Tag Archives: God’s love

We Hurt Because We Love

Standard

I think this title is self explanatory. I also believe that it needs explaining. To make this very real and expose a few more of my own emotions, I’d like to share a bit about our personal journey – about the pain, loss and love.

As yesterday’s post made it painfully evident, my daughter has passed away. I can barely utter these words, let alone write them. That said, I want to concentrate on an idea that resonates deep within me.

Our pain wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t first loved.  Where there is great pain, there is a great volume of love.

It’s true. I loved my daughter with more words than are in existence. As such, I grieve her passing with more pain and hurting than words as well. The life she lived – though short – was incredible. And full of love. If you were to ask 100 people who knew Janet what the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of her, at least 90 of them would say her smile. This child loved and breathed happy.  No matter what she faced. This was made possible, in large part, due to love. She was surrounded by love, and made it her life’s mission to also love others. It is that love that makes her absence in physical form that much more painful. We love her, and we miss her. However, her love yet remains. It always will.

At what became her final moments of life here on Earth, she had many very profound things to share. She knew that people would be sad, but didn’t want them to stay in that sadness forever. Instead, she requested that everyone Remember The Love. And, though it is also etched with pain, remembering that love is our life’s mission. Love others. Be loved. Be the love our world needs. Yes, there will be pain – but it will be matched with love. Allow that love to lead and guide you instead of the pain alone.

Advertisements

A Lot Can Happen In A Year

Standard

If the truth is known, I have no idea even where to start. I came to realize it has been a long time since I have shared here on this page. Too long. Over a year. As such, I also know it’s not wisdom to make some promise to write every day, or heck – even every week.  Though I might do that, I reserve the right to also say that I might not.  What I do know is that I have missed sharing life with you.  So, as such, I want to share where things are right now. This may not be a very long post today.

For those of you unaware, my life and my family’s lives were thrown upside down about this same time, three years ago. We were notified that our little Janet (then 4 years old) had an aggressive brain tumor.  Three years ago, our lives changed. For three years, she courageously fought a disease that would eventually claim her life.  Yes, her life. At 7 years old, my little girl breathed her last breath this side of Heaven. She passed away February 13, 2016 – just over two short but excruciating long months ago.

Truth be told, much of the previous year was dedicated to fighting childhood cancer alongside her. Now that she is gone, that fight is far from over. I proudly stand with others who are fighting, rejoice with those who have finished treatment and live to share their stories, remember the heroes who have their ultimate and eternal healing, and pray for all who stand beside them. None who walk this path are alone. This is a fight that I continue to fight – not just because my daughter died – but also to help ensure other families do not have to walk this same heartbreak.

If you have played a part in our journey – whether small or huge – know that you are greatly appreciated. Please continue to share your love and support – your thoughts and your prayers. They sincerely mean so much.

 

Just To Write – Sharing What Is On My Mind

Standard

I am going to do something different this evening.  I am just going to write.  I don’t have anything specific on my mind, or that I need to get out, so to speak.  So, I am just going to write.  Unedited.  What you see is direct from my brain.  Buckle up  and enjoy the ride!

One of the biggest things on my mind right now is life.  Life, in general. I have a lot of time to sometimes just sit back and ponder the meaning of life.  I sometimes wonder if this is all there is to life, and it bothers me.  Then, I might feel a little bit guilty. Why?  Look around.  I have a husband and three amazing children – not to mention a multitude of extended family – and a network of amazing friends.  It takes thoughts like that to remind me that I am surrounded by so much love.  Life indeed does suck sometimes.  There is always more to life – but even if there isn’t – what I have right now is pretty special, and worth truly living for.

Living.  There have been days recently where I’ve just wanted to pull my hair out.  Truth be told, that might be a little difficult right now, seeing as how I recently shaved it in honor and support of my daughter who is six years old – and bald, fighting cancer.  But, back to my recent crazy days.  There have been moments where I have been feeling quite overwhelmed.  By everything.  Coping with life.  Coping with her having this returned cancer. Dealing with feeling inadequate to handle everything.

