Sunday, October 17, 2010

I have always been an avid reader. When the kids were younger and there was never enough time in the day to get everything done, I wouldn't allow myself to pick up a book. I knew that once I started reading all else would fall to the side. Just "one more chapter" would turn into another chapter and another chapter. I loved reading to Allie and Andrew when they were little. They both had favorite books that Steve and I read thousands of times. "Mickey and the Beanstalk" was Allie's first favorite and Little Hiawatha was Andrew's. Allie's love of books has continued to grow and her book collection is astonishing. Andrew didn't keep the love of books, but Little Hiawatha birthed a love of Indians in that little boy. As a 3 and 4 year old, this fair-skinned boy, with red hair, freckles and glasses refused to answer when called by any name other than "Silent Thunder" or "Dark Eagle". A friend made him an authentic looking Native American vest that he wore everywhere.

When I started my chemo treatments in 2009 I thought I would get a lot of reading done. Spending hours upon hours sitting in a chemo chair seemed like the perfect time to read. I had not bargained for the "chemo brain" that kept me from concentrating. By the time I finished a sentence, I couldn't remember what the book was about. I was given a book about fighting cancer. I could read that because it was one or two line quips about fighting cancer. Some of them were even funny - yes, there actually are funny moments when fighting cancer. I would read a page or two at a time until I happened to flip to the back of the book and realized the last chapter was on dying. I put the book down and didn't pick it up again for many months. I could not let that thought enter my mind. I was appalled! How could a book meant to help you even mention dying? I eventually got brave enough to read the last chapter and I did so even before we knew I was terminal. I had to face the scary monster in the closet.

Well, the chemo brain has subsided (for the most part) and I can read some again. It takes a little longer, I re-read sentences several times, but it helps me absorb. I wanted to mention a few books I've read and a little about how they touched me. I'm not going to issue a spoiler alert, because honestly I'm not sure I remember exactly how they end (yay chemo brain).

The Shack - I read this book after my first diagnosis but before I started treatment. The thing I enjoyed about the book was the very personal relationship between the main character and the Trinity - God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost. This book brought me to a different place in my prayer time.

Hinds Feet on High Places - I had never heard of this book until a friend gave it to me. WOW! I cannot convey how deeply this book touched me. The story is based on the verse, "The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me walk upon mine high places." Habakkuk 3:19 This is a beautifully written book. At a major turning point in the book I gasped, put the book down and praised God right then and there for the work He performs in and through us.

and the book I am currently reading, A Million Ways to Die, The Only Way to Live -
That's a pretty far cry from my fear of the death chapter in the cancer book, huh? I'm only about six chapters into this book, so I can't talk of how it has affected me, but I can tell you it is making me think. This is not a book about the big D that we all fear, but the daily deaths to self so that we can have abundant life through Christ. Beware - it's a thinker!

I never want to miss an opportunity to thank you all for your prayers and your love as we travel this path. Steve and I pray for God's strength and grace for today. Not for next week or next month, but for today. We know that all things work for God's glory, and while we would love for God to take this cup from us, we are committed to Him and committed to His will.

Christ's love to you all,
through Him I am Free Indeed!

"At the moment of our birth God gave us a song to sing. It is we that must remember that it is not how long the song, but that we sing at all."

Friday, October 8, 2010

We Will Rejoice

I woke up today in a fog. I had to take nasuea medicine last night and it seems to linger into the next day. My wonderful husband brought me breakfast and coffee and set me up with all the necessities before he left for work: phone, laptop, cross-stitch and remote control. I was set for my usual Friday after treatment.

As I was coming out of my fog I remembered that I needed to call for tumor marker results from yesterday. The nurse returned my call with, "Amy, I wish I had good news." I felt my day spiraling downward. My doc told me yesterday that he didn't want to see me rise to a 7 too soon, my number this week is 6.5. As my dad use to say, I got in by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. The numbers are rising which means the cancer is growing and the meds aren't working as well as they were in the beginning. This journey is moving at a faster pace than I had hoped.

I hung up the phone and just sat dumbfounded for a few minutes. The same old news reel ran through my head. Why do I have cancer, what family moments will I miss, what will my family do when I am gone.? I have cancer, but why does my family have to suffer.? My world was about to cave in around me.

