Monday, May 14, 2012

The Year Of The Piñata

Where do I begin? For over a year life has been very complicated, confusing, overwhelming and simply put 'arduous'. If not for my faith in a God who loves me and cares deeply for me I could not have survived these past months. There was a point when I began to feel as if I might lose my sanity. It was a frightening time and I pray I never feel like that again.  Months have passed, Keith's chemo is over and God has taken his cancer away. How grateful we both are, how truly grateful. What I am about to write in no way takes anything from the wonderful news of his remission. I am putting it on here to help myself see things more clearly.  There is something very unsettling occurring and though I can't discuss it right now I would covet any and all prayers. At this moment I feel like a piñata that's been repeatedly whacked by people who want a piece of me. I am hopeful that, as of May 25th this issue will be in the past so I can concentrate on those who need me rather then those who want, from me, something I don't have.  It is said, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and this past year has taught me that this is true. Before the events of the past fifteen months or so I never considered myself to be a strong person. Emotionally, I am too soft for my own good and perhaps God decided I needed to toughen up a bit. Perhaps not, who really knows? Am I stronger, I hope so. Am I still too soft, probably. God designed me so I have to believe that I am empathetic for a reason. It can be, however, a very painful characteristic. Sometimes, I wish I was a man so that I could compartmentalize everything neatly in its own little space in my head where I could access it easily but only when necessary. I'm not disparaging men it is the way they are designed. My problem is that there is way too much 'stuff' competing for attention in my head and I am unable to compartmentalize any of it. C'est la vie! I do know there will be more trials ahead, that is part of life, and I hope I am better able to cope because of the recent past. Time will tell what God already knows so I am trying to rest in the certain knowledge that He is in control.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bad News, Good News, Best News

April 19, 2012      
Things have gone relatively smooth for the past five weeks. Except for the 36 hours Keith spent in the hospital due to a 0.2 white blood cell count, which was accompanied by a 101.4 temperature, his health has been quite good. Over all Keith has made this journey through chemotherapy well and with his sense of humor very much intact. I have noticed that each day he seems more and more like he did before all of his health issues surfaced.   

For those who have been following this Blog I hope you found it interesting and were able to laugh along with Keith and me. It's funny how laughter finds its way into even the darkest places we travel. Laughter really is the best medicine, it can turn a cloudy day sunny and turn a serious moment funny. We've had lots of serious moments during Keith's chemo but the ability to find humor in the midst of our journey made it easier to bear.       

Friday, the twentieth of April, is the day he has the PET/CT scan. This test will show if there is any cancer left in his body. We will be meeting with his oncologist  on Tuesday for the results and hopefully he will be in remission. That is our prayer but in the event it is still in his body he will have to face the possibility of a bone marrow transplant. So, if the test results are not what we hope we still have options and will not be giving up the fight. If he is in remission I will be able to breathe deeply for the first time in many months. There are still some hurdles to jump over unrelated to Keith's cancer but I am hopeful we will be able to get over them and keep on going. One day in the not too distant future our lives may feel normal once again (if there is such a thing as normal) but that doesn't mean our trials will be over. Life is full of trials and we have to deal with them as they present themselves. If trials build character all I can say is I think I've had enough character building for a while God, if that's okay with      

We have walked in some pretty deep valleys and struggled to climb some even steeper mountains but God has been with us and because of Him the road we have walked this past six/seven months has been easier to travel.       

After I post Keith's results I will probably be shifting the focus of my Blog to my Mom and her struggle with Alzheimer's. I will, of course, be giving updates where Keith is concerned but as long as he is in remission (if he is in remission) there won't be as much to write about. This is a good thing!      Along with the present trials there are two more, which I cannot discuss for now, but I intend to address them when I am able. Thank you all for helping us through this with your prayers and support. God put you in our lives for this purpose and we are grateful, so grateful. 

My friends you are a blessing  
sent from up above 
to help us through this trial 
a witness to God's love 
When we feel like giving up 
when every dawn is gray 
when everything seems pointless 
you help us find our way 
God shows his tender mercy 
in the midst of sorrows woe 
by sending friends to aid us 
when heartache brings us low 
God's realm abounds with angels 
His word says this is true 
but now and then one comes to earth 
The proof is here in you         

Monday, April 2, 2012

There Is No Option - FORGIVE

April 1, 2012

     As I prepare to celebrate Easter I am reminded of how much Jesus did for all of us when he walked the Via Dolorosa on the way to His death. He gave His life that you and I might live. Christ willingly gave His life on the cross, over two thousand years ago, so that you and I could be forgiven. We are all sinners in need of a savior and in Christ God met our need. The perfect Son of God, the only sinless man who ever lived, died an excruciating death to make a way for man to live with God for eternity.

 "But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed," (Isaiah 53:5) How great is that? 

