Wednesday, 31 December 2008

January 2008 Journal Entries

Today is the last day of 2008 and I have decided to read over my journals from this past year. Here are some of the notations that track my spiritual journey, life experiences, and reflections concerning ovarian cancer and surgery:

(January 4 2008)
"Yesterday I took encouragement from two things. The anesthesiologist's last name was Morningstar - Jesus is described as the Morningstar. When we were trying to find the parking lot at Sunnybrook, we passed by the Wellspring building that was featured in the video from Ovarian Cancer Canada. I was reminded of the women and their stories - that gave me hope; if they made it through chemo and surgery, then I will too." [My husband Dan and I had gone to Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto for my pre-op appointments.]

"In a way I feel as if my life is on hold. My world is so small."

(January 6 2008)
"Yesterday I had two surprise visits. The Sutherlands [longtime friends] gave me several gifts; then prayed for me regarding my upcoming surgery and for healing. My neighbour, Mary, dropped in with a gift bag for the hospital; in it was a purple housecoat and a lilac nightgown. [Purple is my favorite colour!]

(January 7 2008)
"Tomorrow I have my surgery. Yesterday, the songs at church ministered to me. Colleen and Sonja both prayed for me. Others assured me of their thoughts and prayers." [Colleen is a cancer survivor and Sonja is an intercessor]

(January 13 2008)
"What God impressed upon me is that I don't need to try to figure out who will be influenced by my witness I just have to be faithful. When I was in the hospital I was distraught over a comment that someone had made to a relative that maybe I had been misdiagnosed; that maybe I didn't have cancer, which would be why they didn't find any when they opened me up. It caused all the fears, worries and doubts to rise up and burst forth. I tried to call Dan at work, but when my son Tim answered the phone and was asked by a recording if he would accept a call billed to our number he said no. I was then very upset and emotional and I was crying. My blood pressure was very high since I was so distraught. One of the oncologists came to see me and was concerned. She said that it was natural what I was feeling, given all that I have experienced. She said that I was being strong for others, but that I needed to release what I was holding inside. I asked if there was a chaplain that I could speak to. She said yes there was and that she would call one. She mentioned that when her grandfather had surgery he had spoken to a chaplain and that had seemed to help him. The chaplain came and I shared a bit with her. I asked her if she would pray for me and she did. Later the nurse rechecked my blood pressure and it was again in the normal range.

(January 14 2008)
"Yesterday Dan shared the good news at church. He spoke a bit about our journey and how this type of cancer [ovarian cancer], 'is like throwing sand- you don't know where it will land'. He shared about trusting God and how God had answered our prayers. He thanked the people for praying and for their acts of kindness. The congregation clapped in response to the good news. After church people came up to him. Two men were crying and one of them even hugged Dan tightly."

"I got my first real meal - scrambled eggs, toast and cornflakes. I ate some of it; I didn't want to overdo it. It was like a victory breakfast. I was so excited I called Dan to tell him. I started to cry when I got my meal and could eat it. I was going to live! I saved the tray list of the foods I ate as a souvenir. I was able to go home in the afternoon after lunch. I was very emotional and cried a bit as I was being wheeled in a wheelchair to the lobby; and I cried more when I got in the van. I had gone through the surgery and I had survived! I was going to live and be healthy! That was now past and I only had a bit more on this journey toward complete healing. I am to have one more chemo treatment in February."

(January 19 2008)
"I would not have known God's miraculous healing power if I had not been healed of cancer. If I didn't have cancer in the first place I would not have experienced God's miraculous healing power from cancer. It is almost overwhelming to think about that. Yet there is the example of the man born blind. Jesus said it was not because the man or his parents had sinned but that the glory of God would be seen when Jesus healed him." [John 9: 1-7]

"I am glad that I am home to stay."

(January 22 2008)
"I have had so much bottled up inside. When I mentioned a bit to my sister Gayle, she said she wouldn't blame me if I should cry about all that I have gone through."

"I am not in despair; I have been given hope for the future."

(January 23 2008)
"Today I received a parcel in the mail from my sister-in-law Darlene and her family. It was in a bubble package almost as big as a pillow. Inside were tissue-wrapped gifts. In the card it mentioned that these were to replenish the "Sunshine Basket". I opened the first package, which was puffy; it was a snowman candle holder. That was really special." [I collect snowmen]

(January 26 2008)
"Last night I went to 'Change of Heart', [a women's'ministry event]. I spoke to Laura and Judi before the meeting; I shared about God healing me. It was mentioned if I would share this; I said 'I don't know'. I went into the foyer to get a drink . As I was at the table there was another lady standing there and Jodie came to us and said 'I don't believe I know you ladies'. She talked a bit with the other lady and then she turned to me and then said 'I know you!' She put her arm around my shoulder and told the other woman that God had done a miracle. I shared briefly with the woman about having ovarian cancer and when I had surgery they couldn't find the cancer. She was blessed. I know that I was to share so I told Laura I would and she told Judi. We sang a couple of songs The song just before Judi called me up was 'I can't do anything - I can't face anything without You'. It was a perfect lead in . I know God wanted me to share last night; it fit in with the theme of Jesus/God being the Great Physician."

"What came to me as I was lying in bed - I am not to resent this time of rest; recuperation; and isolation - that is all part of the preparation time."

I hope to share other journal entries in other posts. I was encouraged as I read them and it is my hope that they will encourage others as well.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

If Life Was a Musical

As I was looking out the living room window at the bird feeder, that is attached to our front deck, the song "Feed The Birds" from Mary Poppins came to mind. I have not thought of that song for years! It got me wondering what my life would be like if I was to break out into song as I went about my day. It is not unusual for people to sing along with the radio or a CD, but to spontaneously break out into song about one's life and daily activities would be thought unusual.

When I was younger I loved to watch old movies on TV that were musicals. I never found it strange that people would suddenly break out into song. I was a young child when The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins came to the theatre; and Julie Andrews became my heroine. Recently I have seen other musicals such as Hairspray.

There are times that I do break out into song, though it is when I am home alone. They are praise choruses that seem to just bubble up from within and overflow my being; I love to worship God with song. Maybe I might try singing about my daily activities the next time I am home alone. A song with the words "Washing the dishes, Lord; washing the dishes; living for Your glory; washing the dishes" just came to mind. I do not remember where I first learned that song but maybe it is one I will incorporate into my daily life!

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you. Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life- and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him." Romans 12:1 (Message)

Friday, 19 December 2008

Winter In The Country

We once lived in a little house on a hundred acre farm. The driveway was over five hundred feet long and much of it was exposed to the north winds. Neighbouring farmers would plow our driveway several times after a snowfall, given the frequency of snow drifts forming. While it was blustery and cold outside we were warm and toasty inside. We had a wood stove in our dining room that not only provided heat, but on occasion was also used for cooking.

We were on well-water that came from a well that was also about five hundred feet away, in a field closer to the road. There were two winters that we were without water for a couple of months as the line was frozen due to inadequate snow cover. Friends and family opened their homes to us for showers and laundry facilities. We got to know members of our church family better as we spent more time with them on a regular basis.

Living in the country provided many opportunities for outdoor activities in the winter. A natural rink formed at the side of the house right under a hydro light pole. Our children learned to skate on this rink and the boys played many games of hockey with their dad there. The house was on a small hill so the children would sometimes use their crazy carpets to slide down the hill. Snowmen and snow forts were often built with the abundance of snow available.

While we have since moved to town, we often venture out into the countryside to enjoy winter activities. Today my youngest son has gone sledding with a friend, but the hills are much larger compared to those of his childhood.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Continuing To Live

I have been very burdened of late; three people I know have recently passed away as a result of cancer. I have the hope of seeing at least two of them again. It is easy to get waylaid by the questions that naturally occur. I felt as if I was slipping into depression and I needed to hear God's voice to direct me.

Last night I could not fall asleep and I decided to read my Bible. I had previously found some scriptures that pertained to death and life and I wanted to study them to see what God might say to me through them. The verses are found in 2 Corinthians chapters 4 and 5. There was a reference to Philippians 1:20-26, which is where I found God's direction for my life. By looking at the Apostle Paul's example I was able to discern what God's will is for me in continuing to live.

