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.