     I don't know about you but I don't deserve to be forgiven yet I know I am. Scripture tells me that God loves me and desires to be my heavenly Father but at the same time I am not commanded to come to Him. The choice is mine. I can choose to go through life believing that God is just a crutch for weak and foolish people or I can live my life believing that God is real and that He cares for me. If I believe He is real then I'd be wise to search the scriptures to see what His guidelines are for my life. 
     The Bible is a wealth of information and many of us, myself included, do not take advantage of the wisdom it contains. If not for His Word there would be no boundaries and truth would be whatever we wanted it to be. 
     God tells us to forgive one another but many times we hold on to our anger refusing to forgive, which only leads to bitterness. If Jesus could sacrifice His life so that my sins are wiped away what right have I not to forgive others? 
     Some people think their sin is too terrible for God to forgive but He will wipe the slate clean if we come to Him with repentant hearts, no matter how horrible the sin.
     While I'm on the subject of forgiveness, which was the theme of October Baby (a movie about abortion and forgiveness), I wonder how many women who aborted their babies have sought redemption and healing. I know abortion is legal but it is nothing more then murder with a more palatable name. So many women are living life burdened by the knowledge that they killed their child believing that there is no way God could forgive them. I pray that they will seek redemption and feel God's healing power coursing through their bodies. That they will understand they can change their lives for the good free from the heavy burden they have born upon their shoulders for much too long. God loves them, His Son died for them and all they need do is seek and they will find Him, repent and He will forgive them. When they experience what it feels like to be free from the sin that has weighed them down so long then there will be peace in their hearts and joy unspeakable in their souls.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
   28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Wasted time spent lost in hate unable to forgive
Never giving love a chance to flourish and to live
The reason for your bitterness your mind cannot recall
and yet the anger in your heart has built a sturdy wall.
Misunderstanding paved the way for enmity to grow
Those once considered family are now your biggest foe
Has something you did long ago left you with regret
and now you feel the sting of shame that you cannot forget.
Release your cares into the hands of the Lord of all creation
He will forgive your darkest sin and fill you with elation. 
Forgiveness is God's plan for you when on Him you will call
and He will turn your shame to joy for Jesus paid it all.

     How grateful I am to know He has forgiven me and cast my sins into the sea of forgetfulness never to be acknowledged again. 
                                     Have a blessed Easter     

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mom, I Know You're In There And I'm Here

March 8, 2012

     Well, the past week has been interesting to say the least. However, this time, it is my Mom who has been the focal point of my attention. She has Alzheimer's, an awful disease, which wreaks havoc in the lives of everyone concerned. Mom has her days and nights mixed up and we can't seem to get her turned around. She sleeps in her chair most of the day, wakes around 6:00p.m. and then goes to bed for the night at 8:30. She then wakes up at least two times in the middle of the night, thinks it's morning and gets dressed. The confusion has gotten worse lately and I am hoping it is not permanent. She is hallucinating and thinks that the people in the pictures on her wall are moving and she doesn't understand that it isn't real so the anxiety from that upsets her terribly. I feel so sorry for her because she cannot help what is happening but at the same time it is very hard on Keith and me and our ability to function as a normal couple. Keith, even with all he has to deal with, is handling it well and his patience is commendable. It is hard to watch my mom deteriorate right before my eyes knowing that there is nothing I, or anyone else, can do to stop this diseases progression. If not for God, who gives me strength, Keith and the help of two of my siblings and their spouses this would be impossible to bear. I am so thankful that Keith is such a supportive, generous and helpful husband. After God and my husband, my sister Denise is the biggest help to me and I am grateful for her. Her husband Curt, along with my brother Steve and his wife Karen all work and can only do as much as their schedules allow but they are each still a godsend. Karen, my sister-in-law, is a huge help when she is available but being a nurse limits her time. She has done so much for mom and has been more like a daughter than a daughter-in-law. God has blessed our family and I thank Him for His goodness and mercy through out these trying times.
     Being a caregiver is not for sissies. It is awful to watch someone you love lose more of herself everyday. Today Mom was belligerent and there was no settling her down until she was good and ready. I suppose having no sense of control over any area of her life is frustrating enough but when the confusion of her mind is added to the mix she must feel totally lost and helpless. She is becoming more childlike as time passes and gets defiant, pouty and sullen. The difficulty comes when she insists "I am the mother", and expects us to behave like the children. We respect that she is the 'Mom' but she no longer has the ability to care for herself and the roles have been reversed whether any of us like it or not. To put it simply, it is what it is and we are doing what is necessary regardless of whether or not feelings get hurt, hers or ours.
     I know that the chances are high that some morning I will go down stairs to check on her and she will be gone. It is not easy to think about but it is a fact that I cannot escape. Since her heart condition reared it's ugly head in January it has become clear that her fragile body is wearing out. I'm relatively sure she senses that   her time is growing shorter. Anyone at the age of 86, in fragile condition, would be aware of their life ebbing even if their mind was confusing them. I believe we can all sense when our time is near perhaps so we can make peace with God and the people we will leave behind. For the past week I have literally taken a deep breath before entering her bedroom in the morning because I don't know what I'll find and although I tell myself I'm prepared I don't think I really am. I may be dreading that moment but even so my prayer is that God takes her gently in her sleep one night and that she doesn't have to suffer. She is tired of how uncooperative her body is and often says she just wants it over, she doesn't want to live anymore. As hard as that is for me to hear it must be terrible to feel that way. My poor Mom, I wish there was more I could do to help ease her discomfort. I guess for now I'll keep doing what I've been doing and pray that she finds peace in her situation. 
     The Bible says we are to Honor our father and mother. It doesn't say to honor them only when they are nice, when they are in a good mood, when they are healthy, or when the mood strikes us. No, we are to honor them because God has commanded us to do so, at all times. End of story! 
     If your mother is still alive thank God for blessing you and use your time wisely where she is concerned. Don't wait to tell her you love her you may not get another chance. 

