Tag Archives: religion

My year of cancer . . . uncommon peace

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One year ago on Friday, Jan 13th, I heard the words, “I am 99.9% sure the lump is breast cancer” I sat stone faced, I nodded and after what seemed hours I uttered, “okay, now what?”. I had just had a mammogram and then an ultrasound of a mass in my right breast. Minutes later, I was having a biopsy. They do not mess around in this small-town teaching hospital. Side note, who goes in for a mammogram on Friday 13th?

I drove home unblinking, walked in the door stunned and in shock. I looked at Tim and told him that I had cancer. He never blinked, he never wavered, “we will do this together”.

I remember we were supposed to head into work, we found ourselves at the ocean. It is the place I can make sense of the senseless, it is the place that soothes my soul, it is a place of healing for me.

Tim was true to his word, all the chemo, the week in the hospital, all the surgeries, all seven and a half weeks of radiation, all of it. He sat with me, sitting in the hard chair of the watcher. I have never loved him more. You know who else was there through all of it? My heavenly father, holding me tight, always.

This last year has been a blur of doctors, operating rooms, needles, chemo and radiation. I feel like I have aged 5 years since last January. It has also been a blur of helping hands, urgent prayers, physical and virtual hugs, and the abundant peace that Jesus provided.

I was exhausted, so exhausted. I was, at times, void of emotion and in an instant full of emotion. I was never afraid, I always felt peace covering me.

There are snapshots that flash though my mind:
Shaving my head
Laughing with the nurse before my port placement
Laughing with the same nurse months later before my emergency port removal
Loving arms of my husband
Faithful friend’s offers of help
Caring nurses
Caring doctors
Days that I felt well enough to be in the sun
Farm-fresh eggs from my boss
Family gatherings
Friends visiting
Months of not having to shave my legs
Sweet times with my heavenly father
I chose to shuffle through only the funny or encouraging snapshots. The others are there, but I choose to dwell in the grace and faithfulness I experienced through this year.

I still have a journey ahead, but the tough stuff is over. I have my one year mammogram this coming Friday, I am expecting an “all clear”. I continue to feel the peace that has covered me this last year.

As I look back over this year it is with a grateful heart.

My heart hurts.

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I have gone back and forth about this post for days, maybe longer. I am still not sure if I should post it. But my heart is hurting, and this will help me sort out my feelings . . . maybe.

There is a phenomenon sweeping our nation right now of women finding the nerve to speak out about actions that happened to them in their past. I feel like one of the reasons there is a flood of women coming forward is because a few came forward and they were listened to, it gave others the courage to come forward. One of the biggest lies victims buy into is that “no one will believe you, it is my word against yours” and seeing other women tell their story and be believed gives them courage to speak up.

Are there attention seekers that lie? Most probably, yes, however, this should not stop us from believing that this is and has been a problem even among believers. This is the thing that hurts my heart the most, the way I am seeing how some believers view sexual assault. How some believers are deal with sexual assault in the church.

I read an article about pastor of a super church, who 10 years ago, while a youth pastor, gave a 14-year-old girl a ride home. On the way he took a detour and sexually abused her, afterwards he took her home with the instruction to be silent. Recently this now 24-year-old woman wrote about her experience. This man stood in front of his church and told them that he had a sexual indiscretion 10 years ago. He said he thought it had been dealt with “back then”. Then looking into the TV camera, he invited this victim to contact him, so he could help her with forgiveness and healing. He had the nerve to put this on her. Let me, your attacker, help you to healing, really? How arrogant. What troubles me most is that he was given a standing ovation by the congregation. This was not an indiscretion, this was a crime.  Child molestation. A crime. My heart hurts.

This story brought back a memory long forgotten. I remember my parents sitting me down and telling me to never be alone with one of the men in the church we attended. I remember hearing whispers about a sexual assault he perpetrated or tried to, on a young girl close to my age. I was not supposed to ever know about this. This young lady was also told not to be alone with him ever again. I think back on the horror this girl must have felt to have to see this man seemingly never miss a step with his place in this church. The memory is foggy and vague, there may have been some sort of church discipline, I don’t remember any. I do remember thinking that, because of the way this was “handled”, this girl must have done something wrong and it was her partly her fault.  It was not in any way her fault, she was a victim many times over. Every time she had to face this man. Over and over, every church function, every Sunday. My heart hurts.

