In God’s time…

In God’s time…

There’s a row of clouds measuring the treetops–barely peaking over, all in a straight row.  And I imagine heaven above, over on the other side of this eastern sky.

I reach for my Fitbit and like every single morning the stupid thing seems to be shouting at me.  The words are right there–scrolling, counting the milliseconds–fast.  GO, GO, GO.  And I roll my eyes and slap it on my wrist.

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And then I remember what Christian writer Jan Karon wrote, “What are you going through these days? I am going through being in my eighties and waiting for the One who loved us first to give me a new direction, path, journey, ministry, passion. Waiting, that’s always hard.  But right now, for the first time in my life, I am willing to wait.  It’s okay to wait. It is even GOOD to wait.  Whatever you are up to, waiting, hurting, feeling free, doubting, loving, straining, busting a gut, it is good.  Give thanks, and you will be rewarded.  I promise.”

In her eighties–she waits.

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_DSC0003Also in the waiting are two men of God in my church–their bodies engulfed with cancer. And they are using their voices–one with song and both with testimonies of the goodness of the Lord.  They celebrate every day, not in the hurriedness but in the thankfulness.

Jacob–he rang the bell this week and his family and friends celebrated–no more chemo.  Cancer-free. This family has inspired and encouraged many in their journey.  They have waited–trusting in God’s healing.  And God is good.

I listened as a dear friend told me how her biopsy was more painful than she expected and her voice was shaky. And as brave as she wants to be I know she is scared. Tired. Worried.  In two short days she receives her results and in the waiting we will pray.

And just this week I heard–two more women I know have been diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.

On this morning I sit again in familiar surroundings. 30 days plus in this waiting room–today is my follow-up.   This elderly woman, she comes out the door smiling after her treatment.  Her husband patiently waited and he begins to gently lift her coat up to her shoulders–the coat is the color of God’s bluebirds.  She smiles and waves good-bye to all of us who remain in the waiting and she tells us to have a good day.  The flood of emotions I never expected from this place is somewhat overwhelming.

The two men in my church, they remind me of Paul and Silas–happy, singing high the praises of the One who’s coming.  The One who will break down their prison walls of cancer–He’s coming.  Their rescue–the breaking free–the healing.   He is coming.

And the morning rain is pouring mercy.

 

 

 

 

30 and done…will I walk this way again? Only God knows

30 and done…will I walk this way again? Only God knows

The trees stand against the sky forming this silouette and the dark sky is melting into colors of grays, pinks, blues.  They say rain’s coming today as it has so many times this winter.  And there are new beginnings in this day.

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She smiles when I walk in the office as I have for thirty plus times. And she tells me I can go on back to my changing room. And I see this closed door straight ahead I have seen so many times–the radiation room.  The thickness of the door is ten inches or more wide and the sign flashes “In Use”.  And on the door is this gold sign–Caution. High Radiation Area.

Today’s the day–my last of thirty–the last radiation treatment.

img_4465She told me this year made 21 years of walking cancer free. And there’s this invisible thread she and I share of being breast cancer survivors.  Another friend and her card read, ‘We are sisters in Christ and now we also have a very special bond!’ And so many other women who have shared their stories. All of our walks were very different in many ways, but this thread–it’s more than the sharing of a cruel disease.

The answer on the health checklist changes not only for me, but for my children, my grandchildren, my siblings, my family. Yes, I have had cancer. Yes, someone in my family has had cancer.  There is this history now and this thread of family pulls us tighter, closer.

And writer Carolyn Larsen calls this thread, “God’s thread.”

 

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The machine starts the normal buzz and on this morning it seems to last longer and the noise–much louder.  And I hold back the tears of thirty plus times here–with treatments and tests. My radiation oncology nurses are waiting as the machine comes to a stop–clapping and they hand me some necessary paperwork and a certificate of completion with my name engraved in ink.  And it reads I have ‘completed the prescribed course of radiation therapy with the highest degree of courage, determination and good nature.’

And I am unworthy and it’s not me who deserves any of these accolades–it’s so many others–it’s the woman who waits every morning for her husband to finish radiation treatments so she can drive him to his chemo treatment–fifty miles away.  It’s the man who sits in his familiar wheelchair with his cane carefully placed in his lap and humbly allows the nurses to roll him back into the radiation room.  It’s the mamas and daddies who reach deep for another day of courage as they count down another chemo treatment for their child. And it’s the doctors and nurses who day after day see people as much more than patients–they see with their hearts and smile every single day when somedays it would be much easier to cry.

And it’s God’s thread that connects us all.

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Cancer–it will forever be a part of my story.  Will I walk this way again–only God knows.  But that is not a worry of today or tomorrow for me.  For the power of our thread is strengthened by prayers lifted in faith and love. And I have felt each prayer spoken on my behalf and there are no words to express my heart of gratitude.

And the sliding door–it opens a little wider.  Today is a beginning. Not a start-over, a new beginning.  There is a difference–a big difference. And God’s mercies are new every morning. And He is bigger, greater than any disease.  And He is good.

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. Lamentations 3:22-24 (KJV) 

 

cancer is cancer and love is of God: the Saturday Gratitude Journal

cancer is cancer and love is of God: the Saturday Gratitude Journal

I have this scar—it’s about five inches long.  The place where my skin was broken and the cancer was taken out of me.

She wore a pink shirt and when she got ready to leave the cancer clinic she forgot which side of the building she had parked her car.

And another lady–she walked in.  Her face glowed and her head, it was covered in a yellow and blue scarf with the tiniest of flowers weaved into the colors.

