From Mourning to Dancing

I know the massive hole left in one’s heart after a child has passed away. As a mom I know the pain from losing a child to suicide. I lost my firstborn to this horrific killer some years ago.

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“… God has sent me to give them a beautiful crown in exchange for ashes, To anoint them with gladness instead of sorrow, to wrap them in victory, joy, and praise instead of depression and sadness.” Isaiah 61:3a

In spite of the words of scripture that mention anointing us with gladness instead of sorrow, we continue to be bombarded with death in our time. There have been mass shootings in Dallas, San Bernardino, and Orlando. And who can forget what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut? Once a peaceful little town it lost its innocence when the happy voices of sweet children were silenced forever.

Our planet has known death from its creation after our first parents experienced the death of a child in the beginning chapters of their recorded story. Firstborn son, Cain, became angry with his brother, Abel, and killed him. Adam and Eve’s overwhelming sorrow must have felt eerily unfamiliar; they had never buried anyone they loved before. They had no history; no family tree filled with names from previous generations to remind them of Satan’s lie, “You will not die.” Nor did they have the modern technology we have which allows us to converse with those suffering a similar loss. No. Our first parents had no one to talk to about the pain death brings to the living. They had no one to remind them that they were not alone.

We watch the evening news where the tragedies of others are televised, but Adam and Eve’s story has been documented for future generations. One might say they blazed a trail of sorrow for the rest of us. Just as they were blindsided by the evil mark of murder and were thrust into mourning the loss of their son thousands of years ago, we are still forced into mourning today.

When sorrow gets the best of me, and I tire of hearing about the evil being perpetrated around the globe, I feel a longing deep within my soul to draw near to the heart of God. I want Him to be my refuge, my rock (Psalm 71:3). If it were possible, I’d prefer the safety of His lap where I could cuddle and be comforted. This is the peaceful picture that comes to my mind when sorrow overwhelms me. It’s personal, but I gladly share it with you, although you may have a picture of your own that comes to mind when you need it most.

I find hope in scripture, and I share that hope with you; we are reminded that one day, not so far in the distant future, we will dance stead of shed tears of sorrow. Yes! One day we will trade our mourning “clothes” for dancing shoes! Hand in hand with our precious children we will kick up our heels and dance for joy!

“You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light.” Psalm 30:11

Scripture from The Voice (VOICE)

 

 

This entry was posted on February 17, 2017. 2 Comments

In His Arms

Angel

Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father. Matthew 18:10

“Angel,” by Sarah McLachlan, was written after Jonathan Melvoin, the Smashing Pumpkins keyboard player, died from a heroin overdose in 1996, according to Wikipedia. I listened to Sarah sing her rendition today as I watched the movie, Flag of My Father. The song has a mournful tune and always brings on the tears. Sarah wrote about loss and I can relate. You, too? Here is the chorus. I know you will immediately recognize it:

In the arms of the angel
Fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

At the first notes of the refrain, I usually flip stations or change channels to avoid listening to such a moving, haunting melody. Its message is so profoundly sad, but I didn’t turn away today. Instead, I listened. I let it wash over my being . . . sweeping me off to a distant place of mourning where it was fresh and shocking to my heart . . . and I cried like a baby.

Unlike J. Melvoin, my firstborn did not do drugs. He had nothing of concern in his system when he died. I suspected as much, and the autopsy verified it. However, there may be a reader who lost her child due to an overdose, so I want to be sensitive here. If I’m not, please tell me. What I am trying to say is that the story in the stanzas doesn’t have personal meaning for me, like perhaps it does for you, and, obviously, for the artist who wrote it. For me, it’s the melody, and it sticks in my mind playing over and over.

There is something else I like about this song. It’s the title, “Angel,” which makes me think about angels, my son’s angel in particular. I know my son had a guardian angel; we all have one. Heavenly angels are God’s messengers, and the Bible says that they watch over little ones while in the presence of God (Matt. 18:10). That’s beautiful. I like pondering what my son’s angel is like. I’ve named him “Gabe” after the angel, Gabriel, mentioned by name in Scripture.

