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

 

Get Humming

Cancer Resources, Chemo, Encouragement, General Thoughts, Picture Post, Shopping

I sat in a chair facing the trumpet vines. The (trees?) are at one end of our pool and I was plotting to capture hummingbird images. You know, because the world has never seen hummingbirds in pictures, ever. The fluted coral trumpet vine flowers fascinate me. They are what my mind’s eye remembers most from our first weeks in our home five years ago. Soon after the trumpet vines bloomed that summer we learned there was something wrong with my body that ultimately would be named stage 3 cancer. Click. Swimming in the pool before surgery that fall. Click. Sitting on the ladder with my feet in the water the following spring after chemo, radiation, and multiple surgeries. Wounded. Click. Waiting for the surgeon to say I had healed enough to get in the water. Click. The relief that swimming and stretching and floating provided to my battered body. Still provides to my body. Click. The trumpet vines are in bloom again. Click.

Tom was skimming the pool. I had done my laps and was armed with my camera under the table umbrella.

“Mrs. S. (our neighbor who planted the trumpet vines over 40 years ago) says hummingbirds come out between 6 and 7 PM. Maybe I should just try to get some photos around her feeder,” I said. “Do you think it’s too hot out now? I guess I can try and see.”

“You need a bigger lens.” He finished skimming. He was right. For 24 years he has noticed details and helped me see the bigger picture.

I’m content for now with what can be seen from this limited angle. Tom left to mow the lawn. Chloe trotted proudly behind him through the gate. I don’t think either one thought the hummingbirds would cooperate. I scrolled on my phone with one hand and held the camera in the other when I heard that delicious humming sound and this happened:



See More Hummingbird Photos in the Bird Gallery Here

I was thinking about the hummingbirds today and their constant motion and quiet rest. Sometimes I do wonder why we must go through Things. The suffering and all that. And when suffering is removed or relieved a new and different struggle often appears. Constant motion. Too-short rest. My phone buzzed and I saw an email from another friend who has faced great illness. We met by email after I shared my journey at a women’s conference. She, too, had colon cancer and did some medical intervention but she chose mainly natural options to build up her immune system. She is doing beautifully. Her doctors are astonished. She has shared Christ with many people who she would never have met if she had not been on this journey. She closed her email with these words that encouraged me. I hope they will encourage you:

“I think of you often and I pray for you. God has us here to be a shining light in a dark world. This is my hope that God permits that the symbol of my life be a candle that burns itself, spends itself, consumes itself while there is still wax to burn! Have a great minute, hour, day and super weekend.”

She reminded me of the bigger picture.

If you’re searching for the beauty of (hummingbirds? health? happiness?) and can’t quite find the image, stay still and focus. If you’re headed into stormy waters and unsure how deep it will get, keep moving forward in faith. Are you sitting on the edge because you’ve been wounded beyond bearing? Rest and wait. God is setting the stage for good. If you listen close, you’ll soon hear the humming. Now go shine.

“Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.” Psalm 80:19

PS: The last time I blogged here it was about scanxiety and an upcoming annual CT scan related to an encounter with stage 4 colon cancer in 2012-13. The annual scan in May 2015 was clear. Uneventful. Over. Relief. Thank you for praying and reading. Click.

 

 

You’ve Just Got To…

Encouragement

I’m tired of writing about cancer.

I decided that when I was laying flat on my back in a fresh cut field a few weeks ago. There’s nothing quite like that smell. Earth. Grass. Saddle leather. Horse. Sunshine. One arm was cradled gently across my chest. Puffy white clouds floated across the blue sky. I thought about how sometimes we’re lulled into silly assumptions about life always staying as we know it. As we like it. Which leads to conversations with God. Like the one I was having there on the soft ground.

“You know, God, I’ve been through a lot. And you’ve been really faithful. Amazingly so. I try not to take it for granted. But sometimes, I guess I do.”

Wispy clouds crept across the vibrant  blue stage high above. It seemed a bit hazy. It may have been the sun, or tears in my eyes. The situation had completely taken my breath away.

“You’ve restored my health. And you threw in horses for me to enjoy riding. That was clearly a gift from You – that special thing you’ve provided all through my life through family and friends at different times.”

It was true. When I was six or seven, I prayed in my aunt’s living room on Canisteo Street and asked God to give me a red barn with horses in it. We lived on the outskirts of town and my dad was a hard working auto parts guy by day and gifted musician by night. Horses were a dream on Spencer Avenue. A few years later, God gave my aunt a husband and me an uncle. And he came with a barn, and horses. And more cousins. Blessings all.

Eventually I got bucked off enough to have a healthy fear of riding. “You’ve got to get back on,” my uncle would say. I was afraid. But love of riding outweighed the fear.

Love does that, doesn’t it? Draws us past the fear of life’s hurts to climb back on and finish the ride?

