GOD'S HAND

     “You mean the hair falling out kind of chemo?” I edged the seat across from the oncologist as my husband, Sam, gripped my hand in the chair next to me.

        Eighteen years ago this month we sat in  Dr. A’s office and heard the words of my greatest fear.  “We think you have cancer.”

     At the time I was a 40 year-old mother of three beautiful girls ages 14, 10 and almost 2. 

     Four months prior to this appointment we had learned I was pregnant with our fourth child. Though unexpected we grew to anticipate the newest member of our family with great joy. 

     After experiencing migraines and unusual symptoms during this pregnancy my ob/gyn took more blood tests and ascertained a problem. He was concerned enough to send us to Dr. A.                

     “Less than 1% of the population are diagnosed with choriocarcinoma. A cancer of the lining in your uterus.” When Dr. A left the room, Sam and I held each other and cried. 

     How was this possible? I was young, healthy and busy wife, mom and sometimes counselor. 

     The series of tests that followed were intense and painful. 

     My arms were bruised from needles and a pic line that had been inserted for the chemotherapy. The pic is a wire that they run from an opening in your arm to get the medicine in without damaging the veins from constant probing. As painful as the physical injustices on my body, there was no comparison to the raw emotions of loss. Grief hit me like a tsunami. Loss of my dreams for another child,  my health, and our newest little blessing. It seemed an impossible situation to endure. 

     Things became graver still when an MRI revealed that the systemic disease had traveled from my uterus to my liver. Three spots specified tumors had started growing. 

     In spite of the danger to my life I could not shake the doubt that our baby may be alive. If that was true, could we try and save her by holding off on the necessary chemotherapy that would save me but, most assuredly harm a fetus?

     Time flew by as Dr. A’s office scheduled me for a D&E. The same procedure used for abortions. We were told that the condition in my uterus had so softened the lining it could be dangerous for me to wait. 

     A dilation and extraction was not an option for me. 

     As a Crisis Pregnancy Counselor I knew unborn babies were often referred to as “tissue.” Now, we were told, this baby was a lump of tissue?

     A registered letter arrived at our door threatening me with the possibility of death if I failed to follow the perinatal doctor’s orders. Finally, he agreed to give me an ultrasound so I could see there was no living child.  

     The ultrasound picture delivered the final blow instead of the typical outline of a baby mine showed a fuzzy mass.

     That night I dreamt of a baby’s coffin and the reality of what we were dealing with sank in.  In 16 weeks we’d gone from  the joy of expecting a child to a scary cancerous situation

    About eight weeks into the stringent rounds of medicine, my hair began to fall out. We struggled with the knowledge that we were dealing with a deadly disease and there was no guarantee I’d make it. 

     My husband coped by researching the disease and I spent as much time as I could with our sweet girls. 

     In need of hope I traveled to a nearby city to attend a conference where prophetic prayer was available.

     I remember laying on the chairs nauseous and weak as I waited for the team to pray for me. I was the last person in the room when it was my turn.

     Without explaining my situation, the first woman stood in front of me and said my full name. Then she said, “The Lord says, ‘I know your name.’”  I won’t ever forget those precious saints who told me the cancer would be gone in three months.

     Encouraged, I played the taped prayer at home for my husband. We stood on that word. And, three months to the day of my diagnosis, I was declared cancer free. 

     What a miracle! After my first test results came back we were told instead of an expected 10% drop of the cancer marker there was an incredible 98% drop! We often share our story to those who are going through difficult times.

     As wonderful as the miracle of the healing had been a greater change had occurred in me. I would not ask to go through cancer. However, I no longer judge those who have faced a similar situation. 

     It’s not for me to judge whether a woman makes a choice to have an abortion.  And, though I am thankful that I didn’t have to choose between my life and my own child’s,  I have compassion for those who do.  

     

See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
— Isaiah 49:16 NIV

DIAMONDS IN WINTER

“ALLOW GOD TO USE THE DIFFICULTIES AND DISAPPOINTMENTS IN LIFE AS POLISH TO TRANSFORM YOUR FAITH INTO A GLISTENING DIAMOND THAT TAKES IN AND REFLECTS HIS LOVE.”