I have a tendency to ramble, so I’m told, and this may be one of those times, but I have a point. Really I do. It’s about the angel. My imagination of the angel may be different from yours or McLachlan’s. Since it’s likely that few of us have seen an angel in person, I choose to use my imagination.

As far as I know, my firstborn was alone when he died . . . or was he? We had talked that evening on the phone. He seemed cheerful. There was nothing about our conversation that triggered alarm or made me worry. In truth, though, was he sad? Lonely? Depressed? These descriptive words hurt my heart, especially when I am well aware that my child could cover his true feelings. As my imagination kicks in and I wonder  maybe he wasn’t really alone, even though he thought he was, in the human sense. I’d like to think that Gabe was with him; after all, they shared 30 years together. Surely Gabe wouldn’t leave him alone now, even as he prepared to end his pain. Was God there, too? In my mind’s eye, why not? Where else would the Creator be when one of His kids was in so much pain?

~God knows every thought, every dream, every longing my son ever had in his young life. In fact, God wears his name tattooed on His hand, and I like to think his name is also tattooed on the wall of His heart.~

It comforts me to picture those final moments my way . . . far different from what the police reported to me after they found him. I choose to black out that image and replace it with this one: Gabe sent an SOS to heaven, “Come quickly, Father. Our boy needs you” . . . and God came. He didn’t need to wait until the scene turned ugly. He came to be with my son: The Creator holding His created, enfolding him in His loving arms and cradling him close while he softly breathed his last. Or maybe the same God who blew a tiny puff of air into his lungs when he entered the world, simply withdrew His breath back into Himself. After all, which one of us can take a breath on our own without God’s provision?

Peace followed my son’s last breath. The suffering was over. Silence settled down over his bedroom filled with soft, heavenly light. God and Gabe looked upon the still form of their child. My child. This was a divine moment, and God would not be rushed. He tenderly stroked my son’s hair while Gabe gently touched God’s shoulder, a loving gesture attempting to comfort them both. Their eyes met. Both of them had tears trickling down their cheeks. Oh, how they loved my boy! He was their boy before he was loaned to me ~ and he will always be our boy! All the love from heaven, at that moment, was pressed into this man-child they loved utterly and completely.

Now my son sleeps the sleep of death (Psalm 13:3). No more pain or sadness or distress. Peace has come at last to my firstborn’s heart. God tries to sniff back the tears as He looks upon my child. But tears, being unruly as they are, fell like prisms of dew unto my son’s cheek. So Heaven leaned down and kissed them away. God smoothed my son’s brow and closed his eyes for his final rest. Still holding him, God stood to His feet, then He and Gabe gently laid him down on his bed, and tucked him in like Gabe had done every night since his birth. They straightened up and wiped their eyes. Gabe murmured softly, “He looks like he is sleeping peacefully, Father.”

God gave a shuttering sigh, “Yes. He is finally at peace.” 

It was time to go. God turned to Gabe. “Now we must comfort our boy’s family,” God began. “They will need heavenly comfort for a long time to come. Gabe, I know you plan to keep an eye on our boy’s resting place once the memorial service is over. Please be there when his family members come to mourn, shed tears, and bring bouquets of flowers. They won’t know you’re there, but put your arms around them anyway.”

God spoke. His voice breaking, “Parents are left with such sad pictures in their minds after they bury their children. What Satan does after we leave doesn’t help. He mocks death by resetting the scene to one of horror, making the suicides of our children even harder for their families to understand and accept. How I long for My Son, Jesus to return and wake up our sleeping kids, but we must wait a little while longer for more people to choose to love us; to choose heaven.”

“We must go now,” God continued. “We must be there to comfort our boy’s family when they get the shockingly sad news. It will break my heart all over again to see the beginning of their sorrows.” 