Cancer does these things.

Cancer is cancer and love is of God.

He came into the house and turned around quickly, back out to his truck.  I forgot something my son-in-law said.  And when he came back into the house he handed me this pink ribbon pin.  ‘I got this for you’.  And I couldn’t get my voice to speak as it wrestled with my overwhelmed smile.

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A Mama this week–her message read, my family is praying for you.  Her message went on to say–‘even though the treatments are different, please know I am here to talk anytime you need to talk.’  And I broke.  You see, this Mama, she’s in her own battle with cancer.  Her young son, in the midst of chemotherapy.  And he is a warrior, a fighter, and he makes no bones about it nor does his Mama or Daddy or his family–they all love Jesus and their faith and hope is steadfast in Him.

And I think about her, thinking of others in the midst of her own storm and I am drowning in this undeserved grace.

Cancer is cancer and love is of God.

The mail comes and more than once comes this love.  A beautiful shirt handmade by a friend I don’t see very often but I know she’s always there–anytime–day or night if I need her.  And I will do the same for her.

And so many other heart gifts, words, cards, reminders of ‘I’m praying for you’, ‘We are thinking of you’

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We take our seats before worship songs begin and one of our Deacons is carrying this large Ziploc bag–filled with pink ribbons with pink pins.  And he hands me the pin and tells me one of the ladies in our church fixed the ribbons and he was giving them out to everyone.  And I can’t imagine the time she spent making these gifts. I look up and see pink ribbons adorning lapels and dresses and shirts and jackets and coats.  And in my heart there’s this pouring out of what seems to be like the breaking of the alabaster jar where heaven breaks and blessings pour down.

Cancer is cancer and love is of God.

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This week my aunt was rushed to the hospital on Monday fears she had had a stroke.  It was later determined she had a large mass on her brain.  God answered our prayers as the surgery on Thursday was successful, the mass was removed and my aunt is doing very well.  Our family is waiting on the test results and we covet your continued prayers.

It’s true.  Cancer doesn’t treat us all the same.  Our treatments and diagnosis may be different.  But there is this promise in the lifting of prayers in faith-believing. And the love we give to each other matters.  Love matters.

And cancer is cancer and love is of God.

And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cornithians 12:9

the nurse was right: The Saturday Gratitude Journal

the nurse was right: The Saturday Gratitude Journal

Her name was Amanda and her daughter is studying to be an Exceptional Children’s teacher.  And my nurse, Amanda and I agreed on many of the same things–she, like me, doesn’t drink soft drinks–sweet tea is her drink of choice, especially Chick-fil-A tea, just like me.

But what we agreed on most was this, I am a blessed woman.   Yep, that’s what she said. She asked in surprise as she read my health chart, ‘No surgeries, ever?!  You are a blessed woman!’

I replied loud, ‘I know!’

And then she said, ‘You have a good doctor, a good surgeon.  He is a good Christian man, a man of faith and he will pray with you before your surgery.  And he did.  A most humble and thankful prayer.  One I will not forget.

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Photo courtesy of Jill Miller Woodie 

 

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I struggled to tell others at first.  It was difficult to even say the words, “I have cancer. Cancer.”  And on that Tuesday as my doctor explained my diagnosis and treatment plan I listened, carefully soaking in his every word so I could relay it back to my family.  My mind accepted the news.  It was my heart that took a little longer.

But as I shared the news with others in the following days I began to understand more of God’s grace and the power of prayer. And as much as it is hard, these storms, there is beauty in the suffering.  So many women and other cancer survivors have reached out to me in the last few weeks.  Many I didn’t know their story.  Until now.  Stories of individual’s battles and healing of different types of cancers–Stories only God can write.

“I am praying for you, 4 years ago I also had breast cancer, stage 1.  I can truly say I know what you are going through.  And God was with me every step of the way and I know He will be with you.  If I can be of any help in any way please let me know.  Praying.” 

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And on this Saturday afternoon I sit here and write–one day after my surgery and I am doing well, extremely well and I think of each of you who continues to lift my name in prayer.  Each of you who believes we serve an amazing God who carries us through the valleys.

My heart is overwhelmed, my heart is full.  Because of my family. Because of each of you.  Because of God’s faithfulness.  Because of His promise to never leave our side–His mercy.  His love.

This week as with any week I have much to be thankful for…..

For answered prayers,  as my daughter said, To God be the Glory! 

For nurses named Kim, Amanda, Sabrina and so many others I can’t recall their names

For Dr. Stephen Rosser, God has given you a gift and you have touched my life with your faith and tender care

For Iredell Memorial Hospital 

For friends who lovingly pray–I could feel every one of your prayers. For your messages, offerings of help–please know I love you all

For the gift of grape jelly, a cure-all for anything. Sarah–your grandmother was so right

For my church, who when one hurts, we all hurt. Blessed to be a part of the family of Hilltop Baptist Church. 

And for a young boy named Jacob Brown and his family.  For sharing your story, your fight against cancer.  Your faith and trust in God through your storm inspires and encourages so many.  Praying strong for all of you. 

Tomorrow’s my Daddy’s birthday.  He would have been 79 and tomorrow he celebrates his 5th birthday in heaven.  I can’t explain how much my heart hurts on some days–missing him.  And I know the rest of my family feels the same.  He was truly a gift because you see he wasn’t born out of my Grandmother’s womb, he grew out of her heart and I am thankful God chose him for our family.

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The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.  Psalm 23:1 (KJV)