Offended

I know this is the year of the woman. I had a hard time with that at first, but I’m accepting it, and embracing it, however I think a more accurate title may be The Year of the Offended. At least that is the theme for my week.  God tends to speak to me in multiples. So, if there is something I am supposed to be paying attention to, it will show up in several different ways, from different sources.  This week, the topic is offense and forgiveness. 

Last Sunday, I attended Greenville United Methodist, and Brother Steven gave a powerful message on forgiveness.  It was wonderful.  As I sat there, I couldn’t think of a single person I needed to forgive.  I asked God to show me, and nothing showed up.  I was just happy to be alive & able to eat.

Lesson 1 So, when we got home, Cary said, “I forgive you for getting sick.  I wasn’t mad at you, but I just needed to say it.” Brilliant! He was right.  I needed to forgive me for being sick too.  I needed to forgive me for being weak, for worrying my family, for not being able to carry on with all my responsibilities.  I needed to forgive my body for betraying me and growing cells that would injure my body, that would try to kill me. Immune system, I forgive you for not identifying and destroying the cancer cells. I release you from my judgement, and I restore you to do the job God created you to do, to protect me and keep me alive. I restore you to your rightful place.

Lesson 2 I was invited to pray with people at Living Word’s Soul Sisters meeting.  It was beautiful, honest, and about forgiveness.

Lesson 3 My friend Rosi had people steal from her, really steal from her, and she shared her desire to forgive. 


Lesson 4 Earlier in the week, I saw a friend. She came to greet me, tears streaming down her face, welcoming me home. Offense immediately sprung up in my heart. This woman took advantage of me, I don’t think it was intentional, but it ended up costing me quite a bit of money in lost income and resources.  As I hugged her, I realized, I had not forgiven her, and I really thought I had, but the offense was still there.  Lord, how do I forgive? I thought I had let it go.  I thought I had released her, but I see that I have not.  As I am pondering this question scripture is popping into my head.  James 5:16 Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another and then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!  Jesus taught his disciples on a mountain one day. He said many difficult things (Matthew 5), but specifically this in verse 21 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca’ (an Aramaic word of contempt. Insert your own explicative as an American substitute), is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the of the fire of hell. So, I don’t want to be subject to court.  I don’t want bitterness to set up in my heart where unforgivness now resides. Bitterness destroys joy, and I can say I have had real, pure joy in the depth of me since a dear group of friends/family prayed over me in the last year.  I NEVER want to lose this joy.  On my worst day in Houston, the day I asked for a feeding tube and the doctors refused, I still had peace and joy. (And they changed my meds so I quit throwing up everything that went in my body.)  Being angry, harboring offense isn’t worth giving up joy and peace.  I’d rather be taken advantage.

Wow! In fact, being offended that I was taken advantage of (essentially stolen from), is a point of view issue.  It’s a trust issue.  God has blown our minds in the ways he has provided for us through the last four months.  Someday, I will have to share the full story of his faithfulness. He is such a loving Father.  He is our provider, not me, not Cary. HE IS OUR PROVIDER! What was mistreated didn’t really belong to me in the first place.  It was his to give. In fact, as I reflect, the income lost has more than been recovered through other avenues. 

Looks like my solution to this problem is easy. Father, I am so sorry I took your place as judge for my friend.  I judged her as inconsiderate and selfish, and I cannot know her heart. You alone know the hearts of all men.  Lord, I didn’t trust you to provide for us. I thought I had to take care of myself. Please forgive me for waivering in my trust of you as judge and provider.  Thank you for using circumstances to reveal the ugly parts of me, for refining me, and thank you for being a forgiving God. Thank you that you don’t act like me, and think of my offenses when you look at me.  Help me to be more like you in this way. In Jesus name I pray and praise you! Amen

New opportunities & other news: I just got the final denial that Aetna refuses to cover my proton therapy. A new opportunity to thank God for Humana & let go of offense.  I will be preaching Sunday at 9:30 at Shaver’s Chapel. I’m feeling better each day, as long as I take a nap. And life is getting pretty normal, except I am home enough to tidy the house each day, so that is a new beautiful thing. I am struggling to not get anxious about going back to work next month. I love my job, but I’m aware that I had the candle lit at both ends for years, and I think that was part of my getting sick.  I don’t want to return to that lifestyle, and I am not sure how to avoid it. Things to pray about…

Blessings

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Eating

Yesterday I ate Japanese food, my FAVORITE!  It almost tasted right.  It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago I would drink water to have something to throw up, took my fluids by IV every few days, and couldn’t eat. I am in awe of the body’s ability to heal.  I am also in awe of how crazy side effects of treatment and medication can be.