The only one who loves us more than our mother is God. How awesome is that?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Trusting In God = Peace

March 6, 2012

     Well here we sit at the Weinberg Cancer Institute while Keith gets a blood transfusion. He is almost through the first unit and then the nurse will start the second one, which will take another two to three hours. If all goes well we will be out of here by four or five o'clock at the latest. 
     His blood counts and energy level were not as good as the doctor thought they should be and felt it was time to give his blood a boost. His color already looks better and the doctor said he should make him feel more energetic.
     Keith is still Keith, giving the nurses a good laugh. Before the nurse hung the first unit Keith requested 'young stud blood'. Anyone who knows him well will not be surprised by this, nor am I. I just looked at the nurse, who seemed amused, and rolled my eyes. I told him it was probably the blood of a woman (should have said a  menopausal woman) and the nurse got a bit of a chuckle. 
     He is an inspiration in his overall attitude toward his cancer. As I sit here it is even more clear how upbeat he remains in the midst of this madness. We are both handling this setback better then I had expected and I know it is only by the grace of God that this is so. 
     Our family and friends have been very supportive and we are blessed. I cannot even imagine how it must be for someone going through this without family and friends but more importantly without God. I am the kind of person who values my alone time and am able to fill the occasional void without feeling lonely but I also know how valuable it is to have the support and comfort of people around who love me and on whom I can depend. Above all, as I have said before, it is knowing that God is watching over Keith and me that offers the most comfort. 
     This past year I have discovered that to trust God is absolutely necessary in order to gain peace of mind. When I learned how to give it to God and stop stealing it back my outlook in the midst of trials became brighter, my focus clearer and my ability to function in a productive manner improved greatly.
     We are nearing the end of the chemo treatments, five down and one to go. All prayers are still highly coveted. 

                             We'll see the beauty beyond the pain
                            for there'd be no garden without some rain.
Isaiah 26:3
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Paths, Roads, Stones and Boulders

February 27, 2012

As Keith and I continue on this journey we are bolstered every step of the way by God's unfailing love. He has enabled us to walk this path with the confidence that He is walking with us, sheltering us under His wing. It is very hard to give up when we know He is gently guiding us forward and ever on our side. So, we push ahead kicking the stones in our path aside confident that God will remove, from our path, the boulders we cannot budge. There is no better companion with whom to travel through life. Invite Him to travel life's road with you.
There is a lot to be said for the sense of peace and hope you get from knowing that God in heaven loves you. Even if you don't love him he loves you. Your name was known to him, before you were born, he's just waiting for you to call on him to give you the comfort for which your soul is crying out. Bad things in this life happen to all of us and make us question, "If there is a God why would he allow this to happen"? The truth is much of the time we will not get the answer in this lifetime but that is what trust and faith are all about. If you can see and touch something it is easy to trust in its existence and requires no faith. 
Trusting in the creator, with a faith so deep it is unshakable is a life changing experience. There is so much cynicism in the world today that some people just cannot let themselves trust in a faithful God. I have seen so many lives changed for the better because they let the Lord take control. So, even if you say you're not religious at all, I think somewhere deep inside, your soul is crying out for that firm foundation to stand upon. God created you and he knows what you are going through and you don't have to go it alone. That is the key, all you have to do is use it to open the door to your heart and let him in.

I know, I know, easier said than done but if you've exhausted every avenue, because you've insisted on doing it your way, and you still feel alone, lonely, empty, unloved, abandoned, or betrayed what have you got to lose? You won't know how much God really loves you until you put your life in His hands and trust Him to fill the void in your life. Some think that accepting Christ means you will never have anymore problems and that life will forever be filled with happiness. Sorry, that's just not so. The difference is that no matter the problem you can confront it head on because you are not alone in your battle. God is your shield, your loving protector and though you may get bruised and battered He will never leave your side. He is your living stone against the Goliaths of this world. 

Without God we are mere mortal human beings, full of distrust, anger, deceit, selfishness and pride, to name just a few of man's sinful characteristics. That is not the way to go through life and will only leave you feeling bitter and joyless. God did not create us to live empty, lonely lives but our sin cuts us off from Him until we call upon the one who died for us, the one whose blood poured out and whose body was broken on the cross of Calvary over two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ. 

I accepted Jesus thirty one years ago and cannot imagine my life without Him. His sacrifice, for MY SINS and yours, was the greatest gift ever given to mankind. 
                                             Romans 5:8 
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Best Is Yet To Be

February 17,2012

     Time is passing quickly and Keith now has only two chemo treatments left. It is amazing how time flies. He is doing extraordinarily well and continues to meet this challenge head on. His positive outlook is a big part of his recovery, of that I am sure. However, I am even more certain that his abiding faith in God is what carries him through every area of his life. He is a man who walks his talk. Through out our marriage it has been one of his best traits. I have always been able to count on him and trust him to keep his word. It is a wonderful quality. We may not agree on everything (who does) but knowing you never need doubt your spouse's word is a very peaceful feeling. There is enough stress in life without the added burden of doubt.
     Anyway, as I've said before this battle is the LORD's and we are both confident that He can and will do a mighty work no matter what the outcome. 
     Keith went back to work February 6th, which helps him to feel more like his old self. If it wasn't for his hair, or lack thereof, it would almost be possible to believe this isn't really happening, at least for me. 
     Two more treatments then a three to four week wait before the doctor orders a Pet/CT. After the scan we will know if the cancer is gone or if further procedures need to be done. If the cancer is gone he will be in remission. If at the end of five years there is no reoccurrence he will be considered cured. Until that time we will live life to the fullest and keep praying for this to be a distant memory.
     But until we get the news, we are waiting to hear, we will do what is necessary for his healing. We know that God is in control and that He will never leave us or forsake us. With that in mind we will focus on the task at hand.
     The journey, so far, has been a learning experience and has taught us how precious family is and whom we can truly call friends. I thank my God for the people in my life who know what agape love means and who love without limits. You are all blessing our lives immensely. 
     Right now we are planning a wonderful get away for when this is all over and we can relax. It feels good to have something positive for which to look forward. I have a feeling we will both find this to be one of the best vacations we've ever taken. The Lord willing we will be cruising the Mediterranean this coming fall and one of our ports of call is Kusadasi, Turkey, with an excursion to Ephesus. John the Apostle, it is believed, lived out his last days in this area as did Mary the mother of Jesus. How thrilling it is to think I could possibly tread where they once walked. 
      So, if all goes as well as we hope, this year we will be able to take a deep breath and continue to chase the dream;          
“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, 'A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!'” Robert Browning

