Living on Borrowed Time

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Dancers. Police officers. Bus drivers. Students.

Teachers. Doctors. Accountants, and small children.

 

They all have one thing in common. 
They are all “living on borrowed time.” We all are. 

 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or not. It doesn’t matter if you know who God is and the beautiful gift that He gave us with Jesus. We are all “living on borrowed time.”

I didn’t really understand the weight of the phrase until last night. I was sitting in the shower, contemplating my fate after being told the cancer could be back in my brain. I knew that I probably wouldn’t know until today for sure.

I sat there, praying, but knowing… 

It doesn’t really matter if it is cancer or not. 

 

It doesn’t really matter if I get treatment or not.

It doesn’t really matter what I do

Because I’m “living on borrowed time.”

 

I am here because God gave me life

And only He decides when my time is done. 

 


“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4 

“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Romans 5:10

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18

 

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Like The Exiles From Judah…

Like the exiles from Judah, I have been exiled from good health. But God is watching over me & will bring me back from the land of cancer. He is building me up and not tearing me down. He has given me a heart to know Him, to understand His ways, even in these days.

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.”

Jeremiah 24:5-7

My Very Heartbeat

I am a sinner.

I don’t deserve this life.

I could be dead, but I am breathing.

I am alive because someone else took my place. Jesus is my Savior, and I love Him with all my heart.

I have been humbled by my cancer.

I have been reminded that life is precious, that life is given and taken away by God Himself. There is a great respect that comes with finally accepting the reality of that fact.

Use me, Lord. Allow me to be productive with this day that you have given me, this opportunity to give you the glory for all that You are and all that You have done.

Oh Lord, I love you like no other.

I love you more than my very heartbeat.

“I found the one my heart loves.” Song of Solomon 3:4

Peace Can Only Come From Jesus

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I’ve been quiet lately. There’s always a reason.

I spend so much time just trying to be okay. Just trying to feel okay. You can’t really make your body feel better though even with the pain medicine and other things meant to help you feel better, to help you get through the day. Medicine is just not enough.

My battle lately? Shingles. Starts as a rash and then turns into a ton of blisters that burst and then crust over. It is extremely painful, stressful, and takes weeks to recover. You can learn more about it here. I had it for a good week before we knew what it was.

To make matters worse, I can’t have chemo while recovering from shingles. And with a fast moving cancer, I can feel the difference when I don’t have treatment for a week or two. I’m coughing a lot more which makes mobility difficult. Coughing more means throwing up more. I sat in the car yesterday puking after being stationary for a good thirty minutes. It’s not just moving that causes me to puke more. Needless to say, I am really hoping I am cleared to have chemo next Thursday when I see my doctor again.

But here’s the thing… in the midst of all this suffering, I have peace and am virtually pain free. I can’t explain it. I walked in the doctor’s office last Monday with level 8 pain, barely being able to move without screaming on the inside. I left with pain killers that only toned it down to a level 6-7. So how did I go from that level of pain, to virtually no pain the next day? To the point that I stopped taking pain medicine way too early. The blisters started bursting days later, and yet still no pain.

You have to understand the amount of stress, sorrow, and shock I was under when I found out I had shingles. That I couldn’t get the chemo I desperately need. I went to bed early. My husband went to bed early. It was just all too much for all of us. So what was the turning point?

I prayed that night, and something changed. I wrote that poem and just felt a great release. I felt at peace. That was at 2 o’clock in the morning, and I woke up pain-free. During this whole trial from the beginning of 2017 to now, I haven’t quite felt this level of peace since first getting diagnosed with cancer. It’s also the first time that I have been virtually pain free in an area that doesn’t make sense.

On my own, I can’t do anything. I can’t take away my own pain and I can’t take away my own stress. I just don’t have the power BUT I know the one that does. Peace can only come from Jesus.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16. 

I May Not Be A Pastor But…

There are a lot of books and study materials on the market geared toward Christians but not all of them are based on biblical truths. As a small group leader, I feel that I have a responsibility to ensure that the materials I share with others supports biblical truths. I don’t want to unknowingly give out false doctrine.

I go through the proper channels, making sure my pastor approves the Bible studies chosen for my small group. But I also allow my own discernment to steer me in the right direction. I have to do my own due process by prescreening material for appropriateness, just like I do for my kids before I let them watch a movie.

Still, one area I haven’t really thought about prescreening before is my own personal library. I’ve acquired many Christian books over the last six years, most of which I have not read. I’m just now getting around to reading some of these books.

