Silence

I’m an introvert so a bit of silence does this heart good. But I usually don’t spend enough time in silence.  The cancer has changed things. I’ve turned into a cat. Sit me in a sunny spot and I’ll just sit there and stare with no thoughts or concerns. I used to ask Anthony what he was thinking and he’d say “nothing” and I couldn’t even conceive of that. I am always thinking about something. But now I get it, I can do the thinking about nothing thing too.

But true silence is waiting for the Lord to speak. Resting in Him, not worrying or rushing off anywhere. And trust that He’ll guide us. And sometimes that means waiting in silence.It can be a long silence, while you go about daily living. Or a short silence as he brings a verse to mind.

Sometimes the silence is so intense it feels like God has turned His back on you. The psalmists often cried out why are you hiding from me Lord. So they are familiar with the feeling. But know that He is always present and there is a reason He has withdrawn His felt presence. Trust Him, keep reading the Word, obeying, and praying. He will “come back” to you.

It’s so easy to write these word, so different to live them out and trust them and believe them in your heard and your head.I put the truth here to remind you, to give ou a place to go to remember. Not to condemn you for not being silent (we all struggle to slow down). Know that this is an encouragement.

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Friday blog hop

The prompts from Tracie Miles are:

  • Stress is an outward indication of an inner situation – a situation of a heart that needs Jesus.
  • You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Luke 10:41-42
  • You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. Isaiah 26:3
  • Unbelief puts our circumstances between us and God; faith puts God between us and our circumstances

They all have the central theme that we need Jesus. If we don’t have that presence in us, if we are ignoring it or crowding it out, then we will suffer. We must search for Him, call on Him, welcome Him in, spend time in His word and seek His will. Obedience and seeking Him will always bring Him near. Even if immediately preceded by disobedience and rebellion. He loves a repentant heart. Confess and turn to Him and all will be well. Even if you deal with consequences of your rebellion, He will be with you. Seek Him and His peace is perfect.

Don’t we all want God between us and our circumstances? That seems a much better arrangement than the other way around. Cry out “I believe, help thou my unbelief” and He will hear.

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Value

Hm… Do I add value to people’s lives as I interact with them? That would be one of my values, to make a positive impact.

Once, as an introvert, my preference was to make no impact and not be noticed. But I have a friend who is a great role model for making a positive impact in the lives of everyone she interacts with. I want to do that. I strive to do that now. Most people who call the house talk about how upbeat and cheerful I seem. Well, I decided being down and sad wasn’t going to help anyone, including me. So I am cheerful and when the nurse or insurance person asks how I am, I truly ask them how they are doing as well.

We have 2 other guys living in our house during this time. It is no imposition at all, they are so easy to live with. One of them hugs me at least once every single day. I love his mother dearly, so I figure at least half those hugs are from her :-). And it warms my heart to get that hug. Plus, he’s tall and it’s the most comfortable hug I get. Hugging others is good, but requires some bending or dodging that isn’t required with Nate. 🙂

So, I value being a positive impact and providing value to others. If they have to deal with me, it might as well be pleasant and hopefully profitable, even if it’s just a smile before they get back to the daily grind. That’s worth the time spent with them. Even an introvert can make good conversation!

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Wave

When I first saw this topic I finally thought, hm… I don’t know what to do with that. But then I soon though of how storms come upon us in life and it can feel like waves.

Wave 1 – Cancer – at first we thought it was just ovarian cancer, in/out, and all done. Boy were we wrong about that. Turns out to be a rare form that doesn’t go into remission and eventually the chemo or the cancer will kill me. Probably 4 to 8 years. That was a doozy of a wave. Of course, it helps that I’m not afraid of death and I’m ready to go home. We are fighting for as long as quality of life is acceptable, and then I go home. But it’s been a hard hit for friends and family who aren’t ready to see me leave yet. That is when I cry, thinking about all of the people I’m leaving behind who will be sad.

