My Cancer Blog

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Paul’s thorn


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We are not told in the Bible what Paul’s thorn is. 
(2 Corinthians 12)
Paul only acknowledges that he has a thorn, and that he has asked the Lord three times to remove it from him but the Lord answers him with:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Paul does expound a bit on what  he believed to be the purpose of the thorn:
“To keep me from becoming conceited…”

If Paul is right, and I don’t believe his words would have been written down in scripture lest they were truly inspired by the Holy Spirit…Then the purpose of a “thorn’' in the flesh is twofold…To keep us humble, and to perfect the power of God through us.

God certainly tells us in his Word that he will use the foolish or base things in our lives…The flesh is something that regardless of who you are, or whether or not you believe yourself to be in perfect health…it tends to get uncomfortable on a regular basis…temperature affects it, bugs bite it, sharp objects scrape it, hard objects bruise it, and on and on…Even normal hunger and thirst are uncomfortable feelings…Face it…being in the body is not often pleasant!

But, some folks have an extra thorn in their flesh…something that no matter what they do it’s presence is never fully forgotten about.

Paul’s acknowledgement of the thorn was not necessarily complaining, but only asking God to do something that Paul knew he was able to do…and it was God’s unwillingness to do what Paul asked that, I believe is the crux of the message here.

I wonder what would have happened if God did remove Paul's thorn?
Would we still have the New Testament writings from Paul?..or would Paul have been so confident as to be able to say..

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation..." (Phil. 4:12)

We know to ask the Lord not to do our will, but to do according to His sovereign will…yet what we really want is to have God agree with our own will…and usually for our own purposes…even if it is just so that our flesh is more comfortable.
At times like those do we even care what God has in mind..After all, there is a purpose to every chapter of our lives. (Thanks Lidia for reminding me).
But the whole story is not written in just that one chapter…the one where you suffered the most, or the one where you had to learn to endure some unpleasant thing in your life.
That one or two chapter(s) does not define who you are in God’s book of life (though it does help mold you).
The definition of who you are is defined in the chapters already written long before you were ever born…the chapters where Jesus suffered for your healing and died for your sins… being raised again as a fulfillment of his claim to be the Son of God who will also raise us from the dead and give us eternal life.
The most important chapters in your life are the ones written in the life of another…Jesus.
Is that what it means when we say:
Christ is my life…In him I live and move and have my being. (Acts 17:28)

Jesus did not just bare a thorn in his flesh like the rest of us during his lifetime…but was given a whole crown of thorns to wear to the cross!
What a small thing for us to have only one or two thorns during our lifetime in comparison to that.

Just as Paul never even gives the thorn in his flesh a name, thereby giving it even less power over him, I believe that we must be careful not to bring too much focus on the thorns in our flesh either…Beyond acknowledging their existence…give them no more glory beyond the fact that God will use them for his divine purpose according to his will for us…and maybe, just maybe the purpose of the thorn in the first place is to glorify him through his power of healing when he miraculously removes it from us.

I wonder if Paul's thorn in the flesh was some kind of physical disability?
If so, then God still used Paul, and in a big way...The thorn did not get in the way of that, instead it maybe helped God to empower him to a higher calling while keeping him humble and weak enough to realize and always remember that he could not depend on his own strength...but only on the strength from the Holy Spirit. 
Oftentimes when we try to do something for the Lord with our own strength we just end up getting in God's way. We need the power of the Holy Spirit in order to serve God's kingdom in a truly productive and inspired way. 

One of the rules I made for myself while I was going through cancer treatment was that I would NEVER say “my cancer”…I thereby did not accept it as part of my being…my identity. I believe that God allowed the surgeons to remove it from my body…but there are certain thorns that still remain.

 It is on those days when the thorns prick my flesh, that I am reminded that I need the Lord to help me to do things. On the days where I feel comfortable in my flesh…I often forget that I need God’s help…I can do it myself..That is my attitude.
I imagine if I were able to “do it myself” consistently…I would have no need to call upon my God for help.

 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

The thorns in our lives are only meant to bring us into a stronger relationship with the Father…to humble us as we bear witness to things that only angels have seen…and to glorify the King as we experience his awesome power over everything that threatens to destroy our faith while here on planet earth.

And someday when we are in heaven…we can ask Paul “Hey, what WAS that thorn in your flesh anyway?” To which he’ll probably reply:
What thorn?…I don’t remember any thorns except the ones my Lord wore for me. Winking smile

Monday, January 19, 2015

See my heart!


