Living on Borrowed Time

photo-1499377193864-82682aefed04

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

 

Advertisements

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

I Can Do All Things

alex-green-1143726-unsplash

 

“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

I was sitting in my shower chair, praying… praying for all that I’ve been through. For the second time today I thought to myself, “this is the price I have to pay. This is the price I have to pay for living.” Then I looked down at the bracelet that my Aunt Jackie gave me when I first got diagnosed. She bought one for herself as well, and she was still wearing it when I saw her for Thanksgiving. It reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I suddenly felt the need to stand up, to get out of my chair and just stand up on my own two legs. With His strength. With Him standing with me, I could finally get out of the chair that I’ve been relying on for so long because of weakness… and sickness… and so much more.

I did it. I stood up. And as the minutes passed, I was still standing. I felt the tightness in my legs but still I stood. Then, out of nowhere the thought came to me…

“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

And I said it out loud. I said it out loud. There is nothing wrong with my legs. There is nothing wrong with my back, or my hips. There is nothing wrong with my heart. There is nothing wrong with my head. It’s just my lungs and the side effects from the chemotherapy.

Right there, I claimed that I was finally standing up. Standing up to cancer. Standing up to everything I’ve been through. Because if I’m still here fighting after almost 18 months, why not start believing that I can get through this. That I can beat this.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t been much of a fighter through this like some of you might think. I’ve just been taking it, slug after slug, beating after beating. I’ve still been that kid that got beat up over and over again by the neighborhood girls. Just standing there and letting it happen. I started speaking the words, “I’m standing up to cancer. I’m standing up to all of it.”

I stood there for so long that Nick came to check on me to make sure I was okay. Opening the curtain, he asked “why are you standing?” and I proudly responded…

“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

My fight isn’t over. If anything, it’s actually just beginning because I’m not taking it face down anymore. I’m going to get stronger. I’m going to get my life back. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

 


Photo by Alex Green on Unsplash

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

What Shingles Looks Like

My husband, Nick, mentioned that I forgot to add something to my last post. Pictures. You know, of what shingles looks like. Oops.

For those interested, here you go. This is how it looks when the rash first starts…

IMG_6385

 

It wrapped around my right side between my breasts to the middle of my back. It’s right under my bra line so wearing bras is completely out of the question until I’m healed.

IMG_6425

 

IMG_6427

 

Of course, it’s gotten much worse. This is what it looks like when the blisters start bursting.

IMG_6474.jpg

 

IMG_6498

I pray none of you have to deal with this, but even more, I pray that you know Jesus like I do. That you put your whole heart and your whole body at His feet. He truly can bring a peace that you will never quite understand.

May peace be with you.

Peace Can Only Come From Jesus

dove pic

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. 

Fallen State

I stand and then fall;

On my own, I have nothing.

I am nothing.

I fall and then stand;

With you, I have everything.

You are my everything.

I’m not afraid to fall.

I’m not afraid to suffer.

Surrendered at Your feet is

The only way to truly live.

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

 

Mustard Seed Faith

I had a CT scan done last week, and got my results when I saw my oncologist on Wednesday. I was incredibly nervous to find out what was going on with the lesion in my left lung. Back when I was diagnosed last September, it measured approximately 6x6cm (about the size of an egg), and had only shrunk down to 4×4 cm after six rounds of standard chemotherapy.

By standard chemotherapy, I mean using one platinum-based IV drug called carboplatin combined with another kind of chemo called alimta once every three weeks. Carboplatin is very toxic so patients typically only do six rounds, but if you have advanced disease like myself, you may continue using the chemo drug alimta as maintenance therapy. Alimta takes only about 15-20 minutes to get in your system, and is not as harsh on your body.

I was concerned that my lesion wasn’t going to shrink anymore with just the maintenance therapy. All I could hope for was that it didn’t start growing because if that happened, I would move to my last line of defense and try immunotherapy. I technically had already tried one of these drugs (avastin prevents new blood vessels from forming) when I moved to maintenance therapy, but it caused me to be in more pain to the point I needed to start taking pain meds again so I stopped after only two rounds. Having five extra months to live (as the drug promised) was not worth the pain I was going through.

So here I was knowing that I had already said no to one drug that could help prevent any new growths, and I had to face the results of another scan. My husband was with me as he always is for dr visit/chemo days and I think he was a little nervous too. When my doctor came in the room, the first thing he addressed was the good report on the CT scan. No new growth! We were relieved, but as we were trying to find out how big the tumor was now, we were shocked to learn that it wasn’t there.

We didn’t understand what the doctor was saying, not sure we had heard him correctly. We were having him reiterate what he had just said while I was trying to study the report in my lap. He said “there is no measurable mass” in my left lung, the same thing staring back at me in black and white. It had only been six weeks since the last CT scan where the report clearly stated the tumor was 4×4 cm. Somehow, it went from being the size of a walnut to nothing in just two chemo cycles of maintenance therapy.

Now, I know that there is no way that a maintenance drug that only puts 15 minutes of chemo in my body for 2 rounds can make a tumor of that size just disappear when standard chemo with a much stronger drug couldn’t do that in 6 rounds. The math just doesn’t add up. Even the avastin can’t make tumors disappear like that. There was only one explanation. God did that.

I was in shock for quite a bit of that day, not because I didn’t believe God could do it, but because of the amount of favor He poured over me and my situation. Today, I found out that He has done the same thing for another person who had a 11 mm tumor in their left lung and theirs is completely gone now too!

God is definitely still in the business of doing miracles. Things can seem so bleak even when you have faith because you often still don’t know what God’s plan is for your life. We hold on to Him for dear life, praying and hoping that His plans for this life still include us a little bit longer, and it is just pure joy when we finally come to understand His plans for us.

I pray for anyone dealing with a long-term, debilitating illness. There are still plenty of reasons to hope, even if your faith is as small as a mustard seed.

He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20