Blessings, blessings, blessings

Lately I have been thinking—I am incredibly blessed. While from the outset a cancer diagnosis is not welcome news, it has been an eye opener for me. I am seeing with much more clarity the many blessings that have been there all along in my life but have been unnoticed or at very least not fully appreciated by me.

I have good health insurance. I am able to receive treatment with very few hassles. My doctor is local so my travel time to receive treatment is minimal. The facility where I receive treatment is clean and professionally staffed. Having visited other parts of the world, I know that in some areas people must travel several days by train to the nearest medical facility and even then it may not be adequately staffed or clean. It takes me less than an hour by air conditioned car to get to my appointments—such a blessing!

I am able to read my bible openly while having chemotherapy. God’s Word is a great comfort to me but in some parts of the world owning a bible is illegal. I am so blessed to have freedom of religion and to own not just one but several bibles!

I have choices for my meals. While chemo leaves the unfortunate side effect of nausea, my pantry is stocked with things I can tolerate, I have a dear friend who has filled my freezer with home cooked comfort food, and the grocery store, which is less than 5 minutes away, never runs out of food. The food supply in many parts of the world is not only inadequate but certainly does not allow options. I am so blessed.

My office has a couch. As a therapist my work space is quite comfy and created especially to be a place of peace and tranquility. I am able to take a short nap between seeing clients on the days I need a little more rest. Another blessing!

Of course the biggest blessing for me at this point in my life is God and his faithfulness which is ever present and giving me strength for each day. I went on a hike with my daughter on Sunday. We laughed and enjoyed the beauty of foothills. I breathed in the fresh air, soaked up the sunshine, and tried to capture the feeling of strength and vitality so I can carry it with me to chemotherapy tomorrow. But even if it begins to wane in the days to come, I know God is lifting me up and is strong enough for the task.

Kate in the blackberry bushes

I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.  Psalm 34:1-3

View from the trail in Auburn



Knowledge is such a wonderful gift and I am a greedy person. I love to learn, I love to discover, and I love to dig deeper. I want to know how things work, how stuff is made, why things happen as they do, when did it start, has it always been this way? And perhaps my favorite, why we are we the way we are? This extends of course to my professional life as a marriage & family therapist and as a psychology teacher, but also in my personal life–why, what, how, when–and the list of questions just goes on and on. Having breast cancer has opened up a whole new area of discovery for me. I am getting in education in biology, oncology, pharmacology, hematology, health insurance and finance, but the most incredible lessons I have learned thus far since my diagnosis have come in the form of people. People who are bending over backwards to help me, people praying for me that I have never met, people who have no reason to support me yet are uplifting me and giving me strength. People are amazing!!

Have you ever stopped and pondered this? Why are people so amazing? What is it in the human DNA that causes someone to love and support another? I’m not sure if it is the chemo fog in my brain or just the simplicity of the answer but I believe God has a hand in it.   🙂  We are created in the image of our God and God IS love (1 John 4:8). Deep within us is the desire to love, not just love our families, our friends, and those who deserve it, but to love– period. God commands us to love and when we do, we get to experience being more like Him and more like we were created to be. Not to mention the blessing that is bestowed on the recipient of that love.

As an educator, I am always looking for more effective ways to help my students learn. I like to use hands-on experiments in the classroom, personal experience to illuminate lessons, and guest speakers to broaden the academic voice. So I see this time in my life as an incredibly effective way for me to learn more about God. I am getting hands-on experience in God’s amazing love. I am not saying God gave me cancer so I could learn, but that because God loves me so much He will use this time of struggle to help me understand and know Him in an even deeper way.  I am embracing the lesson.

But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
 For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good.  Psalm 52:7-9

Here we go again…

I have had some mixed emotions heading to my next chemo infusion. While the first time I was somewhat in the dark about what to expect, I now know what tomorrow holds for me. Two weeks ago I had been warned what I might feel like after chemo and I had been given a list of possible side effects, but was also informed that everyone is different and each body responds in its own way. I would have to wait and see how it effected me. So now I know about me and my body’s response. YUCK!! There is no more mystery; it has been replaced by dread. A few days ago I started feeling anxious about returning to chemo and fear was beginning to creep in where there had been peace. I had been enjoying many good days of renewed strength and energy, seeing God’s provision for me and rejoicing in His protection over me. Then as I the time ticked away and chemo was once again looming in front of me, I began to remember the headache, nausea and exhaustion. I don’t want it!!! Yet, God in his mercy has reminded me I do not go alone into that chemotherapy room.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

As I sit in the chair tomorrow I will remember God’s faithfulness and the way He has gently (but boldly) carried me through this battleground. “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.” Psalm 3:3,4

Today I will again rejoice in feeling good, feeling strong, and feeling loved by my daddy-God. Tomorrow I will let him carry me.

How much proof do you need?

One of the most profound verses in scripture for me is one of the shortest. It’s found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 “Be joyful always;” Such a simple verse, three little words, yet so powerful and also a bit perplexing. Always? Does God really mean always, always? How can this be? How is this even possible? The next verse (which is even shorter) gives us the answer. “pray continually;” When I am in conversation with my creator, I am joyful. Spending time chatting with my Savior is time well spent and gives rest to my soul. This I know to be true. But what about life’s big struggles? How are we to be joyful when life is dark and difficult? 1 Thessalonians 5:18 clears that up, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Now I know that seems like more of a puzzle and less of an answer, but in reality it is the key to unlocking joy. Thanksgiving, having a grateful heart, appreciating others…all are scientifically proven to increase happiness!! Don’t you just love it when empirical studies confirm God’s Word?!?! O.K. maybe that is just the psychology geek in me, but I think it’s pretty cool when some research psychologist figures out what God has been saying all along. I am, even as I write this blog, surfing my university library’s database and seeing study after psychological study confirm that expressing thanks and showing gratitude is correlated with higher life satisfaction and happiness. How much proof do you need?

In order to be joyful always, we must also give thanks. We may have to look a little more closely during the dark times but there are always things to be thankful for. Today I am thankful for worship, the Word, and my incredible church family; Mexican food after Sunday service and air conditioning!! What are you thankful for?

I’m Human Again!!!

Last Wednesday I had my first chemo infusion and I must say I would rather not go back. I know that I will, but really I would rather not. Four days of nausea and complete exhaustion….no thanks.  Today, I have renewed strength and determination. I feel good, healthy, and back to normal. For the last several days I continued to repeat Philippians 4:13 over and over, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” All things, all things…that means chemo! I can do chemo because my God will give me strength to do chemo. I will get through this.

Phil. 4:13 in The Message translation says, “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” I love that! He makes me who I am and He will see me through.

I am so very thankful for my family and friends who cared for me when I was too weak to take care of myself. I am thankful for the many people who are praying for me and encouraging me. God must really love me to place such wonderful people in my life.

This morning I am thankful for feeling well and being able to live my normal life for the next few days. I will appreciate every moment and give God the glory.

O my Strength, I sing praise to you; You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. Psalm 59:17

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