Dear Readers, No matter how death happens, I believe it comes quickly to our children who die by suicide. Even though their stories have sad endings, I believe that peace settles quietly over them in death. No more pain. No more suffering for them, but not so for you and me. Our sorrows have just begun.

One parting thought: every once in a while, I thank God that my son, who must have suffered a great deal in his young life, is finally at peace. Thank You, God, for Your peace.

Text shared from the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

Comment from Kimberlie Budd Smith:

[Every word written, I feel. Every picture painted and depicted, I see. You are not alone. He was not alone. We are not alone. His arms hold you daily and his fingers wipe the rivers of tears as they flow down your cheeks.

I have had a personal experience with my Angel. I was blessed after a near fatal car accident to have seen my Angel and talk to him as I was careflighted to the Hospital. He brought me comfort seeing him at my feet overlooking me as I listened to the rotors of the helicopter blades.

I know in my heart that his guardian Angel and God was with your son as he took his last breath and brought peace and love to him in his time of need. No doubt in my mind. Never lose the pictures you have of him at peace with our God.

Thank you for sharing this with me. You are in my prayers.]

 

This entry was posted on February 3, 2017. 4 Comments

No hope?

img_6371-hopeI’ve been listening (perhaps I shouldn’t) to spokepersons on television news stations repeat words spoken by some in authority that our nation is now “without hope.” Are these wise words? Naturally I disagree with them. After all, my post address is “Hope Is Possible.” As most of you know, I am not referring to national hope, but hope after suicide; hope for those surviving suicide, which includes hope for all who grieve. Therefore it’s no stretch to be inclusive and say that there is hope for the whole world, right?

You may agree with political mindsets who feel we are “without hope” in our nation going forward from the swearing in ceremony on January 20. The statement gave me pause nevertheless, but this is not intended to be a political piece. I won’t air my opinions, however the words got me thinking.

“We are without hope.” How does a statement like this make you feel in your grief? It doesn’t have a question mark, but a period. Is it truth? Does it apply? To be “without hope” is to be hopeless, right? Personally I am not hopeless, but my firstborn likely felt he was, causing him to end his pain by taking his life. Suicide is the prevalent next step to hopelessness. I dare say that if we, as a nation, think negatively and feel hopeless, what is the logical next step, or is there one?

Readers who have been following my blog know that I write to help other grievers feel hopeful. Yes, life is hard after loss. There is no argument there. I have it hard, you have it hard, but I do not live without hope. You don’t either, do you? We may be shattered, bone dry, sickened with grief, and feel broken beyond repair, but we are not without hope. Keep reading the devotional below for someone else’s take on this topic.

~ Hope springs eternal in the human breast ~

“The English poet Alexander Pope wrote, ‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always to be blest.’

“The director of a medical clinic told of a terminally ill young man who came in for his usual treatment. A new doctor who was on duty said to him casually and cruelly, ‘You know, don’t you, that you won’t live out the year?’

“As the young man left, he stopped by the director’s desk and wept. ‘That man took away my hope,’ he blurted out.

“‘I guess he did,’ replied the director. ‘Maybe it’s time to find a new one.’

“Commenting on this incident, Lewis Smedes wrote, ‘Is there a hope when hope is taken away? Is there hope when the situation is hopeless? That question leads us to Christian hope, for in the Bible, hope is no longer a passion for the possible. It becomes a passion for the promise.’”

No one, not even a professional, can know whether or not that young man will live out the year. That information is known only to the God of heaven. It is also true that no one can tell you that you live without hope. You can choose to believe that you have no hope or that you will never feel joy again in your grief journey, but is it truth?

I will not answer this question for you, but I will answer it for me. If I did not have hope ~ hope in the next life, hope that I will see my child again ~ I would be someone most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:19). Further, I dare say, that I, (and speaking for no one else), do not see how I could survive my son’s suicide without hope . . . hope in the Eternal.

