Adjusting My Focus

I’ve been so down on myself lately.

I’m failing miserably at sticking to my self-imposed writing goals and deadlines, I’m letting my fears, doubts, and insecurities stop me from making any forward progress, and I’m allowing discouragement to get a foothold.

I’ve asked, begged even, for the Lord’s help, but I don’t seem to be getting it. I’ve asked the Lord what I’m doing wrong, what my problem is, but seem to get no answer.

I want this novel writing to be the one thing in my life that I don’t quit just because it’s hard. I want to succeed at this, because at one point I believed the Lord had given me this task, that He had called me to be a writer.

Now, it seems such a distant memory, I’m beginning to wonder if I just imagined it. I’m beginning to doubt that was ever the case.

If the Lord really did call me to write, then why aren’t I further along by this time? Why is it such a struggle?

When it gets to this point, as is my usual course of action when things become difficult, I just want to give up.

I get tired of trying and failing. When things get too hard, I just want to quit.

That’s been the story of my life, which is why I’m where I am, having never accomplished anything worthwhile or stuck with anything long enough to get good at it.

Why is it some of us are like that, and yet others, when the going gets tough, just dig their heels in and get tougher? They don’t let failure bother them or defeat cause them to lose hope. They keep going. They get up when they’re knocked down. They try again.

When I think about people like that, my attention is drawn not so much to the people who’ve accomplished great things in life, but to the many people who have it so much worse than I do and yet they keep going, keep pushing forward, one step at a time, one day at a time.

How can I be so selfish as to worry about my lack of progress in my novel writing when there are thousands upon thousands of people who are struggling to survive? But that’s exactly what happens when I stay focused on my own my petty problems and the pity party I’m throwing.

Poverty, slavery, hunger, war, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and terrorism, are so commonplace these days that it’s as if the news stories are scenes from a bad movie rather than reality. If we’re not the ones directly affected by such conditions, though, it’s easy to become numb to the rampant tragedy, human suffering, and loss of life that results.

Even when the headlines tell of sick people senselessly and indiscriminately killing innocent human beings, like the recent Las Vegas massacre, I find myself disconnecting from the reality of it all.

I can’t imagine living through the horror of dodging bullets and watching a loved one, or even a stranger, die in front of me from the violent act of another person and I pray the Lord never allows me to be a part of such terrifying circumstances to prove what a coward I am.

I have great respect for the ones who put their lives on the line, rushing into danger in order to help someone else. I’m not just talking about first responders either, who are trained and whose job it is to do that, although they are definitely worthy of respect.

I’m mainly referring to the ordinary person who performs heroic acts because that’s what the situation calls for. They don’t take the time to doubt their abilities or give in to the fear of failure. They just do what’s necessary at the time.

Instead of thinking only about themselves and running away from the problem, they rush headlong into the thick of it and do the best they can with what they’ve got.

That’s the epitome of selflessness and true courage.

Helping and giving to others is the love of God in action.

As evil, hate, deception, acts of violence and terror, and natural disasters increase, as predicted in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, we will all need those character traits. We’re going to need the courage to be different, to take the focus off ourselves and selflessly do something to improve someone else’s life, maybe for eternity.

 

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San Francisco Lowlights

I’ve been off the grid for the past week enjoying the sights and tastes of San Francisco, including a couple of days driving out to Yosemite National Park, which is why I’m late getting a post out this week. If I thought anyone was hanging on the edge of their seat waiting for my next post, I’d apologize, but I’m not going to kid myself. 😉

Despite that, I thought I’d postpone my first financial tips post to indulge in a little reflection about the trip. My husband and I went as part of our 19th anniversary celebration and we both love to travel so it was nice to get away.

San Francisco has some challenging terrain with beautiful views of the water, city, bridges, architecture, and islands. It is steeped in a rich history that started back with its original gold rush settlement, followed by Chinese immigrants to build railroads, then the earthquakes, fires, cable cars, and Alcatraz prison.

I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to experience it, although, to be quite honest, I was not overly impressed.

