Persevering in the Tough Times

I just read a quote on my friends face book wall that mentioned the fact that people needed to hear about people persevering in their hardship, instead of the famous, I overcame the hardship and look I survived. What about the messy bits in between?

Well I am currently living in the messy bits in-between, my dear husband has recently under gone his third chemo therapy treatment for Non Hodgkins lymphoma, which got very aggressive and trust me this has not been a walk in the park.

I have found myself longing for it to be over, hoping that I have learnt all that I needed to learn so that I can just instantly get to the finish line of all of the treatments. My husband has had to endure countless doctors’ visits, tests, IV’s, medications, night sweats, nausea, emergency trips to the emergency clinics and other indignities that I am sure he would not like me discussing – The Messy Bits!

Our emotions have been all over the place, one minute we are flying high as we see how amazingly the Lord is coming through for us and bringing in provision as well as people to bring meals, love, friendship and of course prayer.

Then there have been the really low points, where we had both fooled ourselves into believing that his hair truly would not fall out, but then it started falling out by the fistful’s. That was devastating, as it makes that mark in the sand that says, look you truly are a cancer patient – The Messy Bits!

My husband asked me to shave his head as he truly only had strands left and I did not think at first that it was affecting me, but if I had to be honest, it was devastating. He had always had a head full of beautiful black hair, and now he was bald. I realize that many men are shaving their heads today because they are going bald; but to shave it, because the chemicals that are being put into your body makes your hair fall out, really plays havoc on your emotional state – The Messy bits!

The other very hard thing to watch has been to see how weak my husband has become, he can do things for a little while and then needs to go and lay down. To either sleep or just rest his body, you can see when he needs to because he loses all color in his face and is just dragging himself around – The Messy bits!

Another very hard thing has been to take this once extremely energetic man, who has never been afraid of hard work, to a store and when you are there you have to get a wheel chair, because he does not have the physical stamina any longer to walk around. That my friend is a very hard pill to swallow – The Messy bits!

He tends to have a problem with tremors in his legs at night time, which at time has forced me to sleep on a Mattress on the floor, or I would not have a good sleep at all – The Messy bits!

After he has a chemo treatment I am out of our bed for at least a week because he excretes the chemo through his skin and I don’t want to get sick – The Messy bits!

I have had moments of crying my heart out, not knowing if I can take another step on this hard journey because it feels like my heart is breaking within me as I watch the man that I love suffer so much – The messy bits!

I have had the privilege of being a stay home mom for all of my married life and one thing I hold dear to my heart is being there for my children in their celebration moments, learning to ride a bike for the first time, graduations, getting their first vehicles all of these things are important to them and they are important to me as well and recently I had to miss one such an event and to be honest it broke my heart. My dear friend rushed in to my rescue and participated in the event on my behalf, as I was at the emergency clinic with my husband. – The Messy bits!

I have had to learn how to give a needle to my husband so that his white blood count would go up sufficiently and I am generally a squeamish person but I managed to do it and did not feel like throwing up – The Messy bits!

Some people have asked me how am I managing to remain cheerful and positive through all of these traumatic events and to be honest the only way that it is happening is because of the Spirit of the Living God living within me, strengthening me and enabling me to get way out of my comfort zone and into a zone of complete dependence on him.

I am in awe myself that I have not fallen to pieces, but I know that it is God who is sustaining me, reassuring me that he is with me and that because of his mighty power at work in my life and in the life of my husband and children, all things will work together for our good in the end, because we love and serve him.

Romans 8:26-28

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.   And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

God has reassured me that even when we go through trials that we do not think we will be able to survive he knows and sees our weaknesses and he prays for us and asks God for His mighty will to be done in our lives and then He promises that because we love Him all things, even hard things will work out for the good in the end.

This gives me peace, which also comes from God, to be able to handle these tough situations. I am so grateful to the Lord for the Joy he has given to me through His Spirit and for the assurance that even though some things I have to face I might not like and are hard, He will never leave nor forsake me!