The Lord is doing things in my life that requires my perfect trust in His perfect grace.
It’s hard to ignore the very obvious changes that have occurred on the outside of me in just one short year…
Snapshot_20140108_4He carried me through my year of grace!Lisa 2015
Last year………………...............Chemo…………….............This year
What may not be so obvious, are the many changes that have and still are occurring within.
The outward changes are not so great…I have aged considerably, thanks to early menopause from the chemo, as well as a bit of a weight gain…and some new stress marks on my face..AKA: wrinkles…But the changes that are within are all good ones…My heart…is full of a new love for my Savior, and for my sweet husband, and beautiful daughters, and precious family and friends!

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Thanks to Jesus, I am free to let his love shine through the cracks of my heart…Now there is  beauty where there was once only brokenness.
…Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1Samuel 16:7

~Blessings & Love~ Lisa

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nesting


It is a foggy day up here in the northern woods…A good day to play inside.
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I’m a nester by nature….Even now, with the empty nest syndrome, I still need my nest(s).
I currently have a nest in my bedroom where I spend the day taking advantage of the big south facing windows and lots of natural light.
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The two paintings shown are of Sarah by the sea…which is what I named it many years ago when I painted it back in 2005..(you can see the photo in the left bottom corner of the painting)…

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I remember running out of blue paint for it, so I had to experiment with some other things in order to finish it..lol!

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The other painting was done by me and Sarah back in 2002…It was a fun mother and daughter project…and my favorite painting of all!



In the evening I spend time with Jeff in my nest in the living room I  usually stay here for a while after he goes to watch TV in bed. I’m not trying to avoid him or anything, its just that he likes to watch TV, and I usually don’t.

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It is a good place to read or sketch while Jeff watches TV…This is also where we eat dinner together. We’re very comfy in our matching recliners…the couch only gets used when we have company over…I am always redecorating it..Jeff says it’s one of my works of art..lol!
Now I have a new nest in the camper…It is full of bears and wolves and even  a moose or two…Lots of things to inspire some sketches on those camping nights or rainy days when we are unable to go exploring…(pictures coming soon)
I keep my sketching materials and my camera close by wherever I may nest…As I never know when the mood will strike…or when someone will strike a pose! :0
Both of our dogs are nesters too…Bud likes to stay in the bedroom 99% of the time while Sasha prefers to be alone in the hallway or the foyer….or outside on the back deck.
She actually gives us the stink eye if we try to call her in when she wants her alone time:
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 I suppose I ought to get busy cleaning the house.
Oh…and maybe I’d better give someBuddy a snack?
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Thank you for dropping by…I hope you enjoyed my silly sketches…and they made you smile. Smile

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;...

~Blessings & Love~ Lisa

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winter thoughts and spring-time dreams

 “The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply because 
they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.” 
― J.M. BarrieThe Little White Bird

To see is to believe...But to feel is to see...(me) ;)

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I have plans today to finish redecorating the bedroom. I am making it bright and cheerful to help diffuse the dreariness that winter sometimes brings.
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I will post a picture when I’m done.
The weather has been bitter cold, and I have been trying to keep up with feeding the birds, but this morning I’ve run out of suet, and shopping is two days away
.IMG_2546IMG_2524IMG_2529 See who's eating all the suet up!
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See the sparkly snow outside my bedroom window?
My sister in law, Rosie, called last night and asked if we could go up to her campsite in Fredrick to check on the place this weekend. She lives in Ohio, and we are less than an hour away from it.
So, we are gonna take Buddy on another ride this weekend to help him get used to it.
And there is a good reason why we are getting Bud used to car rides:
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We got a camper!
Jeff and I decided that after the year we just had, that this year we were going to do something special just for us…so we found this little gem down in Bay City…She is only five years old and in very good condition. Actually she suffered hail damage last summer and has been restored back to perfect condition!
I will share some interior photos as soon as I get them from Jeff’s phone…It is just too cold to go outside right now and take more photos.

We did spend a day and evening in the camper to test everything out...(on the weekend following New Years) It was very comfy and warm. We didn't stay all night because it would use a lot of propane to heat it that long this time of year. 
I am very excited and anxious for springtime!
So, that is why we need to get Buddy road ready so to speak. Smile 


 ~Blessings & Love~
and remember, we are...
~Never Forsaken~

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Like Molasses In January

 *Note* This was yesterday's post...Today I am sitting in the parking lot while Jeff has his doctor's appointment...I am doing an update on my laptop...Nothing much to post about today. 
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I've been bitten by the lazy bug today.
I feel as slow as molasses in January!