How many times did/does this happen in our churches? I am embarrassed by this. I am embarrassed that any victim is made to feel at fault, or not believed, or thrown to the side to save a reputation that should not have been saved. My heart hurts.

There is a troubling sentiment I have seen on social media from some Christian women. They are usually referring to unchurched, women who live a life style they do not approve of, women they think are below them. I have seen this phrase, or one very close to it, over and over “if they are going to dress like a whore they deserve what they what they get”. Nope, nope, nope. How can any Christian think this, let alone put it in writing? Us, who have been forgiven of so much, thinking because of anything, anything, that any person deserves to be assaulted. My heart hurts.

I don’t get it. I don’t. I don’t want to get it. I don’t want to understand it. I want this to continue to break my heart. I want to continue to hurt for the victims. I don’t want to get it. My heart hurts.

The day before THE Day – Revisited

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Good Morning – On this day before “The Day” I want to revisit my blog from last year. On this day especially since the death of my son, I think of how Jesus’ closest friends and family must felt, how sad and hopeless. And then there was Sunday!

We celebrate Good Friday, we worship in eternal gratefulness Resurrection Sunday, but there is a day in between. This morning I was thinking of this day in between. What was that day like?

We often give Jesus’ followers a bad rap, we talk about how they did not believe, how they hid away. This day in between must have been so confusing. Their King, friend, teacher, Shepard had died before their very eyes. I’m sure they all had stories in their heads about how Jesus’ capture and crucifixion would go. Think about it, if you walked with him every day and saw the incredible miracles how would you imagine the end? I think I would imagine Jesus’ saving himself, or God’s army of angels giving those soldiers what they rightfully deserved. I know I would have been in that room with all the others trying to make sense of what I just saw. How can you make sense of that with our earthly bound, finite minds. We often can’t make sense of the death of a loved one who was not God, how could you make sense of God in human form dying?

I don’t blame them for hiding out, for being confused. At the very least taking time to re-group. Grief is a strong powerful thing to our human minds, sometimes it takes hiding out, returning to the familiar to get our bearings.

On this day in between I wonder, what was happening? Was Martha making sure everyone was fed? Was Mary sitting in a corner of the room weeping? What were the disciples thinking? Were the discussions amid their grief centered around what’s next? Were they feeling left behind, a little betrayed? Were they wondering if the last few years were real? This just did not happen like they thought it might.

If we are honest would not we have reacted in the same manner? I know I would have gone to the familiar to re-group, maybe even hide. I know I would have been wondering if I had just given the last few years of my life to a dream that just blew up. I think about the things of so much less magnitude that shake our faith, make us doubt, Jesus’ followers were human with feelings like ours. Let’s give them a little grace this season, understand how confused and grief stricken they were.

Take a minute, try to imagine what this day in between held, what you would be feeling and doing. Then celebrate with all of creation for the next day, the day that brought unbelievable, uncontainable joy to all.

Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

Broken

 

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I entered this new year with great dreams of running a few 5ks this summer. My foot repaired and healing well, my husband willing to give running a good try. Big dreams. Big goals.

I sit here this morning a little broken, physically for sure, and fighting the mental brokenness that often comes with physical. Looking for the lessons that are sure to be lurking in the corners of broken.

I am drawn to broken seashells, there is beauty inside the shells that can not bee seen until they are broken enough to reveal what is inside.

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Colors and patterns hidden inside. Beauty missed if left intact. I want to be like that in this season. I want light to shine into my corners and reveal gratitude instead of bitterness. Broken with grace is hard work, it is easy for me to fall into the habit complaining.

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If I am honest, I am a little jealous when I see people jogging. I am missing walking on the sand by the sea. I am not fond of crutches, (I tamed that down a lot 🙂 ). I am an active person that finds it extremely hard to sit still for too long. This season of stillness has been difficult but there are lessons to be learned. I want to learn them, I want to use my broken to find beauty hidden in my corners.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:17

 

How does God put up with me?

 

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We live in a world where complaining is just part of our conversation. We whine “this line is too long”, “it took so long for that waitress to bring my food”, “why is this taking so long?”, “I don’t have . . . ” It goes on and on. It has become just how we communicate, we whine, we complain.

I have had a week of listening to just that, there is a lot of change happening where I work, good exciting things, but the path to get there is a little painful. And then there is me complaining about their complaining. Whew, no wonder I am so tired when I get home.

All the while we lose site of the fact that we have a job, a good job. We lose fact that we should count it a privilege to sit in a nice clean waiting room to see a doctor. It should be counted a privilege to wait to have food served to us. We should count it all a privilege.