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hope, Believe, TRUST

     You know the drill, your life is going along peacefully, no troubles, no worries and because everything seems perfect you start to wonder when the bottom is going to drop out. We all go through trials, which mess up our perfect plans for our lives. Life is all about getting through them, and learning from them, without losing focus on what is truly important, God and His plan: 

Psalm 139:1-7
 1 You have searched me, LORD, 
   and you know me. 
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; 
   you perceive my thoughts from afar. 
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; 
   you are familiar with all my ways. 
4 Before a word is on my tongue 
   you, LORD, know it completely. 
5 You hem me in behind and before, 
   and you lay your hand upon me. 
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, 
   too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? 

     For most of my life I believed happiness was the norm while trials were the exception. WRONG! It took many years and many trials to open my eyes to the truth. I used to go about my life as if happiness was my right  and therefore, when something devastated me, I got all bent out of shape and angry at God. How could He do this to me? What did I do to deserve such misery? Why me? Wah, wah, wah! Then I came to the revelation, 'why not me'? What was so special about me that I shouldn't have problems? God created me, He knows me and the plan He has for me. Who am I to question God?
     Over the years I've been through many trials, (who hasn't) some easily worked out, some took me to the brink of insanity but I am here today because God never let go of me. I am thankful for His wonderful mercy and Grace, which I do not deserve, but which is freely given.

     The past twenty one months, Keith and I, have been given quite a few trials. My mom, who lives with us, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She is a frail 86 year old who, at times, thinks she can take care of herself. There is no way she could ever live on her own. Her care defaults to us because she has lived with us 7 years. That is the viewpoint of some of my siblings and it is frustrating. Throughout her time with us there have been ups and downs but we've managed to give her a better quality of life then she would have received in a nursing home. 
     During the summer of 2011 Keith started suffering lower back pain, which limited his ability to walk and he grew progressively weaker by the day. One Sunday morning when he got out of the car he couldn't walk and fell flat on the macadam on a church parking lot. There would be no more waiting for his appointment to get here, I was taking him to the emergency room whether he liked it or not. He did not put up a fight, which told me he too realized the time for action had come. After a series of tests it was determined that he needed surgery, a tumor on his spine didn't look good. After eight hours in surgery I was informed that Keith had aggressive lymphoma. Sitting there in the empty waiting room I cried like a baby. Initially I thought, what am I going to do if this takes his life? We've been together forty five years and I'm not ready to be without him. Then I pulled myself together and prayed for God to be with us and a sense of peace enveloped me. From that moment forward, I knew, where Keith was concerned, that it was going to be alright. 

Philippians 4:13
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

1 Peter 1:6
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Deuteronomy 31:6
 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

     I have been amazed at the difference in my perspective since I gave it all to God and decided to trust Him. These trials are not over but I am confident I will not travel this road alone. When a worrisome thought enters my head I immediately give it to God, entrusting him with my problems. I no longer let myself dwell on the things that could otherwise destroy my physical and emotional health. These latest trials truly have shown me that having faith and trusting God are the only way to get through this life with my mind and soul in tact. I have burdens, like everyone, but mine are being carried by the LORD and that is an answer to my prayers. Praise God, He is my source of strength. Trusting God is amazing, absolutely amazing!

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm Not Afraid To Use Them!

February 6, 2012

     Well, here we are already two months from when this journey began. A lot has happened, much of it has been written about on this blog. I haven't posted any new entries, lately, due to the fact that things have been, mostly, uneventful. Keith has been feeling quite a bit better, walking without a limp; not having as much back pain; exercising a bit more control over his environment and in general acting more like his old self. These are all good things. 
     Today we go to get his labs done and meet with his oncologist. Next Monday he gets his fourth chemo, which leaves two more, and then four weeks after his last chemo he will get a PET/CT, which will show if there is any cancer left in his body. If there is none we get to hear the good news, for which, we have been waiting; YOU ARE IN REMISSION! That will be a great day.
     We have felt God's presence throughout this difficult season in our lives. There have been some frightening moments; some bone wearying moments; some top of the mountain moments; and some deep in the valley moments, but through them all there has been a sense of peace that can only be explained by the presence of God. Looking back, I can see there was only one set of footprints in the sand, telling me that God has been carrying us all along. During the darkest days of this journey God showed us the way. Our world was shaken to its core, a 15 on the Richter scale, complete with super heated, bubbling, lava and only His presence could have prevented us from falling into the fissures. Thank you Father for your unfailing love and mercy.
     The time has flown by, so far, and I hope it continues to do so. Knowing, that for the most part, [there will be years of follow up before he's considered cured] this will be behind us soon is a most pleasant thought. This whole experience has been, in its own way, a blessing. It has given me a new perspective on life, in general; what to value and what to dismiss. I have wasted far too much time in my life fretting over the inconsequential. 

