The title of this blog comes from one of my favorite hymns."It is Well With My Soul"
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul
It started out innocently enough, my husband suggested I wear I hat before one of our excursions to the gardens. No, I didn't want to wear a hat, I would wear a visor, thank you very much. My mother wears hats, grandmothers wear hats...I wasn't going there. It was from there the Lord started to work on my heart, show me what was really going on.
We have a lot of things we value in this life, dare I say, things we make idols. The Lord was kind enough to show me several weeks ago that being healthy was an idol in my life, could it be, youth or the appearance of youth was something else I valued more than I should. You are probably thinking, all of this because of a hat? To me that hat represented an older person...old people wear hats. Don't even ask me to explain my thinking but that's where I went. God took it from there.
We live in a very youth oriented culture. Being young, looking young is highly valued in our society. Had I gone down that same road? A friend had told me quite a while ago when it came to getting older I would go kicking and screaming the whole way (remember that conversation Y?) So yeah it probably is a problem
So where do I go from here? For me the first step was recognizing that it was a problem in my life. Did it effect the choices I was making...it could but, I think it was more of an attitude, I was buying into the world's value system. I needed to reorient myself to what God's word says, what his word says is most valuable...and continue to preach that to myself again and again
Some awesome benefits for being a little more "seasoned" The first would be grandchildren...who knew they could be so much fun. Then there is extra time I have with my husband now that our little nest is empty. Our schedules are a little more flexible and I guess I fit into the Titus 2 description (the older women of the church) but that's OK too, it's actually a role I enjoy.
Oh and the hat, I wore it, in fact I bought two more...time to embrace this new role.
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised"
This is Angus, our fourteen year old dog. This is where you will find Angus most evenings following dinner... sitting... staring at the door ....waiting. My husband and I are both home, so who's he waiting for? Well that would be my youngest son...why would that be note worthy? Son has not lived at home for quite awhile now...been away at school. He did come home about two months ago, stayed about two weeks, worked a bit then went back north. This routine has started since he left, Angus stands guard at the door waiting for him to come back. He does eventually give up...until the next evening...when the routine starts all over again.
This scripture was part of my bible reading this morning and was quite encouraging.
"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green." Psalm 92: 12-14
Isn't this great news? According to scripture the righteous will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. For someone in their "middle years " (that would be me) there is more to look forward to. No retirement in God's army, just different assignments, more opportunities ahead.
Had the opportunity today to do some things around the house. We had no real agenda, didn't have to be anywhere, we were free to do household chores at our leisure. Love these kind of days...
I was able to transplant some seedlings and pot a geranium
slice and dehydrate some apples
bake a banana bread to take to Easter dinner
and make dinner for my husband and myself
I know this sounds like no big deal, and a year ago it wouldn't have been, but things have changed. I now realize what blessing it is to be able to do the simple things. I want to cultivate a heart of gratitude, to continue to be thankful for the things we so often take for granted...like being able to cook a meal, or work in the garden.
My desire is to be more aware of the blessings I receive each day, there is so much to be thankful for.
When thou hast thanked thy God for every blessing sent, What time will then remain, For murmurs or lament? R.C. Trench
"Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men" Psalm107:8
When I saw this bench, I thought to myself what a beautiful place to sit and rest. We all need that place, a quiet place of rest. One of the "benefits" of getting sick was getting plucked out of my busy life and being forced given the opportunity to rest before the Lord.
My quiet place of rest during those months was a worn out recliner. I had stacks of books on one side and my laptop on the other. With distractions at a minimal, I was able to drink deeply into the word of God. I gained a new appreciation for how important it was to spend time with the Lord each day. (I wouldn't trade those days for anything)
Life beginning to return to normal, I am back at work, I have household responsibilities clamoring for my attention and errands that need to be done. Previously I was a person who loved to fill her "white space" with all kinds of activities, if it sounded good, I did it, very seldom did I seek the Lord in my choices.
I have now become very intentional. I am seeking the Lord's guidance when I make decisions concerning my schedule. Could my time be better spent in some instances? Remember my children are grown, so I don't have that responsibility.
One of the things the Lord has laid on my heart was to put him in my schedule...beyond my regular quiet time. Find a quiet place on a regular basis that I could spend an extended period of time before him, praying, reading, listening. I am in a season of life that I can do this...I have no excuse not to. I don't want status quo...I don't want to pick up my life where I left off...I want much more.