There are several purposes to be fulfilled:
  • exalt Jesus in my body (Philippians 1:20)
  • fruitful labour for me (Philippians 1:22)
  • encouragement for others' progress in the faith (Philippians 1:24,25)
  • on account of me being with them others' joy may overflow (Philippians 1:26)

I am thankful for the direction God has given me through His Word. I now have a purpose as I am continuing to live.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Timelessness and Eternity

Whenever someone dies it draws attention to the fragility of life. One minute they are alive and the next minute they are dead. It sounds so final. It is final in this life that we see with our natural eyes. Those who know and love the Lord Jesus and who have received Him as their Lord and Saviour are now with Him in glory. To the uninitiated in the Christian faith this sounds rather "airy-fairy" or "pie-in-the-sky". Yet, the afterlife is more real than this present life. I don't think that the afterlife is something that starts once we die. Rather, I think that we leave finite time and enter eternity or unending time.

Eternity existed before God created the world and time. God always was; always is; always will be. God revealed Himself to Moses as "I AM" (Genesis 3:14). God is in a present state of being in our past; our present; our future. Jesus told the Pharisees "Before Abraham was... I am" (John 8:58).

I can have confidence and trust in God's care for me because God has already seen the future. He is already there, just like He has been in the past; He is still there too. I have a sense that eternity is all around us and that our solar system and beyond are all contained in "time", yet timelessness exists around it. Also God sometimes "opens a window" and allows some of the timelessness to invade our world. An example is at the transfiguration of Jesus when Moses and Elijah appear. (Mark 9:2-8).

Ecclesiastes 3:11 states "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (NIV). As finite beings we would probably die if we were given any more timelessness (eternity) in our human bodies. That is why we need to be transformed and given spiritual bodies. God is Spirit; God is timeless. When we are changed we will be like Him and we will be timeless as well.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Winter is coming

It was quite traumatic being in hospital again and having an NG tube. It is a horrible experience when it is first inserted; and I later had to have it re-inserted because it was not properly situated the first time. It was also unsettling to be exposed to onlookers, sitting in a wheelchair with the NG tube still in place, while awaiting my daily x-ray. To top it all off my hair was often disheveled, while the members of the public, who were awaiting other tests, were often perfectly coiffed.

I think that I had been overzealous in wanting to resume my regular activities when I should have taken the time to properly recover. I went to church the day after I was released from the hospital, but I was so weak I had to sit the whole time. It really was too soon for me to go, but I wanted to be encouraged through the teaching of God's Word and worshipping with others. I also went to the women's Bible study on the Thursday morning as it was the final day of studying "Walking By Faith".

I know that my body was weakened through all that I had experienced in not eating for several days while in hospital. I developed a head cold the next weekend and it lasted for over a week. My energy level is low and I long for it to be restored. I feel as if I have suffered a setback and I am now back to where I was several months ago after my chemo treatments had finished. Yesterday I had a followup appointment with my family doctor. She encouraged me to rest and "take it easy" because I "have been through a lot". I am again reminded that my life is paralleling the natural seasons. Winter is encroaching and soon will be here.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

A Recent Hospital Stay

A week ago Saturday, while at a women's retreat, I developed extreme abdominal gas pains and vomiting. My husband picked me up and drove me to Southlake hospital in Newmarket. I was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with a "kink" in my bowel. The doctors said that it was probably a result of my previous surgery and not uncommon.

I had a CT scan and then daily abdominal x-rays to monitor the situation. I did not want to have further surgery. I had an NG tube and I was put on "bowel rest"; I only had NaCl IV and later potassium was added. I was not even allowed to drink any water.

Many people were praying for me. I had the NG tube for four days, but on the fifth day I was allowed a liquid diet. On Friday evening I was allowed to have a soft diet. I was informed by the doctor that the bowel was now normal and there was no longer a "kink". For the past three days the x-rays had shown a change in the bowel.

I was discharged from the hospital on Saturday afternoon after a week long stay. I am now on a low-residue diet for four to six weeks.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Hair, There, and Everywhere

I never thought I would see the day when I would say that I don't like my hair. Well, I probably should qualify that statement by saying that I like my hair, I just don't like how it looks at the moment.

When I was losing my hair due to chemotherapy I could hardly wait for my hair to grow again! It was a novelty when it started to grow in curly. It looked cute and fashionable when it was shorter, but now that it is a couple of inches long I think that it looks old-fashioned! I think that I look like I am from the 1950's or 1960's!

It is now possible for me to awaken with bed-head and also to have bad hair days! Sometimes my hair seems to be going in every direction! I know that this is something that I should be grateful to experience, and I am, but... There is still the fact that there are days when my hair is not as I would like it to be.

I know that my hair is continuing to grow and I am not sure how I will finally have my hair styled. I do like the ease of care with a shorter hairstyle, but I am not sure how short I want to keep it. I am thinking that I would like to grow it a bit more and then maintain that length for a while. It will be interesting to see if my hair continues to have a curl after it has been cut.

Monday, 20 October 2008

A Gift For Healthy Living

Since the summer I have now regained the weight that I had originally lost during my bout with ovarian cancer. I am looking healthier as a result and my clothes now fit me properly rather than just hanging on me. There is also a negative result of regaining that weight, in that I now have a "muffin top". This is probably a result of the bloating and the weakening of the abdominal muscles due to major abdominal surgery. I need to strengthen these muscles specifically.

In early summer I had taken part in the Curves/Avon Thirty Days for Thirty Dollars Challenge and I had originally wanted to join Curves, but it was not financially feasible. I had recently borrowed a resistance band to try to strengthen some muscles, but I soon abandoned that plan. I felt as if I was in an unending cycle: I needed money to join Curves; I needed a part-time job to obtain money; I needed my stamina and muscles to be strengthened in order to be able to work at a part-time job.

This past Saturday my daughter Joy came home from working at Curves and said that "this" was left for me and handed me an envelope marked "A Special Gift for YOU." Inside was a Curves Gift Membership for one year! It was given anonymously. I started to cry; I was overcome with emotion.

The timing of that certificate could not have been better. I had just come through an evening of severe abdominal gas pains, which had brought back all the memories of going through chemotherapy. I had made fish sticks with cajun spice for dinner and I think that I was reacting to that. My digestive system is still sensitive from the chemotherapy. The previous day I had the opportunity to share about my experience of ovarian cancer with a woman whose daughter is having ovarian problems. Also I had recently heard that someone else had been given a year to live as a result of a different type of cancer. All of these things compounded worked against me and I had to battle my resulting fears.

The thought that rose up within me, upon receiving this certificate, was that God wants me to live! He doesn't just want me to survive, but He wants me to be healthy and regain my strength.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Thanksgiving Celebration

Last night we had Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, my sisters and their families at my sister Gayle's home. Gayle had hung streamers and balloons in the living/dining room. There was a large sign in the dining room window that said "Celebrate You!". While I had noticed these things, I did not think too much about them since it was soon time to eat. My brother-in-law was asked to say grace , so he said "Grace" and then he prayed. Gayle said "Debbie, you go first." I just thought it was because I had my birthday last month and this was the first family dinner we had had since.

The food was good and the conversation varied from one topic to another. A couple of us said we should wait a bit before having our dessert; a few, mostly males, groaned in response. The table was cleared of the dinner plates and condiments. There was a flurry of activity in the kitchen and then quiet conversing.

My mom asked that my husband Dan sit beside me near the aforementioned sign. Gayle then said "We want to celebrate you!". My parents had purchased a bottle of champagne and a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne. The drinks were poured into small plastic glasses and everyone took one. Dan proposed a toast and thanked the Lord for healing me. There wasn't the usual "clink" as we touched each others glasses, but the joy of celebrating God's faithfulness was evident. My sister Brenda had tears in her eyes as Dan spoke. We all were aware of how far I had come from a year ago Thanksgiving. Last year I just sat while the whirl of activity happened all around me. This year I had an active role and contributed to the meal.

It was fitting to do our "Champagne Celebration" on Thanksgiving Monday. We had first thought of it when I was in the midst of receiving chemotherapy. In addition, we originally wanted to have a bottle of inexpensive champagne to shake like people do after a great victory. Maybe we'll do that in the spring when we can be outdoors. That would also be my one year anniversary of being cancer free.


"Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do." Ecclesiastes 9:7 (NIV)


"One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." Psalm 145: 4-7 (NIV)

Friday, 10 October 2008

Thanksgiving

This Monday will be the Canadian Thanksgiving and I was thinking about some of the "things" that I am thankful for.

Treasured memories
Healing from cancer
Answered prayer
Neighbours who care
Kindness of others
Sisters by birth and friendship
God's faithfulness
Increasing energy
Valleys where God is present
Increasing strength
New hair
Good reports from my doctors

"Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us give a joyous shout to the rock of our salvation! Let us come before him with thanksgiving. Let us sing him psalms of praise." Psalm 95:1,2 (NLT)

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation." Psalm 100:4,5 (NLT)

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Significant Events

A lot has happened since I last posted an update here.