I got up late this morning, and when I made the coffee I looked outside and noticed the feeders were empty, so I put my coat and boots on (over my bathrobe) and went outside to fill them…A playful little chickadee started singing it’s name to me, so I sang it back, and the little guy musta liked it because he came close for a visit while I was filling the feeder, and I’m sure he would have eaten straight from my hand if Buddy had not been with me….but he did land on the suet hanging mere inches from me!
Speaking of the bird feeder; I've gone through some recent photos, and found many shots of birds and blooms found around my yard this past summer and fall.
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I'm trying to decide what to do with them. Of course I will share them on my blog, but I don't think I want to publish them all at once in a post, so I'm trying to think of a clever way in which to incorporate them into the blog as maybe a collage of some sort...or a photo album.

So, here I am tapping away at the keyboard while the house is still a mess from the weekend…I am having trouble getting motivated today!
I like to spend the weekend with Jeff and let some (Ok, most) of the housework go. We usually go for a ride on Friday after work to Houghton lake where we do our shopping, and then Saturdays we just get in the venture van and venture wherever the wind blows us.
Yesterday we took Buddy for a ride and he did pretty good. I took my camera along, but forgot to place the battery back in it after charging it…So, I will leave you with this interesting photo taken Friday instead…
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In case you can’t see it…I played around with the photo a bit….See the crying eyes in the rear window of my van?
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Well, I’ve been waiting, but so far the laundry hasn’t begun to fold itself…so I guess I’d better get to it. Winking smile
Blessings & Love~  Lisa

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My new normal…?


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Oh, how I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time now.
I know you’ve all heard people say that after any life changing event a person will learn to find a “new normal” for their life.
Well, I myself said it often enough and heard it over and over again…But, what does it really mean to find that “new normal”? And does it have to mean that the new normal somehow will not be as good as your ‘old’ normal was?
One of the things that I have been blessed with since my bout with cancer last year is the ability to laugh at things more…the kind of laughter that brings tears to the eyes and hurts your gut.

Hairs an example …
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My brand new baby hair…It is so thick and curly that no amount of hair gel can tame it! I can’t help but laugh whenever I look in the mirror each morning…I just never know what will be sticking up or curled which way. One side of my bangs is straight while the other is curled upward!
One side towards the back refuses to lie down flat…and then for even more amusement…
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On one side, my eyelashes are nice and long…on the other…not so much, although the eyebrow on that side is a bit thicker than the other one.
At this point I am just happy to have hair…but truthfully, I am wondering if I will ever want it long again. I really think I am going to embrace this new shorter hair thing…a new normal for me. It might grow back to its old norm if I wait long enough, but I sort of like it short and sassy… although a little less sassy would be nice.. lol!
One day my friend Ellen came by for coffee. We chatted a bit and Ellen got a bit sad and teary eyed. I handed her a tissue and told her to just look at my crazy hair and laugh…and she did. So, God used my hair to help relieve my friend’s sorrow for a moment. That was a good thing.
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.
 Proverbs 17:22
Now, if only I could find the irony in this constant runny nose…a left over side-effect from the Herceptin. Of course it starts just when I get my hands full or begin a task like cooking or folding clothes…Hopefully it will go away soon…Well, at least people don’t crowd me in public places since I look like I have a cold all the time..That’s sort of handy this time of year with the cold and flu season in full swing. Which reminds me, I got my flu shot this year for the first time since 1999…(I haven’t had the flu since 1999, by the way.) 
Now they are saying this year’s flu vaccine isn't effective. Well at least I don’t have to go to the hospital every week for blood work any longer and get exposed to everything! In fact, I can stay home and hibernate all winter long this year…Sounds good to me.