I think my body thinks I’m pregnant. Because I was radiated so close to my pituitary gland, I think my hormones/systems are confused.  During treatment I kept comparing my symptoms to morning sickness. Thankfully the nausea has gone away, but this week I have cried at Good Morning America three times (Actually I have cried about everything three times. Not sad crying, just crying.) lactated, and I may be nesting.  But my house is looking better each day!

The taste of chemo Everyone in my life is worried about my weight, except me. My theory after having babies was that it took 9 months for my body to get that way.  It should take 9 months to get back (It actually takes two to twenty years to get some resemblance of your body back.) It took 7 weeks to loose 15 pounds. It’s going to take that long to gain 10 back. Even so, there are a lot of precious people concerned about my waify build who don’t understand why I’m not gorging on doughnuts 🍩 and other foods people over 25 try to avoid. It’s because they don’t taste right. Postchemo taste is like eating texture instead of food.  Here is the best way I can explain it, imagine a loaded baked potato in front of you.  Butter running over the sides, savory bacon cut into little strips, shredded cheese lays limply over the top, and on the top, a dollop of sour cream. You inhale the smell and it fills your soul with delight. Your body anticipates the savory goodness, but your tongue doesn’t agree.  You taste the texture of the food. You experience each grainy particle of potato. The salty butter and savory bacon are reduced to the slimy grease that coats every surface of your mouth. The sour cream is just the sour. The joy of the bite is gone. It’s disappointing at best & revolting at worst. So, you find what you can tolerate and move on. I have been able to add a new food each day this week. Rice and beans are my friends.

Weakness Someone asked me if I was able to do any ministry while I was in Houston.  Outside of writing this blog, the answer to that question is no.  I wasn’t.  What I learned in Houston was how to be weak.  I learned what it was to come to the end of your body, mind and spirit, and still be loved.  I learned what it was to depend onmy husband for food, rides to the doctor, times for medications, and memory. The prayers and support of my friends and strangers sustained me when I didn’t have words to pray.  It also made me appreciate the beauty of praying in Spirit instead of my mind. 

Cary didn’t love me less in Houston in my weakness and vulnerability.  Instead, I got to see just how loving and kind he really is. I have never needed him like that, so I never got to see how deeply devoted he is to me.  God didn’t love me less when I was in bed crying. Instead he sent people to text, Cary to hold me, his peace to know He was with me, and that I was loved every bit as much as when I am praying or preaching. God wasn’t disappointed in me for being vulnerable. I think this is a lie we believe, that God relies on our strength. He doesn’t.  He’s strong enough on his own.

My daughter is very gifted in math and very driven. She is a great writer, but hates grammar.  (Like her mama.) This week she was saying she didn’t feel smart because grammar doesn’t come easy like math.  I explained that if she is best at everything then other people never get to be the best.  She has to embrace her strengths and her weaknesses, and celebrate people who excel in areas she doesn’t, but equally appreciate and celebrate her own strengths.  The key to success is surrounding yourself with people who balance you out, and being confident enough to be okay with them.

So, now I am home and life is returning to normal.  Only it’s not normal.  I cannot go all day and all night, and I realized last night I was ignoring my lesson on weakness.  I have pushed too hard the last four days, and the last two nights I didn’t have anything left to give.  I have to rest.  That means I have to say no to some things I want to do during the day to be available in the evenings to my family.  I have to be weak. I have to ask for help.  I am terrible at asking for help.  I fear the person will say no or grumble, and then I will get mad and resent them, so I just do things for myself, like moving large furniture and being two places at once.  But this isn’t how God designed me to exist.  He designed me to be interdependent, vulnerable, weak.  There is beauty in weakness. We get to see the beauty of others and the strength of God in our weakness. So go, be weak my friends!  I am going to seek out some personal healing over my difficulty asking for help and live this more balanced life.

Here is a teaching on Blessing, from Grace Center that is rocking my brain this week. If you listen, let me know what stirs in your spirit.
Blessings!

Reentry

Family picture our first day home. And can we all agree I don’t look old enough to have parented these kids. LOL! (You have to agree, I just defeated cancer)

The transition into real life is going better than I expected.  It seems kind of surreal to be home.  I didn’t realize how stir crazy I had become in that little apartment in Houston until I got home to some space.  I am often brought to my knees in gratitude and tears as I consider what God is doing and has done through this time. He is such a good God.

