Sunday, June 11, 2017

Get this book

People often ask me what to do for people who have cancer. I have written about this several times on this blog. But I want to add a new suggestion. This little book is awesome. 



I'm embarrassed to say that I can't remember who gave it to me. Chemo brain is a real thing. Seriously, it is called post chemotherapy cognitive impairment and it can last pretty much forever. I remember lots of things perfectly fine, but certain things are just blank. So, whoever got me this book, thank you! I really like it. I don't usually have high hopes for small, cute looking, spiritual themed books. Which is kind of silly because some of my favorite books have fit that description. But there are a lot of dumb ones out there.  With pat answers and encouragement from writers I can't relate to.  

Again, I wasn't expecting much. But this book has brought a tear to my eye each time I've picked it up. I am only 12 pages in, but this lady knows what's up.  One of her first pieces of advice was about what to do when someone comes up to you and starts to tell you a story about someone they know who had your same kind of cancer.  And you start to tense up because you are concerned about how you're going to react when they tell you that they died. Just the fact that she would bring that up makes me know that she has been through what I've been through and she has thought about how to handle it well. 

Anyway, this book is great.  Get it for someone you love who has been recently diagnosed.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Changing the subject to...cancer!

I've spent the past 2 months hoping that when this day came, my oncologist would not look at me gravely, and then flip the monitor of his computer around to show me the scan images he would be looking at and point at some evil little (or big?) mass that was about to ruin my life over again.  If he did, it wouldn't be the first or second or even third time.  We've done this dance before, me and determined, thoughtful, jovial Dr. Mehta.  He's only in his mid to late 30s.  It's weird when your oncologist just held his own first, freshly birthed baby a few weeks ago, when your kid is in second grade.  Getting older is weird.  I'm sure it's even weirder for elderly people - they must look at their financial advisers, cardiologists and even the guy replacing their catalytic converter with such an odd mix of trepidation, concern, admiration and, finally, blind trust.

As for me, young(ish) means newly trained, up on all of the latest research, drugs, surgeries, treatments.  Careful.  Thorough.  Disciplined, and unlikely to let something slip by due to assumptions.  Don't get me wrong - he didn't hang up his cap and gown last week or anything.  As far as I'm concerned, he's just right, age wise.  It's just new and different, to think that people younger than me are curing cancer. l

So I spent most of the past two months trying not to think about this day.  And I'm pretty good at it, except when people randomly bring it up - I usually look at the clock and think "hmm made it to 3pm without thinking about cancer today."  I don't mind when people want to actually talk about it - like, have an actual question.  I am always, literally always, ready and willing to talk to a newly diagnosed person or someone who loved them.  This is something that I take very seriously and feel like it's part of my purpose to be available for that.  I also don't mind sharing my whole story, if it's a person who I'm getting to know and it seems like it's the right time to share.  Occasionally I'll bring it up myself because it seems appropriate, or because it would be weird to avoid.  But when someone just brings up casually like "so, ,how's your health?"  The way you might ask about someone's child's little league season.  Sigh.  I usually just say "fine."  And smile.  And say "how is yours?"

I hate having requirements of people - it makes me seem so picky and inflexible.  I try really hard to make supporting me easy.  But this one thing, if I'm honest, I've got to tell you - it throws me off.  Unless my scan is the very next day, I am simply trying not to think about it.  I'm trying to live my life, cross off my to do list, laugh with my friends, enjoy my child, train for a race, plan my next party, solve a work problem.  When you drop the "how's your health?" bomb on me in the middle of that, I'm halted.  I have to go into that realm.  I have to figure out how much to tell you.  How much energy I have to explain things.  How to respect my own boundaries without being rude.  I wonder why you don't just look at my million facebook updates, or keep in touch with me the old way or read this blog.  Even as I type this, it feels unreasonable to expect people to understand this.  It seems like a nice thing to do.  Ask how someone's health is.  I'm not a private person.  Obviously.  But I also don't always want to stop having fun, being normal, laughing, working, playing, thinking about one million other things, going about my business living outside of thoughts of cancer, and be plunged unwillingly into it.  We're out, having a great meal, I'm thrilled with the company, the weather, the food, the drinks, and then someone lowers their voice "so...when's your next scan?"  It shouldn't be hard for me, but it just is.  I'm sorry my brain isn't robotic enough to just compute your care and concern and move on gracefully from it.  Well, I do - I really do try to do that.  But it bothers bothers bothers me, and throws me off.

