Finding Joy in Him

Through Every Season

Tag: Faith and Breast Cancer (page 1 of 4)

My Family Quilt Story: God’s Story

I started my family quilt 12 years ago when a friend of mine lost her husband to colon cancer.  He was 36 years old, in the military and had a 1 and 3 year old son. 

I had prayed, “God how should I pray for healing here on earth or that he’d quickly go to Heaven?”  I’d heard very clearly, “Pray for healing.”  One night while interceding on the floor beside my bed, I had a vision of Jesus interceding beside me.  The sicker he became the closer we believed he was to healing.. when he died we prayed for resurrection. 

Days passed and I prayed, “What happened?”  And God answered that it was my job to pray; His to answer; sometimes the answer would be no.  And I learned that He was God and I was not. 

In the trauma of it all, I decided to make a quilt of my family so they would live “forever” in a quilt.  As I worked on the quilt, I prayed for help as I do for everything.  I was shocked when I felt His presence helping and guiding me especially with the drawings of my family, which are far above my abilities, because in my heart, I knew I was rebelling against God’s omnipotence and wisdom.

As I made the quilt, I understood what some of it meant.  I knew the tree trunk was Abba God’s hand at work in the midst of everything.. holding everything together with strength and majesty; the dove was Holy Spirit moving across the earth in power.  I knew, of course, that Jesus had James in his arms.  James has aspergers and being both mom and teacher to him I often worried about him not fitting into the mold, not learning how to read until he was 13 etc., but the Lord continually gave me dreams showing me that He was taking care of James and not to push him. 

Most of the time I was too fearful to ask the Lord what the rest of the quilt meant.  I was afraid that James being in Jesus’ arms might mean that he was going to die, but one day while working on the border, I felt prompted to ask what all the blues meant.  He answered me that they were days; some light and happy and others dark, but that He would be with me through them all.

I started this quilt in the summer of 2000, but I didn’t finish it until the spring before Joel went home.  Homeschooling 4 kids didn’t leave a lot of time for quilting.  I think I finished the middle part the first year, but then moves came, algebra, team sports etc.; months and sometimes years passed without a stitch. 

Josh, Judi and Joel on piano in front of crazy quilt.

Then we were moving again, and I decided that I was going to finish the quilt.  It had been so long since I’d started that I decided to stretch Judi out to make her taller, then I finished the quilt with a crazy quilt border and hung it in our house in Montgomery.. but I didn’t like it.

We moved again to Huntsville this time and when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2011, I decided to take the border apart and start over with a different design.  One of the ways I deal with grief is by being creative.  The Creator creating through me helps bring healing.

Then finally, I was finishing the quit a second time and I wanted to add our new puppy to my quilt, but Joel said, “No, it should be like a frozen piece of time.”  So I finished the quilt without adding her in and hung it in our music room… which was in a way Joel’s room.  He almost never slept in his bed and only used the room he shared with Josh as a closet.

One day, while I was visiting Joel in his room with the quilt and admiring it, Joel said, “It looks like a stain glass window.”  He liked the idea, but I had a problem with the thought that it might be memorializing my family.  I didn’t want anyone to think that I put my family above God.. because I so didn’t.  I actually agonized over leaving it up and thought about taking it down many times.

Joel and Josh in “Joel’s” room.  Now named the music room in Joel’s honor.

So knowing full well that the quilt pattern I’d used for the new border was called “cathedral window,” I argued weakly that we weren’t apart of the stain glass window .. it was a clear window bordered in stained glass, and we were outside enjoying God’s creation.. picnicking or something.  He looked at me like, “Yeah, right.”

On the Wednesday after Joel had been murdered, a friend from Birmingham brought us dinner, and my mother showed her the quilt, and I saw.. for the first time more meaning in it.  I saw that Joel was the one up above all of us in God’s hand, that God knew all along that the number of Joel’s days would be short and that we would be left here on earth with Jesus in our midst.

The meaning of Joel’s names: Joel “God is Sovereign,” and Manuel “God is with us” were demonstrated in my quilt.  We don’t live in a crazy quilt world.. a world bordered in chaos.  We live in a cathedral window world.  A world designed by God with beauty and purpose.  A world were God works everything together for our good.

James is still in Jesus’ arms looking up at Joel.. seeing clearly that he is in God’s hands.  Josh is leaning on Jesus fishing.. for men.. for answers.. for cures for the earth’s woes.. for wisdom and direction.  Judi looks like she’s in a dream world chasing bunny trails.. but the angels (our rabbit, Angel, died of breast cancer at 10 years old shortly after we moved here) are close beside her.  Mike is finding refuge in worshiping while leaning on our ROCK, as am I.. as I search, study and meditate on His word and as I record what He is teaching me.