There are hundreds of verses of Scripture with the word “hope” in them. Not all of them are positive, but discerning reading gives me confidence in the hope to come. You may choose to believe otherwise, but I believe that the hope, referred to in Scripture, is the good stuff which is ahead for those who put their trust in God; therefore I choose to rise every day in the hope of being reunited with my firstborn son once more!

Is not your reverence your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope? Job 4:6

Quote from Our Daily Bread, December 19, 1996, (Bible “dot” org)

Verse from Job, New King James Version (NKJV)

 

This entry was posted on January 20, 2017. 4 Comments

Drab days of winter

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“Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

The weather report says “overcast” as a cloud cover obscures the sky. We are experiencing a stint of drab gray. Winter, in our neck of the woods, is hitting its stride. Don’t laugh, but I feel frustrated enough to write about it (noting that days without sunshine can be difficult for those who are susceptible to depression), and I am more ready than ever for Mr. Sun to poke his smiling face through the gray clouds and bring a pop of color into my dreary view.

As gray of day turned into black of night one evening, I approached the wall of windows to lower the blinds. I stopped in my tracks and stared at the horizon. There bore the evidence that sunshine will return again as I stood, transfixed, and gazed at a strip of crimson. It looked as if shimmering liquid coral had pooled on the lackluster landscape. Just a touch. Just for a moment. Then the beauty sank out of sight, but it was enough to remind me that it won’t always be dark. Light will return. Glory will once again light up my world.

Like me, you may be on a grief journey. You may feel the seemingly endless drudgery of weary steps, and dark days don’t help. We go through the motions, day after day, living for that moment; the moment we are reunited with the ones we were forced to bury while they were still young and full of life.

I picture this expanse of grief like a conveyor belt. It keeps moving whether I move or not. With my carry-on in hand I am borne, not toward a distant destination promising great joy, but along a curvy, bumpy road that often feels like it is heading nowhere.

And yet . . . this journey of grief is taking me somewhere. Moment by moment, day by day, year by year, I am inching closer to a grand reunion more spectacular than humans can imagine.

Meanwhile, we face holiday after holiday occupied with thoughts of those who can no longer join us around the kitchen table. We miss their hugs, their smiles, their jokes, their stories we have heard so often that finishing them is automatic. They may be gone, but their memories are not.

Just as the sun will return to shine upon our upturned faces, I am reminded that my “Son-shine” will return, too. His glory will be spectacular. We will see our children face to face at last, and they will be radiant. The drab gray of pain will disappear. The darkness of our shattered hearts will be replaced with hearts that will beat in unison throughout eternity. hallelujah!

The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. Malachi 4:2a

Version selected, GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

 

“Silent Night, Holy Night”

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For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

Strains of sweet carols floated through the open front door where my hubby was standing. He beckoned me to join him. As I drew closer, the music grew louder and sweeter. Who is singing? Was it recorded music? No, it was carolers! A group of people from church had gathered outside our front door and were singing their hearts out. I joined in . . . Silent Night, Holy Night . . .

After the group finished singing, we clapped, and I thanked them. We shared smiles and hugs. Several, knowing of my cancer journey and the surgeries involved, said they were praying for me. How wonderful that a choir of friends makes house calls!

They had no idea that this day had been a downer for me. They had no idea that Christmas doesn’t get any easier each year I don’t have my firstborn to share it with. They had no idea that I determine to write, through struggle, encouragement for the both of us, dear reader. Don’t misunderstand. I have hope. You have hope, too, but that does not mean we don’t feel the sharp pain of loneliness more acutely during the winter holidays.

It is my personal belief that, because of Baby Jesus born so long ago in Bethlehem, our hope is not in vain. Because this same baby grew to be a Man among men, and gave His life’s blood to save every one of His created, there is hope enough to go round. The Good News is that He will return, but this time as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! This will be a “homecoming” for all mankind!

