Monday, December 29, 2008
Emilie didn't get to spend Christmas with her husband and two small children. She spent it worshipping at the throne of her Savior. Her last post is so full of peace that it made me cry. Opening my mail on Christmas day to find out that she was gone made me cry even harder on and off throughout the day.

I know on some levels it sounds foolish to grieve for someone I don't even "know" in "real life", but she was also a battler of sarcoma, a wife, a mother, a writer, a daughter of the king. I can also relate to her peace.

There were one or two very low points in my own treatment when between uncontrollable cardiac arrhythmia and a zeroed out immune system when it looked like my body just might not make it through the consequences of chemo. I found myself amazed at how peaceful I felt, how ready I was to cut my ties to earth and fly home.

I know God doesn't make mistakes. I know he isn't capricious. I also know that I'm not "lucky", but that there's simply more for me to do here. That's why I spent Christmas with my babies, and Emilie didn't. Unfortunately, all that knowledge doesn't do away with the knowledge that it just have easily been my family preparing for my funeral today.

"Surviving" cancer is a the stickiest of wickets. One goes through treatment, often at high physical, social and emotional toll, and then is simply told to "go out and live your life".

But life is never the same. Survivor's guilt is a real feeling, as unproductive as it may be.

So is creeping resentment when joyous friends, family,and medical workers declare one "cured". How can one feel "cured" when, for many of us (including me), daily side effects persist and a relentless follow up schedule hangs over our heads? (Follow up that, at least in my case, could have it's own nasty side effect--more cancer!).

Don't get me wrong. I have no desire to die anytime soon. But I'm not sad for Emilie, just for her husband and family who will miss her so very much. She can breathe easy now. She's not in pain. She's free of the tubes she hated so very much and the cane that forced her to walk when she wanted so much to run.

Even as I type this, I realize that I'm rambling and may end up deleting this post at some point. Too morbid, right? Am I just wallowing in some perverse self-pity? Maybe, but reflecting on Emilie's life and death, has been a powerful thing for me.

My first realization was that, sometimes, it's a harder thing to resolve to live than to die. Life is uncertain and often chaotic (I should know after the past few years). For those of us who have heard the voice of the Shepherd, death is just a gateway to the ultimate certainty--an eternity with Him. Both however, boil down to obedience and submission to God's will for my life. (How is it that so much of Christianity can be boiled down to the stanza "Trust and obey"??).

My second realization was this. Despite all worldly circumstances that would tell me otherwise, I AM blessed beyond measure. I received a casual phone call from a friend the other day, and as I hung up, I reflected on our relationship with this couple and was struck by just how much I love them both...and that while our relationship with them is particularly close, I can also say how loved I have felt by so many in my life. Emilie had her husband share this quote with us after her death. It's not scripture, but it speaks deeply to the heart.

"And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth."
— Raymond Carver

Father, as the new year dawns, help me resolve not to live or to die, but to simply be obedient to Your will, to love You more, to make others feel "beloved on the earth" as I am. Thank you for loving me with an everlasting love, for calling me and making me your own.

  posted at 8:29 AM  

Friday, December 19, 2008
Typing through tears
A fellow sarcoma blogger, beautiful writer, wife, mother of two wee ones, and an occasional commenter on this blog has entered home hospice care.

I want to respect her privacy at this time, but please pray for her.

Stupid, horrible, destructive, evil, sarcoma.

Wonderful, Merciful, Savior.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9

  posted at 2:49 PM  

Thursday, December 18, 2008
The good news
(and sorry for the delay) is that my CT scans showed no marked changes, and I'm off the hook for another four months. It's nice to know that my insides are as pretty as they can be,considering the circumstances, because my outside isn't doing quite so well. A well meaning lab tech tried to draw blood from the inside veins of both wrists (ouch) blood,but some really swell bruises. Why get stuck once (and draw blood from the hep lock) when you can get poked five times?? It's enough to make a girl miss her port--well if I had one of those nifty new power ports that can handle IV contrast. If they can transplant a face, I can only imagine that veins are next--I'll take a few of my husbands. They're unscarred, visible from the surface, and practically jump at the needle.

Saturday before the appointment, my sweet CBS ladies prayed over me at a luncheon and I can say that once I actually got through the hassle of choking down the barium suspension and getting on the road to the hospital, a beautiful sense of peace had taken over. I even enjoyed visiting and giving books to some of my favorite staff members. Still, I was glad when I could meet my sisters for lunch and give them the all clear sign.

It wasn't just me who was feeling the strain of this last visit. My hubby, my father-in-law, my sister all were rattled. DH and I were discussing it...why worry now? We can only think that as we get closer and closer to "normal" (and you know how I feel about that term) and farther from the actually treatment, the more we're aware that life can turn on a dime. Things were perfectly "normal" when all of this started, and goodness knows a that many, many more shoes have fallen since.