It’s then that I realize that I DON’T have to handle everything by myself.  I don’t.  You don’t.  NO ONE SHOULD.  You see, there are multiple factors I have on my side, making life more than worth living.

First, I have a God who is larger than life.  For some reason, He loves me.  He always has, and He always will.  The neat thing about that is that I haven’t done anything particularly worthy of Him.  Just because I am His child – that’s why He loves me.  It’s an awe-inspiring thought.  To know that I can not do everything right, make mistakes and just not live life “perfectly” so to speak, and KNOW that He is always going to be waiting with open arms…that is powerful to me.  To just know that no matter how broken I may feel, He is always ready and willing to pick up the pieces and create a masterpiece.  He is someone who understand every single part of my life.  The good and the bad.  The ups and the downs.  He gets it. And, He loves me.

Secondly, I have family.  I’ll talk about friends in a minute, but first I’m going to share how blessed I am.  I got to thinking what life would be like if I weren’t here.  No, this was not me contemplating suicide, it was me taking myself out of the equation, and wondering how things would be different if I just ceased to exist.  Let’s talk about that precious child fighting cancer.  I’m her Mama.  There isn’t anyone else in this world who can play the role I do.  I am with her every step of the way.  Her Daddy is too, but I’m primary when it comes to taking her to appointments, blood draws, etc.  I don’t resent it.  It makes me happy that she needs me.  Then, there are my boys.  They are tremendous.  I love that we have an open line of communication.  There is not any topic that is barred from conversation, and they know it.  I would like them to be able to talk to me about anything.  I want to be a part of their lives, not a distant dictator as a parent.  I love my children more than I can put into words.  Then there is my husband.  We have been married longer than we have a teenage boy alive.  Things haven’t always been perfect in our marriage. There have been times I have questioned so much.  However, though not perfect, always worth fighting for. God has given me a love for this man unlike anything I can put into words. Even through tough times, I have never forgotten the initial reasons that brought us together, and the love that connected us in marriage.

After family, there are friends. You know, some friends are as close to me as family.  Friends make me smile.  I’d like to take a moment to talk about people both online, that I’ve never met – and that I may not ever meet in person, and people I know in real life.

Don’t EVER think that “just” online friendships are worthless.  They mean so much.  No matter what, online relationships are very real.  I’ll talk about them first. Through online platforms, Twitter, Facebook and my daughters prayer and support page (also on Facebook) I’ve been able to connect with people all over the world. Literally.  All over the world.  That’s neat.  Just connecting with other people is important.  Creating friendships “across the airways” has been incredible.  There are people on my daughter’s page, for instance, that I value their friendship so much.  They have shown so much love and caring.  They take the time to let her know, and to let me and our entire family know that we are loved, and that they care how she is – and how we’re all doing.  It puts a smile on her face, and on mine to see people comment and just surround her with support and love.  There is no question in her little head that she is loved.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Real life friends.  I also know I couldn’t do life without them.  One very specific place I’m surrounded by friendship is at and through my church.  From the moment I walked in the doors the very first time these three years ago almost, I felt truly at home.  I walked in the front doors with lots on my mind, and weighing on me personally.  Like I have said previously, I am diagnosed bipolar.  I say that to just say this.  I was not at a great place, mostly mentally, when I first started going to my church.  However, I was welcomed with open arms, with no judgement, and regardless of what my story was.  That, my friends, was life changing.  Because of the welcoming atmosphere, I was able to connect – both with the people, and with God. Even at the beginning of this fight with childhood cancer and my daughter, I knew they were with me.  They freely admitted that no one at  the church had gone through this, but that they were going to walk with us through the process. They have done just that.  In short, they have been friends.  True friends. Through all that makes up life.

