Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jesus: The One Who Endured

Depending on what Bible you have or are using there are little side stories or insights into life, into Jesus.  I came across this when I was doing my devotional, at 5am again today.  Up at 4:30 again today.  Quite annoying, however I think it was the plan all along.  This is an excerpt from my Bible, the Max Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible: I did not write this...

Consider this admonition from the author of Hebrews: "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" Hebrews 12:1
Had golf existed in the New Testament era, I'm sure the writers would have spoken of mulligans and foot wedges, but it didn't, so they wrote about running.  The word RACE is from the Greek AGOM, from which we get the word AGONY.  The Christians's race is not a jog but rather a demanding and grueling, sometimes agonizing race.  It takes a massive effort to finish strong.
Likely you've noticed that many don't?  Surely you've observed there are many on the side of the trail?  They used to be running.  There was a time when they kept the pace.  But then weariness set in.  They didn't think the run would be this tough.  Or they were discouraged by a bump and daunted by a fellow runner.  Whatever the reason, they don't run anymore.  They may be Christians.  They may come to church.  They may put a buck in the plate and warm a pew, but their hears aren't in the race.  They retired before their time.  Unless something changes, their best work will have been their first work, and they will finish with a whimper.
By contrast, Jesus' best work was His final work, and His strongest step was His last step.  Our Master is the classic example of one who endured.  The writer of Hebrews goes on to say that Jesus "endured such hostility from sinners against Himself".  The Bible says Jesus 'endured," implying that Jesus could have "let go."  The runner could have given up, sat down, gone home.  He could have quit the race.  But He didn't.  He "endured such hostility from sinners against Himself. (From Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado) 
I believe that answers the question why right there.  We will endure something. It might be life changing or altering, or maybe even life taking.  It may last, it may not.  But we are promised a race of endurance.  Maybe it's our race, maybe our children's, maybe our parents or our spouse.  Maybe it's a friend you love deeply.

I really hate running- I mean I HATE running.  If there isn't a bleeding child involved it just isn't going to happen.  But running comes in many forms doesn't it.  We can run to, or from.  I've never been much of a 'from' runner.  I more or less pursue the thing... I'm sick that way.

As much as I want this cancer race to end, it obviously isn't supposed to yet.  Let me run.  There's somewhere God wants me to be, something he wants me to do, all in the name of Him.  Catch me doing it for me and smack me up.  This isn't about me. THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME.  (parts are, I know, like being taken care of, but that's not what I mean here)  It's about a race I've been allowed to race.  I have listened to God and raced 'out loud' just like He told me to back in 2008.  I don't know how much more loudly I am supposed to live it, but I am listening for that answer.

So if you're running with me I just can't thank you enough.  The words I have for you are petty in comparison to how my heart feels toward the help, the meals, the going outs, the cards, the hugs.  Nothing can replace those.  If you've chosen to run with someone else that is awesome too.  But run with someone because sooner or later, we are going to have to run with you.  It's a promise.

Much love,

Vicki

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Flowers or Weeds


I have been going out each morning after taking the kids to school/bus stops and picking flowers for myself to put into the kitchen.  My mom gave me these fabulous white Peony bushes, and between the 3 gardens I have, many more flowers can be found.

Last year weeding was just not on the priority list.  Being rediagnosed in May left little time to tend to gardens of flowers.  But Shelly and I did manage to fix up the largest of them.  Actually, Shelly fixed it- I had a front seat driver position.  This garden happens to be full of many of her plants I received because she was moving her flower beds a few years back.  That bed has our bench-the bench I really only sit on with my girlfriends.
The middle garden is the one that was so very neglected.  It was more a grass garden.  After this years rediagnosis, I started weeding it.  It went something like this.  Oh, that's a weed-pull hard, whip weed across the yard.  Ah, another one-pull weed, get the root! Smile. Whip it across the yard.  You get the picture.  This garden used to have beautiful hostas that were HUGE and gorgeous.  Our lovely deer had huge brain farts and decided they were food.  They ate them, for 2 years straight, before they even matured to their huge size.  And normally, I'm ok with that because they eat them after they have bloomed, after the hummingbirds come home to me, after the beauty of the flowering plant has passed.  Stinking deer.

This year I have to keep these gardens in tip top shape!  We have a graduation next summer.  (Yes I did just get a stomach ache).  I want my gardens to be pretty.  Pure and simple selfish ambition.  But some of my friends are helping with.
I am also determined to plant a veggie garden.  DETERMINED.  I have my seeds and will be getting them started today.  Then the kids have about 4 days to finally complete preparing the area I want to use for the garden.  Not that it's been 3 years or anything....

