Thursday, March 31, 2011

"we also rejoice in our sufferings..."

I wrote yesterday's blog last night, then lost it, found it in a page of "drafts", could not get it to move onto the regular page...(I am so "computer-dumb") then it was nearly 12:00 so I went to bed then had a friend help me today and moved it over, with several mistakes on it...but I am glad I did not lose the thoughts on it.

This passage from Romans 5:3 has been on a scrap of paper waiting to be thought about. When I read a passage that touches me, I jot it down to be on this blog. As with many Bible words, it is hard and tough:"..we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope..."

Those of us with cancer live with hope and maybe we have that hope from the suffering? I went to art class tonight and we had a "party" partly because we are all together for the first time in several months. One of our class had her Mother to pass away and she has been out of town, so we really enjoyed being together.
"...we (are) the children of God"...
"...we (are) the children of God"...

All of us, no matter our age still act like children at times...I am still thinking of being with my great nephews yesterday. One of them showed me a picture of our of my sister's cats she used to have. The child asked where the cat is and I said she died a long time ago. He then asked "why did she die?" I told him because she got old and tired. Later I told my sister---"when I die, this child will ask if I got "old and tired?" This is just too funny. You have to know our family laughs at weird things. When Daddy died (in his sleep) on the night of Mama's funeral, we three sisters were sitting on the floor by his bed, waiting for the police to come and question us...we had had little or no sleep for days, and were so slap-happy, and grief-ridden, we sat there and told family jokes, and funny things everyone had done, and then we would cry then laugh. Then we spent three more days at the funeral home.

This was a rough time but we got through it with prayer and lots of happy memories, knowing neither would have been happy without the other!

Tonight in our Wednesday night lesson, going through the life of Jacob, we talked about how God disciplines His children, and how our parents did so for us. I remember how Mama would lay a switch on the mantel and I would see it and know I would eventually "get it" ...I was "hell-bent" it seems to get a switching!

I John 3:1 says "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" draft 3/30/11 by Bev Delete
Edit "...sing to the Lord..." draft 10/21/10 by Bev Delete

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"...filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit..." wonderful...Romans 15:13 "Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!" ("The Message")

Wonder what "green hope" is? I think it must be the hope that cancer is gone, the hope that all is well in the world..seeing flowers bud and trees bloom make me think of green hope. The joy of the seasons changing, joy of friends and family, sounds like green hope. I was at my sister's today and two of her grandsons (twins age 5) were there...they are so funny and they are either loving on each other or half killing each other. they will have a baby brother in august--another new member of the family. I said we are like rabbits! One of the boys has brown eyes, unlike anyone on that part of the family. With John and me, our children and grandchildren are brown eyed (14 of us)until the last two, and they are our first blue eyes in our side of the family. I am not counting the "in-laws". I was telling my great nephew our brown eyes come from my grandmother and that her grandmother was Cherokee..He was trying to figure out how many "greats" that was for him.

John had a basil cell cancer removed from his back today and we are so thankful it was only that. My skin "rash" is much better except now it is on my face! My finger nails are of course, non-existant, and my head is fuzzy. Still 2 weeks to go until CT..almost a daily count-down...don't know what to usual I hate to do nothing but also hate the chemo! But the rest has been so nice! I guess I feel like maybe I can do it again. A month ago I was not sure. I guess this is "green hope".

Monday, March 28, 2011

"He cares for those who trust in Him..."

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1
"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him... Nahum 1:7

I have never before found these two verses that are so similar, two of many verses that tell us God cares.

My friend Gene, is doing better with this chemo, but you know, none of it is easy. We have been friends for 20 years. Another friend, Bev who lives in Tennessee, has a recurrence of cancer. We have never met but write to each other. Then there is Sara, who has two little boys, then Kathryn who is also fighting this sudden onset disease. The longer I am in this, the more people who become friends and we share this battle.