In these dark days, the one thing that gives me the light of hope is remembering the instructions God gave me early in this grief journey .. to think of Joel as having pushed a head of us in the race.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says
“Seeing that we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

It’s fun to think of running a race with Joel, and of course, he would push ahead of me and win, but maybe one day, in Heaven, I’ll get a re-match.  It encourages me to think of Joel up in that great cloud of witnesses cheering all of us on and I look forward to meeting him again one day at the finish line as I keep persevering in this race while keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus.

I struggle daily with either wanting to re-write Joel back into the story God is writing so skillfully.. or begging God to bring me to the end of my story where my suffering ends, every tear will be wiped away and I will hold Joel in my arms again.

I am working intentionally on my grief; asking God for right thoughts to replace my deep longings.  I work purposely and methodically at turning my thoughts to asking for strength and wisdom to live each day for His glory.

Psalm 139:16 says “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

This weekend the Lord showed me through this verse that not only was the December 7th marked out for Joel to lay down his life for his friends at the birthday party .. but today and however many days there are left until I see Him were laid out for me to continue living with His help for His glory.  Joel’s story was written on mine before I was formed in my mother’s womb.

The following verse (verse 17) is embroidered on my quilt:

“How precious it is, Lord, to recognize that You are thinking about me constantly.”

Glory to God, Who’s ways and wisdom are far above ours and Who thinks about us constantly!

I Peter 4:12-13
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

Love,

Jenny



Instructions in the Night Seasons

I’ve had a difficult time expressing how I am doing lately.  Words won’t come.. only tears.. To keep my head from exploding, I journal.. sometimes hours a day.  Here is my most recent entry:

Sunday March 17th.. 

Last week, three months since Joel went home, I was struggling with the fact that murder had entered my “world;” that the evil of this world had been allowed to take my son away from me and I am still here.

Me with my new car.  So blessed.  We (our family) bought 6 cars in 2011.  Long story.

I am having a difficult time wrapping my brain around living in such luxury and comfort as our daily American lives allow; living in such a dichotomy of good and evil.  How do the two co-exist?  Pain and comfort.  Sorrow and joy.  Good and evil. 

Sometimes, I forget how to breathe.

In the midst of my anguish over losing Joel, I’ve been able to see God’s mercy.  I am thankful that He protected us from loosing three of our children that night.  Thankful that he allowed Josh to be a witness (he’s glad he was there).. while protecting the rest of our eyes from such horror… especially Judi’s.

This week I’ve struggled with the truth of God’s Word.  I know His Word is true and His promises are “Yes, and Amen in Jesus” just like I know that His salvation is eternal.. not just until the next time I sin.  He died for all my sins: past, present and future.  They were all future when He died for me.  This knowledge frees me from the bondage of condemnation; frees me to live free from the power of sin.  I’ve lived by it most of my life.

I am fully trusting in His forgiveness and salvation.. But promises?  I want to stand.. but I don’t know where or how anymore.  Promises of healing?  Many never receive until Heaven.  Promises of a hope and a future?  Are those for in Heaven too? 

Romans 11:33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!

I am afraid even to write/think these words.. they are so selfish.. so many suffer so much all over the world.  Please, Lord, forgive me.  I say this with fear and humility.  Where is Joel’s protection from harm?  His hope and future.. but in Heaven? 

Do I dare to hope again that Your promises will be true.. here.. for anyone else?  Thank You, Lord, for the promise of Heaven… where You will wipe away all our tears and death will die.  I look forward to the day when You will put Jesus’ last enemy under His feet.  

Joel so proud of his first car.  Proud to be learning how to drive stick.

All the boys cars in the drive way.  Mom’s and Dad’s in the garage.

I understood that one day a car accident might take one of my children.. 16 months before Joel went home, He walked away from an accent where a large truck t-boned the car he’d owned only 10 days.  The shock almost killed me.  For weeks, I couldn’t speak of it.  But murder.. a gun?  I’ve lost all sense of security.

Joel the day after his wreck.  I was so glad he was alive.  No one could believe he walked away.  He said he was sore; felt like he’d been playing football. 

A thought I couldn’t allow myself to think last week was of the possibility that a trial could make Joel’s murder appear as just another tragedy; only bring attention to the evil in this world; actually glorify the devil.  Isn’t that what most murders do?  I so want God to be glorified in his death as He was in his life.  What can I do but trust God?  I obviously can not control what does or doesn’t happen in this world.

Joel was captivated by storms; displays of God’s awesome power.
He took these photos.  Spring of 2011.

The sad thought that did run from the bitterness of my soul over and over through my heart and mind all last week was, “I don’t want to live here.  I don’t want to live in such an evil world.”  It was my way of praying, “Father, if there is any other way.. let this cup pass from me.”

Toward the end of the week, I began praying that God would help me to submit and humbly accept and live where He has placed me.  

I am coming out of the shock and disbelief.
Moving into a wilderness of temptation.
Temptation to give up the good fight. 

Praying for humility and grace. 
Committing my heart..
To trust in God.

Standing firm in the belief of His goodness; 
Of His good heart towards me..
Towards Joel.