Out of a population of around 800,000, there are 50 billionaires living in San Francisco. That’s ten percent of the country’s 500 billionaires nationwide. It costs almost half a million to purchase a tiny, dilapidated house, a run down houseboat costs 2 million, and the median price for a one bedroom 400 sq ft apartment is $4200 per month. Many San Franciscans have had to move out to surrounding Bay Area cities like Oakland and commute to work.

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Two Million Dollar Houseboats

However, what stuck in my mind and marred my perception of the city was how dirty it seemed. I’m not only talking about the lack of trash cans (the few that could be found were spilling over) and the abundant refuse littering the streets, but also how many destitute people there were, with their meager possessions piled around them.

It may be a city for the wealthy, but it’s also known for its homeless population. The homeless abound in that city, not only because it’s outrageously expensive to live there (now the most expensive city in the US to live, even above New York), but also because there are abundant social services to provide for the needs of the homeless.

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Even with those programs in place, it was commonplace to see people sitting or laying around or aimlessly walking the streets. Some toted all their belongings with them in a black garbage sack and foraged through the overflowing trash cans, others slept on park benches or in the shade of a makeshift tent-like shelter, while others held up signs on busy walkways begging for a handout, or hung out by themselves or in small groups in the alcoves of buildings just biding their time.

One afternoon outside a cafe, while my husband and I relaxed over a coffee at a wrought iron table in the shade and chatted about our plans for the rest of the day, a disheveled middle-aged man shuffled up to a nearby trash can and rifled through it until he found a half-eaten discarded pastry of some kind and walked away eating it. It broke my heart.

Another day, after waiting in a long line at a deli to get our chicken parmesan sandwiches, we went to a nearby park to eat since there was nowhere else to sit. The sandwiches were huge and after deciding we just needed to share something next time, I rewrapped the untouched half of my sandwich, waiting for an opportunity to give it to someone in need.

I didn’t want to wake up the guy sleeping on the park bench behind us. I didn’t want to disturb the guy strumming his guitar and singing to ask if he was homeless or just entertaining the people enjoying a sunny Saturday afternoon.

As we walked around town, an elderly oriental lady pulled a couple of aluminum cans out of a trash can and passed by us talking to herself, but I didn’t want to belittle her by asking if she was homeless or hungry, so I just let her pass, waiting for the Lord to prompt me when we came upon the right person.

After a little while, we passed a group of about a half dozen men of multiple ages sprawled out in the shade provided by a building, but one was standing by the trash can, away from the others.

That was the one.

I pulled the leftover sandwich out of my husband’s backpack and told him I was going to act like I was throwing it away, but offer it to the guy standing nearby. Not wanting me to go back by myself, my husband took it from me and he offered it to the young man, who eagerly accepted it from him and thanked him politely.

It felt good to help at least one person get some nourishment. It would have been better if we could have afforded to buy them all a sandwich or burger, but it was expensive to eat in San Francisco. It usually took about $30 for both of us to eat lunch and that’s with us carrying our own refilled water bottles. Being the penny-pinchers we are, we didn’t eat extravagantly. A couple of nights, we even bought some frozen dinners from Trader Joe’s and heated them in the microwave in our hotel room to save money (you’ll see more of the reasons behind that kind of stuff when I do my financial post).

I believe, though, that the city could be improved by implementing a few simple solutions.

The first step would be to have each billionaire buy a 1000 trash cans. One should be placed on every street corner to accommodate the burgeoning numbers of tourists, as well as the locals.

Then the city needs to put the homeless people, those physically and mentally capable of holding a job, to work cleaning up the trash on the ground and emptying the trash receptacles. Their wages could be paid in food, clothing, and shelter. Not only would that improve the city’s face value and give the jobless something to keep them occupied, but it would instill a sense of pride in themselves and their city, and give them a modicum of purpose.

I don’t know what the social services currently do for the homeless, but something more needs to be done, and my suggestion would improve two issues at the same time.

That’s a beginning. One option, anyway. Just saying…

 

 

A Miracle in Obedience

I started to write a top 12 financial tips blog post, with number 1 and 12 being tithe, but decided I really needed to illustrate why I thought tithing was so important with an example from my own life.