I guess, just let me bring it up?  Is that reasonable?  I don't want people to feel like they have to walk on eggshells.  But I also know that if I believe the best I can about you, and believe that you're asking because you care, then I have to believe that you don't want to ruin my day.

So quit ruining the mood.  If you have a serious question,, if you are worried about someone who has cancer, if you have just been diagnosed, if you are scared you have cancer, if you want to talk because you need someone who has been there, done that - I AM HERE.  Day or night.  Soccer field or gala venue.  But I am tired of laughing hysterically at some great thing that just happened, and then being hit with a gentle hand on my shoulder and a low voice in my ear "Hey, I just wanted to let you know that we've been praying for you every night."

Someone just told me randomly right after a very sudden "how are you feeling?" that he "prays that they do find something so at least if it's there, we know it's there."  Oh really?  You don't just want to really go for it and pray I don't get cancer again?  No?  Ok, umm, cool.  I love when people go for originality.

  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Say something else

Someone I knew recently died.  He died of cancer, ultimately.  He was young.  He had kids.  It's sad.  There is no getting around that.  I overheard a conversation about it.  Someone was asking what happened, what might have caused it, how they found it.  I've had this conversation a thousand times.  And it's ok with me.  It really is.  I asked those questions before, too.

But I want to explain something to you.

When you ask those questions, I think I know why.  I think those questions really are disguised versions of these questions:

Did this person do things that might have caused the cancer?

Are any of these things (smoking, drinking, drugs, inactivity, eating red meat, drinking unfiltered water, staring at goldfish) things that I do?

Was it actually his or her fault?

What's behind these questions is a desperate lunge for a bit of superiority, that will reward us with the feeling of safety.

And here, of course, is what's behind that:

Do I actually have control over my life?  Can I control how long I stay alive?

I don't know.  Maybe.  According to lots of studies, if you eat fewer animal products, you'll live longer.  And a lot of other studies suggest that a low grain, more Paleo approach will give you more years.  Some studies say that keeping excess weight off is ideal, and other studies say that a few extra pounds can be protective.  You'll read that running is terrible for you, and that it will save your life.  I know of healthy people who have dropped dead of a heart attack out of nowhere, chain smoking alcoholics who will outlive us all.

I'm an advocate for moving more and eating well - but I had cancer three times and I'm not exactly a bikini model, so if being healthy or skinny are your goals, don't listen to me.  I'm sort of kidding, because, hey - I'm still alive despite my body trying to kill me every year or so since 2013.  But also, not.  I mean, seriously...WHO KNOWS.

I do know this.  It's not kind or helpful or loving to try to figure out why someone got cancer or had a heart attack or died.  Say something else.  OK?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Into the Void? Maybe not.

Sometimes when I write, I wonder what the point is and what impact the words have.  I've blogged for fifteen years (and wrote horrible diary entries for about 10 years before that...seriously, they are so dramatic and self-obsessed and boy crazy and just terrible) and if I calculated all of the time spent typing away, it would be thousands of hours easily.  And for what?  A few laughs, a few "likes."  So what?

I wrote a book and no one told me that the easy part about writing a book is writing the book.  Someone has to care enough to publish you and then they have to care enough to promote your book and then you just hope and hope that your little book might somehow find its way magically to the people who will like it.  It's a process through which I only got through the very first step - writing the thing.  It sits, like an unwanted hamster whose owner went away to college, in this laptop I'm typing at now, gathering cyber dust.  I don't have the time and I don't want to spend the money it would take to get it out into the world.  What I have to say can be said here.  People trickle in, 50 here, 100 there.  Hi, Friends.  Mom.  Connie.  Aunt Barbara.  Random person seeking cancer treatment tips.  Hello.  Welcome.  I've made peace with my little audience.  I write for people who love me, to share how I'm doing.  And I write for strangers who are scared and overwhelmed and using their fingertips on a keyboard or touchscreen, seeking answers, information and hope.  This is the hope stop.  You've found the right place.  It's going to be ok.  Ok?    