Dwelling in the land.. 
This wilderness of pain and suffering.
This evil world.

Feeding on His faithfulness.. 
While afraid.. confused.. 
Desperately lost.

Not knowing which of His promises are for me.
Are for here.. 
For now.

Which are left.. 
Safe to stand on 
When so many seem to have crumbled beneath my feet.  

My hope is found in Christ alone.

Psalm 37:3  Trust in the LORD and do good. Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.

Up until July of last year, I had been faithfully fighting/believing for my complete healing from my surgeries and other ailments.  I grew weary of holding out for healing.. of praying.. 18 months of asking/believing intensely and specifically about the breast cancer.. years for other stuff.

I finally came to the point of “God heal me if and when you want to.  I have asked enough.  I have to move onto other things.” Praying that prayer freed me to receive the emotional healing I didn’t realize I needed.  The emotional healing I so very much needed in preparation for Joel’s death.  Now I need so much more.  

My heart is broken.. crushed.  
Numbness wearing off.. 

Coming to the end of one survival mode 
Moving into another..  
I am just beginning to feel the pain and loss.  

Resting in “It’s God’s plan.. not mine.” 
His timing.. there is no rushing through the trial.  
I have to let it do it’s work in me.  

It’s His strength that will carry me through.  
He will complete the good work in me.  

I will do the good works He’s laid out for me 
As He enables me to do them.  

Right now my work is to trust and believe.. 
To seek His face..  
To worship.. 

To allow Him to work in me.. 
To obey as He leads.. 
To do what I see the Father doing.

The Lord spoke to me from Philippians 2:14 early this morning:
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” 

With instructions to, “Try to learn to be content.”  

I was so glad to hear His voice that I didn’t mind at all that He was asking me to be content.. content to live in a world where my dearly beloved son, Joel, was allowed to be murdered; in this world of terrible evil and great blessing.

James 1:2-6  Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.   Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. 

It’s something I believe I can learn.. mostly because He asked.. and I know He enables us to do the things He asks of us.  I am so thankful for His instructions.  I am counting on Him for them.. for a way out of this vast, dark wilderness… for something to stand on.

Psalm 16:7  I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel. Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.

I have a long journey ahead.  I am taking my journey one step at a time as the Lord gives me strength; feeding on and trusting in His faithfulness to love and carry me through.

 I am sharing it so honestly here partly for selfish reasons: for in the
past, it has freed me to keep moving forward in my journey… to
receive much needed healing, but I hope that it some how ministers to you, also.

Thank you for your prayers; especially for strength and God’s glory.

Preparations of My Heart for Change

I’ve been so afraid to go back and re-read my last two “Faith and Breast Cancer” posts. I couldn’t remember what I wrote. I remembered only all the pain and frustration I was feeling and how I so wanted to move forward.   
Writing journaling, posting so helps me to move forward. If I couldn’t write, I would go crazy. Thank you for being listening ears.  
The day of those post was a turning point for me. I stopped fighting the post mastectomy pain and accepted it. I returned to having regular prayer, seeking, waiting, worshiping times. I found peace and contentment, which was what I wanted. I was lost and didn’t know if I should be fighting/believing for more healing or resting content in what I had. Is it possible to do both? I think maybe I am now. ?? 