Speaking of connecting with friends,  I’ve mentioned how I’ve recently felt quite overwhelmed.  It’s almost as if all the emotions that come along with being bipolar and having a kid fight cancer – as if all the emotions of these two things have combined forces from years previous and come back to sneak up on me…saying, “here I am…deal with me now!”  It is during these times that I have learned the value of reaching out.  I haven’t always been one to reach out.  I’ve been one to hide, keep to myself, and not let anyone else in.  Why?  I don’t want people to know the “real” me for fear of what they’ll think when and if they find out what makes me tick.  I’m learning that if someone thinks negatively about me after knowing who I am, then fine – I didn’t really need them anyway.  That may seem harsh, but it’s true.  If someone can’t accept you for who you are, you can’t go and try and change yourself to fit the mold.  Doing that will just chip away at you, taking more and more of you with it each time.  Be you.  Be transparent and be authentic.  Doing so isn’t always easy.  It’s vulnerable.  But, it’s worth it.  Creating relationships based on reality is worth it every time.  Like I said, during the times where I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, I’ve learned the value in friendship.  In calling someone and just saying “I’m not okay” or “I’m hurting. Would you please pray with and/or for me?”  That’s hard to do.  But, it’s necessary.  At least, it is for me.  If you’re honest, you’d agree – you need to always have someone by your side that you can call on to just say that things aren’t going okay right now.

As such, it has become imperative for me to remember that it’s okay to not always be okay. I am a Christian.  Which is awesome.  However, accepting Christ into my life to lead the way doesn’t mean that suddenly life will be a bed of roses, with no troubles or struggles.  No, just the opposite.  It means you are human, but even so, God will give you strength to walk through whatever life throws your way.  I know this to be absolute fact.  It’s just that sometimes I don’t always keep my eyes on Him and Him alone.  Through the struggles, I see myself, and my own inadequacy. Of course I’m inadequate.  I wasn’t created to do life alone.  I wasn’t created to do life without Him.  I truly believe that God created us to be community people – to not walk through life alone.

I guess I needed to write all this for myself as much as for any of you who have taken the time to read.  I want you to know this.  You are not alone in this world.  You don’t have to be alone in anything you walk through.  Know that.  I want you to remember all these things I’ve needed to remind myself of.  No matter what your situation is, you are important, and your life has value.  Even when you can’t see it, look around you.  See the people you interact with, and that count on you.  You may not be able to see it, but your impact is great.  More people than you realize love and support you.  You may just need to allow them to do so.  I know people have constantly wanted to help me, and to just be a friend. It wasn’t until I was able to reach out and just be real – authentic – transparent, that I could see true and deep friendships.  I encourage you to do the same.  You are worth it.  Your story is important, and it is still being written.

If you have made it this far, know I’d love to hear from you and know what your story is all about.  If you are feeling alone, or just need a friend, feel free to reply in the comments or to connect through the “contact me” page.  Even if you are having a great day and just want to remind the world to smile, feel free to connect.  I also want to say that I value your thoughts and prayers.  Clearly this isn’t the easiest time in my life.  And that’s okay.  I’m not doing it alone thankfully.  Thank you to everyone who will take the time to pray.  It means so much.  Let me know how I can pray with and for you as well!

With Childlike Faith – Fighting Childhood Cancer

Standard

My daughter has such heart. She has a joy and just the positive spirit that she takes with her everywhere! This little girl has a smile that will light up any room. Her no-nonsense and innocent look at life is heartwarming beyond words. Children, especially those fighting big battles, just have a different perspective than anyone else alive does.

With all this said, I’d like to fill you in on some of the details of our recent history.

As you may have heard by now, our little Janet’s cancer is back, and things don’t look good in a lot of areas. First, I am going to share all that with you – then I am going to tell you were we stand on everything about to be mentioned.

We all knew that it was a possibility that her cancer could one day come back. No one, and I mean no one thought it would so soon. Dealing with a recurrent / metastatic cancer is not good. Learning that she will endure cranio spinal radiation for over a month (every weekday) is also not fun. The follow on treatment will be an outpatient chemo therapy regimen.

Let me explain her treatment plan. For four and a half weeks, Janet will undergo radiation therapy. This time, there will be mostly proton beam radiation, with “normal” radiation a few times. There are said to be normally more side effects with this because a different type of radiation, as well as a larger part of her being treated. The goal of hre radiation is to shrink and make disappear the tumors… also to preferably kill their opportunity to every even possibly return.