I opened one last night, read the introduction and thought, “this would be a great book for my friend Jennifer. I need to get her a copy.” Jennifer is a girl that I’ve been having 3-hour weekly lunches with in the spirit of discipleship. She knows the Bible pretty well but has been working on her prayer life. I thought maybe this book on developing a better prayer life might be a good fit. I asked Nick to remind me to get in touch with the author this week so that I can get another copy. Then I continued reading.

While reading the first chapter, I became very uncomfortable. I kind of stopped reading the words and started to glaze over them. I wanted to keep reading but it was beginning to be a struggle. Something about the material didn’t feel like it added up to God’s word. I closed the book and immediately started praying, “Lord, show me the truth. Tell me if I should be reading this, if I should be sharing this with Jennifer.”

I opened my eyes, and found my husband looking over me. I told him my concerns with the book, and he agreed with what I knew to be the truth. I couldn’t share the book with my friend. I put the book back on my nightstand, making a mental note to throw it in the trash later.

When I woke up this morning, the situation was still heavy on my mind. Jennifer has borrowed two books from me recently, two books that I haven’t read. As someone that I’ve been discipling, she’s likely thinking on some level that these books are good because I own them. She probably thinks that I’ve already read them and it never occurred to me to tell her that I haven’t.

Perhaps moving forward I should read a book first before I lend it out, much like I prescreen our small group material, the movies that my kids watch, and the books that they read. Taking some responsibility as a Christian friend is just as important as taking responsibility as a parent. I’m hoping that in doing so, I can protect her from falling victim to false beliefs during a vulnerable period where she is rebuilding her faith. It also challenges me even more as a Christian to stay abreast to the current trends and delivery methods of false doctrine.

I may not be a pastor, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t do my part in helping protect the next group of Christian leaders. We all have a role to play. I hope that you’ll join me in sharing only verified biblically sound teachings, and stand with me in prayer for all of us to have the spiritual discernment to know the difference. God bless you all.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:8

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15

 

One Year Later

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When I got diagnosed with cancer a year ago today, I didn’t think I would see the day when I had hope again. I didn’t think I would see the day when I believed I’d be okay again. I had spent so much time suffering up until the point I was diagnosed, and knew that having cancer meant suffering even more. But more than anything, it meant that I may be losing my life too. Losing everyone that I loved and everything that I had worked for. I can’t believe that I’m still here.

As much as I feared the end, I also knew that my life would never be the same. I was not prepared for the normal activities of life that I would no longer be able to do… like cooking, cleaning, taking a walk, or buying groceries. I was not prepared for the humility I would need in allowing others to care for me instead of me taking care of them.

I haven’t been able to serve others the way that I used to. I’ve spent my days just surviving, and trying to deal with everyday setbacks with my health because of treatment side effects. It’s taken a long time to get to a point where I can be a little more self-sufficient, like walking to the fridge on my own to get a drink without feeling like I’m going to pass out. And when I say a long time, I mean like I have only been able to do that in the last three weeks. My prayer is that I will get to a point where I’m able to start doing more for others, and give back to the heroes that have been there for me through this journey. In the meantime, I’m going to try to focus more on accepting the fact that I am a survivor instead of just merely surviving. I know that God will continue to lead the way.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

 

Treading Water While I Find My Purpose

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I cough a lot. I cough to the point of throwing up the last thing I ate or drank. This is especially the case after I walk across the room. That’s right – barely walking can send me into a coughing fit that will make me lose my lunch. Maybe it’s because of the fluid in my left lung. Scans have shown a moderate to large amount of fluid for months. We thought that draining it would help improve my condition. Not only did the fluid quickly come back, the last PET scan showed absolutely no change in the amount of fluid even though it had already been drained. I went through the horrendous pain for nothing and don’t feel like it even helped me.

Then there’s my heart. Walking across the room really sends my heart racing and leaves me out of breath. Even just standing can cause the same reaction, and then I’m really left coughing and throwing up. I’m sure it’s my low hemoglobin counts again. Every round of chemo wreaks havoc on my bone marrow, making it impossible to have a normal amount of red blood cells. They’re not low enough for a transfusion but it sure keeps me from moving around too much. That means more days using my wheelchair instead of my walker when I get out of the house. It’s safer this way so my heart doesn’t run to 140 bpm with every little task but using a wheelchair makes me feel like I’m regressing instead of getting better.

These are just some of the things I deal with day in and day out. In some ways, I am doing pretty good despite all that I am going through but there are still some rough moments. There are still fears and doubts. It’s really scary not knowing if you’re going to die or not. Doing treatment after treatment, not knowing if it will be enough. My mom died just 4 months after being deemed cancer free. It had gone to her brain late in the game… and she quickly succumbed. We were told she had maybe a year when she went into hospice; she was gone within a day.

