Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tough Terrain

I tend to refer to this season of life as being a path.  When I think of a path, I think of something that - even if it is full of unforeseen twists, turns, descents and climbs - is well defined and relatively free of obstacles.  This is not that. 

What we are walking is rough and jagged.  It feels like each day - every step - holds a potential for harm.  This trail is full of rocks and potholes and the way is not clearly seen.

It seems that each time we think we have some aspect figured out -- some solution to an issue we're facing -- things change.

Trent's oncologist called to talk with me last week.  Though she may not agree with our choices, I do believe that she genuinely cares.  She asked me questions to better understand our perspective.  She shared her concerns and expressed her desire to be a help to us.  We meet with her for our next appointment this coming Friday.

My emotions have been in hyper-drive.  It is so hard to see him in such pain!  When there is something I can do to help alleviate the pain, it is easier for me to deal with; but when I am not able to do anything for him, the weight of the burden is multiplied.  I took the kids to hear a slap-stick comedy / folk music program at the library last Friday.  Who knew that such an event could cause floods of tears??  Keeping my Quiet Time with the Lord is essential to maintaining any sense of emotional balance.  Some days, it is hard to get that time -- Appointments so early that I can barely pry my eyelids open in time to get out the door to get there, the busy-ness of the day, trying to get even just the necessities done, and by the time everyone is settled for the evening, I have to fight to keep my eyes open.  As much as possible, I try for earlier vs. later.  There are days when I mandate that the kids stay in their rooms for a half hour in the middle of the day -- Mom's Quiet Time.  It is imperative that Mom has that time.

Recent events have caused me at times to try to envision what lies ahead.  I know I can't do so, and trying to is unproductive at best.  There is only One who knows what the future holds, and I purposefully surrender the future - and all its unknowns - to Him.  Whatever the days ahead may hold, I know God holds us in His hands.  He is working according to His Will and plan.  We are safe in His care.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thoughts Along the Path

There has been much to think on over the past several weeks. 

*One of the first things that I realized was the great blessing of God's unchanging nature.  Just as God was loving and kind and in control before we received this diagnosis, he was still those same things afterward.  What we knew about our situation had changed.  What we knew about God's character had not changed -- and it never will.  Yes, I knew before that day that God's character was unchanging; but it was such a great comfort and blessing to be able to think on that attribute of God through all of the emotional weightiness of those first few days.

*Many times, a diagnosis such as this -- Incurable Stage 4 Metastatic Cancer -- is thought to be something that shortens a person's life.  I don't see it that way.  I believe that God has known before we existed the day we would enter this earth and the day we will depart.  I don't believe that this diagnosis changes the day that my husband will depart this earth.  I reference this stage of life to being a path.  Our lives will bring us each down many different paths.  We all have somewhat envisioned what the path for our life will be.  No one sets out planning that they will walk the path called Cancer; but that is where God has brought us in life -- and that is all that this diagnosis has changed -- the path that we had envisioned.

*God often does not reveal the 'Why'  for our circumstances, but we do have the promise of His grace to go on.  We must squelch the questions of 'Why' and focus on what God has for us through this.  I desire to learn whatever lessons He has for me, to allow Him to strengthen me, and to glorify Him in whatever lies ahead of me.

*God has given me incredible peace through all of the events recently.  I realized early on that having God's peace was a matter of choice.  God had given me undeniable peace going into this surgery.  Throughout that first afternoon and evening, it kept ringing in my mind, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee."  (Isaiah 26:3)  As long as I kept my focus on God, I would have His peace.  It was a choice.  God had initially given me His peace -- He wasn't going to take it away just because we now had an 'unfavorable' diagnosis.  His peace was still there for me if only I would choose to accept it.

God's peace has been such a blessing and comfort -- like a soft blanket of love and peace.  Some people misunderstand that.  They mistake the peace for indifference.  I assure you that I am fully connected and deeply impacted by this entire situation.  It's just that God's peace has so completely enveloped my spirit.  I don't fault those who don't see it that way -- I know it is something that you have to experience in order to understand (to the extent that we can humanly understand it, anyway).  This is that 'peace that passeth all understanding', the 'peace in the midst of the storm', and as it has been said, "Sometimes He calms the storm -- other times He simply calms His child."  I am so thankful for His peace!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


This is a point where simplicity is a blessing.

Life lately has been so filled with major life events and big decisions.  Even though some of those decisions are ones that - in the end - only Trent can make, as his wife, I am still a part of those decisions.  I long for simplicity.

Though the past few days haven't been totally uneventful, there have been no major incidents, and no major decisions to make.  For that, I am immensely thankful.  Something most people would consider to be so simple -- a day without major decisions -- has become a huge blessing.  I desire that simplicity, and I am thankful for the days it is a reality.

I am working hard at not letting the 'little' things put me over the edge.  Often, I fail in that area.  I find myself having to ask forgiveness and having to determine - again - to do better in that area.  I am thankful that God is "good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy. . . " (Ps. 86:5) 

One of the things I am doing is giving up some of the small decisions.  I usually don't enjoy making decisions -- especially when the matters are inconsequential.  (My husband loves that fact about me.  Um, yeah, not so much . . . . )  Constantly making small decisions can be very stressful for me when the stress or fatigue level is already high.  Giving up those decisions - along with the right to have an opinion of the outcome - is one of the ways that I am actively trying to lessen the stresses that have been getting to me.