As it says in scripture; 
Luke 12:25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?

God is pretty clear on this issue and yet time after time I seem to think my worrying will change the outcome of any given situation. You would think I would learn my lesson, well, think again! I take no pride in admitting that I fail this area of my life quite often. That is why in this present difficult time I am determined to lean on God's word and trust that He will oversee the outcome. At present we are enduring four separate trials and so far I haven't given into Satan's tricks. Oh, he knows my weaknesses and comes slithering into my life, entangling himself around my feet, just trying to trip me up. Not this time, not this time! 

Genesis 3:15

15 And I will put enmity 
   between you and the woman, 
   and between your offspring[a] and hers; 
he will crush[b] your head, 
   and you will strike his heel.”

I intend to crush his head! So, stay out of my life and away from my family because from here on out gone are the soft, fuzzy slippers and out come the steal tip boots! That's right, you heard me. I may be a woman but I DO have steal tip boots and I know how to use them. You have been warned!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I've Got A New Attitude...Or Hope Springs Eternal

January 29, 2012

     Christmas is my favorite holiday. It is the only time of year when it actually seems that people throughout the world are united. I realize that, in truth, the problems that separate us are still there and world peace is never going to be achieved, at least not before God's ultimate plan comes to fruition but for one brief, shining, moment each year it seems possible. I am overcome by such a feeling of good will, peace, and gratitude for Christ's birth, that everything seems to fade into the background. However, this Christmas I allowed all of the heartaches, I've been dealing with, to steal the joy out of the season. I feel like I let God down once again and though I know He understands and forgives me, I am disturbed by my own lack of trust in His faithfulness. Many times throughout my life I have seen how He cares for me. There have been mountains too high to climb, chasms too deep and wide to cross, valleys entirely shrouded in shadow, which would have kept me captive to my own fears and unable to move forward, was it not for God. I forever remain in awe of His goodness and mercy. So, next Christmas, I will strive to be focused on the reason for the season (Jesus) and less on the woes of everyday life. After all, there will always be problems trying to crowd out the joy in my life, but the God who can bring all things to submission is able to handle my little inconveniences. In the big picture that is what they are, inconveniences, nothing more.
     On to the new year, 2012. The many issues we were facing last year have not gone away but I am determined, with God's help, to get through them with a better focus and less self pity. Oh, I will have my moments but, hopefully, I will not allow the ruler of this world to lead me astray. He is out there trying to recruit new sycophants who will be at his beck and call, fawning all over him in the hope that serving him will lead to power and control. In truth it will lead to an existence forever lived in anguish, an ultimate, eternal death sentence. He doesn't stop there, he goes after God's children with his cocky attitude, so sure he can steal them out of His hands. Satan is shrewd, he presents himself in a way that appeals to the needs of whom ever he is trying to persuade, to give up on God, but if you are God's nothing or no one can remove you from His grasp. Satan may try, it's what he does, but when we know the Lord, his attempts are futile. 
     It is hard to understand how Lucifer who was God's most beautiful angel was not content to be who God created him to be, but wanted power, control, and to be worshipped. Apparently, he decided he should be above his own creator, that he knew more then God. I suppose none of us should be too smug about this since, in reality, isn't that what we try to do every day in some way or another? Throughout history has this not been one of man's biggest problems, control, power struggles, which on a much larger scale leads to wars? There will always be someone who thinks they are the most intelligent, worthwhile, and most powerful human being on the planet. Just look back on what Hitler did and more recently what Hussein and Khadafi did to their own people and it isn't hard to see that evil exists, that Satan is ever on the prowl.
1 Peter 5:8 New International Version (NIV)
8. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
     That is why, I believe, we will never achieve world peace by anything we do but only through God's eternal plan.
     My problems are minuscule, by contrast. Perhaps, God brought these things to mind so I would realize there are worse situations than mine. I know of no other reason I would even think about such things. Oh well, a new year has begun and I will do my best, with God to lead me, to look on whatever comes my way with an attitude of gratitude. 
     Keith's prognosis is favorable (yay), I have family who love me and whom I get to love, food, shelter and above all a Mighty God who cares for me. What more could I desire? I am a fortunate woman, indeed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Know That Emptiness You Feel?

January 17, 2012

     Off to the WCI for a blood test and oncologist appointment. Keith appears to be doing very well so I am curious to see what his blood stats will show today. 
     He has been spending more time in his office over the last week and that is a very good sign.
     I shall return!

