operating room, and there’s the anesthesiologist, a few nurses and Dr. Park over in the corner. I look over and think “You are a rock star doc, let’s do this thing.” I lay back and look up, there are these two huge operating lights, just like in Grey’s Anatomy. Then BOOM nothing, no counting backwards just out!
As I’m writing I fear that no one will believe this … That everyone will say I have made this up and I cannot express more clearly that as I have written every word this morning I remember each detail so vividly. So I hope you believe me and the power of God to reveal this story to me. I know pretty stinking amazing but after all … we have a stinking amazing God!
I just realized this but it is day 13 since I got my results … My favorite number because I’m not superstitious and besides 13 was my Daddy’s sports number and mine too and my birthday! About an hour ago Josh nudged me and said “I think it’s been more than an hour”, our agreement right before bed last night, the limit to all this writing the night before brain surgery.
Well it all started at about 1:30am and it’s now 5:55am and the wake-up call is in 5 minutes so I gotta make this quick. Grace on the typos please! There was just so much to write and capture and remember and I just don’t want to miss even a single thing. This blog, this writing has given me so much life, so much purpose, so much peace in this journey… Why did I ever think blogging was kinda a waste of time, well maybe good for others but I just didn’t have time for it so I thought. There is always time… this life is nothing but years and days and hours and minutes and seconds for us to embrace and love and share.
Josh’s watch just starting beeping, the wake-up call just rang and there is this most beautiful sunrise outside our window over the water. I just sent Josh out to take pictures on the balcony and then he says I have to stop and get ready. I’m so ready… And not nervous or scared in even the slightest way. This has been a journey of trust and the best experience of my entire life! Thank you for journeying with me and supporting me so well. I love you all so much! Now let’s do thing thing! Much love, Wendi Lou
So we get home from drop off and we have about 4 hours to get ready plenty of time right? Yes I have a list … yes it is kinda long but 4 hours should be plenty of time. We get right to it… bills to pay, money to be transferred, last minute calls to make and texts to answer, pack, shower and snacks, oh yea and finish that post from last night… I just have to read it over one more time to check for spelling and grammar. The time is flying but my list is getting shorter too, our goal… leave the house at 1pm head to Josh’s parents so we can see Kate on our way out. She is driving from the San Diego area right now. Josh heads to the gym for a swim and I just keep plugging away I think it can all happen. He returns and I’m still at the desk, he’s laughing at me.
So I get pushed to the shower and pack, I feel like I’m packing for when the kids were born but this is slightly different … I have to decide what I’m wearing tonight for our date in Santa Barbara! I’m trying not to forget anything and then I think I’m ready… It’s almost 2pm totally fine, we can’t check in to our hotel until 3 anyways. The only thing left to do is eat lunch and pack the car, I kinda start to slow-down because Kate hit traffic and she hasn’t arrived yet. If I have learned anything over these last few months, it’s that people are more important than anything … above all being a few minutes or even hours later than you wanted. There’s this little knock and the original Lee family strolls in with hugs … Peter, Joette and Kate. They are so good to me and love me so well. I feel so lucky and blessed to have married Joshua Lee, but then to have acquired his wonderful family is almost more than my heart can take.
We pack it all up and get in the car, it is 3:30pm, not too shabby! We may even make it to see the sunset is my reply as Josh is kinda bummed… he was hoping we might have some time to relax before dinner tonight. But it is all working out perfectly and everything is relaxed and peaceful. Music is on in the car, the playlist Josh made for me titled … A Journey Of Trust, first song Anchor by Bethel Music is playing – thanks Jen Tompkins for the inspiration to add it to my list, my new favorite!
The trip goes fast, the ocean water on my right is so blue and I’m still adding contacts in my phone of doctors and nurses and last texts to my dear friends. We pull in to this hotel near West Beach in Santa Barbara, just a few block from where we will have dinner tonight and there’s the sunset and the people out running on the boardwalk and this huge cruise ship in the harbor, it looks like an office building on the water. Josh checks in at the Milo Hotel, this beautiful spot that our dear friend Jenn from Sports Warehouse found for us and I just sit in the car. When he returns the sun is slipping, so we head for the pier to catch a glimpse before it’s gone. Pictures and hand-holding completed, we haul all the stuff up to the room, well Josh does, he won’t let me carry anything except my purse. I definitely married a gentleman … his parents trained him well. Just three weeks ago it was our anniversary and I was in the pit, so tonight will be our take 2, I’m just so excited for the night.
