Sunday, June 12, 2011

Faith vs. Fear

From Tami's journal, posted by Janna

I have so many fears as I am about to start 3rd line chemotherapy.  I am so grateful that I am not left alone with my fears.  As I go through each one, one by one, I know I will be able to do this, fear and all.  The One who strengthens me is ever at my side.  I know there will be that time of peace and calm assurance - I will not be overwhelmed.  It just feels that way right now.  

There is a common thread as I read back through this journal of my journey - fear and belief. It almost seems like a game of tennis.  But the times of fear are so much less; however, the fears are still felt profoundly, when I cannot see past the present pain and disappointment!  I need to view this through God's eyes - then I see hope and relief.  

When the storms of life approach - the Big Ones, the Ones we cannot handle on our own, the real disasters, we can fun around like chickens with our heads cut off (sorry chickens). We look for help to and rely on "horses and multitudes of chariots" (Isa. 31:1 and Psalm 20:7).  This doctor, that treatment, if only there was money for that cancer center.  All the time we frantically looking God just wants us to look to Him; call on Him.  A mother was holding her son and told him a big storm was coming.  She asked if he was afraid and he looked over at his dad, so strong and tall, and asked, "Is it bigger than daddy?".  Nothing, nothing is too big for our Father.  No amount of money or resources - just our Father is needed.  Cancer pounds you with a million different hammer blows - but I have the last word as to how those blows will shape me.  "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Woman in the Mirror

Posted by Janna from Tami's journal...

This disease makes you very vulnerable, a place I try never to be.  I have had walls up my entire life to ensure I am not in a place of vulnerability.  Cancer rudely threatens in constant ways.  I have been confronted with my own mortality, my defenses and strength stripped away.  However, because of this weakness, cancer has made me look at life through new eyes.  It can defeat me or it can empower me…it is my choice and only I can choose.  Sometimes it seems so much easier to choose defeat.  That is when I cry out for His strength to remind me HE HAS NOT FORGOTTEN ME!  He knows my fear and pain.  He meets me where I need to be met.  Isaiah 42:16, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;  I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do;  I will not forsake them.”

My life was brought to a screeching halt by this disease.  For the first time in my adult life, I have learned to be still; to relax, cease striving, let go…One of the lessons I am grateful for on this journey.  There is a message for each of us in this illness.  Probably many messages.  Getting used to a new normal is not an easy thing to do…much easier said than done.  Mets to the liver, common they say, but so unexpected by me.  I am grateful that CT scans do not tell the whole story, my life is in God’s hands and there is no where else I would rather my life be.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An Unshakable Faith

Posted by Janna from Tami's journal.

Sometimes the facts of a situation include the hopelessness of the difficulty we face, but they also include the reality of God’s power to work in this impossible situation.  Faith is facing your reality and making a conscious choice to believe and trust God.  All of life is the journey of the soul, those moments of spiritual revelation.  I am getting to experience things that have been here all along, but hidden by the distractions of my life.  This journey is full of difficult emotions, but I am learning to slow down and savor every moment; live life in a simpler way.  I wish I had learned this sooner.  We need to think deeply, be sensitive, know how rich we really are.  I will affirm every day – I am cancer free, the picture of health, Thank you, God! 

Every one needs a Mascot, something that symbolizes your battle, competition, fight, etc.  I did not go looking for a Mascot for this battle, he found me.  My Mascot for this fight is a colorful fish called a “scarcatic fringehead”.  Funny name, I know.  Kinda corny to have a Mascot as well.  But, he is tenacious enough to battle an octopus.  He will not let himself be beaten!  If he can battle an octopus and win, I can battle this cancer -  AND WIN! I AM A SURVIVOR!  I know beating cancer is my job right now.  All too often I have to fight fear and discouragement.  I have learned to just do things afraid.  It is hard, but knowing God is with me, that He will never leave me…comforts me.  When I pass through the waters, He is with me, they will not sweep over me.  When I walk through the fire I will not be burned (Isa. 43:2). 

He knows how much we can bear.  No matter how dark and awful the battle, He will see me through.  Cancer is a fierce battle, but one that can be won!  I just wanted to add, that in Tami's case, she may not have conquered cancer physically, but she conquered cancer spiritually and emotionally and did not let it steal her soul, who she really was inside.  She did not become bitter, or angry.  She did not blame God.  She did not give up hope, faith, or belief in God's promises to her.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Climbing Mountains of Fear

Posted by Janna from Tami's journal.