January 18, 2012

     I'm baaack!
     Keith's blood work was great. We are both happy about that and feeling very positive about this battle. His third round of chemo is coming up Monday and it is not quite so scary, for me, this time. We realize there could still be setbacks but, given how he has handled the first two treatments, we are hopeful that the rest will go as smoothly. 
     In my darkest moments I have felt the presence of God carrying us through this journey. It  has changed us both, and will probably continue to do so, but I feel far less fearful than I did, initially. I'm not sure Keith was ever fearful, he didn't let on if he was, he tends not to share that kind of thing. I truly believe that God will bring us out of this victorious. GOD IS SO FAITHFUL!
     Keith is chomping at the bit to get back to work and hopes to start the beginning of February. I pray he is able to because I think it will help us both to feel like life is returning to normal. Of course normal is relative in our house. What is normal for us might seem a little 'out there' for 
     Maybe, we can even start to plan our Mediterranean cruise again. What a joyous vacation that will be when Keith is CURED. Life should be lived as if you only have today. Show love, kindness, gratitude, forgiveness and love. Yes I know I said love twice that's because it is the most important, without love the rest mean nothing. 
     Some of you have traveled this road before us and understand the angst that comes with the journey. However, every ending is different in it's own way, whether your loved one was cured or went home to be with the Lord, there were tears of joy or sorrow. My sister lost her husband to cancer a few years ago and has been very understanding and helpful to me. Those who have lost a child to this dreadful disease, my heart goes out to you above all, no one wants to bury their child. Those who have lost spouses, parents or siblings  are stronger than many but regardless of the outcome I'm sure you were changed forever. God truly is the master planner and nothing goes unnoticed. He sees it all, knows your pain and gives the strength to continue the journey knowing that someday you will see your loved one again when you too arrive at your final destination. How blessed we are to be children of God.
     I have seen such compassion and caring from all of the people who know about our circumstance and I am in awe of the love extended to us. There are far too many people who do not know the love and fellowship of children of God. It is a shame because until they come to know the Lord in a personal way they will never experience true, lasting joy. His love is there for everyone but they need to seek Him, it is that easy.             
                                                  Matthew 6:33 
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Seek and You Will Find
People all through out the earth
wander aimlessly
Searching where they should not go,
ignoring HIStory
Looking for a way to fill
the void within their souls
but nothing ever seems to help them
fill the empty holes.
Headed down life’s road alone,
no purpose or direction
Hoping that around the bend
awaits for them perfection
The perfect mate, the perfect house,
the perfect job and more
not knowing that perfection
has been knocking on their door
Material possessions
will not fill their emptiness
Nor will the load of things they own
bring them peace or rest.
Destruction, shame and misery
await them on their course
For there is nothing they can do
It is then when they repent
of all the sin they bear
That Jesus Christ will come to them
and lift their load of care
No longer plagued by emptiness
their searching days will end
When hearts that once were empty
on Christ learn to depend

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Best Medicine Is Not In A Bottle

January 12, 2012

Proverbs 17:22
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
     Alrighty then (as Jim Carrey said in one of his movies) I mention change and the next thing I know it feels like it's raining fifty cent pieces and I have neither an umbrella or a bucket. An umbrella to protect myself from the sting would be nice but if I have to be pelted by 'change' then a bucket would be nice, at least I could benefit from the I came home after my counseling session, Thursday, to find that my mom was not feeling well and I had to call 911. She was looking very pale, was cold and clammy to the touch, was shaky and had a bout of the dry heaves. When the EMT(s) arrived, after checking her stats, they immediately hooked her up to a machine to shock her heart. I felt so sorry for my mother. Although the EMT(s) were very gentle in their manor they told her that what they were about to do was going to hurt, but it was necessary to get her heart beat regulated. She shook her head, in the affirmative, and they proceeded, at which time, she jerked, screamed and then sobbed inconsolably. I held onto her feet, (the only part of her frail little body I had access to) rubbing them gently while trying to calm her. It seemed to help but just as she relaxed they informed her they had to do it again. My heart broke for her. She looked pitiful and helpless and it tore me up knowing they had to hurt her again. After the second shock they got her in the ambulance and took her to the hospital. I followed in my car, Keith said he felt well enough to be alone for a while, and urged me to be with my Mom. It was determined that she was in Afib/Aflutter and was given medicine to help regulate the rhythm. By the time I was allowed to see her she was looking much better, acting like herself and was even able to find humor in her situation. However, she was still not in full sinus rhythm. Speaking of humor, after I left, my brother was teasing my mom about the socks she was wearing, which were pink and striped. He pulled the covers off of her feet and commented that the last time he saw socks like hers they were sticking out from under a house (Wizard of Oz). She started laughing and evidently her laughter had a positive affect on her heart. The nurse commented when he came into the room that her heart was back in sinus rhythm and asked when it had happened. My sister told him about my brother joking with her and he said that was probably what put her heart back on track. Thank God for a sense of humor, it can break through tension, fear, sadness and anger and, it seems, have a profound affect on a person's health. 
     Fast forward to the following morning. I called the hospital and, upon speaking with her nurse and asking how my mother was doing, was informed that she was doing terrible. Well, after getting my heart out of my throat, I immediately asked what she meant. Was her health declining or was there something else going on? The nurse said, in a very exasperated voice, they had to restrain my (110lb) mother because she kept pulling her IV out and was also being very nasty. My first thought was if I could have reached through the phone they would have had to restrain me from doing something that I'm sure I would have regretted. That nurse needs to learn how NOT to frighten people. Don't get me wrong, my mom can be aggravating, I have been on the receiving end many times, and though there is never a good reason to treat people rudely, she has Alzheimer's and they were well aware of that fact. I then let the nurse know I would be there asap. So, without benefit of a shower I slapped on a minimum amount of warpaint, didn't want to frighten anyone on the heart floor, I figured they all had probably been shocked enough recently, and headed out the door. Within 10 minutes I was at my mom's bedside. She was fit to be tied (literally), oh that's right she already was, as a matter of fact I was pretty sure at any moment her head might spin 360 degrees. It took me quite awhile to calm her down and get her to understand why she was restrained but even then she was not exactly Miss Congeniality. I later found out the doctor had ordered a sedative and she does not react well to this type of medication. A little while later my sister arrived and the two of us joked, hours past, the drug wore off and my tiny little mom no longer seemed to need an exorcist.
     After being in the hospital for four days she is now home peacefully sleeping in her own bed. There will be therapy to regain her strength and hopefully she will get back to at least the state she was in before the heart issue made itself known. The next few days will be difficult. She received a shot of Heparin before leaving the hospital, which has the potential to make any bleeding injury much more serious. To say I am not concerned would be a lie but I am hopeful that we will all transition with a modicum of discomfort. As I've said before, life goes on and we will get through this latest setback, hopefully, while retaining our sense of humor. It seems that laughter really is the best medicine.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Don't Forget Your Change