After radiation, the protocol is that she will go through an outpatient chemo therapy regimen. This will include daily (Monday through Friday) outpatient chemo. One week. Then, she’ll have approximately 2-3 weeks off, and then do the same thing again. Aside from that, every two weeks, she’ll have a one hour outpatient chemo administered – separate from the others. As I have learned, this chemo therapy regimen is more aimed as being palliative support, or a quality of life kind of thing – as versus curative.

If you’re like 99.99% of everyone else reading this, you may be wondering about alternative protocols or treatment options. You may have suggestions on where else we can seek treatment on behalf of our little Janet. I want you to know, we have gotten multiple second opinions – from the nations leading hospitals and have involved the nation (I’d say even the world’s) top medical minds in this situation, and in her care – simply because her tumor / cancer IS one of a kind. Nothing like it exists in the world. I spoke with another hospital again today, and heard the exact same news as all others have said – St. Louis Children’s Hospital has her with a protocol they’re comfortable with, would recommend themselves, and has state of the art equipment. There are other alternative therapies that we are also looking into, just to ensure we do all that we can to help our little princess do her best.

The entire point I am making is that we have faith and confidence in Janet’s medical team here at Children’s. Never did we doubt them. We sought second opinions just to ensure everyone was on the same page. We do NOT like the page everyone is on, but there is a certain amount of peace knowing that the medical minds agree – as to both what we’re looking at, as well as treatment options, etc.

Now, with all that said, I want you to know that we have not given up – and we will not EVER give up. In fact, we KNOW without even the shadow of a doubt that our God is greater than ANY cancer, any tumor, or any issue Janet faces. Regardless of what the situation looks like, we KNOW that God IS in control. His hands are clearly seen in just about every aspect of this journey. That’s not to say that Him being in control makes it any easier to deal with — but it does make it easier to walk through. We don’t LIKE the situation Janet is in right now, but we do trust God 100% with her situation, and her very life. All of our lives. Her life, and her battle with cancer is part of a bigger story – one bigger than her, than us, or than anyone can imagine. I have that faith. What exactly that means, I do not know. However, I do know that I am grateful to have the strength that comes from the living God we trust. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I refuse to allow the fear (like I’ve said before) to rob and steal the joy from today.

For those of you inclined to pray, know that your thoughts and prayers are valued.

Unmerited Grace, Unwarranted Forgiveness, and Undeserved Love

Standard

Grace. Forgiveness. Love.

These are three words that people throw around time and time again. I do, and you may too. The question is – do you believe that they are for everyone? Think about those people who are hard to extend grace to, who just don’t deserve forgiveness, and those who are really hard to love. Do you have a mental picture of someone in your head right now? I know I came up with several examples.

As an example, I will bring up a recent news event. A little ten year old girl was abducted. An amber alert was issued, and hope for her safe return was sent around the nation. We all went to bed that evening, many people nationwide praying for her to be returned home safely. The next morning, however, the news reports were heartbreaking. A man had been found, arrested and charged with her murder. Murder. Seems she wouldn’t be returning home safely after all. I know my heart broke with many, many people about this. My initial response was WHAT THE <insert expletive of your choice here> IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE???? Then, as the news story further unfolded, it was noted that this precious child had been abducted, molested, and then murdered. Harder to think about, this was all allegedly purported by someone many children trust every day – a teacher. This made me angry…and it should. This broke my heart…for what the little girl endured, but also for her family, and for those who loved her, and now will miss her.

Now that I have painted this hard to think about picture, I’d like to offer another scenario that will likely make your stomach turn. It may even make you angry. But, what I’d like, more than anything else, is for it to open a dialog. I’d like to hope you will at least think about it.

Let’s take this man. A man many people have called all sorts of names – many I will not repeat, cause they are not appropriate for general audience. That said, people have also been quick to explain what they’d like to do to this man. What punishment they’d give him, if it was their ability to do so. I bet you could imagine what your punishment for his crimes would be. Torture? Execution? Whatever method chosen, it would likely be very unpleasant, and likely painful.

So, about my scenario regarding the man charged with kidnapping, molestation and murder — Does he deserve grace? What about forgiveness? Surely not love!? Couldn’t be – he doesn’t DESERVE any of those things!! I would like to challenge this line of thinking!! No, he absolutely does NOT deserve grace, forgiveness OR love. The truth is, though, NONE of us do! God hates sin. ALL sin.