But even so, sometimes I feel like I write and the words fling out of me and into space, into the void, never to be reflected back to me.  That's what we really want, as writers, right?  We need to tell the story, real or imagined, and we want it to fly out and bounce back to us.  We want to see something in the reactions of our readers.  Some writers want to get their readers to buy something.  Some want you to be scared.  Some want to make you feel sad about injustice.  Some want you to recycle.  Some want you to believe the same things that they do.  Some want you to laugh (guilty.)  Some want you to hear their story and feel compassion for people like them.  Some want to impress you.  Some want to inspire.  What do I want?  I want you to read what I write and when you're done, believe in yourself a little bit more.  I want you to know that we can get through hard things.  That you can get stronger.  That it's possible to survive pain and bad news and chemo.  That you can even have fun, like 98% of the time. I want to make the hard things in life a little bit less scary and a little more manageable.  I absolutely believe that if I can do it, you can do it.  I'm honestly not especially talented at anything.  I just believe in my brain and my body and my heart and I don't give up.

The other thing I want you to come away from my writing with is the understanding that I have faith.  I approach all of this with an unshakable belief that I'm God's kid and He watches me and walks with me with Great joy.  He has my best interests in His plans, and my only job is to trust Him.  He isn't keeping track of my mistakes with a clip board full of wrong doings and scheming to find ways to punish me for them.  He's cheering me on, urging me to do my best, and He's always up for getting ice cream after the game, win or lose.  There are other aspects of God.  He is holy and so perfectly powerful we cannot bear to look upon His face.  But I am so enamored of the side of God that I am certain would laugh at a slightly inappropriate but witty and well timed about flatulence.

So, I want you to laugh, I want you to believe in yourself, and I want you to understand that pretty much everything you like about me comes from my trust that the Creator of the Universe chuckles occasionally at my antics and loves me like crazy, even when I am not especially well behaved.

Today, I got some evidence that this is happening.  I got the coolest care package from the coolest group of young ladies.  A woman who has known me since I was born shared my story from the last few years with her church prayer group, and they have been praying for me for a long time now.  One of those people runs one of the church's youth groups for girls and one way or another she ended up sharing one of my blog posts that talked about getting through these tough things with faith, with the group.  Since then they tune in from time to time and read my stuff and talk about it.  This gives me so much joy.  I have mentored younger women since I was in college and continue to do so, most often, currently, in the form of trying to be the best boss I can to a small army of rockstar young women who comprise most of my team at work.  Helping women who I am a little further along in life than (ahem, old) is a real passion of mine.  I've been SO WELL mentored by the greatest women, ever.  It's been instilled in me.  Basically, if you learn something (a skill, a process, a method, a way of thinking, a way of looking at something) what good is it really if you don't turn around and teach it to someone else.  Sometimes there is a shortage of "the teachable" but when you find them, they are attracted to potential "life teachers" like magnets.  It's a beautiful thing when the mentor and mentee find one another.  It usually flourishes eventually into a friendship and mutual learning - and these relationships have been some of my greatest joys.  Just about everything I know is because some smart person was generous enough to share with me.

So, to discover that I'm having an impact, 30 miles away, with a bunch of God following girls I've never met is just the greatest thing.  They sent me notes and the notes gave me tears over and over.  One (or several?) of them made a jar and put little note cards in it.  The top of the jar said "Who you are..." and the note cards said "amazing" and "beautiful" and "inspiring" and "role model."

Holy cannoli did this encourage me.  I honestly had been feeling a bit down on myself, for not trying more persistently at "making it" as an author.  This picked me right up today!  I'm so full of love and joy from these notes (and the treats and sweet gifts they sent!) As a recipient of these blessings, I feel honored and humbled and invigorated to keep at it, sharing what I have to share.  And it reminds me, with great intensity how important it is for us to encourage one another.  Share with people the impact they have on you.  You're probably sitting on a lot of unexpressed gratitude and appreciation right now.  Think of three people you couldn't be where you are without - thank them!  Tell them how they impact you and how you couldn't be you without them.

Cancer has given me terrible things.  But the beautiful things it has given me so outrageously outweigh the bad.  When life gives you lemons, like cancer...well, I'm Lemonscarlet, and I'll be over here with my amazing friends, making lemonade.          

          

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Q & A

I've been meaning to dust this old thing off for a while, and even more so wanting to switch the whole thing over to Word Press like the rest of the world, but until I get 10 free hours and 50 other things done first, here we are.

So a few months ago, my doc notified me of some funk in my lungs that he wasn't sure was cancer.  So we kept an eye on it.  Eventually we decided we were tired of keeping an eye on it, and we thought we would crack me open and scoop that sucker out.

