Thursday, February 26, 2015


This week has been a three steps back kind of week. I'd thought I'd identified the things that were causing my health problems, fixed them, and then experienced corresponding healing last week, but my symptoms have returned this week, putting me back at phase one of the diagnostic journey. This has tested my mental, emotional and physical stamina in massive ways. It has been the grindiest grind.

Most days this week I've wondered how I would make it through the day. "God," I say, "I need your strength to do this because I do not have any left." Then I burst into a rousing mental rendition of, "You can do it, Cinderelli!" which doesn't usually help much, so I give myself quiet little pep talks.

A number of times, I've caught myself using affectionate nicknames for myself during these talks. Last week it was "Darlin'"; this week it's "Girlfreeen!" One of the gifts of the illness of the last several years is it's taught me to like myself. I called myself lots of names before I got sick, but they were rarely kind. Hardship is a big anvil bearing down on shoulders of flesh, but somehow, miraculously, God uses it to teach us to love ourselves. I'm glad for that.

Last night I lay on a doctor's table clenching the vinyl that poofed out of both sides of the table. I wore a set of snorkel-like goggles that weighed about as much as a child's bowling ball. The goggles contained video cameras that taped the movement of my eyes during a series of tests assessing the balance organ in each of my ears.

For the last set of tests, the goggles were covered with a black plastic sheath so I couldn't see a thing. If I had to imagine what it feels like to be sealed in a coffin, I would use this blacked-out goggle experience as inspiration. I wish I could say that I just had to lie there and watch blinking lights inside the goggles, but there were no blinking lights. Instead, the doctor had to induce extreme dizziness four times in a row by shooting alternating hot and cold air in my ear. "Breathe, Sarah," she said each time she stuck her dizziness-inducer in my ears. "Don't forget to breathe."

When the tests were over, the news wasn't great. The good news is it's highly unlikely I have a brain tumor. The bad news is only 2% of cases look like mine and the doctor doesn't know what could be causing this. This week she'll comb the results of my tests and compile a report that she'll send to another doctor who will look over them. I'm praying the Holy Spirit drenches them with insight as they try to figure out what my next steps should be in this diagnostic process.

The picture of me clenching the table and wearing the blacked out goggles on my head is a good metaphor for life sometimes, isn't it? Sometimes things are dark and we can't see very far in front of us. We breathe through the hard stuff.

There's one thing I've learned about the darkness: there are always fireflies darting through it. Often, these fireflies flit nearer and nearer till they're hovering in front of us, close enough to reach out and grab.

This week I discovered that my mechanic, smudged with black grease and smelling like fuel, loves roses. He hopes to have a garden one day, and in the meantime he stops to smell every rose he sees.

He, with his unexpected love of roses, is a fleck of light in this hard week. He's a firefly.

Today I made a new friend on my afternoon walk:

I must have been delicious because he licked my hand and forearm for a solid ten minutes.

It tickled and made me chortle with glee, and when I pulled away, he pawed at the fence. He wanted more of salty little me.

"More, I want moooooore!"

So I gave him more. I'll have to bring a carrot with me on my next evening walk.

Never has a firefly made me so slobbery and full of laughter.

Last week, one of my best friends came over to take a walk with me. I hadn't seen her in six weeks and relished every minute with her. When it was time for her to go, she curled up on my bed with me and prayed for me. When she was done, tears were running down her cheeks.

I have a friend on the east coast who is battling cancer. He's been praying for me daily and sending me encouraging scriptural references as he undergoes chemotherapy. Two weeks ago I asked how I could pray for him. "I've been dreaming about the day I get to walk out of this hospital for good," he said, "but I don't want to miss what God is doing in me in the meantime. Please pray I'd be attentive to his work."

The prayers of these people are my fireflies. They're glowing pockets of grace.

I don't want to let these fireflies flit away unnoticed. I want to catch them and keep them somewhere safe. This week I imagine myself gently sliding my fireflies into a mason jar with nail holes in the lid. When life's darkness feels too thick and heavy, I pull out that mason jar and set it on the table.

Then I sit quietly and watch it glow, moonish and mesmerizing.

I covet your prayers this week, especially as doctors pour over my recent test results looking for clues as to what's going on.

Cheering for you, Skillets.


© by scj


  1. Praying right with you tonight that the Spirit drenches your doctors with wisdom. So thankful its not likely a brain tumor. It is incredibly inspiring reading about your journey of trusting dependence on God through the hard stuff. You are so loved.

    1. Katlin, thank you for these prayers. Oh thank you so very much. Yes, thankful this isn't much, much worse. It could be. And thank you for your encouragement. It's another firefly. :)


  2. Praying that God would give your doctors the fortitude they need to search like bloodhounds for what is causing your health issues. Meanwhile, I am always so encouraged by your blog, and how you strive to give thanks to God in all things. This song always comes to mind after reading your posts.
    Blessings, Sharon

    1. Ah, I like the thought of doctors searching like bloodhounds. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement, Sharon. And thank you for the link to the song. It's hard for me to mean this song every time I sing it, but I am thankful that the Spirit is gracious and patient with me as I learn to lean in to his will no matter what.