The flowers I have been picking are Iris's, daisies, flox, and weeds.  There are so many super gorgeous flowering weeds.  The orange, some white and some yellow weeds just add so much to my very purple floral arrangement.
So I was thinking about how much a weed compliments a flower.  I am not sure, in human terms who the flowers are or who the weeds are but I suspect we are both at times in our lives.  At this point, I'm a flower, high maintenance, not easily grown, and constantly need to be reminded about the beauty all around me.  And man am I thankful for all the beauty that has become my source of comfort and help.  I suppose Jesus is the ultimate flower, and we are all his little weeds.  To me and my life and situation you are all flowers or weeds to me.  Some of you are good at the high maintenance aspect of the cancer journey, and others are weeds, here to help, to make me feel better, look better, smile more and recognize true beauty.

Thank you Lord for the true beauty of your creation.  Thank you that we are able, with your help and the help of others, to tend to our gardens as needed, picking weeds, pruning, planting and growing those beautiful traits of yours, making them ours.  I thank you for making me both a weed and a flower.  My happy place is as a weed.  But my current place is as a flower.  Help me Lord to accept that and to flourish in it, and to take very seriously the need for me to be a flower, to need others.  And Lord, thank you so much for my weeds.  They are so beautiful.

Vicki

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Feeling like talking

I know it's been just a super long time since I've let you know how I am doing.  Tomorrow is one week after chemo.  The day after Chemo was not fun-not the worst, but yucky.  Saturday Shelly and Teri came over.  Shelly did some flower planting and Teri cleaned for me.  What a blessing.  I can hang out on the porch and have beautiful flowers around me.  Of course the umbrella was left open, which I know better than to do but it looked so pretty because I had tea lights holders hanging from it.  Well, it blew off.  Barely 2 weeks old.... But I hear they are on sale at ACE so I'll be heading there today.

How am I feeling?  Almost normal.  Not the energy level normal or the physical exertion normal, but my body feels normal except for the bone aches.  It's strange but I like it!  I expect my hair to move on next Saturday.  It's odd that it is getting curlier with each day that passes.  So very strange.  I am thinking about cutting it short and spiky soon before it falls out.  I am hoping if it's shorter I won't loose it.  Wishful thinking, but what's wrong with a couple wishes.

So how am I?  I think fine.  I'm laying low, being good, eating well and not doing too much.  Not so easy that last one.  The kids have been good helpers when needed.  I have missed a few bball games for both boys, but that is part of it.  Austin only has 2 more games this week, and Jay is done the week after school is out.

If I have another treatment it will be on June 8.  I'll have blood work done the day or two before to get the CA 125.  If it is low enough there is a possibility that I won't have to have another treatment.  I have mixed feelings about that.  I haven't been willing to look up the information I need to help make the decision.  I'll probably just call Chris and see what she thinks.

A big thank you for FOOD! Awesome Chicken soup, beef stew, chicken enchiladas, chicken and rice and corn on the cob, a roast and stuffed peppers.  Wow.  Thank you so very much.  I've learned we may not need food everynight if we have another go round. But my freezer has some really great left overs for meals within the next couple weeks.  Mom will come and help me clean freezers and the fridge and organize it a bit and meal plan with me.  That's something new!

Then I saw the garage sale on the 9th in Romeo..... Do we even try it?  I'm thinking maybe yes. So much stuff to get rid of but I am not sure if it enough for a sale.  But maybe I could get rid of some of the clothes I've been hanging onto for so many years for Jay.  We'll see.

So words inspired by God- none really.  Just an update on me.  I do have 2 scanning jobs right now so that is pretty awesome.  A graduation DVD and and larger photo scanning with albums.  Busy is good tho.

Have a great sun shiny day.  Go plant some flowers.

Vicki

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 10 and 11

On Saturday, May 11th I received a gift from my bff in Columbus, more commonly known as My Beth.  She sent me a devotional titled Jesus Calling.  I am never really sure about devotionals for some reason.  But I opened it up to the 11th and I read it.

Just after I read it, another bff, commonly known as My Teri, called to tell me she had gotten the book as well from Beth.  She said she read the 10th and 11th and was amazed.  She went on to tell a whole story about the book, but I don't want to spoil her blogging...... And I am pretty sure another bff, commonly known as My Shelly, got a book too....

So of course I went back and read the 10th as well.  Very powerful stuff.

Then I checked my email and had gotten a forward- also something I rarely read- but I trust this person so I read it.  And I am not kidding when I tell you it was May 10th and 11th from the devotional Jesus Calling.  NOT KIDDING!

So what is so awesome about May 10th and 11th?
May 10

"Do not resist or run from the difficulties in your life.  These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth.  Embrace all the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them.  View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me.  When you start to feel stressed, let those feelings alert you to your need for Me.  Thus, your needs become doorways to deep dependance on Me and increasing intimacy between us.  Although self-sufficiency is acclaimed in the world, reliance on Me produces abundant living in My kingdom.  Thank me for the difficulties in your life, since they provide protection from the idolatry of self-reliance."