I was interviewed by one of our local papers to tell my story about being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I willingly agreed in the hope that it would help others be diagnosed sooner. What I had not considered was that they would also want a photo of me to accompany the article. I decided to submit one from before I was diagnosed so people who knew me would recognize me. At the present I do not look like I did in that picture. I am now glad that I chose that photograph because I can walk freely in town without feeling self-conscious around people I do not know.

My hair is now longer and finally looks like a hairstyle that I have chosen! I have had it trimmed in order to give a more flattering shape as it continues to grow. My hair is quite curly, especially at the top of my head. I have heard that this is not unusual after chemotherapy. I like the ease of care; just wash and go, although I often use a pick comb to fluff it out.

I recently took part in the 5 km Winners mini-walk of Hope in Aurora. This was a walk that my sisters had organized in support of Ovarian Cancer Canada. A year ago I was unable to attend the first mini-walk as I was too ill. It was a significant event for me to be able to walk the route knowing that I was now healed from ovarian cancer.

Next year I hope to walk in the national Winners Walk of Hope, which takes place in Sunnybrook Park in Toronto. I had my surgery at Sunnybrook hospital, which is near there, so I think that taking part in the national walk will also be a significant event.

Another significant event in my life is my involvement as a discussion leader in a ladies' Bible study in town. I will write about this in another post as the topic, "Walking By Faith: Lessons Learned in the Dark", is quite significant in light of my recent journey of dealing with ovarian cancer.

http://www.ovariancanada.org/

Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Journey Out Of The Desert

I had written about my desire to be involved with young moms, and my desire to be a part of the Moms to Moms group that was just starting up. I know and desire to uphold the scriptural injunction for older women to teach the younger women to love their husband and children, yet I sensed that was not what God wanted me to be actively involved in at this time.

What I sense in my spirit is that God is leading me out of the desert. I am walking out; it is a journey. During my time in the desert I was "hidden away", but now that that time is over God wants the journey out of the desert to be a shared journey.

Every person's desert has its own individual purpose; that is where God molds and shapes us. The journey out of the desert is where we bring with us all that we have learned and experienced in order to apply it to the new situations we shall face.

God has not forgotten me. He has a plan and a purpose for my life. He is the One who is bringing to light what He wants revealed. My life is in His hands.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

New Things

I have many thoughts swirling around in my head. There were two life-altering events that happened at this time of year; one being when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At first, I thought it odd that both of these events happened around my anniversary and my birthday. Anniversaries and birthdays represent new life, while these events were either the death of some things or the potential of death. Maybe the significance of the timing had to do with the birth of a new life; a new way of doing things; a new outlook; and new ventures.

I know that God is leading me, one step at a time. I have had a growing desire to connect with some younger moms. That is why I have chosen to attend the Thursday morning Bible study at The Hub. When I heard about the Moms To Moms program my heart leapt at this "window of opportunity" to be involved with younger moms. I do not know what this will lead to, but I know that God is "doing a new thing" in my life and He is "making a way in the desert".

"See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare, before they spring into being I announce them to you." Isaiah 42:9 (NIV)

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18,19 (NIV)

Monday, 1 September 2008

Turning Up The Volume

(This is a continuation of my story of finally being correctly diagnosed with ovarian cancer)

The bowel specialist in Orillia stated that the initial results of the CAT scan showed a spot on the liver and a tumour on the ovaries. After talking with the gynecologist on staff, they both felt that I would be better cared for by a local gynecologist since I lived closer to Toronto hospitals. We were given a CD of the results and my husband took it to my family doctor after we returned home. My doctor then obtained the written results the next day, and we met with her the following day (Wednesday) to discuss the findings. By this time I was very uncomfortable and I was having trouble breathing. My husband insisted that something be done for me. My doctor arranged for me to go to Emergency at Southlake and the chief internist would examine me there.


Once in the Emergency room I was given a cardiogram; and they took blood and urine samples. After the specialist examined me and had drained the fluid, he informed me that he was going to admit me to the hospital. He said that they were going to send some of the fluid away for testing and he wanted to do some more tests while we waited for the results. He told me that they were not going to send me home until they not only discovered what was causing this, but also began the appropriate treatment.


There were not any beds available so I slept in the Emergency room on a stretcher. In the morning I was taken for a chest x-ray and another abdominal CAT scan; a more accurate picture of what was going on would be seen since I no longer had all that fluid. The initial findings of the fluid testing showed that it was inflammatory fluid as opposed to being secreted by my liver or any other organ. This information,along with the results of the CAT scan and blood tests, helped to narrow down my diagnosis.

I was visited by a nursing assistant from the oncology department and informed that I did have a tumour on my ovary. She talked in general terms and I did not expect that it would be serious; I thought that it might be only stage I ovarian cancer. I asked her for information regarding ovarian cancer since I had never heard of it before that day.

Later that evening, before my husband returned for a visit, the oncologist came and informed me that I had stage III ovarian cancer and that I would need to have my ovaries removed as well as a hysterectomy. She told me that I needed chemotherapy and that I would lose my hair. The oncologist informed me that I would have an appointment with a gynecol/oncologist at Sunnybrook in Toronto to determine the plan of action regarding the timing of surgery and the chemotherapy treatments. I was transported to and from the appointment at Sunnybrook in an ambulance since I was still a patient at Southlake. My husband and I met with the surgeon on a Wednesday, two weeks after I was first admitted to Southlake, and I began chemotherapy the next day as an inpatient. I was then released from the hospital the next day and I had the remainder of my chemotherapy treatments as an outpatient.

http://www.ovariancanada.org/

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

"Chasing The Natural"

I recently read a quote in the July edition of Canadian Living that encapsulates this new season of my life. "...If you chase the natural, it will come back full gallop, meaning don't fight who you are or what you look like - just work with it." - Frederic Fekkai (page 33, Style, Canadian Living July 2008)

I now have a full head of hair, meaning my scalp is no longer visible. As my hair has filled in, I have discovered that it is quite curly. My hair has always had a natural wave, but I did not know that it could be this curly as I have never had my hair this short. The back of my head is the waviest and I often like to run my hand over it. I am not yet used to how it feels since it is in layers. So far the maintenance is rather easy; I just wash and towel dry my my hair; then I smooth down the hairs that stick up. I have started to develop "wings" at the sides so I might need to have them trimmed soon.

I am so glad that I "took the plunge" and went wig-free early on; it was liberating. Many people have complimented me on my wig, which helped me to not feel self-conscious about wearing it. Occasionally there were times that I felt uncomfortable when someone insisted that I should wear my hair like my wig when it grew back because it suited me so well. When I had replied that I was not sure if I could, since my hair has a natural wave, they stated that there are hairdressers who can overcome that.

I like how my hair looks, but I am not used to seeing myself looking like that. One evening I mentioned to my husband that I did not think that I looked like "me" and asked if he agreed. He replied, "I hardly recognize you!". I knew he was joking so I asked what he really thought. He said that I have not looked like "me" for a long time and that he has gotten used to it. He said that he thought my hair looked good and that it suited me. My daughter said that it is "the new me".

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Trusting In God

(I am not going to finish telling my journey until I process what I have written thus far. It is not a "quick fix" "get it out there...now that's done" kind of thing.)

I had asked God what He wants me to do; what burden or passion does He want to lay on my heart? It came to mind that I have been asked to be a discussion leader for a new Bible study. I would have to rely on God. I know that I am gifted with the ability to lead such a group; it is the topic, "Walking By Faith: Lessons Learned In The Dark", that causes me to hesitate.

I am still weak from the trauma of having had ovarian cancer; I need to lean on God. I do not want to "hurry" my recovery by suppressing things that need to be healed. Yet God is able to heal me as I walk through this study with Him. I was thinking about why I might be hesitant to lead a discussion group; "fear" came to mind; "loss of control" or "no control" over what might surface. God is in control. I need to surrender my fear to Him and give Him control over what might or might not surface.

When I asked God why I cannot know more- have a 5-year plan say, He asked me if I would have danced in Unionville had known I would be diagnosed with ovarian cancer a month later. No, I would not have. I would have been worried and very concerned. I would not have been able to concentrate on what God wanted me to take part in if I was thinking about what was to come. It is not that God is just shielding me from any unforeseen future trouble, but also that He wants me to occupy myself with what is "at hand". I can only do one thing at a time.