"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Psalm 1:1-3
Responding in love when it's hard, if this sounds like a familiar post it's because it is a battle I am continuing to have. This is how the routine usually works, a comment will be made, my feelings will get hurt...then I will get mad..then I will "stew" about it a bit...finally...I will take the matter to prayer...the Lord will convict me...give me clarity...I will repent..then get peace. Until the next time...then the cycle starts all over again...it's exhausting. I know what my responses should be, but head knowledge one thing living out what you believe another. My responses not honoring to the Lord.
Part of our sermon yesterday addressed could not have been more timely...(we are still in the book of Jonah) Remember God loves these people,(the ones we have a hard time responding to in love) he has compassion for them, I needed God's eyes. Questions we were to ask God (this taken right from our sermon)
God how do you see this person?
Will you help me see this person the way you see them?
Will you give me the eyes to see past the veneer to the brokenness inside?
Will you give me your heart for those around me?
Needed to hear this, I had been "nursing" some hurt feelings...it was all about me...not real helpful. Heart has not been in the right place, I need a change. The Lord will be faithful to help me though this, its going to be about daily dying to self, so I can see the bigger picture. Praying that the Lord will continue to let me see others thru his eyes, look beneath the veneer, and that he would give me a heart of compassion for the lost around me. Direct my responses, show me how to best love.
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" Matthew 5:14-16
I feel like I am returning from a faraway place...like I've been gone for awhile...but life is beginning to look a little familiar again...routines starting to fall in place.
Work went well this week, I will probably resume my normal hours next week, gonna miss that afternoon nap. The weather has been nice, I was able to get outside and do a little gardening (I transplanted seedlings into bigger pots, does that count as gardening?)
Appointments took the better part of my day yesterday. First was the plastic surgeon...this was the appointment I had been waiting for...I am now able to do what ever I want, no more restrictions (first thing I did when I went home was pull some weeds in the garden, it felt wonderful) There will be continued followups...forever?..if so just add him to the list. Compassionate guy, on my first followup appointment after my mastectomy he called the lab to find out if my pathology report was in, had it faxed, then gave me a copy. (I didn't expect to find out anything till I saw the surgeon the following week)
Ended my day at the eye doctor...been three months since corneal ulcer healed. "Readers" no longer an option, I need something for distance as well...I am just "legal" to drive. Had me trial contacts last week...very nervous (contacts caused the ulcer) but I did well...think I am going to give them another try...they have to come out every night and I have a pretty cool cleaning contraption. Wearing them makes me feel like myself again...I had no idea it would make that much of a difference in how I felt.
Cool little cleaning device for contacts
My tendency is to try to rush back into life but I feel like the Lord is telling me to slow down...not so fast...look to me...I will guide you. I am praying for wisdom and continued contentment...I know he is directing my path.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you"
I am shamelessly dedicating today's post to a precious little girl. This little one is a bundle of energy, always ready to give hugs and kisses, especially when she knows she might be in trouble. Recently I was scolding her for walking on my couch, she leaned over and kissed me, just as I was telling her to sit down...grandma melts...sigh!
She loves baby dolls and her favorite activity is pushing those "babies" in her little stroller around the house. Our dog runs and hides when he sees her coming...unless it's suppertime...then it's worth the risk...never know what might drop to the floor.
Eyes are blue, hair is blonde with loose curls that never seem to want to stay in any hair device I put them in. I am not an expert at this hair stuff...I raised two sons...need I say more. (my own hair always short) She is the youngest of three children, there is another girl and a boy. These little ones are treasures...truly gifts from God...they have brought much joy into our lives, we know we have much to be thankful for (and did I mention they live close by...so we get to see them regularly...another blessing)
" Son's are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are son's born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate"
"Children's children are a crown to the aged and children are the pride of their children" Proverbs 17:6
I have mentioned before that I have someone doing my laundry, temporarily...it has been a great help, but you have no idea how hard it was to let someone do that. Think about it, really think about someone doing your laundry..everything. It's all out there, the rips and tears, the stains, the items you would rather not be out in the open. Like I said it was real hard for me...how could I possibly give my friend ALL my laundry. Would you hold certain things back? I wanted to.
This is the second time I've had help with the laundry, the first time was after my first surgery. It was last fall that the the Lord showed me how letting someone do my laundry, was similar to letting others see the "dirty laundry" in my spiritual life, you know sharing the good, the bad and the ugly with those who would be close to you...like those in your small group. I was one who who did not want anyone seeing my "dirty laundry" Reluctant to share or be transparent, fueled by fear of man, pride and/or rejection I would keep much of my laundry out of the light of day.