John 15:5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 ~ "...
We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.  In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead."

Ephesians 5:20 ~ "...always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

**************
May 11

"Thank Me for your problems.  As soon as your mind gets snagged on a difficulty, bring it to Me with Thanksgiving. Then as Me to show you how to handle the situation.  The very act of thanking Me releases your mind from its negative focus.  As your turn your attention to Me, the problem fades in significance and and loses its power to trip you up.  Together we can deal with the situation, either facing it head-on or putting it aside for later consideration.  Most situations that entangle your mind are not today's concerns; you have borrowed them from tomorrow.  In this case, I lift the problem out of today and deposit it in the future, where it is veiled from your eyes.  In its place I give you My Peace, which flows freely from My Presence.

Philippians 4:6 ~ "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." 

John 14:27 ~ "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
I just don't think I need to say anymore.  After my recent posts and conversations and now devotionals, I am heading down the highway of Peace.  Somehow, someway it does seem ok.  And for today, I am good.  I had a productive day, albeit one that included the gathering of supplies for chemo.  I just THREW each chemo related item into the crate.  Kinda funny.  Oral rinse- wham; miralax- wham; tummy tea- wham; ginger root capsules- wham; comfy clothes- well no wham there.  I like comfy.....

If God is willing to give me Peace I think I should be willing to accept it.  Accepting gifts- not a specialty of mine.... But thankfully grace can cover even that.  And chemo is Thursday, not today, not tomorrow and not Wednesday.  It is in the future and I'm going to try, via prayer and constant giving of my trepidations back to God.  Cancer isn't my problem, it's just the route they take to surface....

Oh, so many more blogs to write.....


Vicki

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Floods

A rainy week, both in my heart and in the weather.  My heart had a thunderstorm on Tuesday when I found out that I was going to have to get a port.  I did actually get to make the decision, so it was nice for me to have a moment of control.  The decision was easy tho.  Either I do it peripherally over 16 hours in the outpatient center of the hospital, with no nurses always in my view, with no one who knows me, or I could get the port and be where I am comfortable, know the nurses and they know me.  Where I know how to reach out to others.  Where I know my friends and family are accepted as well.  They expect a party when I come.  So, as happy as I was to not have a port, the only positive was not having a port.  All else fell under the 'con' category.  So I am ok with it.  Truly.

I called my friend who works at Troy Beaumont radiology and she got me all hooked up and tomorrow at 10 is when I get my new appendage.  However I learned that this one might be more friendly, with no bumps and sits under my skin more.  That takes away some of the dread.

So it was a bit stormy on Tuesday for me.  Then yesterday there were 2 baseball games, one for each boy.  Austin at 4, which they won! And Jay at 6:30.  You remember yesterday right- all nice and beautiful until baseball is about to start!  That just is how it goes with this sport I swear.  So I spent some time watching from the car, being I'm allergic to rain and all.  In the last innings of the game we noticed a rainbow.  Very pretty.  The game continued and at the end the brightest rainbow I had seen in a while was in the sky.

The great promise, to never flood the earth again.  I wonder if that could extend to our hearts and lives.  What do you think?  A promise to never destroy us by flooding us with too much.  A promise to always extend the grace and mercy needed each day to handle the big and small things.  A promise to never leave us even when it feels like He's nowhere to be seen.  My friends, I think it might be true. I mean we are part of the earth after all.  He has many verses telling us not to be anxious, that he's got us lifted up and protected by his righteous right hand.  I think we are safe from the floods of life too.  We just have to recognize them, offer them to God to handle, and then let Him.  No easy task, I am well aware.  And not a task that is instant either.  That's ok.  Processing is ok and necessary.  Staying in the darkness is not productive or Godly.

That bright rainbow made my heart feel a little lighter.  I want it to make you feel lighter too, if you are feeling heavy because of my recurrence of cancer.  Certainly it sucks.  Certainly you can be mad for a day or so... but then hold on to the promise that my heart can not be flooded to the point of despair.  He's promised he'd never flood the earth again.  It's a stretch, but I can see the connection.  Can you?  What do you think about it?  Tell me.  Comment please.

Rainbows, hope, grace, mercy and peace.

Be filled with peace today friends.

Vicki

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mission Impossible

I sometimes wonder how all these smarts can stay inside one head.  I know a lot; like the thingy I bought for my spices won't fit in that cupboard; and I know I love 80's music; and I know I hate to dust as does my piano.  But I also know that I don't have a clue about what my mission is supposed to be.  I thought I did- and then the walls came a tumblin' down-again.