Lung surgery is about as icky and painful as you might imagine.  They put a camera down my throat and into my bronchial tubes and injected dye into the tumor.  Then they went in through my ribs on the left side and back.  They performed a lung resection, removing a portion around the mass and sewing it back together.  I woke up with a chest tube sucking blood and gunk out, snaking across the floor to a little plastic suitcase I had to carry with me to the bathroom.  I took one look at that thing and said "Leave the catheter in so I don't have to go anywhere.  And can I have more pain medication, please?"

I left the hospital in a few days, stayed home recovering, staring at my cat and working from home.  Then I got a colonoscopy because, why not?  :)  Three days later I headed to LA for a work trip and some fun catching up with friends who insist on living way out there.

I got home late last night and headed straight to the doc today to find out that the funk was, in fact, cancer.  Sigh.  This is my THIRD time having cancer.  Sometimes I honestly cannot believe this is my life.  On one hand, I can't believe it's my life because I'm 38 and super active and eat pretty healthy and I have cancer.  And not one of those "good" cancers that just needs to be treated and probably won't come back.  One that keeps coming back and attacking different organs.  And on the other hand, I can't believe it's my life because I have persistent stage 4 cancer that keeps trying to kill me, and yet I just ran my fastest two miles of my life 2 weeks ago, had major surgery, got on a plane 13 days later, and the same day was swinging around my friend's loft apartment on aerial silks like an acrobat.  An enthusiastic but mostly unsuccessful, hysterically laughing acrobat.



I stayed out until 1am in Hollywood at the coolest jazz club I've ever been to, and managed to get up the next day and make it through a full day of meetings that I actually fully enjoyed.

I'm three and a half years into this cancer experience.  (I will refrain from using the word "journey" because even though it totally makes sense and often it seems like the only apt word, I just really hate it.  You can totally use it if you want.  In fact, if you want to send me a card, good luck finding one that doesn't have the word "journey" in it.)  Anyway 3+ years in and the third round is on.  Treatment for now is "watch and wait" but chemo may be in the future.  My goal is to get through the Spring and Summer without needing treatment and then, come September, if it's back to the chemo bar, then back to the chemo bar we shall go.

People ask me the same few questions, so I will post them and the answers here for you:

Are you ok?  Yup.  I am.  I'm not thrilled.  I would plan things out differently if it were up to me, but that is God's job.  Most of the amazing stuff in the Bible I would not have been able to plan out, so I leave that to Him.  I am not always happy.  I am not always filled to the brim with joy.  But I am definitely ok.  And even when I'm not, good, familiar company, delicious healthy food, a song I love, a trip to the beach or maybe a nice Malbec or Sauvignon Blanc cheer me right up.

Are you scared?  Generally, no.  Sometimes I get scared about a specific thing, like an aspect of surgery, recovery or a chemo side effect, but between prayer and bugging my nurse friends, I usually get over that stuff quickly.  As far as being scared to die, I want to live as long as I possibly can.  And I feel hopeful that it might be quite a long while.  But heaven awaits. Then the real adventure begins, I am very convinced.

Are you mad?  Nope.  Occasionally, I am mad if I have to miss something I want to do, but I have been fortunate to minimize that. I get upset if I feel like I'm letting everyone down because I can't do as much as I am used to being able to do.  I get frustrated when I can't be as productive as I would like to be.  I think you are only mad about this kind of thing if you somehow think that you don't "deserve" what is happening to you.  I do not believe that challenging circumstances are punishment, and therefore the whole "deserve" it idea is very foreign to me.  No one deserves it, and yet we all do.  And, also...there is SIGNIFICANT growth and maturity and strength that comes only from suffering.  I basically don't put a whole lot of weight to the words of those who have not truly suffered.  It's the only way to show what you're made of.  And it makes you tough as hell if you let it.  I don't choose my suffering but the results of it, when faced with the proper attitude are a blessing you can't get another way.

Do you need anything?  There is not anything specific that I need right now.  But occasionally, I let my friend, Kait, know if there is anything that would be helpful.  If you know me, you almost definitely know Kait.  :)  For example, sometimes lending me a book is very welcome.   (I'm all set with books right now, fortunately, thanks to a few thoughtful friends.)  :)    

What is the hardest part?  Not knowing if or when it will hit again.  I struggle with long term planning.  Like...you should plan a vacation a year ahead.  That is stressful to me.  That's when I know I'm in a different life than most people.  You don't not plan a trip to Fiji because you MIGHT get hit by a bus.  But I honestly would not plan an expensive trip six months out.  More like...can we go next month?  Great, I'm in.  Long range planning makes me nervous.  The other hard part is people I love worrying about me.  This worrying business is endless.  They worry about me, so I worry that they're worrying, then they feel bad that they're making me worry.  Everyone stop worrying, ok?!  Just pray and trust God.  Seriously.