The Lord was speaking to Mike and I at that time about a “change” on the horizon. We were both seeking God about what we needed to do to prepare for the “change.” In the past, when there was a change on the horizon it’s meant a move or a new addition to the family. Mike started praying about preparing for early retirement and a new career.  I prayed about a career of my own and about adding to the family through adoption. We’ve both had a heart for orphans. I read and prayed and learned a lot about adoption. I am still praying.  
The sense about the “change” became so urgent I finally prayed, “God what do I need to do to prepare for the change?” He answered that I needed to meditate and worship. I thought, “Oh, that’s easy.” I was so glad that I was off the hook.. that the “change” was in His hands.
In August, I started feeling like I needed to go to a woman’s retreat of some kind. I had a schedule conflict with the one at our church. Finally, I decided that if I didn’t go to the Ramp’s Women’s Retreat that I would wish I had, so I bought two tickets.  
The week before the retreat, it came to my attention that there were still things in my heart between me and God, and I started to panic. Nothing stays hidden at the Ramp. The presence of Holy Spirit is unmistakeable and very strong. I knew had to deal with my heart before Judi and I went, or risk crying publicly (possibly loudly) when my heart was undone in His presence, so I started praying and fasting. 🙂
The day before the retreat, the Lord showed me a hurt I had buried deep down while seeing doctors about my breast cancer. For me, having the mammograms done weren’t that bad. The biopsies, consulting with the first doctor alone.. all that was hard but not horrible. 
Mike was with me the day one doctor told us with very strong words that we absolutely should not do the thing we had prayed about and really wanted to do. We eventually decided that God led us to him and took most of his advice.  
The day of the surgery I had amazing peace.. peace like I’ve never felt before in my life. One of the nurses was kinda freaked out over my corn allergy and upset the doctor who yelled at me as I lay waiting for sedation.. still not too bad.  
The very hardest thing for me was my first appointment at the plastic surgeon’s office. He had an emergency surgery and could not come in that day so we met with his assistant instead. She was very kind, very professional, told me that with my body shape I could choose any surgery I wanted, and answered all our questions. All was good until she told me that the insurance required that she take pictures of me basically naked.  
She took me into a private room with a curtain, took a front pose, and poses from both sides. All I could think was, “Who in the world would require a thing like that? Who is going to develop these photos? Who will see them in my file? Who at the insurance offices will see them?” I stood there ashamed, gritted my teeth and bared/beared it. It was awful.  
The Lord spoke to me that He wanted to heal my wounded heart; that He bore shame on the cross for me. Later that day, I received a long fb message from my Thai daughter, Savannah, who was hurting. I was so blessed to be able to share with her what the Lord was doing in my heart and pray for healing in hers as well.  
Now and then I will get a vision of the Lord that will stick with me until I get a new one. Sometimes I’ll have the same one for years. At the Ramp’s Women’s Retreat the Lord gave me a vision of His nakedness on the cross. I cried silent tears. It so blessed me as He continued to minister to my heart, but I prayed, “Lord, I hope you will give me a new vision quick.”  🙂
The Lord also added playing my little harp to my list of things to do to prepare for the “change” and impressed on me that I wasn’t only off the hook for directing the “change,” but I had to actually prepare. I hadn’t played my harp very much since the surgery. The tuning pegs are very difficult to turn, it has to be tuned daily, and the turning motion post mastectomy quite honestly was painful, but a little better.  
The Lord gave me four new songs in the next couple of weeks. One song was based on the main message from the retreat, “His strength is made perfect in our weakness.” I so enjoyed the preparation, the time of worship and meditating on my “Confessions of Praise” daily.  
And it so helped me. The morning after we lost Joel. I got up, in shock, couldn’t think, stood in my kitchen and was at a loss for what to do. Just the morning before, Joel had been there visiting with me while I finished polishing up three songs on my harp. Then I knew what to do, “Pray, meditate, play my little harp.”

Brown Paper Packages at the Foot of the Cross

Hello, beautiful, innocent blog.  So much has happened since we last met.  I have so much to tell you… good and healing and terrible and heart breaking.  I plan to do some backward blogging; to tell you about some recent trips, and my bedroom makeover, a whole house re-arange, and about some wonderful things God has done in my heart.

But first, I have to tell you the most unbelievable, awful news.  We lost our most precious, youngest son, Joel Manuel Coleman.  On December 7th of 2012,  our twenty year old son, was murdered at a birthday party.  He and Joshua took an Apples to Apples game to enjoy a bonfire that ended in a terrible gunfire that instantly took my baby boy home to be with Jesus.

God has really given us so much comfort, so much joy in our suffering.  Right this minute as I type I am listening to IHOP streaming live as I often do and they are singing/praying “God of hope, arise, anchor their soul, give them hope that doesn’t disappoint.”  http://www.ihopkc.org/prayerroom/

This morning I am mourning my losses.. laying them at Jesus feet.  It helps so much to take inventory.  Counting my losses, recording them, leaving them, frees me to count my blessings.

I had a vision once of all my sorrows at the foot of the cross wrapped in brown paper packages and tied up with string like in the song from The Sound of Music, “My Favorite Things.”  What I didn’t understand was that one of “My Favorite Things” would become my sorrows wrapped in “Brown paper packages tied up with string.”  It’s as if Holy Spirit graciously takes my sorrows and wraps them up tight so that it’s easier for me to leave them there at Jesus’ feet.  What had seemed so loosely laid there, so easily picked up again is now neatly and tightly packaged, safe at His feet.

“When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad”

“He restores.  He makes all things new.  Everything beautiful.  He’s just in time.  He’ll be strong in your weakness.  He will restore your song.  He will restore your soul.  He is there even when you can not feel Him, you can not hear Him.  I’ll take your ashes and turn them beauty.  I’ll make all things beautiful just in time.  I am your strength.  I am your beauty.  I am your life.  I am your life.  Come to me.  Come to me.”  on IHOP now..

Each morning since Joel was taken from us, I wake up to the awful reality that he is gone, that I have loss so much, and I weep.  It’s as if while I sleep, I forget and all is at peace, but when I awake, I have to face the reality all over again.

After facing the awful reality each morning, I purposefully to turn my thoughts to the reality of the goodness of God in the midst of my suffering.. as I am now.

Many days it has been this song by Jesus Culture that has given me strength to face the day:

One Thing Remains

Higher than the mountains that I face

Stronger than the power of the grave

Constant through the trial and the change

One thing remains

One thing remains

Your love never fails 

It never gives up 
It never runs out on me
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains
In death and in life
I’m confident and covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid there’s nothing that can separate 
My heart from Your great love




Today, God gave me the extra grace I needed to take inventory of many of my recent losses: losses through moves, of friends, of a sense of security, of a sense of home; losses in health due to my corn allergy and breast cancer, losses of rest and freedom from pain.