~Blessings & Love~
and remember, we are…
~Never Forsaken~

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Overflow and balance


I learned something new yesterday….well, two things actually.
The first thing I learned about was when  it seems like there’s just too much to keep up with in life, too much to do and we find ourselves overwhelmed, because it is impossible to keep up…We tend to freeze up, causing everything to become a mess.
I learned this from…
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my washing machine!
Yes, my washer taught me a very important lesson  when the drain froze and the water began to overflow…It was very hard for me and Jeff to catch the water into containers until it drained out…We couldn’t keep up and the bathroom floor began to flood!
The second lesson I learned was from my friend Deb during a phone conversation earlier in the day…She said that we needed balance…that we either talked too often or too seldom resulting in not having enough to talk about, or having too much catching up to do…and we overwhelm each other. Her wise counsel stayed with me throughout the day, and early this morning I awoke and something just clicked. You see, I’ve been struggling with the feeling of being overwhelmed with a lot of things lately, trying to get caught up, only to find myself nearly paralyzed by too much overflow…overflow in my thoughts, in my housework, with my list of things to do and people to talk to and catch up with…and with this blog.
For a few months now, I have been less than enthusiastic to post to this blog…even though I really want to. This has perplexed me so much that I wondered if maybe God no longer wanted me to do this. Until I thought about the idea of balance…and overflow.
And it clicked. I need some consistency in my life. Not only with my relationships, and responsibilities, but also with what I want to spend my free-time on.
I enjoy writing, taking photos, and doing art projects and studying the Bible and then incorporating the photos, and biblical lessons, (and sometimes even some art) into blogging to share with my friends on here. But if I am not consistent and write about things when they happen, when it’s still fresh…then the flood comes when I try to play catch up with my posts…and it is easy to get very overwhelmed…and so I freeze, and nothing much gets posted.
I was very frustrated last night when we were dealing with the washing machine. It was all my fault too…I should have tested the drain first since this wasn’t the first time it happened.
I woke up this morning frustrated because the laundry was still in the washer, and now I would need to wait until Jeff comes home tonight to get that drain thawed…
And then this morning when I took the picture in my bathroom I turned and was reminded of three things:
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Believe
Trust
Praise
God is trying to tell me something here. It’s all over my bathroom…and in the Bible!
I have these words written on my shower curtain, my walls, and even on the tooth brush holder…And to be consistent with my word for this year…On my heart!
If I begin to believe and trust God with the flow in my life, and I remember to praise Him in ALL things…staying consistent with my daily Bible reading, prayer, relationships, responsibilities, and even fun hobbies like photography and blogging…Then balance will be restored in my life once again.
I think this was a good lesson to start the new year off with.
What lesson(s) have you learned so far this year?
~Blessings~
<3 Lisa

Sunday, January 4, 2015

His word in my heart.

 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

Last year, my word for 2014 was ‘GRACE’. The Lord gave me my word pretty early..It was actually given to me in December, because I believe the Lord knew that I would need it then…and I surely did! He carried me through a year of grace.
And now?
He has let me down…actually, He has set me down.
He has placed my feet upon solid ground, and I am convinced that he will always be near to guide me with His light to show the way upon life’s path, however long or short, straight or narrow, steep or deep, I know He is there and has prepared the way for me.
I have been waiting for a new word to start this new year with. I wondered if it would be the word ‘Glory’, since that seemed the appropriate word to follow ‘Grace’. But it is not that word….I thought the word ‘Faith’ seemed like a good one too, and although it certainly is a good word, it was not the word. Then I chuckled a bit at the thought of the word: ‘Word’ as being my word for 2015…and although that seemed very interesting and certainly would be fitting…It was not to be…Then I remembered…
Just before we left for my last Herceptin infusion on Monday, I looked out the kitchen window and saw that the birds had eaten the suet hanging from the feeder, and for the second time in a couple months, it was shaped like a heart.
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When I was wheeled into the OR on Tuesday, the only scripture I could think of was:
Create in me a clean heart, Oh God and renew a right spirit within me…(Psalm 51)
Christmas day I cooked a turkey…the biggest one I ever cooked (26 lbs.)…and when I took out the heart of the bird, it was pretty big so I tried to feed it to Buddy…He only spit it back out on the floor, and though I had cooked it and it was cooled…neither he nor Sasha would  eat it…so I picked it up and examined it, I noticed all the little arteries, and pondered at how neat it is that it was shaped primarily the same as my own heart.
Then, just last night I watched Dr. Oz performing several open heart surgeries…(Something I normally cannot watch) I watched with great interest for two hours!
I also have 3 good friends who have recently undergone heart surgeries/and or/ procedures, and I have been praying fervently for their continued recovery and health.
And then there’s been my own heart echo cardiograms that I have been undergoing throughout my treatment with Herceptin this past year…How interesting it has been to actually be able to watch my heart in action!
God is so awesome…and we truly are fearfully and wonderfully made!
So I believe my word for 2015 is ‘Heart’.
There is so much to glean from God’s Word regarding the heart…

 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. John 14:1

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Matthew 15:8

I have been feeling a bit lost and even a little alone since the Lord set me down…After all, I went from being like that lamb we have all seen in pictures…carried so close to the Lord’s own heart…to being placed back down on the ground to walk on my own two feet now.
My legs are still a bit shaky, but His hand holds mine firmly…He will never really let me down because He never lets go!
We never know what a new year will bring our way, but we know that God has already written out our life story. He has determined our every breath and like the winding of a clock the beat of the heart has been set in motion by Him…and He alone decides when it will no longer beat again.
Nothing catches God by surprise, and nothing can remove us from His hand…or from His heart.

 ~BLESSINGS & LOVE~
and remember, we are...

~NEVER FORSAKEN~

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUD!

HAPPY 8TH B-DAY, BUD! I think he's had too many birthday cookies already today!