our family riding horses

Riding with family

When I married my Rodeo Queen, I understood horses and tack were part of the deal.  However, I had no idea as to the magnitude of cultural and language barriers to be overcome for effective communication.

On Monday, December 14, 2015, my doctor informed me the CT-scan of my neck showed a tumor-like mass.  Appointments were scheduled for PET-scan and biopsy surgery later that week.  We did not yet know whether the tumor was malignant, but my medical team was working under the assumption that it likely was.

In the course of one afternoon, Sherri and I were required to adjust our thinking from expecting my swollen lymph node to be a minor concern to realizing it was a huge concern.  It was a lot to try to wrap our minds around and emotions swirled.  We weren’t sure, yet, exactly what we were facing or how timing would play out, but we began to let employers know our work schedules would need to be flexible for a while.

Tuesday afternoon Sherri’s name popped up on my ringing phone.  I pressed the answer button with, “I love you!”  “I love you, too,” Sherri responded, “What did you think of that clinic I texted you about?”

I hadn’t received the text, but the mention of a clinic left me wanting time to process…to review, think, and pray.  Sherri had mentioned second opinions the night before.  While that sounded like a good idea, I wanted to get a diagnosis before we started soliciting more professional input.  My response to Sherri was brief, “I haven’t seen a text.”

“I sent you a text about a clinic.  I want you to look at it and tell me what you think. I’ll send it again, so you can look at it.”

“Okay, I’ll look at it.  What’s the name of the clinic?”  I assumed we were talking about a clinic within reasonable driving distance, such as UAMS in Little Rock or MD Anderson in Houston, but wondered if she was thinking something further away like Mayo Clinic.

“I don’t remember the name,” she responded, “but it’s a two-day healing clinic in mid-January.  I think it might be really good for us if you’re able to travel then.”

What?  I wasn’t sure exactly what a two-day healing clinic was…nor why Sherri was looking into it.  Sherri is very level-headed…not prone to rushing to try the latest health fad.  She also tends to have a healthy dose of skepticism toward spiritual things requiring more open-mindedness than her Baptist raising.  Of the two of us, I am the one more open to natural remedies and miraculous intervention.  Although I knew Sherri was upset about my impending diagnosis, this was totally unexpected.

And a two-day clinic?  What was supposed to happen in two days?  Was this two days of Pentecostal-style name-it-and-claim-it preaching with a five-step plan to claiming your healing in two days or less?  Or was it two days of charismatic info-mercial-style lectures proclaiming benefits of expensive herbs with an abundance of anecdotal testimonials combined with limited scientific study?  Either way, I was skeptical.

That’s what was running through my mind, but all that came out of my mouth was a stammered, “What? Two-day healing clinic!  I don’t…I don’t even know what that means.  What are you talking about? What…what is a two-day healing clinic?”

“It’s just a clinic…a two-day clinic to learn about healing.  I’ll resend the text explaining it.”

“Okay.  I’ll look at it, but we don’t even have a diagnosis yet.  I really think we need to focus on the PET-scan and tonsillectomy this week.”

Long pause…followed by a stifled giggle…

“Oh, Joe!  I’m so sorry!  It’s not a medical clinic.  It’s a team roping clinic….for Dawson.  A heeling clinic, as in roping a steer’s back legs.  It looks really good, but I don’t know if you’ll be able to travel by then.”

We both laughed out loud!  Some much needed levity in the midst of a confusing situation.

That’s life married to my Rodeo Queen!  🙂

One more small detail…

One week later I had a second surgery to remove the tumor which biopsy had shown to be cancer.  Coming out of anesthesia, my mind was focused on one thing, “I have to learn to team rope!  I want to team rope with Dawson, and I have to learn to rope!”  When Sherri came into the recovery room I greeted her with, “I have to learn to team rope!”

I’m not sure what that means.

People say some crazy things coming out of anesthesia, and maybe this was just my own craziness coming out.  Or maybe it was my subconscious giving voice to some deep seated desire.  Or maybe it was a subconscious recollection of the prior conversation with Sherri and the word play on healing and heeling.  Or maybe it was God, Himself, taking advantage of the quiet of anesthesia to get my attention.

I’m truly not sure.

But, as I’ve had time to think about it, the idea appeals to me.  I know I’ll never be competitive, but it would be pretty cool to learn to rope…and finding another activity to enjoy with an adolescent child is always a good thing.  Right now, I’m still recuperating from surgery and my right arm lacks the strength to twirl and throw a rope.  But maybe that’s exactly what I’ll need for physical therapy a few weeks from now.

Maybe I’ll find healing in heeling!

Sounds like a good goal, at any rate.  🙂


[Linked to Messy Marriage, Wild Flowers, Wellspring, Redeemed Life, Tell His Story ]


32 thoughts on “Healing

  1. Joe – this was just a wonderful post. How good of God to present “the play on words”. I’ve been going through a terribly rough emotional time and was on my way to complete other tasks but noticed this ‘post’ … It made me smile and let out a little chuckle – a little “healing” of the emotions!
    God bless you and your family. You have many praying and cheering you on as you “heal”. (yeah, I think the heeling would be very good therapy 🙂 )

    • Thank you, HIH!

