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]

Ever present
Not a man that He should lie
Delights in us
Beside us

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)
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