Financial problems are one of the main reasons for marriage conflict and divorce, as was the case in my second marriage. My ex-husband was a spender, and it only made things worse when he got injured on the job and chose not to go back to work after he’d healed from the surgery. He decided he was going to go into business for himself, but as anyone who’s tried it knows, when you’re starting out on your own, it usually takes a while before there’s any money coming in that hasn’t already gone back into the business.

The only way I could figure out to survive was to pay the bills and buy groceries with a credit card, where I had a smaller minimum monthly payment than if I paid the bill outright. Since his credit was so bad, all the credit cards were in my name. However, that plan was not a good one, and my debt snowballed. I couldn’t handle the stress of the inconsistent or non-existent earnings on his part, and after we divorced, I had mountains of credit card bills.

I was left trying to survive and support my two girls while keeping up with those bills. I was able to work some overtime, which helped, but still wasn’t enough to cover my monthly bills. I was ending up in the red all the time.

My boyfriend at the time (who is my husband now—we celebrate 19 years of marriage this week 😍 ), decided to take a look at my finances and design a budget for me to stick to that would help solve my financial problems. He looked for ways to help me cut my expenditures. He started with my wage at the top and subtracted the bills that had to come out of it. As my checkbook reflected, he ended up with a negative number at the bottom.

However, there were no frivolous expenditures, no unnecessary expenses that could be trimmed from the outgoing list. I didn’t buy fancy coffees, convenience store sodas, cigarettes, alcohol, manicures or pedicures, or even cafeteria lunches. It was before cell phones and I didn’t have cable or internet. I relied on hand-me-downs or shopped at the thrift store for the girls and myself.

There was nothing that could be cut and he didn’t know how to help me.

Shortly after that, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to start tithing as an act of obedience.

I knew I couldn’t afford to tithe. After all, I was paying out more than I was bringing in every paycheck already.

But I did it anyway.

You may not believe me, because I still find it unbelievable, but I swear it’s 100% true, that with the very next paycheck after I started doing just that—tithing off the gross amount of my paycheck, not the net amount—I was never overdrawn again.

I can’t explain it. I can’t tell you how it happened. I just know it did. I don’t remember any extra money coming in, except when I was able to work some overtime. I didn’t win the lottery (I didn’t play). I didn’t receive an inheritance. My boyfriend didn’t start paying my bills.

He did, however, go over my finances again, and although nothing had changed on paper, my financial state had miraculously improved. So, he subtracted everything again, thinking he had made a mistake somewhere in the numbers, but the “minuses” still added up to be more than the original amount. The total was still in the negatives.

On paper, it didn’t make sense, but God proved the truth of his Word to me—just as it says in Matthew 19:26, Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

I dare you to see if he’ll do the same for you! But, be forewarned, you must do it with the right heart. Do it out of obedience, not with selfish motives, nor to test God. Do what it says in John 14:15, “If you love me, obey my commandments.”

I believe God rewards those who show their love for him by their obedience.

A Prayer For Hurricane Victims

I have seen so many requests for prayer by those who are in Florida or have loved ones in the path of Hurricane Irma and they are always flooded by responses from people saying they are praying, so I thought I’d just post my prayer of protection and thanksgiving:

Father, your Word says where two of your followers agree concerning anything they ask, you will do it for them (Matt. 18:19), so thank you for that assurance and blessing. 

Lord God, thank you for hearing and heeding the prayers of your people and reducing Hurricane Irma’s force to a category 2 now as it continues to move up the West coast of Florida. I thank you that so many were able to evacuate and I lift up those who are still in its path, for your hand of protection over them as they shelter from this storm. Please give them a peace beyond understanding as they cling to You and each other. 

Even though Your Word says we will suffer trials and tribulations in this life, I pray your believers will trust in and draw strength from what You promise them in Psalms 91: ¹⁴The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. ¹⁵When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. ¹⁶I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” Thank you, Lord, for your power, mercy, and goodness! 

I continue to pray for those in Texas, the Caribbean, and Florida who have been ravaged by hurricane winds, rain, and flooding, and ask You to comfort them. Help them cope and rebuild, finding solace in the fact they have You and each other as support to get through this ordeal. 

