Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Rayna, thank you for opening my eyes to the spectacular beauty of dandelions. May dandelions be a reminder to you and Garrett and Allison that I will ALWAYS love you and that my love will go with you ALWAYS❤️ The gardens of your hearts are beautiful bouquets,my precious children.
What’s been happening in my life lately is simply spectacular. My physical energy has been fantastic and even this last round of chemo hasn’t knocked me down like usual. And I am compelled to believe that my physical well-being is tightly linked to my spiritual well-being.
I feel “like myself”, granted a new me. I am worn down from my chemo; but despite this I have a sense of feeling healthier than I’ve been for a very long while. And the “new me” is the one surfacing with the twins growing up a wee bit and me feeling like I’m starting to grasp what it means to be well and how to truly immerse myself in my source of strength and energy, my Father God. But I set aside my family dynamics here to focus on me. (Since it is healthy, in fact, to focus on myself as a mother, so I can refuel to love these kids which just take so very much out of Ryan and I - and I know there’s many who relate to this.)
Let me focus.
In my last post I spoke of how God is teaching me to rest (and that I’m NO natural in being a student of rest). But as I trust in Him, He continues to guide me. And I truly believe that it is only by resting in God, that I will find healing (physical, emotional, spiritual).
It is a battle to find this peaceful rest. Our pastor brought to my attention the story of Jesus in the boat sleeping while a storm raged. He rested amidst the storm. And then chastises his disciples for having fear instead of faith. Jesus gives rest akin to providing sleep in a rocky boat.
This is a process. It’s a major overhaul for a person who likes to cling to control. So I am patient and I trust.
One day I got thinking. (okay, so I think alot about alot of different things these days). But these thoughts started to help me uncover changes I need to introduce. Thank you Holy Spirit for giving me some practical pieces to chew on! I have a tendency to want to makes moments shiny and spectacular, especially if I feel there’s a general expectation to have a shiny and spectacular moment like a birthday, anniversary, trip, etc. It doesn’t sit well with me that even birthday’s can bomb and anniversaries can feel dull. So when presented with a life-threatening illness the expectation I placed upon myself to make moments shiny and spectacular, was HUGE. And yes, I continue to absolutely love celebrating life and celebrating within life; but, not ever single moment can be a momentous celebration. That simply is not life. Ordinary life is where life is really lived – at least in its majority. So, I am freed from the expectation of creating something grand, so that I can LIVE.
I felt Jesus say, “I AM, so just be.”
It’s simple, it’s beautiful, it’s what I needed to hear. It’s back to the Martha story in Luke 10. She’s flitting about and ticked at her sister for not helping but instead sitting at Jesus’ feet. I remember still as a teen reading this and being like, “really Mary just sitting there is doing the right thing?!” (I guess this should have given me a clue to where I could work on myself, but really didn’t until now)
“I am, so just be.”
And then I read the quote (In that crazy sexy cancer survivor book) that “during the time of the darkest night act as if the morning has already come.” That sounds like…. faith. So my secular book is telling me to have FAITH. And I’ve been reading in Luke and Luke 18 has all this talk of faith and faith like a child and persistent faith. And then verse 27 says, “What is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God.” This whole ‘faith’ topic gets a little confusing to me because I am just not capturing this, it feels mind boggling.
Then Luke 18 resurfaces and I am reminded to have faith like a child. Children who believe anything is possible. Children who rest well as they know they are cared for, loved, nurtured and safe. Children who believe they can do anything if they believe.
It’s like a billboard: Faith like a child is how we find rest.
So my journey continues and I seek out faith like a child.
Today Rayna came home from a walk with the nanny and she had a crown of dandelions on her head. I am stopped. Read my blog from last May about being stuck in the dandelions, aptly titled Stuck in the Dandelion Field to see, here is an excerpt to help you capture my perspective:
You see my life right now is a dandelion field. Rayna loves to stop and pick dandelions when we’re out for a walk and right now there are fields of them. My Dad commented about our dandelions when he was visiting here, “you have such a beautiful province; but you sure don’t like to get rid of your dandelions do you?” They are an eyesore to him and he can’t believe our city doesn’t spray them. It doesn’t aesthetically bother me that there is an overgrowth of dandelions along the sidewalks and in the fields and on unkempt lawns. But they have certainly annoyed me. When we go to the playground or to the river for a walk it takes FOREVER because Rayna stops for all the seeding flowers. And when I tell her, “no more dandelions” I can see her writhing inside that she has to resist the almost uncontrollable urge to pick and blow them. Sometimes we do need to get going so we can get home before the twins have a melt-down; but often it’s just me. I feel the need to get to the playground if that’s where we’ve said we’re going, to get “unstuck”, if you will. However, it is in the dandelions that Rayna is having fun and experiencing the simple joys of a flower that others call a weed. It is more fun to her than going down a slide or actually making it to the scenic river trail.
