The Cancerbet – or What Cancer Does and Does NOT do – from A to Z

By Susan Braden

A          Cancer AGES us but isn’t aging what we long for?!

B          It BLINDS us to far away, future concerns. It brings us to a “near- sighted” living where we don’t miss the present.

C          Cancer gives us CAUSE – a reason to try treatments and trials for new therapies; not only for our own survival, but for those who follow us along this path.

D          It DEVELOPS our strength. Each day is a victory, no matter the difficulties and pain.

E          It EDUCATES us about our physical selves. From our largest organs to our smallest mutated strand of DNA, our body is a wonderful, complex system that is a vast frontier for exploration and discovery.

F          While cancer may frighten us, it teaches us to FOCUS on our present day’s often overlooked opportunities.

G          It GIVES us the opportunity to grow; to learn, fight, communicate and meet new friends and fellow cancer warriors and survivors.

H          Cancer HURRIES us to reconnect with displaced friends and distant family; to do NOW what we’d dreamed of doing in the future. It hurries us to set things straight – to forgive.

I           It INTERRUPTS the boredom of life without a purpose.

J           It JUSTIFIES decisions made to put family and faith in higher esteem than the job of working, saving and planning for our “long-term”.

K          Cancer kicks us when we least expect it. It can knock us down, but it KEEPS us near to those who really care.

L          It lets us LAUGH in the face of fear, if we allow ourselves to LIVE and LOVE more fully – in the moment, every moment we have been given to live.

M         Cancer METASTACIZES – it spreads. It appears in hidden places and reappears at times we don’t expect. Once it is with you, you know it. And, for those of us who believe and trust in God, in THIS way, that ‘metastasis’ MIRRORS the characteristics of God’s Spirit within us.

N          If we allow it, cancer can NURTURE our spirit, our love and our purpose for living and loving. It does not dehumanize us, categorize us or define us.

O         Cancer OPENS us up to others’ well-wishes, advice and, on many occasions, a sharing of cancer stories about their own friends and family. Sometimes, this can be good and helpful. Other times, it can be unwanted, and even hurtful. Nevertheless, a line of communication was opened. At that point, the door is opened for us to share our story, our opinions; and as we thank them for their concern and support, we educate them about our own cancer journey.  (Oh my! Sorry, that was quite an opus)!

P          It PUSHES and PULLS us constantly, simultaneously in many directions; not only past our physical parameters, but also within the emotion, mental, spiritual and relational realms of our psyche.

Q         Cancer QUIZZES us daily during our treatment about our “Quality versus Quantity” of life.  If every person, regardless of their cancer status could learn to question their daily decisions, choosing “Quality over Quantity”, think how all lives would improve – in work, school, talents, diet, relationships – the list goes on and on.

R          Cancer “RAINS on our parade” – sometimes in a burst of a thunderstorm, sometimes in a steady, soaking rain.  Were you “saving for a Rainy Day”? Today is that day! Put on your knee-high rain boots and make a splash in the puddles!

S          Cancer SOFTENS us, but a “softer” me appreciates and relies more on the strength of those who surround and support me.  In my life, that’s God, family, friends, prayer partners and my medical teams.

T          TREATMENT for your cancer can be tricky.  What works for someone with your same diagnosis may not work for you.  Or, it might work a while, then the tricky tumors transition and become resistant. Sometimes, your treatment works – even one type – and you’re done.  Now, that’s a terrific treat!

U          Cancer USES all our resources – not just financial resources, but mental, physical, emotional and spiritual, as well. After your own resources are all used up, you begin to understand the battle’s difficulties on all who are supporting you.

V          It VALIDATES our need for community and the value of teamwork. We do not take this voyage on our own. It takes volumes of people: medical teams, research teams, pharmaceutical teams, and communities of family and friends who support, pray, care and love us.

W         It WALKS with us every day. It waits in hiding until we are aware of it. We do what we can to whittle it away and we know, in the “long run” eternally, it cannot win.

X          Cancer may X-OUT your pre-planned, pre-conceived plans, but it does NOT have to X-OUT your goals and dreams.

Y          Cancer YANKS at our heart, yells in our head as it yearns to consume us. And while treatment, surgeries, procedures and trials attempt to stop it immediately, it must yield in time.