I picked up my devotion books and headed to my deck, where the world seems to always open up again. I turned to the page for the next memory verse I am to work on. "This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

But God, this is not a fun day. "But it is a day I have made"
But God, I am sad. "This is the day I have made"
But God, I am scared. "Rejoice in the day I have made"
God, help me rejoice. "I am here"
God, help me. "I will never leave you"

This is the day the Lord has made, WE WILL rejoice and be glad in it.

The scripture doesn't say, MAYBE I will rejoice, or I SHOULD rejoice, or if I FEEL GOOD I will rejoice.

This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it! Thank you God for this day that you have made. It IS a beautiful day, the air is cooler, the sun is bright and the birds are singing. Thank you God for reminding me that this is a day that YOU have made and I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chemo Day

Today was treatment day for me at the cancer center. I enjoyed seeing my friends and talking to other patients I see there on a regular basis. We talk about how much nicer the weather is now, books we've read and things we do for fun.

There were a couple of new folks today. I usually try to say something to new folks - nothing profound, just a quick hello or an encouraging word about how wonderful the nurses are there. A lady came with her sister and daughter - she hit a soft spot in my heart. I overheard them talking about her drug regimen. Oxaliplatin, 5FU, Lucavorin for three days every other week....she has colon cancer. My cancer. She cried some when they were talking about the drugs, the side effects, her battle.

I remember my first visit. Steve and I were still reeling from the whirlwind of bad news, surgeries and our new focus on saving my life. I had been mentally preparing myself for the side effects of the poison they were about to pump into my body. The doc came in and said he had bad news. What? How could there be more bad news? My scan showed spots in my lungs. We weren't going to change my treatment, it just put another question mark in my life. I remember that day like a vivid bad dream!

Anyway, I naturally wanted to reach out to her, but I couldn't. I try to be an encourager, to lift folks up. But when you talk to a cancer patient their natural response is to ask what type of cancer you have. In this case, I am not the person she needs to talk to right now....hopefully never. I could not tell this frightened lady that I had been through the fight she is in now, I didn't want her to ask why I was back.

It is hard to want to help someone when you can't. I know that my family goes through that struggle all the time with me.

I'm sorry this post is not uplifting. It's the natural events of the weekend following chemo. I will rest and pray through the weekend and come through the weekend closer to the heart of mine risen Savior!

Cast your anxieties on Him! He is all sufficient, all knowing, all loving! Praise the Lord our Jesus who is victorious over death and because He is, so are we!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fresh Bread

(thoughts from this week's bible class lesson) 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 Are you stinky?

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

As I was reading through the notes I took through this week's class, this quote jumped out at me. "Bread has to remain fresh to be appetizing"

I'm sure I can't develop this thought as well as our teacher did, but that's never stopped me before :-)

Jesus is the Bread of Life. When we invite him into our lives to be the Lord over our lives and the Saviour of our souls, we have him in us. So the Bread of Life is in us.

As a Christian we have a job to do. Contrary to popular belief, our job is not to just go to church on special occasions, our job is not to "be good", our job is not to be complacent, our job is not to stand on the sidelines so we won't offend anyone. As a Christian our life goal should be to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us, opening the one and only way to spend eternity with God the Father. Our job is to be an effective Christian.

So now, let me expand on the quote: The Bread of Life (Jesus in us) must remain fresh to be appetizing (effective).

Just as a wedding should not be the goal of a relationship, but the beginning of a marriage, baptism is not the end, but the beginning of a relationship with Jesus. To remain an effective Christian, Jesus (Bread of Life) must remain fresh. How do you maintain your freshness? By attending worship with other passionate believers. By attending classes where you can learn more about God and his word. By having friendships with other sold-out Christians that can support you, challenge you and hold you accountable. By spending time alone in God's word which facilitates a conversation with God. All of these things keep your relationship fresh, it keeps you effective. How can we share the good news of God and his grace and mercy if we are not keenly aware of it ourselves?

Being an effective Christian is a pleasing aroma to God (verse 15). I want to be a pleasing aroma to God. I don't want to be stale, stinky and ineffective. My Jesus had me on his mind when he sacrificed himself as on offering to cover my sins. I want to God to enjoy the scent of me! I want him to breathe in deep just like I do when I pass the bread factory on the interstate!