Oh to see a crown of dandelions on Rayna’s head! (for I called it a headband and was promptly corrected; and indeed a crown is perfect.)
Dandelions: Isn’t the naked beauty of life most present in the blessings that just pop up. Not planted, not tended. Most call them weeds and rush, oh how we rush, to get through them, past them, out of this season that has our city blossoming in brilliant, radiant, carefree yellow. This year I pause. I smile. I celebrate. The crown atop my gorgeous daughter’s head befits my little queen and my breath becomes intentional because I am deeply present in this moment. My life is in blossoming with dandelions and for that, I praise God.
Indeed, in the dandelions is where life is lived. And I’m finally starting to see it’s beauty. As I release my adult notions and expectations and broken expectations. And this is exactly where Jesus wants me. Enjoying the simple pleasures of life, not needing them to be grand, and believing with faith like a child.
From here the journey is one step at a time. I’m always expecting (wanting) a point by point 5 year plan, but here God speaks, “the future looks bright, ah it’s looks spectacular if you just walk with me moment by moment, day by day, year by year.” And I feel like I can breathe, because all that is asked of me in this moment is what this moment demands: my presence.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
My spiritual counselor (highly recommended by friends I deeply trust) roots herself in Christian mysticism. I'll be honest this term 'Christian mystic' had me feeling uneasy. So I went reading more about it to ease my mind and soul. I came across this gem of a quote by CS Lewis that I'd like to share:
Discovering spirituality is like discovering you are in a boat. Mysticism is like pushing off from the dock. Since many leave safe mooring and perish in the waves, this is not to be done in a cavalier fashion - even though it can be exciting to push off into the deep.
The issue is not of whether we should push off, for Christians must do so as well if they intend to get anywhere (and that is what boats are for), but rather of where you are going...The Christian casts off from this world as well, but with clear intent to where he is headed, with the best of maps, circumspectly, deliberately.
The Christian Mystic arrives, against all dangers and odds. Thus we launch out with fear and trembling, but trust that He who commanded us to do so can calm the waves, and see us through to His real, safe port.
- C.S. Lewis
Friday, April 21, 2017
It has been a long while since I’ve provided a basic update of how I am doing.
Chemo Round 3 is complete (on Easter Monday)! This means I am halfway through my chemo. My chemo was delayed one week this last round due to low platelets. In round 2 they increased my dose 30%; but put it back down for round 3 and going forward. The lower dose seems to prevent my mind from feeling so fuzzy that I can’t think clearly, so I am certainly ok with the lower dose. AND I don’t want any future delays as that will push my chemo treatments further into summer (originally last chemo was scheduled July 3, now will be July 10) as vacation starts July 16!!!
The 2 weeks preceding this last round I felt really fantastic. I’ve formulated a plan to play soccer in fall and am (slowly) working to get there and it seems feasible!
I greatly appreciate the HUGE outpouring of support through the meal/helping hands train my friend set up. I was feeling really good since my chemo was delayed; but this allowed me to really focus on being fully well – body, mind, and spirit, as well as to simply enjoy family time without fretting over dinner. And I didn’t feel anxious about our nanny being away that week. Thank you so much, I feel so hugely blessed!!!! And on that note, here’s a HUGE shout out of thanks, envision balloons and streamers and flowers of thanks, to my GP, Cameron Ross and all the doctors at Crossroads Family Practice. They have paid for one month of meals for my family from Elevated Meals, a local healthy meal delivery service!!! Isn’t this just the most fantastic outpouring of health-giving support? Thank you docs for caring about all facets of my health, I am blessed to be your patient!
As I mentioned in a previous post my last MRI showed a small enhancement. What this means is questionable and only my next scan (at the end of May) will tell us more. But as my oncologist says, the MRI only tells you part of the story, the other part is how I am feeling – and overall, I am feeling great!
My Aunt has been praying that Garrett “sleep in” --- you know past . This is a huge piece in our family’s life. For the most part my wake-ups are being pushed back to and usually a couple times a week a bit later! Keep praying for sleep for this family! Oh, what a difference sleep makes! As I seek out soulful rest, pray that there would also be physical rest in our house this spring as we round out of cough and cold season.