Z          It “ZESTS” us, like a lemon is zested with a grater – scraping the outer, physical layer of our being to reveal the zesty, bright flavor of our lives. When a little bit of our zest is added to someone else’s dish, it brightens and enhances their flavor.

There is SO MUCH from A to Z that we will experience on our journey with cancer, let us not ignore even one single letter as we “write” and share the story of our lives.

by Susan Randolph Braden, written and shared with YOU, July 29th, 2019.

Bruising Makes it Sweeter?

Yesterday for breakfast I ate two organically grown, fresh-from-a-local-Hanover-County-farm peaches. I know they were both from the same farm, even the same tree, yet one was much sweeter and juicier than the other.  Guess which one….

Even in naturally grown produce, we try to pick the picture-perfect peach.  We simply want the best.  When we pick and choose from the bushel basket, we pick up a fruit, hold it up to look at it with our own informed scrutiny and check for ripeness as it yields to gently pressure.  Based on what we see on the outside, we make a choice. A choice to keep it or leave it for a less-informed consumer. Somehow, I ended up with a fruit drawer of pretty peaches, but at least one was bruised and scarred by the trip home. (If I’ve ever driven you somewhere, you might understand how that could happen). Based on my breakfast choice yesterday, I discovered the blemished, bruised peach was much sweeter than the one that looked like it had just rolled off a still-life masterpiece oil painting.

What causes the blemishes and bruises? Hurt. Hits. Pressure. External and maybe even internal “pests”.

I have many acquaintances, good friends, even family who I know are “bruised fruit”. Some are recognizable as misshapen and blemished, visibly bruised, while many of the hurt, bruised ones don’t outwardly appear to be that way.  I have to think that the way I have tried to hold some up to my (mis)informed scrutiny and forced them to yield to my gentle, or sometimes not-so-gentle pressure, I have caused some bruising of those I am close to.  I think if we all look inside, we’ll find we’ve all been bruised. To those I have bruised, I am sorry.

Lately, I find I’m decorated in bruises and blood blemishes.  Chemo and steroids have thinned my blood, and my medical teams regularly monitor my platelets, red and white blood cells, plasma, all the parts of my blood that provide healing, nourishment and protection.  These days, a little bump into a wall or chair, or even carrying a bag of peaches over my arm causes these bruises and spots.  The largest bruise I’m wearing right now was from doing laundry, so I’m seriously thinking laundry may be hazardous to my health!

I realize my outward, bruised appearance isn’t worth one second of my time.  I tend to see these bruises and procedure scars as battle scars and badges of honor. And as difficult as it may be for some to believe this, my bruising has made me sweeter, more empathetic to those around me and strangers I interact with every day.

One of my favorite Bible passages is 2nd Corinthians 4:8-18. Let me share one of the “juiciest parts” of this letter to the Corinthian church: (NLT) “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

Imagine wine like this – grapes never squeezed, floating around in a glass of water. Or banana bread baked with a whole, unripe perfect banana – unpeeled.

My hope and prayer for all of us is this – the hurts, hits, pressure and external and internal “pests” that cause us to bruise will make us sweeter on the ‘inside’ and sweeter on the outside to all those around us.  And in our daily lives, as we meet and choose friends, groups to be a part of, health providers, life partners, even farmers who provide produce for us to pick through and purchase; may we ALL not pick over and leave behind the better, the sweeter ones, the “bruised fruit”.

And remember to choose to laugh, love and LIVE today – Because You Can, Sir!


Sinking Sand
 
To live in the “uncertain”
       Is certainly unkind.
 
The “what-ifs” and the “why nows”
       Are the cancer of your mind.
 
Don’t dwell in shadows of the past
       When life was sure and grand.
 
The ground beneath, once stable
       Liquefies
                     to
                          Sinking
                                      Sand.
 
So, lift your heads, your heart and hands
       To God above and pray –
 
Life is not about tomorrow,
       It’s how you love and live – TODAY            
                                                             

                   by Susan R Braden on 4/20/19  (which was NOT today...)

March 2019 has come roaring in like a lion, and like a Mama lioness, I have been aggressively battling my cancer predator this month.  My last blog post [Flying High -February 2019] was written pre-surgery, so I’m going to catch you all up with where we are in the Cancer Jungle.