We couldn’t get reservations until 7:45pm for Toma and good thing because I still hadn’t gotten my nap and I knew I was going to need it. So I settled into bed, Josh worried about the bathroom light on and the noise of him shaving his head with his clippers. Doesn’t he know me? I can sleep through pretty much anything. At about 7pm he woke me and I panicked… I had slept so hard I thought it was 7am and we had missed our whole night together, my thought I’m going to be so hungry!! It still took me a few minutes to get it right in my head… I do have a brain tumor folks, it’s all not working perfectly up there.
He’s laughing again, something about losing my marbles. I have 25 minutes to be ready, no problem this girl is not high maintenance! A quick rinse off, a little heat on the hair and no fuss makeup…one black retro dress and wedge heels and we were ready. Only problem I realize I forget one thing… My toothbrush! Now most would say no worries just use your husbands right? In the 16 years we have been married I have never used his toothbrush… You see my husband, my love … is what you would call sanitary, he doesn’t share germs willingly with people at all. I have never met a man that is such a germ-aphobe. We have baby wipes everywhere and he is always washing his hands and asking the kids, “Did you wash up.” So I look at him with these puppy eyes and say ” Can I please use your toothbrush?” He eyes get kinda wide and I’m thinking ….you make out with me, what’s the big deal? So of course he says yes and I assure him to pick up a few new ones tomorrow as I brush my pearly whites. He does inspect the toothbrush as he puts it back in his overnight bag… I think maybe a fleck of a nut got stuck.
My shoes are on and I load up my purse, that doesn’t go with my dress. It’s that satchel bag I always have with me, totally bad fashion statement I’m willing to sport because there is no way I can carry all my meds, lip gloss and phone. So he takes my purse, swings it over his chest like a man bag and we start the 3 minute walk to Toma. Josh… man-bag, this is not a Mr. Lee move, but he just goes with it and quite frankly he looks pretty hip. It didn’t draw any attention at all, he never would want that!
When we get there it’s packed and I’m starving! I’m so glad we have reservations, but the couple still there is taking their time and we have to wait. We head back outside because it’s crowded and loud and I don’t think a drink the night before brain surgery sounds like a good idea, not to mention I’m so hungry I don’t think I’d be able to stand up if I did. We scope out the menu and talk about how this is just practicing patience, why are we always in such a hurry even when it’s date night and we have no where else to be, nothing else to do. It does take a little while and the manager evens comes out to apologize, I’m like totally fine with it, not frazzled in the least, this place has got to be good with the aroma we have been smelling for the last 20 minutes!
Our table is ready, perfect table along the wall in the corner so that I can hear better, I think the slow couple is still across the restaurant, in a middle table, drinking their coffee. We know what we want by now so this is easy. We are not use to dining like this, so fancy, so expensive…we are pretty thrifty diners …we like really good food but we live with the price-tag in check. But tonight, this was all on our good friends Bill and Norma Brown, super-close friends of Pete and Joette, who just wanted to bless us with a wonderful dinner. We ordered and it all began, these wonderful plates of salad and chicken with mushroom risotto and the cod special for Josh. We reached forks across the table and tried everything on all the plates. My mouth was having this most amazing party, honestly the most delicious food I have ever experienced. We talked and talked and it was this deep talk that doesn’t always happen on a normal date. Fears about tomorrow, was there anyone you didn’t get to talk to that you wanted to, our incredible families, friends who have shaped us to be able to endure this journey and some friends who have slipped away.
I looked at him and I just couldn’t believe that me… Wendi Lou Lee has this man in my life, this precious gift from God to walk this journey with. My soul was just so full, like it might burst with joy. We ended the night with dessert, because why not right? Sorbet and strawberries, his fav the lemon, mine the mango. No chocolate you ask? Well no gluten free options with chocolate … so we improvised!! We walk our short minutes back, ready for a night of rest. This night has been the best anniversary celebration of our marriage, I am so blessed! Here’s to 16 years babe!
It’s Thursday morning, we leave for Santa Barbara today so Josh is home. We gave Nani the morning off, so we are taking the kids to school. I’m up typing around 6am … unbelievably this is not the typical school morning for me. I’m usually scrambling like crazy… Lunches, homework, breakfast and those shorts you wanted to wear but I didn’t get put in the dryer like I promised I’d do before hitting the hay last night… That’s me friends. Then the constant, “what else needs to be done before you start goofing around?” And “Raegan stay focused only 8 minutes until carpool with.” So yea me sitting at the computer on a school morning, like that has never happened, ever!
