“Up-Slide Down”

I wrote this back in April, but I wanted to be able to share the rest of the story with you before posting it.  My very special guest writer has promised the “To Be Continued” will be ready next week, so stay tuned!    

Last year, I had my first experience with swimming lessons. I can only describe that particular undertaking as a disaster of epic proportions that somehow ended with a rainbow. If you’re curious about exactly how that fantastic adventure unfolded, check out my post from that very eventful but fondly-remembered day here: Rainbow Moments

Fast forward one year. My angels were four, three, three and 17 months, and I had another year of swimming lessons, preschool drop-offs, potty training!, temper tantrums, big boy beds and learning to love the Easter Bunny under my belt. I have to say I was a bit nervous to venture out to the pool again, but we all got out of the car without incident. We did the lesson with only a few tears, no one had a melt down when it was time to get out of the pool, I remembered the towels, and we made it back to the car before it started to rain, so I chalked our first swimming lesson of the year down as a win.

As I was pulling into the garage following my big win of a start to swimming lessons, my phone rang. I dug around in my various bags amidst the wet towels, half full Chick Fil A cups, extra clothes and tennis shoes and found my phone just before the call went to voicemail. I was happy to see it was my Happy calling. I was excited to tell her about our most recent adventure and plunged straight into telling her about how, upon meeting her swim instructor for the first time, Izzi told Coach Marion, “I’m Isabelle McKenzie Creel, and this is Reagan and Riley and Paris and my mom. I’d like to be an Octonaut when I grow up. Do you have any stickers?”

I went on and on and on, as a daughter does when she’s talking to her mama about something she feels proud to have accomplished. When I finally took a breath, my mom spoke for the first time since saying, “hello,” and I could immediately tell something was very wrong.

I could hear and see Paris fussing to get out of her car seat. I knew my boys were trying to get on their bikes instead of going inside, and I saw Izzi stripping off every stitch of her clothing right there in the garage, but all I could hear was mom telling me news I know she wished so much she could have kept to herself to avoid bringing the happily-controlled chaos that is our everyday life to a complete standstill.

“I got the results of my biopsy back, and the news isn’t good. The doctor is sure it’s cancer, and…”

I’m not sure exactly what she said next, because all I heard was, “It’s cancer.”  Those two little words were enough to turn our world upside down, or, as Riley says, “up-slide down.”

She gave me all the information she had at the time, and we hung up telling one another, “It’s going to be ok. We will get through this.” I got all my kiddos safely inside, bathed and tucked into their beds, and I sat down in the middle of my living room floor to process what I’d heard.

After a few minutes of staring silently into space, the gravity of what my mom had just told me began to sink in, and at first – I’ll be honest – I was absolutely terrified.  I couldn’t imagine a future without my mom.  I could not fathom my kids not having their Happy at school plays, baseball games, birthday parties and Christmas dinners.  Who would I call when I needed to know how to make German Chocolate Cake?  How would I survive parenting four teenagers without my mother’s wise words of encouragement?

With all kinds of frightening thoughts swirling in my mind, I had a hard time finding my faith.

I almost let fear win.

But because I had no idea what else to do, I began to do the only thing that made sense to me in that moment. I began to pray. I called on the name of Jesus, and almost immediately, the heavy fog of anxiety that was at first almost tangible to me completely dissipated.

In those first few moments after finding out my mom was sick, I asked that Friend that sticks closer than a brother to give me something from His Word that I could refer back to over the next few months.  I didn’t fully understand what was coming, but I knew I’d need a specific promise to stand on.  I knew I’d need something to go back to as our family stood together with our Happy as she faced doctors and tests and medicines and surgeries in the same way she approaches everything else in life – with grace, strength, dignity and her trademark compassion for the fellow survivors she would encounter on her road to recovery.

He responded with a blanket of peace that wrapped around me like a hug from a dear friend, and in that still, small voice, He spoke softly to me,

“For I know the thoughts and plans I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord…” Jeremiah 29:11-13

I felt sad, disappointed, and honestly, a little bit ticked that my sweet mama had to face such a difficult trial, but I also felt complete peace, because my mother is the strongest woman I know, and “up-slide down” didn’t seem so impossible to turn around when I thought about the God of all creation being the architect of the blueprint for our lives.

This post is a “To Be Continued,” because when I wrote it, mom’s recovery was just beginning, but I wrote it with complete peace, knowing that in a few months, we would look back on the experience and see that His was hand was continually at work on a masterpiece of a plan that we would only be able to appreciate on the other side of our storm.  I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that God has more in store for my family – and for my mother – than a cancer diagnosis.  His plans for us are good, and I’m looking so forward to seeing all of them come to fruition with my mama by my side.

One phone call can completely turn our lives “up-slide down,” but it’s in the midst of those difficult situations that we’re able to clear away some of the fluff and focus on what’s really important in life.

Does something have you feeling “up-slide down?”

Whatever it is, I hope you’ll be encouraged to look up for the rainbow He’s painted on your horizon and be reminded that He’s the Great Architect who can put every single detail of your life right back into divine order.  Hug your “important” people, hold your head up, and rest knowing that you have hope.


You absolutely do not want to miss the “To Be Continued” part of this post.  Come back soon to read about the rest of the journey, but I will go ahead and tell you, my mama beat cancer like a boss!

September 12, 2015


  1. Sylvia Honeycutt-Cernosek

    This was beautifully written from your heart, spirit and mind. While balancing your children on a day to day basis not knowing what your day will be like; when they are that young. However, I have not met you yet. But to me you are your mother and your grandmothers daughter! (I do know your mom, grandmothers and aunts all strong God fearing giving kind women) Keep blogging as it is an inspiration of a mom that never quits encouraging others when LIFE happens “up slide down”.

  2. Jan

    Amber, so beautifully written. I rejoice with you and Happy, my awesome friend, over what God is doing! Love your blogs!

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