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Praise be to God for my comrades and co-survivors:
My husband, Ryan. My brilliant, wise, and optimistic partner. It’s been hard, for you, for me, for us. It must have been tempting to run away, our family was crazy, crazy, crazy. Thank you for sticking it out, learning by my side, and championing bringing humor and celebration into my life. I love you dearly.
My kids. They keep me going, both literally (exhaustingly), and emotionally, praise God for Rayna’s complements, Garrett’s smiles, and Allison’s snuggles.
My Mom. There are not enough words to express how grateful I am for my Mom, a cancer survivor, twice over, herself. I continue to have much to learn from my Mom and thank God for a first-hand role model of mothering well. I want to write a book of the women of impact in my life, my Mom is top of that list!
My Dad. Seeing and knowing and hearing how much my Dad loves me, respects me, and believes in me is exactly what a daughter longs for. Thank you, Dad. I love you too and appreciate your visits and watching you play right on the floor with your grandkids. You inspire me to keep giving you reasons to proudly say, “that’s my girl!”
My mother in law, Phyllis. I think particularly to those initial days of diagnosis and how much you did for my twins. And you continue to love and support me and our kids. Thank you. Your willingness to help and watch the kids and love on the kids is evident in the unparalleled relationship you have with our kids and is absolutely a major reason our family is able to thrive even in difficulty. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
My Father in law, Gerry. Thank you for being willing to enable Ryan and I time away, by helping with the kids. And for being a major support to Ryan.
Josh and Cassie (my Brother in law and Sister in law) . Thank you for your compassionate, genuine concern. It’s palpable that you care about us deeply and that has blessed us. Thank you for loving our kids, we are so grateful our children have you for auntie and uncle. Thank you Cassie for making time to make Rayna feel so special by doing her hair fancy. It means a lot to me that you take that time and I know no matter my energy level, my girls have an auntie able to help them see their beauty inside and out.
Jason and Carmen (my sister and Brother-in-law). Thank you for your visiting, and Jason, for enabling Carmen to come out for a couple of days without your kids. There’s nothing quite like a sister to visit and do whatever comes up that needs to be done. Thank you for praying. Thank you for calling. Thank you for showing me what calm within chaos looks like!
Connect Group through
Phenomenal Support network here. These
couples as (mostly) strangers sought us out to give us support and then
embraced us. We are really learning what
living in community means through these relationships. It’s incredible. Thank you: Chris &
Vicky, Dave & Crystal, Shawn & Andrea, Gavin & Rebecca, Kelly &
Girls Group: My like-minded friends committed to Jesus and to supporting one another whatever that looks like at that particular time. Carmen, Vicky, Sarah, Rachel, Jocelyn : you girls are absolutely my comrades and co-survivors and never forget it!!!!!
I enter my retreat zone and immediately the tension that was wound within me begins to unravel and I feel the call to prayer. I’ve been restless. I feel God telling me that this is a season to learn how to really rest in Him, and at the same time I feel an increasing restlessness. This restlessness crosses through out many aspects of my life: restless feelings of thinking of my career again, restless feelings regarding being a demanded upon mom of small kids, restless feelings about my treatment plan and my chemo plan – its so hard to put this chemical into my body when I know it is so toxic.
I am antsy. I am getting bored, I’ll be honest. And I think this is partly because I feel God prepping something so big within and through me. My powerful and mighty and awesome God has a spectacular plan for me.
And right now, in that plan is to learn to
s l o w
d o w n.
To learn to rest. And it is hard.
Because I am learning that to really rest, to really have true health in all capacities (spiritual, physical, mental, emotional) so I can rest requires me to open up my fists that are clenched so tight in control of whatever I can possibly grasp to control. My husband saw it before I did. I demand a lot of myself and hence of others. It is hard to release this. To open up my fists and cup my hands to be able to receive. To raise my arms in true surrender. Oh, it is not natural.
I want to learn to breathe.
I want to learn the unforced rhythms of grace
I want to be free as Jesus promises.
And I have so much to learn. So much sin that entangles me that I have to learn how to throw off so I can run and dance and prance as God intended.
Matthew 19:24New Living Translation (NLT)
24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the
!” Kingdom of God
I’ve been reading Deuteronomy and God warns over and over to the Israelites that once they enter the promised land not to forget, not to forget, not to forget what God has done for them. How? Intentionally remembering.
Oh how rich I am. (And this is not necessarily bad – but does absolutely require generosity and responsibility of me). And oh how easily I forget.
I have so much to learn. And yet the beautiful thing is that this wisdom of Jesus’ is both unparalleled and it is open to everyone. In fact, it’s inclusivity is a large part of what defines it.
