Sunday, May 31, 2009

The view from where I sit

What I am reading:
Ali and the Golden Eagle, by Wayne Grover (picked for me to read by M2)

God's Smuggler, by Brother Andrew (picked for me to read by M1)

The Yada Yada Prayer Group (Book 1), by Neta Jackson (picked for me to read by me)

Various scrapbooking magazines

What I am listening to:
Chris Rice: Living Room Sessions

The sound of the surf from my balcony

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ocean visitors

I was sitting on our balcony this afternoon and saw something unusual in the water. Turns out there was a family of sea turtles grazing in the coral just off the beach of our hotel.

Very cool!

Friday, May 29, 2009

On the beach . . .

in Hawaii, just my hubby and me!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mother's Day Testimony

One of the greatest priviledges that cancer has given me is the opportunity to share with others the GOOD that God has brought through my cancer.

I was asked to share my testimony on Mother's Day during the worship service. And I wanted to share it with all of you, too:

"Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written" (John 21:25, NIV).

That’s kind of how I felt when faced with the task of sharing my testimony today. And so I will preface it by saying: Jesus did many other things as well. If I tried to share them all in a testimony there wouldn’t be enough Sundays or if I tried to write them in my blog there wouldn’t be enough memory.

And so today, I will share a small portion of my testimony, from my heart as a mother.

I always loved taking care of children. As a girl, I loved to play with dolls. In Junior High and High School, I babysat other people’s children in their homes or in the church nursery. And as I worked my way through college and into early married life, I was taking care of babies in the hospital.

People always told me I would be a good mother. And, of course, I believed it, until I actually HAD children. Being caretaker 24/7 involves a lot more than just being babysitter or nurse.

I am grateful to my husband, Don, for allowing me to be a full time mother. He works very hard to give me the privilege to care for and teach our children.

When my oldest two sons were still very young, I can remember my prayer as a mother becoming, “Lord, please fill in where I fall short! And help them to forget all my mistakes.”

I prayed this prayer often. And I believe that God has honored that prayer in many ways. One of them is by having my parents, who live close by, be willing and available to help with the children. Their home has always been a fun place for the children to be and their relationship with their grandchildren has provided an extension of the security they have in their lives beyond Mom and Dad.

One specific example I remember of God “filling in” for me was three summers ago. We were planning on joining Don in Galveston, for his business’ annual planning retreat/family getaway. It was a trip we always looked forward to making every summer. Sort of an extra mini-vacation.

The kids had been passing around a stomach virus. And they expressed concern that we might not be able to make the trip. They each prayed over the course of two or three days leading up to our planned departure date that everyone would be well and we would be able to go on the trip.

Unfortunately, the morning we were to leave, one of the kids was still sick. The oldest kids found out that we would not be able to go after I picked them up from school and we were driving home. They may have said out loud, but I know they were at least thinking, “But we prayed . . .”

God gave me the words to speak reassurance to my precious, disappointed children. “God always hears your prayers. And He always answers you. But sometimes the answer is ‘No’. And we have to trust that when He tells us “no” that it is for our own good. For our protection.”

We went on to talk about the things that God might have protected us from: a car accident, getting hurt on the beach, being sick in the hotel, etc.

It reminded me of the line in the Amy Grant song “Angels” that I would often ponder as a teenager: God only knows the times my life was threatened just today. A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.

There is no way we can ever understand what goes on behind the scenes with God in our lives.

As I have looked back on that day, I am amazed at how God’s words have echoed over and over in my ears in the days that were to come.

About a year and a half after that disappointing day, I was newly pregnant with our fifth child, Michael. At the Trinity Women’s Retreat, God gave me a verse for our son, Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Originally, I focused on the part of the verse that talked about God’s delight, and rejoicing over our precious unborn baby with singing. We were delighted and rejoicing ourselves, looking forward to his addition to our family, so it seemed only appropriate that God would be, too.

But four weeks later, we were told that our son was going to die, and the verse took on an entirely different meaning. Of course, we prayed that he would live. That God would heal him. We prayed that the God who is “mighty to save” would save him.

And four weeks later, at my weekly doctor’s appointment, we learned that his heart had stopped beating. We had to say goodbye. We had to bury our child.

But in the midst of that grief, I could hear God saying, “I heard your prayers. My answer to you was, ‘no’, he will not live on earth. But you have all been saved. You can trust Me that it is true.”

I understand some of what we were possibly saved from: many more weeks of dreading the absence of a heartbeat at my doctor’s appointments, making difficult decisions regarding his care, having to watch him suffer and face health problems after birth.