Wave 2 – Ileostomy – the gynecologic oncologist tried so hard to avoid this, but it became unavoidable. The tumor/mass was pressing against both the small and large intestine and food couldn’t pass. Not good. Vomiting after you eat is called a disorder 🙂 Now I’m trying to see if that can be reversed, but we won’t really know until he opens me up again and gets a good look at what’s in there.

Wave 3 – hair – I was told I wouldn’t lose my hair, but it thinned so much it was prettier to shave it and start wearing hats and caps. That hasn’t been too hard and friends have provided lots of resources and advice, which helped. But to think it wasn’t going to happen and then end up bald anyway was a bit of a jolt late in the game.

Wave 4 – chemo. I can’t really complain about my side-effects. I don’t have nausea which is a huge blessing.  I have finally started having some neuropathy in my feet but so far it’s manageable. I lost my hair, but that was more or less voluntary when it thinned so much. I have dry mouth, which takes some getting used to, but I can live with that. Still, the fatigue and sleeping for an entire day every few weeks is weird and disrupting.

Wave 5 – LTD and SSD – Having to apply for Long Term Disability (which got approved today!!!) and Social Security Disability has been a fun exercise in bureaucracy. SSD is still delayed until Dec 4, although I’ve been told stage 4 cancer is an automatic approval. Oh well, guess not yet for me. I also upgraded my work computer but it didn’t go smoothly and I lost some stuff I should never need again, and got the stuff I needed to work. But I forget to boot it up and claim like I should. Just takes so much mental energy, which is where my fatigue is most obvious.

Wave 6 – singing – I didn’t have energy or the voice to sing in the choir for a few months. It wasn’t until middle of August that I got my voice back. It was weird not even being physically able to sing. But it is nice to have the voice back and to be back in the choir every Sunday where I worship best. I worship so well through song. I am there for the sermon and to offer my love and obedience to God. But I sometimes express myself best in song. And our church has a great song ministry in the anthem and hymns. I don’t have breath support to do all of the hymns yet, but it’s coming.

Wave 7 – Cataracts. I had issues even before the cancer. In fact, exactly one week before the cancer diagnosis, I was told I did indeed have cataracts in both eyes and needed surgery. A friend asked if I was overwhelmed. A week later I sent her a text for Throw Back Thursday saying “remember when we though cataracts were overwhelming?” Boy, did Cancer put it all back in perspective. But it also greatly accelerated my vision issues so I struggle to read even more than before. I will be happy to have the cataract surgeries 11/17 and 12/7!

Wave 8 – Medical expenses. We have a high deductible policy because we never get real sick. Well, we paid that $10,000 with the first surgery in May. Everything since then has been essentially free :-). But things will change with 2016 and my LTD policy. And we are still out $10,000 this year plus other non-prescription items to help the healing process. We are actually looking at getting that amount from my 401(k) since it was all medical expenses. But it’s been a strange year and next year will be a new adventure figuring out what is covered and how.

Wave 9 – Mom – some of you know my Mom was in the hospital in April and then went into a rehab center near me for May – Sept. Then into my house for about 4-6 weeks to finish home health care before she went home. While it wasn’t a huge burden, it was a little bit of a worry and I would have done so much more for her if I hadn’t been going through my own surgeries. Blessings there have been my thoughtful husband driving straight to the rehab center after my surgery to sit with mom face to face and explain what they had found. And my friends making blankets and quilts for her when she expressed appreciation for the ones I had from friends. And we had some great talks while she was here in the house. We covered serious subjects and laughed at silly subjects.

Wave 10 – my husband – I hat what this is doing to him. The time he’s having to dedicate to me, the exhaustion and fatigue he’s feeling, the sadness that he will lose me years before we expected. But he is a fantastic caregiver. He has come up with ways to keep me warm, tolerated hotter temps in the house than desired because of me, bought food to meet my every whim while trying to gain weight, drives me to Charlotte for every appointment, helps keep up with the paperwork, dealing with his own hearing loss. But he knows how to spoil himself as well. He knows when he needs a break, some time at the Draft House with a friend, etc. And his friends have taken good care of him. Charles and Pastor Lee have taken him out regularly, church friends check in on him, send him cards, and offer support and encouragement. It’s been good, but it’s still been an impact.

