Oceans and Waterparks

4 Oct

You know how God sometimes throws you out there in an ocean, seemingly all by yourself to tread water for a while. With Him, of course, but it all depends on where your mind is.

Sometimes your mindset is focused on God being the raft that is floating along with you, easily reachable. Easily your safety raft, easily reachable, always there….safe.  You instantly see the raft. Jesus’ hand saying, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.”

Sometimes, though, your mind is foggy, freaking out, arms, legs flailing around trying to stay afloat – to not sink. The last thing you see is that glowing, glittery, neon, blinking hard to ignore gift of God’s hand in front of you. “ME, ME, ME! I must save myself!” you say, as you sink.

Other times God throws you into a water park filled with people on their rafts.  It’s you and them and you’re all doing the same thing. Floating along together in the lazy river.  You all have a common connection in life, be it pain or sickness or hardship of one type or another, but you’re doing it together, with Jesus.  Walking through the issue together. A gift from God.

Sometimes the ocean alone is a gift, too, though hard to see at the time. The ocean alone makes you stronger, both mentally and physically, and when the waves tumble you back to shore, you’re changed. A newer person. A survivor of the ocean.  Not everyone survives, but if you make it to shore, you did.  A gift from God.

Do you wonder why you get thrown in the ocean sometimes instead of the water park?

I sure do.

I’ve been in that ocean many times.
More times than I’ve been in the water park, it seems.
Though the water park is admittedly easier to forget.


  • When we found out that Logan had a golf ball size cyst in his brain, we were in the ocean.
  • When I developed stage 1 HELLP syndrome in my pregnancy with Miles and it took almost a year to recover, I was in the ocean.
  • When we adopted a 5-year-old from a country where children come home by age 2, typically, we were in the ocean. (Along with a couple new friends…a gift from God.)
  • When I stare at the sea of faces of parents who don’t have to worry about attachment and healing hearts and can literally focus on ABC’s and learning to read, I’m in the ocean.
  • As we sit down with our doctor’s and people who are guiding us through this diagnosis with Cora, we are definitely, definitely in the ocean.

The ocean is hard!  I’d give anything to have a co-ocean friend who is walking the same path as we are right now. One right next to me who can sit with me over coffee, eye-to-eye, hug-to-hug and talk treatment options. What’s going to work? What’s not? And my goodness ocean-friend, a big high-five to you for making it through another depressing appointment with minimal tears.  Good for you ocean-friend.  And yes, I do think your new shoes are cute.  😉 And yes, I do think we need another pumpkin latte, ocean-friend. And yes, this time it’s on me. You get it next time, friend of mine.

I have no ocean-friend.

I do have my raft.

I do have my Jesus.

I wish Jesus brought along more company like he did when I met my other older-child adopting family friends. Who also have cute shoes. 😉

Conversations this week brought along talk of facial appearance altering surgery forthcoming. Just one eye, and not guaranteed facial altering, but be prepared.  Talks of skin grafts possible.  Skin that might be fully of tiny specs of skin cancer not yet visible to be planted into an area that is getting removed of cancer. Like weeds in a garden.

Me wondering aloud if chemo is a good option, not the topical we are doing now, but the IV or oral kind.  Could it knock out the 500 cancers?  “It wouldn’t matter because she probably has 500 more growing that we don’t see yet.”


Suggestions of finding experts in major city hospitals to run her care from afar because there is not a single child with this condition in this area of hundreds of thousands of citizens.

Trying to figure out what to do when something special happens at school (like the police car visiting the Kindergarten class) and there was not enough warning to get Cora in her sunscreen to see it.  Feeling like I either must bend the rules which makes them seem less important to allow her to be a kid or to keep them, making her already frustrated at her issues in her 2nd month of school.

Discussing going to a pediatric cancer support group with one doctor, but feeling silly because these parents are watching their child go through life-threatening cancer while our cancer is on the skin.  “Yes Jen, however, there will never be a day in your life where your child does not have cancer.  Many of these parents will have a pre-cancer, cancer and after-cancer stage of their life.  Your family will never have that.  You have 1 month of pre-cancer (though present) and you will never have an after-cancer stage. Ever. Consider going.


Going to said support group and realize that families who endured 12-hr brain tumor surgeries really aren’t in the same ocean as you. Thank God for their water park, because they need that water park dearly, but you and your family don’t have the right color bracelet to join them.  You have to keep looking for your water park.

But there is none. No water park for you. And you stand there, soaking wet, inner tubes in hand, with no park to join.

Sure, you can try to hit the water park for adults who get skin cancer, but the type of cancer you both have is the only thing that will connect you.  They will get their cancer lobbed off or treated somehow and enter in to the post-cancer stage.  We will not.  Cora will not. We won’t get to see things from behind. No mountain peak – just mountain. No shore – just ocean.  No “Survivor” – just surviving.

Thankful for my raft’s glittery, glowing self.  I am trusting in God’s plan for Cora and our family. I know He gives us the strength to keep going every day.  I know we are not alone in the ocean and He is the one we want there. But that said, I’m human and boy could I use my ocean-friend.


7 Responses to “Oceans and Waterparks”

  1. stephanie October 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Oh, how I wish you had that ocean-friend you long for and need and deserve. I know you have tons of friends, myself included, who love being your anytime friend. You I’m-having-a-hard-time friend and your I-feel-so-all-alone friend. I will also be your standing-in-the-gap friend, praying, praying, praying for you…in your ocean. Much love!

  2. Minna October 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Jen, you are one amazing woman. God is faithful and He saw you fit to withstand the oceans and more importantly, come out victorious! I don’t know of many people that can overcome each day with much joy and hope..and you are a blessing to our family as well! We are so grateful to know that Cora is with a family who really loves and cares for her. God bless you, your husband, and your sweet sons as well!

  3. Wendi October 4, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    It is lonely. But I’m here.. I am always here for you dear friend. My raft may be floating nicely for the moment…. But at any moment I could be flailing about.

    God is so good!!! And Cora is HIS!! We pray for her daily.
    A different normal. But you have a beautiful, glittery and glowing little girl!!

  4. Addie October 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Wish I was closer… I think we would be good for each other… hopefully someone comes along for you soon!

  5. Jenn Galstad October 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    I love reading your blog. You are such a great role model and wonderful mom. I admire your courage. It is truly incredible that you’ve chosen to be a mother of this lovely child, no matter What. I love you as a friend and fellow adoptive mom. I will be here for you although I don’t truly know the depth of your anxiety from this rare medical condition sweet Cora has.

  6. cathy October 7, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    hi, i have been following your blog for some time now and am always so blessed and challenged. i have wanted to share this song with you for a while. i was reminded again of it as i read this most recent post. i hope it blesses and encourages you.

  7. cathy October 7, 2012 at 12:35 am #

    oops… here’s the song!

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