Thursday, June 30, 2011
Fear has to be my least favorite emotion. It is what can keep me up at night tossing and turning. It can paralyze me and make me unable to respond the way I want to. It takes away peace and joy and threatens to damage my health.
It makes me feel weak in faith. It can even make me lash out at those I love.
Today was a good day because it was the first one in over a week that I felt its absence.
Must be why the Bible is full of verses giving us reasons not to fear. God knows we are prone to it. I am prone to it.
The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4)
Thinking about how nice it is to have peace.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
That’s why I think what happened last night is pretty remarkable.
Earlier in the week, on Wednesday night, Edd and I hightailed it to the ER, because he got very sick. Long (ever so long) story short, he had an intestinal blockage. The doctors didn’t know the reason. Because of previous surgeries he’s had it could be caused by any number of things. Adhesions. Scar tissue. More cancer. Chemo medication side effects. Change of diet … or a combination of these things. Days went by with no change… and he got sicker to the point where a tube was put through the nose to the stomach to remove fluid that kept piling up and making him sick.
After four days my hope was hanging on by a thread. He hadn’t eaten for five days. I went home to bed last night full of despair and dread not knowing how this was going to play out. I got down on my knees before crawling into bed and had little strength to mouth a prayer but muttered, “Please God”, and cried “Mercy”, and …. just bowed in silent submission… That was all I had left in me.
At 4 am I awakened. I felt peaceful, then remembering the situation, the reality, felt the same dread wash over me like a wave of the ocean. It was very real and very physical. I got up and pleaded more to God. It’s all I knew to do. I couldn’t go back to sleep. A little after 6 am I received a text from Edd saying the blockage was finally relieving. Finally his body was responding and beginning to work properly again. It was the miracle we could only hope for! We were amazed and thankful to God.. and expressed it verbally to one another over the phone. My body was profoundly physically relieved and I felt an enormous heavy weight lifted. I experienced an amazing … REST.
Later when Edd’s mom (who is visiting now) woke, I excitedly told her the good news and she expressed another event that occurred overnight. “I woke up at 4:30 and it was as if fireworks went off in front of me. I saw hundreds of little feathers flowing down from the sky, fluttering…. lots of little feathers… it was a very vivid experience”. My mother-in-law is a religious person, but very no-nonsense. I said perplexed… “you woke at 4:30? I woke abruptly at 4… What a ‘coincidence’.”
Edd said the change within him had occurred between 2 and 6 am.
If that wasn’t remarkable enough to me, I was even more convinced of Divine intervention when Edd revealed his own experience. Immediately after he realized the obstruction was removed, he cried out from his hospital bed, “Thank you God!” with intense earnestness. At that moment he felt a wind on the top of his head and a gentle brushing, a fluttering… There have been no breezes in this hospital room. There is no fan blowing air around. My husband is an engineer. He is not one to see things that aren’t there. He’s very analytical. He BELIEVES it was an affirmation of God at work and His presence.
I do too.
(This is a special and heart-felt THANK YOU to all those who are praying for us. You know who you are… and I am most appreciative.)
Hope is a wonderful thing.
Recently I read...."In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man's torments." ~Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, 1878
HOW WRONG!!!!!!! NO! NO! NO!
Being hopeful changes things!
I was listening to my XM radio yesterday and a program was on that I found facinating about optimism. The author being interviewed was highly intelligent and spoke clearly and understandably... always good for me. She wrote a book called Optimism Bias that sparked my interest. I don't even know if it's a good book yet, but I will be looking into it first chance I get because it has already changed my perspective.
“The science of optimism, once scorned as an intellectually suspect province of pep rallies and smiley faces, is opening a new window on the workings of human consciousness. What it shows could fuel a revolution in psychology, as the field comes to grips with accumulating evidence that our brains aren’t just stamped by the past. They are constantly being shaped by the future.” ~ Tali Sharot
She made the comment that realism isn't always very good for our health!
I am not one to deny what is and live in a fairy-tale world, but I do know that being positive is very important... Oh, how I have struggled with it lately.