Wave 11 – weight loss – I weighed 140 in January. While I was nauseous and lost a little weight in Feb and March and April, I estimate I still weighed 130 when I went in for the first surgery. By Sept I weighed 80 pounds. My body was just not absorbing nutrition from what I was eating. I tried an appetite stimulant, and ate 3500 to 4000 calories a day for a few weeks and still lost weight. They finally put me on TPN, IV nutrition, and I am back up to 102.5, finally in 3 digits.But we still have a long way to go to get to 130.

Wave 12 – peace – I was worried about being an introvert with a lot of people trying to love on me. I was hit with a diagnosis of death at a young age, I had a mother in rehab trying to recover from her own issues including MRSA, I had friends I had to talk to and explain the reality to them, I had an ileostomy bag that I truly dislike. And yet God has been with me through all of that. I haven’t really gotten upset by any of those big issues. It’s been the daily grind of getting through the pain or just passing the time when I can’t sleep, or losing time when I sleep so much. Those drive me t my knees in prayer and He is there every time. I, like many of us, do a better job of trusting Him with the big things than the little things. But He has given me a peace that gets me through all of it, big and little.

I think that’s enough to get the point across. It’s been a crazy year, a year gone sideways as Joan Didion would say. But it’s actually been a good year with God present and friends loving on me in ways I would never have experienced before.

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Temporary

Ha, the first thing to come to mind is my ileostomy which they told me was temporary and now I’m having to convince the GI Surgeon to reverse it. Not so temporary if the surgeon won’t do his part 🙂

What else is temporary? Sufferings. They can feel like they are taking up your entire life and will NEVER end. But they do end. Sometimes by grace, God takes you out of the time of suffering and He always sustains you during the suffering. And sometimes by glory God takes you home. Neither is a bad ending!

I read a great blog post yesterday about the phrase “God never gives us more than we can handle” which is NOT biblical and nonsense. OF course God gives us more than we can handle. We are non-sufficient, people. We don’t bring a lot of strengths to the table, and we bring several trunks full of weaknesses to the table. He wants us to depend completely on Him and the only way He can get us to do that is to send us more than we can handle so we’ll turn to Him, finally!

Yes, trials and temptations He provides us strength to get out of. And suffering whether it’s financial, health and pain, relational, He sustains us. Turn to Him, rest in Him. (I feel like a broken record but it’s the best advice I have to give!) And sometimes even when you are still trying to do things on your own, God has mercy on you anyway and does it or gives you wisdom out of know where to handle something.

I was reading Genesis with the First5 App from Proverbs 31 Ministries and they were talking about how Esau rebelled against God , despised his birthright, married canaanite women, hated Jacob so much he wanted to kill him. Always impetuous and hasty and thoughtless. But God promised him a people and a land, and God provided that to Esau anyway. Even telling the returning Israelites that they couldn’t go up against Edom.

Sometimes God does that for us. We are in the midst of “I do myself” land and He steps in anyway and handles it way better than we were doing. And He provides hedges around us to keep us from going too far off the rails when we aren’t even aware. He is so faithful to His promises and He has promised that we are His and cannot wander away.Try thought we might 🙂

So, sufferings are temporary. God’s love and faithfulness are unchangeable and eternal!

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Honor

One thing that comes to mind is how we honor people when they die. I have told others, having cancer is like being able to attend your own funeral. All the love that has been poured out on me has been a wonderful blessing and I would not have felt it the same way if it didn’t come out until I died.

But I also think we as a culture approach death in a wrong way. We have picked up on the general public secular view that death is bad and should be avoided (usually at all costs). That’s the point to the phrase “its’ better than the alternative”. I said that, glibly I admit, to someone struggling through a rare and serious form of breast cancer a number of years back and her response was “is it?” which made me pause and think.