Cancer has thrust me into ugly places. It has forced me to question and evaluate – everything. It has searched out my dark corners, my rotten garbage, and given glorious insight along the way. I am empowered (you had better believe that I am a cancer SURVIVOR!!!) and at the same time humbled.
Trust me that I am taking EVERY gift that cancer is giving me. And trust me, there are indeed many. I browsed through a book called “Crazy, Sexy Cancer Survivor.” In this book the author calls her support, her “posse”, her co-survivors. YOU, are my co-survivors, though I prefer to call you comrades (as it reflects the battle we are in which I spoke of last post). None of us ought ever to live in homes, secluded from those around us. We are created and meant to live in community. It’s the only way we can truly survive and thrive. And it is exemplified in the enormity of the support network I have garnered through YOU my comrades. YOU are supporting me so I am free to learn how to rest, so I am able to regain all aspects of my health (which I believe are completely intertwined as purposely designed by our Creator).
I am beginning to write out those who have blessed me, to publicly acknowledge my comrades. I am abundantly thankful. Yet in initiating this task I am floored by the enormity of the list and realize this is not a simple project. So here again, I am simply brought to reiterate, THANK YOU.
I’m bubbling over here, my friends! What a few weeks I’ve had. God is speaking. God is moving. God is mighty. And thank God, because it’s a battlefield out there. As you read my words remember that I struggle daily, just like you. Indeed, my personal battle is waged daily in my heart and in my mind just as much as in my body.
This past week I’ve been feeling top-notch. We’ve had so much support that I can just focus on being WELL even with our nanny away. Thank you!!! (Insert jazzy hands right here). I am in a season where God is speaking to me that I need to learn how to rest. Like really rest. I am still clinging, grasping, clenching onto the control of what is left in my control. I need to release it. It is biblical and it is good for my health in all capacities to do so. I am fighting this notion of rest. I will share what I journalled this morning; but, I also want to let you know some background turmoil in my soul. I had my MRI Monday, saw my oncologist Tuesday. His impression, though he clearly stated he was awaiting the radiologist’s report, was no tumor growth. Then today I got the call back: a small area of “enhancement”. My doctor’s impression is that this enhancement is residual swelling from the radiation, particularly given my fantastic well-being. (My friend’s impression is that ‘enhancement’ means I now have a superpower! ;) I knew this scan could give ambiguous results since swelling can’t be differentiated from tumor growth; however, it was still unnerving to hear these results.
After hearing the results emotion ensued, a conversation with Ryan occurred, Ryan prayed and followed it up with a “chin-up, live life fully no matter what it throws at you” pep talk. And here I am evermore empowered and emboldened to share my heart, my life, my learning.
It’s a battlefield out there people. It’s a war zone. Satan is trying to steal our joy. I firmly believe he is and he is waging the war starting in our minds. Our minds are a powerhouse when properly fitted for battle. So let’s fit them properly!
Ephesians 6:10-18New Living Translation (NLT)
The Whole Armor of God
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[b] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[c] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[
Put on your armor!!!! My friends, you who love Jesus, PUT ON YOUR ARMOR! Put this armor on so you can be equipped to really love as we are called to do. My comrades, its going to be a hard battle. The battle for a fulfilled life is not an easy one. I get it. At least I’m starting to. In Matthew 7 Jesus tells us, 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a]that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
I let Jesus’ words speak for themselves because they are clear and wise. I exhort you to seek out their wisdom. You see, we all have numbered days. Cancer clarifies and highlights this in my life. (I hope you don’t have to have cancer to clearly see this.) I remind you again that we’re in a battle. We have numbered days. We need to make them count. We need to throw off the junk. That’s the sin that so easily entangles us that Hebrews 12 talks about: pride, control, fear etc. (those are my life examples). Throw them off and claim truth! Say truth outloud (mine right now is from Joshua 1:9 – through out the day I say outloud “I am strong, I am courageous, God is with me wherever I go.") Say it outloud so you believe it. Say it outloud so Satan can know he can scram! (There’s a cotton patch version of Matthew and it has Jesus say “Scram satan” when Satan is tempting him. I love it.)
I believe right now I am to be in a season of rest. It is a training ground allowing space for passions to incubate. You are my comrades here. I encourage you to join me. My friend stated the other night that he wished for the personal, internal, spiritual growth he hears me speak of, without the cancer part. I hear you! And that is why I embrace you all in my journey. That is why I fight the notion that I don’t necessarily have anything profoundly new to say; and rather share with you my experiences. That is why I say: “Lean into Jesus with me like you have never done before. Throw off the junk and let’s see God move spectacularly, profoundly, majestically, supernaturally – (there’s not one word to describe it)!!!”