And Life Goes On!

It’s been awhile since I posted…

Honestly, trying to find the time and the energy to concentrate on anything outside of the essentials of life takes effort with a capital E, F, F, O, R, and T times infinity plus (Is that even possible to have ‘times infinity plus’?)

When I was first diagnosed back in 2014, my goal was to post once a week because writing helped me gather all my overwhelmed, chemo-ridden, ‘somebody replaced my rabbit trails with kamikaze ducks’ thoughts into one coherent, ‘fit for human consumption’ thought.
In other words, it helped me process everything.
When I was diagnosed again in 2016, my goal was to post once a month because, frankly, I didn’t want to overwhelm people with the mental kamikaze duck trails of someone who was coming to terms with a terminal disease.

Now, I find that each day, however it may monotonously mirror the day before, is just plain ol’ filled up the essential necessities of life.  And in each day, I am able to bear that particular load, moment by moment, day by day:

Up
(usually early because I can’t stand to lie on my spine anymore.)
Walking
(30 minutes a day – because hormonal blockers for cancer make you want to eat even the sun, moon, stars and anything else that has ventured into the path of your mouth!)
Home school
(because we’re at home and… uh… it’s time for school?!)
Work
(20 hours a week- that’s a complicated subject, but here’s the shorter version: you cannot claim disability if you have not earned enough SSA credits in the last 10 years.  This means that I am trying to earn the credits necessary for when I am unable to work or move or whatever else may cross my path because of cancer-related issues.  Confused yet?  Welcome to the Social Security Administration…)
Keeping Up With The Chores
(as opposed to the hilarious British show, Keeping Up Appearances.  Tea, anyone?)
Nap time
(because Pappy Chubb taught me the importance of taking a nap before bedtime!)
Bedtime
(because naptime wasn’t long enough…)

People tell me that I look great and, depending on the moment, my response varies from, “Really?” to “Thanks.” to “Looks are deceiving…” to “It’s called grace. THIS is what God’s grace looks like.”  but really, all in all, “I’m doing okay.

The spinal pain is my constant friend and I am learning about “Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” (Eph. 3:20, KJV) and to “greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6-9, NASB)

The good news is: my recent CT scan says everything is STABLE.  That means that even though the cancer is present it is not progressing and that, dear folks and friends, is very good news!  And on that note, have a wonderfully bless day and keep on smiling, because in a world that wants to be distinctly black and white, a ray of smiley face yellow can go a very long way to brighten a truly grey day or gray day depending on where y’all are from!

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FOMO

I’m currently living in Cliche Land.

It really does feel like such a drag and it doesn’t help that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I do think by now we’re all “aware” of breast cancer but do you know how much of that “awareness” money goes to actual research in comparison to the personal bank accounts of those who promote “awareness”?  The percentage is a single digit number.

Okay, okay, I’ll get off my hobbyhorse painted soap box…

It’s been a little over 3 months since I learned that I have terminal cancer.  In that time, I have had radiation, healed from radiation, had surgery, healed from surgery, started homeschool, gone back to work part-time, and played the wait-and-see game with medications and the healing process.  It has been extremely hard to see the forest for the trees because I’m pretty sure that somebody switched out those trees for varying sizes of the proverbial 2 x 4 from the lumber yard and took me out to the woodshed and tanned my hide which is currently stretched from my head to my tippy-toes.

All those proverbial 2×4’s have names and they are tattooed across my forehead (and my heart) as well as my stretched out hide.  Their names are Football Fan, Camo Kid, Princess Pink, hopes, dreams, wants, desires, and they are all encased in the fabric of FOMO.

Do you know what FOMO is?

It ranks right up there with YOLO (You Only Live Once) and LOL (Laugh Out Loud) and TTYL (TalkTo You Later).

FOMO is the Fear Of Missing Out:

On anniversaries…

On birthdays…

On graduations…

On weddings…

On grandchildren…

On the moments of first…

On the sound of laughter…

On the warmth of hugs…

On the beauty of love…

On growing old with the loves of my life, my blessed little family… 

What do you do when all that you’ve ever hoped and dreamed for, when all that you’ve ever wanted and desired is seemingly reduced to nothingness in a matter of moments?

You re-examine what you know, what you believe, what you are, who you are.
You determine what matters most.  