When my January 27th scans continued to show some rapid growth of my right prevascular thoracic and internal mammary and anterior pericardial nodes, my oncologist, Dr. Kemeny, who all the other doctors and nurses refer to as a “Rock Star”, immediately sent us to MSKCC’s Chief Thoracic surgeon, Dr. Bernard Park (https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/doctors/bernard-park). He’s a pioneer in robotic surgery and VATS procedures, and definitely the right surgeon for what I needed. I had surgery on Feb. 11th, and he was able to remove the smaller, but metastasized right mammary nodes and a pericardial “fat pad”. (Who knew I was padded with ‘fat pads’?! I told the staff I’d like to be a ‘fat pad donor’ if the need ever arose! 😉) Well, it turned out the largest thoracic node was too risky to surgically remove. It had ‘invaded’ or attached to a main artery, and getting to it would involve removing a part of the artery, rebuilding it, possibly destroying a nerve to the larynx and diaphragm and cracking open my breast bone to get to it.  Dr. Park said if this were my ‘last chance’ to get rid of it, we’d do it, but right now wasn’t the right time.  The very next day in the hospital, Dr. Kemeny comes to tell us we will do radiation therapy on it ASAP. That very afternoon, another visitor came by my room. Enter Dr. Christopher Crane – Chief Radiation Oncologist. Guess what? Dr. Crane was raised and educated in Virginia. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/doctors/christopher-crane  I am SO BLESSED to be able to be in, what is for ME, the best place with the best hands, hearts and minds for this rare cancer.  Also, on March 8th, I officially made it 4 YEARS past my Stage 4 “get your affairs in order”, terminal diagnosis.  By the way, I’ve never had an ‘affair’, so I can’t put them “in order”.  HA!

We returned to NYC 11 days post-surgery to begin 15 Intensity Modulated Radiation Treatments, which meant 3 weeks for me in NYC. Not necessarily a bad thing as far as I’m concerned!  IMRT uses multiple arc-ed angles and mini CT scans with each treatment. The arc outlines the actual entire tumor. My time on the ‘table’ was very quick each day. https://www.varian.com/oncology/treatment-techniques/external-beam-radiation/imrt So cool! (Really, it never felt ‘hot’)

Bill says the radiation was the LEAST expensive part of the 3 ½ weeks in the City. 😊

This Thursday will be 2 weeks post final treatment, and we head back Sunday for full CT and MRI scans. We’ll see Dr. Kemeny on Monday for results – and may possibly add Keytruda (immunotherapy) and/or more chemo.  I’ll keep you all posted. Remember to Choose to Laugh, Choose to Love and Choose to Live TODAY, “Because You Can, Sir!”

We are so grateful to Kathy Conry, and Isabella, Mary Lou, the Michaels, Bryan, and Metro Baptist for praying, visiting and eating with us, and keeping us entertained, and safe and warm in the 3 weeks of nasty NY cold weather and some snow. I know we are ALL looking forward to a little seasonal warmth.

I hope to have a post-radiation GLOWING report to share soon, but today, I want to share a little “BURNING” exercise for you all to do at home.  I think we could ALL use a little healing ‘burn’ of the bad feelings, doubt and fear in our lives, so let’s do this exercise together right now. Consider it an emotional/spiritual radiation burn of the “bad’ that sneaks up and grows inside of us.  You’ll need a sheet of paper, pen or pencil, a bowl and a lighter or match.  HERE WE GO….

ETBT – Emotion Targeted Burn Treatment 

This is an affirming exercise that will help you ‘burn’ your fear and see the light in the challenge(s) you are currently facing.

1. On your sheet of paper, write the word(s) of the challenge you are facing – ONE LETTER PER LINE, VERTICALLY, in the MIDDLE of the page.

2. On the LEFT of the letters, make a column labeled GOOD.

3. On the RIGHT of the letters, make a column labeled BAD.

4. In BOTH columns write a word or phrase about your challenge word that BEGINS with that LETTER. Write a positive word or phrase on the GOOD side, and a negative word or phrase on the BAD side..

5. When you have finished BOTH sides and you have read your “results”, tear away (or cut) the right-hand side (BAD), tear in pieces, place in a bowl and light those remains on fire. [you should only do this in a safe place – away from smoke detectors and small children.]