When John and I were on this cruise, we took a ferry over to St. John, from St. Thomas. There on Caneel Bay, is a hotel and the water is so aqua, it does not look real. This area of the island was an old sugar mill, about 200 years ago. The island is covered with flowers, wild donkeys and deer. The old buildings (ruins) are everywhere, so picturesque. Everything is a riot of colors, with the blue skies, red and scarlet flowering trees, and the aqua ocean.

My friend Cathy Messecar wrote the devotional book that has just been published. It is "A Still Quiet Soul--embracing contentment" . Knowing God cares and that alone should bring contentment and also being free from this cancer would bring the ultimate contentment. I will get to see her when she speaks at Pepperdine University later this year. God is good and He brings us together and gives us friends who help us in life struggles.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"...I'm not afraid when you walk by my side..."

John's grandfather was a paint contractor--this was about 1900-1940 era and he did large jobs like major commercial buildings, large bridges, museum type homes. He even mixed up his own paint for jobs, to be sure it was pure paint.

My grandfather owned a paint business, with his brothers, from about 1911-1950 when my parents and uncle took it over, then later sold it about 1980. That was a real coincidence that our grandfathers knew each other.

John's grandfather was the one who had the big house and about 20 acres or more and gave each of his children an acre or two up and down the road so that all the family lived close. He had a rock wall built up the front of all the homes. When John and I built our "dream home" in 1980 we had some of that rock moved and built a wall there from the family "rocks". He also planted iris in front of that wall for about a half mile up the road.

I have rambling thoughts about family and how there is no one with answers about the older family. When you are the oldest left in your family there is no one left to "ask"! John is the only first cousin left in his generation on his Dad's side of the family. On his Mother's side, he has four cousins, but he is the oldest one left. I am the oldest one on both sides of my family...I think of more things I wish I had some one to ask about.

Another friend may have a tumor and is having an MRI this week. I am still feeling so normal and dread finding out what the PET will show in two weeks. My nails are nearly gone, and just have the beginnings of nails at the base of each one. I did not swim when we were at two beaches on the cruise. I just could not take my wig off and show my bald head! But the water sure did look inviting!

"God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. ..even when the way goes through Death Valley, I am not afraid when you walk by my side..." The Message, Psalm 23: part of verses 1-2-4

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"I will fear no evil..."

We flew home today after a wonderful week away, on a cruise...we love to take a trip when I am "off" chemo or feeling "Normal". My hair is about 1/2 inch long and fuzzy. I still could not go with out a wig but it feels a little better and not as cold at night. It is amazing how much heat you lose thru your head. I had always heard this but did not really believe it until I did without hair in the winter. This is the third time, but the only time going thru all winter. There was a rough storm and the plane really shook. I was praying all the way from Chattanooga to Nashville. We made it safely!

On the cruise, there was an interdenominational church service on Sunday morning led by the Catholic priest who also did the Catholic service that evening. First time for everything! He led us in a very good church service. He also led the singing.

The first group of islands was Grand Turk..a group of 8 islands. They look very Dutch, and houses painted vivid pastel colors, very much like Bermuda. They belong to England.

I have a friend, Cathy Messecar, who has written a devotional book whose theme is "contentment". I have told about this book, and I took this with me as a nightly devotional. I realized as I read this book how much of my early life was spent on "wants" and what I thought we "needed". Especially when John and I lived away from Nashville for two years, I was lonely. We only had one car, and I was stuck at home with two babies. I needed so many things, I thought. There was such a long time, for about 15 years, that I thought we were seriously deficient in "things we needed". Contentment as does happiness, I learned , comes from within and not from material things. Here we are nearly 50 years later, back to only one car!

We are so blessed to have our time to travel, and God is giving me more years for us to be together. I found out one of the new "greats" will be another girl, giving us four boys and five girls in the "great" generation.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.....I will fear no evil, for you are with me..." Psalm 23: part of verses 1 and prayer as we fly...and I feel safe!