There is so much we should be grateful for, I have a saying that is a little joking but so full of truth, when I am met with a lot of complaining. “At least you aren’t sleeping under a bridge tonight” This statement is as much for me as anyone. What an abundance we live with.

There are people in hospice that are grateful for just that next breath, there are people living under bridges that are grateful for the sandwich a stranger gave them, there are people who are grateful to have any job even if it is working a field.

How can I be so brazen before God to complain about anything. Anything at all. All that I have is a gift, straight from the hand of God. How is that not enough? How would I feel if I handed precious gems to my children and they complained because it was not gold, or it was not enough. How does God put up with us?

Eve did it, “why can’t I eat that?”. Adam did it “why did you give me this woman to tempt me?”  The Israelites did it “why do we have to eat that?” From the beginning of time God, who has showered us with blessings has had to listen to our ungratefulness.

While thinking about this I wondered why God created us this way? If it were me I sure would have taken that module out, I would have snipped that wire that went to the complaining component. Then I realize complaining isn’t the problem it is a symptom. The problem is that we were created with a longing for something more. We were created with an empty space, We look around for something to fill it. Things, action, anything but what was meant to fill it. How ridiculous we must sound to God.

There is a very real reason we feel unsatisfied. It is a God sized hole. Only God can fill it.  God created that in all of us, I need to remember to fill my complaining corner with God.

I have been sitting here thinking of all the things I tend to complain about, I am ashamed.

Instead of complaining about being stuck in traffic I want to thank God for the ability to travel so easily. Instead of complaining about waiting on the doctor again, I want to thank God I have medical care. Instead of complaining about waiting for my food, I want to be grateful that we can sit in a nice warm space and have food served to me. Instead of complaining about cleaning the bathroom, I want to be thankful that I have a nice warm home to clean.

Do you find yourself in the habit of complaining? How will you show your gratitude today?

Wondering in the quiet

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This quiet Christmas morning I will sit still. No dinner preparations this year. Presents already unwrapped, wrapping paper and bows still linger under the tree. The tree is the only light in the early dawn, there is the magic of stillness dancing in the air.

Today I will sit in the quiet of the moment, reflecting on what we are celebrating. God, in all his unimaginable glory packaged in the flesh of a helpless baby.

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Do you ever wonder how that felt? Do you ever wonder if he was frustrated with the limitations? I wonder if he always knew he was God, when he was lying in the manger, did he know? Could he see the life that was ahead of him? Or was he blest with blindness of the future that we as humans are blest with? Did he know that just a short time ago he soared with angels, and now he was dependent on two imperfect human beings for even the most minor of needs?

Did he know in that moment of celebration that in 33 short years he would know a time of despair that had never been felt before? Did he know right then that he would be resurrected to save the souls of mankind? Did he know that even with his very best given it would be rejected by some?

I wonder these things as I sit here this morning.

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From our home you yours I pray for you the peace and wonder of this amazing miracle we celebrate today.

Sally (actually Sammie)

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I am going to imagine that her name is Sally, she looked like what I would imagine a Sally to look like.

I noticed her as I left the parking lot. She was sitting behind a cardboard sign, five or six white garbage bags all around her. She had on several layers of clothing, her face was dirty, and wore the wrinkles of a hard life. I started to drive by but decided to pull over. I got out of the car and dug out one of my beach blankets from the back. She had gotten to the car by that time. I grabbed a couple bags of hotel toiletries, I told her that I did not have money to give her but I had this blanket and these toiletries. Her eyes lit up, her whole face broke out in a toothless grin and she exclaimed “Soap!” She thanked me like I had handed her keys to a warm house and walked back to her spot on the sidewalk.

I know I posted this before but I have a follow up, I had not seen her for several weeks, and I had been wondering about her so when I saw her I stopped. I asked her if she needed anything in the way of toiletries, she wanted shampoo, I dug around in the bag and pulled out shampoo and a few other things. I asked her name and was surprised to find I was pretty close in my guess, her name is Sammie.

365 days of grateful

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Today is my day (day 3) in this project, I am honored and excited to be part of this Gratitude Project 101. I hope as the week progresses you will stop in and check out the 6 amazing bloggers I have been teamed with.