And I was able to remind my children, that God hears, that He answers and that sometimes the answer is “no” and that when He says “no” it is always what is best for us.

But, I am sure, there is much more, that God saved us from “behind the scenes” that we will never know or fully comprehend until we reach heaven.

Having experienced God’s presence and love in life’s little disappointments has made facing bigger disappointments and trusting Him through them so much easier.

I recently read The Shack, by William Young. It is an intense book. The main character faces terrible tragedy. As I finished the book, and reflected on what the writer was trying to get across to the reader, I reached a powerful conclusion: God wants to meet us at in the midst of our deepest despair. He knows what we are going through, each, individual one of us. He WANTS to relieve us of some, if not all, of the burden of deep human emotion when we go through hard times. But we have to choose to meet HIM. He gives us the invitation and we have to accept. We have to look for Him in the tragedy. And by finding Him, the tragedy will not go away, but we will triumph through it.

That is how I faced my most recent crisis in life, my cancer. Though there were many things I was not looking forward to as I went through chemotherapy and radiation, the experience of past tragedies did give me something to look forward to – an intensely close time with God.

Once I heard or read that God doesn’t necessarily want us to be happy, He wants us to be holy.

The truth is, that it is in the times that we struggle, despair or suffer that we are drawn close to Him. It is in our times of unhappiness with the things of this world that we can focus our attention on the Holy One.

God relieved my so many of the burdens I could have carried over the course of those six months. Mostly, it was through the prayers and service of you, my church family, as well as countless others. God filled in for me, through you, as you fed, cared for, encouraged and loved me and my family. You bore my burdens, to the point that I was left with nothing but peace. I could look for God, find Him and rest knowing that He was with me every step of the way.

I was thankful, because my children could sense the peace I had about the future and be at peace as well. And as I reflected back on Zephaniah 3:17, I felt God’s assurance that this time He would indeed save me. That I would live.

As we faced diagnosis of my illness and at the same time we faced Hurricane Ike, I began to blog. This was helpful not only to me, but frequently to my family and others, to see “where I was at” and how God was speaking to me. It is a written record of God’s work and faithfulness in my life through that particularly hard time.

So, here I am today, cancer free and saved in so many ways. I am happy to tell you that God hears your prayers. That He answers. And this time, He said, “Yes”.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

I did NOT almost burst into tears driving carpool when M1 told me that I had received a standing ovation from his history class for completing radiation. (They take prayer requests at the beginning of class each day.)

I was NOT extremely proud of my multi-tasking ability when I, having only a towel wrapped around my torso (for my CT scan), managed to KEEP the towel wrapped around my torso while ALSO keeping the CT table (which was supposed to be fastened down) from crashing to the floor as it tilted precariously under me. (Luckily, help arrived quickly!)

I was NOT confused by the clear view out of my van windows after wiping them all down with window cleaner. I did NOT think that something was actually wrong with my windows. It could NOT have been so long since the last time I cleaned them that I could have become accustomed to the obscured view through a thick build up of film and fingerprints.

I have NOT allowed my four-year-old to believe that he can place a stick in the oven and it will magically turn into some edible food product, like pancakes or corn dogs. How would he ever learn to feed himself someday, thinking all he has to do is put a stick in the oven?!?

I DID NOT interrupt the unusual ritual of applying makeup to unlock the gate for the mowers and then forget to finish, thus walking around all day with mascara on only one eye.

I COULD NOT have forgotten to give out party favors to ALL the attendees of M2's birthday party. After all, I had nothing else on my mind, but how I had spent an hour and a half before and during the party trying to get our Clearplay DVD player to work, which contained the movie that the entire party was planned around. And when unsuccessful at getting the movie extracted from said DVD player, I DID NOT call in a back up Clearplay DVD player and another copy of the captive movie, only to have that player decide between its home and our home that it was NOT (really) going to work either. And then I DID NOT drag the travel DVD player in to play an alternate movie in its (almost) entirety before THAT DVD player decided to die as well.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Thank you, Mom, for being the best mother I could ever have hoped for!

Not only did you raise me to into young adulthood, but you continue to love and care for me. I am so glad you only live a few minutes away!

And this year, there were some definite firsts: you drove me to every single one of my chemotherapy appointments and you helped me shave the stubble off my head as the chemo took its toll.

Thank you for being there with me, for making me comfortable, and loving me like only a mother can.

I love you!

Thank you, Geraldine, for being my "other" mother - my mother-in-law.

Thank you for bringing Don into this world and raising him to be the man who became my husband.

This year, when you couldn't be here to help, you prayed and rallyed many others to pray for me. A tangible, and comforting, act of love.

I love you!