Encouraging Words about Navigating the New Normal and Embracing Hope

Insider Connection – March 2019

Good Encouragement Helps

Spring appeared yesterday (hooray!). Today it is winning a well-played game of hide-and-seek behind jarring cold winds and snow flurries. The hope of warmer days ahead is real, though, and there are cheery chickadees at the bird feeder!

Encouragement through Song:

We are given our lives to offer them back to God and to worship Him. No one else deserves our praise! Listen to “Offering” by Paul Baloche.

Offering (by Paul Baloche)

Navigating the New Normal:

2019 will be the first year that I will not have a CT scan. I hit the five year colon cancer survivor mark in May 2018. I’ll have a follow up appointment with the oncologist this June for lab work. I’ve been thinking a lot about how God wants me to live the life He has given in my “new normal”. This year has been about being content. Grateful. Purposeful. Not perfect; content.

Here are a few of the things I’m currently enjoying in my daily routine to cultivate a healthy and contented new normal:

Amazing Grass Powdered Greens: I pick these greens up at my local Wegmans grocery store. You can also order them online. These greens taste good alone mixed in water but most mornings I will add a drop of lemon essential oil for extra support. At one time I juiced five pounds of carrots + six green apples + greens daily while supporting my body’s efforts to heal from cancer and treatment (twice). I don’t do carrot juice as often now, but powdered greens I use just about every day. Easy!

amazing greens after cancer nutrition during cancer

 

Turmeric Supplement: Tom and I both take Turmeric and use essential oils daily. Here is a turmeric supplement you can find in your local health food store or online:

turmeric supplement after cancer nutrition for cancer survivors

Got Oils?

If you don’t have oils yet, NOW is the time to get a starter set. Essential oils have given me hope as a woman put into menopause by chemo and radiation. I did not want medication to replace natural hormones. I had NO idea that Young Living products would support so many legitimate wellness goals in my life, until about two years ago!

I’ll show you how to use them but there are literally 100+ uses from cleaning to beauty to wellness and more. I’ll also gift you $20 cash back, a free PDF informational guide about my favorite oil blend for Happy Hormones, a link to a scrollable class all about hormones for her, and my favorite reference material or phone app about everything related to essential oils (wayyy beyond just hormones!).

You’ll also get access to our members-only online community to learn how to use your oils and get lots of education and support. It’s been life changing for this cancer survivor!

It’s only $165, less the $20 cash back I give you, making it only $145 before tax and shipping.

Get Started Here Now!!

Devotional Resources to Embrace Hope:

I’m reading through a daily devotional that my sister gave me for Christmas. It is called “The Quiet Place” by Nancy Lehigh Demoss. The book is concise and I appreciate the author’s style and commitment and emphasis upon scripture. If you’re looking for a nice supplement to your personal Bible study time, this is one you may enjoy!

the quiet place nancy lehigh demoss devotional

Healing Strong:

healing strong

March is Colon Cancer Awareness month! My colon cancer crisis and healing journey included medical treatment (twice) and nutrition (the second time). Healing Strong is a registered 503(c)3 non-profit corporation whose mission is to connect, support, and educate individuals facing cancer and other diseases with holistic, evidence-based non-toxic therapies by equipping local community groups. This month you can get their free guide on “How Stage 3 And 4 Cancer Patients Are Healing From Cancer” by clicking here.

Blessings to you,

cancer survivor essential oils cbd oil happy hormones after chemo and radiationSharon O’Connor is a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor who has been NED (“no evidence of disease”) since 2013. She loves coffee, writing, and taking walks with her husband, Tom, and their adopted Pug-Maltese mix, Ace. Sharon is grateful for wellness support strategies that work to support living in the “new normal”. Her life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. Do you have a life verse? Share it in a comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Core Strength

Encouragement, Exercise

Tuesday morning I was laying on the floor in my office for the second time that day. My lower back had gone out so I carefully navigated to a space on the carpet to stretch. I spent a few minutes looking up at the ceiling tiles trying to figure out how to roll over gracefully. My arm was wedged under my left shoulder against a box on the floor. I tried turning on my side to get on all fours to hoist myself up into a cat stretch. My foot was stuck behind a roller on one chair. My boss opened the door to ask how I was doing. Awkward. She felt bad for me. We both laughed.

We think we’re so… independent… self sufficient… and in ten seconds of a wrong twist we’re flat on our backs and helpless.

“Are you okay?,” asked a lab tech. I had made it out of the office and was clinging to the wall on my way down the hallway to fax something. I felt like I was moving on ice and bent over balancing a bag of rocks on my back.

walking buddy golden doodle walking buddy puppy

My walking buddy and core strength tester, Max.