But today. TODAY my hope is renewed!
And today began with good news for a change... Thanking GOD for that!
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Like Edd's cancer. If God could just tell me why... What is His purpose in it? Is He punishing us? Is He choosing us? Is it random? Is there something we are missing?
I have heard some so-called reasons and they do sometimes give comfort and a measure of satisfaction, but these answers are inadequate and incomplete and don't bring peace. They seem too simplistic and the truth is I don't know the plans God has...for me, for those I love, or for this world. Who can know the mind of God?
Yes, we learn the importance of living each day in a deliberate and grateful way. Yes we see the foolishness in sweating the small stuff. Yes, we focus more on things that really matter. Yes we think just a little deeper about what it means to love and be alive. But still. It's still not enough. It may be a by-product of all this but it doesn't answer my why questions.
He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-31)
My heart is breaking Lord and I am not sensing that you are binding up my wounds. I do not feel your rest.
Sometimes God is so very silent to me. I so want to trust Him in these hard times, but feel as if I am failing.
Monday, June 20, 2011
We really are blessed to have found each other. I mean, what were the chances? He lived in Lakeway (Austin). I lived in San Antonio an hour and a half away. I remember the first email I received from him. It said something like "Ouch. Your picture is very attractive. It hurts to look at you." I liked him from the start. It's especially nice to know now that he doesn't say things he doesn't mean. He's not one to just feed me a line, although that one instantly made me smile.
We almost lost touch forever because we both stopped writing for about a month thinking the other just wasn't interested and dropped out of contact on purpose. Out of the blue I got another email saying he was still interested and was trying to reach out again if I was available. Along with the email came an attached picture of him standing with his two sons. He had cute legs.... blue eyes.... and a nice smile.
We wrote to each other for two months before meeting in person. He invited me to meet him at a Dave Matthews Band concert but I declined. I think I was a little afraid to meet this nice man so quickly. That and our email relationship was so fun and supportive and friendly and sweet. I looked forward to getting emails from him and telling him about my day, my thoughts, my challenges.... and hearing about his. He just seemed to "get it" and we clicked... through email anyway. We knew there were sparks in our email relationship. But we were a little afraid of what meeting would do. Would there be a spark in person? Relationships are complex and chemistry is tricky. I knew we both had high expectations coupled with unspoken fears of being disappointed!
My divorce was final in July of that year and we finally agreed to meet for dinner the next month. We were writing so long (Edd's opinion) that he said he was beginning to get carpal tunnel syndrome and if I didn't agree to dinner he would come to San Antonio and start knocking on doors till he found mine. He said if I wanted to spare his knuckles I should agree to dinner! I did. It was a wonderful date with dinner and wine and great conversation. The next day I asked him if he thought there was a spark and he said, "Are you kidding? Sparks were coming out of my ears!" What a sweetie. We've been a couple ever since.
The next four years consisted of seeing one another every other weekend. Edd would drive down from Austin on a Friday night and stay the weekend in a hotel somewhere in San Antonio. Those Fridays were the highlight of my week! He stayed in nice hotels downtown on the Riverwalk and others throughout the city. He spent a lot of money and put in a lot of time and work and effort to come to see me. His visits were like clockwork. He said he knew if this relationship worked out all the effort, time driving back and forth, and money would be a small token and well worth it! It was....
He was, and is, a true-blue kind of guy. Steady. Loyal. Committed. A great planner. Present. Emotionally available. Protective. Everything I needed then... and everything I need now.
Today is our anniversary. We started the day off with an early- morning maintenance appointment with some workers knocking on our door. Edd said the four year anniversary is "windows and gutters" and I believed him. Who needs jewelry when there are (rather large) plants growing in your gutters?
It seems longer than four years though. We have been together for almost eight. From our first date Edd has been a fixed, stable, solid part of my life. He always put in many hours at work, but when we were together he put all of that aside to focus on us.
Being there and being available is one of the greatest gifts we can give to those we love. Jenni even recognized its importance in a beautiful card she gave to him recently expressing gratitude for "being around and being constant." Exactly.