January 13, 2012

     I was reading a post on FaceBook today, which dealt with change, and decided that would be an excellent subject for my blog. (Thanks Jo-Ann) I've heard it said that change, whether good or bad, can produce stress. I believe this is true and I'm sure there are others who would agree. There have been many changes in my life over the past year and I have been so stressed out that I turned to counseling. However, not wanting to leave God out of the solution to my stressed out condition, I returned to the Christian counseling center to which I had gone once before. Learning how to live without getting stressed by every unexpected, painful event, will not happen over night but knowing I am doing something to bring about change is one step in the right direction. After all, God did give us a brain and it's nice to use it, That being said, I am trying to think before reacting remembering that everything is part of God's plan. However, being the stubborn female that I am, (not proud of this) I do not foresee an easy fix. I am going to do my best though, to earnestly keep God as my focus. There is one thing I am absolutely certain of, without God in this equation, there is no hope for me, but with him, anything is possible. Some change is good, such as having your cancer cured. Keith and I are looking forward to that day when the doctor says, "Your cancer is gone." That is one change I will have no problem handling. Life is all about transition, nothing stays the same for long and the sooner I accept that fact the better prepared I will be when the next big change presents itself. It may taunt me, tease me, and in general, make my life miserable with the intention of derailing me in my effort to keep my focus on God, but I intend to look it in the eye, so to speak, and stare it into submission. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it! 

Change Your World

In a perfect world there'd be no pain
no bloodied cross born of disdain
Everyone would get along
all would be right, there'd be no wrong
Bad wouldn't even be a word
there'd be no trouble to be stirred
There'd be no prisons of brick or mind
no criminals of any kind
No need for hatred's head to rear
for love would conquer every fear
Sinless lives we all would lead
Christ would never've had to bleed
but this world is not a perfect one
instead with sin it's overrun
Bad is good, wrong is right
evil turns our days to night
Prisons of brick are over crowded
our minds held captive by all that's doubted
Love succumbs where hatred rules
and Satan laughs to see such fools
Because God saw that man was doomed
to lead a life with hearts entombed 
he made a way to set us free
upon the cross of Calvary
The perfect Lamb to sacrifice
his precious Son has paid the price
The blood of Christ has changed the world
into the depths our sin is hurled
when on our knees we call his name
God sets us free, Christ takes the blame
That perfect world for us awaits
the other side of Heaven's gates.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Like Joseph

Father, give me faith like Joseph
that even in the darkest day
I’ll feel your hand to guide me
assuring me this is your way
A faith that leads me through sorrow
guiding each step that I take
faith to rise o’er the ruin
of shattered dreams and mistakes
Father, give me Joseph’s courage
when I feel like giving up
your strength will fill this vessel
as I drink the bitter cup
A courage fierce, overwhelming
upholding in all I do.
Courage born from deep within
that only comes through you.
Father, give me Joseph’s vision
to see beyond my plight
to brighter times born of sorrow
and days that seemed endless night
A vision that is not of my eyes
but from your lens of desire
that I know the road to travel
when confronted by the fire.
Father, I need Joseph’s kindness
when loved ones turn on me.
Help me to feel forgiveness
no matter where their hearts may be.
Kindness to feel compassion
even when my hurt is deep
knowing their soul may be troubled.
Forgiveness, that I may sleep.
Father, give me Joseph’s wisdom
To know you are in control
and see the schemes of others
never reach beyond your goal.
A wisdom only you can give.
Lead me through the shadowland,
through all the trials and sorrows
content I am in your plan.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Here A Challenge There A Challenge

January 7, 2012

    This week, since chemo, has been uneventful. Keith is doing well but if he does crash tomorrow then we will know to expect this after every treatment. We are pretty optimistic though and hopeful his blood levels will not drop. He is, at present, watching a little television and resting in the process. We are living everyday with the knowledge that God is in control and that has truly made all the difference in the world. So keep up the prayers, we covet them.
    I am feeling better about my situation, due to something that happened on Thursday, and I know it is because God was with me.
Psalms 35: 19-20
19 Do not let those gloat over me 
   who are my enemies without cause; 
do not let those who hate me without reason 
   maliciously wink the eye. 
20 They do not speak peaceably, 
   but devise false accusations 
   against those who live quietly in the land.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Basically, this is what I am dealing with, but God knows the truth and he will take care of the outcome. So, on to what is most important right now, seeing Keith through this cancer to a place of good health once again.
    For a while I was very downcast, distraught, and hardly able to function but God has held me up through it all and I know he will see me through to the end.
Isaiah 41:10
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; 
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; 
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
    I am thankful to those in my family, who have been here for us and to our friends who have helped in so many ways. We are blessed to have you in our lives and appreciate each and everyone of you. It is easy to take each other for granted, in this fast paced world in which we live, but I pray that I have learned some valuable lessons about how to treat people. I've always tried to be good to others but I know there is more I can do and hopefully, I will.
    Life is full of challenges and our job is to overcome them, hopefully, with dignity and grace. Anyone can grumble their way through life, I should know, I've grumbled my way through enough of it, but I'm hoping to go through the rest with the aforementioned dignity and grace. I believe God is using these latest trials to hone my skills in this area. There may be other reasons, also, and some day I may even find out what they are, but for now I will just forge ahead hoping to learn something valuable and useful, which will help me to live a more purposeful life for God.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hope Is Infectious