 

365 days of grateful

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This is the time of year we stop to reflect on what we are thankful for, we post out thankfulness for the 31 days of November. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great practice, but last year my heart was softly challenged, why only once a year?  Why do I  take only 31 days out of 365 to actively practice gratitude? These thoughts continued to nag at me for several weeks. Why would I not express my thankfulness every day, all year long? I have a blessed, beautiful life.

Instead of making resolutions for the New Year I chose this one word to focus on and put into practice for 365 days– Grateful. (See this project for more details.)

For days I prayed, planned and wondered, how would that look? How exactly would I place this word in my life in practical, tangible ways. I decided on at least 3 things I would practice every day.

Continue reading 365 days of grateful

The Day In Between

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We celebrate Good Friday, we worship in eternal gratefulness Resurrection Sunday, but there is a day in between. This morning I was thinking of this day in between. What was that day like?

We often give Jesus’ followers a bad rap, we talk about how they did not believe, how they hid away. This day in between must have been so confusing. Their King, friend, teacher, Shepard had died before their very eyes. I’m sure they all had stories in their heads about how Jesus’ capture and crucifixion would go. Think about it, if you walked with him every day and saw the incredible miracles how would you imagine the end? I think I would imagine Jesus’ saving himself, or God’s army of angels giving those soldiers what they rightfully deserved. I know I would have been in that room with all the others trying to make sense of what I just saw. How can you make sense of that with our earthly bound, finite minds. We often can’t make sense of the death of a loved one who was not God, how could you make sense of God in human form dying?

I don’t blame them for hiding out, for being confused. At the very least taking time to re-group. Grief is a strong powerful thing to our human minds, sometimes it takes hiding out, returning to the familiar to get our bearings.

On this day in between I wonder, what was happening? Was Martha making sure everyone was fed? Was Mary sitting in a corner of the room weeping? What were the disciples thinking? Were the discussions amid their grief centered around what’s next? Were they feeling left behind, a little betrayed? Were they wondering if the last few years were real? This just did not happen like they thought it might.

If we are honest would not we have reacted in the same manner? I know I would have gone to the familiar to re-group, maybe even hide. I know I would have been wondering if I had just given the last few years of my life to a dream that just blew up. I think about the things of so much less magnitude that shake our faith, make us doubt, Jesus’ followers were human with feelings like ours. Let’s give them a little grace this season, understand how confused and grief stricken they were.

Take a minute, try to imagine what this day in between held, what you would be feeling and doing. Then celebrate with all of creation for the next day, the day that brought unbelievable, uncontainable joy to all.

Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

loving, merciful, grace giving . . .

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When Jason passed, almost 2 years ago, I prayed that it would not be for nothing. That his life and death would make a mark on this world; make a difference in someone’s life. I prayed that I would be a testimony to God’s mercy, grace and great love. I have heard of at least one person who served at a camp last summer in honor of Jason, I will never know this side of heaven the lives that were changed in those weeks. I may never know the impact that Jason’s passing has had, but I continue to pray that his life and passing will do nothing but bring glory to our heavenly father.

Last week a question was put to me, I knew in a heartbeat that this was one of those times I had prayed about. The question was, “how have you kept your faith through everything?” Whew, out of the blue, unexpected, the question was there.

My faith has been a part of me for as long as I can remember, it is like air. It is woven into my fabric, so how to answer that? How have I kept something that I require to survive?

So I said just that, that if I did not have my faith, I would have crumbled. If I did not have the assurance that I would see Jason again, I am pretty sure I would not have survived.

I believe that I will see Jason again. I believe that my heavenly father grieves with me. I believe that a long time ago, in a perfect garden, a choice was made that brought sin into this world. I believe that God never intended for any of us to suffer, but because of that choice death and pain entered into our lives.

I know that when my children suffered pain, it was painful for me. When my children hurt, I hurt. I believe that if I feel and react this way, as an imperfect being, how much more must God feel the hurt and pain that, I his child, feels. How he must long to gather me in his arms and comfort me. And he has.

As far as “how could a loving God allow so much pain?” I believe it was never his plan. His plan was to walk with us in a perfect world. But he gave a choice; he wanted us to want to love him.  How often as we raised our children did we watch them make a wrong choice, even after we had given them every bit of our earthly wisdom? Then we hurt with our children over the consequences. We wanted them to want to do the right thing. I know that love chosen is much sweeter than love forced. This is what God wanted from us, love chosen, so in the garden there was a choice, and now there are consequences of that choice. But how much sweeter our love must be to him when we choose to love him.

This is how I have kept my faith, I believe in an all loving, merciful, grace giving, heavenly father.

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