The house begins to rouse … I mean erupts because Tobey our son lives in two volumes… Asleep and ear shattering! I try to quiet him, ordering him back to his room so Dad can sleep … he wakes near 5am, out the door by 5:30 Monday-Thursday mornings so this could be a great chance to give him some extra energy for this long weekend ahead. I’m sure he is going to need it. Well that kinda works, because T is T. I jump into Raegan’s warm bed for just a minute and scratch her back, her favorite, and give her a few more moments to wake. Then over to Tobey’s room to do the same, chat in his crazy full bed where he already has the whole day, the whole weekend planned! He is just bursting with intensity. I’m laying there for just a few seconds and I realize… I have never woken them like this before, except for maybe when it is their birthdays. So calm, so loving, so interested in how they slept and what they dreamed and what they are excited about for the day… It’s beautiful and purposeful and I want to do this every school morning for the rest of their school days… Could I do it? Normally I am in too much of a hurry, never even a spare minute!
So we get it moving … My one request they make tea, so they run outside to the lemon trees, leaving the door wide open “Hello, it’s cold out there!” And “Propane costs money” flashes through my mind. They return with these huge lemons, convinced they are going to be so perfect. Tobey started this tea-making thing about two weeks ago when he started wanting to help mom feel better. In our house when someone has a cold, we make lemon tea. I’m kinda picky, I like to make my own tea…but for the last few weeks I’ve let Tobey take over the tea-making duties. I remind him that one ice cube is really perfect for me and he gets to work. I must say he makes a good cup of lemon tea! The rest of everything is happening and I wake up Dad and we have 10 minutes before we need to get to the car.
I have one request…Colton’s carpool cd that Heidi made for super fun rides to school where is it? “In the car Mom of course” is the response I get. Carpooling with Heidi our neighbor and landlord is like the most genius thing, it feels like I’m hardly at school, making the mornings so much easier. But this morning we are going separate, giving us family time in the car, she is so sensitive, so helpful. As we are driving the cd goes in, mostly crazy pump up songs from Kidsbop, and then a few others. But my favorite on the lineup is T. Swift’s Shake It Off. We started our crank it up, Shake It Off mornings maybe a few months ago when the kids told me that Heidi lets them blast it when she’s driving… She is so fun and I have learned to relax by watching her have so much fun with her kiddos.
We start through the Village and get it going, we know every word and the motions and we just laugh at some of the lines, Dad’s kinda amazed and he keeps trying to turn it down a little, wouldn’t want to blow the speakers or something! The song is almost over and it gets to Tobey and I’s favorite line, we have to look at each other as we say it with this smirk on our faces “This Sick Beat!” We laugh because as we park near the crosswalk, we see Heidi and Colton, we end up all walking in together anyway. We get to the edge of the playground fence, gives hugs and kisses and see you Monday and have so much fun and they just run off. No tears or being scared for me, they are just amazing, stable, confident children. As we walk back to the car, feeling that was way easier than I thought it might be, Josh tells me that they were singing “Shake It Off” in the kitchen during breakfast… Their line was “shake that tumor off…shake it off”, between giggles. I always have known that my kids are awesome and I’m so blessed but it’s so easy to forget and so easy to not see it, even when they are staring right back at you.
So many of you have asked what are the kids doing this weekend during surgery, are the kids okay? The plan for them this morning was school, Raegan didn’t want to miss her field trip and Tobey always has something in mind with his two best buddies Nigel and Lucas. After school we arranged a special play date for each of them, thinking they would need a distraction after school. Tobey to Nigel’s, Raegan to Kaelyn’s … they have been talking about it all week! You see we don’t do play dates on school days usually, it just gets too crazy for me to juggle it all or keep track.
T&R will be dropped off at Nani and Papa’s house where Auntie Kate, Josh’s sister will be waiting for them. Auntie Kate is the most fun aunt ever, she will do things with them I would never dream of doing. She swims in the freezing pool water in Tahoe every summer, let’s them climb, pull and batter her, which usually ends in Auntie Kate getting hurt in some way… they just aren’t really gentle. Sorry Kate!! Then there’s the big one in Tobey’s book…Auntie Kate will play video games with him. That is their special thing… I don’t hate many things but I hate video games, I have no desire to ever even attempt to try. Maybe it’s because we never had them growing up and I lost too many times at Mario Brothers when we would play at friends houses. I just tended to run off the walkway straight into the fire every time, all I had to do was slow up.