Remember when I mentioned in a previous post about “the just shall live by faith“?  What you believe in… is your faith. Don’t let anyone tell you that they don’t believe in anything.  They’re lying to you and they’re lying to themselves because every person believes in something and that is where their faith rest, that is where their strength and guidance comes from to do each and every day.

Remember “Belief determines choice.”? 

My faith feels like it’s been sacked by the biggest and ugliest linebacker whose name is FOMO.  I am continuing to learn that faith is so much more than the ability to move mountains. Faith is the mystery of Christ in the small things.  Everybody wants to be somebody.  We want to leave our mark on the world, create a legacy that last a lifetime, be bigger than themselves, but it is the mustard seed that we are asked to examine.  It is the ‘jot and tittle‘ (Mt 5:18) that we are reminded has never changed.  It is the sparrow that has fallen and each hair on our head that He knows…

And so, as He has been teaching me about true faith, He has been using these phrases “Your will cannot lead me where your grace cannot keep me” and “Bow the knee;
Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.”

~~~~~~~~~~  ~~~~~~~~~~

Lord, as I seek your guidance for the day,
I find my thoughts unyielding: confusion clouds my way,
But, then when I bow to you, the challenges you guide me through,
Your promises are ever new: I claim them for today.

Each new day’s design is guided by your hand,
And graciously revealed as I seek your Master plan.
Keep my footsteps faithful when from you I go.
Return me to the joy that your blessings can bestow.

Your will cannot lead me where your grace cannot keep me.
Your hand will protect me: I rest in your care.
Your eyes will watch over me: Your love will forgive me.
And when I am faltering, I still will find you there.

Your eyes will watch over me,
Your love will forgive me,
And when I am faltering,
Lord, I will find you there.

~ Grace by Carolyn Hamlin ~

~~~~~~~~~~  ~~~~~~~~~~

There are moments on our journey following the Lord
Where God illumines ev’ry step we take.
There are times when circumstances make perfect sense to us,
As we try to understand each move He makes.
When the path grows dim and our questions have no answers, turn to Him.

Bow the knee;
Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee;
Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King, bow the knee.

There are days when clouds surround us, and the rain begins to fall,
The cold and lonely winds won’t cease to blow.
And there seems to be no reason for the suffering we feel;
We are tempted to believe God does not know.
When the storms arise, don’t forget we live by faith and not by sight.

Bow the knee;
Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee;
Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King, bow the knee.

~ Bow The Knee by Chris Machen & Mike Harland ~

The Mentality of Reality

I’m aware that I’m here, but where is HERE exactly? 

Because right now, it is as dark as dark can be and it is consuming me with a panic that I have never known before…

~~~~~~~~~~

Ever been inside one of those tourist coal mines?  You know the one: where they take you in about a mile and a half or so and then turn off ALL the lights. And then, all the little kids panic (and a few adults too) clinging to whomever with a fervency that surpasses Charlton Heston’s famous quote, “So, as we set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away, I want to say those fighting words for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed, and especially for you, Mr. Gore: ‘From my cold, dead hands!’

Currently, that’s what my reality contains: infrequent panic attacks that start with a place as dark as the coal miner’s tunnel. I’m there and I know my eyes are open, but it is so dark, so black, that I can’t even see my hand in front of my face. And that is when the fear begins to consume me…

Where am I?  
The first time this happened, the tears were rolling down the sides of my face as I tried to take myself through the mental steps of reality.

Have I died?

I’m breathing…
That means there’s air!

My heart is clenched…
That means I’m still alive!

What do I last remember…
Ah-Ha!  That means there’s a definite location!
(GPS tracker may be an option for next time???)

GASP!
What in the world just happened?!

~~~~~~~~~~

It’s been almost 9 weeks (60 days to be exact) since my metastatic breast cancer diagnosis and I’m still confronting my new reality, day by day, moment by moment. Every day, I remind myself that “the just shall LIVE by faith” and every day I am reminded that His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness has taken me to the evening.

