Reflection

I have spent the last month recuperating from surgery and reflecting on life. Seven months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced a very uncertain future. I started this blog ten days after being diagnosed and I wrote in that first post,

“I do not know what the days ahead will hold for me but I do know my future…I will see God’s goodness displayed through this trial. Romans 8:28 is just as true today as it was 11 days ago.And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and called according to his purpose.’ My hope and prayer with this blog is to encourage others with God’s grace and mercy as we all face the trials and struggles that compete for our attention. I choose instead to dwell on the good. Philippians 4:8 has been my battle cry, ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent and praiseworthy—think about such things.’ It is not my choice to have breast cancer, but I can choose to walk each day by the love and light of God’s grace and mercy. I can choose to focus on all that is good in my life, to look up instead of down, to smile instead of frown, to sing even through my tears, and to have hope, always have hope.”

Since I wrote that first blog post, I have completed chemotherapy and have experienced such an outpouring of love I can’t even describe it. The nausea and headache are long gone but I hope never to lose the feeling of warmth and affection that enveloped me as so many people reached out to help me.

Last month I had a bilateral mastectomy and began the long process of reconstruction. Once again God showed His love and faithfulness to me through his people—reaching out and pitching in to help me, so much love, so much generosity, so much encouragement after my surgery and over the last seven months. Now I am cancer free!! God’s goodness has certainly been displayed during this season of struggle. “How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of His years is past finding out.” Job 36:26

I so appreciate the many people who have prayed for me and my healing. My strength is growing with every day and I will give God the glory for His awesome power demonstrated in victory over cancer.  “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope.”          2 Corinthians 1:10

Photo courtesy of Tainted Canvas.

He’s big—I’m small

I had the wonderful blessing of spending a couple of days with a dear friend and her daughter in Monterey last weekend. Having grown up in Southern California, I have always loved the beach. It is a special place of peace for me. Now that I live a couple of hours from the coast, I don’t get as many opportunities to dig my toes in the sand, but when I do they are always glorious.

The ocean reminds me of just how big our God is and just how small I am in comparison. The strength of my problems pale in light of the power and might of the waves. The thing that always gets me is the God of the universe, the creator of the seas, with all His glory and majesty, loves me!

“You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” Nehemiah 9:6

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” Psalm 24:1-2

“You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations. The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.” Psalm 65:5-8

I will remember the morning mist and the cool salt air, the laughter of good friends, and meditate on these verses today as I sit once again today in the chemo chair—and the God who created the oceans will bring me comfort.

“A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32

The Ups and Downs of the Chemo Rollercoaster

Okay, so there are more downs on this ride than I would prefer but there are some ups too. Losing my hair has been an adjustment but I also no longer need to shave my legs! Showers are incredibly quick! In the heat of the Sacramento summer I stay incredibly cool: no pesky hair to trap in the heat!

Each chemotherapy infusion has its own challenges but each week off has its own blessings. My third chemo brought with it the unfortunate side effect of an ugly rash and blisters on my hands. It itches and burns. My fingers are swollen and my knuckles look deformed. I was showing a good friend and colleague my hands today at work and telling her that although it is painful I am thankful that I have a job that allows me to sit with my hands discreetly in my lap while I see clients. I actually don’t need my hands much for my daily duties at work. What a blessing I’m not a seamstress!

This past week I was able to run a 5k race with my kids on the Fourth of July! What a joy and surprise blessing in the middle of this trial. I love to run and when I found out I would be having chemo one of the things I grieved was my daily run. Running is my all-time favorite hobby. I turn on some worship music, head out on the bike trail along the river, rejoice in God’s creation all around me, and feel most connected to my Lord and myself. Knowing I would be giving this up for 4 months was depressing. I am so glad that I have been able to run a little during my week off from chemo. I haven’t ventured out to my favorite spots and usually just hit the treadmill where I know I can step off it if I get too tired or weak, but when I saw the local Fourth of July race would be in the middle of my good week, I was overjoyed! God continues to amaze me with His faithfulness and mercy as I move through this. He gives me strength and courage for each challenge and has tucked in some wonderful blessings at just the right time!

July 4th 5k

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom.”     2 Tim. 4:18

Tomorrow will be my fourth chemotherapy session and I will be officially half-way finished with chemo! Praise God for His goodness and mercy.

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.

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

Rough days

There are some days I wish I could just turn back the clock and avoid all together. Yesterday was one of those days. Being poked and prodded is getting really old, really fast. I know that the doctors need the information in order to treat and kill the cancer in my body, but do they have to keep sticking needles me all the time? Goodness, I am getting tired of that!

I am comforted by the knowledge that my God is aware and hasn’t lost me in all of this. He knows the pain I am going through; He loves me and cares for me.

Last weekend my dog Annie was frantically running around under the bushes in my back yard barking at something and when I checked it out, I discovered a baby bird had fallen from a nest. The poor thing was just a few days old and had a broken leg. I wrapped it in a paper towel and held it for a little while hoping to calm it. I knew it was not going to live very long. I cried when it breathed its last breath and thought of the scripture in Mathew 10. God knows every sparrow that falls. Of course He is aware of the pain that is all around me now too.  I can trust Him through this. He loves me.

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