I am facing the mountain again.  As I look up at the impossible task of conquering this climb, I almost despair.  Chemo is a huge hurdle; a huge mountain I must climb.  All too often it is a mental challenge…I need to climb beyond the physical issues of my illness.  My mental and emotional health has a big impact on my well-being.  My spiritual self suffers as well.  Sometimes I feel alone and abandoned.  I need to climb beyond this, this time.  Monday is coming…my mountain looms.  I must run towards the Giant, not away from it.

Duet 4:9, this promise was given to me this day, 4/27/10!  I receive it!  I will make known to my children and my children’s children how loving and awesome is our God :-).  Cancer has served its purpose; it brought me back to my purpose in life.  God, family, friends and focus.  I feel incredibly threatened and desperately vulnerable because of this disease.  Sometimes I feel like I can’t possibly matter to God; I feel so alone and so abandoned.  I need to hold onto His promises of eternal love, that He will never leave me nor forsake me.  How wonderful to feel so loved.  So many are praying for me – what peace and hope that imparts to me.  I am a survivor!  Each day that I live, I have beat this cancer for that day.

Conquered the mountain yet again!  Thank you, Lord, for sending your angels of mercy – I felt them with me.  I am grateful for focus and renewed purpose.  I am grateful that I can encourage others.  This path takes work and discipline…I discover new joys each day.  God never asks us to do the impossible.  I can climb that mountain…not just to psych myself up, but believing that when I am weak, He is strong!  The valleys we enter on this cancer journey are very deep, dark and distressing.  Fear can be a constant in our lives.  I choose to remember today, I am never alone.  My circumstances can cause my level of trust to waiver wildly from day to day, BUT God never turns from me – He understands.  This profound darkness brings many hidden fruits we would have had otherwise.  So I can be grateful, even for this disease.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blue Skies

Posted by Janna from Tami's journal dated 4/5/10

Today I saw the bluest sky I think I have ever seen.  I mean it was BLUE - awesome blue.  These amazing patches of blue were peaking out from behind gray/white clouds.  Rain was predicted to fall, but instead we got these glimpses of perfection.  God spoke to my heart telling me (and showing me!) there is and will be Blue Skies behind the storms I am battling.

This week I have learned that the most important part of my healing is spiritual.  So many years of pain, sorrow and grief have left me in despair!  I grew weary; I lost my spiritual self.  In this void grew sadness, frustration and anger.  Even anger at God feeling as if He had turned His back; He hadn't.  I let the sorrows and pain of this world turn mine.  More than nutrition, more than exercise, spiritual healing is the key to my physical healing.  This will be my utmost focus.  Our ultimate home is spiritual, after all we are spiritual beings.

Cancer can coerce us into questioning everything, even if God really cares for us or not, or will help us in our distress.  It tempts us to give into fear, to doubt, to worry, to be negative.  When we are threatened by these thoughts and lose our perspective and confidence I must come back to scripture and meditate on His promises.  My faith cannot grow weary!  God did not create me to live in turmoil or pain!  Cancer must not define me.  I must turn away from sources of chaos and disarray and turn to my Source of Grace.  There is always Hope.  We have the last word on how Cancer shapes us.

This disease challenges you to change.  You learn to stop and smell the roses, literally.  Or run your fingers over pine branches as you pas them.  You breathe in the goodness of a cold breeze.  You live in the present; you enjoy each little gift to your senses that brings you joy, in the midst of your pain.  There are moments when I actually forget about the Cancer.  These are few and far between and I need to strive for more of the moments like today's Blue Skies.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Posted by Janna and Ashley from Tami's journal...

The news was good and bad.  More battle choices.  As I lay contemplating and opening my mind during acupuncture, drawing in its healing and direction, the Lord, once again, let me in on a secret to share as I start chemo.  Just as His people were shielded from the angel of death by the blood, my good cells will be shielded from the poison of the agent of death called chemo – it will seek out and destroy only the cancer…I WILL keep my hair! 

Having bravado is easy before chemo starts.  It is almost impossible once chemo begins.  Being diagnosed with a rare type of colon cancer tumor can’t help but strike fear in your heart.  I mean I’ve always been unique J but I don’t want to be this unique.  I want so much to be brave and courageous for my children; but it is not always an easy task.  I put on my brave smile, but chemo sucks!

Cancer changes you.  More than any trial or hardship or circumstance.  This is life and death – this may be it.  How can it not change you?  The question is will it change you for the good or the not so good.  It would be so easy to give into the fear, the panic, the anger, the why me’s, and just give up.  As I lose weight, hair, get mouth sores, teenage acne – I realize these things are not the essence of who I am.  Knowing that cancer can lose some of its “grip” – it will never have the real me – my spirit or my mind.