Scripture shared from New King James Version (NKJV)

 

Hoodwinked . . . again!

I should have taken a picture of my cat’s latest caper. To you my readers it would be positive proof what a stinker he is. I guess I was too “steamed” at the time to think to take one. Since a picture is worth 1000 words, the crust edges left in this picture gives you a visual hint that he has an appetite for people food; he would gladly have gnawed on this pizza crust if he had been given the opportunity, for he loves bread. This meal he missed. Read on to find the dessert he didn’t . . .

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You could call him a villain, but his name is Pippy. He sleeps all day and goes on the prowl at night. Anything with an attractive aroma is fair game. My son calls him Satan. I wouldn’t go that far, but he is full of mischief.

If I had a video camera, his nightly exploits would be entertaining. At people meals this cat will stare you down with every bite you take. He’s brazen enough to take swipes with his paw at morsels of food heading for his “tenant’s” mouth. If he gets lucky, he’ll get an unexpected morsel, and the score tips in his favor.

Recently I got reminded, yet again, that I may be off my game, but Pippy is never off his. If I get an “F” in food storage, all the better for my “shenanigans” cat. He will chew through paper bags, plastic wrap, or tin foil to reach something that smells delightful. His nose works overtime to hunt for something sweet or salty. My mistake at night means cleaning up his mess in the morning.

One night I forgot to put white chocolate away. Pippy honed in on the aroma of chocolate, which he had never tasted until this caper. Fortunately for him, its consumption did not appear to have an ill effect.

A few nights later, I failed to put marshmallows away behind closed doors, and “Sherlock” was on the case. I had triple bagged the marshmallows, assuming they’d be safe, but Pippy tore through all the layers of wrapping and helped himself. Chocolate + marshmallow + hmm . . . one more item . . . ahh, graham crackers! Pippy just missed making s’mores! Sigh. Will I ever learn?

When I pause to think back to the time when our hijinks cat found us, he was a bitsy “pipsqueak”. Skinny and determined are two adjectives that best described this little kitten, who had picked us to provide home and comfort. How could we have known that just a few short weeks later, our firstborn would take his life? Wracked by grief, we were inconsolable. The only creature who could get through to us was little Pipsqueak. He was frail, but also feisty. There were so many times in those first months after losing our son that he made us laugh in spite of our hearts’ resistance. I dubbed him our “God kitty,” for who else could have foreseen our need for laughter breaks in our grief?

~ Pippy wanted to live, and in some small way, known only to our Creator, he was willing us to live too. ~

Pippy is all grown up now and still the determined stinker. If I get careless, he wins. Unfortunately, I have to admit that there is a parallel in my spiritual life. Just like my cat, I may be off my game at times, but Satan is never off his. When I don’t spend time fortifying myself with the “bread of life” in my Bible, I can feel the enemy’s hot breath bearing down on me, waiting for the opportunity to attack. He will always take full advantage of my weaknesses. He will never play fairly. Being described as a roaring lion, he’s always on the prowl to devour spiritually as many humans as possible, so he won’t die alone (1 Peter 5:8). Just as I must be vigilant with food storage, I must also arm myself with truth so that Satan can’t trip me up.

The good news for all who are interested is that Satan’s days are numbered! As soon as Jesus uttered the words, “It is finished,” on Calvary’s cross, the countdown began for the devil’s demise. The hands on the clock of time seem to move too slowly for us grievers, who are eager to see our precious loved ones again. Never fear. Satan will be destroyed forever! Death will die! No hint of sin, sorrow, or pain will ever mar our lives again (Nahum 1:9). We will be forever free to enjoy the wonders of eternity with our precious children and others we love. We will never be parted again. Yippee!

“The last hostile power to be destroyed is death itself.” 1 Corinthians 15:26 

Scripture shared from The Voice 

 

Taking a Break

I have been writing my blog and sharing it with both members and friends on Facebook for over 4 years. I feel strongly that there are those who need the particular words God gives me that week to write. I hate to take a break for medical reasons, and if it is His will, I will be back at my computer, writing again before long.

