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!