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Weeds and Dis-ease

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I have been scrambling to get everything in order before my surgery. I’ve tended the flowerbeds, finished up landscaping, got caught up on the laundry and housecleaning, shopped for lightweight button up shirts, compression socks, and easy-on-the-tummy foods.

I’m ready, sort of.

Although I am looking forward to getting rid of this rigid rock on my chest (the expander) and moving past all these surgeries, I am worrying over the weeds. My husband will mow the lawn and prune trees and bushes, but will not touch the flowerbeds. How overgrown will they be by the time I am well enough to garden again?

As these thoughts, and others, whirled around in my mind, I picked up my devotions. The beautiful passages reminded me there will always be weeds in my life. I will never eradicate them all no matter how hard I try, and I have to accept that.

These unsettling thoughts are a dis-ease. They keep me from being contented, happy, and joyful. It’s the devil’s attempt to distract me from what is …

In Control or Trapped?

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I tend to rehash my mistakes and situations in a vain attempt to change the results. I question whether I should have spoken up or remained quiet. If I reacted sooner could I have prevented the disaster? On and on my thoughts whirl, replaying each moment.

This game is an illusion, believing I can change a situation by altering my behavior. Sometimes that’s true, if it is my rash actions or words that caused the problem. In other circumstances this is not true. 
As hard as it is to accept, sometimes suffering is necessary for a soul’s growth, and it is not up to me to remove it or alter the situation.
On the other hand, not acting when I should is another error in judgment.

Trusting in God, praying for discernment, and listening for His answer with an open mind and heart is my only recourse. Obeying Him removes the need to second guess my actions. But, I must also keep in mind God will not force anyone to bend to His will, and neither can I no matter how hard or how many ways I try, and r…

On the Other Side of Pain

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I’ve come a long way from my first surgery, and I can’t say I relish the next one. Giving up my current flexibility and comfort isn’t easy, but I am looking beyond that to a full recovery and a healthy, cancer free life.

In my devotion, Living Faith, Kristin Armstrong wrote: “‘What you focus on expands.’ When we focus on our suffering, misery grows. When we focus on abundance, on faith, on God’s ability to heal and redeem, hope grows. We can change our vision to include the parameters of what is unseen and remember that suffering always produces something valuable on the other side of pain.”

Suffering is never for nothing. It changes us, deepens our faith and trust, teaches us a depth of compassion for others we would not have otherwise. There is always something beautiful on the other side of pain.

“For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen: for what is seen is transitory…

The Broken Record

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Our minds are wired to repeat the same messages, usually negative ones, like the cliched broken record. 

When I retired, I was sure that little things would not bother me. After all the years of stress over a job, life would be easier. However, thanks to that broken record with its tired old messages, the small stuff takes on more importance.

How can I circumvent this repetition? Richard Rohr suggests contemplative prayer. His books and devotional studies supply step-by-step models. (See: Center for Action and Contemplation). He stresses the need to be open-minded, non-judgmental, accepting people and circumstances for what they are.
In other words, what is, is. I can’t change anything or anyone with my will alone no matter how much I fret, wring my hands, or pray desperate Please-God-Change-Them Prayer. God can, but that is up to Him.

If I let God pick my battles, I’ll always be on the right side, expending my energies for creativity, like writing and art.
With prayer and practice, I ca…

Vapor

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In my last post, I mentioned how fast life can change. The theme continues in my devotions with this scripture. “For what is your life? It is a vapor which appeareth for a little while, and afterwards shall vanish away. For that you should say, ‘If the Lord will, and if we shall live, we will do this or that.’” St. James 4:15

This doesn’t mean God intends that I live in fear of death, but rather to live in the present, making tentative plans for the future and trusting Him to take care of my needs.

In my devotion, Good Morning, Lord, Father Joseph T. Sullivan offered a prayer about fear, not being afraid of trying moments as all things can work together for good. Fear disappears with renewed trust in God and I should thank Him for my beneficial trials.

I can’t say it is easy to think of a cancer diagnosis, or my other horrific trials as beneficial, but with further reflection, they were. They helped me to develop a deeper faith and trust in God I would not have otherwise.

This goes beyond…

Month Three—Almost There

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No wonder my surgeon waits two months from the last saline fill before performing the next surgery. It’s day five, and I’m still tender from the muscle spasms, and the rock on my chest has grown to a boulder. My surgeon assures me this will subside as my muscles and tissues expand.

I take hope and strength knowing I am almost done. Only the surgery to remove the expander and place the prosthetic is left, besides the last six weeks of recovery.

This experience has broadened my view on many things. The number of other women I have encountered who have, or had, breast cancer and undergone mastectomies and reconstruction is much larger than I comprehended. According to my oncologist, one out of eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. No wonder I know so many, including myself.

Even without dealing with cancer in one of its many forms, few of us escape this life unscarred or unscathed in some way. How well we adapt depends on many factors. For me, faith is at the top…

Pain Is Gain

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Stretching. Aerobics. Resistance training. Yard work. I did not realize how much those activities would hurt or how much I’d gain afterward.

The first day of a new, or increased activity, the pain is almost intolerable. Sleeping is difficult. No position is comfortable despite the Tylenol I load up on before going to bed.

However…

The next morning, the pain is gone. I notice more flexibility, range of motion, and strength. The difference is astounding from one day to the next.

I am also lucky, no sign of lymphedema. As my surgeon said, if I haven’t gotten it by now, I probably won’t.

Everything worth having in this life will cost us something, and the harder or more painful the task, the more valuable the reward.

My devotions repeatedly mentioned how suffering and sorrow lead to a stronger faith and deeper compassion for others. I understand that better now since my diagnosis and surgery. I no longer see pain as the enemy.

This perception has changed everything. I worry less about su…