So this weekend is going to be party central at Nani and Papa’s with Auntie Kate as the main stage entertainment. They are so stoked, except that 2 year old cousin Jack stayed home, their most bragged up cousin of all time. They talk about him constantly and Face Time him for hours every week. They will be talking randomly and them it explodes into this Jack story and Tobey will say how he is the cutest, most adorable thing on the planet. All their friends and parents have heard about Jack. This weekend Auntie Kate decided to make it more about T&R, maybe she could relax a little too … or at least sleep in.
So that’s the kids, we asked if they wanted to come see me in the hospital. Tobey’s response was “I think I’d like to see a hospital, but I don’t want to see you mom. If I see part of your brain I’ll probably throw up.” Raegan is just so concerned that they will shave all my hair off and that would be so scary and weird to see me without hair. So the plan is to see them hopefully Monday when I get to come home, with just a bandage on my head and long hair still. A few hours to get packed up and we are ready to “Shake It Off.”
Well it’s Wednesday and I think this may be one of the funnest weeks of my life … right up there with New Zealand with my sweetie in March of this year. Today my oldest high school friend, Megan Braziel Kaiser is coming to be with me today. This girl and her family moved to Atascadero a month before my freshman year of starting high school. It was the Sunday before we were heading to Hume Lake and we met her at church, I was so giddy at the thought of a new friend, one that goes to our church, one that was so nice and so pretty but so normal too. As we loaded the bus the next Sunday, I remember thinking ‘What a bummer Megan couldn’t come too, that would have been so perfect.’ But she couldn’t, no spots and too last minute!
To say it was a big week for me is saying it lightly. Hume rocked me that first year and changed my life forever! On Tuesday night, traditionally “Decision Night” the speaker was talking all about forgiveness and if you can’t forgive those in your life, it’s pretty tough to accept the forgiveness of God for your junk. I had big walls of un-forgiveness towards my biological father and that night the walls came tumbling down, honestly I would have said I was already a follower of Jesus, but that Tuesday night was when it all became much more real.
Of course they ask the students to reflect and stay back if anyone wants to make a decision. My feet could not stand, I think I wanted to escape and not be that girl who is already a Christian but has all this baggage. I stayed and so weird but I look over to my right and Bren is there too, we both had unresolved Dad issues! We talk with our counselor Marshella … letting go of all that bitterness and fear of him. She is reminding us that when we live with unforgiveness, we are the ones living in the chains not him, we punish ourselves by holding onto it. Good talks, decision cards filled out and then we at some point look at each other and have no idea how we are going to go back down the hill.
You see… we were the cute Little House twins, popular in junior high but not always super nice to others. We hung with the total in-crowd and loved our friends that we had made since 4th grade when we moved from the LA area not that long ago. But we lived two separate lives, that life at school with our friends… and our then very meager lives of faith at church and youth group. It’s a hard balancing act and for all you high school students reading out there, I know that these are very hard waters to swim especially in junior high and high school.
So we kinda asked this question, made this vow ‘Can we really do this?’ And we did one of the hardest things I’ve ever done… we left our friends! Hear me again… our friends!! And we didn’t even explain ourselves to them, I didn’t have the courage to even be an honest friend. Oh how I regret not being able to do that in 1991, it makes me weep as I reread this right now.
But God had this perfect plan because when we returned from Hume, Megan was there. We began to spend lots of time together and by the first day of high school we were this threesome who needed each other desperately. Megan knew no one and we knew everyone! Her mom Linda drove us all that first day in her super-cool red Cabriolet with a white convertible top, we were so excited and scared to death, all three of us!
High school brought so much fun and Megan was there by my side through it all, except one period of about 6 months when we were fighting over a boy… but Brent Baldwin couldn’t shake our deep bonds and we most gratefully recovered. We played volleyball together, I went to the football games to watch her cheer, Winter Formals, Proms, Top 30 and Hume Lake every summer. My high school experience does not have one memory without her in it!
When the weather got warm we would leave straight after church … pile into her cute red Cabriolet and head to Atascadero Grocery for sandwiches and then on to the beach. That spot right at Wadsworth in Pismo where that huge flight of stairs used to be. We would tan and watch the waves … and all those cute college volleyball players … pepper the volleyball in the sand.
