Lord willing, the surgery part of my cancer treatment begins tomorrow. Sometimes plans change, but surgery is what we are packing (and stress-eating) for.

Last weekend some friends and I each picked a word meaningful to us for 2017. The word was to be a reminder, an ongoing theme, or a supplication. (The idea came from Margaret Feinberg’s Fight Back With Joy.) Words we chose were hope, hopeful, wisdom, present, courage, and strength. Mine was lightheartedness.

Lightheartedness has been a theme and a prayer since early on in this treatment journey. A friend gave me a coloring book that includes a verse with each drawing, and the page I began to work on says, from Proverbs 31, “She is clothed in strength and dignity and can laugh without fear of the future.

During my chemo appointments, I worked on the drawing–but I never made much progress because I’d get caught up chatting with the nurses or a friend. I’m a single-tasker. It’s going to be quite pretty though…eventually…

During chemotherapy, my co-workers went out of their way to make me laugh.

My kids make laugh.


I even brainstormed a funny cartoon about my upcoming surgery.

But this past week made me wonder if I’d chosen the wrong word for 2017.

People around me–neighbors, friends, family members–had hard things going on. The political climate has been rough. The pre-op appointment with my plastic surgeon was overwhelming, almost faint-inducing (mostly because at that point, denial was out of the question).

Perhaps a better word for 2017 would be retreat. Or relief. 

Put me on my yoga mat in child’s pose, please.

Give me something else to think about.



But, I have mom work to do.

Community to participate in.

Neighbors to love.

I can only hide in my room for so long.

The good thing about lightheartedness is it can come by way of submission–a willingness to laugh at office pranks, a humble delight in someone else’s creativity, a receiving of God’s provision (good doctors, helping hands, words of encouragement).


Many times, I mistakenly think lightheartedness only depends upon me.

But really, it has a lot to do with trust–that in the end, the God of grace is going to work things out for good.

We’re studying the book of Ruth at West End Presbyterian Church. In it, we meet Naomi, who is oh-so-bitter because of life’s hardships, hardships that are real and daunting.

God blesses Naomi despite her bitterness. He gives her wonderful gifts on the other side of pain–and even in the midst of pain–gifts that could make even the heaviest of hearts laugh. Or at least smile.

This is what I’m clinging to today.