And now of this huge loss of our precious son, Joel, losses of innocence, of untainted joy, loss of a friend, a brother, an encourager, a joy, laughter, a confidant, a protector, a companion, a fellow worshiper and prayer warrior, of so much of who we were as family of six.

Writing them all down is part of wrapping them in the brown paper packages of Holy Spirit all tied up with string, part of why I try to write so openly and honestly here on this blog.  The truth sets me free.. free indeed.
 
I am laying it all at His beautiful, loving feet.  Striving to enter into His rest, to allow Him to be God, to give and take away, to work all things together for the good of those who love Him – whatever His definition of that is.  I am choosing to rest, to allow because it’s the only choice.

What I want, what I would choose if I could, would to be to go back in time, in the story of my life and rip out the pages of the last eight weeks and rewrite my story with a much happier ending, but what I am coming to recognize is that wanting anything except more of Jesus is pointless, striving to do anything but rest in what God is doing is futile.

futile
adjective
they piled on thousands of sandbags in a futile attempt to hold back the river: fruitless, vain, pointless, useless, ineffectual, ineffective, inefficacious, to no effect, of no use, in vain, to no avail, unavailing; unsuccessful, failed, thwarted; unproductive, barren, unprofitable, abortive; impotent, hollow, empty, forlorn, idle, hopeless; archaic bootless. ANTONYMS useful.
Yes, that pretty much sums it up.. futile.  So all other wants, in you go, into the brown package at the feet of Jesus.  Self, die so that Christ may live more fully in me.
“A vision of Jesus on the inside.  That restores your joy and renews your peace.  Jesus is with you today to shift the atmosphere within and around you.” on IHOP now…

Until He returns, takes me home, or until he decides I have loss enough of myself, I will continue to loose and I will continue to take inventory of my losses, and to leave them wrapped up by Holy Spirit’s power at the foot of the cross where I can find healing and help in my time of need and freedom to live again. 

 

For to me, to live is Christ to die is gain.  Phil 1:21.
 

Much love,

Jenny

“Watch Out for the Vomit Chunks”

.. was a title I considered for my last post.  🙂

Later that night, Mike and I settled in to watch
an episode of a fun TV show to relax.
Their theme was intentionally, overtly obvious:
“Leaving the past behind.”
I told Mike, “I want to but it keeps following me around.”

Afterwards, he checked the mail and there was something
from one of my surgeons.. it was a $25 refund.. which was nice..
but all I could think was “Will this day ever end?”

I spent yesterday worshiping again.  It was less emotionally trying,
but more physically trying as I struggled with my corn allergy.

I bought new curtains for my bedroom.
They needed ironing.
The steam from the iron made the sizing
(starch – from corn, of course)
steam up and make me sick.
I would have washed them first,
but they are dry clean only.

I spent a good part of the day re-designing the curtains (future post)..
and part on the floor because I was so sick from the steam.
I didn’t want to quit and have to face them another day.
Many times my reaction to a second exposure is much worse

All that and I still felt much better having vomited up that last post.  🙂

Love,

Jenny

 

An Honest Update: Not the One I Wanted to Write

Today I am taking a day of worship.  It’s been a really long time.
It had been my normal way of life.
Work; Sew; Worship; Pray.
“All I want is Your will,” lyrics played from my ipod.
I couldn’t sing them. I don’t want God’s will at all.
I want mine.  His feels risky.

I know He is good and all He wants for me is the best
and that He works all things for my good.  BUT I don’t want
Him to have to work all things for my good.
I want to control everything in such a way that it’s all good to begin with.
“God, please, change of heart.”

I noticed that I’d started feeling safe (last few days).
I haven’t felt safe since I was diagnosed
with breast cancer a little over 18 months ago.
I’ve had at least a little “discomfort” since my surgery last June.
It’s hard to feel safe when you are in pain.  Pain is stressful.

I realized I only felt safe because I’ve been refusing to really pray.
The kinda prayers that are two way.. where I listen and obey as well as talk.

I’ve been shooting off these kind of prayers when I notice Him..
“Oh, God, it’s You creeping into my thoughts.  I am still kinda hurt.
Don’t really want to talk to you. You are scary.  I don’t feel safe with
You in control.  I’d rather pretend that I am in control and
can live happily ever after; no more facing death, loss, trouble.”
I don’t want to deal with stuff..
clutter, car repairs, food allergies, selling used books, school.

I only want to play; sew decorate.

I found a TV show I like to watch while home alone.
I never watch TV alone.

The noise helps cover up the silence
of not praying, worshiping and listening continually.

I was due for my one year check up last month.
I’d really rather keep pretending that I am in control
and avoid any more possibilities of
“suffering much from many doctors.”