How do you do it?  I don't know.  Focus on what's right in front of me.  Appreciate each day.  Refuse to miss out on something amazing.  Buy every shade of red lipstick ever invented.  Basically I choose to throw myself into all that I do, reject fear, love as hard as I can and embrace the adventure. So, who's with me?




Thursday, November 3, 2016

Vulnerability, the Opposite of Insecurity.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” - Brene Brown

Recently an act of vulnerability, which looked an awful lot like truth and courage, was labeled as "insecurity."  Or, put another way, a weakness.  To see care, honesty and concern called insecurity took my breath away.  Aren't we all past that?!  It felt like being in the schoolyard watching someone get made fun of for wearing glasses or having pimples.  Seriously!!??  Aren't we more evolved than that??  How can everyone not know - this is where it's at??  This is life.  Connection is EVERYTHING.  

And yet, there was the word.  INSECURITY.  That categorization made me sad and frustrated - that so many people still see vulnerability as a deficit.  But it also made me realize how far I've come.  I remember when asking for what you want - information, affirmation, reassurance, encouragement - felt needy and bothersome to me, too.  I didn't want the responsibility of someone else's vulnerability.  Anyone's!  In my mind's eye, I could almost see my own arms fly out in front of me, physically creating space where I needed a wide berth emotionally.  Oh, no.  No, no, no.  I'm not that person.  I can't meet your needs.  I can't deal with your insecurity.  

Why such a visceral reaction?  Well, Dr. Brown suggests we get curious about our emotions when we have a strong one.  It's a brave thing to do, get curious about your emotions.  What I discovered is that I didn't want other people's vulnerability (and still don't, sometimes!) because I might not be able to fix them.  Well, I learned after a time, that most often, people aren't looking for fixing.  They generally want to be heard, and  understood and maybe even appreciated or respected.  

I also didn't want to get into this messiness because I might have to offer my own vulnerabilities.  Yikes.  Well, with similar curiosity, I thought I should find out why that was so scary to me.  If I was honest with myself, I didn't want to be vulnerable, because I assumed most people were like me, and repelled by vulnerability.  Basically, I was pretty sure that at even the slightest hint of offering vulnerability, I would be rejected.  Why did I think that?  Because a couple of high-impact abandonments will do that to you.  I don't think I have any more of those than the average person does, but I have had a couple of key people in my life not show up when they probably should have, and one or two who just disappeared entirely with no explanation.  Those hurtful acts have had a real impact on me, and one of the results is a tendency to be self-protective.  I'm on a long journey of undoing that crap, with God's help.               

I remember my life before I could make a fair observation "you seem upset."  And my life before I could genuinely inquire "are you ok?" I used to live a life where I read the signals, made assumptions, usually that someone was mad at me, I did something wrong, I messed up.  And that this misstep of mine had somehow impacted a relationship - the friend is going to leave me out now, the new boyfriend is no longer interested, the boss thinks I'm an idiot.  And I would go into defensive mode.  Time to play hard to get, be distant, standoffish, aloof, I can't get hurt by you if I don't care.  I can play that game with the best of them. 

Through reading books by really smart people - Brene Brown, Henry Cloud, etc., and having relationships with courageous people I learned a little.  Not a lot.  But I learned to stop making assumptions, to stop playing the game.  To ask questions.  To offer plain spoken care and support.  To invite empathy.

What I've found is that sometimes you still bump up against a person who is still stuck in the mud.  They will respond to your vulnerability with harsh criticism, rejection or mocking.  They will try to shame your courage because it is so far beyond them to operate with that level of authenticity, it scares them.  Don't let this blow set you back.  Sometimes people need space, of course, but don't let their unreadiness for your courage diminish your care for that person.  They may not let you in now or ever.  But it's possible you're exactly the kind of person they need.  

Vulnerability will often cost you something.  An unhealthy, wounded, scared person might charge you a high price for your vulnerability.  Enough to hurt.  It's still worth it.  Love courageously.  Be brave.  Don't quit.     

Friday, September 30, 2016

God sends someone.

