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The superstitious part of me hesitates to write this immediately after the post about Katie Pearl’s first birthday, but the part of me that believes Philippians 4:6-7 doesn’t think a thing of it.

This time last year, my cousin’s two-year-old son was about to be diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Bravely, he underwent radiation and chemotherapy with trusty Buzz Lightyear by his side. This past June, Jesus welcomed him into Heaven and, I’m sure, showed him how to fly even faster and farther than Buzz.

A little more than a year ago, a friend’s eight-year-old daughter complained of stomach pain and was found to have a three-pound tumor in her abdomen. She endured surgery followed by chemo treatment after chemo treatment, all the while maintaining her sweet, spunky spirit. Earlier this summer, her scans were returned clear and blood work showed no sign of cancer.

Her mom shared this:

Web MD states, “A review of the literature in 1979, prior to the widespread use of combination chemotherapy, found only 27% of 96 patients with stage I germ cell endodermal sinus tumor alive at 2 years. Over 50% died within a year of diagnosis.” Fortunately for [her], past cancer research saved her life!

Which brings us to September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I detest that it is so prevalent it has a dedicated month, but I’m thankful research is making progress. Often, we hear about money going to medical research and come to find out some guy deep within the CDC has isolated a single cell in a rat that responded favorably to a new treatment. Woo hoo. But this — “past cancer research saved her life” — that is progress. That allows an eight-year-old to have a ninth birthday.

At the very least, do a little reading, but please also consider giving your time or money to help eradicate childhood cancer.

A few links:
The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children
CURE Childhood Cancer
Aflac Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Lighthouse Family Retreat, where families of children with cancer attend free
My friend Lauren wrote this great post

I woke up this morning with Mike Nelson next to me, with memories of last night (dinner at Five Guys with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, granddaddy and his wife; then a full-moon-lit kayak paddle around Lake Lanier). Came downstairs, and by the time the coffee was brewing, my parents were awake.

I made cream-cheese-stuffed monkey bread for breakfast (with bacon on the side, of course). Mama and Daddy packed up to leave after breakfast, and Mikey and I are going to Home Depot and Pike’s to get yard stuff. It’s overcast and an extraordinarily pleasant 68 degrees (quite unusual for June in Georgia): a perfect day for digging in the dirt. I play tennis this afternoon, and we grill out tonight with a fire in the fire pit.

I’m not sure it gets any better.

In the absence of a better memory, I must often rely on mnemonics to prompt myself. On a related note, I am never more frustrated with myself than I am when I forget to pray for someone. Often, when I say “I’ll pray for you,” I stop what I’m doing at that moment and pray about the situation. Nevertheless, I hate when I run into the person two weeks later and realize that was the only time I thought to pray for her.

Thus, the prayer mnemonic. I think of something I do regularly (but not so regularly it’s routine and therefore invisible to me) and apply a specific prayer to it. I was first introduced to the idea when my sweet husband was looking for a job several years ago and a friend of ours promised to pray for us every time he spent cash. I thought it was a terrific idea and it’s been useful ever since. For a friend who recently suffered a miscarriage, I’m vowing to pray for her every time I see a baby. For someone who’s sick or has a sick relative, I pray every morning when I take my vitamins.

Just doing my part to be sure everyone on the planet reads this post by Seth Godin. Because they need to.

I’m going to Boston in July for my dear friend’s wedding and snagged a wicked good deal on Priceline. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that this is our hotel. And by “bad” news, I mean, “awesome” news. We’ve discussed ghosts in this little forum before, but seriously, what are the chances? Next to none, right? Surely …

Seriously considering going to the midnight showing when Harry Potter 6 is released. Who’s with me?

Mikey and I are habitually late bandwagon jumper-on-ers. We got into CSI about five years after it began, but it was great because it was in syndication so we could watch it every night.

National Geographic magazine has been around for, oh, 120 years, and we just started our losthatchsubscription eighteen months ago.

We’re thinking of starting to watch Lost. I’m just not sure, though … might be too early.

Mike and I celebrated our seventh annual Valentine’s Day Salute to Obesity by wearing sweatpants to the Chinese buffet and eating until we wanted to barf. It was fantastic. The food highlight this year was, for me, the deep-fried crab and cream cheese won ton. For Mikey, I think it was a tie between sesame chicken and General Tso’s. Ahhhh.rangoon1

We were joined by our great friends Kristen and Erik – a very welcome and fun addition. Afterward we had our little small group Bible study at Starbucks. Still wearing our sweatpants. On Valentine’s night.

I love being so comfortable (physically and emotionally).

Last weekend I heard a good friend speak about the fact that many of his greatest memories exist within the walls of our campus ministry house at Georgia Tech. He talked about where he was sitting when he first understood God’s unending love. He remembered where he stood when a guy asked him to explain Jesus.

I was moved by it all because I have similar memories in that house. I can still point to the spot on the carpet where I sat for my first Bible study. I can recount (nearly verbatim) conversations that took place in the hallway just inside the door.

Where are your memories? What physical locations house the most significant times in your life?

Mike and I are getting ready to review our 2008 goals and set new ones for 2009. We realized that our system in 2008 wasn’t ideal because we only followed our progress on a few of our goals, so we’re revamping our strategy this year.

To begin with, we’ve been talking about our goal-setting plan for a week already. I love thinking through stuff like this with Mike – we each have different ways of looking at things that augment one another and make each of us better. I’ve learned this: if something you’re currently trying to do isn’t working, do it differently.

At Catalyst 2008, Andy Stanley asked pastors to think about an outside consultant coming into their churches. What would that consultant tell you to stop doing? What would he question? What are you doing that, to an outsider, doesn’t make any sense?

We’ve decided that we aren’t going to set goals for all of 2009 in January. We’re setting one round now, but we’re going to set goals for the summer in May, then we’ll set fall goals sometime in early September. Consistently, our year looks completely different in the fall than it looked in January, so it just makes sense to set new goals then rather than decreeing in January what I’m going to do in November.