I’ve stopped fighting the pain.
It took a really long time to accept that
it may be a part of the rest of my life.

I HATE when people ask how I am doing.
Mostly because it reminds me: I am the same.
I still have pain; pain that I can ignore when I busy
but that annoys the heck out of me when I try to relax.
I haven’t seen any improvement since last October.
My allergy is actually worse. Things that didn’t bother me.. bother me now.
How much more sensitive can.. I won’t even finish that question.

Please, think of some happy thought when you see me, instead of,
“Oh, I need to remember to pray for Jenny.”

I feel silly asking God to deliver me all the time..
I know I’ve asked enough, believed enough..

How are we supposed to live?????  Pray and fast until healed?
Might help with the weight I’ve gained from stress eating.

How do you move on to the acceptance part of the grieving process
when you are praying and believing for wholeness and restoration?!

Months drag on, hopes raised and dashed at every little sign of
improvement or dis-ease. I want it all to end!  I can’t take it anymore!

I’d rather accept what I have than live with
a split personality of acceptance/rebuking/pleading.
Then.. God whispers my name, or I see someone else’s suffering…
and I long for wholeness again.  Not just for me,
but an overflowing wholeness that touches everyone I meet.

“Come on now, God, if You aren’t going to
heal me this side of heaven, just tell me.
I’d like to think happier thoughts when I think of You!!!”

God often speaks to me in dreams.
I dreamed of a weasel biting me two nights in a row.
Lost a bunch of sleep (sorry for the sleep deprived rant).
I have definitely felt like God has weaseled out of His promise to me;
felt like He has be come dangerous… might bite me if I let Him close.

My feelings are ALL WRONG; A LIE.
God is not a man that He could lie.
All His promises are YES AND AMEN IN JESUS.
I am healed by His stripes.
He loves me ACTIVELY..
not only in word but IN TRUTH!!!

“Lord, help me not to only know and believe but to trust.
Give me one heart and mind to love you.”

Worship brings it all out into the open.

Love,

Jenny

Trimming the Tree (with ornaments)

 Every Christmas up until last, I’ve bought the kids an ornament at the
after Christmas sales to add to their collection.. then each Christmas
the kids got to decorate the tree with their own ornaments.
They loved this when they were little..

Last year, the kids decided it was too much trouble to put their ornaments
on the tree and that they didn’t really care about collecting ornaments.
It kinda hurt my feelings..

I decided that if I was going to do all the work from now on
that I was going to start over with new ornaments for me.

At the after Christmas sales last year, I bought these ornaments
80 or 90% off.. I was so excited.. my favorite color..
I guess my blue and white tree has gone out of style..
there were so many of them left to buy.. I bought 20 for a little over $20.

A few weeks after that, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed
something to do distract myself from my impending surgery
and while recovering. so I started making the quilted ornaments
with the names of Jesus on them that I showed you in July.

Reading the names of Jesus all those weeks was great therapy,
but when I hung them on my new slim tree
a couple of weeks ago.. I didn’t like them. 🙁

I loved reading the names of Jesus on the tree…
and I love quilts.. They just aren’t my decorating style. :-/

So I decided to make simpler, paper ones.

I bought some scrapbooking paper in my favorite colors
and a corner punch and went to work.
 The cardboard, wire and beads I had on hand.

 Judi and I both liked the glitter idea.

Here’s my new, slim, names of Jesus tree.
I found the ribbon on clearance last year too..

There are 25 different cards with over a hundred names.

I decided that I had room for a few more ornaments
and divided all our old ornaments into themes.

 I hung the ones that reminded me of Jesus on the tree.

This is one of my favorites..

Then decided to save the snowmen for January..
and make a winter wreath or garland.
There were other ornaments that I will try and have the kids
go through and donate to a thrift store next year.
 I didn’t have a tree skirt.. so I pulled this satin out of my
grandmother’s stash and wrapped it around the tree.
George had to try it out right away.
 My newly decorated tree.
Here are the jpgs if you’d like to print your own:

 

 

 

 

🙂
J

“Two Month” “Recovery” Reality

I am starting to understand what the doctors meant by a “Two Month” “Recovery. ”   At first, I thought they meant that in two months I would be recovered. That’s not it at all. They meant I wouldn’t be able to do anything but recover for at least two months. After that, I would slowly get back to my new self… (I hope. )

When preparing myself mentally for the surgery, I referred to my post-surgery self as “Frankenstein’s Bride. ” When Judi saw me for the first time in the doctor’s office, she said I looked like a zombie. I refused that label because I still had a brain (most days), and insisted that I was more like Frankenstein’s Bride. She consented to my logic.

What I could never conceive was how much healing a body needs to do after it’s been taken apart and put together again, how much of a toll 11 hours of anesthesia takes on a body, how much work it is to recover from all that blood loss, and how long a body can continue to swell. Although I never read the books or watched the movies, I am pretty sure Frankenstein’s Bride got right up and did whatever she wanted the moment she woke up.