The problem which keeps me from writing now are the muscle spasms, that apparently, are a part of phase two of breast cancer ~ the expansion phase. So for the time being, I cannot type enough to fill more than a few paragraphs before the sharp, painful spasms overwhelm me. I know you understand that this life is full of difficulties. This one is to be weathered just like all the other ones we face.

Please don’t forget about me and drop your membership. You certainly have access to the months and years of posts on file. Go back and read a few for your comfort. God will lead you to just the right ones. Perhaps the archives will hold you until I can return.

I am unable to send this message to every grief site. If I could, I would try to write and send something special for you to read, but this break I must take for now, includes all aspects of blogging. I will send this message to my author page and perhaps those who read it there will pass it along to the grief sites they are members of, etc. That will help to spread the word. God bless you all.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3) Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:12)

God willing, I will be back . . . soon.

Love you, my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

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This entry was posted on November 4, 2016. 7 Comments

Fragrant Words Fitly Spoken

“After we hugged, and I walked away, all I could think about for the rest of the day is what you will be facing the rest of your life, living without your firstborn son. Your fragrant perfume . . . ”

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“The pleasant aroma of your fragrance rises in the air…” Song of Solomon 1:3a Voice

Every time I open my cosmetic drawer and reach for a bottle of fragrance, I see a bottle which I have not touched since the death of my firstborn to suicide a number of years ago. It’s a lovely perfume by a well-known designer. Even so, I cannot bring myself to wear it. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I wore it to my son’s funeral. In spite of its sweet fragrance, the perfume is forever attached to the horrific memories associated with my son’s death.

Receiving lines. Remember the receiving line at your child’s funeral? Can you recall the names of all the people who loved your child and came by to pay their respects? For me, most faces remain blurred. A few I remember. Some friends were so choked up they could hardly speak. Others offered hugs with a few whispered words. Even though I cannot recall all their faces, I know they all came because of their love for my son and his family.

A short time after the funeral I was in the grocery store, mechanically dropping things expected to sustain life into my cart. My life seemed fractured beyond repair. I wandered from aisle to aisle, feeling overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of normal. Suddenly in front of me was a lady whom I had last seen at the funeral. We smiled a greeting. I would have preferred to keep on going so that the tears would not spill over, but instead, I remembered my manners and stopped. After a hug of greeting followed by a little chitchat, she said something I have never forgotten. A few precious words from her heart to mine, as she recalled the memory of that receiving line:

“After we hugged, and I walked away, all I could think about for the rest of the day is what you will be facing the rest of your life . . . living without your firstborn son. Your fragrant perfume clung to me. All that day and evening, every time its pleasant sweetness graced my nose, I sent up a prayer for you.”

I was touched. Her kind words stirred a deep place of pain within my shattered heart. Tears welled up in my eyes as I fished around in my purse for a tissue. We hugged again and went our separate ways, but the blessing continues. Whenever I recall our meeting . . . the sweet fragrance of her words still lingers and blesses me.

A well-spoken word at just the right moment is like golden apples in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11 Voice

Recently I came across a little story in the Reader’s Digest entitled “The Kindness of Strangers.” Someone else had a similar experience involving a sweet fragrance:

“A woman at our yard sale wore a perfume that smelled heavenly and familiar.

“What are you wearing?” I asked.

“White Shoulders,” she said.

Suddenly, I was bowled over by a flood of memories. White Shoulders was the one gift I could count on at Christmas from my late mother. We chatted awhile, and she bought some things and left. A few hours later, she returned holding a new bottle of White Shoulders. I don’t recall which one of us started crying first.”