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Be joyful in hope..."

"...patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

Psalm 16 which I quoted several days ago, has a sentence that is in a song..."Fill me with joy in your presence..." I love that song and that sentence.

Our older son attended and graduated from West Point Military Academy...and as he says..."it is a great place to be from"...they don't call the first summer there BEAST for nothing! Also, a plebe cannot come home for six months. It is so tough and I think about his leaving home at 17 (almost 18) flying to New York City, and finding his way to up state New York, and the courage it took to do this. He received a great educatin but he probably would not do it if he had it to do over. I am reminded of his and our heritage and our ancestors who were courageous.

Mama used to (when faced with struggles) say she had Great Grandmother Eliza in her heritage. This is the grandmother who killed chickens and fed the Union soldiers and they did not take any of her belongings or set fire to her house. Our grandaughter-in-law whose heritage is Pennsylvania might take offence to this but it was war! Also John's dad left home in Alabama (at age 17)to come here to work on the railroad, and while he was in training his mother died and they would not let him go home for the funeral!

The first (to this area) family from John's side, came to Alabama while it was Mississippi Territory and not even a state yet and built, farmed, had 10 children, and that took loads of courage. We thank God all our family on both sides were christians. So our son has this behind him and he as a young man had the same courage and faith. He let God lead him and guide him.

I am still enjoying being "normal" and pretending there is no cancer. I know God is able and there really might not be any in two weeks when I get the PET. In the meantime, John and I are going on a trip and I will journal on paper while we are gone and write my thoughts when we get back. It is a good time to travel while I feel good! I am truly "joyful in hope"!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid..."

Deuteronomy 31:6 , goes on to say "The Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you..." Some where I read how many times the Bible says "do not be afraid" mind is so chemo-dead, I cannot remember but it was a lot! Don't you love the confidence that should give us.

I keep running into or connecting or have a time to be with young women who are having trouble or have cancer, or are ill in some way. I love the fact that God has allowed me to live and be able to either console or share my life with anyone. I was with a young woman recently who has an autistic child and this was a time of sharing, even though our Johny was not autistic, still his special needs were part of our lives and I can identify and understand the emotional chaos this brings to a family. I went with her to a workshop for such and heard several young women who told of their struggles, and God's nearness. One used this verse (Deut. 31:6) and another used Phil. 4:13 and how these verses spoke to them. "I can do all things thru Him [God] who gives me strength" has meant so much to me over these years. My God did not cause my cancer, but He certainly can enable me to use this and give Him the glory as He allows me to live and share.

My friend Gene, has made it through two rounds of chemo and I pray he is doing better on this kind than the last one. I will have the CT in just a few weeks and see what my body is doing. Meantime, I love the feeling of freedom and not being on that routine. I love feeling like I am normal (even though a hundred times a day, a small voice whispers "wonder what the cancer is doing?") I just have to be strong and courageous!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"I will praise the Lord who counsels me..."

Psalm 16:7-8..."I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is my right hand, I will not be shaken."

We had an old, dear friend to die this week and attended his funeral tonight. This Psalm was one of the Bible passages read. He was a strong christian , he and John worked together, our children grew up together. His wife and I kept our babies in the Cry Room together for many years. Lots of memories and sad, yet his faith like this passage in the bible, makes for happy memories.

I went to the oncologist today and he asked if I wanted to stay off chemo another two months and I said yes...(I might be psychologically ready for another by then). I am almost feeling like I can't stand the thought but maybe by the middle of May, I will be ready. Meantime, I will have a PET/CT the middle of April and see just what is happening. That makes me nervous to find out how the cancer is doing without chemo for five months! Then I read this Bible verse that says, "He is my right hand...I will not be shaken". With God as my "right hand", I can be strong!