God is directing me to those things that He wants as a part of my life at this time. An example of this took place this past Sunday morning. As our pastor was closing off his message, he reminded the congregation that if anyone desired to have prayer they could come and sit in the front row and someone would come and pray with them. I am a member of the prayer team so I looked to see if anyone had come for prayer that God would want me to pray for. A new lady came forward and sat at the front; I waited a minute to see if one of the other team members was going to pray for her and then I went to her. After talking with her, I was able to lead her in a prayer for salvation. God used me in spite of my weakness.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths." Proverbs 3: 5,6 (NLT)

Thursday, 21 August 2008

The Disease That Whispers

Ovarian cancer has been described as "the disease that whispers". Looking back I heard the whispers, but I did not know what they meant. Last summer I noticed that I had a small "pot" that was hard, but I did not do anything about it. I thought that I would mention it when I had my physical in the fall. I started to notice that I "filled out" my capris, and my shorts were now tight around the waist. I was taking part in a liturgical dance and I needed to buy black dress pants that had an elastic waist; they were one size larger than I usually wore. After I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer my sisters-in-law mentioned that they had noticed my "pot", but at the time had only thought I had gained some weight.

While we were away at a cottage in Muskoka, I started to experience indigestion and bloating. I went to my family doctor when I returned from holidays. She had initially thought that I might have a blocked intestine so she put me on stool softeners and a laxative; and she arranged for me to see a bowel specialist. The earliest appointment was in September. In the meantime my doctor ordered a chest x-ray and two ultrasounds, abdominal and internal. I could just walk-in for a chest x-ray, but I needed to book an appointment for the ultrasounds, which would be the next week. Originally I was going to have the x-ray at the same time as the ultrasounds, but I was becoming more uncomfortable so I decided to have the x-ray later that week.

I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable as my abdomen increased in size. My husband took me to Emergency because we did not feel that I could wait for the appointment with the bowel specialist the following Monday. I thought that the attending doctor was rather "misogynistic" in his approach to dealing with me. He suggested that maybe I was pregnant and did not know it. When it was discovered that I had had ultrasounds earlier in the week, the staff were able to obtain the results, which recommended that I have a CAT scan. I asked if I could have the CAT scan that day, but the doctor said I needed to go through my family doctor. He said that he would only order a CAT scan if my appendix had burst.

On the Monday my husband and I drove to Orillia, which is about an hour north of us. The bowel specialist told us that after looking at my ultrasounds I did not need his care as it was not a blocked intestine. We shared about our experience at Southlake and the recommendation for me to get a CAT scan. The doctor informed us that he was chief of staff at the Orillia hospital and he would personally arrange for me to have a CAT scan that day. He said he would also arrange to have the results immediately so he could personally direct us to the correct specialist. Finally we were getting somewhere!

To be continued...

http://www.ovariancanada.org/

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Looking Back

It was traumatic being ill with ovarian cancer. The treatment and subsequent side-effects added further trauma. My family had to cope with this as I was going through it; but now that I am well, they have moved on. I, on the other hand, did not experience the full impact of the trauma as I was going through it. All my energy and focus was on making it through treatment and surgery. As I am in new situations or returning to familiar activities the emotional impact of the trauma is released. Recently I was looking through the plastic container that held my medicine for a small pill holder. I had waves of emotion and memories flood over me.

When I had ovarian cancer and was undergoing treatment I felt as though I was a "prisoner" in my own body. I had no real control over my body or my life at that time. The cancer caused my body to react by producing fluid (ascities) in my abdomen, which I needed to have drained on several occasions. It was rather scary the first time, but I wanted relief: they ended up draining about 7 litres of fluid! I had it drained three more times and it was progressively less fluid each time, as the chemo was destroying the cancer cells. I also had lost a lot of weight - probably between 25 and 30 pounds. Many times right after receiving chemo I did not feel like eating for the first few days, or I was too nauseous to keep anything down. When I eventually did eat, I concentrated on high protein foods and I supplemented my diet with "Ensure". I was trying to regain weight in order to build up my strength to cope with the chemotherapy treatments. These were times I would not want to repeat.

I need to write my story; I need to release all that is inside. It has taken tremendous emotional energy to bring me through to where I am now. I was encouraged to remain positive. That has helped me "find the silver lining in every cloud" I faced.


When I look at the pictures of me without hair or with very little hair, I am shocked at how I looked. I am often smiling in these pictures. I do not recall any negative feedback from my family while I was going through it. They accepted my hair loss and I accepted it; we had no control over it. This is what I had written in my journal on October 30 2007, "Last night I was so full of praise to God. I told Dan [my husband] that I wished that Jesus was right here so that I could hug Him. I right away had the sense that Jesus was hugging me; holding me close to His heart. I looked just how I look now - shorn head with balding spots and yet I was safe in His arms."

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

An Encourager On The Sidelines

I would like to honour a man, my dad, who has been a great encourager to me, on this journey of overcoming ovarian cancer.

My father has not idly watched me, but rather he has spoken many words of encouragement. He has also lifted me up in prayer to my Heavenly Father; Dad knew that only God could intervene and bring me through victoriously.

My dad has also willingly "stepped in" when needed. During the early days right after receiving chemo, I always had someone at home with me. Dad took several turns to "be on call" should I need anything. One time he drove me to Emergency when I had troubling side-effects, and my husband met me there. My father has also driven my mother and me to the hospital for my chemotherapy treatments.

The encouragement has continued, but now the focus has been on my hair's growth. Dad made positive comments as my hair poked through; slowly filled in; and grew. I know that my father will continue to be an encourager to me, as he often has an encouraging word in response to what I have just written on my blog.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Cottage Memories

A week ago at this time, my husband Dan and I were just ending a mini vacation at a cottage in Muskoka. We first went to this cottage nineteen years ago when Chris was 4 and Joy was 2. We had just finished unloading the car when we heard Chris crying loudly; he had tripped on his way into the cottage and had cut open his forehead. We all headed off to the hospital, which was 30 minutes away, for him to get stitches. We did not get back to the cottage until closer to midnight. One day during that week the four of us were in the lake; Joy and Chris had life jackets on and were sitting in inflatable toys. All of a sudden Joy was upside down with her feet in the air! I quickly turned her over. She was okay, it did not seem to faze her! Over the years we continued going to this cottage and we did not have any more personal mishaps.

Dan is an avid fisherman so it is quite natural that our children are also "fisherpeople". We have many pictures of these proud "fisherboys" and "fishergirl" with their catch of little fish. In proportion to their own size, these fish are quite big! Over the years the fish they have caught have increased in size and quantity. We have had many fish dinners over the years. Later, as the children grew, it was often the boys who would wake up early to go fishing with Dan. A small boat came with the cottage rental, but we had to borrow a boat motor. Now we bring our own boat and motor.

We have many happy memories of our times spent at this cottage. There were many evenings we had campfires or played different games. Now that the children are grown up and have jobs, they are not always able to go with us. Last year only Joy and Chris came as they were able to get time off; Tim was working at a job site in Ottawa so he was unable to come. This was the first year that only Dan and I were able to go, so we had split the week with my parents. We went up to the cottage on the Tuesday night right after an early supper. While we did have a nice time, I missed having the children there to enjoy it with us.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

God's Love Endures Forever

A wise man once told me "Don't look at what you cannot do. Look instead at what God wants to teach you through this."
"His love endures forever."

It does not help me or quicken the healing process for me to bemoan that I am not where I want to be right now.
"His love endures forever."

Having cancer and undergoing treatment and surgery is not the same as having the flu. It takes longer to recover and to build up one's strength.
"His love endures forever."

I think I had a "matter of fact" attitude to me having ovarian cancer. While I was praying for healing, I accepted the fact that I had cancer and I needed to undergo chemotherapy and surgery. What I was not prepared for was my resulting emotions and responses after it was all over.
"His love endures forever."

Having cancer, I feel, was like being pushed off a cliff. Now I am in the process of "climbing back up". There are no "elevators" or "T-bars" to assist me. It is a slow, sometimes laborious, process. I cannot will my body to be stronger or to not get tired.
His love endures forever."

I think I resented the fact that I became ill with ovarian cancer rather quickly, but my recovery is not as quick as the onset was.
"His love endures forever."

When I pause and "look at what God wants to teach" me, I hear in my spirit "His love endures forever." In the midst of my trials, God is there upholding me.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His love endures forever."
Psalm 136:1-3 (NIV)

Psalm 136 tells the story of Israel's history with "His love endures forever" inserted after each phrase. As I was going to write this blog that psalm came to mind - hence the insertions.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Hair-y Thoughts

I find that I look at other women's short hairstyles intently; I am wanting to see if my hair looks "normal" yet. I think that parts of my hair, at the back and sides, are close in length to some short hair styles. Most women though have longer hair on top of their head; mine is still quite short.