Lord, I also lift up to you those who have been rocked by the earthquake off the coast of Mexico, that you would comfort those who’ve lost loved ones and give strength to those helping in the recovery effort.

Thank you, Lord, that even in these tragic circumstances, You can bring about good. Thank you that in times like these, Your love can shine through as people minister to those in need. I pray these crises will draw people to you and that anyone who does not know Your extravagant love will feel it as their needs are met.

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

 

I Have Lynch Syndrome

So, last Friday, I finally got the call from the doctor’s office informing me of my genetic test results…

I’m positive for the MSH6 gene mutation.

I have Lynch Syndrome.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was being tested, but for those of you who didn’t read that or don’t know what Lynch Syndrome is, let me explain. The MSH6 gene belongs to the set of mismatch repair (MMR) genes. Along with four other genes, it is responsible for making part of a protein complex essential for fixing mistakes made during DNA replication. In my case, it is nonfunctional, shortened, or part of it is missing, so it’s more likely that mistakes made during cell division will not get repaired.

In individuals with Lynch syndrome the following life time risks for cancer are:

  • 52%-82% for colorectal cancer (mean age at diagnosis 44-61 years) as compared to 5-6% of the general population;
  • 25%-60% for endometrial cancer in women (mean age at diagnosis 48-62 years) as compared to 2-3% of the general population;
  • 6% to 13% for gastric cancer (mean age at diagnosis 56 years) as compared to <1% in the general population; and
  • 4%-12% for ovarian cancer (mean age at diagnosis 42.5 years; approximately 30% are diagnosed before age 40 years) as compared to 1-2% of the general population.

There’s also a significantly increased risk of cancer in the small bowel, urinary tract, hepatobiliary tract, brain (usually glioblastoma), sebaceous glands, pancreas, breast, adrenal cortex (which is a small hormone-secreting gland that sits on top of each kidney), and prostate in men.

I don’t know how I feel about that.

I know I said I’d rather be positive than for my sisters to have to deal with having a positive result, but now the result’s in, it’s harder than I thought.

I know I lost a lot of sleep over it that first night.

Since my husband was with me when I got the news, the first thing I did was text my sisters and my daughters. I shouldn’t have done those texts all together, though, because I was soon bombarded with replies. My older sister being out of the country on vacation means her cell phone is turned off for the next week, but I still struggled to keep up with three conversations at once. Yeah, I know, you young ones do that and more all the time, but I was having trouble keeping them all straight for the next thirty minutes or so.

The hardest part was sharing the news with my daughters, because now they need to be tested, too, and odds are one of them will also test positive. That’s the thought that bothers me most, I think, because they’re only in their twenties and have their whole lives still in front of them. Now one of them will have this hanging over their head.

My older one’s reaction was one of worry. She said not only does she now worry about me but she also has to worry about which one of them (her and her sister) will have it, too. She mentioned wanting to have more children at some point in the future and didn’t want to have to worry about things going wrong.

I reminded her that worry does only harm, no good. It does nothing to help or change the situation, but will only make her miserable. We can only do what we can do, with the genetic testing and preventive screens (colonoscopies, mammograms, etc), and we need to leave the rest to God. Have the test done and if it is positive, talk to her doctor and cross the next bridge when she comes to it.

My younger daughter’s response was full of negative thinking. She said she “kinda knew she was going to get cancer since it runs in the family” but she just didn’t want it to come too early.

I told her I hated to hear she’d been torturing herself with such negative thoughts. I don’t think it’s good to think about things from such a negative standpoint. I asked her to try to change that thinking to something more positive like, “I’m going to go against the norm in my family and not get cancer!” I reminded her she may not even come back positive for the genetic mutation. She has struggled with depression in the past and asked her if those thoughts had been a source of her depression or more prevalent during bouts of depression.

She said, “No. Just seems like a part of life really…” That broke my heart!

My younger sister asked how I felt about having a positive result. I told her it really wasn’t that big of a deal for me, because I was just going to keep being proactive about my health and continue preventive checks. I thought it was more important for my girls since they’re still young.