Yesterday I invited my coworker to join me for lunch and she explained that a pregnant teenage girl had come to one of our buildings seeking help as she was fleeing from an abusive boyfriend.  My coworker was staying with her until we could safely get her onto a bus, to a town where she has family.  I decided to stop over at that building to see how they were doing.  As soon as she walked in the room, I was flooded with feelings of why I got into this work in the first place.  I supervise a team of talented people who work together to implement strategies of fundraising, public relations, marketing, advertising, event planning, social media and grant development.  My job involves management, problem solving, organizational leadership, policy development, etc.  But this, right here, this girl, is why I started doing this 16 years ago.

I'll call her Stephanie.  She couldn't have been older than 18.  She was beautiful, with dark hair and blue eyes.  But she hadn't showered in many days and had that run down look of someone who hasn't been taking care of herself in a long time.  We learned that she was about 4 months pregnant, by a man she was fleeing from because he hurt her.  They had been living under a bridge.  While we waited, we talked with her and she shifted between making funny, clever observations that made us laugh, and sharing parts of her story that put tears in all of our eyes.  She expressed that she wanted more for her baby than living under a bridge with a guy who wouldn't stop hurting her.

There was a time this wouldn't have struck me as courageous - it would have simply seemed sensible, and the obvious right course of action.  But as I get older, I have seen so many people stuck in bad situations because it's just too hard to leave, it's too complicated, it's too uncertain, it feels equally selfish to leave and stupid to stay,  I've seen people stay because they think they don't deserve better, they are waiting for someone to rescue them (that person is never coming, by the way, so don't wait around) or they just don't think they can do it.  I've seen smart people act like deer in the headlights because they are so confused about what is best, what is right, what is worth continuing to get hurt over.  Dysfunctional, unhealthy relationships are never easy, never simple, and sometimes things really can get better and work out, and some people stay because they live in that hope.  But if someone is physically hurting you and/or your children, there is only one answer.  Even so, for so many women, it feels like an impossible choice.  

This girl left her home town at some point, maybe with this guy or maybe she ran into him later.  She thought they would build a life together especially once she got pregnant.  But he started to abuse her, throwing plates across the room, and as she said "he wouldn't change."  He promised to, and he would for a while, but ultimately, he didn't.  She loved him.  She wanted to believe him.  She cried because she missed him and felt bad leaving him.  But she was resolved, and she was leaving.  I was filled with admiration for this tiny thing, with an even tinier thing living and growing inside her.  We told her how brave and important what she was doing was and she said God was giving her the strength to do it.  Brave and humble.  That's better than I can say for most of us, most of the time.

As we were about to leave to take her to pick out some needed items in another building, a man I didn't know came into the building.  I stopped and waved her back into the office we came out of and shut the door behind me.  It only took a few seconds to determine that he was not her ex-boyfriend - he was a service worker, coming to fix something in the building.  But in those few seconds, I realized I would do whatever it took to protect her.

I don't share that to get credit for being a nice person or anything.  The reason I share it is this:  When you have cancer, had cancer, might have cancer again, and you're a mom, the thing, ALWAYS in the back of your mind is what is going to happen to my kid if I don't make it.  As a staunch Christian, you can square all kinds of things with God - His will be done, heaven will be cool, dying will suck but probably not be that scary.  People die every day, I'll figure out how to do it.  But when you think about your kid without you, sometimes it's enough to split your heart right down the middle.  Gut you.  Break you.  The only thing that helps is knowing your family will come through and make it ok for her and help her remember you and all of that shit that is hard to think about without crying.  But this experience reminded me of something:  Even in the very worst circumstances, where that kid has run away, been abandoned, on their own, penniless and pregnant...God will send someone.  Yesterday, he sent me (and a bunch of other super helpful colleagues of mine who did great work to figure this out.)  I was so proud of us, because I knew that any of us would have done anything to get her on that bus.      

We took her to pick out clothes and a backpack.  She had to leave her things under the bridge so he would believe she was still around - all she had was the clothes she was wearing, an ID and a blanket.  We went through our supplies, finding things she needed while she kept us laughing, pointing out who we reminded her of or what she thought of us.  I got off easy with "Cat Woman" although someone quickly pointed out "no, that's Wonder Woman."  Another coworker was deemed Augustus Glut from Willy Wonka, another "some kind of Disney character" and another "kitty cat who doesn't like the rain" or "someone who would get lost easily."  She cracked us up and broke our hearts.  What happened to get her here?  This is a person.  A precious child.  Somewhere, at some time, someone was her mother.

We got her a police escort to make sure she got safely on that bus.  She is gone now, to a safe place.  And I'm praying for the next person God sends to help her.  And the next one He sends to us for help.  May we always be ready and faithful.