We have stayed in touch and recently attended our 20 year reunion this last August together. So when Megan got the news that Monday almost two weeks ago, she wanted to come. Wednesday was the day and I wanted to recreate memories. She piled in my house with enough food and treats for a month and then we jumped in her car and headed to Gopher Glen in See Canyon near Avila Beach…my favorite place to get apples in the Fall. We tasted, purchased and then went to Avila for lunch. No Pismo this time … I wouldn’t have been able to make those stairs and besides my heart was set on Kravabowl… my favorite, healthy lunch spot. We sat out in the sun, listening to the waves and just soaked it all in and had the deepest, most precious time together of our entire friendship!
It was time for my afternoon nap, my sweetie’s orders, so we headed back to the house. We told more stories and then promised that we would never go back to surface, fake words again… ever! She drove away and I cried … knowing that God gave her to me to fulfill my High School Memories!
Tuesday has come, the clouds have lifted and it is a glorious day outside with that crisp, Fall wonderful air. My mom, Jackie is coming today and I’m so excited… she rises early, leaving Morro Bay where she is camping with my little sis’s fam solo just because that’s the kind of woman she is. So strong and independent and brave enough to face anything life throws at her… even a night camping in the pouring rain while her love in life is home in their warm bed. She just absolutely loves the ocean, the sound of the waves and being outdoors in this beautiful world God has given us.
We have one thing that has to be done, my blood work in SLO so as to not waste any of our precious day, we set out as soon as possible. She is totally wanting to baby me … but she knows I am strong, like her, and gives me the freedom to open the lab door … I’m not dying after all! Of course while my blood is being drawn she is making small-talk with all the office ladies, telling them my story and asking them to pray for her sweet daughter.
“Well that was quick,” were my words as we walked back to the truck, the wonder-dog Sadie wagging her tail in the bed. We got back to AG and all these memories were filling my mind. Mostly about how my mom had this awesome privilege of being the mom of twins… how cool is that… the constant attention wherever you go and my mother loves that kind of attention! Not all of it was easy though, she has told us before so many times … how difficult it was for her that Bren and I were so close. We were so utterly connected, a lot of times we just didn’t need her… because we needed each other more. I cannot even imagine my sweet Raegan wanting to be comforted by someone other than me. As very small children we would console each other, while most babies or toddlers cry in the night to get the attention of their mothers, their everything’s… Bren and I would climb into each others cribs for contentment. She was always worried one of us was going to fall climbing the railing in the wee hours and at some point she gave up on the two cribs. So she has lived this life of mothering twins, 38 years, a little from a distance, knowing that she is not the supreme human voice in our lives. And she has done it with so much grace and balance.
Our fun for the day has got to be something creative… that’s just how we are. So she grabs the drill and we brave the wet weeds out to our field where the kids old fort sits. It was a great idea 5 years ago, but why is it those kids won’t play in it? When we built it, there was this tree and it was going to be in the middle of the branches. When the tree fell just days before it was complete, the lure of the fort was never the same! Oh we tried and even made the siding out of old barn wood so I’d like the look from the road but there it sat for years. One of those projects you kinda regret every time you walk by, especially Josh feeling so bad that he and his dad had wasted soo much time… soo much money that just sits!!
So we each pick out our favorite board, the drill spins and we set up the work space for paint on the driveway. My board is old and rough and has this cool yellow algae residue stuff on it, I’m thrilled! The paint begins to take shape, not perfect painting, I need more green so we mix brown and yellow, the colors don’t match but they don’t have to, this is art people! My famous words… if you don’t like it just paint the whole thing and start it again! You have nothing to lose when you are creating. Our plan is Fall signs… mine I think will say ‘With a Grateful Heart’, she has plans for ‘Family’ in dark blue. The word of the year for Mom and her love Curt, my third earthly Dad… after 6 years of being newlyweds and focusing on their marriage, their love, their relationship… their focus has shifted to Family for this 2015. And wow has it been that kind of year and they have risen to it so admirably.
The paint is drying and we are hungry and we relax eating lunch together, me asking her about details of when we were young, how it really was for her … a single mom with three little kids trying to protect us and make the decisions she needed to for us. Those choices were not always what she would have chosen for herself. We load up Sadie and her board, no words yet but we will have time to do that. She orders me to my afternoon nap, otherwise I will get in trouble with Josh tonight for overdoing it … something I tend to do when a project is in the works!