Tomorrow is my two month anniversary and I am still not up to doing whatever I want. I am definitely not my old self that could walk 5 miles in a day. I have to plan out my day so that I can do the bare minimum and not wear myself out. I still have to rest up between breakfast and shower… etc. I am letting the puppy in and out more for myself (she only wants out 50 times a day). 🙂

Last week, just warming up my meals in the microwave was challenging. This week I am stir frying my meals from scratch again (Yay!), but I have to sit on a stool while I sir and it’s still a challenge to do all the walking it  takes to gather up all the stuff I need from around the kitchen. Last week, making in and out of the store was a huge challenge. This week it’s a little easier. I can unload the basket onto the conveyer belt now. Last week, one of the baggers offered to do it and I was happy to let him do that and carry my groceries out to the car. I am still doing only a little shopping at a time. Some things on the higher shelves are a challenge to reach and I am still not up to pushing the basket or carrying the heavy groceries or putting them all away.

I started driving again a couple of weeks ago. At first, I hated seat belts and right turns really hurt  (I guess more than left, because they are tighter). This week, I still don’t like seat belts, but I don’t mind driving as much. Honestly, just riding in the car tires me. My top half doesn’t do well at following my bottom half around the curves. Maybe when I am driving, holding the steering wheel helps? Now that Joel and Judi both have jobs, and Joel is preparing to get his license and start school, driving instructor/chauffeur is my job. I am doing the best I can.

A couple of weeks ago, I was REALLY struggling with the pain by the end of the day. I can block most of it out during the day, but when I am trying to rest at the end of the day, it still bothers me some; muscle soreness, twinges… I don’t know what to call them all… ouchies? Truthfully, it’s 9 am now, and they are bothering me now… it’s just by the end of the day, I am so worn out that I can’t deal with the pain as well.

I haven’t taken anything for the pain since my day of vomiting except the daily aspirin  I have to take as a blood thinner and some Arnica which does seem to help a little. I try to reserve taking other stuff for emergencies because of their side effects. I figure my liver has plenty to deal with as it is. I am glad I have a high tolerance for pain and don’t need more.

Although, all last week my body kept asking me, “Why did you let those mean doctors do this to me?” and my only answer was, “I don’t know??” I don’t regret doing the surgery. If I had chosen the other main stream, American option, I might doing radiation now and have radiation fatigue for the next 4 plus years, and who knows how I would have done on the tamoxifen.

If some brave soul is ever able to get the American Cancer money making machine to concede that there is a better way to cure cancer, I’ll be happy for the patients that follow and don’t have to choose between the two very destructive options I had.

I am glad I studied up and chose not to let them take my lymph nodes even though “Expert doctors, like me, think it’s the best thing to do. ” After a logical discussion of all I understood about the non-existent benefits of taking a few lymph nodes, that’s all my breast surgeon could come up with. She did get part of one during surgery, but warned me that sometimes it just couldn’t be helped.

They try to make your lymph nodes out to be such small things… no big deal… Your eyes are small, too!  Your lymph nodes are an important part of your immune system. And even though the doctors don’t have to be concerned with your lifetime struggle with lymphedema afterwards, you do.

I am still dealing with swelling daily. May still be a long time before it subsides. Went for a dental cleaning last week, and my arms and hands swelled up while the hygienist had my head lower than the rest of me. Most of the time it’s only my core that’s swollen. I am hoping that it’s still too early to be worried about lymphedema.
I still have a lot of healing left to go… and prayerfully with that the swelling will improve.

When I first had to tell people about my diagnosis, just getting the words out was difficult. I know how hard news like that is to take, and no one ever knows what to say. Most said, “I am so sorry. ” or “I am so happy we caught it early. ”  I loved it when “they were so happy” because I could rejoice with them and it made it easier for me to have shared the news. I wasn’t up to comforting the ones who were sorry… and couldn’t afford to be sorry with them… it would have been a long, slippery slope into a deep pit.

If someone had told me last week, that they had just been diagnosed with breast cancer all that I would have been able to do is cry and say, “I am so sorry. ” This week I am feeling a little stronger and think I could be a bit more of a support. 🙂

I am still positive that cancer is from the devil and it baffles me how he curses anyone who believes on Jesus.
We are free from the curse… free from sin… free to love Him freely. He became sin for us, taking the curse on Himself. It is finished. All we have to do is believe. And I am so thankful for my for my Healer and for the season of healing He is allowing me to walk though, however long it may be.

Love,

Jenny

Amazing God Thing #2 Acupuncture

I’ve been continuing to go for acupuncture every other week now. And I am so glad I went yesterday. I’ve been having a hard time standing up for very long. The kids are still having to do most of the shopping, laundry, dishes, cooking etc. for me. I’d really like to be able to do more for them when they go back to school.