Then came cancer...that changed everything. I had come across an article a few months before by John Piper "Don't Waste Your Cancer" it was time to reread it...it gave me a new perspective on things...a new prayer...Lord don't let me come out of this the same...if you want change it requires action. I started to let people in, became more authentic, was willing to air my "dirty laundry" so God could begin to change my heart. I started this blog shortly after that, something way, way, way out of my comfort zone but felt the Lord was telling me...time to get real...time to get all the laundry out in the open, the blog was also a place to record the whole breast cancer journey.
I wanted change, I did not want to come out of this the same. I would never chosen to have breast cancer...but God has been able to use it for his purposes. I am not the same, I look at life differently,relationships are much more important, I have new priorities...I try to see things with a more eternal perspective. You know we don't always understand why bad things happen, don't always get to see the good things that come from trials...I have been blessed in this respect because God has allowed me to see some good that has come from this.
Just in case you were wondering...yes I am going to continue to blog...but I hope it will be less about breast cancer and more about the simple day to day and how the Lord is working in my life and things he is showing me along the way.
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
The last two days have been beautiful, weather beginning to warm up and there is signs of life everywhere. We decided after church we would head out to Botanical Gardens, it's a great place to spend an afternoon. We walked about an hour, there were benches throughout the garden, places to sit and enjoy the view. Camila garden was beautiful, azaleas just starting to flower, should be a gorgeous show in another week or two. I am blessed to have a husband who enjoys the gardens as much as I do, we are already planning our return visit.
Work yesterday....I made it. I prayed for grace that morning...Lord just give me the grace I need to get through the day. Much different Monday than last week. A plant with little yellow flowers waiting for me on my desk, ready to plant in my garden.(a gift from a friend) I received encouragement and offers of assist from my coworkers, it was a much calmer atmosphere. Thank you Lord for answering my prayers. I worked about five hours, then decided it was time to go. Praying that the Lord will continue to direct me in this transition.
My continuing to work is a subject my husband and I have talked about. I decreased my time to twenty hours a week when I went back to work in December. I now only work three days a week. We really haven't been able to determine how this new schedule is working for us (there was the holidays, vacation, then out again for surgery) so we don't feel like we should make any decisions right now. My husband and I will revisit this subject in a couple of months...we need to see how the current changes work first... and our lives may be changing again. Praying the Lord will continue to direct our steps.
"O Lord you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in, behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me." Psalm 139: 1-5
I am beginning to realize things are going to be a little slow for a awhile. I had this idea on how things should progress, you set a goal with a time frame, work towards that goal and voila...everything back to normal. Thought I was being realistic, six weeks following surgery, that should do it...right? I am at week five and am no where near where I thought I would be. I am learning to let go...it's a process, one of the hardest things I have had to learn through this whole thing is to let others do for me. Much easier to be on the giving end instead of the receiving end...very humbling.
I continue to have people helping me...a sweet friend came over and weeded my garden the other day, simple thing but such a blessing. I continue to have a friend who is doing my laundry and we have only recently finished all the meals the ladies had prepared for us after my surgery.(When food was brought over, there was always more than enough, we would put a portion in the freezer for later use.) God is so kind in putting these precious people in our lives. I am so very thankful.
Progress is slow but it is progress. I continue to increase my household activities and errands and God is giving me wisdom as I go through my day. When the anchor goes down, I stop no matter what my plans might have been. Contentment, it's a struggle sometimes...my life looks a lot different than it did eight months ago.(that's not necessarily a bad thing) There are days when I wish I had more energy...trying to remember this is just a season...this too shall pass...praying for contentment.
"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul" Psalm 143:8
Monday was my first day back to work since being out for surgery. I really did not anticipate how difficult it would be. Mistakes made on many levels, first of all it was "month end." That's the time period, where all charts have to be completed/processed for billing. Pressure is on, it's crunch time, everyone scrambling, working at high intensity... and this is the day I decided to go back to work after after being off for a month...what was I thinking!
Second mistake... why did I decide to go back to work the Monday after we had been out of town for the weekend? We had gotten back early Sunday afternoon, but I was tired, I probably could have used an extra day to rest up. Had also been a very emotional weekend...we won't even go there right now.