She drives out my driveway and it reminds me of this time when I was 14, the summer after my sophomore year. My mom and I were famous for maybe exaggerating details a little, the dramatic in us. Well we both noticed it and we had this goal to memorize James 3:1-12, our attempt to control our tongues.
It reads “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because we know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
I was backpacking in Yosemite that week I remember, so I memorized and when I returned home we both were so proud of ourselves, proud that we had made a goal and accomplished it. We both still have a flair of drama and can tell a good story that might add a little liberty in the details, after all Like Mother…Like Daughter!
It’s Monday morning again, one week after getting my results and the week has gone so fast… it has been such a journey and such a joy! My plan for the day is to see Brenda again, relax with her at home while the wonderful pouring rain pounds outside, giving so much needed moisture to my dry plants on the deck. Of course as the kids run up the hill to carpool with Heidi and Colton it really starts coming down, why is it that always happens? We always laugh that as you walk the crosswalk near the playground outside of school, you know the one where the water pools and your socks will get drenched if you don’t jump over it, this is where the downpour almost always ensues. My little soccer girl has shorts on, well they both do, Tobey too…how else will she run in PE today? She will be so disappointed if the rain stops PE from happening.
So the drips are outside, I cranked on the heater just a bit, because in Arroyo Grande there is usually just no need for heat or AC most of the year … can I say Paradise! There is a little knock and there she is again, my heart just fills up and her smile is the most comforting thing I can even imagine. We fold laundry and try to think why we haven’t done this together before, it was so fun and wow does it go fast. Praise music in the background, we make homemade protein bars and prep the Rice Pudding for the kids special rainy day treat they asked about this morning.
My sisters and I all remember it growing up … if it was raining at school, especially the first rainy day of the season, we would come home to this special treat sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon. More laundry, so much laundry, why do we have this many clothes to wash? But thankful we have clothes. My list gets smaller and my thoughts get more clear as I run a few things by her, as we eat yummy food with the drip drops still outside. What a perfect stormy day for this! And then it’s time to tackle just a few errands and yes the rain knows we are coming and it’s showing off, wanting us to experience its’ full power. Just a few stops, not worth mentioning exactly but us moms just gotta get it all done no matter how unimportant those little things are.
In my quiet God moments this morning I read this verse “Surely just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.” Isaiah 14:24 I’m nodding my head and thinking I need to read Isaiah again after surgery. I’m amazed how this journey, this trial is opening my eyes to the words of God… I’ve read so many times and now it is all so clear, such inspiration on the page, such life in my bones, such breathe in my lungs. As I sit here 3:16 in the morning, remembering the day behind me … I have this unbelievable opportunity to share it all with you. It makes me want to weep at the years of asking God to use me and not having any words to share, maybe not having the confidence to speak.
I have a blogger friend Bekah, she told me once “You should start a blog Wendi!” I nearly laughed out loud. I’m not a writer, I don’t journal and what would I possibly even write about… the thought was absurd! But here I sit, words pouring out of me, it’s not even a challenge, in fact if the tender nudging of the Lord didn’t wake me each night … and my small bladder, I would be so bummed to miss this quiet, peaceful time of process and reflection downstairs in the dark. How did you know Bek? This blog, this journal is giving me so much life, so much purpose and all I can say is that it’s my Late Inspiration.
One small update I’ve got to tell you all about… surgery time has been set and for my prayer warriors out there, this is an important piece of info. Arrive at Cottage hospital in Santa Barbara at 6:30 Friday morning to check in, a 3-D brain MRI around 8am and then prepped by the anesthesiologist to start surgery around 9:15 am. Surgery will last about 4 hours and I will be in ICU that first night. We are really praying for a smooth surgery, very steady hands for Dr. Park and a benign tumor with no complications. Please pray for this my dear friends!
It’s Sunday… and we find ourselves back on the road headed towards Atown for church once again. So much has happened in one tiny week. We are all looking smooth. I know what you are thinking, “The Lee family, they are a good looking bunch, especially that Mr. Lee.'” We park next to an old building and get out…. Smiles beginning to form. There they are… Paul and Heidi Bolger, our beloved mentee couple, married about a year ago that we have just fallen in love with. To say it was a privilege mentoring them before they tied the knot… is an understatement. Our hearts will forever be intertwined with theirs as we continue to encourage them in this new life they are beginning…. This life we are fighting for each day as we love each other and seek to serve one another. Paul has a camera and we begin to capture this moment, capture what it means to be family through good times and bad, even when you don’t want to wear those un-comfy pants… “Why can’t I just wear my shorts,” asks our son.