*******Prior to my continuing, I would like to insert this little caveat. While I am about to explain my thoughts about grace, forgiveness and love – as it relates to a criminal of his nature, I want to make it known how I also feel. I believe 100% that this man, provided he is found guilty of the aforementioned charges, should be held accountable. I think he should be punished, and every amount of the legal ramifications he is due, SHOULD be afforded him!!*******

Now I’d like to explain my thought process behind what I mentioned earlier. This man needs grace. He needs forgiveness, and he also needs love. As Christians, we are called to love as Jesus loved. What does this REALLY mean though? God’s grace is not earned, and you can never actually earn it. The same rings true about forgiveness. God forgives. Period. At this point, you may be thinking I am off my rocker! That may be, but not for these reasons. You see, every human being alive needs grace, forgiveness and love. Period. EVERY PERSON.

Does this mean we have to love (or even like) what he did? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But, if we are truly going to love as Jesus loved, we are going to dig deep, ask God for help if need be, and offer him love. This doesn’t mean we’d ever want to even look at him. It doesn’t mean you’d run up and give him a bear hug. It doesn’t mean you would ever invite him over for Christmas dinner. What it does mean, is that you’d want to see his heart softened, him come to know Jesus, him turn from his criminal ways, and ultimately end up in Heaven one day. Does he DESERVE it? No! But, I’m back to the same sentiment that NONE OF US DO! Should his crimes be forgiven? Not in the eyes of the law, and not as it relates to justice being served legally. What it DOES mean is that God gave his only son to die on the cross to forgive EVERYONE of their sins. This man’s horrible, despicable choices are no different. Jesus has already paid the price. As I mentioned previously, I absolutely believe he should be held accountable for the choices he made, and for the crimes he committed if he’s convicted. Grace does not erase what he’s done. It doesn’t make it all better. It does, however, give him the opportunity to do the right thing. It makes it possible for him to have a second chance.

I recognize this isn’t necessarily a popular topic, and I’m okay with that.

It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done. God loves you, God forgives your sins (if you ask Him to) and He freely gives you grace. Knowing that God’s grace is freely given, that His forgiveness is for the taking, and His love is very real is not a ticket to commit crime. It is, however, the possibility of a second chance. It’s not even living a perfect, or blame free life. It’s knowing that you ARE human, and at some point – you WILL mess up. But, it’s the knowledge that God’s grace is sufficient to cover you, His forgiveness is available simply because you ask and make the choice to change, and His love – it’s yours because you are precious. You may not always feel precious, and you may not understand how anyone could love you – let alone the creator of the entire universe — but it’s true. You are loved.

The Hardest Kind Of Prayer To Pray

Standard

If someone were to ask you if praying is hard for you, what would you say? I don’t know about you, but sometimes prayer time is hard for me. It is, simply because I’m learning that my will and God’s will don’t always coincide. The things I want sometimes aren’t what is His will. So, for me at least, I’ve identify one of the hardest kinds of prayers to pray as the UNSELFISH prayer – the one where you ask for God’s will to be done, and actually mean it.

I have a “for instance” example, as a carry over from yesterday’s post really. My daughter is fighting a rare and aggressive cancer. We are about to go to the hospital where she will be admitted for chemo therapy. She is four. I don’t get it, and certainly don’t understand why. When I pray, my prayer has been for her healing. For her to be cancer free, and not live with any amount of cancer in her body. None. However, I have also been praying all this is according to God’s will. A service at church, in combination with some sweet heartfelt words from a friend, made me dig deeper and realize that His will and mine aren’t always the same. Well, no kidding. However, if I pray for His will, I better accept and understand that it may not go the way I want. In this particular case, that may mean that my child may not live to adulthood. That is a heartbreaking and sobering thought on the one hand. However, on the other hand, there is great joy in realizing that she’ll get to commune with Jesus – that she would get to lay her head on His lap, and rest in the arms of Jesus. Something purely peaceful and joyous about that. I DO NOT want this as our story, BUT if it is to happen, I’ve realized that it’s best to not live in dread or fear of it.