She asked if I thought it might explain some of my health issues over the years and wondered how the whole mismatch repair thing affects everything overall and about the relevance to autoimmune issues. I told her I figured it’d be best to talk to my doctor or a genetic counselor about all that.

Since Friday, I admit it’s been on my mind quite a bit. I prayed and journaled about it, thanking the Lord I had Him to lean on and fight for me. I thanked Him for the ways He’s worked in my life, body, and health already to bring about the hysterectomy and cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal), eliminating two potential cancer sources right there.

With it being the Labor Day weekend, I can’t do anything further till Tuesday.

Tomorrow, I’ll make an appointment to have a colonoscopy done (last one was 3 years ago). I’ll make an appointment with a OB/GYN doc to talk over removing my remaining ovary. I’ll make an appointment with my primary care physician to discuss what else may need to be done.

Until then, I’m trying to rest in knowing everything is in the Lord’s hands. He has my days numbered and knows every one that’s coming up, so I don’t need to fret over possibilities, which won’t change a thing anyway. I’m clinging to my mustard-seed-sized faith that He will carry me through anything and everything I have yet to face.

I pray any health problems for me and my girls will be delayed until later in life, like they were for Mum. She was in her early sixties when she got endometrial cancer. She was in her early eighties when she got stomach cancer, finally passing at 86 from pancreatic cancer. I also pray that just the knowledge of the potential problems will be enough to drive my girls to the Lord for strength and comfort.

The hardest part is waiting on my daughters’ results to come back.

Lord, give me strength and let my life be a witness for You!

A Living Nightmare

I can only go by what I’ve seen on TV, and I’m sure there’s no comparison for those actually living it, but the devastation so many people are having to deal with across southeast Texas is utterly heartbreaking. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to be there, trying to survive. It’d be like living out a horror story.

Homes are barely there or unrecognizable after being shredded by hurricane Harvey’s 130 mph winds or by one of the many tornadoes generated within the hurricane or after it already passed, possessions blown or washed away.

And there’s catastrophic flooding with bursting rivers and overwhelmed levees, cars and possessions submerged or rapidly disappearing under rising waters.

And the rain’s still coming down.

With the water overflowing the bayous, it means the animal life from them is also escaping. The flood waters are rife with alligators and snakes, posing yet another hazard to the safety of those forced to wade through the murky water with their meager possessions in search of higher ground or a rescue team.

Pets are also victims of this tragedy and, although there are people trying to collect up animals that have been separated from their families, they may end up being the first to fall prey to hungry reptiles.

I must say, though, it’s very encouraging to see all the people who have stepped up to help those in need.

It goes way beyond those whose job entails rescuing people in these kinds of situations, although they’re working relentlessly, too. Teams and individuals are coming from all over Texas and Louisiana (and probably other states, too) to lend a hand.

People are coming with boats and high-water vehicles to rescue those stranded, donations are pouring in to provide for the needs of those left with nothing, buildings are opening their doors to provide shelter for those who’ve been misplaced, and businesses are showing up with services and products to accommodate people’s needs.

It warms my heart to see so many people willing to help in any way they can. It’s comforting to know thousands of prayers are being lifted up for the victims by those of us unable to help in any tangible way at this time, too.

What blows my mind in all this, though, is the few people on the other end of the spectrum who shatter those good vibes with their insensitive behavior or outright criminal acts!

As is usually the case in these kinds of situations, there are greedy people out there seeking to take advantage of the victims and those trying to help.

Scammers are quick to set up fake fundraisers and charities, and then run off with any proceeds. If you want to give money, it’s always best to donate through a reputable organization like the Red Cross.

And of course, looters are out and about taking whatever they can get their hands on. Sometimes it’s under the cover of darkness, other times it’s through violence and force.

The Cajun Navy, a volunteer group of people with small watercraft who showed up in Houston to help with high-water rescues, had to suspend their rescue efforts, in order to keep their own people safe, after panicked people rushed their boats, almost capsizing them. Later, shots were fired and someone even tried to steal one of their boats.

Come on, people! When someone’s trying to help, don’t make their job harder!

Then there’s those low-lifes, along the escape routes from the drowning cities, who are price-gouging the desperate victims who were lucky enough to get out. $10/gallon for gas! The cost of hotel rooms ten times the normal price!