“Oh yeah, thanks, this is nothing!” I meant it. No IV’s, ICU, surgery, chemo, radiation or colostomy bag involved. A complete breeze. No problem.

I called my chiropractor because I was supposed to travel and it would only get worse.

“Well,” said his receptionist. “He can see you December 20th.”

“Uh, you mean, like, three weeks from now?” It was November 29th. “I’m in pain and I’m a current patient. He saw me three weeks ago for the same problem and I must travel.” I also have a fifty-five pound puppy to walk every morning to keep him and me happy. I had to be able to move.

“Can’t you fit me in?” Ten minutes. I just needed ten minutes of his time and an applied adjustment of the correct vertebrae.

“I guess we’ll ask his nurse and call you back.” Alrighty then.

I felt this meant good news for the nurse to be contacted about my problem. The nurse typically is the one who can make things happen because she reviews your history. Appointment spots used to be reserved for patients like me with problems. Piece of cake.

“Mrs. O’Connor? Hi there. Yeah so he can see you December 20th. Sorry but he’s fully booked until then.”

“Really?” Silence. “So, no way to get in when I’m a current patient with a history of back problems? I’m sure he’s busy, I mean, he’s a great chiropractor…” Compliments sometimes work when pleading does not.

“No. He said if you are in worse pain to go to the ER.”

You know how the old cartoons would use the sound of a record scratching to get across that, “What in the WORLD?” sound. That was going on in my head. Chiropractors are the antithesis of “just go to the ER”. ER’s mean muscle relaxers and maybe physical therapy for weeks when a ten minute adjustment and a few follow up appointments would do the trick so quickly. I was back down on the floor staring at ceiling tiles and pondering options.

On Wednesday morning I saw my new chiropractor.

We were chatting about my history of falling off horses years ago and a twisted pelvis and that cancer thing with multiple surgeries and my current problem with standing straight.

“Where are your scars?”

How odd. No one ever asks about those abdominal cancer surgery scars. They couldn’t have any impact now on my body, right? They had done their job of healing me up. The chiropractor went on to spend a lot of time testing my muscles and pressing on sensitive points in my back that I had no idea existed.

“I want you to breathe and push against my hand so I can test the strength of your diaphragm muscles. You’re singing this weekend with your daughter, right?” Then the chiropractor pushed into some of those scars around my abdomen and had me breathe deeper.

It hurts to breathe deep when those scars are pressed. Scars protect those old wounds.

“Your left shoulder is compensating along with your right lower back, and you really need to work on your core strength. That’s an underlying cause of the lower back problems.”

“Ok. I’ll work on the breathing control for the muscles in my abdomen.” It was so basic and I had known the importance of core strength but you forget until you’re flat on the floor.

Sometimes you can’t breathe easily with scar tissue protecting your best efforts to move forward.

That unseen scar tissue felt reignited with discomfort as it was loosened to give me more strength and range of motion.

It hurts to work on loosening scars from old wounds that sapped your strength. Maybe it would be easier to leave them alone.

I walked away from the appointment sore but also better able to stand upright and move forward.

Are you dealing with physical or emotional scars from some battle?

You’ve gotta go right to your core. Jesus is the core for me spiritually. When I ask him to be the center of my life and focus on allowing him to work through me (even in the areas that hurt) things all work better.

Colossians 1:17 says, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” The “him” is Jesus. God’s Son. ALL things in this universe are held together by him! If you want to walk upright and straight you need to ask Him to forgive your sins and walk with you. He knows about scars, too. He died on a wooden cross to pay for my sins and yours and he still has the scars from all he went through to rescue us from sin.

This is the time of year we all are consumed with gifts and how to afford them. The gift Jesus offers freely to you, right now, no matter how deep your scars? Himself. He is the only “Cure” that matters.

Read more about the supremacy of God’s Son, Jesus, here:

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Colossians 1:15-23, NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weighty Decision

Cancer, Encouragement, General Thoughts

Do you ever get weary of decisions?

Do you ever follow God through some wild battle and then almost give up the loving victory He has provided, or promised, in a short tangle of exhausting weariness?

Do you ever wonder, like I do, why we have to choose, some days, to embrace life on this earth and truly live? I mean, isn’t the fact that we’re “here” evidence that we’ve conquered the need to prove anything about forging ahead with life? Can’t we just exist in a calming place of easy duress-free comfort?

What if Heaven is not a place of lulling peace but joyful discovery and forging ahead using the trust and expectant victory we have learned to wield during our time on earth, through salvation in Jesus, to accomplish God’s plans for our eternity?