Another advantage of very short hair is that I can try out various short hairstyles as my hair grows. It is not as drastic as if I had cut my hair this short from the original length. My hair had been shoulder-length or even a bit longer. I had been meaning to get it cut before I became sick. As my hair was thinning I had my daughter cut my hair to chin length; that helped make it look healthier. I am glad that I still had hair and felt well enough to get my drivers' licence photo taken; I was going to have that picture for five years!

I think that I am expecting miraculous hair growth because I often look in the mirror first thing in the morning expecting it to look longer. Maybe "watched" hair doesn't grow, much like "a watched pot never boils"! I know that my hair is growing; it is now starting to grow over my ears. That may sound pretty long, but it is only about an inch long everywhere. There is a slight wave on the top of my head and I do see some grey hairs.

Yesterday I was in Costco and I wanted to get some information from the pharmacy department. After I asked the woman there what I had wanted to know, she said "I like your hair! It opens your face". I received her compliment and thanked her without adding my usual explanation that I didn't cut my hair in this style, but rather it is just starting to grow in after chemo.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

A Visit With My Friend

Yesterday I drove with my daughter Joy to Barrie; she had to meet someone at noon as she was going away for a weekend retreat. I had the idea of calling my good friend Dianne to see if she could meet me in Barrie for lunch. She had the day off and, since her husband also needed to go to Barrie, we met at Tim Horton's and not where we usually meet. This was a small window of opportunity that we were able to snatch.

We greeted each other with a hug. "You look good!", Dianne exclaimed and then commented on my hair. We had easy conversation, updating each other on our lives and our families. As we were sitting in Tim Horton's, I said to Dianne that it is a "big thing" when I first do something I haven't done since before I was sick. She responded that me driving to Barrie and meeting her for lunch was a "big thing"! When I look back on where I have been and see where I am now I can agree.

Dianne had visited me in the hospital when I first was in Southlake. There is a rooftop terrace just off the Cancer Ward that she wheeled me out to as I was too weak to walk. When I was first home from the hospital and experiencing all the side effects from chemo, Dianne visited me. We were going to have tea together. I was very weak and I tired easily, so after a short time I laid down in my bed and Dianne sat on the edge of the bed. Dianne was here another time when our new queen-sized bed was delivered. She helped Joy make the bed; put the duvet into its cover; tuck in the pillowcase ends just like hotels do; and then I was allowed to see the result!

Dianne has seen me at my lowest points. She has seen my head at various stages of hair loss. I have felt comfortable and confident in allowing Dianne to see me so vulnerable because I trust her. We have been friends for thirteen years. We have shared many experiences, good and bad. Even though our visit was short, it was good to see each other again. We're going to go for a BBQ at her place soon; then we'll have more opportunity to talk.

"A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need." Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)

Saturday, 28 June 2008

The Benefits of Very Short Hair

I have decided that instead of feeling sorry for myself and indulging in self-pity I would compose a list of benefits of having very short hair.

1) It is cooler in the hot, humid weather.

2) I am able to have all the car windows wide open, and the sun roof open, without hair blowing in my face!

3) It is quick to get ready; I just wash my hair and go.

4) It is economical; I save on hair styling products and visits to the hair salon.

5) When I awaken in the morning I have no "bed head"!

6) I have no "bad hair days"!

7) There is no hair out of place. I can be confident that I look the same all day, from the first look in the mirror to the last look at night!

I know that my hair is growing and I won't always have very short hair. I will look back on this time and thank God for bringing me through it.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Signposts

I have "signposts" that mark where I have been and where I am now.

As I was getting drinking water to fill some water jugs, I recognized a "signpost". When I just had chemo I filled a large water bottle on a regular basis. I needed to flush the toxic chemicals from my sensitive organs. When I was experiencing the side effects of "Stemetil", the anti-nausea drug that I was allergic to, I could barely walk downstairs; I needed to use two hands to carry a filled water jug. Now I can carry two water jugs, one in each hand. I still drink water, but I don't have the urgency or need to rid my body of toxins.

I am now walking, quite briskly, by myself to Curves. I used to only go for a walk if I was accompanied by my husband or my daughter. I feel as if my oncologist gave me a gift or "the key" to now live a healthy life when she gave her approval for me to join Curves.

There are other "signposts" when I do laundry; make dinner; wash dishes; load or unload the dishwasher. These are all tasks that others in my family had to do, without any help from me. Now they chip in as needed, but I am the one who is now able to do these on a regular basis.

The other night, as my husband and I were watching TV, I asked Dan if he ever was reminded of when I was so sick. It was a "signpost" to me, but to him it was just a continuation or resumption of a normal occurrence.

I have decided that when I notice a "signpost" I will thank God for how He has brought me from "there" to "here".

"You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." Psalm 118:28,29 (NIV)

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Patience

I was thinking about my life, and how much of it centers around the need for patience. I have written in boldface the words that came to mind regarding Patience. I then sought scriptures that conveyed the impression God was giving me regarding these words.

A suggestion I have is to read this twice. First read only the boldface words. On the second read-through, just read the scriptures one after another. You will find that they flow from one to another and it is my desire that you will be as encouraged as I was.

Peace
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter, Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4: 8,9 (NLT)

Assurance
"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10: 22,23 (NIV)

Trust
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths." Proverbs 3: 5,6 (NLT)

Insight
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God." Philippians 1: 9-11 (NIV)

Expectancy
"For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die." Philippians 1:20 (NLT)

Near
"The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." Psalm 145: 18 (NIV)

Certainty
"Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilius, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." Luke 1: 1-4 (NIV)

Endurance
"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15: 4 (NIV)

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Physical Exercise

I am taking part in the "30 Days for 30 Dollars" challenge at Curves. I had wanted to start doing exercises to help build up my muscles, as they had been weakened through inactivity;the trauma of having cancer; the resulting chemotherapy; and major abdominal surgery. Also since I no longer have ovaries I am at a greater risk for osteoporosis.

When I had my first follow-up appointment with my oncologist this month, I had mentioned my desire to one day join Curves; she thought that would be a good idea. I am taking it slowly and trying to not overdo it. I only go around the circuit once instead of the usual two and a half times. I was advised by a former physiotherapist to start with three repetitions and build up each time by one. I go three times a week and it usually takes me twenty minutes to walk there, so I am getting plenty of exercise. I am glad that I have already been building up my strength through going for walks with my husband or my daughter. I plan on joining Curves once this trial period ends and I hope to one day resume my beginner ballet classes.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Wig-Free

I have "taken the plunge" by going without my wig in public. I have had a "love/hate" relationship with my wig. When I was losing my hair I appreciated having a "hair prosthesis" that helped to keep up the appearance of a normal healthy female. I grew accustomed to putting it on before I faced the public.

At first I disliked all the hair around my face. I could not tuck some hair behind my ears, as I was used to doing, because I did not have any "sideburns"; the hair that grows just in front of your ears. I often felt it was like I was wearing a mask, in that it hid the true state of my hair or lack of it.

My main reason for not wearing my wig was the fact that it is synthetic hair, so it was too hot to wear in the humid weather. So far I have had only positive feedback to such a short "hairstyle". If anyone has thought negatively, they have thankfully kept their criticism to themselves. My hair is downy soft and lies flat against my head. Today, though, I just noticed a tuft of hair sticking up. I wonder how I will like my hairstyle once it is "sticking up" all over!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

My Blog

There are days when a lot happens and I think "I could blog about that", yet I don't because I can't find the words to make it sound interesting and not like a report. There are other times that I write a lot in my journal, but I don't write those entries on my blog; they are not to be shared publicly.

I have chosen not to limit who can read my blog. I know some of the people who read my blog on a regular basis because they have told me they do. I try to keep them in mind when I am writing my blog to make sure that they can understand what I am trying to convey. It is easy to get stuck in "Christianese", which is a term for words and terms that only those in Christian circles would be able to understand. I have also wanted to be real in my struggles, especially concerning my battle with ovarian cancer. I have even shared some of the heartache that I have faced in the past, not in detail but in generalities.

To write on a blog, I feel, is both a privilege and a responsibility. I often have my daughter, husband, or mother read my blog before I actually post it. As a result there have been times when I have edited it for clarity or to remove unnecessary information. I have stated in the header of my blog that "It is my desire to encourage others and to bring glory to God. I desire to be led by the Holy Spirit in what I share".

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Scars

Yesterday, I had a "momentary lapse of reality", if that is what you would call it. I was getting changed in the bathroom. As my torso was exposed, I was momentarily surprised to see the scar. "Oh yeah, I had surgery". I know I had surgery and I have seen my scar every day since then, but yesterday was the first day that I was looking in the mirror as I changed. This experience got me thinking about scars. At the moment mine is "angry red" against fair skin. Up close it doesn't look that red, but seeing my reflection in the mirror, the scar is definitely noticeable.