What is it with people like that? Is it all just a matter of what they can get out of it? Do they have no compassion?

Behavior like that is not something I can comprehend.

I tend to err the other way. I’m such a softie!

I’m the person who has to change the channel when the commercials for the SPCA or “Feed the Children” come on because I tear up. I avoid sad movies because I end up bawling.

I could never work for CPS or volunteer at a local animal shelter because I’d be taking all the kids and animals home with me.

I’ve volunteered at a battered women’s shelter and a rape crisis center before, but both experiences were very taxing for me. I found them emotionally draining and extremely difficult. I couldn’t do either for very long.

I can’t even stand to watch a professional fighting match because they’re hitting each other!

The other night, a spider was rapidly making its way across the floor toward me. I don’t like spiders inside, so normally, I let my husband deal with it and I try to put it out of my mind. If it were up to me, I’d let it mosey on its way, keeping an eye on it until it was safely headed away from me, or I’d shoo it outside. This time, I decided to trap it under a trash can so I wouldn’t have to worry about it getting on me once I’d forgotten about it.

However, since it was moving so fast, I accidentally crushed a leg or two under the rim of the can. I felt so bad! 😢 I knew I needed to put the poor spider out of its misery, instead of letting it writhe in pain, though. I apologized to it as I squished it with a paper towel and threw it in the trash.

I remember, as a teenager, being with my boyfriend and a bunch of other people, firing off some fireworks one New Year’s. Problem is, thirty-five years later, I’m still haunted by the images of a guy lighting the fuse to a bottle rocket after tying a kitten to it and the pitiful sounds of the terrified kitten as it shot into the air.

I can’t stand cruelty to animals! Or people, for that matter.

It’s so insensitive and greedy to price-gouge people caught in a bad situation and, in my eyes, is not much different from child abuse, bullying, or scamming an elderly person out of their hard-earned savings.

To me, it’s cruelty, plain and simple.

I Stand Amazed!

I wasn’t in the 90% coverage area for the solar eclipse today, and I wasn’t among the thousands who traveled to one of the states in that band, but I did almost blind myself trying to view the 70% blocking of the sun from the reflection on my cell phone. As soon as I started seeing spots, I decided it’d be better to follow my husband’s lead and look at what reflected on a sheet of white paper through a pinhole in a piece of cardboard.

I wasn’t particularly impressed by what I could safely see, but there’s a better one expected in 2024 for our area. I plan on being more prepared with the right kind of glasses by then so I can go outside to ooh and aah over that one.

Beyond the “coolness factor” provided by today’s uncommon alignment of the moon between the earth and the sun, that kind of thing reminds me of how small I am: one person among billions, one country among the 196 countries of the world, one planet among the 8 or 9 in our solar system, one solar system among billions in our galaxy, one galaxy among millions in our universe. How awe-inspiring is that?

Wow! I can’t really even comprehend how big it is ‘out there’.

It also made me think about such things as the planets’ rotation around the sun with our planet being the optimal distance for human life, the tilt of the earth, the effects of gravitational pull, and Earth providing everything we need to survive, etc.

Just when I begin to feel overwhelmed by the vastness of it all, how everything fits and works together, and how God’s the One who set all the planets in their place, I wax philosophical in the other direction.

Being in the medical field, I know how intricate the workings of the human body are and how all the different systems (endocrine, nervous, respiratory, etc) have to be in balance and working in perfect synchrony for the body to be healthy.

The more I know about the human body and how it functions, the more blown away I am.

That’s why it amazes me when I hear of scientists and doctors and the like who still believe in evolution. It must take a lot of faith in man and his theories to believe that it all just came together by chance and started working the way it does, without an all-powerful Creator to design and orchestrate everything.

A couple of verses in Psalm 139 express my sentiment: “13You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

This last February, my older sister died of cancer.

It was her seventh cancer that killed her — clear cell carcinoma spread from the uterus several months earlier to her peritoneal cavity — the only one of her cancers that returned. The other six bouts of cancer she successfully fought off, starting with colon cancer in her early 30’s, were all primary tumors (meaning they didn’t originate somewhere else first and then spread).