ELIZABETH GEORGE

Rays of sunlight turned the icicles hanging from a tree into a sparkling jewel against the creek’s green froth. The frozen tree tips had turned an average outing into an illustration of God’s steps to make me sparkle. Hadn’t I asked him enough times to make me a shining example of his love?

The fanciful sight may have been hidden to me had I not been picking my way through the icy side of the waterway as I walked our golden/rottie mix on a break from being indoors that day.

The slush covered dirt pathway made it tricky to traverse the narrow path of the Monocacy Trail.

But, warmer temps and blue skies were too much of a draw for me to venture out with our housebound pet. Had I not stopped to look more closely at the natural wonder, I would have missed out on the pristine picture right by my side.

Winter Seasons are times when we see little movement in our heart’s desires or our unanswered prayers. They can be times of great temptation to be discouraged, depressed or lethargic in doing what we know is right.

Some of the questions I have asked during my winter time are “where are you God?” “What did I do wrong?” and “Please make it stop.”

The last statement may sound exaggerated, but, as I’ve been in that time of seeing little fruit for the hard work of my labor, it has not been fun.

So, these clear crystals hung swaying just above the turbulent white ripples of the high waters in our creek. These nature’s gems stood out to me in the size of the orbs first of all. They must have been hanging out there for some time forming layer after layer of water build-up to produce the golfball sized orbs.

And, then when the wind caught them in a spinning dance, how the light sparkled off of them. They appeared to be diamonds.

The illustration reminds me that even when the landscape of my life seems to bear no fruit or, the work of my hands appear to be for nothing. All of the hardship I’ve experienced during this time like the turbulent waters, freezing winds and harsh elements are actually forming a cluster of treasures. I only needed to open my eyes to see.

MAKING A POSITIVE MARK ON THE WORLD

“When can we eeeaaatt?” “What’s for dinner?” “I’m so hungry!” “I don’t like that food…”

When my kids were little, they didn’t always care for the dinner I chose to prepare. Five different individuals with five unique tastes can be an interesting challenge to overcome.

After what seemed to be endless complaining, my solution to the problem came by deciding to teach them that whining would not produce the change they desired.

“Mommy can’t hear whining.” I would tell them. 

Young children often need a repeat of the lesson you try to teach them. 

“We’re not whining!” 

“Oh, but, you are.” I would say as I worked on dinner. “One or two times is a request, repeated times turn it into a whine.”

My point is that complainers never win. Whether it be about dinner, a new toy or their bedtime. Or anything else in life. 

We often set goals and work hard towards them until we reach a setback or obstacle in our plan. 

Circumstances change. Life often doesn’t go as planned. We can either allow the setbacks to be motivators in our lives to continue towards our life goals, seek counsel on making necessary changes or stop us in our tracks.

One surefire way of stopping progress is by getting caught up in the negative and allowing it to control our minds and our mouths. This in turn bleeds into our actions. 

Sometimes just choosing to focus on the positive or positive thinking is not enough. Sometimes we need to take a long look at our routine to see what we’ve allowed to creep into our life to bring on the downward spiral of complaining.

Are we hanging around with negative people? That includes the news, social media and even co-workers. Research has shown that negativity from complaining can actually change the healthy function of our brains.

Are we looking at the current administration and blaming the shape of the current economy, world events, and hate mongering on the political system of the day?

It’s tempting to look at the shape of the world and cast stones at the other person, system, or organization to rationalize our setbacks. But, in reality the only person who can choose the outcome of our lives is ourselves.

Some effective measures to end the destructive cycle of complaining~

  1. Go to God with your heart issues, worries, complaints. If anyone can help you it’s the King of the universe.
  2. Ask him to show you scripture which deals with the problems you are facing. Then look for verses in the bible that deal with that topic.
  3. When your problems become overwhelming go back to these verses and read them, think about them, speak them out loud. 
  4. Make a list of the things you are grateful for and focus on these things. 
  5. Do what is in your power to do. Continue to grow and learn new ways to use your gifts and talents. Then trust God to perform the rest. 
  6. Praise and worship God for being good even when life is not. 
  7. Sing and laugh. A lot! 

When we apply these steps liberally our mark can be remarkable.