Speaking of life turning on a dime, instead of going out to celebrate with my dh, I ended up picking him up near his commute route, not too far from where he wrapped his car around a guardrail while avoiding a collision with another car. Praise God for airbags. It's a powerful reminder, once again, that we aren't the ones in control here.

  posted at 6:28 AM  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I have half a dozen posts piled up in my drafts folder...
...but none of them are saying what I want to say.

It's frustrating. Paul perhaps expresses it more eloquently.

18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18.

Monday is checkup time again, so bright and early that I'll be doing my own CT prep at home (Gross. Very gross--I think they should at least offer holiday flavors--perhaps Gingerbread Latte?).

Last time, I was almost feeling blase about the whole thing. This time, for some reason, the idea of the checkup is really eating my lunch. I'm anxious (beyond the whole cleaning thing) and more than a bit angry.

I'm angry that I'm loosing a day of my life to the cancer center. Especially during the Christmas season.

I'm angry that there's always a chance that the sarcoma could be back, and that I'm exposed to so much radiation in a year just looking for the monster that I could develop lukemia as a side effect.

I'm angry not that I could die, but that I struggle with trusting God to do my job here on earth and take care of my children.

I know in my head that my faith should be prevailing right now, but it's not.

Stupid, I know, but I'm being honest.

I'm blessed to be surrounded by people who love me and who thankfully don't treat me like the idiot that I'm acting like right now (oh me of little faith!). They accept my feelings and point me to the truths that are right there in my heart...if only I'd dig a little deeper. When they shine the light, I begin to see the way again.

Thanks to all who shine the light and are patient with me right now.

  posted at 7:43 AM  

Monday, December 01, 2008
Better late than never: Just a Smattering of Gratitude
I am Thankful:

--For my salvation. I am so utterly unworthy, and the only thing I am consistent in is disappointing and failing my Lord in my words and deeds. Yet, He loves me, and his righteousness blots out my transgressions. Hallelujah, what a Saviour!

--God's Sovereignty. I may never know why we've encountered the life hurdles that have confronted us in the last years. It doesn't matter. Our continuing to look towards Him for wisdom and guidance during them does.

--My husband. It's hard to believe that he's put up with me for nearly half of my life. What a trooper. The care and shepherding he provides our family is a daily blessing.

--TQ, or should I say Miss Independence, as she travelled solo cross-country this past week (no more unaccompanied minor status!)? She continues to grow in wisdom and in stature (she's almost taller than me), not to mention beauty. I missed her so much this Thanksgiving that we had a second turkey dinner celebration when she got home on Saturday.

--EJ. Also growing in wisdom and stature. At least we hope he keeps growing in stature, because he needs to grow into his feet. His new soccer boots were over an inch too long on me! I had reason to praise God for my handsome young man this week when I overheard his soccer coach talking to another boy about him, and mentioning that he often worked so hard at practice that he cried in exhaustion and frustration, but that EJ always delivered at crunch time during games. It was then that I realized what an uncomplaining spirit that he is developing--this is my child who NEVER has grumbled about any hardship we've endured in the last few years. Since this is a quality that I struggle with, I'm extra thankful to see it in one of my offspring!

--The Princess. My most middle of middle children, I see the blessing she is to those around her and delight in the special relationship she has with her grandparents. I'm even thankful for her stubborn, er, persistent streak...

--Little guy. I'm thankful for the humility he brings to my parenting! Every family should have a "late baby" around this time of year. His wonder and innocence balances out much of the emerging teen/tween jadedness and cynicism--and gives them an excuse to cut loose and be "kids" who delight in Charlie Brown holiday specials and tree decorating.

-Friends new and old. I am in awe of the kindness I have experienced in my life from those who love me/us so much.

--Family close enough to celebrate the holidays and special occasions with.

--A church that becomes more and more "ours" with every passing Sabbath.

--For those who choose to serve our country. This year I'm especially thankful for a nephew and a sweet friend who are just launching their military careers.

--For the traditions that bring us closer together. I could take or leave putting up the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend, but I know my husband loves it and that makes it special. My heart melts when I see my family gathered around the advent wreath...

--Another year and new opportunities. Two short Thanksgiving weeks ago, I was caught in a whirl of chemo preparation (scans, port placements, logistics) and uncertainty about whether or not I'd celebrate another Thanksgiving with my family. This Thanksgiving week I was caught in a whirl of holiday preparation and logistics for an upcoming book promotion trip.

--The book. I'm never going to be on the Times bestseller list, but women have stopped me or written to say that they've been encouraged by my book!! What an awesome privilege to encourage someone.

  posted at 7:14 AM  

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I'm a work in progress, a stay at home mom of four, a beloved daughter of the King.

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