Storm at home = Storm at work?

Today I thought I would include some personal reflections, while hopefully making a practical point or two.

On Monday March 28, 2011 my wife, Heidi is going to have breast cancer surgery. The news is only weeks old to us. It came like a freight train out of nowhere. Without warning life’s perspective changed too. What I used to think was a fairly predictable future, now appears much less definite. Even though all we are doing is waiting for surgery, I am emotionally spent from educating ourselves and informing our friends. I find myself using strange new words to answer people’s questions (as if I have known my whole life what they mean); words like “survival rate,” “chemotherapy,” “alternative treatments,” “prognosis,” and “cancer types.”

Whether the – still unknown – road to recovery will be longer or shorter in nature…one thing is for certain, TODAY I HAVE TO GO TO WORK.

I find it hard to concentrate at the office these past days. Simple tasks have become a challenge to focus on. I lack the motivation and drive that I have counted on for years. How do people do this?

Here’s a growing list of little reminders I carry with me to work each day:

1. Release those burdensome daydream-what if-scenarios to Jesus. This builds trust and has one huge practical benefit – it calms my soul.

2. Get up and walk around at least once every hour. This refocuses and clears my head. Refilling my water bottle or coffee cup provides me with a good excuse.

3. Admit it won’t be easy. Anticipate the challenge, after all, my wife is at home waiting to rid her body of a cancerous tumor. Waiting and wondering.

4. Lie a little, it’s OK. A quick “I’m fine” is an adequate response to the 20th inquiry “How are you guys, really?”Not everyone needs to know all the facts or emotional details.

5. Watch out for denial. Pushing emotions down for days on end is extremely exhausting. Last week, I let down my guard and started to cry on a conference call with some of my closest team mates. It was liberating to do so.

6. Share appropriate information with my team mates. Keep them informed. Think of all the reasons why they deserve to know. Daily they amaze me with loving support and prayers. Help sometimes comes from the most unlikely places.

7. Pray often – take time to centre in on one truth – meditating on it changes perspective even if that same project is staring me down on the screen. Truth sets me free. I personally enjoy this one, “God is love.”

8. Finish something before lunch and then again before you go home. As corny as it sounds when life becomes unmanageable it can be therapeutic to empty the inbox or make that call back you have been putting off.

9. Schedule one healthy interaction with a good friend outside the office this week. I find this difficult to do when my head is filled with cancer chatter. These days my wife and kids easily become the most important objects of all my attention. Still I need to unwind too. I need to verbally process my emotions.

10. Keep exercising – even exercise seems more selfish than it did before. Yet a good jog or bike ride renew hope and resets my sense of resolve. I ran tonight!

Some say we must separate work from life’s reality completely. I don’t think that is at all possible.

Jesus you slept through storms. Then you got up and calmed the wind and the waves. I am asking you to do the same in my house and in the ministry seat I occupy at MB Mission.


How do you maintain focus at work when turbulent weather at home threatens wind and rain all day? (never mind tornadoes and hurricanes)

18 Responses to Storm at home = Storm at work?

  1. Hey Sam – Erik and I recently heard about this drastic turn in your lives. We’ve been thinking of you and praying for you. The picture of Jesus sleeping through storms is powerful. I pray that you and Heidi will feel some small measure of that peace and assurance.

    • Will do Darcie! I’ll bet you guys have insight on life-work overlap, stresses and challenges – working out of that sweet office in your sweet house.

  2. Good grief, Sam. I hadn’t heard. Makes my heart heavy for you guys.(Selah) I really appreciate your authenticity here, and sharing the practical things you’ve discovered to help you move through it are gold. I especially appreciate #7. I have a handful of short phrases that I often repeat to myself during challenging and troubled times. They become a kind of anchor point to all that I know is true but am not feeling at the moment. (Speaking of anchors and storms, many do not know that while the anchor’s hold is vital, it’s the weight and length of the anchor chain that allow the boat to ride well in the storm.)

  3. i agree with all of the above points. they are good practice for many areas in life. the one that hit home to me was the ‘what-ifs’… it’s so easy to sit there and dwell on those thoughts, especially when you’re sitting at a desk all day.

    i wrote down isaiah 26:3-4 and taped it to the wall directly to the right of my computer screen. when i feel overwhelmed, when those what-ifs just keep playing over in my mind, i read it. i say it over and over in my head until those what ifs are replaced with the security that comes from the permeating truth of God’s ‘solidness’ (for lack of a better word).

    my pastor once said it when ships are in the path of a storm, their best bet for survival is to go out to sea, and to anchor deep in the rocks. we do that by anchoring deep to God. HE is our rock.

    “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” (isaiah 26:3-4 – NLT)

    praying for you and your family.

  4. Wow, Sam. I’m shocked for you guys. We were just talking about you at the Fresno office with Galen, but he didn’t say anything. We’ll be praying for you and your family… that God will hold you close and hold you together.

  5. 1) Your Blog is awesome
    2) Your candor is changing people’s lives
    3) We love you and miss you lots.
    4) I cant’ say I have much wisdom in this area but when turbulence strikes I’ve always just hung on and waited for the morning. Sometimes the most “spiritual” thing I can do is take the next breath as an act of worship to the Lord and trust He will meet me right in that breath. You spoke at church once and talked something to the affect that sometimes you have to just ‘be’. Just stop. That was years ago. I’ll never forget it.

    That is the condensed version. Oh and my mom is too chicken to post on your blog or Heidi’s ;) She’ll hate me for writing that too.

    I’ve been walking around our house singing this with my girls as a prayer for you over these last days…

    “Our God is greater
    Our God is stronger
    God you are higher than any other
    Our God is Healer
    Awesome in power
    Our God
    Our God” – Chris Tomlin

  6. Hi Sam,
    Praying for you, Heidi and your children as you sit and wait. I can understand and sympathize with your waiting. My mom was diagnosed with melanoma in her eye right before Christams. It was a shock and yet a reminder that God has allowed everything to happen and I need to continue to give over my loved ones back to him and say, “thank you” for having them in my life. We are still waiting to find out how the cancer responded to the radiation she received. So, I understand your waiting….may you find peace and comfort during your waiting.

    • Thanks so much Megan. I appreciate your comments. Let us know how it goes with your mom. Waiting is not easy, but a part of life eh? It also is a good theme to reflect upon…especially as we get close to Easter!

  7. Pingback: Different Ages Hear God Differently | Sam Dick

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