The other day when I was in the checkout line at the grocery store, I noticed that the cashier had a faded pink scar just below her neck. Someone once showed me their scar, which had faded to white. I know that my scar will continue to heal; it might be the "pink variety" and not the "white kind".


In the midst of my rambling thoughts, God brought to mind the fact that Jesus still had His scars after the Resurrection. God has the power and ability to remove the scars and re-create new fresh skin, yet He chooses to leave our scars as reminders.


"One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he replied, 'I won't believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side,' Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. He said, 'Peace be with you.' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don't be faithless any longer. Believe!'. 'My Lord and my God!' Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, 'You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway.' John 20: 24-29 (NLT)

Friday, 30 May 2008

An Afternoon of Pampering

Yesterday I was treated to an afternoon at a local spa. We had lunch in the cafe. It was good to catch up and reminisce about old times. Our lives are very different; she is a single business woman who owns her own home; I am a homemaker, married for 25 years this September, with 3 children, ages 23,21 and 18. Despite our differences we share a common heritage. We are not too distant cousins; our grandmothers were sisters. We have seen each other off and on throughout the years, but we each agreed that we needed to not let so much time go by before we get together again.

It was my first outing wearing my stylish white and black sunhat, which complimented my outfit of black capris and white sweater. I knew I did not want to wear my wig because it would interfere with my spa treatments. I was given a choice of what I would like. I chose a half hour aromatherapy massage and I got my eyebrows waxed. Of course I removed my hat when I had the treatments. I was able to share my experience of ovarian cancer with the massage therapist. I also shared about the upcoming "Celebrate" luncheon at The Royal York hotel and my desire for nicely shaped eyebrows.

Cancer has had an impact on my life but, in the midst of dealing with the side-effects of chemo such as hair loss, I was able to be pampered; I reconnected with my cousin in an enjoyable setting; and I got to look "fashionable" in my stylish hat.

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Monday, 26 May 2008

God Directs Our Steps

On Saturday, I accompanied my husband Dan and our youngest son Tim to the University of Toronto (U of T). Tim has been accepted to their "Track One" Engineering; it is a first year of undeclared field of interest that deals with the various disciplines of engineering.

It has been a long process coming to this point. It had been hard for me to have an active role since I was undergoing chemo and not up to going to check out various universities. When I had chemo brain fog it was hard to think straight and to process the pros and cons. Dan took a more active role in taking Tim to a university fair, where they gathered brochures from various universities. Tim and I then went through them and weeded out the ones that didn't offer the specific courses he was interested in. We then discovered two in Toronto which offered a first year of general engineering and then the following years would be in the area of interest; be it civil, mechanical, chemical or computer to name a few. Tim applied to both of these universities and was accepted. He then needed to decide which offer of admission he would accept.

I had a dream one evening that I was in downtown Toronto. I met my dad as I was standing on the street near the GO train station. My dad said he was going to walk home through the buildings (There is a series of underground paths that do connect a number of buildings in the downtown core). I decided that I would walk home too. I entered a building and on my right I saw a room of people wearing protective gear and goggles. They had cameras on tripods and Rubik's Cubes were on top of the cameras. A person approached me and I asked about their activity. She took off her goggles and said, "We're engineers". I said, "My son wants to be an engineer and he has a camera, what is the Rubik's Cube for?" She said, " It has to do with physics". When we received the acceptance package from U of T, it had a picture of a Rubik's Cube on the front cover! Also, the professor in charge of Track One Engineering is a woman! In discussing the aspect of both universities, we came to the conclusion that U of T was the university for Tim.

When we were sitting in the presentation by the Track One program, I was further encouraged by the rightness of our choice. We heard several students' experiences. A couple of them had been considering two particular disciplines of engineering, but as a result of this program they chose a completely different discipline to major in. The Track One students are considered the cream of the crop in engineering; all of the Core 8 disciplines want to woo them to their area of study. Once a month each department hosts a lunch for the students and the head professor and upper students, including graduate students, share their experiences; what jobs are available; what new and exciting things they are doing and studying. That was further confirmation to me that Tim is in the right university and the right program. I believe that God will continue to direct Tim into the area of engineering he is to major in.

"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

"The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives." Psalm 37:23 (NLT)

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Healing, Wisdom and Favour

There are many voices, each with a "word from the Lord". I need to quiet my heart to hear what the Lord is speaking to me. I had turned on the TV to see who was on. I then turned to a channel in preparation for an upcoming program. There was a man saying he would pray that 120 people would receive 3 miracles - healing, wisdom and favour. Those are all things I need. The "catch" was that in order for it to be effective in your life you needed to give $1000.00. I did not have to buy my healing. There is no man or woman who can take credit for my healing. It is only God who can take credit. I am glad that I don't have to buy healing, wisdom or favour.

"If you need wisdom - if you want to know what God wants you to do - ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. They can't make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do." James 1:5-8 (NLT)

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands." Psalm 90:17 (NIV)

Monday, 19 May 2008

Reaping Love and Care

These are two entries that I wrote in my journal in November of last year:

Many of the people who have cared for me during this time had no "obligation of friendship" to do so. We had been friends in the past or I had ministered to them in the past; but there was no "present claim" on their affection. Yet I was now reaping what I had sown. I have sown love and caring into the lives of many others and now is the season of reaping a harvest of caring. At times I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of the outpouring of love and concern expressed towards me and my family.


I know that God has a plan for my life and He is using cancer as part of that plan. I know that different people would not have reached out to me had I not had cancer. God has used this to strengthen and restore relationships. People are what matter. I sense God saying to me that my life as I once knew it is not over; that I will be restored to ministry and using my gifts. Now is my season to receive; to be blessed by the gifts and actions of others.

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:7-10 (NIV)

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV)

"Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you." Hosea 10:12 (NIV)

Saturday, 17 May 2008

God is Dependable

I have just finished off one journal and I decided to reread it. I usually put key words at the top of each page in order to facilitate finding something at a later date. On October 30, 2007 I had written this:

Last night I was thinking how God is dependable. [The following are words that had come to mind]

Deliverer
Encourager
Powerful
Ever present
Not a man that He should lie
Delights in us
All-knowing
Beside us
Loving
Enduring

I had written the above after my second chemo treatment.

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:5-8 (NIV)

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

My Two Sons

My two sons, Chris and Tim, have been a blessing to me, each in their own way.

Chris, my eldest son, has a quiet strength. He may be a "man of few words", but when he speaks words of encouragement and love, they are worth their weight in gold. Chris has given me gifts with hope attached to them. When I was first in the hospital last fall, Chris gave me, for my birthday, a gift certificate for a local spa. After I had to go to Emergency he bought me some pink boxing gloves "to fight" ovarian cancer. For Christmas, Chris and Tim gave my husband and me a gift certificate for a local restaurant, which we just redeemed recently. He also drove me to the hospital for my last pre-chemo test. Chris is an "all out" kind of guy; he does things in a "big way". One day he decided to wash the kitchen floor, but first he dusted every room except the bedrooms; then he vacuumed those rooms; then he washed the kitchen floor!

Tim, my youngest son has the ability to see the "silver lining in every cloud". He has been a great encourager and our resident comedian! We can always count on Tim to have a witty word for us. Whenever I had been tempted to lose hope, Tim would remind me of how far I had come and how this season of life is only a small part of my whole life. Tim is also our resident photographer, with a passion for capturing nature in all its aspects. My sisters had asked Tim to take pictures of the mini-walk they had organized last fall to raise funds and awareness for Ovarian Cancer Canada. I was unable to attend that event as I was experiencing the side effects of Stemetil, the anti-nausea drug that I was allergic to. I am glad that Tim did such a good job of capturing this event for me. Tim has also been taking pictures of me to record my journey in dealing with ovarian cancer. He has taken many candid photographs that convey the truth that "a picture is worth a thousand words".

My sons are a blessing from the Lord.

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth." Psalm 127:3,4 (NIV)
"Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord." Psalm 128:1-4 (NIV)

Monday, 5 May 2008

A Passion For Ministry

Yesterday we had a guest speaker at church. He is a pastor to the workers at Christian Horizons, a Christian organization that ministers to those with "exceptional needs". He spoke about having a passion and ministering out of it. I had a passion and I was ministering out of it. I was using my gifts, talents and abilities as well. Instead of being "fired up" by the message I became depressed and angry. The doors to past ministry are firmly shut and no new doors have opened up.