I'm also purposely deciding to give up my feelings on the little things.  Does it really matter if someone takes a picture of me that I don't like?  No, but it can really get to me - if I let it.  Does it matter if my daughter, who is full of 'personality', decides on stripes and mis-matched prints for her clothing for the day?  Not most days; but the more stress or fatigue I'm feeling, the more important it seems.  I'm working really hard on 'letting it go'.  Even things that need to be addressed, I sometimes need to let go (i.e. not let it eat at me) until it is clear that the time is right to address it.

I'm determined to do these things - even though I fail much. I need to get these things in balance. I will keep working toward the goal. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Passing Clouds

The clouds that were hiding the sun have dispersed somewhat.  There is sunlight dotted on the path in front of our feet.

My husband was feeling very conflicted after getting the latest scan report. The last thing I wanted was for him to make a decision because he was feeling scared or pressured.  When he relayed to me that the oncologist had said that she wanted to hear from him soon regarding his decision, the first thing I told him is that he doesn't need to make a decision right now.  I know there are times in life when we need to make immediate decisions, but I don't believe that this is one of them.  I knew what I felt he should do, but it isn't my decision.  I wanted him to have time to let the emotions settle and then make his decision.

After I got the word from my husband on the doctor's report, I felt the Lord speaking to my heart again with that familiar refrain, "Trust.  Just trust Me."  I am resolved to do that.

Yesterday, after meeting with our natural practitioner, Trent had made his decision.  He is going to continue what he is doing and wait and see what happens.  As soon as he made his decision, there was a visible difference in him.  His spirit was at peace.  He was settled.  That is so good to see! 

I was thinking this morning how this path has been filled with so many ups and downs.  My husband likens it to a roller coaster -- I see it as a path.  (We view life a little differently. ;-)  )  It is a path of peaks and valleys.  The past couple of days were a small descent in the path, and the skies were clouded.  Today, the skies have cleared a bit.  Only God knows what tomorrow holds, and I will trust Him that He is working this according to His plan and that He will walk with us every step of the way.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Overshadowed Skies

My husband has been experiencing more pain.  At first, we thought maybe it was a result of him doing more -- stretching those areas that were affected by the surgery; but the pains have increased and - at times - intensified.

We made the call to his doctor to discuss the situation.  After meeting with the nurse practitioner, it was decided that he needed a new scan to see if there was anything they could identify as causing the pain.

We received the phone call yesterday.  They aren't sure about the source of the pain, but there was some growth of the cancer that was noted.  The oncologist still thinks surgery is the best path.  Her next recommendation is chemo.  She wants to hear from us soon with a decision.  Not what we would have liked to hear.

We aren't sure what the next step should be.  We are praying for wisdom.

The light that was on our path has faded.  Our steps feel less certain right now.  I am certain, though, that God is still in control and that He still has a plan.  His plan hasn't changed, and He wasn't surprised by these results.  We will wait for Him to reveal more of His plan and follow as He shows us the next step to take.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Grace for Today

God gives us grace to handle today -- not to carry the burden of the past because those things are done, and not for tomorrow because those things have not yet come.

God also gives us grace specific to our situation.  My first lesson in this started many (many) years ago.  I didn't know I was learning a lesson at the time, but it is a situation that has influenced me to this day.

When I was very young, my best friend Craig had brain cancer.  I loved him very much.  God brought him home to Heaven the day after my fifth birthday.  I have only a handful of memories, but they are burned deeply in my memory, and each one is precious to me.

My lesson began with a conversation his mom had with me.  She sat down with me and told me that one day, Craig was going to go and live with Jesus and that when he did, he wouldn't be sick any more and he wouldn't have to go in the hospital any more and he wouldn't have the bandages on his head any more.  (I remember, as a 4 year old, that last one was important to me.)

As I got older, probably a young teenager, I would think back on that conversation and wonder how in the world she could have had the strength to do that.  I could never imagine being able to do something like that with the burden she was carrying.

As I progressed through my later teen years and into my early adult years, it became clearer.  There were things that came into my life that I could never have imagined I would be able go through.  I went through each situation one step at a time -- not because I am a person of incredible strength, but because of God's grace and strength.  God perfects his strength in my weakness  -- the weaker I am, the more God shows Himself strong. (II Corinthians 12:9)  God gave me light enough to see the next step and to keep moving forward.  God gives us grace for our specific situation.  I couldn't understand how Ronnie could have that conversation with me because it wasn't my situation to bear.  God does not give us the grace to handle someone else's burden.  I don't have the grace to carry your burden, and you don't have the grace to carry mine.  We each get the grace to go through our own individual set of circumstances.

Just today, I was reading in Cary Schmidt's book, Off Script  ( where he said pretty much the same thing.  He said "From the outside looking in, that doesn't make sense.  But it's an up-close reality in the trial.  If you had asked me before cancer how I would cope with having cancer, I would have been unable to respond.  But in every moment of every day . . . God meets me there with just enough of His grace to get me through."  (p. 116)

Whatever burden you are facing today, remember, if you are God's child, He is with you every step of the way; and He will give you His grace to face your circumstances. 

Grace for today.