What if living on earth is preparing us to fully embrace and thrive on Heaven’s incredible shores?

Shouldn’t there be an Easy Button for simply being here?

What if we fail the day’s test and come close to falling apart under some dull persistent pressure?

Tom and I were watching an old Christmas movie and Robert Mitchum’s character said to the female lead, “What are you trying to do, crawl into a cave, and hide from everything that may stir you up?” Yes. Sometimes, I just may be trying to do that very thing. Show me the nearest cave, please!

I’ve been thinking a lot this week on something Jesus said about burdens and rest and learning.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Maybe we’re to walk among the weights of this world but let Jesus do the lifting of them. Connected to him constantly. Not removed. Not scrambling to fix and figure it all out (guilty). Choosing to rely on his strength and wisdom. Not flinching from the next burden because he stands ready to help us carry and move and set it safely down.

Maybe our burden is to lift the powerful Gospel Light. High. To push back the weight of darkness and despair creeping all around.

More friends this week are making decisions about their or their loved one’s cancer journey. The world’s in chaos more conspicuously than usual. The weight of earth’s difficulties seems almost unbearable if I strain against it on my own.

And the potential to help people in greater need, because of the ungodly troubles? Incredible.

What if these troubles, that Jesus told us would come, are simply a greater chance to draw closer to him under the yoke and work together to bear these earth-bound burdens and invite more people to join us on the journey towards our eternal Home?

What if he is waiting with urgent patience for all of us who love him to make a decision?

Did you see The Help? Skeeter’s mother had been fighting cancer of the stomach and the cancer of the culture throughout the movie. Ultimately Skeeter is freed to leave and chase her dream by the words uttered in her mother’s long southern drawl.

“Skeeter? I, have made the decision, to live.”

So what’s the solution on days we want to crawl into a safe cave and escape the bone-weary worries? In the moments when we’ve been stirred up enough for a lifetime and feel crushed by the weight?

Every day we are given breath we must make a decision. To step into the burden-bearing Light-lifting yoke with Jesus. And decide to live.

Romans, Romans 5, hope, endurance, perseverance, encouragement, attitude, Christ Jesus, God and Father,

 

 

 

 

The Moment that Changes Everything.

Cancer, Chemo, Encouragement, General Thoughts

“Mom. Let’s sing a song.”

19 years old and asking to sing a song with me on a Saturday in the middle of August. For a few years this lovely girl had lost some of her personal voice – her song. I battled cancer and she had battled me battling cancer. Yes. Let’s sing.

“Sure! What song do you want to sing?” We laughed. Started and stopped about 500 (ok,30) times. Finally made it through her song – How Deep the Father’s Love for Us – on a sunny Saturday afternoon in August.

August begins my favorite season.

27 years ago this month I went to South America for a year after high school to work and travel. My mother put me on a plane with a ticket my brother helped purchase to make the adventure happen. I had totaled his car when a drunk driver hit me a few weeks earlier. He sent me to South America. (That’s not really why. But the connection just dawned on me…)

26 years ago this month I started Bible college because of one conversation.

“So, are you excited about classes beginning?” My youth pastor and his wife waited for my answer. I had registered to study Spanish and Journalism at the local university in the Fall.

“No. I’m not.” We were sitting on a dock on a hot July day full of sunshine and water skiing. I never did figure out how to get up on top of the water on skis. And then the question that changed everything.

“Have you ever thought about taking a year and studying Bible? There’s this little school in Binghamton….”

I went home and asked my mother a question that changed everything.

“Mom, what would you and dad think if I went to Bible college for a year?” She lifted the iron from the board piled with laundry and paused mid-air. Completely surprised. A small smile on her face.

“I … think that would be just … fine.”

22 years ago this month… this week… our oldest daughter was born. A moment that changed everything.

Two weeks ago, this month, our younger daughter asked another question. One that will probably change everything.

“Mom, what do you and Dad think I should do this fall?”

Her father told her what he thought. She listened. I smiled a little grin.

“I agree with your dad,” I said.

My daughter’s not taking a plane to South America. But she’s singing a new song. And I can’t wait to hear it.

Have you lost your song? Has one conversation changed everything? Maybe you can’t believe it will ever be for good, if you’re facing a hard challenge? Has the song of someone who loves you been silenced by the the question you have to answer?  You will finally make it through. Maybe not in the way you hope; maybe not unscathed, or without loss. But your hope can be secure if you will trust God – the mighty God who will save and who sings over us with joy.

The moment you trust Him changes everything.

zephaniah 3 verses 16 to 18 God is mighty to save God sings over you God rejoices over you