On the way to the airport in Houston we Ubered.  We Uber quite a bit, and I love the service because we get to meet such interesting people. I say this because my last ride was not a typical ride.  As my husband is famous for saying, “I thought we were going to die in a fiery crash.” Our driver drove from New York to Houston to drive for the Super Bowl. So on the day of our exit (3 weeks later) he was still in Houston driving.  He liked to go 80 in a 60 in heavy traffic. I was working to not be scared. And as God does, he used this time to assure me (and keep us alive). His music selection was Reggae, specifically Great is Thy Faithfulness and Jesus Loves Me in Reggae. As I mouthed the words to the songs on the radio as God’s promise that if he can kill cancer, he can keep me alive in Houston rush hour with a New York cabbie, I was overcome with the emotions of gratitude in his provision for this time. (And traffic came to a screeching halt, I told the cabbie he may want to slow down because I just finished chemo and I might puke in his car -a slight but true exaggeration- and he found an alternate, slow back route to the airport.) 

And Great is thy Faithfulness has been running through my head ever since. Why? Because it is so true. God prepared us, me specifically, for this time.  In fact, he told me to get quite and still a couple of years ago.  Last January I felt like I needed to get in shape. At the time, I wasn’t sure why, buy my 40th year seemed like a good enough reason. He brought a special 20 something woman into my life who was just right to encourage me in this way & who had just met Jesus & was in love with him for all the right reasons. And I needed a reminder of what that puppy love looks like, because my love was getting stale and comfortable. Her passion inspires my heart every time we talk. So, I started an exercise class. I spent a good portion of three weeks panting on the floor while Jess, my instructor, encouraged me, and the rest of the class did their cute little moves.  After a few weeks, I started to keep up better & eventually learned to beat myself instead of focusing on how others were better at this than me. Then my opportunity to walk the Camino came.  I thought this was clearly why I was getting in shape. But after my Camino, I felt God saying something else was coming. And it did, the doctor visit, the MRI, THE PHONE CALL, the move to Houston, proton therapy, the people met, losing 15 pounds.  They all came, and they have all past, and every day I’m a little bit better.  I’m napping or resting hours a day, and walking through the book of Hebrews at a snails pace (which is the perfect pace to let it saturate my heart and mind). So it is a surreal experience to be home. I cannot do the busyness that has been my life for the last 15 years, so I am doing all the other things.  I am watching TV on the couch with my kid, and doing spelling homework. I can’t really eat much yet, so my mother and mother-in-law are keeping my family fed, and I am adding a new food a day (yesterday I ate a whole roll) to my stomach. 

Upon reentry I am still outside my life a bit, and I am thankful to be here because I feel like I can see better from here.  My 17 year old doesn’t need the mom who worked to make him better with self improvement speeches any more.  He needs an encourager who will speak life and hope over him as he test drives life.  It’s his turn to be the pilot.  He is going to have success and failure, just like to rest of us, and my job is to believe in him and to remind him that God’s plan for his life is too big to be imagined, so he should pray and obey. Pray for me that I will “know my role” and that my mouth will keep up with this new plan.

My daughter is a beautiful woman inside and out. Fourteen is not a child any more, it is WAY more grown up than I thought.  I keep reminding myself that girls this age used to get married and run households, successfully.  This particular kid could run a bank.  She took on a lot of responsibility in our absence, and she was trustworthy with a lot of freedom, so not taking that back because I can, and still setting appropriate moral limits is going to be a challenge for a couple of years. God is at work in this child, and I need more time listening in prayer and less time intervening.

The baby. Well, he’s just that, he’s 8. And spoiled.  And our work isn’t wrapping up like it is with the other two. It’s not time to let go.  It’s time to cultivate a person. He’s the youngest by a lot, and I have appeased him because it made my life easier than doing the work. So, we are doing the hard things (like cursive homework 😣😵😩). He is a comedian, and uses his wit to distract me. I’m beginning to think he’s the most like his dad & so dad can raise him! (Just kidding. I don’t want to miss any more time.) The trick is going to be living this life and still seeing things from the outside.

So much good has already come from this time away.  I was great at trying to make everyone happy that I got in the way or other relationships. Because we were gone, my kids have deeper relationships with all of their grandparents, more authentic.  They have also gained weight and loved eating home cooked meals (they will have to get over that.). Because we were gone, Cary and I love each other even more, I’m head over heals for Jesus again, and I know more of the Greatness of his Faithfulness.  Our story is nowhere near complete.  There is still more Faithfulness to be told, but I’m getting tired of writing, so you will have to get the rest of the story later.
Listen to Great is thy Faithfulness  https://youtu.be/v92I3GYL55g
Blessings!