It will be a really challenging year for Joel and Josh. They share a room and Josh is always losing stuff. You can not make someone be organized. They will both be working and going to school this year; Joel’s first time for either. I am praying for lots of wisdom for Joel especially.

Anyway, after about 25 minutes on my feet, I’ve been having this overwhelming desire to sit down.  Gravity is not my friend. When at the store, I am not sure if or not I will make it through the checkout lines. I actually sat on a low shelf at Walmart one day while waiting to check out.

I mentioned it to my surgeon at my last visit. He understood what I meant and asked if I felt like my abdomen was dragging and said it was still early (6 wks.). I wanted to know what was wrong.. I couldn’t find anything in any of the recovery accounts on line that talked about what I was experiencing (they are usually way more informative than the doctors have been), and I was still “dragging” a week and a half later. Next Wednesday is my 2 month anniversary and I am supposed to be ready to go back to “work.” If I had a job where I had to be on my feet all day, I’d be quitting now.

So when my wonderful acupuncturist, Dr Paula Gilliam, asked if I had any concerns I told her about them. She said we could try a womb strengthening technique. Nothing to loose right?  I so like that there are no negative side effects. She put 5 little pins in my tummy.  I felt the usual surge of energy. It’s amazing to me how she knows when a pin is in the right place and how my body responds to them but, I didn’t expect much in real results for this.

On my way out, I spoke to the receptionist and she asked how I was doing.  I told her, too.  She said that she’d had several surgeries and that it just took time, and that my body was telling me that I need to rest more.  I felt better after talking to her, except that my standing up minutes were ticking away and I was starting to feel the need to sit again.

On the way home, Joel (driving practice) and I stopped at Earth Fare. I can usually get in and out of Earth Fare in just a few minutes, but this time I was already tired; shower plus appointment doesn’t leave much time for shopping.

After about 10 minutes at Earth Fare, I started getting that feeling again, but instead of being overwhelmed by it, my muscles kicked in. It was amazing!  Like they had woken up out of a coma. They tightened up so tight that it felt like I was wearing a corset. They were holding everything in, instead of letting everything fall victim to gravity.

I still felt tired and plan to keep “listening to my body”and get the rest I need to heal, but I am so happy to have those muscles again. I called Dr. Gilliam right away to tell her about the miracle she’d worked. And I felt them working several times later that day and today, too.

Thank you, Jesus!

Jenny

Church and Moving Friends

I made it back to church today. Yay!
It was such a great service, too.  I am so glad I didn’t miss it.
Worship was awesome!  Sitting during worship wasn’t too weird.
Pastor Carol’s sermons are always awesome.
She preached about fixing our eyes on Jesus so we can see clearly with eyes of faith.

I had wanted to go all week;
missed a women’s meeting Thursday night
because I was wiped out from shopping at Costco
and took a nap instead.

It only takes me about 25 minutes to shop until I drop.

I had a hard time finding something that fit comfortably
other than the maternity shorts that I’ve been wearing.
My stretchiest pants fit way more snugly
than they did a couple of weeks ago.. swelling.

Later, I realized that I could have worn a dress
with no waist and been more comfortable.
Good idea for next week.

I got to wear this new necklace that my friend Tonya gave me yesterday.
Thank you, Tonya. 🙂

She is one of two of my homeschooling friends
who is moving away this summer.
I’ve don’t have many friends here so
I am taking the moving news pretty hard.

 

Tonya made this necklace from a smashed Tinkerbell penny.
She is crazy about collecting smashed pennies from her travels.
 

She has a blog called the Traveling Praters, where she writes about homeschooling and her traveling adventures.

Most of the field trips we’ve attended since moving here, Tonya put together. She has the coolest ideas and I have yet to find out her secret for  finding such great places to visit.  Maybe she’ll tell us on her blog soon.

She and my other moving friend, Lee Ann, and I have similar homeschool/parenting philosophies, and have felt very blessed to have each other’s support and friendship. Lee Ann and I met while living in Florida and I eventually followed her here, where she introduced me to Tonya.  🙂

I am so thankful to have known Tonya and Lee Ann; my life is so much richer for it.  I guess it’s like the saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”

It has taken a long week to be able to say that.  Just yesterday, I was thinking about how I still haven’t fully recovered from our last move and haven’t really been fully sharing my heart with the few friends I do have here.. and how that didn’t do me any good because my heart was still broken to see them go.  I know better, but knowing and doing are two different things.

I am very thankful for all the ways we have to keep in touch these days; free long distance, e-mail, Facebook and our blogs all help to take away a little of the sting. And these two are moving to states we’d like to visit in the next couple of years, so maybe we’ll even get to see them in person before too long.

Mostly I am thankful to know that God is with them wherever they go and will lead them and guide them And has a great future planned for them and their families.

Okay, I am crying now.. but glad to have my eyes fixed on Jesus and to see more clearly with eyes of faith and not be as focused on my loss/pain as I was yesterday.

Now you know, I write so I don’t have to pay to see a therapist.

Love,

Jenny

 

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