Monday, March 12, 2012

A Lesson In Asking

"What do you want to happen?"

This was the question posed to me by my pastor at the end of a day of unexpected test results and the possibility of an uncertain future.  To be honest, I hadn't even thought about what I wanted.  I was still too wrapped up in the "why me" and "why now" of the situation.  After thinking about it, I answered him honestly. "I want it to go away, and I don't want to have to deal with needles."

Earlier that day a trip to the radiologist that was supposed to confirm that the lump in my breast was just a cyst turned out to be news that I had an abscess.  That part was not concerning; antibiotics and an aspiration would solve that with little difficulty.  The real problem was a thickness that encased the abscess. It needed biopsied, the sooner the better.

I went home, completely absorbed in the "why me" and "why now" part of this news.  My husband started working his phone, and later that evening we headed to our friends' house for an impromptu prayer meeting.  It was during this time that the exchange with my pastor took place.  He took my answer, and that's how we prayed - for the mass to go away, and that there be no needles.

Matthew 7:7 tells us to ask, seek and knock with the results being receiving, finding and doors opening, respectively. In doing so, we have the opportunity to exercise our faith. Where it get sticky sometimes is when the answer, opportunity, or door isn't the one we thought was right for us.  In those times we hold to the truth that God works all things for our good.

Three days after our prayer meeting, I went to have the biopsy done and found out that mass had reduced to less than one-third of its original size and that the thickness was gone, therefore no biopsy was needed.  It was just as we had prayed...the mass was gone, and no needles were required.

Praise God!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lent


It's Lent, a time of year for personal sacrifice; the time of year when I typically give up one of my favorite foods for 40 days and do strange things like tearing the kitchen apart looking for a “legal” substitute to satisfy a craving. (By the way, carob doesn't really taste much like real chocolate and nothing can really take the place of the wonder known as caffeine.)

This year I've given up sugar (something my children cannot fathom), and diet pop (soda to those of you outside of Michigan). So far, there have only been a few instances when I was tempted to sell my first born for a sip of Diet-Rite Orange Soda. Twelve days in, and my symptoms of withdrawal haven't been as severe, as say when I gave up chocolate during a stressful semester of law school, or caffeine during my junior year of college. One of these years, I'll learn why I have a masochistic tendency to give up what I like the most. Life would be easier if I gave up tofu.

Obviously, Lent is far more significant than me not fulfilling my every food-driven whim and stuffing myself with sugar. It is far more significant than my family watching me climbing the walls for 40 days because I'm totally addicted to artificial sweeteners. Pretty much everyone knows that Lent is instead the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday when Christians contemplate the sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross in payment for our sins.

Lent then ends with the celebration on Easter of Jesus' resurrection, not traditionally me gorging myself with cans of icy cold Pepsi sweetened with Splenda. The theory goes that some people give up a favorite item during this time to better understand or contemplate Jesus' death. When I think of Lent, I'm frequently reminded of the movie “Chocolat,” where citizens of a small French town are tempted by a decadent pastry shop filled with luscious desserts that opens in their town during Lent. I imagine myself as one of the townspeople, nose pressed against the cold pastry shop window, drooling over the chocolate drenched croissants and steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Wait, what was I saying? Sorry, the mere thought of chocolatey goodness is distracting....

But does Jesus really care if I give up drinking nasty artificial sweetener and carbonated water out of aluminum cans? Compared to Jesus' huge sacrifice, giving up sugar and diet pop is trivial at best. Jesus being tempted by Satan, it is not. (Luke 4:2) How can one even compare willingly dying a brutal death to give humanity the chance for salvation and me not eating sugary food that's bad for me anyway? Despite the huge discrepancy in the level of sacrifice, I still cannot even muster an ounce of the grace and composure of Jesus on the cross. Give me a few days without sugar and pop and I'm whining to anyone who will listen on Facebook about my terrible sacrifice and on Easter, my great will power evaporates and I'm lying on the couch with a pop/sugar/chocolate induced belly ache. So how can such a frivolous sacrifice do anything at all?

For me, Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is so huge and amazing that it is somewhat difficult for me to wrap my brain around. In my relatively easy life, making myself understand the difficulty of a merely small sacrifice helps me better understand the magnitude of Jesus' huge sacrifice. When I willingly deny a comfort that my body craves, I am better able to appreciate Jesus' suffering. I also tend to think more about Jesus' sacrifice with every craving and temptation and spend more time asking Him for the strength I need to get through the day.

Some may think that focusing on food cravings during this time is silly, but it's always been a special time that brings me closer to Jesus. Sometimes during my hectic life with three little kids, I need something as silly as craving a can of pop to remind myself to take a moment and remember Jesus' gift of grace.

Friday, March 2, 2012

In Times of Grief

Let me start this post with a little disclaimer. This post is not about homeschooling, so please don't close the window when you see the word "Homeschool" in the post.

My second disclaimer is that this post is raw. It is where I am. Writing it was gut-wrenching. If you take the time to read it, I will be deeply honored that you chose to spend a few of your precious moments reading my words.

I get a newsletter each week called "The Homeschool Minute." I read it when the topic seems to be applicable to me, and, since it is a homeschooling newsletter, it often is. Lately, I haven't had much time for reading newsletters. Today, however, I knew this newsletter was just for me when I saw the theme in the subject line in my in-box. "In Times of Grief," so reading it wasn't optional for me this time.

This season of life? It is most certainly a time of grief. I feel like I've been here before, but it's different this time. This time, what the doctor said would happen is happening. This time, in spite of my knowledge that God can work a miracle, in spite of the fact that the doctor himself used the words, "short of a miraculous intervention," I find myself preparing for the worst case scenario because the doctor was right, afterall. The cancer did return just as he predicted.

I am not discounting God's ability to intervene. I know that He can. I know that He does. I know these things. I also know that He has gifted doctors with knowledge and abilities that I do not possess, and, while He trumps anything they say, He sometimes uses those doctors to prepare us. I know that God will heal my mama. He could choose to let her stay with us. He could work a miracle here on earth. I know this.

I also know that, sometimes, He doesn't. Sometimes, healing happens in heaven. Sometimes, His plan isn't what I want.

But I can't forget that, all the time, He is the Healer. All the time, He cares for me. All the time, His plan is perfect even if His plan isn't what I think I want.

Besides, what I want doesn't really matter. I want my mom HERE. Doesn't everyone? It's sort of selfish when you think about choosing to keep someone here versus letting them experience the perfection of heaven. I want my mom healthy, happy, and pain-free. As hard as it is to write or think or say out loud...

Healthy, happy, and pain-free are the most important to me, and, if she can only have that in heaven, then so be it.

It's crushing.

If you haven't lost a parent or someone equally as close to you, you may not understand what I'm feeling right now. 13 months ago, I didn't understand. I have lost four grandparents and a great aunt that I thought of as a grandmother, and I adored all of them, but losing them doesn't compare to what I'm going through right now.

My mother is sick. Cancer is trying to destroy her. God is in charge. I have to trust Him. I have to be willing to follow Him in spite of what happens. I hope she defeats this. I want her to live. I want God to be glorified in her life and because of her life.

No matter what happens, I choose Abba Father because His ways are perfect and His ways are not my ways. I will not pretend to understand this ever, but I will trust Him. Always. I will trust Him.