A Personal Update – Gratitude Edition

A Personal Update – Gratitude Edition April 23, 2024

Multiple times recently, some of you have made me cry – in a really good way. I realize I need to pause my pattern of equipping you with blogs for one week, and acknowledge how you also equip me! So, this week, I want to thank you and share a personal update.

Probably five or six times in the last two months I’ve been at events, business meetings, or on a research trip, and have run across blog readers I have never met before, but who said something like this:

“How are you doing? How is your health journey? I prayed for you during the cancer recovery, and you’re still on my prayer list with everything you’re doing.”

It just … makes me tear up. It is so, so humbling to know that people I have never met are coming before the Lord of Hosts with these requests. Thank you. In addition, I know some of you do not consider yourselves people of faith, and I’m also so grateful for your support, your kind words, and your respect of the faith beliefs that do matter to me and many regular readers.

So here’s a quick update on my personal health, our family, and my latest research project (note one BIG prayer request there!).

Update #1: My personal health

The breast cancer journey has been a roller coaster, but nowhere near what many other women have to walk through. I’m grateful to report that three years along, each scan and blood panel has ultimately been clear. One of the reasons for that (as some of you know who have been down this road before me) is the post-surgery protocol of taking a daily cancer therapy drug. Yet that drug comes with health impacts of its own.

A bit of background, for the curious: In roughly 80% of women with breast cancer, the cancer is fueled by estrogen. So, in addition to surgery, radiation and/or chemo many of us take an estrogen blocker for 5+ years to try to stop whatever was fueling the cancer to begin with. That is one of the reasons for the dramatic improvements in breast cancer prognosis over the years. In my case, for example, my oncologist said I had a roughly 13% chance of a different cancer arising in the future, but taking the daily therapy drug would cut that risk in half.

The issue is that it can create a host of potential side effects; so there are trade-offs. No surprise that an estrogen blocker might wreak havoc on the female body, right?

My list of health issues CAUSED by this drug is growing, but I’m grateful I can tolerate it enough to keep taking it. One of my author-speaker friends had to discontinue taking this same drug because it was causing her to lose her eyesight (!). My issues (things like having developed an auto-immune disorder) are nowhere near that extreme. Bottom line: I so deeply appreciate your prayers, and I’m praying for those of you who are walking this journey as well.


Update #2: Family and kids

Jeff and I realized we were full-blown empty-nesters when our youngest (Luke) was studying for college mid-terms in late March and our oldest (Morgen) texted us from her first full-time job and said, essentially, “I’m filling out my 2023 taxes and … I’m not a dependent anymore, right?”

Right. Wait … right?! How did that happen? We’ve launched an independent adult!

And empty nesting has been fun. Jeff and I have been enjoying being able to speak at marriage events or retreats without the anxiety about whether the return flight will land in time for the volleyball tournament or the big STEM program. And it is cool to get reacquainted as spouses, rather than just as parents who are also spouses.

With our new-found extra hours, we are both working on some new business and ministry efforts. Jeff is doing a lot of legal work for a major Christian foundation these days and working on an entrepreneurial tech venture, and I’m tackling the next research project (see below!) and another big effort that I’ll announce in due course.

Update #3: Research

On the research front, I am part of a much bigger initiative than I’ve ever plugged into before. It’s big. Like really big. Because it involves a possible and powerful solution to the mental health crisis in America.

The church.

I have been part of helping to develop a major national initiative — with a major funding source already in place — that could change the entire narrative on the mental health crisis in America. It’s exciting to be a ground-level part of this important work.

I am also working on my own specific research that will help and support this groundbreaking national work. My hope is that it will result in two research studies and books:

  1. A book based on a research study of existing models of mental health care in the church, as well as what church leaders see as the key obstacles, opportunities, and solutions for addressing mental health. Our hope is that tens of thousands of church leaders will catch a vision for how they can step into this space.
  2. A book for everyday people like you and me that answers this question: What are the little things that make a big difference when it comes to our own mental health? What are the research-based transformative habits that led real-life people who have suffered from mental health issues to emerge from that, thriving in their mental and emotional health?

Of course, big projects always require big funding. Major funding is already in place for the broader, national initiative. IF you feel led to pray I would love your prayers for funding for my two specific research projects outlined above.

We are praying for one or more major donors who intimately understand the need for this important mental health research and feel led to invest in this way. I am not someone who runs in those circles (!) so my team and I are trusting God to make miraculous connections. He’s good at that!

Solutions for the mental health crisis are so needed, and I’m so thrilled to see what is coming together. I’ll explain more about the research and books as details unfold.

Whether it’s tending to our physical or emotional health, filling an empty nest with exciting new plans, or matching donors with good work, He is always on the move. Your personal notes and conversations at conferences are evidence of this to me, too.

I’m honored to be on the ride along with you. And I’ll be back next week with a blog designed to equip parents do this parenting thing with grace, restraint, and a little bit of much-needed humor.


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