. . . the sweetness of a friend is a fragrant forest. Proverbs 27:9b GW

Media Stooksbury, Powell, TN, RD, October, 2015

Scripture selections: The Voice (VOICE); GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on October 14, 2016. 2 Comments

Surviving Cancer: Fight the Fight

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“We have nothing to fear but fear itself” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fear is a word that fits quite naturally in company with the word, cancer. Before I could wring my hands in fear or be scheduled for surgery, I happen to come across this piece that addresses fear head on. I would like to share portions of it with you, layering it between my own words. Perhaps it will serve as a reminder, through the lens of my own experience, that fear can immobilize. (Citation is listed at the bottom.)

“A new president was about to take office. After Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in, he gave his inaugural address. One of the things he said as he tried to bolster the morale of his disheartened countrymen has become immortal. He said, ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself!’

“What a profound statement! Roosevelt knew what fear can do. Fear paralyzes us. It causes ambition and courage to leak out and leaves us without resources to face even the simplest situations. Fear is defined as ‘an emotion aroused by threatening evil or impending pain, accompanied by a desire to avoid or escape it; apprehension or dread.'”

I have something that looms large on the horizon. As I mentioned in a previous blog, it’s cancer. Should I fear it? I can’t say that it was ever on my bucket list, but then . . . neither was suicide. Surviving the loss of my firstborn to suicide shattered my heart and hobbled my soul, but I refuse to allow it to kill my spirit. I pray that cancer will not do me in either. I face both journeys in Christ.

 For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLV

“Fear is part of our Creator’s loving provision for us. Properly controlled, fear protects us from harm and motivates us toward positive action. If you were to see a bear in the woods, you wouldn’t go up and pet it—you’d flee as fast as you could. Your sensible fear protects you. Uncontrolled fear, however, can lock us into an emotional prison and stunt our personal and spiritual growth. Unrestrained fear darkens our lives; it colors everything we do. It is a great obstacle to our spiritual growth.”

Now I face surgery to remove the cancerous tumor. A portion of my feminine curves will be removed. That fact is certain. How this will impact me emotionally is uncertain. I assume that I will deal with it as I go along. But first, the scalpel in the hands of an experienced surgeon, who entrusts her work to the hands of my divine Physician, will remove the “enemy.” Then the long healing process can begin.

In this day and age one can look at anything on the internet, including breasts. In fact, did you know that you can look at hundreds of before-surgery and after-reconstruction pictures of breasts, and it’s not considered in poor taste? I am learning that the World Wide Web is yet another way to gain knowledge about my cancer surgery. I am both amazed and grateful to other women, diagnosed with breast cancer, who are willing to reveal their private selves to inform patients like me. I suppose I am also attempting to desensitize myself to my new reality. Actually the after pictures look quite normal. Perhaps I have nothing to fear, and in part, I have these brave women to thank for it.

“Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the most common type of noninvasive breast cancer, with about 60,000 new cases in the United States each year. About one in every five new breast cancer cases is ductal carcinoma in situ.” (Cancer Treatment Centers of America)

“If God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear and we know that He loves us perfectly, why are we still afraid? How can we be freed from the paralysis this kind of fear generates? We must learn to fight fear with fear—another kind of fear that is the antidote for our uncontrolled fears. It’s called the fear of the Lord.

“When we have the fear of the Lord, it means we look upon God with awe or reverence, an attitude accompanied by obedience, knowing, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10a NIV).”

I appreciate all the prayers from my readers as I embark on this new adventure into the unknown. Perhaps I will give an update in the future (at the one-year mark if not before), as the shock of surgery wears off, comfort returns, and I begin adjusting to yet another “new normal.”

Quotes from Lesson 5, “Nothing to Fear But Fear” in the series entitled “Facing Your Feelings” (“Bible dot org”)

Scripture quoted from New Life Version (NLV); New International Version (NIV)

This entry was posted on September 30, 2016. 4 Comments

Surviving Cancer: Riding Tandem

I was powerless to change the course of my precious child’s life. I am not powerless to change the course of mine.