I encourage you to pray with diligence. Ask and believe for God’s will to be done. There is nothing wrong with hoping that His will DOES match up with yours, but understand that it may not always. During the times that His will and yours aren’t the same, take a moment and pray for peace in the process. It won’t always be easy, but it will be rewarding. It is hard to see peace or joy when your situation seems hopeless, but I assure you – it is possible.

I encourage you to surround yourself with people who care about you, and who are willing to walk through life with you – through whatever you are facing. When you are struggling, or just don’t know how to handle the situation, pray. Ask others for help. Never be afraid to reach out. Help is there. Hope is real.

Please feel free to connect with me. You can send me a message via the “contact me” link, or by leaving a comment below. I monitor all methods of contact.

Denial – That Land That Leads To Hurting And Hope

Standard

Recently, I have had much time to thing. Ponder things. One such thing includes the much sought after question – WHY!?

The other day, I was having a particularly emotional day. I talked with several people – just because I have found the value in both connecting as well as asking for help. The help, in this case, was pretty much in the form of prayer. Nothing would change the exact scenario at hand, but prayer would bring the peace and courage to face it.

As I was chatting with a friend, I was speaking about my daughter. A friend of ours is also young (she’s 10) and fighting a battle with cancer. She is losing that battle, and has only been given a short time of life left this side of Heaven. That was particularly hard for me. I looked at the similarities with my daughter’s cancer and it got to me. My heart was broken, realizing the possibility that lies ahead with us. As I was chatting with my friend, it was noted that when I spoke about this, I simply could not talk about the possibility of her dying. I would mention it and say that “things might not go how we want” or “if one day she doesn’t make it” but it was pointed out that I didn’t seem able to face it head on and talk about it. My friend asked what I thought would help to get to the point where I could look at her situation, see similarities in other situations that might not be going well, and not get upset. How could I watch a friend with a daughter who is dying, and not let it bring me down to the point that it’s depressing because I liken it to our own situation.

It was a hard thing to ponder, much less identify. I did come to the realization that I was attempting to live in a land of denial. In my head, I realized that the cancer she is dealing with does not hold a good prognosis. She may or may not live and have the opportunity to grow up. However, I never have really dwelt on that. Nor had I ever allowed it go to from my head to my heart. I only saw it as a possibility. What I did not see it as was a possible reality. I had some pretty in depth conversations. Just looking at the facts, and realizing there is a possibility she could die was extremely hard. However, it has been helpful in that way to not live in denial. To not think and dwell on it to a point it brings me down is hard, but necessary. Well, it’s not necessary to dwell, so much as realize the possibility.

One huge thing for me to realize – even though I knew it – was that just because another child is dying (or even that seven or more children die every single day) as a result of childhood cancer, does not mean that will be the end of our story. Yes, my four year old daughter could die. However, having cancer is NOT an automatic death sentence.

The hardest part is to realize that death is a possibility. It is hard to fathom, and impossible to understand. However, just because it is possible doesn’t make it probable. We will pray for God’s will. I seriously hope His will includes her being completely healed – from the inside out. I hope His will includes her living, not dying – and going on to grow up and live a long life. I will not, however, live in fear and dread of the opposite. If, for whatever reason, my daughter does not “win” this battle with cancer the way we want to see it won, it does not mean God isn’t in control. My faith and prayer is for her healing. I pray that healing takes place while she is on earth. If not, my joy will come from knowing she beat me to Heaven, and will be able to spend time and be in the arms of Jesus. That’s actually a sweet and heartwarming thought. No, I don’t want it to happen, and I’m certainly not rushing to get there myself. It’s just a beautiful thought when you are able to look at death as not the final goodbye, and instead as the next segment of a beautiful journey in a different place.

If you are facing this, or any other similar medical diagnosis and just don’t know how to handle it, please feel free to connect with me. I have, by no means, got this all figured out. What I do have is peace. I have peace knowing that the outcome isn’t guaranteed – good or bad. I have peace knowing that my life, the life of every member of my family, is in His hands. The maker of the entire universe has us in His hands.

Regardless of your situation, I pray you can come to know the same peace. May the God of all creation hold you today.