It’s in the middle of the day and in the dead of night (uh, no pun intend) that I have to remind myself… not to be afraid.

~~~~~~~~~~

My faith, my God, has been ministering His promises to my overwhelmed heart, soul, mind, and body through music. And I find that just a tad bit humorous since I have no musical abilities, except for the fact that I know how to turn on the radio and push play on the CD player…  

It was with a particular phrase that He began to whisper His healing balm to my heart over and over again: “when you walk through the fire, you’ll not be consumed. You are Mine, you are precious in My sight.” I’m terrible with names and lyrics to songs and so I went to Football Fan and asked him to help me locate the music and words for this tune that had become my anchor for my sanity and my reality.

Here, for your encouragement:

Be not afraid for I have redeemed you.
Be not afraid, I have called you by name.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
When you pass through the floods, they will not sweep o’er you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be consumed.
You are Mine, you are precious in My sight.

My love for you is everlasting,
My love for you shall have no end.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
When you pass through the floods, they will not sweep o’er you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be consumed.
You are Mine, you are precious in My sight.

~ Be Not Afraid by Craig Courtney ~

~~~~~~~~~~

I don’t know what particular coal miner’s tunnel you’re stuck in.  I don’t even know who turned out the lights on you…  I don’t know where your HERE is, BUT there is one thing I do know: He knows it ALL and He says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Can you imagine being still in the midst of panic and fear?
FIGHT OR FLIGHT, BABY!
FIGHT OR FLIGHT!

That is our natural inclination…

And yet, He says, “Be still…

Don’t let the mentality of your reality consume you!  Be still and know that you are His and are so completely and absolutely precious in His sight.  His love for you is everlasting. That means it has no end, no matter how long or how dark the tunnel…

Keep smiling!

Whelmed, Over and Over Again

It has been 29 days since we learned that my previously achieved NED status (No Evidence of Disease) has been permanently revoked.  In these last 29 days, there have been more moments of tears, more phone calls, more visits, more conversations than we are able to process or comprehend.

We are overwhelmed, more like discombobulated really, hence the ‘Whelmed, Over and Over Again’ blog title… and yet, there’s a phrase that continues to float throughout my thoughts and my heart.

“I’m overwhelmed by His mercy and His all sufficient grace.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Let me start with Day 1: We walked into the doctor’s office on July 5th for a follow-up appointment to a MRI on my spine that I had received on July 1st. That scan was a follow-up to a CT scan on my spine that I had received on June 22nd. As I had previously noted a while back in a different blog post, I have been dealing with some spine issues. I became aware of the discomfort back in December and the issue was addressed to the plastic surgeon at an appointment shortly thereafter. Because I was walking around as a half chest-endowed woman, it was figured that my lopsidedness was the culprit. After my second mastectomy in March, I could tell an immediate difference in most of my spinal issues, but I needed to give my body time to heal from the surgery.  As time passed, the remaining spinal issue never resolved itself and at my 6 month post-cancer check-up on June 20th, I addressed the spinal issue to my oncologist.  You have read the progression of those events…

As the doctor spoke with us, Football Fan was in a state of shock and I sat there with tears pooling in my eyes as I stared at the doctor.  Although I can’t remember his exact words, this is what I do remember: incurable; 5 years. The rest of the day is a blurry mess with the exception of the desire not to go home and talk with Camo Kid and Princess Pink and the need to go to the eye glass repair shop because a pair of glasses flew across the room at the speed of light when the undesired talk occurred.

In the last 29 days, 15 of those days have been spent in consultations, radiation prep, and radiation. I have shared the news with family, friends, and possibly, even a few strangers. I have cried. I have prayed. I have comforted. I have been comforted. I have researched and read more information about fighting incurable cancer than I can mentally processed.

And yes, I did call the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
It’s not an option: I don’t qualify.

Reality still has not set in.  I still wake up in the middle of the night and wonder what is going on with my body. I still sit at the dinner table or on the couch doing everyday ordinary things until I look into the faces of my blessed little family and realize that there will be a day that I am not doing those everyday ordinary things with them, that I will not hear their laugh or see their smile. And that is a devastating thought because we all know how much I love smiley faces!

Everything has changed.
Tears come at the strangest times… Heartbreaking conversations with my blessed little family about the future are happening NOW instead of LATER.

Nothing has changed.
I knew before all of this that I would die one day.  Even now, I still don’t know the when… The oncologist informed us that he has taken patients to the 5 year mark, but he hasn’t been able to take anyone to the 10 year mark… yet.  He gently tried to remind us that new medical developments are happening all the time.  Please know that I do not have an expiration date stamped on my foot. I am not giving up, cancer is cancer and has been around for a long time, but how I proceed from these moments is determined by what I believe because what I believe determines what I choose.