A young friend wanted me to tell again what John tells I am bone-y, bald, rash on my legs, no fingernails and he tells me I am beautiful and the sweetest thing in the world...that is true love!!!!! I blush with compliments because he sees me with eyes of love...thank God for that. (He also says I am a marvel because I have hung on with this cancer for 7 years)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life..."

I have had a hectic, tired some of the time, sick part of the time, anyway, what a week! since I have written in this blog. Last Wednesday, I was feeling like the "crud" that everyone has had, was hitting me. I immediately called the doctor and got a Z-Pak and started it that day. By Thursday night I was already feeling better. But Thursday, I could not stand all the rash, fingers, disaster going on and went to our dermatologist. He diagnosed me with an eczema due to low blood (white and red are both low) and that my body has no resistance, this was infected. He gave me a salve, body wash, and said I would be better in a week---I am already better! He also gave me a compounded med for my pitiful fingernails (said it would take nearly a year to be back normal for that). Why did I wait so long and suffer for weeks with that "rash"???I don't know, except that I get so tired going to doctors and just hated to go to one more....but I am so glad I did!

Friday and Saturday, coming home today, we went to Augusta, Georgia to see our son and daughter in law, two of our grandchildren and families. One of those families is our three greats (boys) who will have a sister this summer. What a crew! We have so much fun with them, and they are so loving, hugs, having adventures outdoors, just listening to their talking, seeing "who do they look like?" and being with family . I feel God has blessed me so tremendosly allowing me to live and be with our children.

Why do we worry? Because we are human? Jesus, in Matthew 6:25 says, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important that food, and the body more important than clothes?" This passage goes on to talk about lillies, and I was reminded of this as we drove "into spring going to Georgia and back to winter coming home" All the flowers were in bloom there and trees, (pear, tulip, redbud)blooming. I thought we were in spring then coming back home and few things coming out yet. Soon, we will...still no potatoes coming up but John checked them and they are just beginning to sprout! God is faithful...I am still excited and hopeful, seeing my oncologist this week and see what he has planed for me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Celebrate God everyday..."

We got our potatoes (all 8 hills) in the ground early like we were supposed to---well, tonight is the third huge rain storm, so they are probably rotting in the ground! So much for our gardening! But it can be re-done.

I had a heart echo test today and it was to see if the chemo did any damage, in the ending of that last terrible chemo. Thank God so much, my heart was fine. I wish I could say the same for the lingering sores on my legs, and of course my dead finger nails. The nails I think will grow back, but the rash does not seem to go away. I am really getting unbelievably stressed out over this.

The last thing I can think of that I used to do and really don't do any more, is ride bikes. I don't mean an occasional ride like I did last summer, but every day type long distance riding. I rode from our house (growing up) in to East Nashville, about 10 miles each way. I cannot believe my parents let me do that. But they did and it was fun and I made it ok. John and I used to take out bikes (good ones by that time--hybrids) to Florida with us and ride them all over, when we were there for a month. We and the grandchildren took bikes camping and that was a load---usually there would be7-8 or us and all that many bikes. Going back to when our children were young and I would load up the camper and put all 5 bikes on top, tie them down good, and pick up John after work on Fridays and we would be off to the parks. He was embarassed at our wild looking aray and asked me to pull up a block away from his work so maybe no one would recognize us!

Growing up, I would ride with feet on the pedals, hands off and lean way back and ride down hills like that. I never fell, what a blessing! I wondered as they grew up where our family got a little wild streak and maybe from me?

"Celebrate God everyday---Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns....It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." Philippians 4:6-8 the "Message"

I have not celebrated God enough, and have allowed these side effects to shape my days. I pray I will change my outlook.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Mostly what God does is love you..."

Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message..."Watch what God does and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant..."

Our "great" spent part of today with us al she eats breakfast with us on Sunday mornings...then because she was here all day with our daughter (her grandmother) she was back here part of this afternoon. She has such uncoditional love that reminds me of how we must be childlike with God and return His love in abandonment.