They did blood tests to check for a hereditary genetic mutation that predisposed her to so many cancers and finally discovered, after she died, the problem was with the MSH6 gene. Now my other siblings and I are being tested for the same mutation, which was probably inherited from my mother’s side. My mother had three primary cancers — uterine, stomach, and pancreatic (which is what finally killed her in 2007) — and her mother also died of cancer they think originated in the stomach.

According to the https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/MSH6#conditions website, the “MSH6 gene provides instructions for making a protein that plays an essential role in repairing DNA. This protein helps fix mistakes that are made when DNA is copied (DNA replication) in preparation for cell division. The MSH6 protein joins with another protein called MSH2 (produced from the MSH2 gene) to form a protein complex. This complex identifies locations on the DNA where mistakes have been made during DNA replication. Another group of proteins, the MLH1-PMS2 protein complex, then repairs the errors. The MSH6 gene is a member of a set of genes known as the mismatch repair (MMR) genes.”

For non-medical people, think of it like a computer program which relies on a series of successful steps for it to run correctly and perform the task it was designed for. The human body has multiple ‘computer’ programs running and working together for it to function properly. When there’s a glitch in one of the programs, the end result is going to be suboptimal.

The MSH6 gene is designed to repair mistakes made in the step before new cell growth (like the delete key erases the wrong letter in a word to prevent a misspelling). A malfunction in that process means an abnormality in new cell production may not be detected and/or corrected in time to prevent a tumor from forming (like when a misspelled word slips through undetected during the editing phase).

A mutation in the MSH6 gene results in Lynch syndrome. According to the website mentioned above, “Lynch syndrome increases the risk of many types of cancer, particularly cancers of the colon (large intestine) and rectum, which are collectively referred to as colorectal cancer. People with Lynch syndrome also have an increased risk of cancers of the endometrium (lining of the uterus), ovaries, stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder duct, upper urinary tract, and brain. Endometrial cancer is especially common in women with Lynch syndrome caused by MSH6 gene mutations.”

My two sisters had their blood drawn on July 3rd and I had mine drawn three weeks later on July 24th. My sisters were told their test would take up to 8 weeks because it gets sent to Melbourne. I was originally told mine should be back in a week. When I hadn’t heard anything after 9 days, I called. They told me, no, it normally takes 10-21 days to get results back and they’d call when they came in. 😒

When I hadn’t heard anything after 3 weeks, I called again. While playing phone tag during the following week, I was left a message saying there was a problem with the insurance because all the family history that went with my blood test order was that my sister had colon cancer. I left messages and finally got to talk to someone on Friday last week. I made sure she updated the family history and told her I wanted the test done whether insurance paid for it or not (approx. $300). She said I should get some results next week.

So, it’s been 4 weeks today since I had my blood drawn. I didn’t hear anything today and, if I don’t hear something by lunchtime tomorrow, I’ll be calling them back again.

I’m just annoyed it’s taken so long and has been such a hassle, but I’m not worried if the results come back positive or not.

Odds are at least two out of the five of us (counting my older brother) have the gene mutation passed to us from Mum, so there’s bound to be one, possibly two, more positive test(s).

I know that’s in God’s hands, though, and me worrying about it is not going to change anything. Besides that, it’s also a sin to worry. Worrying just means I haven’t given my concern over to God like I’m told to in 1 Peter 5:7 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

My worrying would mean I don’t think He’s able to handle it, which I know He is. Way better than I ever could. Psalm 112:7 is referring to those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands when it says, “They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.”

That’s where I am with all this. In fact, I would much rather my test be the one to come back positive than for my siblings to have to deal with that news.

But God is God and he knows best.

If one of my sisters came back with a positive test, who’s to say that wouldn’t be what helps them come to know the Lord. That in itself would make it worth it.

Anyway, all that came from my limited view of the solar eclipse today and how God is responsible for creating everything from the vastness of the universe all the way down to the complexities of the inner workings of the human body, including the system of checks and balances He put in place for it all to line up the way it’s supposed to.

I don’t know about you, but my mind is blown!