Of course, now that it’s a very real possibility for me, that the chemo or the cancer will kill me in the next 4 to 8 years, I am thinking about death a lot. And I find that I am not afraid of it. I have faith in God who promises me eternal life on the other side. There will be a time under the throne groaning for the suffering down here, but then there is bliss and wonderfulness. Who would pass that up?

I don’t think I’m a coward, really. I buck up and pray up and face most things pretty well. But I admit watching my Mom in the hospital in Roanoke and the weird signs of dementia (that luckily went away when she got out of the hospital) and the physical struggles all led me to admit to God that Id didn’t want to grow old. It seems He was listening and already knew how I felt and had plans to help me avoid doing just that. And I’m ok with that.

Death is sad, because we miss the person and we think of their potential and what could have been. But we grieve with hope, something the rest of the world can’t do. We (usually) know they have gone to a better place with no pain and no tears and no sin.

This is worthy of a separate post, but remember we are justified in an instance when we believe. Then we are sanctified over a lifetime while we struggle to obey and fight our sinful nature and learn to rely completely on God. Then we are glorified in an instant when we die and are immediately made perfect. That’s the moment I’m looking forward to. When I can lay down my weapons and stop feeling guilty for the fact that I still can’t get dependence down, and I can just enter His rest. Swing low sweet chariot, comin” for to carry me home!

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Worth

What are you worth?

I saw this awesome demonstration of one way to NOT answer that question.

imageDon’t use your weight to define you. Although I have obsessed about my weight after losing 60 pounds in a few months, but once I get it back, I’ll stop worrying about weight. Even when heavier than I liked, it never defined me.

We get our worth from our children. But that puts pressure on them to be perfect. so that’s not a really good option.

We get our worth from our job, but job markets dry up and things go sideways, so another less than safe option.

Maybe our net worth? Again, markets go sideways and danger lurks. Besides, some people don’t care how much money you have.

The best kind of worth is your worth in the eyes of God. He sees you as precious, made in His image, and of infinite worth. He sent His Son to die for your sins so you could have eternal life. Find your worth in something that is unchanging and stable and true. We don’t recognize truth often these days, but look for it, seek for it, ask God for it. He is truth. And that is worthy of our worship and love and obedience.

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Offer

What do we have to offer? Nothing at all of our own. But once we are saved, we are called to works and that is our offering. Along with all our issues and problems and concerns of course.

The pastor’s sermon this Sunday was on James 19ff. He pointed out that we are expected to work, to follow through on this gift from God by responding and obeying and working.  What works do we do? We are good listeners, quick to hear. Every spent time with someone who just listened to you? They weren’t trying to finish your sentences, or explain how the exact same thing happened to the but worse, or looking around at the other people they could be talking to. They just focused on you and listened to you.

Getting cancer produces more moments like this, but I would recommend becoming a good listener to people in their every day lives, don’t wait until they have cancer. 🙂

We control our tempers. This is one I need to work on at work. (Or maybe I don’t go back to that job and it becomes a non-issue. Hope prevails!) But Christians should have their temper under control. And even at my worst, I wasn’t a candidate for anger management classes. But what kind of witness is it to lose control and flip out over some small thing? Don’t do it. Control that tempter. It is a skill that can be learned. Learn it!

Put away wickedness and be filled with meekness. Christians are humble and seek to be holy. We know we won’t be perfect and Jesus forgives all our sins when we repent, but we are to try to be holy. We are to make an effort to not sin, to resist.

And be doers of the word. Again, do what it says. Don’t just read it and meditate on it and say what good it is. Do it. Be someone who sees and cares about others. Have you met people who don’t seem to actually “see” other people? Their problems or concerns don’t ever seem to register with that person? It’s a weird thing to someone who is sensitive to others. Although most of us probably go through periods where we are like that.