Therefore, I can say thank you Lord, that even when I wanted to give up, God has given me the strength to put one foot in front of the other and not just walk but run and actually in some places enjoy the journey.

I would like to encourage you, if you are going through a tough situation right now and you don’t know how you are going to survive it, cry out to God and he will not only meet you where you are at, but allow you to actually thrive there too.

I might not think that I am always thriving where I am at in the midst of the journey but if I really look at the situation I am thriving as I am filled with a joy that is supernatural, a peace that passes all understanding, compassion that I never thought I had and a perseverance to keep going to the end because I know that the Lord holds me and I will be ok.

Call on Jesus today and allow him to come and help you in your situations and I promise that you will not be disappointed about how he gets to work on your behalf.

 

The Blessings of Miracles

As most of you know, my husband is battling cancer at the moment. It is a long hard road to walk and not all roses at all. Having said that I would like to share with you a few of the things that God has blessed us with in the past few weeks.

I had asked some of my friends if anyone had a bicycle that they would be willing to loan to me as I felt the need to use it for exercise but also for the pure enjoyment of riding a bike with the wind blowing in your hair.

A friend stepped up and said, yes as a matter of fact, you could loan mine as I am unable to use it at this time. I was so excited and raced over to get it. I had such fun riding it that I had asked the Lord for a bike of my own. Well after two weeks she needed the bike back and I was disappointed but I gave it back and asked the Lord again in a more of a whining tone for a bike of my own. I then forgot about my request as I had gotten busy with life.

Well, about a week ago, I was on the phone with a friend when the doorbell rang and when I went down to see who was there, I found a brand new bicycle on my deck with a Card attached to my window, with my name on it.

The giver had not put their name into the card, but had put the bike on my porch and left. To say that I was stunned, overwhelmed and completely excited would not even begin to describe my emotions at that time. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe my gift.

Then the lord reminded me that I had asked him for my own bike and he had now provided. It was not important who gave me the bike, but what was important was that, they obeyed and that I received what I had asked for from the Lord!

I was truly thankful and grateful and completely floored at the extravagant gift. I am still shaking my head at the whole thing.

I learnt another valuable lesson that day, God hears my prayers, even when I think he might not be listening, and not only does he hear my prayers, but he delights in answering them in the most unusual ways.

I am most humbled at the gift and so very thankful to whoever heard the Lord and spent their money to answer a prayer between God and myself. Wow!

Brothers and sisters in the Lord, God answers prayers, it is often not how you think that they should be answered or even how quickly they should be answered but he does answer them and for that I am truly thankful.

Psalm 145:18

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Call on him today, he does hear you, he never leaves nor forsakes you and he will answer you when you call to him.

 

Deliberately finding Joy

When someone in your family is suffering from a chronic illness it is easy to go down the road of despair, hopelessness, pity parties and depression but what if there was another path to take in the midst of all of that.

As I have walked beside my husband and seen his struggle with Lymphoma that has become aggressive, and having all of the doctors appointments, needles, hospital stays, more needles, tests and hours of waiting, I have become aware of a gift that the Lord has given to me in the midst of all of the gloom.

Joy!

Joy that has been bubbling up within me when I have no good reason to feel particularly joyful and the companion of the Joy has been Peace. A peace that actually defies all logic.

So how can a person seriously experience these two emotions when the storm of Cancer is literally raging around us? The answer has come slowly to me, but it is something that I have truly learned to be thankful for and hey I have learnt to rejoice in as well.

To answer this question we have to go back to the bible of course and discover the ways that Jesus brought peace to terrified people in the midst of the storms that they were in.