It’s been a rocky road. Not smooth and care free. Living with cancer is not a detour we would have chosen. But it’s been a road we are bumping along together on. Sometimes the bumps throw us high in our seats as we continue the journey, but even if there isn’t an easier road to turn onto we will weather it together. The anniversary card I gave to him said that "a lot of things have changed since we got married, but you're still the man of my dreams. And you always will be." Truth.
Oh … and along with the window and gutter cleaning, he also gave me three pretty stackable rings that I had my eye on!
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Tomorrow is Father’s Day.
I'm blessed with a father who is a good man. The bad examples seem plentiful today but I have parents who have found a way to stick it out even when life gets hard and things aren't perfect.
I think one of the best things about my childhood is that it was normal. Not perfect, not rich, not poor. But I felt safe. And loved. Always loved. It truly has given me the ability to easily love in return.
My earliest memories of my dad involve visions of faithfulness. An early riser who always found ways to stay busy and productive. Laziness wasn't on exhibit in the home I grew up in. To me he seemed to always be digging something up in the yard, painting, working on the car, mowing, planting, chopping wood, building...fixing something…. then enjoying a sporting event on TV or taking a well-deserved nap. He is a man who showed me a good example of the value of hard work.
Some of my memories are vivid.
Like the one of him shoveling our long driveway after a snowstorm and sprinkling salt and sand so we wouldn't slip and get hurt, digging out the cars so he could leave for work even though school was called off and we all got to stay home.
Like when he and I went hunting for a Christmas tree one year and found a cedar in the woods and dragged it quite a distance home. After he put the lights on, we all decorated it like we did every year but boy did it smell wonderful!
Like how we would go to church every Sunday morning, stop for rolls and donuts (and the newspaper) on the way home and then eat bacon and egg sandwiches.
Like how I always felt safe as a little girl in the back seat of the car when my daddy was driving us home late at night after a visit to my grandparent's or aunt's house.
I am glad I had a faithful father who valued the right things in life because it made me want to value them too. My dad never wanted much "stuff" for himself. He always enjoyed the simple pleasures like a great cooked meal, wonderful dessert, family times with a beer, a fresh cup of coffee or nice glass of wine. A relaxing family vacation. He loved… and loves… my beautiful wonderful mom and has been married to her for over 50 years. I was always proud of him. I still am.
Jenni and her grandpa
I know life wasn't always easy either as he worked hard to provide for his family, but his example of faithfulness and hard work is an invaluable gift he has given to me... And I will always be grateful.
Me and my dad
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I’m so happy. It was just a really good day.
My wonderful husband went to see a movie with his son, Eric, and I was left to myself…. and I am never one to be wanting for something to do.
When we moved into our home here in Austin 2 1/2 years ago we had rooms to fill and decorate. I love making cozy-looking rooms that are comfortable for people to be in. One of my guest rooms was nice but the bed didn’t have a headboard. My own bedroom was using the queen–sized headboard for our king-sized bed. I looked high and low for a king-sized headboard that I liked, even looked at many ideas for making my own, but nothing seemed to work out just right. And I was NOT going to spend hundreds of dollars on one. Unfortunately that was the cost of those I really liked.
Today I went to a wonderful store in a nearby town that was filled with special furniture items. NICE furniture… and I was on a quest. And there it was. The headboard I envisioned. Simple. Quality wood. And only $99!
I bought it immediately… and it did the trick!
I took the queen-sized headboard from behind our king-sized bed and paired it with the footboard that has been stored in the garage and connected it to the guest room bed. Yay! Here it is!
We put the king-sized headboard with the king-sized bed! Perfect!
I love when things work out!!
I even got to spend time with Jenni and take some pictures around town. Really and truly… just a fun day!
I know. I look awful.. but it was as hot as $#@% outside !!
And… did I mention, it was a really good day?!