The question is... why are there walls?  When did those go up and who the heck built them?  Shame on you!  Now a wall in my store room so I can have a real office for the scanning business, that is necessary. The walls around me, keeping things in, keeping things out, not so much a necessity.  Things include you, me, God, peace, faith, and hope.  There I said it. How did those walls get there?  Did they just get thicker with each difficult life event?  Maybe I've never let Him crush them completely.  I don't think that one is the answer.  But I did do some digging...

James 5:14-16:  Is any of you sick?  He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Check.  We did that on Sunday and it was uplifting and wonderful.  I so wish I would have remembered to turn on the voice recorder on my phone so I could replay it. But I do remember the oil being put on my forehead in 3 distinct rows, each with its own Jesus name.  I remember people asking for healing, for courage and trust.  But mostly I remember feeling loved for and grieved over and accepted.  I remember my sisters hand with her boyfriends on my knee, Shelly's hand holding minenby my side both of our thumbs stroking the others hand, and Tim's hand grasping mine tightly.  Teri's hand was on my leg, and then many hands whose owners I don't know on my shoulders and back.  People in the seats praying earnestly in an uncomfortable environment.  My parents and Tim's Dad came.  Thank you all so much.

So the prayers of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Is 57:19:"...Peace, peace, to those far and near," says the Lord.  "And I will heal them."
Is 32:17:  The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. 
John 14:27:  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Luke 7:50; ..."Your faith has saved you; go in peace." 

Big fat FAIL for me. Righteousness brings peace.  Peace brings faith.  And faith leads to hope, love, forgiveness....

We are given the peace of Jesus.  I cannot wrap my head around that but I am going to try.  Even moreso I cannot wrap my head around righteousness.  Here's the definition
righteous livinggoodvirtuousuprightupstandingdecentethical,principledmoralhigh-mindedlaw-abidinghonesthonorable,blamelessirreproachablenoblesaintlyangelicpure. ANTONYMS sinful.
It looks to me like righteousness needs to come first. The opposite of sinful.  Wow I'm rolling all this around in my head- and I don't think it'd be helpful to share that.

I get this tho: righteousness leads to peace which leads to faith which leads to healing. I know something else too. I will be healed.  It is not God's will for me to suffer, to have cancer 3 times and all the effects of the medicines to try to defeat it.  But God did not give me cancer.  So if anyone is mad at God you probably should stop that.  Why hasn't he healed me miraculously and completely?  I don't know.  There is an answer somewhere, in someone, for someone, but we may never know what that answer is.  So I'm going to work on the righteousness part of the character of God, and then peace will follow.

A little something from a little book:
Is 32:2  "And a man shall be as...the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."
Journeying one night in the wilderness of central Africa in a section plagued by many ravenous beasts, we found no place of safety till we came to the shadow of a great rock, where we sat down with our backs to the rocks and, building at our feet a great fire, found rest and refreshing for the next day's still weary journey.  O weary child, when your strength fails and you cannot go any further, sit down and lean back in the shadow of your Lord, upon Him.  Build there in prayer the fire of faith and find rest and refreshment for your onward march.

Onward righteous, faithful, peaceful friends.  Lets build a huge fire pit and warm our souls.  I can feel it starting.  Mission Possible.....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's a Good Day to Have a Bad Day

This won't be very long today, but yesterday was a bad day. 2 weeks ago I had my 6 month PT scan which came back as perfect, showing no cancer in me. That next Monday I found out that my CA 125 was elevated and the CA 125 is more sensitive to the cancer cells. A week later I had another blood test to confirm it was elevated, and that is what I found out yesterday.
It sounds as if I will be getting 1-3 chemo treatments but I do not know when they will start. My Dr. does not want to let the microscopic disease to go untreated, and truth be told neither do I. A reminder that ovarian cancer is it's own beast. Microscopic for ovarian is not the same as for some other cancers. It's still a big deal. There isn't a pill I can take. There isn't a wait and see policy because of its aggressive nature. And we know mine really wants to get me since it's trying again- so it's aggressive. I encourage you to go online and learn a little about OC. Mayo Clinic is my favorite spot.
How am I? Well, quite frankly I'm angry. I feel good. I look good. I'm taking care of me. But I cannot believe that another baseball and track season are going to be ruined because of this AGAIN!! At least it's not to the date this time. Another 6 month check failed. Another time curly hair has proven to mean there is cancer in me.
I will probably be going to a different chemo place so that I won't have to get another port put in. That is really good news for me. I hate those ports. Chris said that just these few treatments should not bother my veins and make them collapse. So probably Henry Ford Macomb is where I will go.
How is my family? I just don't know. I let them know it isn't a life or death moment but probably a way to control the cancer for the rest of my life barring God's miracle for me.
And that's what I ask you to pray for. I want to be a living miracle- even before the chemo starts and they take my blood work again... Let the number be in normal range and the cancer cells vanquished from me.
Here's to believing third time's a charm.....
Vicki