I’m finding that right now while I’m the one most people are praying for, I can get people to reveal what they need prayer for so I can return the favor and pray for them. Or help them even. I have learned what a privilege it is to raise someone up to Heaven in prayer. Don’t think your issue is too small, heavens, it isn’t cancer at least. Know that if it is big to you, then that is all that matters. Ask for prayer!

Visit orphans and widows. Take care of those less fortunate and in need. Physically care for them, don’t just bless them and move on. Actually meet their needs with food, facilities, money, etc.  Think about the good Samaritan. He didn’t leave the guy in the ditch. He took him to an inn, paid for his care, etc. He physically met the man in his need!

That’s what I have to say about offering. We offer our good deeds to God in gratitude for what He has done for us. We don’t just sit back and wait for death or the Second Coming.

I know a person who is very lazy and isn’t taking care of daily business, much less the additional things listed above. And in thinking about the sermon and other things I’m reading, I’m worried about the state of his salvation. Now, I do believe someone can be lazy and saved at the same time, but the salvation should start to bring out some change, and if you have to wait too long for the change, perhaps the salvation isn’t there.

So I pray for this person, that they will be awakened to the gift given them by God and spurred to action.

In love,

Laura

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Friday post

Prompts from Tracie Miles

  • So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive a mercy, and we find grace to help us when we need it most.  Hebrews 4:16
  • Stress is a battle. Choose your weapons Carefully (Ephesians 6:11)
  • God can’t mend our hearts if we never admit they are broken.

I think I’ll go backwards this time.

We do have to admit we are broken before God can do anything to help us. That’s why hHe sometimes takes us to very dark places, to get our attention and make us face our brokenness instead of avoiding it or denying it.

He wants to mend our hearts, He aches for us to turn to Him. But we stubbornly insist we are fine or that we can fix ourselves. But, honey, we cannot fix ourselves. That will never happen. Instead, only God can fix us so we have to turn to Him at some point if we are going to get fixed. Sooner is better than later.

Stress is part of our brokenness. We stress over things that don’t matter or that aren’t in our control. We need to remember God is in control. Our best weapon is the Word of God as He reminds us of all His promises and that He is faithful to keep them all. With weapons like that, we can defeat the stress, beat it back,

So we know we can come boldly to the throne of God and ask for Him to keep His promises, ask Him for wisdom, ask Him for comfort. Here’s a post from Todd Billings (who has a terminal form of cancer) on lamenting and getting in God’s face. He listens and hears us when we do this. It isn’t a terrible thing to do, as long as do so with faith that God is still sovereign and God is still good and just. Turn to Him boldly. Crying, yelling, searching, questioning, trusting, in all ways turn to Him for everything.

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Laugh

This makes me think of Sarah and Abraham laughing that they would have a child in their really really old age.

But it also makes me think of the phone call I just got. A friend from church calling about the size of the candles that go in the window at church. It isn’t her job to have anything to do with those candles, so I have no idea why she called me. I can see the secretary calling or emailing me, but not this friend who shouldn’t even be worrying about decorating the church for Christmas.

And why call me? There are others who know even more about decorating and where the boxes are stored and likely what box holds one of the candle holders for her to look at.  But she calls me and I stumble around because I don’t know why she is the one calling or why she even cares. And eventually we get to an answer that may satisfy at least one of us. I often leave these conversations with this person feeling I’ve offended, when I’m just trying to figure out why she’s even involved. Oh well, I had a nice laugh after it was over, she knows where the candle holders are now, so hopefully she can figure out what size we need, and someone can order them.

Of course, all of this could have waited until the night we decorate the church or Christmas in another month and a half.

Anyway, back to the topic. Laughter is good and fun. We laugh a lot in this house these days, even in the midst of bad news. Morbid humor is pretty common as well. We like to laugh, make jokes. It may lighten the load. It certainly makes life more fun.

Remember, laughter is good and healthy. Add some to your life today!

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