“… the just shall live by faith …” (Hebrews 10:38)

This is what I believe. And yet, the words mean so much more now because of 1 word: live.  My faith is found in Christ and so I choose to LIVE, by that faith, each day, each moment that He allows me whether it may be one day, one year, five years, or 50 years.

Remember that phrase I mentioned earlier?

“I’m overwhelmed by His mercy and His all sufficient grace.”

Enjoy the rest of what I am learning in being whelmed, over and over again by:

Overwhelmed by His mercy, amazed by His grace;
I am cleansed from all sin, every sign every trace.
Jesus left Heaven’s portals Himself to abase;
I’m overwhelmed by His mercy and His all sufficient grace.

I will rest in His keeping each night and each day,
For I know that He’s leading each step of the way.
Tho’ the valleys of sadness at times I must face,
Still He comforts all heartaches with His all sufficient grace.

O what love God bestows upon all who believe:
He will free you from guilt when His Son you receive,
He has promised to keep you, prepare you a place,
If you’ll take of His mercy and His all sufficient grace.

God’s everlasting mercy, oh what tender relief,
When burdened with sorrow and laden with grief;
When I think that on Calvary Christ died in my place
I’m overwhelmed by His mercy and His all sufficient grace.

~ His All-Sufficient Grace by H.A. Taylor~

 

 

Non-Celebrity Endorsed PSA

Just an average Josie-Shmosie here with no money to make and an unrecognizable face…

Twenty-two months ago I found 2 lumps while doing a routine breast self exam. This led me down a road that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. After a course of 3 different kinds of chemotherapy (with one affectionately dubbed the ‘Red Devil’), genetic testing, a modified radical mastectomy, the bodily rejection of a breast reconstruction expander, and 30 treatments of radiation, I thought I was on my way to entering the ‘rat race’ of life again!

Little did I know that insurance red tape would allow me to receive another mastectomy instead of a breast reduction and put me on the path of a colonoscopy because of a genetic mutation for colon cancer found during my genetic testing.

Colonoscopies are not pleasant to think about. To be the patient of a colonoscopy is probably about as much fun as being the administering doctor of a colonoscopy… I was especially blessed to receive a double procedure this week! Not only did a camera enter my bum-de-bum (that would be the place where the sun doesn’t shine), but a camera also entered my yapper (that would be my mouth – the sun shines there). Truly, the colonoscopy and endoscopy were nothing to write home about. The preparation for the procedure, well, let’s just say that hungry, cranky, and angry make a person cranktoriously hangry and very tired. Don’t plan on going ANYWHERE during the prep cycle…

~~~~~~~~~~

The end results… sorry couldn’t resist… are knowledge!

Because when the doctor tells you that he removed a 2 centimeter polyp and will send it away for testing. That’s a good thing! And when the same doctor, who told you the results would be back in 1 to 2 weeks, calls you the very next day and tells you that the polyp they removed was precancerous. That’s a good thing! And when the same doctor tells that you will be cranktoriously hangry again in 6 months for another bum-de-bum close-up and then again every 2 years for the rest of your life.  That is a good thing!

Because being able to proactively have a chance to fight colorectal cancer is a good thing!

~~~~~~~~~~

I would have never had the colonoscopy if it hadn’t been for the genetic mutation found during the genetic testing for my breast cancer that I found through a self exam.

So the moral of this story is:

Do your monthly breast self exams!

Talk with your doctor about your family history.

Genetic testing can be a good thing!

Mammograms are not the devil’s brother or sister.

Colonoscopies can make a HUGE difference in the end (uh, sorry… couldn’t resist… again)!

~~~~~~~~~~

This is the end of your non-celebrity endorsed PSA.

Keep smiling… or not!

A Funny Tasting Chemo Morsel…

Why don’t cannibals eat clowns?
Because they taste funny…

~~~~~~~~~~

It’s been about 13 1/2 months since my last chemo treatment.  I just realized that there was definitely one good thing about having chemo in my system.

I tasted funny to all the bugs!

As a child, I was always covered in bug bites.  Regardless of ALL the different changes to my body chemistry over the last 43 years, I could always count on being a big bowl of yummy to any and every bug that desired a delectable morsel of my sweet meat.

