Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Accomplishment . . . Or Not

Accomplishment . . . something I’ve known little of in the past week and a half – unless you count sleeping the day away, watching nonstop HGTV when I’m awake, and spontaneously and regularly bursting into tears from being sick and tired of being sick and tired as accomplishment. If so, then I’m actually doing pretty well.

My son and I pray on the way to school each morning (meaning I drive and watch the road and he prays), and we always discuss what we have coming up in our day first. This morning, I told him my big plan for the day was to do something useful. His response was, “You know you don’t have to do that, right?”

My sweet boy doesn’t care if I accomplish anything today, nor does my wonderful daughter, who has been doing much of my normal house duties, nor does my hero husband, who told me yesterday he was going to quiz me on House Hunters episodes when he got home from work, to make sure I didn’t do too much during the day. :-)

They are handling this much better than I am.

Going into chemo, I thought I was going to have a few tired days and then be back to normal after each treatment. The first one was sort of like that, but this second one has been a DOOZIE! I.Do.NOT.Like.It! (…picture two-year old stomping and pitching a fit . . . yeah, that’s me.)

It’s not just that I feel stir-crazy. It’s that I feel USELESS! I want to ACCOMPLISH something!

So, here is where I’d like to insert great wisdom of how I snapped out of this bout of “Opti-rectalitis: a condition where the optic nerve and the rectal nerve get tangled up, giving you a crappy outlook on life.” 

(Um . . . I didn’t come up with that . . . my former pastor in TN did . . . you know who you are if you are reading this and want to claim credit . . . if not, I’ll let you remain anonymous.)

Back to my point . . . I haven’t quite recovered from the chemo OR the Opti-rectalitis . . . even though:
  • I know this is temporary
  • I know this is normal
  • I know my hair will grow back (hopefully)
  • I know the main thing is for me to get well and not worry about doing something useful
  • I know God is teaching me
  • I know God is strengthening me
  • I know I am loved by Him and by SO many people whom I’m SO very thankful for
  • and I know each day is a gift . . . regardless of what I accomplish in it

Still, right now, I’m struggling to joyfully accept those things as being enough.

So, I am thankful that I read today:

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,'
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you."
                                           Psalm 139: 1-18

I am thankful that when I’m lying down and can’t accomplish anything, or I'm in the dark and can’t seem to find the light of hope, or even when I’m suffering from Opti-rectalitis . . . I am not alone. He is there!

I don’t have to accomplish anything to impress Him or earn His approval of my day’s work. He already formed every one of my days from before I was born, (even the ones like I’ve had for the last week and a half). So, I can accept these days and just rest in knowing that He is there. That is enough for today.

“I awake, and I am still with You.” Thank you, Father!

By grace,


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day 2015 - The Gift of Perspective

It’s Mother’s Day 2015, and I’m sitting in a hospital bed with a cap covering my bald head and with chemicals and fluids flowing constantly into my veins. Some Mother’s Days are tougher than others.

I think of other mothers on this hospital floor, and I know some of their outlooks are not as hopeful as mine. I think of all of those moms who have lost children they knew and loved and lost too soon . . . those moms who never got to hear a first breath from their babies . . . those who still are longing to be moms or maybe gave up on it years ago and have a giant unfulfilled hole in their hearts. I think of those many children who want desperately just to have a mom and those who, like me, miss their moms terribly, because they are no longer with us.

Truly, some Mother’s Days are tougher than others.

Surprisingly, this is not one of them for me.

Yes, there are many other places I’d rather be. This is not exactly an ideal Mother’s Day scenario. I’d love to be having a wonderful, relaxing day with my family at home or embarking on some adventure with them. I think of my own mother and how much I miss her and wish I could celebrate and spend time with her today.

Yet, this Mother’s Day, I woke up overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. I’m thankful that I have a family who loves me and never hesitates to show that. My husband loves me and our family and takes care of, leads, and serves us so diligently and faithfully. Our children love us and each other. And . . . I am alive RIGHT NOW to experience all of that. Really, what more do I need?

As I think of my mom, whom I miss terribly and wish I could talk to about what I’m going through, I realize that I’m sort of glad she’s not here to watch me go through this chapter of my life. She would be so worried and would feel so helpless. I’m thankful she doesn’t have to experience that.

