Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lead me to the Rock...

"Hear my cry, O God,

    listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
    when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,

    a strong tower against the enemy."  Psalm 61:1-3

Here it is, the wee hours of the morning, and I find myself sitting at my laptop contemplating...again.  There has been something on my mind for a few days.  It isn't life-changing or earth-changing, it is simply a decision I need to make for myself.  

As I woke this morning around 2:30, my thoughts were "when my heart is faint, lead me to the rock that is higher than I."  My heart isn't actually faint, and the enemy isn't assailing us or pursuing us, but I know that going to the rock that is higher than I will be my refuge.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest."  I don't feel weary, nor do I feel like I carry a heavy burden, but at 2:30 in the morning I certainly wouldn't argue over some rest.

It reminds me of all the sleepless nights I spent thinking about my health, my diagnosis, my surgery, my recovery, etc, etc, etc.  All of those nights when my heart was faint, all of those nights when I was weary of carrying such a heavy burden, He was a strong tower for me and he did give me rest.

So why is it that now, when I'm thinking of this uncertainty, why is it that I don't run full speed ahead to the rock that is higher than I rather than lying awake in my bed?  Why is it that I find myself questioning "next steps" rather than resting in His goodness?

I think it's because I think myself capable of handling my everyday decisions on my own.  When faced with cancer my only hope was to let him carry me through it all.  I couldn't carry the burden myself.  But "this thing" that consumes my mind, I think I can carry alone.  "This thing" threatens my peace of mind and steals my rest, why would I try to carry it alone?  

Why is it that we choose to carry our burdens when He's offered, no promised, to give us rest?  He doesn't care what our burdens consist of, how big they seem in our own eyes, or how insignificant they may really be.  He only wants us to trust him with them all.  He wants to give us rest.  

Only a crazy person awake in the wee hours of the morning would refuse rest.  I am going to the rock that is higher than I for even in this new thing he will be my refuge and my strong tower.

Only By His Grace,


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What was intended...

Today is my idea of the perfect fall day.  It's cooler, but not so cool as to be uncomfortable.  It's rainy, but little more than a drizzle.  The leaves have changed colors, but haven't yet faded to brown.  

It occurred to me this morning that I am approaching my one year anniversary of the worst day of my life.  Last year, the week of Halloween I was in so much pain but none of my doctors could find a reason.  I had been on multiple antibiotics and was beginning to treat my pain with narcotic pain medicine.  Still, no one knew why.

Little less than two weeks later I woke up in a recovery room with my husband by my side, rubbing my hand, and a doctor whom I do not know and can barely remember saying to him, "I don't know if they'll want to do Chemotherapy or not."  Although I was in a dense fog of anesthesia I remember the incredible sinking feeling I had.  My thoughts ranged from, "It must be bad if they don't know if they'll want to do chemotherapy or not," to "I am not going out like this!"  That is the moment I look back on fondly because I realized my "fighting' side" was coming out.  I may go down, but by goodness not without a fight!

I think of Joseph, who's brothers sold him into slavery.  He said to them, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done."  Genesis 50:20

This is how I feel about my cancer.  It was intended to harm me, but God intended to use it for my good.  And I believe that He has. I believe I see things more clearly now.  I definitely live life more freely now.  And I have learned to let go of things that do not matter.

The thing is, each of us has an opportunity every single day to find something that was meant to harm us; words spoken, actions taken, opportunities wasted.  All of these things can be meant to cause us hurt or harm, but if we choose to, we can allow these things to be used for our good.  

We are approaching the start of November and the Thanksgiving season.  I am so thankful I can look back at this past year with gratitude and grace instead of regret and remorse. 

The memories aren't always easy or fond.  Somedays they still bring me to tears.  To be truthful, there are even moments when I fear the cancer will return.  It's in those moments I remind myself of Joseph's words, "What was intended for my harm, God used for my good."  