In my case, I’ve watched God allow the treatments to make improvements to my condition. I’ve celebrated small successes like favorable PET scans and shrinking lesions, all while knowing the battle is long from over. I really want to hear the words, “cancer free,” but I’m not naive enough to believe that it means the battle is won. Several of the cancer survivor volunteers I got close to at the American Cancer Society died within a few years of meeting them.  Their cancers came back with a vengeance and no amount of treatment would help. Being a cancer survivor is a badge of honor, but it’s terribly heartbreaking when a survivor is a survivor no more.

So how do I handle my fears as I continue the fight? I wish I could say that I spend my days at the feet of Jesus; honestly, I still find myself spacing out and not really dealing. I’m still trying to find my purpose through all of this, how best to spend my days at home now that I can’t work. I don’t really know how long it will take for me to get on the boat instead of just treading water. I wish I could say it is an easy path to get there but in reality, there is still quite a bit of fog keeping me in my present state.  The only thing I have going for me is the fact that I haven’t given up on getting out of this situation.

I still believe God can rescue me. I still believe that God heals and does miracles. I don’t know if that is His plan for me but I trust Him to take care of me as I go through this trial. Why do I say that? Because I may be treading water but I don’t feel like I’m in danger of drowning. I may be treading water but I know Jesus is there, close by, even if I can’t see Him. And there are the blessings that keep coming out of this situation that remind me that it’s not all gloom and doom.

One day, God will call me home and I’m sure it will be a glorious moment for me. In the meantime though, I pray that He uses my time on earth for something truly wonderful, something that truly brings joy to His kingdom. I pray that I find my purpose through all of this, and that I can continue to push forward despite my fears. Having cancer is no easy feat but it can be just what is needed to bring glory to Him.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

It’s Not About Me

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I have spent a lot of time these last few months spinning my wheels, doing nothing. The tv is a nice mindless activity to get me through the bulk of my day without requiring a lot of energy out of me. This works because getting around has largely been hard for me to do as my back and hips continue to heal from the cancer. I sit in the nice chair my in-laws brought over for me with two main things in my lap – my dog and the remote. The problem is that it really doesn’t require anything out of me except a commitment to only the tv and nothing else. Ever notice how easily we go from one episode to the next while watching something on Netflix and before we realize it, several hours have passed and we have nothing to show for ourselves? They want this to happen or they never would have created the auto play option. And honestly, the last time I ever spent this much time binge watching tv was before I met my husband, before I got saved. I’ve had more important things to do. So why do I sit here now and consume so much that does so little for me?

The answer is really very simple. Call it avoidance of the big and little feelings that I have to still deal with lurking on the back burner of my mind. Or laziness to dive into something that will require a bigger commitment than I feel I can commit to. Maybe a bit of both even. There was a time when I longed to spend my days reading the bible all day instead of working. Now that I am home all day, this couldn’t be further from the reality of my current situation. Before an hour ago, I hadn’t opened my bible in weeks. Sure, I’ve listened to a few sermons but it’s not the same. Before today, I haven’t listened to worship music in weeks. Why? Because being well takes me forward a few steps and being unwell takes me back a few. There have been moments on this journey where I have really seen God’s hand, and then the rest of the time it seems like just deafening silence. And having to deal with things you don’t really want to deal with is sometimes enough of a reason to pull away from someone like Jesus, even when in my heart I know that He is the answer, the solution to everything I am dealing with. I’m not proud saying this but even I am not a person with perfect faith and perfect obedience to Him.

Why am I telling you this? Because the struggle is real. Every day is a battle to get back to Him, to get back to His word. The devil doesn’t want me to rely on Him for strength. In fact, the farther he can get me from the word of God, the more he can try and fill my head with nonsense. I know the truth but it’s still easy to take me away from God when I give in to the bleakness of my situation, when I let go of Him and hold on to the sickness my body is battling. I don’t want to live my life spinning wheels and just taking up space. Yes, there are still a lot of things I can’t do but there is plenty I can still do for the kingdom. Sometimes, it just takes me to wake up from my slumber and remember this isn’t about me. This whole cancer journey is not about whether I live or die, but about whether others live or die knowing Jesus. It’s time I remember my part.

 

 

Tiptoe


Even when you’re going through it,

You’re not going through it;

You’re tiptoeing around,

Careful not to step on

Your own thoughts, your own feelings. 

You don’t really want to talk about it;

You don’t really want to write about it.

You only want to think about, write about 

Nothing at all.

The nothingness that stares you in the face,

The nothingness that will never be nothing again,

The life that will never be the same.