      I’m glad it brought you a smile. 🙂

      It was hilarious at the moment…and still makes me laugh just thinking about it.

      Isn’t laughter a wonderful gift?
      joe recently posted…HealingMy Profile

  2. This should go into the family “funny book” Joe! A story to look back on and laugh, sometime right after the doctor gives you your “100% cancer-free” diagnosis, my friend! God has you in the palm of his hand.
    debby recently posted…HealingMy Profile

    • I know, right?

      We celebrated New Years Eve with family, and started telling them this story. Everyone was cracking up and said I should write it down or put it in a blog post. I decided they were right…too funny not to share! 🙂

      Thank you, Debby!
      joe recently posted…HealingMy Profile

    • Well, Sherri sure had me going! 🙂

      That was a very confusing conversation…and totally hilarious once we realized we were talking about completely different things!

      I’m convinced God has a great sense of humor…and that humor is a gift from Him!

      Thank you, Lisa!
      joe recently posted…HealingMy Profile

    • Hah!

      That reminds me of a story a man told me from when he used to own a well drilling company. He always kept a spare parts inventory to minimize down time for drilling equipment. However, he could never keep a spare rope. He ordered 100 ft long high-quality high-strength hemp ropes, but could never find the spare rope when it was needed. Turned out his hired help was smoking the spare ropes…they figured high-quality hemp was a dope rope.

      Happy New Year, David!
      joe recently posted…HealingMy Profile

  3. Hi, Joe! I’ve been away from blogging and blogs for a while. What a charming way to reconnect! Your post was delightful! You have said you like plays on words, and this is a dandy…so glad you passed it on! Humor is a part of healing, good medicine for sure, so you are doing your part to recover. Wishing you a speedy recovery and the discovery of real talent with a rope!

    • Yes, word plays are always fun…and when it leads to such a confusing conversation, they’re downright hilarious!

      Thank you, Diane!

      Have a wonderful New Year!

  4. I am going to need to forward this to my husband. His great grandfather and grandfather and dad were ranchers in the Texas Panhandle. No one ranches the ranch these days, but the family still has the ranch. My husband is always interested in things of horses and such. He will enjoy this, I think. The word-play is just great!!
    I hold you in prayer, Joe.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    • There are some nice ranches in that Texas panhandle region. We recently bought a horse from four-sixes ranch, just a few miles south of the panhandle.

      Thank you for the laughter and prayers, Linda!
      joe recently posted…HealingMy Profile

  5. Your words today show us all that God is in every detail. He is in our healing or heeling. He shows up in text messages and in a few laughs as we face a more serious situation. Thank you for sharing your journey but more importantly for sharing God through it all.

    I am praying for you as you heal and as you walk this new journey. Blessings!
    Mary Geisen recently posted…When A Season of Transitions Blooms into HopeMy Profile

    • Yes, God is truly in the details…bringing laughter in the midst of confusion and joy in the midst of sorrow.

      “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness.” (Psalm 30:11)

      Thank you, Mary for the prayers and encouragement. Have a wonderfully blessed New Year, my friend!
      joe recently posted…HealingMy Profile

  6. Blessings for your heeling and healing. Aren’t moments like these exactly what we need in times of stress and crisis? I always wake up crying after anesthesia. My husband wakes up laughing. Grace and love to you and yours, Joe!

    • Oh, yes! There’s nothing like laughter to calm, soothe and bring a little sanity to confusing stressful situations.

      Anethesia yields strange responses, doesn’t it?

      Thank you, Kelly!
      joe recently posted…HealingMy Profile

    • Yes, the surgery went well…they got what needed to go without having to take a lot extra.

      My recuperation has gone well. I was released from the hospital the next day…just in time to be home for Christmas, and started back to work right after New Years.

      I have a couple more weeks to heal before we start further treatments. Praying for sound input from professionals, wise decisions for treatment plans, and God’s grace through it all.

      Thank you, Laura!
      joe recently posted…HealingMy Profile

  7. Love this warm-hearted, humorous post, Joe. And I am so glad to read of the good prospects that the surgeries have brought. (Intended to comment before this, but got busy and sidetracked.) My husband and I will be praying along with you for healing and grace, and for wisdom for all the professionals. God bless you and your family. And happy… heeling!
    Sylvia R recently posted…It’s High Time…!My Profile

    • Thank you, so much, Sylvia!

      I’ve started my first treatments of chemo and radiation. For the next seven weeks, I plan to do two radiation treatments each day (Mon-Fri) and a chemo treatment once per week. I’m told I have an excellent prognosis following this treatment plan.

      AND…the weekend after my first chemo treatment I still felt good enough to attend Dawson’s heeling clinic!

      God is good!
      joe recently posted…HealingMy Profile

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