January 4, 2012

It is the day after chemo number 2. Keith seems to be feeling fine but he is sneezing quite a bit and we're hoping it is an allergy. He cannot afford to be sick when his blood levels take a dive, which they will do in about three days, if the pattern follows his first chemo. So prayers are appreciated, specifically, for this issue. 

Keith and I will be heading over to the WCI, at 4:00, so that he can get his shot. This Nuelasta, helps to keep his blood levels from dropping drastically low. They dropped very low after the first round and his oncologist said that giving him the shot was a very good decision because without it his levels would have been dangerously low and he probably would have needed a transfusion. When Sunday rolls around he will most likely begin his four days of bed rest. It depends, again, on whether or not he follows the same pattern and so we just have to wait and see. 

He continues to amaze me with his outlook. I am extremely proud of the way he is handling all of this with such a positive attitude. I have noticed that some of the other chemo recipients also have a very positive outlook. They are easy to talk to and share openly their stories. What you would think might be a negative atmosphere seems to be anything but. These are a special group of individuals and I salute them all for their bravery and humor in the face of this disease. I am truly in awe of them. 

Keith continues to joke around with anyone in ear shot and I love that about him. The folks over at the WCI are a wonderful bunch of people, dedicated to helping cancer victims get through their ordeals with dignity, grace and hope. Hope is so necessary for healing and it is palpable in the chemo area. 
I thought I would be depressed, around people fighting for their lives, but in actuality I am totally filled with a sense of joy and it is due entirely to their lack of self pity. It makes me want to help out in some way and I am thinking of how to do just that. I plan to spend some time with Keith during his next chemo and perhaps I'll come up with a way to get involved, after Keith is through with his treatments. 

January 5, 2012

On another note, I could use some extra prayers for something I have to do today. I cannot discuss it but between the hours of 9:30am and 12:00pm I will be in need of all the support I can muster. So, all of you troops for God, I am counting on you to pray me through this to a positive outcome. Someday I will be able to share but for now I am unable to say anymore. In advance I thank you for your prayers. 

Proverbs 19:5 
A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free.

Today is a new day, and life goes on, so we may as well make the best of whatever comes our way. Take time to tell someone you love them, it may cause a chain reaction. Don't wait, none of us are promised more than this moment! 

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year, A New Hope

December 31, 2011

Here we are at the end of another year. It has been one of blessings and trials, the trials, it would seem, outnumbered the blessings but in reality I know that isn't the case. I think it is that I have been blessed so much throughout the year that I have taken much of it for granted. When the good stuff comes my way I thank God but I don't dwell on it like I do when a trial rears it's ugly head. It is difficult not to dwell on the bad stuff because it causes so much pain and sorrow. I suppose we all would like to believe that life will be full of happiness and joy, for the most part, with the occasional problem intruding in our lives and causing emotional if not physical anguish, but unfortunately, that just isn't the case. Being a Christian does not mean you will suffer no trials. If anything it is just the opposite. However, when you know God is with you, it does make the trials easier to bear. Sometimes, we compound the problem by not trusting God completely. I know I am guilty of this and am always ashamed of myself for lapsing into fretful fits of worry. (Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.) (Psalm 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.) Trust is such an important factor in all areas of our lives. If we cannot trust those we love, God should be chief among them, then what have we got? This year is a new start and I am hoping I have learned to just let go and let God.

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!!!!! 
It is only the beginning of the year and I am looking forward to Spring, already. Somewhere around mid March Keith's chemo will be finished and then not only will the freshness of Spring be in the air but if the chemo is successful, which we have every reason to believe it will be, there will be a freshness in our lives, a new beginning. After trudging through this winter, bleak in more ways than one, this Spring, will be one in which we will both bask. The sun will seem warmer and brighter then usual, the flowers more fragrant and colorful, the grass will be greener then ever before and the trees will cast a wider swath of shade. There will be a spring in our step, as well, when we are free from this winter of dark shadows clouding our path. 

Keith is doing well and I am so grateful, very grateful. January third is the date of the next chemo. I feel a little better prepared since I have a general idea of what to expect. If this treatment follows the same pattern as the last time then we will both be ready. When April rolls around and all is said and done we plan to celebrate a truly wonderful and blessed new year, bursting with hope for a brighter future. May the presence of the Son shine upon us all.

His Presence

In my garden, God lives.
Each flower whispers His name.
The air is filled with a fragrance
to which only He can lay claim.
He talks to me in my garden.
In the rustle of branches He's there.
His beauty mirrored in flowers,
that with us He has chosen to share.
He walks with me in my garden.
leaving His prints all around.
In the grass waving on breezes,
He greets me without a sound.
In my garden God brings renewal,
with a colorful show every spring.
An explosion of perfume and petals,
a promulgation of love from the King.