My grief journey has taken a companion. The fire-breathing “dragon” has struck again. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It feels foreign to type a sentence that begins with “I” and ends with the dreaded “C” word. Perhaps the more I type it, the less foreign it will sound? I’m in good company as you will note in the current statistics for 2016 from the American Cancer Society:

  • About 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 61,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 40,450 women will die from breast cancer.  

Some of my readers may be waging their own battles with cancer or other diseases. Maybe if we continue to share our struggles ~ no matter what they are ~ inspiring and encouraging one another to keep moving in the right direction, we will diminish the power that disease seems to hold over us. After all, God says in 3 John 2 that He wants us to prosper and be in good health, so He’s is on our side, too!

For years now I have awakened remembering that my firstborn will never come home again. Sadly there is nothing I can do to change that fact. With the new diagnosis, I wake up not only remembering that my son will never come home again but also  knowing that I have cancer. Death is a fact I cannot change. I am fortunate that this type of cancer has given me a choice. I can choose to succumb to fear and do nothing, or I can take action and continue to live.                                                             

To share or not to share. (I would not want to embarrass any of my male readers.) Okay. Maybe in the sharing I am reminding all of us to search for humor in even the most humorless situations.  

Most of us have likely experienced the dreaded mammogram. The results of mine suggested that further testing should be done, and I was scheduled for a biopsy. At first glance the set-up for the biopsy appeared similar to the mammogram, except the ratio of clinician to patient was 4 to 1, not the usual 1 to 1. There was the doctor, three clinicians, and me. Instead of standing, like one does for a mammogram, I was allowed to sit. Piece of cake, I thought.

The ladies were nice, and the doctor was gentle, but they pulled and pushed and squeezed the stuffins’ out of my, ah, piece of meat” in order to guide the doctor to the spot in question, so she could insert a needle. The needle would munch little tissue samples from the lesion, which would be sent to the lab for examination.

Suddenly I felt a familiar touch of wooziness. Oh, no! Surely I won’t faint! Apparently I had been pushed, prodded, and told one too many times to keep my eyes closed so I would not see what the doctor was doing, and yep . . . I fainted. I’m sure it was only seconds later when I opened my eyes. My chair had been tilted back, and I was looking up into a “sea” of faces. A voice asked me to state my name and birthdate, the usual, “Do you know who you are?” drill. Apparently I passed. lol

There was chatter about calling it a day and rescheduling my appointment, but I had already been numbed up, which was no picnic, so I asked if there were other options. In response they suggested that I roll unto my side. They wanted to find out if they could do a biopsy with me lying in that position, which translates to “guinea pig.” There was more pushing, pulling, and taping the other “girl” out of the way. Thankfully there were no pictures taken to mark this event, and the doctor was able to complete the biopsy. The staff expressed their relief that the “trial and error” worked. Me, too.

Two days later my doctor gave me the results. It was cancer, but caught early. The next step would be surgery. I have always tried to be fully honest and transparent with my grieving readers. With your permission I will add my cancer story to ride tandem with my continued journey into grief. It will be a part of the path that meanders where it will as I embark on this new unknown.

Day after day there is the temptation to quit, to succumb to the pain: pain from sorrow, disease, or chronic illness. Each day I choose life, I may also choose to face the pain with courage.

Just like every day in my journey thus far, I choose life. I choose to do whatever it takes to continue living, and if that includes surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, so be it. Wow. Do I have a choice? Absolutely. I could take a chance with my life. I could face each day knowing an “enemy” has invaded my tissues ~ uninvited and unannounced, and do nothing about it. But I’d rather fight this enemy. Actually, I want God to fight this enemy with me.

I would love for you to add my name to your prayer list. We are in this mess together, you and I ~ this mess called life. We lift each other up, and, hand in hand, we take new steps forward each and every day.

My simple prayer to God is tucked in the pages of His Word:

When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone. Psalm 56:3

Scripture from The Voice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on September 16, 2016. 6 Comments