I don’t say these things because I have a Pollyanna view of life. I’ve not become some super-optimist or spiritual giant. I have had many pity-party moments, days, and even months. And I’m not trying to blow off real pain that needs to be felt and worked through, sometimes every year on days like this for those of us who live the painful scenarios I’ve mentioned.

I just have been given an unwanted and yet very useful gift this year . . . a gift of “Perspective” which I would have never asked to unwrap. Yet, it is still a gift. It is a circumstance-sifter that reminds me that all we can be sure of is the current moment. Yes, it’s cliché, but truly, I realize today, more than ever, that each DAY is a gift.

I saw something this morning that said “Today is a good day to have a good day.”

From this moment on, I want to unwrap each day with hope and gratitude. Whatever I’m going through, I want to sift it through my newfound gift of Perspective and see how it looks when it comes out on the other end.

No, circumstances aren’t always lovely or good or comfortable, but today IS a good day to have a good day, because why waste a moment letting disappointments suck the joy out of the NOW, the only thing we can be sure we have? Why not reflect on the good things, because there are many, if we take time to think on them.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”
                                           Lamentations 3:22-24

May you find the new mercies available to you today, whatever your circumstances!

Happy “Good Day” to all of you!


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Today is the Day . . . The Tree Will Be Bare.

Over the last few days, I fear that I have started to resemble this guy:

And while he seems content with his look, I have decided to go a little more for this look:

Today is the day I will have my head shaved. I will not bother with posting pictures, since I’m sure I’ll look just like Demi. ;-) 

This is going to be a tough day, but I am ready . . . as much as I can be. 

Fighting on,

Friday, May 1, 2015

Like Watching Leaves Fall

It’s been 14 days since my first treatment, and sadly, my focus has turned to one of vanity. Like watching the first leaves start to fall in early autumn, I’m watching individual hairs fall out each time I run my fingers through, comb, or blow-dry my hair. This morning, I experienced the first “breeze” as far more hair came out in my comb and had to be cleared from the shower drain. And to amplify it, the sun shines through our bathroom window like a spotlight right at the 15-minute timeframe in the morning when I fix my hair. This morning, I watched one after another fall almost in a steady rhythm.

As I said, I realize this is vanity. Losing my hair is not nearly as big of a deal as just getting well. Still it’s a part of the process that, from what I read, most people dread the most. I’m feeling that now. So far, no huge clumps have come out so I don’t look that different, but the pace is picking up, and I imagine the breezes will grow stronger very quickly until all that is left are the stubborn stragglers that refuse to let go.

At some point, I will grow weary of seeing those tiny little parts of who I am fall to the ground so submissively . . . and then I will shave my head, like many choose to do. I can’t even imagine actually doing that, but there will come a point, where I know that will be a relief . . . it will finally be done.

Then, I can start a fresh season! I have prepared with a cap for around the house and two wigs for when YOU see me. I warn you, they look very different from what my normal hair looks like. I decided to buy the hair I always WISHED I had, rather than try to match my own hair. I mean, since I can actually choose my hair, why not pretend I’m a movie star? So, while I may look ridiculous, I’m planning to rock those wigs! We’ve already determined that my family will know my mood by which wig I choose for the day, and Eric has warned the kids to watch out when Mommy’s a redhead! :-)

I will choose to make the best of it, because really, what else can I do. But, I am human and much of how women feel about themselves has to do with their hair. As with many cancer patients, that part of me is being stripped away, and I will be exposed before my family and those I choose to show . . . and me. Of all of those, I know I will be the one who will look at myself with the harshest eyes. My vanity will be a tough opponent, as I finally start to look sick.

You see, I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard people tell me how good I look (expecting me to look different than my normal) or that I don’t look sick. I’ve taken comfort in that and have really lived in a bit of denial of my cancer because of that. Once my hair is gone, there will be no more denying it to myself. I will look sick.

I think this will be a time of growth and self-pity and figuring out where my security lies. I am not at all sure that I’m going to be as brave and self-assured as I’d like, but I am thankful that my identity is secure. God doesn’t look at the outside. He looks on the heart. My heart is His, and I am secure in His love no matter what I look like or feel about how I look.

Still, I may decide to get a tattoo, because bald women with tattoos just look tough, you know?

Fighting on,