497. Learning How to Sing a New Song


Hi, everyone! Remember how I pulled the plug on my blog etc. so I could prioritize health decisions and stuff? Curve ball.

I also said I was working on Learning How Volumes 2 and 3, starring Trainer D and Coach R. New Plan: The guys are on hold and we’re skipping STRAIGHT to Volume 4: Learning How to Sing a New Song.

This one stars my dear friend, Carol Ridgely, aka “Mrs. R.” We’ve been tight since she got a liver transplant in 1999 at Georgetown University and I was a freshman. One week in September she was supposed to have shoulder surgery or something but the surgery got cancelled bc the docs didn’t like how things were looking in there so they did a biopsy. She has an aggressive cancer. So I was in denial for a couple days and then I consoled myself by deciding to write this book.

This is what’s on the back cover:

Carol and Ning are the unlikeliest of friends…

Their backgrounds couldn’t be more different. God saved Carol from an awful life on the street and a heart hardened with hatred. God saved Ning from a lifetime of anger and bitterness after her sheltered Princess and the Pea life ended in a cataclysmic health event. But she knew that victory through illness was possible because she had watched Mrs. Ridgely do it first.

…but they shared the same need and love the same Savior.

2 Corinthians 5.17 …if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.

Mrs. Ridgely has been ill for a long time. When I got sick myself I assumed she’d continue to be around for me to talk to, laugh with, and consult regarding important things. Sigh. Barring another miracle, it doesn’t look like it’s going to pan out that way.

So it is my privilege to tell her story now. The nice people at Unshackled – Pacific Garden Mission, Chicago – sent me the original testimony she wrote in 1992 when she submitted it for their radio program. When they emailed it to me I was THRILLED. Wait ‘til you read the book. Her testimony is powerful and it’s impossible to ignore the leading of the Lord in how he brought us together as friends and to speak with one voice now about how Jesus Christ heals the broken hearted. As I worked through her testimony (I reworked it for the book) I kept on emailing her notes like, THANK YOU for doing this, etc. because it’s super hardcore and I am so grateful that she is willing to share her experience with such openness “so that others who are like I was can know that through the Lord Jesus Christ they, too, can be set free…”

Man alive, I’m playin’ with the big boys now for real.

Fasten your seat belts, kids.

This is not a drill.

The thing is, Mrs. R and I are used to canvassing very heavy topics with each other. We’ve done this since I was 19. So when we got the biopsy results and Mommy, Daddy, and I trekked to the hospital to visit her and Mr. R we walked in, I perched next to her on the bed, and we started jawing away like old times.

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite. It describes our hospital visit (the picture at the top was taken that day) and a subsequent phone conversation. I love this story because it’s so typical of my life – really serious stuff tempered with hilarious moments that make it bearable. I will share chapter 1 tomorrow (Wednesday) at which point the book will be officially published and on sale on Amazon (Prime and Super Saver Shipping Eligible). As always, it’s all nonprofit.

…In the space of a week the cancer is spreading visibly. I know this because when I called yesterday she thought I was the oncology nurse so we chatted for five minutes and I heard the details. Since I have phone talking deficits and a brain injury I am used to pretending that I know what’s going on so I just rolled with it. Who knows how long the conversation would have advanced if she had not figured it out and asked point blank, Is this the nurse?

Bahahahaha!! We had a good laugh over it. The best part was that I was totally playing along even though I was only following about 25% of the conversation. It’s my Game Face. We could have gone on indefinitely. I’m really good at pretending. 🙂

I do better when we’re face to face. That way I can see your lips moving and have a better chance of really getting what you’re saying. I also developed the habit of people-reading before I got sick because it was useful for me professionally.

I was doing some major people-reading on Mrs. Ridgely when we went to the hospital last week. While she was chatting with her doctor and social worker (who, BTW, handled very difficult subjects with clarity and grace) there were some points when I wanted to run screaming from the room.

Well, I probably wouldn’t have run (I need a machine for that), but you know what I mean.

But I thought to myself, I am MUCH healthier now – I am familiar with these subjects and made my own decisions about life and death, etc. Mrs. Ridgely is doing great – she’s making sure she understands what’s going on so she can talk to Mr. Ridgely later and they can decide on what they need to do. The least I can do is sit here and support her.

So instead of running screaming out of the room I put my hand in Mommy’s and laid my head on her shoulder and prayed for help for Mrs. Ridgely to hear these things and also clarity of thought for what she needed to communicate from her end.

This is just a shell. Just a shell, I repeated mentally to myself.

After the doctor and social worker left I resumed my perch next to Mrs. Ridgely on her bed. We continued chatting away because we’re so used to it….

Seriously, please get ready to order this book. It is such a vivid illustration of God’s grace. Just look at Mrs. Ridgely’s smile in the picture above. Her joy is genuine and contagious. When I got sick she encouraged me and told me that long term illness has its ups and downs. Some days are hard. So in addition to reading our book, please pray for comfort and strength for Mr. and Mrs. Ridgely.



484. THIS is why I do this.


3 thoughts on “497. Learning How to Sing a New Song

  1. So happy to hear you have written about about Mrs R. She is so precious.
    My heart grieves for her and Mr. R.
    They have endured a great deal. She is an encourager.

  2. Hooray! I was hoping there was another Ning book in the works! And just when I was wondering what to give friends for Christmas. . .

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