Matthew 8:24 -27

Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.   The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”  He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.   The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” 

In this particular example, the disciples were all in the boat with Jesus, he is having a great sleep because he has had a busy day and a storm comes and threatens the disciples very lives, but because Jesus is there and he is the creator of all things, he tells the wind and the waves to calm down, and at his command they obey. Just like that, this raging storm stops and the sea that they are crossing is as calm as if it was a clear and sunny day.

Jesus reminds them that if they had the faith they too could have told the winds and the rain to stop and it would have obeyed, he asks them this question, “why are you so afraid?” Fear seriously hinders our ability to stand up in faith and tell the storm around us to quiet down. Fear cripples and paralyses us and makes us ineffective and robs us of all Joy and Power and blinds us to the Power that is at work within us, through the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, I have found on this journey, that whenever I am feeling the panic of all of those crippling fears come near me and I feel like it is going to capsize the stability of the boat I am in, I am reminded by the lord all of the time, to tell the storm to Calm down in Jesus name! I then find myself with a peace that can only come through the Power of God who is at work within my life! This is something to stand up and Praise the Lord for, trust me!

Another verse that has brought about a freedom and joy into my life in the midst of these struggles has been;

Nehemiah 8:10

 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

The Joy of the Lord is my strength! This is not something that I have to muster up within myself, but it is something that bubbles up from deep within me and strengthens my very core; I get to rejoice in the Lord in spite of the circumstances that I find myself in.

Another verse that the lord has used to encourage me is this;

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Psalm 70:4

 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!”

You see, the Apostle Paul, when he wrote those words to the church in Philippi, was in prison, and up to that point, he had endured many severe floggings, stoning’s, ship wrecks, people angry at him for the message that he brought, he had been in prison, shackled, hungry and severely persecuted. All of this happens to him and he says to the church, “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, Rejoice!”

How was that possible? How could a human being endure such hardships without becoming a little bitter and resentful of what was happening to him?

The answer is simple, God’s Holy Spirit had filled him up and had given him Joy and Peace in spite of his circumstances, the Holy Spirit had filled him with Power to forgive the people and love them in spite of what they had done to him. The Holy Spirit had shown Paul, that he was never alone in these situations because God was always with him, to strengthen, lead and guide him.

This my friends I have found to be true in my own life, learning to walk with the Lord in the storm of circumstances can produce a harvest of Peace and Joy and Gratefulness that to the human thinking would be impossible, but to the person in Christ, completely possible.

I have learnt that to continue walking with the Lord in this attitude of Joy I needed to learn to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness as well, thanking him for the big and small blessings and miracles along the way. Therefore I can Rejoice in the day that he has given me, thank him for the breath in my lungs, for the ability for my eyes to see the beauty around me, to thank him that my husband is not sicker than he is, to rejoice that even though he is tired and feels week he is still with us. The more I have learnt to thank God for, the more I discover I can thank him for, this then produces a sense of contentment and joy in my spirit and drives away the fear, anxiety and hopelessness that would like to be my companions.

Now I can confidently say, “this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice in it and be glad in it!”

As I have received Joy and Peace and comfort from the Lord I can share with you what he has done, my prayer for you is that you to will find that God truly is your comfort and strength and peace and source of joy when you face circumstances that are way beyond your control.

So as the Apostle Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice”

 

 

 

 

When I am weak, then God is surely strong

2 Corinthians 12:9 – 10

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

I have read this particular passage of scripture many times over the years not really understanding the full ramifications of all that this verse actually means. I do not even profess to understand it fully now, but recently I have learnt more about God grace and how in my weakness and deepest needs, God comes through for me and is strong when I honestly have nothing left of myself.

About eight years ago my precious mother was dying of lung cancer, she had smoked for many years and her body could no longer take the strain of all of that nicotine in her system. She lived in South Africa and I lived in Canada and so when I got the call, I dropped my life and flew over there.

I spent the next month by her side and in many ways it was a gift as I had spent many years abroad and had not had the privilege of day to day contact with her, on the other hand I remember it being one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life.