We hope to see more "greats" this weekend in another city. What a blessing to be able to have a relationship with our great grand children! What a blessing to be "friends" with our children, and grandchildren (all of whom are grown and married).

I remembered being in Spain and being caught up in a train strike, and we either had to get out of there that night or maybe "who knows when"... so we waited in the train station and when a train came we got on it headed for the French border. When we arrived at the border, everyone had to get off and onto the French train because the track guage changed at the border. We were acting like most Americans and waiting out turn and someone told us to push on or we would not get on--do not wait your turn!...So we acted like Europeans and pushed on, suitcases in hand, and stood in aisles half the night...but we got out in time. A beautiful Argentine girl befriended us and made some other move over because we had Eurail passes and we got seats. One woman did not want us to sit but this girl spoke several languages and told this woman to move and she did! We had several "guardian angels" on that trip.

We could not do all of that now and we are so thankful we did when we could! Now, If I can get rid of this cancer and keep traveling, what a wonderful thing that would be! But I thank God for each day and each relationship, family and friends.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"...Your faithfulness reaches to the skies..."

"I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. How great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies." Psalm 57:9-10

So many people ask how I am and I say, I am fine. They say would you tell us if you were not fine? I say, I might. Honestly, I do not hurt except for the raw sores on my legs which itch and hurt, especially when I GO CRAZY SCRATCHING. But there is no pain in my abdomen. Is there really a cancer there? I imagine there is not and the whole thing is a bad dream. Well, anyway, that is all the truth.

Back to what I used to do---I have always loved chickens and usually all my life played with them, helped catch them, gotten in the eggs, and used the empty chicken house as by play wonder I have these tiny black specks in my lungs (histo plasmosis). But also I have read that most people in middle Tennessee have this because of living in a "basin" that is full of birds. I have told about our experience with our first chicken house after we married and the chicken being killed. Years later, our daughter was in the Future Farmers at school and she had chickens as her farm project. We had about two dozen, and a rooster who was such a mean one and strutted all over the chicken yard all day and would try to attack with his spurs if you got near him. At night, when they were on the roost, I could go in and pet him and he would just "cuddle" and be so sweet, but he had to have his image in the day time! Well our neighbors hunting dogs got in the chicken yard and killed several and when we ran them out, the others were so traumatized, they could not even stand up. So we organized a line of tables and several of the family killed, got the feathers off, and cut up the chickens and put them all in our freezer. That meat was so tough, we could hardly eat it because (we found out later) they were so scared! So we have not had any more chickens. I will always miss them, having fresh eggs, fresh chickens, although we could not kill them now... that is not a favorite job!

We have been so blessed over the years with opportunities to do so many things,and to expose our children and grandchildren to so many experiences. God is so faithful! One of our "greats" spent some time here tonight and we have such fun, talking to her. She recently got to go to the Tennessee Museum and saw the SAME mummy cat and man there that we saw 60 years ago. Don't you love continuity! Thank you God for giving me life to be with our babies!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"...He is my mighty rock, my refuge..."

My back is broken out and my legs are "driving me crazy!" I pray for relief! I did not go to art tonight. I slept on the couch all evening, just tired for some reason. I did not walk today either. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Psalm 62 in verse 7 says " My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock and my refuge."

The most frightened I have ever been in my life was on a camping trip. I don't know why this came to mind tonight... John and I were at a park in Middle/east Tennessee and it was late fall, without the park being full. We went to take showers, he to one side and me to the other, and there were several young women in there, and they were whispering/giggling and they left, and I was in there alone. I got in my stall, which was two parts--a bench for clothes and the shower itself. I was under the water and just "got that feeling", looked under the door and saw boots tiptoeing across the floor. I left the water running, pulled on my jeans and sweater(over my wet skin) and started screaming "GET OUT-GET OUT". I stood up on the bench and could not see anyone so I opened the door and ran screaming all the way, into the men's bath house. John had not heard me, thought kids were hollering. I stayed in there and he went with me into the women's side to get my clothes on. The girls came up and I screamed at them that they had "set me up", which I have always believed they did. We pulled up our tent, drove to the ranger's house and reported what had happened. He said, people came into the park from all over and he had no way to know who or what, etc. We drove home and did not stay.