As I stood in my kitchen this morning frantically clawing at yet another bug bite, I was struck by the fact that this didn’t happen last year.  And it took me a bit longer than a moment to remember that last summer was bug-free… because I was chemo-filled.

Remember:

No Smiling Allowed!

Welcome to every day for the rest of this life!

Why would you want to compare yourself to a cancer patient?

Let me give you a run down of what I am living with at this point in time:

  • Spinal pressure and pain every night as I (attempt) to sleep.
  • HOT flashes, from Tamoxifen and chemically-induced menopause, all through the already restless night.
  • At least 30 minutes of concentrated stretching to compensate for the 18 inches of scar tissue across my chest that has contracted throughout the night.
  • Seeing 18 inches of scars across my chest.
  • Fatigue because I have not sleep well in weeks due to spinal pain and hot flashes.
  • Cognitive issues (chemo brain) from having toxic chemicals pumped into my heart.
  • Metabolism and ‘mood’ issues due to Tamoxifen and chemically-induced menopause.
  • Chemically-induced menopause because of the toxic chemicals pumped into my heart.
  • Private issues because of chemically-induced menopause. 
  • Gastro-intestinal issues because of the toxic chemicals pumped into my heart.
  • Lymphedema issues because of the ancillary node dissection I was required to have.
  • Learning to live without my breasts and having to adapt my wardrobe and my outlook accordingly.
  • Learning to live the with possibility of cancer re-occurrence or metastization.
  • Dealing with people who choose to be cruel instead of compassionate in their words, actions, and/or attitudes.
  • Learning to bear-up under the scrutiny of cruel and uncompassionate people.
  • Fatigue because my body has just come out of 17 months of aggressive cancer treatments in order to save my life.
  • Dreading sleep because it just starts this list all over the next day. 

There is one verse in particular, found in Matthew 11, that has taken on new meaning for me.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Can you imagine that???
Don’t compare my burden to anyone else except His burden…

Christ tells me to carry HIS burden because it’s light in comparison to mine!

Truly amazing is this God who loves me!

 

A Word of Thanks

This is a guest post from Football Fan.

The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4.14, “You have done well to share with me in my affliction.” (affliction = suffering) He wrote these words from a dank, filthy hole in the basement of Mamertine Prison in Rome, and he had just received an extremely generous gift from one of the churches in Paul’s ministry. Their gift to the politico/religious prisoner marked them before one of the world’s most infamous dictators. They truly shared in Paul’s sufferings.

Many people shared in our difficulty. I would like to take the opportunity to give a public word of thanks to God for the help we received during Lee’s cancer. I won’t mention names because: 1) I don’t remember them all, so I don’t want to give unnecessary offense if I forget to mention someone, 2) I don’t know some because they gave as part of a group, 3) I don’t want to embarrass others because they gave without wanting attention, and 4) some would be embarrassed because of the noticeable absence. Truly the too-numerous-to-count thoughtful acts of love and compassion overwhelmed us, and we appreciated the people who loved us enough to give of themselves to us. I remember one night when (half an hour apart) two families showed up on our doorstep with a hot dinner.

I make one exception to not naming specific people. Lee’s Aunt B and Uncle B have been the greatest source of personal encouragement through all of this. Aunt B called regularly and patiently. We weren’t always able to return calls immediately, and sometimes the calls went unreturned because we were literally fighting for dear life and making a phone call was the last thing on our minds some days. She always had a word of encouragement. She knew Lee wasn’t working and that we desperately needed that second source of income, and she provided for needs in very practical ways. She kept the girls for a week so they could get out of the sick house for a change of pace and scenery. She contacted other churches to pray for us. Between our many friends through the years and Aunt B’s efforts, churches from Pennsylvania to Texas to Florida were praying for us. Thank you, Aunt and Uncle B!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the churches in the Harrisburg Area Preachers’ Fellowship who reached out to us with the love of Christ. Four churches in particular went far above and beyond in their generosity. Two churches (one not from the fellowship) provided significant gifts, and two other churches gave us (in total) two freezers full of heat-and-eat meals. One of the latter churches invited my oldest daughter to go to camp with them last summer and completely covered the expenses for us. My daughter had the time of her life! Thank you to the body of Christ in southcentral PA and northern Maryland.