“So, Father God,” I continued. “You certainly wouldn’t let my horse spook today, lurch violently to the side, and leave me in mid-air, only to crash to the ground and break a bone, right?”

Silence and blue skies all around. It had been 27 years since I was separated involuntarily from a saddle. I was trying to remember where my, “You’ve-Been-Through-Enough-You-Can-Pass-Go” card was; instead all I could come up with was, “Be-Glad-You’re-Alive-to-Realize-You’re-Old-Enough-to-Be-More-Careful-What-Were-You-Thinking”. saddle

Moments before my conversation with God began, my friend and I rode happily out of the corral. I was relaxed and had just settled into the Australian saddle. It’s really comfy and has these great leg guard things that sit you down good in the seat. I’m always on high alert when riding. Careful. Good at staying on even when the horse jumps sometimes, and…. well, then. I was in mid-air watching my horse lunge to the right, taking my comfy saddle with him. He had spooked and was in a dead run, over a ditch, up a bank and into the field. He passed my friend. She was on another spooked horse, but masterfully stayed in the saddle.

In between painful gasps for air I noticed my wrist had an awkward lump. Weeks later I’m told the broken wrist is healing nicely. I’ve graduated to a short cast and can put a waterproof sleeve over it to swim. It’s awkward. But I can get in the pool and cruise around slowly. That makes me happy.

One day last week a co-worker stopped in my office doorway. She had kindly asked me about the wrist and about the horse. I looked up from paperwork and spreadsheets.

“You’ve got to get back on, Sharon; you’ve just got to.”

I know. I’m not quite ready to; but I know. For me, today, it’s about getting back on a horse. For you it may be climbing back into life after cancer. Or coping with the loss of a loved one from cancer. Or choosing how you want to deal with cancer.  Or some other life bruise that has thrown you and left you broken.

I don’t want to write about cancer anymore. But I do want to write about life.

You’ve got to get back on. john 10:10 life more abundantly

 

 

 

While It Was Still Dark

Encouragement

Sustain Me: Notes on Cancer, encouragement for cancer patients, stage four cancer, stage three cancer

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb…”

I crept down stairs two nights ago and peered out the window, while it was still dark. I had caught a stomach bug, and on top of that indignity,  Chloe had to do her business at 2:30 AM. Her nails click-click-clicking woke me up from restless misery as she waddled to the bedroom door.

“Chloe! Get back in bed, now!”

I hissed the command quietly so I would not wake Tom. Sometimes the hotdog obeys and crawls back into her doggie bed. Like she just wants the blanket adjusted by her human. This night she ignored my words, stopped at the bedroom door and wouldn’t look back. She wanted out. Ugh.

It was the night of the Blood Moon. I had considered waking up sometime after 2 AM in hopes of seeing the lunar eclipse but knew our area would not have a good view of the sky. Chloe’s summons tipped the balance in favor of at least trying, and down the steps we went. Clouds were thick overhead and the only thing I saw was … nothing. My nausea enforced the gloom. Chloe did her business, proudly trotted to her bed and went sound asleep.

I tossed and turned and thought some more about the dark; of not knowing if your body will ever feel right again; of other nights when I truly wondered if I would be able to even turn over in bed again; and about another woman creeping through the gloom, long ago, searching for a miracle.

Mary left while it was still dark on the silent streets of Jerusalem. The pitch black before dawn. Reeling from the agonizing death of her Lord, Mary crept to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid. How could this be? Multitudes of people had believed in Him and trusted that He was the “Way, the Truth and the Life”. She had watched Jesus work miracles in the lives of ordinary people like you and me. And just when a new political dawn appeared certain after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem (hadn’t the fickle crowds cried, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”?), Mary had watched the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, die a thief’s death on the cross. He was the perfect sacrifice accepted by God and had willingly died to pay for her sin, and mine. And yours.

Darkness brutally snuffed out the Light of the World.

Or did it?

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” John 20:1

The Light of the World arose, and lives to find us in our darkness today. Love keeps piercing the gloom and bringing the hope of the risen Savior to all of us. Have you accepted this Gift that will give you forgiveness from the suffocating weight of sin? That is the only way to gain eternal life with Christ?

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31

Like Mary’s hurt-bound belief and against-all-odds joy in finding Jesus alive, I’m holding hope for the day He returns. It’s still dark all around. But my heart tells me dawn is near.

He is risen.

This is What Jesus Told Mary at the Tomb …Click Here

****

One of the books I love about our hope in Christ is called “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. If you’ve read my blog or heard me speak, you may know this book was a tremendous encouragement to me when I went through surgeries, chemo and radiation for stage III & IV colon cancer. At the time of this writing you can get “Heaven: Biblical Answers to Common Questions” free on Amazon.com for Kindle. It’s a brief booklet that will give you an introduction to what the book is about if you’re interested in learning more.

Heaven is, after all, for real.John 11:26 I am the resurrection and the life