This morning I was thinking about it and my response had been one of resignation. I had a "what's the use?" type of response and I was quenching my passion. I had the impression of great pressure being put on me to "squeeze" me into acting. I spent too many years in believing the lie "what's the use?". God had put tremendous pressure on me to push me out of my comfort zone and venture out to discover what He had for me.

I know that I am not yet strong enough to physically venture out. I know that I need to continue to heal. I am content in that aspect - I need to be because I cannot push my body. When I have felt well enough, I have done too much and I have paid for it the next day by being exhausted. I need to keep my passion alive while I wait and regain my strength.

I wanted to add a scripture, so I asked the Lord for one. He reminded me of the scripture an elder had read to close the morning service. At the time I thought it was an odd choice, but now it makes sense to me.

"The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." 2 Chronicles 16:9a (NLT)

That is God's promise to me.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

The Picture of 3 Stone Hearts



(photo by Jodi Greenstreet)

A Shaped Heart

I have been thinking about a photo a friend had posted on Facebook; it is of three heart-shaped stones on sand. It must have taken great force to shape these stones. I then thought about my heart and the adversities that have shaped my heart.

I had prayed for improved relationships with family members; I did not pray to have ovarian cancer. I prayed for true faith and not the "name it- claim it" variety; I did not pray for unknown outcomes. I prayed for God to restore to me all I had lost; I did not pray that more would be taken away in order to make room for the restored things to grow and mature.

God has given me the desires of my heart; the means and circumstances have not always been of my choosing. In each circumstance I have had a choice to allow God to shape my heart; in doing so I have received so much more than I could have ever imagined.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20,21 (NIV)

Friday, 25 April 2008

Spring Has Sprung!

Spring has sprung and so has my hair! My hairline is now visible and the hair has poked through. The weather is warm enough for me to go around the house without a hat. When I go outside I usually wear a baseball cap. It is the hat my sisters designed for the "Mini Walk of Hope" they had organized last fall. The word "HOPE" is embroidered on the face of it. The "O" is a stylized sunflower, which is the official emblem of Ovarian Cancer Canada. I also have two stylish sun hats that I have begun to wear when I need more coverage from the sun.

I have started to go for a walk most days with my daughter or my husband. Sometimes I go for a walk twice in one day, once with each of them! I don't venture off on my own yet. It is so nice to be outside after being cooped up all fall and winter. I even hung out the laundry last washday. My children carried the baskets for me though as I still have limitations to my strength and stamina.

I am participating more in the household routines, but the family still helps out. I now go grocery shopping, but I need someone to carry the bags as they are often too heavy for me. When I look back on how weak I once was and compare it to what I am now able to do, I am encouraged and given hope for a full recovery. I was told by my home nurses that it takes about six months to fully recover your strength after having chemo and surgery. I am more content now, in this "spring" season of my life; I have occasional activities and then times of rest and recuperation.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

One Who Loves Me

"And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God's word...In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church. And we are his body. As the Scriptures say, 'A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5: 25,26,28-33 (NLT)

My husband, Dan, has fulfilled those scriptures by lovingly caring for me when I was so weak.

When I was first in the hospital last fall, Dan would bathe me while I sat on a chair in the shower; it took too much out of me to do it myself. Once, after Dan had shaved my legs, I said to my sisters, "How many husbands would do that for their wives?". One Sunday morning before church, Dan drove to the hospital to help me shower and get dressed for the day. He would return for a visit later in the day.

After I came home from the hospital and was experiencing the side effects from Stemetil, Dan not only continued to bathe me, but his care for me branched out in other ways. I would hold onto him for support as I would shuffle about the house or as I walked up or down stairs. He also massaged my aching limbs. There were a couple of nights that I woke Dan up because I was so sore and he massaged my arms, legs and hands.

Dan, not only cared for me physically, but he also cared for me spiritually. We were given a book that had healing scriptures and prayers, which Dan would read over me. If I would stir in the night he was ever vigilant to see if I was okay or if I needed anything. Often Dan would then pray for me or quote healing scriptures over me. There were times, early on in my diagnosis, that he was brought to tears over my physical state.

In sharing these intimate actions of my husband, Dan, I have wanted to convey the respect and appreciation I have for this man. Dan is not only "One who loves me", but I am "One who loves him". God has brought our marriage to a deeper level of intimacy as a result of Dan's loving obedience to God's command "to love his wife as he loves himself".

Monday, 14 April 2008

Freed To Dance

The dancers at my church, Holly and Linda, held a dance workshop this past Saturday. The main focus was to be on using flags and what their colours signified. Both my husband and I attended and took part in the various activities.

At the beginning of the workshop, Holly handed out a slip of paper and pen to every participant. She instructed us to ask the Lord to reveal to each of us what was holding us back from dancing, and to write it on the paper. What had come to me was "heaviness, sorrow, fear of man, illness - cancer". We were then to place it on a representative altar and pray that it would no longer hinder us. We then were instructed to respond, in dance/movement, to a song about "freedom" in whatever way we wanted.

At the end of the workshop we split into groups to take part in dancing, using flags, or using sticks to "Days of Elijah". I decided to be in the group that used flags as this would be my first time dancing since being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I didn't want to overdo it and attempt too much physical activity.

On Sunday morning during the worship time, Linda approached me and another lady with a couple of large silver flags. She wanted us to flag to the song "Healer" by Mike Guglielmucci, which was being sung by the congregation. As I was flagging and walking in the aisle, I started to weep because of the words of the song and how they applied to my life. These are some of the words that spoke to me - "You walk with me through fire and heal all my disease... I believe You're my healer... Nothing is impossible for You". I sensed the Lord's presence heavily upon me. My daughter later told me that she was weeping when she saw me flagging. I believe that Saturday's workshop was an integral part in preparing me for Sunday's service. I am in awe of God's leading.

Monday, 7 April 2008

My Daughter

I have wanted to write about my daughter, Joy; to publicly acknowledge all that she has done and been for me since I was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer. What came to mind was to create an alphabet of sorts that would mention many of the ways she has blessed me.

Adapted quickly
Baked cookies & muffins
Cooked dinners
Drove me places
Encouraged me
Found her strength in God
Gave gifts
Helped out
Interceded in prayer
Joyful
Kind
Loving
Managed the household
Never gave up
Organized
Prayed for me
Quick to act
Reliable
Sensitive
Trustworthy
Understanding
Valuable member of our family
Washed piles of clothes
X-tra special
Yielded much fruit
Zealous in wanting me to eat healthy natural foods

"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Galatians 5:22,23a (NLT)

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Slip, Sliding Away!

The title "Slip, Sliding Away" came to me as I was thinking about my wig and the tendency for it to slip, or feel like it has slipped, when I am wearing it for a while. Today I saw a picture that my mother recently took of me, my sisters and our cousins. My wig is pushed back and my forehead is exposed. The proper positioning of my wig is such that my eyebrows,or lack of them, are mostly hidden. I can have different looks in the same day without even knowing it! I don't think that my wig would actually fall off unless I was nodding my head vigorously or bobbing around a lot. I don't think I want to try that just in case!

People are often surprised to know that I am wearing a wig, which helps me not to feel self-conscious. I have gotten used to wearing it, but I still feel as if I am looking at someone else who resembles me whenever I see a photograph of me in my wig. I think I look more like myself when I am wearing a hat or when I am bald-headed.

We have been recording my journey with digital pictures, but they have not yet been developed. I was told by someone that they had regretted not having pictures of them without any hair. Yesterday I saw a picture of a hairstyle that I wouldn't mind trying; it was layered all over, and would look good straight or wavy. It would probably take a year or more for my hair to grow into the style of my wig. The advantage of being totally bald is that I get to start afresh and try different styles as my hair grows.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Daylilies and Spurts of Energy

When others ask how I am doing, I reply, "Good". I have spurts of energy and then I am tired. When thinking about this "daylilies" came to mind. Each bloom lasts only one day, but as each flower stem will carry many buds, a mature plant will have many stems, so a plant will be in flower for many weeks.

I had a busy Easter weekend. We went to church for the Good Friday service. In the foyer after the service, I greeted an older couple with an embrace and exclaimed, "I made it!". Back in early December the husband had gone out of his way to encourage me. He had faced cancer and God had brought him through; God would bring me through it as well.

In the afternoon we got together with my mom's side of the family for a belated 70th birthday party for my aunt. While there I mingled with my relatives. I was tired when we got home and so I rested. Today, when talking with my sister, she said how her husband had remarked that I had acted like my usual healthy self.

Early Saturday morning we received a call from our bank manager. We could bring in our necessary documents so he could begin to process our financing. We need to purchase a vehicle as ours was written off as a result of an accident. We also needed to test drive the vehicle we were thinking of purchasing, and do grocery shopping as well. We managed to do all that and when I came home I laid down.