We did camp again, but I never took a shower without John standing outside the bathhouse door waiting for me. At home, I never take a shower without someone in the house, unless I absolutely have to. That was so traumatic, I can understand how a rape victim would never get over the trauma and horror. We have been all over the world and to think that the most horrific thing that ever happened to me was about 100 miles from home! God surely did protect me that night by giving me "that feeling" and giving me an escape.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"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 27:1-2

I think I am better one day then the next I look at my finger nails and wonder how they look to others when they look so horrible to me. I think the rash is better then the next day, I am sore and scratching like crazy! Oh well...

I used to water ski and swim. I loved to swim. Skiing on a smooth lake, early in the morning, is the nearest thing to man being able to fly! That was such fun and something I was not very good at, but I sure did enjoy it. I even did a slalom ski (one ski) until I fell really hard one time and decided to not do that ever again.

But swimming in lakes, rivers, streams, pools, you got it, I would swim in it. When we camped at Falls Creek, we would go to the "swimming hole" where the sign said "Do not swim--swim at your own risk", the place where everyone went. There was a very large rock under the water across from where you first went in the water. Getting old enough and able to swim to that rock was a highlight for each child and grandchild of ours. Also when you got to that rock you could climb to the rocks above that and jump or dive back in the water. We had so much fun in that swimming spot. One time there had been lots of rain and the water was very swift and deep and we would catch each other coming down the stream--ahead was a big drop off and I shudder thinking about that spot and how we did not miss anyone!!!

There is very little in life I have missed doing if I really wanted to do it..not necessarily anything that cost money but fun opportunities. I am thankful I can still do what we do...walk, swim some, bike ride a little, work in the yard and garden.. God is so good and I feel very thankful each day for strength and ability.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"It will be fair weather for the sky is red..."

John and I went to a meeting tonight and as we drove, the sunset was one of the glorious gold into purple/lavender and every shade of red...unbelievable colors and as an artist I always think "how can I match those colors?" Of course I cannot!...I am not that good and no one can match God's colors! At this gathering I met a man whose wife has /had cancer and her name is Molly, so another one to pray for. I heard from Gene and he is doing well on this chemo except for the nausea. I saw my doctor today and have another month "off" to heal. That was a rough chemo!!! The nurse said the protocol has been changed and they are lowering the dose and changing the time between giving the infusion, partly because I had such a bad reaction. It IS experimental and I AM a guinea pig. That is good and I am glad to help find a CURE!!!!!!! Any way, that gives me 3 months OFF and hopefully I will have healed enough my April to start another one. First of course, will be another CT and see what/if any/ healing this chemo did. Also, I have a friend, Janie, who has cancer and after not seeing her for 20 years, I now run into her every week. I think that is a message to pray!

Another thing I used to do was RUN. When I was growing up a neighbor said I ran every where I went. I did walk a lot growing school, over a mile each way, to friend's houses, to any where I wanted to go, either walk or ride bikes or stay home. When I had children I used to run each day, to stay in shape. I ran a few short "marathons", nothing like the 26 mile ones that my sister did. We hiked when camping, and ran races with our children. One time we were at Fall Creek Falls Park and John(about age 41) and our oldest son (about age 15) raced each other UP the steps from the bottom of the falls. They could have died doing that! Our son won, but not a great deal. Now we do not run, but I still walk some.

Well the colors tonight reminded us of Jesus in Matthew 16:2-3 saying "When evening comes, you say 'it will be fair weather, for the sky is red' and in the morning, 'today will be stormy for the sky is red'...". There is an old farmer's saying, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight, red sky in morning, sailors take warning"... Some things are always constant.