As you watch the bad/negative become consumed in the fire, give the negative away to God. Watch and feel it disappear in the smoke and charred remains.  Wash the bowl clean so no negative thoughts remain. Now, go back to the page and read what is left on the GOOD side of the list.

Here is my example (one of 3 I wrote today).  Remember, yours doesn’t have to be ‘cancer-related’.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

GOOD

BAD

Trials and new Treatment

Understanding

Making memories

Opportunities to Open up and help/encourage Others

Realizing Rest and Relaxation is Required.
T

U

M

O


R

Time shortened

Unsure, feeling Useless

Metastatic growths (fear of )

Old goals and dreams may not be reachable

Reacting to every twinge or
pain

                                                     Cut off the BAD side, burn, and let it go!

 Think and be thankful for the GOOD side. Keep and let it GLOW!

Love you ALL,

Susan

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I’ve done a lot of flying this past year – quick travels to and from shows (“Because I Can, Sir!”), family visits, NY trips, family reunions, a wedding, and Christmas in Louisiana.  I just returned last week from a solo trip to Salt Lake City for nearly a week with the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation. This is not a blog post about the incredible research and upcoming trials, or the amazing power that comes from the interactive convergence of CC patients, their caregivers, AND Doctors and Researchers, but that was a true blessing to be a part of that whole.

I’m writing today about FLIGHT.  Flying.  Above the ground.  Above the clouds and stormy weather.

I remember my first flight as a child.  Meeting the pilot, getting my own set of wings (a metal pin), but most of all, looking out of the small window as we were flying through the clouds, and wanting to open the window, collect a part of the cloud in a Mason jar and bring it home to show my friends.  I’ve flown many, many times since then, and the wonderment is still there.  I enjoy flying above the clouds.  It’s a good thing that I don’t have to understand everything with physics and engineering that makes air travel possible.  I have faith in the airline – the plane, the pilot, that they will transport me where promised.  I have tried and tested this faith each time I step from the jet bridge to the plane.

Whenever I’m seated on the plane, I always look out of the window to see the ground get farther away.  I think of my Mammaw (grandmother) and my Granny (Great Grandmother), who I’m sure never flew on a plane. What would they feel, say or do if they were around today?  Would they be comfortable ‘jet-setters’? I think of my Granny, being one of the first in her Arkansas county to ride in an automobile.  I know that must have been as exhilarating for her as flying is for me.

Like flying, I’m sure I’m uneducated and naïve about the process of dying, but lately, and with my own cancer diagnosis, I’m aware of it every day.  I tend to see flying as a soul-transport.  There are many I’ve known and loved whose flights have already departed and arrived at their “final destination”.  There some friends and family who are now boarding the “next flight” and I find myself lost in that airport, looking at the arrival/departure list.  I can’t find my flight number today, but I’ve made it past “security” holding a ticket to ride! I look around and see all my friends and family in that same airport, hopefully ready to go when their flight is called.  Trust.  Don’t fear.  Get on board and buckle up.

Where is your Final Destination? “Pre-boarding those who need extra assistance… Loading priority zone now.  We’re going to have to ‘pink tag’ your carry-on baggage, [your worn-out body of a soul-holder] at the jet bridge.  Now find your seat and buckle up. Welcome aboard”!

How many souls aboard this flight? Are YOU ready for Take-off?

Somewhat related to this… here’s my latest medical update. (Don’t let this scare you!)

Bill and I are FLYING to NYC today for a pre-surgical consult with MSKCC’s Dr. Park.  I have a lymph node that is growing quickly, and we hope Dr. Park can surgically take it out on Monday.  I have a fantastic team at Sloan Kettering, and if the surgery is unsuccessful, I know they have plans B, C, etc. (other “connecting flights”) on “Standby” for me.  I’m flying high and ready for this; but please pray for us this week. Pray AND sing 70’s songs loudly (with the top down if you drive a convertible).  Hug a friend. Talk to a stranger. Vice versa those two. Try to capture a cloud in a jar. Choose to Laugh.  Choose to Love.  Choose to Live TODAY, Because you Can, Sir!