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
I still remember one particular night. We were going to sleep and he said, “Tomorrow I have a doctor’s appointment. A colonoscopy. I want you to listen real close to what the doctor says afterwards because I will be drowsy… oh and I want to tell you, I’ve had a little bit of blood the last couple of weeks.”
What? Really? I hadn’t known.
The next day we went for his appointment. Afterwards the doctor handed me pictures and didn’t offer any explanation. Yet. I was left to myself with Edd still unawake. I saw something in the photos taken that looked ugly. Looked disturbing … and I was alarmed. The doctor didn’t ease my fears.
That is how it all began. Almost 3 years ago. It’s been a rocky road and a mixed bag of terror, hope, relief, anger, trust, grief, and despair. We were ushered into the world of doctors, surgeries, endless appointments, specialists, procedures, decisions…. My faith has been tested and shaken and questioned and clung to. I’ve cried out to God as I have felt the life and hope drain out of me after hearing troubling news after troubling news.
And it’s changed me. It’s changed us. I still grieve what will never be. I’ve heard we need to grieve the past, leave it there, and move forward but I am still clinging to the “what could have beens” and “what should have beens”. I’m still in the midst of the storm and am trying to learn how to live there.
There are words I never would have heard had it not been for the cancer …. like….
I wouldn’t have missed being married to you for anything.
I know you say I’m not a burden, but I don’t want to abandon you.
Not many people get 10 years like we have.
You have half of my molecules. If you left me I would be ripped apart.
I would rather have cancer and you, than not have cancer and not have you.
I am going to break your heart. It's my only regret.
And words I seem to say every day.
How did I ever get so lucky to have you for my husband?
There’s just no one who could ever come close to you in my eyes.
The tears flow when I allow them to. They are always there. It just takes my thoughts a slight diversion and they come gushing out. I realized that this morning. I hold them in. I’ve gotten very good at that. I’ve thought that crying and thinking on what I miss is just not good for me. Focus on what IS. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Well, maybe that’s why I am so stressed. Maybe that is why my health and heart has suffered. Maybe that is why I find it hard to sleep. Maybe that is why my body hurts.
Edd and I talked this morning about the stresses of the past 3 months, no 6 months…
I realized he NEEDS to concentrate on these “get your affairs in order” type of issues. He NEEDS to know we are taken care of. He NEEDS to focus on these things. It is just how he shows his love. It’s how he’s made. When I expressed my need for HIM he said with tears in his eyes… “all I do is for you….” And I know it is… I feel it every day. But it doesn’t make me happy. It just breaks my heart.
BUT… my life, our life, is GOOD. Every day it is GOOD. It really is. I’m thankful. Very thankful.
"I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it." - Maya Angelou
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Seasons come. Seasons go. Right now we are in my least favorite season here in Texas. Especially when there is a drought. It’s just hot, hot, HOT every day without seemingly an end to it. I THRIVE in the cool crisp air that comes with autumn. My soul comes alive when the cool air finally swooshes through taking the hot, stuffy air of summer away with it to some far-off land.
But what if there wasn’t the brutal scorching heat of these summer days? Would the fall breezes be as welcoming? Would I delight as much if every day was a picture-perfect fresh assault to my senses?
I sometimes hear others say things like, “I can’t wait until the summer is over” or some version of “It will be nice when x, y, or z finally arrives.”
I understand it completely. I’ve said it myself countless times. But now I catch myself. I’m trying to hurry up time. I’m wanting it to speed along till the next better thing… But I really don’t want to hurry time along. I want to enjoy NOW. You see, there is a luxury in thinking you have all the time in the world. There is a luxury in complaining about today and not living in it…not being present… in thinking you have many, many bright tomorrows.
Looking forward to the future is a common human experience. It brings us hope, and its sidekick comfort, knowing things rarely stay the same forever. The winds of change come in and blow away the present hardship. And yet… when you love someone with an illness that may take them away from you … and you see a season ahead without them, NOW takes on a new meaning. Now becomes very personal…. and precious.