I’m giddy. It feels like my wedding day smiling but I have this amazing bridal party, this family that God has formed and it feels like it is really taking shape, like this is what it was always suppose to be – My ‘Team Lee.’ Everyone has relaxed and the smiles are easy now, even the kids wanting to take another picture….
The minutes are gone and not wanting to even miss one line of worship music, we head to our treasured church, ABC. I’ve been here most of my life pursuing Jesus since 6th grade. This place means so much to me, so much history, so much of who I am and what I believe about the God of this universe. We sit in our normal pew, my peeps know where it is and there they are… Bren, Adam, Heidi, Mom and Curt. I’m kinda laughing… the last time the “I need you, oh I need you” song came on I was in tears barely trying to stand, just weeks before. It’s easier now, a joy to sing and oh, so true to my heart. Bob Engel spoke – what an inspiration, living amoungst the urban poor to share Jesus. I have a feeling we will be going to Newark, NJ someday!
Prayer is hard to understand. Not sure how it works but prayer is powerful! That verse Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” I think the key is Thanksgiving, something I’ve been learning these past few months. The peace that surpasses all understanding is truly mine. I’ve never experienced this kind of peace before, but I’m convinced it starts with a grateful heart.
We eat New Love tacos – of course we do – they are only here a few times a year and hands down the best. And then it’s time to rest and gear up for the rest of the night. A nap in my mom’s awesome bed and a swim for Josh… kids get a movie before it’s cousin time with Conner and Dana and we head to Parent Group, it’s like a community group but focused on marriage and parenting with our fearless leaders Rich and De Morey. We’ve been in this group about two years and just love it so much. Prayer, food and lively conversation about conflict resolution tonight – what a sweet time!
We pick up the kids… they are never ready to leave cousins and besides there are brownies in the oven! So we just sit with Bren and Adam and soak it all in, all this love and cousin time and thoughts of the future that God has in His hands. We find a way to get to the car, not sure how we didn’t just sleep on their couch, and make the trek back home. I’m telling you people, the drive just gets shorter!
I’m going to rewind a little because so many super-smart or interested people want to know more about the tumor. The doctors believe this thing is a Intraventricular Tumor. Sounds confusing but really just tells you where it is located… in the ventricles. Deep in the center, beneath all the lobes, the ventricles are where the cerebrospinal fluid calls home. The tumor is right in the middle of my cerebrospinal fluid, blocking it from moving to my spinal cord.
OK. The surgery. I’ll explain this as best as I can. I will get a 4-5 inch incision on my scalp somewhere in the middle between the top of my head to the bottom curve of my right eyebrow. Shave my head? I didn’t ask… I thought it sounded too vain to even worry about it. I may just have to get some really cute hats or headbands or something and my hairdresser already is up to the challenge for later. Then the doctor will cut a pumpkin top in my skull, go ever-so-carefully through my frontal lobe to the exact position where a cyst has created a sack of fluid. Directly under the cyst is the tumor where he will remove as much as possible and as safely as possible. Testing will begin on it immediately to determine exactly what the cells are, and then we go from there. This is so random but Sunday morning I got this picture from Nani. My surgeon was on the local news! He is going to rock it!
If you are a soccer family like us, you know that Saturdays can be almost too much to take, let alone when Halloween falls on a Saturday! We knew it would be a very busy day and from the get-go we planned too much. Two soccer games in the heat, kids trick-o-treating with friends and our Halloween dinner tradition (with Josh’s parents… Nani and Papa) seemed a little daunting. Both games were hot and both teams lost, but we just needed the right perspective. There are more important things than soccer and having stud athlete kids…right? I’m just so thankful that God has given me these two precious jewels to raise and love. After the games, treasured friends whisked the kids to fun. Are we really to that time that they just want to be with their peeps? We all met back for dinner and relaxed… I even dressed up – this is unheard of – I’m not exactly the Halloween type. Kids were Chinese warriors or ninjas and I sported a Asian silk robe; so comfy I didn’t want to take it off! We hit a few houses before it was time for mom to turn in.