Don’t worry for me.  Although I’m already in the “Terminal”, I’m going to find the Sky Club and hang out for a LONG lay-over! (BTW, they have great snacks in the Sky Club!)

Have you ever imagined that the ancient Prophet Isaiah had some inkling of future air travel? Read the Bible passage below -one of my favorites – and let me know…..

Isaiah 40:26, 28-31

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens.  Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name.  Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.  Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Fly high, my friends.

Susan

This year, the most requested Christmas gift items from my son and husband were socks. Crazy, colorful socks. And boy, did they make a sock haul this year! Here are 2 of their multiplicitous sock gifts.

 

I was even gifted 2 pair of crazy,
fancy metallic gold socks. (FANCY!)

 

This year, evidently in my family, this is the year of the Sock.

As I found and bought so many pair of socks in December,  I was reminded of a time in Elementary school, when I also was gifted a pair of socks.

When I was in 3rd(or maybe it was 4th)grade, we had a Christmas party for our class.  I remember drawing names, or at least it was “boy or girl” gift designated, with a money limit of $5.00, I think.  Of course, that was WAY back in the early 70’s, so $5 meant a pretty nice gift.  I DO remember, as a 3rd/4th grade girl, all I wanted was Lip Smackers Dr. Pepper or Candy Cane lip balm, and to really get me excited, a small bottle of Love’s Baby Soft, or Jean Nate’ would be the greatest thing ever.  Imagine the disappointment of receiving these at our class Christmas party:

sock blog 5

As I remember, the pair of socks I was given was darker green. Plain crew socks. Clean, but no tags or packaging, so it was assumed that they were ‘used’.  It took many years for me to realize how badly my fellow classmate must have felt, knowing I didn’t love or appreciate her gift.  I remember other students laughing at the socks and laughing at me for receiving the ‘old socks’.  I was too young and self-absorbed to think about how horrible my classmate must have felt in my reaction or that of our classmates.  I do remember she was one of the few students of color in that classroom who was bussed in to our school.  This was in Arkansas, at a time when we didn’t understand (or dare I say, TRY to understand) others who were of a different background, social status, and especially color. If this now grown woman is still out there, I hope you’ll accept my terribly delayed apology.  And not just for the poor reaction to your gift…Had I actually walked in your socks, I might have understood more, discovered more about our internal same-ness and not felt that the right thing to do was to focus on our external differences.

I was gifted with another pair of socks this past week, the “oh, so stylish grey grippy socks” given by my Cancer Hospital (MSKCC) in NY.  These are the great Unifying Socks.  The socks that no matter our genetic background, social strata, or beliefs, when we are given these socks, we are face-to-face with the medical trial immediately in front of us.

sock blog 6

The grey color reminds me that nothing in Cancer World is black and white.  There is no absolute right or wrong. There is not one cure, and I don’t believe there will ever be the magic ‘one cure/one treatment’. On the Cancer journey, there is no segregation, only a UNITY of treatments, trials, medicines, procedures, attitude and faith.

Likewise, in our relationships with others, there should be no distinct absolutes, no extreme divides. No black. No white. No rich. No poor. The color Grey is an injection of light into darkness. The middle shade of grey. Know that we will all face trials – and with at least 40% of us, those trials will include a cancer adventure.  I am blessed to have received these Not-So-Stylish socks in the hospital last week to have an amazing “fix” for my suddenly blocked bile ducts.  I am grateful for my husband, my family, my friends and prayer warriors who pray for me and send good thoughts daily.  I am also especially thankful for the fantastic doctors, researchers, nurses, care partners, environmental services hospital workers, and those who give out the “grey grippy socks”, the great equalizer socks, that keep us up and going, and steady on our feet as we navigate the physical journey ahead.

A not so Irish Blessing of the Socks: (by Susan O’Bradain)

“May your socks keep you warm.

May you not slip and fall.

May God keep you from harm

As you answer the call.

To face all your fears,

Stand firm like a rock.

Stay cozy and warm

In this ‘year of the sock”

With love and prayers for all YOUR journeys in 2019,

Susan

Mary, Did You Itch?

