Holding It All Together

Encouragement

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

I was driving to work today and had to look over my shoulder at the beautiful — I mean lovely — sky. Sunlight streamed through clouds like a calling card from God. Made me think the sky could part any moment. And right then as I flipped around channels between Christian, country, and a favorite Christian CD, the (ahem) perfect song caught my ear…

“I’ve got… two tickets to paradise… pack your bags we’ll leave tonight!” (God, are you having some fun this morning over the radio frequency with our human lyrics? Are you trying to tell me something about the Rapture?); “We’ve waited so long, waited so long, We’ve waited so long, waited so long” (like over 2,000 years); “I’m gonna take you on a trip so far from here” (yes, heaven would qualify); “I’ve got two tickets in my pocket, now baby, we’re gonna disappear” (I’m sure there are lots more than two tickets… but God if you say it’s time, let’s go!).

So, moving on from Mr. Money’s song…. I turned my thoughts from questionable lyrical theology and back to a doctor’s appointment the day before.

“Do some people have to live with stents in their kidneys long term, like, all their lives?”

I asked my quarterly question the other day at the specialist’s office. We were discussing the next stent change. It’s my personal version of a good Spring cleaning. Some people change the oil in their car to keep things running smoothly, I change the tube running from my bladder to my left kidney. Actually I will be unconscious (thank you, God) and the doctor will kindly change the stent.

He walked over to the diagram of the bladder and kidneys posted on the exam room door and pointed.

“This is the area where you have issues internally. Five months ago when we tried to take the stent out, there was still a lot of scar tissue pushing in on that innocent ureter, making it impossible for us to keep the stent out. It wasn’t ready to work properly.” I recalled this from our last visit.

“You also have a number of titanium clips in there from your surgeries. If a surgeon tries to remove both the scar tissue and the lymph node region that had cancer last time, which is the culprit around the stent, it would be very very difficult because of the location and many nerve endings.” I had declined this option after the end of the second round of radiation and chemo because it would mean a permanent colostomy. The strategy of nutrition after treatment seemed to be working just fine at that time. And at this time.

I had forgotten about those clips. And about how ugly it must be in there with all those scars. Holding a mess of old physical trauma and misery all together. I began to wonder how my body works around all that hurt being held together every day? What lets me be able to work; ride a horse; jump on a trampoline; swim; pull weeds; get out of bed?

What if there is just too much having to hold me together for the good to last?

Isn’t that what we’re good at trying to do on our own? Worrying about keeping it all together? We push titanium clips of quick fixes down into the trauma of life’s messes. We frantically try and stem the tide of misery before life drains away.

“Thankfully things look very good right now; you’ve had a rather miraculous recovery, so we’ll see if we can leave that stent out this time. Of course…. “, and he went on to list all the possible complications and things we would need to watch for.

But we could plan to try.

You and I can try. One day at a time. Hanging on to hope in the living God who does, truly, hold it all together. Holds us together. Even if everything else threatens to fall apart.

“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. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 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.” Colossians 1:16-18

 

colossians 1:17b in him all things hold together

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roar. Roll. Hush.

General Thoughts

“It’s hard to capture all that beauty, isn’t it?”

The lady striding behind me on the long stretch of sand saw me crouching down and angling my phone to get 500 pictures of endless waves in my first five minutes on the beach. You can easily spot the New Yorker’s starving for warmth and let loose near sun and waves on a beach in March. I laughed and agreed with her comment.

The lady smiled and kept moving on her walk. It truly was impossible to capture the beauty. Joyfully so. Really, how many images of waves do you need to get “the picture”.

You can’t easily capture their wild, roaring beauty. I put the camera in my pocket and decided to just walk and watch. One wave swelled up as another one disappeared in a violent crash against the sand. Others softly crept up to my toes and rushed away.

So what is it about waves?

Roaring waves psalms ocean

Those same waves that roar? They have boundaries. God said so. Waves were rolling at me like they wanted to gobble me up. But they were listening to the Creator, and the conversation I overheard went something like this.

“Roar. Now roll.”

And those waves did what they ware told. No harm to me; there was a boundary to the roaring, treacherous, beauty-filled waves.

roll

And then He said, “Hush.”

Can you hear the whisper where you are? He’s in control of the waves. He lets them roar. He talks with them, commands them, and tells them to hush.

hushed

Troubled wave watcher? Listen to the conversation going on between God and your troubles. Those treacherous waves He allows to roar in your life? You may be tossed for a time, but can you hear Him? The Lord of creation speaks in waves of love and invites you to be a part of His conversation.

Listen to the roar. Trust God to roll things away and not roll you over. Now hush.

***

Working through the waves of cancer? Head on over to the “What I Did that Helped” page. When you sign up to receive my blog posts/emails, I’ll send you a free summary of the ways I’ve been navigating through stage IV cancer.  Currently I’m anchored in the “All Clear” safe harbor.

Looking for faith-infused encouragement for cancer patients? Download my FREE e-book journal – learn more by Clicking Here.