I couldn’t think of anything worse than standing by helplessly and watching as someone that you hold very near and dear to you sliped away moment by moment. I had so many emotions rush through me as I watched my father frantically try to find any cure he could to prolong my mother’s life, he was desperate to have her stay longer as they had been married for about 34 years at that point and he was more in love with her than when they first began. It nearly ripped my heart right out of my chest!

As my father ran his own business he needed to be there for most of the day and therefore I became the primary care giver for that month. I want to say that up until this point, my experience of true care giving, was to my 3 children, changing diapers and caring for their every need. Now I was thrust into this role of primary care giver for my strong and independent mother who always took care of me and it terrified me.

Up to that point I had not truly learnt the meaning of allowing God’s grace to flow through me and even though I cared for my mom all during the day, and made sure my dad was fed and laundry was done, I often needed an attitude adjustment.

You see, when fear and hopelessness take up residence in your heart you open your heart up to all kinds of emotions that you would not have necessarily entertained before.

So my new bedfellows became resentment, anger, judgment and pure terror. Oh I took care of her, but I did nothing about guarding my heart enough to not allow these deadly emotions to take root and rule my experience there.

Over time the Lord showed me the destructive power that these emotions had had on my heart and even my relationship with my mom and the rest of my family while I was in South Africa and I did ask him to forgive me, but to be honest I decided that I never ever wanted to take care of sick people ever again. The trauma was still fresh, even 8 years later and I did not think I could handle it.

As the years went on the Lord had brought healing to many places in my heart concerning the death of my precious mother and then two years later my father, but I now held a badge of honor that said’ “I don’t take care of sick people”

Then just to prove my point, my son was diagnosed last November with a rupturing appendix and after his operation, even though I was concerned for him, I did my very best not to have to nurse him too much. Yes, I realize that after I write these words and he reads it I am going to have to ask him to forgive me.

Well a few months go by and we discover that my husband who had been diagnosed with non hodgkins lymphoma needs to have chemotherapy. To say that I was freaked out was an understatement. All of my old fears, dreads and night terrors were back; I would have to nurse him!

So I prayed, asking the lord for His grace, realizing that if I was going to be able to walk beside him in his time of need I was going to have to lay those fears at the feet of Jesus.

A month has since passed from his first chemo treatment and in-between we have had another chemo treatment, numerous emergency clinic visits, a two day stay in the hospital, other doctor visits, days in bed, tons of laundry, hair loss, emotions high one minute and very low the next and a host of other things; but I discovered that in the midst of it all, God’s grace has truly become sufficient for me. I have been able, with the help of God to lay down those fears and God has put his strength within me which has led to me being able to handle all that has come with love, kindness, compassion, mercy, peace, peace  and of course long suffering.

My friends, this is the transforming power of Jesus Christ, alive and active in my life. I would not have been able to do this without him, not a chance. I had already proven that the last time. I not only praise the Lord for working through me at this time in such a dramatic way, but for allowing me to become aware of what he has been doing.

I know that I have to continue to cling to him with everything in me in the months ahead but I also know that when I am weak He is strong and his power is most definitely made perfect in my weakness.

I truly am thankful to God for his grace in this very hard time of my life and I am thankful for his promise to us all, That He will never leave nor forsake us!

Therefore, if you find yourself in a place that is way over your head and you feel like you are possibly drowning, call out to God, he does indeed hear us and he answers in ways we often least expect.

I have thought to ask the Lord to take this from my husband so that it would be all back to normal just like it was before, but I have come to realize that sometimes God does indeed miraculously take things away from us, like a disease or an addiction or something of that sort, but when he chooses not to there are many wonderful treasures for us along the way that we would not have found had we just experienced the quick way that we wanted.

So in the midst of it all, I can say with the Apostle Paul, that I can boast all the more in my weakness as I can see and experience the great and mighty power of God in the midst of my weakened and distressed state.

Thank you Lord!