Blog post 12/10/2018

I’m allergic to Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s my favorite Holiday, but I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to it.  I’ve been itching a lot lately (which has to do with the cancer and step-down of the steroids), but there are always allergies for me to deal with – especially around Christmas time.  Evergreen trees are more like “ever-sneeze”, and a Living Nativity always sends me over the allergy edge.

My first pony ride, as a toddler, sent me to the hospital with asthma and allergies.  I can’t be around horses, donkeys, camels or sheep without breathing issues and hives and itching – to this very day. And if I had to sit in or around hay? Severe reactions.  Sometimes, just looking at a “realistic” creche’ can make me sneeze and start itching.  I’ve dealt with allergies all through my life, and I’ve learned the more you are around the allergen, if you build up the exposure to it, or gradually increase the dose with shots, your body should develop a tolerance to the allergy.  For example, I’ve been a “dog mom” for many years, so I’m comfortable around most breeds. Cats, however, trigger bad allergic reactions for me.  This must be the reason BOTH of my adult children have cats – hmm……

My latest adventure in cholangiocarcinoma involves a head-to-toe, non-stop itch.  Pruritis. My liver and bile ducts are doing the best they can right now, but bile salts and other issues have taken the forefront with this non-stop itch.  The last time I had an intensive itch (and rash, which I don’t have now) was during my last 3 weeks of pregnancy with my first-born, Ashley. That itch has a name –  PUPPPs – or Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy.  It immediately ceases when the baby is born. I remember, it felt like a miracle when it disappeared.  Now, with this latest “plague”, I wake several times in the night, scratching.

Last night, I had the STRANGEST dream I’ve had in a while.  I dreamed I was trapped in a stable in Bethlehem, surrounded by donkeys, horses, cows, sheep and stinky shepherds. I was itching and scratching. One shepherd told me I’d have to wait.  The wise men were bringing cream of frankincense and myrrh, but they got lost not using Waze.  I woke up thinking if I could just give birth, the itch would go away.  It’s eight hours later, as I’m writing this.  I’m still itching, but the GOOD NEWS is I didn’t end up with a baby to diaper and swaddle this morning! The dream was that real.

Since I’m already itching (and you probably are, too, just reading this…), let’s look at a manger scene, a typical nativity creche’ in it’s glorified, white-washed plasticity.  We see sheep, a shepherd or two, some cows, the tired donkey, Joseph standing in the back, Mary kneeling beside the baby Jesus lying in the center-stage manger with camels and wise men/kings off to one side.  There is usually a lit star on the peak of the barn roof, and maybe an angel or two hovering above.  This is how we glorify and simplify the reality of God’s human entry to Earth.

So, let’s get real.  There was most definitely a stench, and maybe allergic reactions in that real nativity scene. It could NOT have been a Silent Night.  Animal noises and poop smells were certainly in the air.  Mary, exhausted from a late-term pregnancy, long distance donkey ride AND “natural” childbirth, tries to sleep and is awakened by shepherds and sheep, like night-shift nurses in the hospital who wake you during the night. Angel noises might sound like the din of the visiting family behind the curtain in your semi-private hospital room.  You drift back to sleep and the baby wakes and cries to be fed. Or changed. Or held.  Do you Hear what I Hear? That music therapist Drummer Boy is next door and you know you’re next… and could someone, ANYONE, please turn off the light from that blasted Star?!

”Mary, Did You Know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you”?*  Mary, did you know? Mary, did you hurt? Mary, did you worry? Mary, did you cry and scream? Mary, did you ITCH?!

I think some of us have an allergic reaction to Christmas because we expect perfection. Perfection in the buying and wrapping of gifts and the decorations of our homes.  We expect perfection in the behavior of imperfect extended or retracted family togetherness. We expect perfection in the busy-ness of parties, musical events and church services.  We expect perfection in the planning and execution of our over-scheduled, end-of-year calendars.  I bet Mary had to deal with a lot of this, as well.

Maybe this year we should embrace the Christmas REALITY – the labor pains of Hope, the endurance of Pain, the discomfort of Grief, the smell of Humanity, the itch of a promised Salvation.

It’s ok to scratch that itch – maybe the Wise Men will finally get here with the cream.

 

 

 

*”Mary, Did You Know”? lyrics ©Warner/Chappell Music Inc., Capitol Christian Music Group.  Songwriters, Buddy Greene and Mark Lowry