Our own church helped us greatly in many practical and loving ways. What stands out the most was that the church leadership team told me to take all the time I needed to do whatever I needed to do. They were true to every word, enduring my fluid schedule with the constant doctors’/therapy appointments. We could not have done it all without that kind of freedom and flexibility. The congregation patiently endured a handful of rerun sermons. They also patiently endured the sermons that weren’t reruns but which I wondered how much sense they made because I wrote like a teenager first learning to drive a standard — some days writing my sermons was like getting that kind of whiplash. The church family constantly asked about the latest developments. They provided many things, sometimes on very short notice. I am and always will be deeply grateful for my Grace Chapel family.

These gifts and acts of love, while meeting real physical needs, ministered to our hearts and souls — our spiritual needs. They all shared in our afflictions, sometimes crying with us and other times laughing with us, but in all, helping us in our walk of faith. They have all been God’s grace poured into us in our time of weakness.

Why

There is no answer to the ‘Why?’ of my cancer journey.  

Well, there is, but it would not satisfy the centuries’ old question of ‘Why did this happen to me?’ and it definitely would not satisfy your expectations of your own ‘Why did this happen to me?’.

~~~~~~~~~~  ~~~~~~~~~~

There are 3 lessons that I have learned though and each lesson is dependent on the previous lesson:

Draw near to God.
You cannot get through any trial or tribulation by yourself.  You have to find hope somewhere.  Many look to the wisdom and courage of others’ struggles.  Many look to themselves.  But ultimately, each and every one of us will fail simply because there is no perfect foundation on this earth that is unmovable, unshakable, enduring, and strong enough to withstand any and all things.  The hope that you want to find is what will become your anchor.  It will become what you believe in.  It will become your faith.  Without that faith, you will not survive and if your faith is founded on that which is imperfect, then how will it survive?

How will you survive?

My faith must be anchored in the only thing that is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, and unchangeable and that anchor MUST be my Creator.  As I endured some of the darkest days of my life, I had to draw closer, nearer to the One who understood perfectly, the One who is perfect, the One who created me.  There were moments in the wee hours of the night, as I wept silently, pleading for comfort, for assurance, for strength, that He gathered me in His mercy and grace and loved me with His perfect, everlasting love.  And as I continued to draw closer to Him, He taught me the next lesson:

He is my ALL.
This is the hardest lesson to learn for I am continuing to learn it.  Football Fan was my 24/7 caregiver.  Next to him, Camo Kid and Princess Pink were my 24/7 caregivers.  You cannot imagine what that means until you have been someone’s 24/7 caregiver.  I have had people pray for me, provide meals for me, and a multitude of other beneficial and meaningful ways of ministering to me during my journey, but ultimately, it was my blessed little family who were there at the highest and lowest points of my illness.  Nobody else was there 24/7.  We have been blessed to be ministered to by complete strangers and we have been devastated to lose the relationships of those we counted very dear to us during this journey.

And yet, even with the 24/7 care and compassion of my blessed little family, they could not be my ALL.  My Creator urged me to draw closer to Him so that He could show me that no matter what, I am never alone, that I would never be alone.  In those darkest days, as I became a recluse because of my illness, as I watched and heard of the activities of my family, my friends, of strangers and as I longed to be part of the world, He never left me.  He became my ALL: my confidant, my confessor, my comfort, my joy, my peace, my God.  My relationship with Him changed from Him being The God of All Things to being My God of Everything.  His grace became sufficient so that I could bear the tremendous loss of so much because His grace IS sufficient.  And as I learned that He is and must always be my ALL, He taught me the final lesson:

Point you to Him.
What is it that you are seeking?  What is it that you are hoping for?  Don’t look to the wisdom and courage of others.  Don’t look to yourselves.  Look to Him.  It doesn’t even matter if you believe in Him or not.  It doesn’t matter if you understand Him or not.  Just look to Him…

You see, He loves you.

He has loved you forever.  

We all want to be loved.  We are all looking for love.  And He is waiting, patiently for you to look to Him: to understand what true love is and what true love feels like.  You turn your face to the Sun on a bright beautiful day and you feel the warmth of its rays.  Turn your face to the God who created you and feel the perfect love that can only come from Him.  You can only want to draw closer to that perfect love and it is only then that you will begin to understand that He is your ALL…

And then you will point others to Him.

And they will want to draw closer to Him…

And learn that He is their ALL.

And tell others…

Why.