The morning started off well, I work with a group of wonderful people, but after we said our hello's, I started getting ALL my work back...wait...I'm only here a couple hours...I can't pick up where I left off...not yet. When they saw the look in my eyes everyone was quick to back off...but it was too late I was overwhelmed and near tears.
My boss stopped by about an hour later to chat and see how I was doing...told her I was OK, but feeling a little overwhelmed...emotions betrayed me again...She then asked me if I thought about working from home the rest of the week. I told her I would think about it and let her know...why did I have to think about it? I knew this was too much for me right now...but we want approval from others, don't want to appear weak...(that would be me)
I didn't want to work from home before I was ready to come back, but it seems to be the perfect way to ease back into things. I have been able catch up on passed due web based training, look through my active charts and actually started getting work done again. Working at home has given me the opportunity to get my feet wet before I actually jump into the water.
So Monday was a dry run...tried to land...got "waved off" will circle back and make another attempt next week.
Today is a day I have been thinking about for several weeks. Last year the 4th of April fell on Easter Sunday. We celebrated like we did every Easter, church in the morning, then my son, and his family stopped over our house and the kids hunted for eggs in the yard. After everyone left we spent the rest of the day relaxing, getting ready for another work week.
The phone rang at 11:30 that night... nothing good comes from phone calls that you get that time of day. My mom was on the other end of the line, I will always remember the tone in her voice. I was confused, someone had died..she kept repeating the name, but it did not make any sense to me...who was she talking about?
My sister's husband had died...he hadn't been sick..he was young...no medical problems that we were aware of...but he was dead...his heart gave out.
The days that followed seemed sureal...my sister was now a widow with many responsibilities on her shoulders. I remember the bewilderment of the family, the pain etched in the faces of his parents...parents aren't meant to bury their children. A son, just beginning to learn what it means to be a man...now without his father.
These are the hard things of life...the things that make no sense this side of heaven. I still wonder why, I don't think there is anything wrong with asking God why. I think about them often...helpless to do much more than pray for them and send a note of encouragement from time to time. They say time heals...maybe...I think time dulls the pain but I don't think it takes it away completely.
My advice, for what it's worth..if you know someone that has experienced death of a loved one, acknowledge their loss, especially on those special days (birthdays, date of death etc) Trust me, they are already thinking of that person on those days, you will not make them feel any worse.
My other advice...live each day as if it were you're last...don't leave things undone or unsaid, especially when it comes to relationships. You would have thought I would have learned that lesson after this event but no...it took breast cancer to finally drive that concept home...what can I say I'm a slow learner.
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you" Isaiah 26:3
Life has been pretty stormy for us the last several months... but the seas were starting to calm, I could feel the warmth of the sun on my back, I was looking forward to some smooth sailing. I saw some storm clouds on the horizon, but they seemed distant, no cause for immediate concern.
I didn't see it coming, no time to prepare or batten down the hatches. A new storm, the winds already rocking my boat quite a bit. Helpless to do anything, as I watch it develop, strengthen. Weary from the storm we had already been sailing through...still physically weak, emotionally fragile (more meltdowns) Do I have the strength for this...the answer is no I don't but he does.
"But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" 2Corinthians12:9
"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings of eagles; then will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint"
Isaiah 40: 29-31
Not sure what the days ahead will bring, but these are promises I am going to cling to.
Difficult people, they come with many names, coworker, neighbor, client, family member, boss....the list is endless. You know the people I am talking about, they can be rude, opinionated, manipulative, stubborn, inconsiderate, self absorbed...you get the idea.
Yes, we know these people, the question is how do we respond to them, in particular, what is our reaction when we find out that they may be having problems... do we immediately pray, seek them out or do we respond with ambivilence or callous indifference. Remember these are people that intentionally hurt you, or slight you, don't really care about your welfare, go out of their way to make your life difficult.
Wish this was a hypothetical question but I found myself in this position and my response was not exactly "Christ like", mercy, compassion...pretty much lacking. The good news is I didn't "stay there" long. It was a process, needed help from a friend to see things clearly (thank you friend) The spirit convicting me...how could I not extend mercy...wasn't mercy extended to me? Didn't I have a debt I could not pay? Compassion given me? My response to a difficult person revealed my heart I knew the changes that needed to be made.
"Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting" Psalm 139:23-24
"But I tell you who hear me. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you what credit is it to you? Even sinners love those who love them" Luke 6: 27-32