On Sunday morning we attended church. We were going to have my parents join us for a roast beef dinner later that evening. Since I was making a nice dinner and it was Easter, I decided to use my good china and silverware. I needed to polish the silver as it was tarnished, which only added to my workload. In between polishing the silver, peeling the potatoes, and setting the table, I rested in a recliner chair. I was exhausted by the end of the evening so others cleaned up, which was a blessing.

I may not have the energy and stamina that I once had before having ovarian cancer, but I am definitely a lot stronger and healthier than I have been since my diagnosis and treatment. I need to be thankful for the things I am able to do and accept my limitations without resentment. This is a season in my life that will not last forever. I need to appreciate the "daylilies" in my life until the "heartier flowers" are in bloom.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

The "Flowers" Of My Life

I recently attended Canada Blooms, an indoor gardening show that featured various garden displays; and flowers in bloom! It was a refreshing sight after so much snow! It got me thinking about my gardens; the flowers will soon be poking through. There is life in the bulbs of perennials, but it isn't obvious to our eyes until they start to break through the ground. Even though I cannot see my tulips or daffodils or crocuses, that doesn't change their essence of being. I too am like the perennial flowers in that it might not be obvious to my eyes that I look, or feel, like me; but my essence of being has not been changed with the diagnosis of ovarian cancer or the side effects resulting from chemo.

Soon my hair will begin to grow again. My strength is gradually returning. I know that a flower does not instantly appear in full bloom. It takes time for the flower to push through the soil; and for the stalk or stem to grow strong enough to support the flower when it is in full bloom. Not all perennials bloom at the same time; my tiger lilies bloom later than the daffodils, tulips and crocuses. As my strength and physical endurance, gradually and progressively, increase so too will I be able to take part in the activities that I did before this winter season of my life.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Enough, Already!

This recent snowfall of eighteen inches had many crying "Enough, already!" We have had lots of snow this winter and we were looking forward to milder weather. It is now March Break and Easter comes early this year. As my hair has again fallen out, leaving me with a bald head and odd-shaped patches of hair, I too cry out, "Enough, already!". I am tired of this winter season of my life and I long for spring.

Snow has its benefits in that it will help raise the water levels of the lakes and rivers. We did not get much rain last summer and the grass was burnt by the sun. I live near the Holland Marsh, which is Canada's main source of onions and carrots. The farmers use the water from the surrounding canals to irrigate.

These last two chemo treatments have their benefits in totally eradicating any residual cancer cells. The pathology report had shown cancer cells on the outside of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. My CA 125 level after my fifth chemo treatment was 12 (normal is 0-35), and I have had a sixth chemo treatment.

I am glad that this particular winter season of my life, in dealing with ovarian cancer, will not be repeated on a yearly basis! Just as the snow eventually melts; the temperature becomes warmer; and vegetation begins to grow; so too my winter season will come to an end. My new hair will probably start to grow and be visible when the trees are in bud! That is something I look forward to!

"As long as the earth remains, there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night." Genesis 8:22 (NLT)

"You set the boundaries of the earth, and you make both summer and winter." Psalm 74:17 (NLT)

"There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Milestones On The Road To Health

In the last two weeks I have passed two milestones on my road to health.

On February 27 I had my final dose of chemotherapy. It has been a difficult road with all of the various side-effects that I have experienced. I had such a positive outcome from my surgery that I resented the need for two more chemo treatments. When I had expressed my concerns to the oncologist it was explained that the cancer was responding well to the chemo and therefore they wanted to complete the cycle of treatments. I was encouraged to proceed with my final chemo treatment. After receiving this chemo my attending nurse presented me with a "diploma". This is what it said: "Community Cancer Clinic At Southlake Regional Health Centre is thrilled to present you with this honorary diploma in recognition of your accomplishment and perseverance in completing your chemotherapy treatment! Presented by your nurses, February 27,2008". Printed on the paper is a very young girl with her outstretched arms raised and her mouth open as if she is shouting "Yeah!".

Yesterday was another milestone in that it was the day I was discharged from St. Elizabeth Health Care; which had been ongoing since the beginning of October. The nurses came frequently, as needed, and have been an integral part of my health care. They have seen me at my lowest points and now they felt that I was healthy enough to no longer need their services. There was one nurse in particular, who I had seen the most and she is the one who saw me yesterday. I was given a card to mark the occasion and this is what it said: "Congratulations to you...(hurray for you)...(way to go - you're amazing)...(celebrate)...You did it!...(from start to finish)...(from then to now)...(from dream to reality...)"

While these milestones are to be celebrated, there is one milestone that I want to be true of me at the end of my life here on earth . The Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy states: "As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me - the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return." 2 Timothy 4: 6-8 (NLT)

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Feeling Like "Me"

It's official - I am losing my hair again; the telltale evidence is on my pillowcase. I think that the main issue that I struggle with concerning my hair loss is that I don't look or feel like me. Hair really does help define our individuality and personality. I think that is why so much money is spent on hair products. I have noticed since being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and experiencing hair loss, I have become more purposeful in my choice of clothes, hats and earrings. I try various combinations to reflect the mood I am in. When I am feeling healthy I take great care in what I wear, but on days I am merely just coping I dress in the most comfortable clothes and don't even bother to put on earrings.

Everyone loves my wig, which is nice, but it isn't me. I don't know if I will be able to wear my hair in that style. My hair has a natural wave; the wig is always the same; straight hair mostly in place. I have a very deep "widow's peak", which I discovered as my hair started growing in. That means that when I have bangs they all clump to the centre of my forehead. Also, since my hair has a natural wave bangs only look good at a certain length and then I get "wings". When my eyebrows had fallen out I needed to use eyeliner pencil to draw or fill them in. I also needed to line my eyelids when my eyelashes had fallen out. I am not a big makeup user; I mostly go fairly natural except when I am going out somewhere. I needed to use coverup since my face had broken out as a result of the chemo. My skin was very clear in the two months I didn't have chemo. I look forward to when I will both look and feel like me. In the meantime, I want it to be said of me that my inner beauty shines through in spite of the condition of my outer beauty.

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." 1 Peter 3: 3,4 (NLT)

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised." Proverbs 31:30 (NLT)

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Since having a two month break from chemo my hair had started to grow. My eyelashes are now visible. I now have eyebrows! They are starting to get full, but I am waiting to shape them until they are fully grown in. My son had given me a gift certificate to a spa for my birthday, so I am planning on having my eyebrows waxed.

The hair on my head is quite dark, almost black since it hasn't been lightened by the sun. It is downy soft just after I wash it. My hair is not quite a centimetre long, but there is a small tuft of hair that sticks up. My youngest son, ever the jokester, called me Alfalfa! The tuft is only a centimetre long as opposed to several inches! I like how my hair looks now; my whole head is covered with hair. I go without a hat most days at home since my head is warm enough. A number of people have commented that I should have my hair in the style of my wig, which is a chin-length bob with bangs. I don't know what style or length I will have my hair once it is long enough to even make that decision. I might try having it quite short.

Since having my first chemo after surgery, my scalp feels as if it is burning. That was what it felt like before my hair fell out. I have one more chemo treatment this Wednesday and that is the last one. Even though my hair could again fall out I know that it is only temporary; I will have a full head of hair again.

"We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you. All of these things are for your benefit. And as God's grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present toubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4: 14-18(NLT)

Friday, 22 February 2008

The Promise of Spring

"In that day", says the Lord, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people. I will care for the survivors as they travel through the wilderness. I will again come to give rest to the people of Israel". Long ago the Lord said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel. You will again be happy and dance merrily with tambourines. Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there." Jeremiah 31: 1-5 (NLT)

There were several phrases that stood out to me as I read that passage that I could apply to myself.

"I will care for the survivors as they travel through the wilderness." I am a cancer survivor. At times it feels as if I am in a "wilderness"; a place that is barren; solitary; far from the rest of human activity. I take great comfort in the fact that God doesn't leave me in that place, but He is with me as I "travel through the wilderness".

"I will rebuild you ... You will again be happy and dance merrily with tambourines". God is the One who will "rebuild" my strength. I see this verse as further confirmation that I will dance again. I want to dance a celebratory dance, just like Miriam did on the shores of the Red Sea after God had delivered Israel from the Egyptians. God has done a mighty deliverance for me too. I was "delivered" from the "jaws of death". Cancer could not hold me. God has healed me from a deadly cancer!

"Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there".While I may be in a winter season right now, spring is coming; the time for "planting" is near. It will not be in this "valley of the shadow of death", but on the mountains.
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