Only By His Grace,


Friday, October 17, 2014

Where morning dawns and evening fades

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; 
where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.  
Psalm 65:8 NIV

Early morning is my favorite time of day. The house is quiet and even the dog just wants to lie in her bed and catch five more minutes of uninterrupted sleep. There is something spectacular to me about getting up while the house is still dark, turning on the fireplace, lighting a couple of candles and tuning into my favorite Pandora of instrumental soothing music. It starts my day in a peaceful, calm, relaxed way and I love it!

Early morning is when everything begins again anew.  Yesterday's failures are behind, incomplete tasks have been put to bed, the body and mind are given a fresh, clean slate with which to start again.  That brings me great comfort.

Outside my back windows I can see the sunrise.  We've lived here going on eight years, now, and only last year did I really notice how beautiful the sunrise was outside my own back door.  One morning, after a particularly long chemo treatment, I sat in my chair looking out the window at the sunrise and was overcome by it's beauty.  How could I have missed it all of these years?  How many gorgeous sunrises had I missed?  How many fuchsia skies?  How many autumn trees?  How much had gone unnoticed?  How many more beautiful sunrises would I not see if I died?

Psalms 65 says, "The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy."  How many opportunities to bring a song of joy did I miss?  The whole earth is filled with awe at God's wonders, why had I been I too busy to notice them?

This was the scene that unfolded outside my back window this morning.

From dawn's first glimmer of daybreak the sky began it's metamorphosis from black to blue and pink.  Within five minutes it had absolutely come to life with color.

This is the sunrise I can experience almost every morning...if I take the time to notice.

What a difference five minutes can make. Five minutes standing in awe of a great God can change our skies from dark and bleak to bright and brilliant.  Even now as I peer out the window, dawn has shown it's light on the entire woods behind the house.  They are no longer black and dark, but are alive with autumn colors.  

You know, when our lives are in a very dark place and all things look bleak, five minutes with a great and loving God can change even the worst circumstance into living color.  The darkness doesn't seem as difficult to navigate and we can stand in awe of his wonders and call forth a song of joy.

Cancer is a dreadful disease.  But mine taught me many valuable of which was to stand in awe of God's wonders and sing a song of joy!

Only By His Grace,


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A perfect peace...

I was thinking this weekend about the peace I've felt throughout my cancer journey.  It's funny to me because now, I feel like I'm an outsider, looking back on someone else's memories.  It's as if I just survived a terrible wreck and walked away...the further I get from the wreckage, the more I can see and I find myself saying, "Wait!  What the heck just happened?!?!?!"

God was so gracious to give me a perfect peace throughout it all.  I knew my chances of survival were slim.  I thought there would be a hole in my family forever.  I knew eventually my memory would fade and lives would continue without me.  But throughout the whole thing I had a perfect peace.  Sadness at times, but peace nonetheless.

It's only now that I find myself waking in the night fearing the cancer will return.  What if it comes back and it's inoperable?  Is this headache sinus or brain cancer?  Is this pain in my leg because I walked 4 miles today or is it bone cancer?  Am I tired today because I stayed up too late this weekend or is there cancer lurking about somewhere in my body?  These questions are normal after an ordeal like this.  Still, in it all, when those tiny moments of fear strike, I still feel a great peace.  I know that whatever happens God is still sovereign and I am in his care.  

I realized all of this over the weekend as I was wasting time on Pinterest.  Oh, Pinterest...the great time evaporator :)  I found myself looking at Christmas decor...

A cute garland...

A bundle of logs for the fireplace...

I realized that last year my thoughts were, "If I die before we take down the Christmas decorations I don't want it to be too large a task for my family."  And, "If I put up all my Christmas trees (we have 13 at last count) will I feel like taking them down in January?  These are not the thoughts of this year!  This year I'm planning where my Santa collection will go.  I'm thinking of stocking stuffers and advent calendars.  This year there won't be a dark and dreadful cloud hanging over our holiday!

I saw this graphic recently and thought it was profound...

"It's not the load that breaks you down; it's the way you carry it." ~Lena Horne~

But as I pondered the weight of the load we carried, and at times still carry, I realized that it's not always the way you carry it, but more importantly whom you allow to help you carry it.

I'm thankful that I was, and am, kept in perfect peace... I'm thankful I have one greater than I to help me carry my load :) 

Only By His Grace,