Surely the challenges we face in life, the times of crisis are what build our character. Our strength isn’t increased without the weights of life. Our stamina and endurance doesn’t grow without the treadmill and elliptical experiences. Depth of character doesn’t just happen all by itself without our permission.
We will all go through challenges, but what matters is how we deal with them when they come along. Obviously I am not the first person to express that truth.. but really… will we have learned anything? Can we use what we learned to help someone else? Has it made us more compassionate? Or generous? Less selfish? I have seen people become more beautiful with each pain they experience in life…. growing in strength, wisdom and beauty. And sadly, others who become full of resentment and bitterness.
Tree outside my bedroom window in the fall…
I often go kicking and screaming into challenges! Oh, God must not think me an easy student of life sometimes. But our times are in His hands. And TODAY is all any of us has.
One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon - instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today. ~Dale Carnegie
We steal if we touch tomorrow. It is God's. ~Henry Ward Beecher
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
We need to be angels for each other, to give each other strength and consolation. Because only when we fully realize that the cup of life is not only a cup of sorrow but also a cup of joy will we be able to drink it. ~ Henri Nouwen
I read this quote this morning and found it to be appropriate.
I can't even begin to express how much each and every comment has meant to me. The kindness shown, words of understanding, hope and encouragement. Promises of prayer. Thank you ALL so much. What a wise bunch you are. Looks like we are all learning together, huh?
My spirit is renewed by a special group who has given me reason to believe that this world is full of incredible people who are having a gentle and loving impact in their places on the planet.
Thank you for touching mine.
P.S. Jenni is the “real deal” and a wonderful woman. As beautiful on the inside as on the outside. I hope you continue reading her blog and blogging yourselves. You are a talented, creative, amazing bunch of people….
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
My block comes in the form of a large wad of feelings and emotions that cause regular life to pale in the enormity of dealing with Edd's cancer. Watching him every day knowing things will not get better. I am a hopeful person. It goes against everything within me to think his health will not ultimately improve apart from a miracle from God. It goes against the very way I live my life believing that things will get better and " this too shall pass." But this won't. And yet saying it aloud makes me feel like I am giving up. And that too is contrary to my way of seeing problems and challenges and feels so … wrong.
I ache as I see the man I fell so hard in love with. And I fell hard. I saw him so strong and large-and -in-charge in my world. He always made things better for me. I felt safe by his side. I felt loved and secure in his arms. I melted when his eyes met mine and he smiled at me and pulled me close. But I don’t always feel safe now and our dreams have been cut short. Our life together is not what we envisioned and I grieve it every day. The grief is unspoken but it is there. It touches me when I look over at him and see a man finding it hard to eat...yet trying to do all the right things. A man taking chemo and medications that destroy his strength as sure as they strive to destroy the cancer cells. But he is stronger than ever in spirit. His courage. His inner resolve. His loyalty. His strength of character. His unselfishness. It humbles me and brings me to my knees and breaks me. He still thinks of ME in the midst of it all. Wanting to know, striving to make SURE, I will be okay no matter what.
With Edd I got to rest for a while. After my divorce. After a lot of upheaval, confusion and failure. REST. That’s how I felt when we were together. I am so thankful for that period of rest. Rest. What a wonderful word. I’ll never think of him without remembering that time of rest.
What if we didn’t have tears? What if I couldn’t cry when my heart was breaking? What if I didn’t have that release of emotion? God knew how important it would be. For me. For this moment in time.
Thank you God.
I don’t like to be the person in need. I don’t like to be the one who doesn’t have the answers.
Maybe this is all too personal to write in my blog. Maybe I should just keep all this to myself. But it is me. It is HUMAN. It is what many before me and many after me will experience.
Some may express their experience with words. Some may stay silent. I find silence to be a form of even greater suffering. I may not shout all my feelings from the rooftop, but I can write some thoughts down and somehow that helps. Somehow it lets the feelings out and sets me just a little bit free. Maybe free enough to be creative and hopeful and strong for another day.
SAYING “I love you” isn’t as important as LIVING “I love you”. I see “I love you” LIVED in front of me every day. I want to live it too.