Maggie’s Blog

It’s been almost two years since I posted, since Jason, our son-in-law got sick. Going through cancer with him took me off-line with my blogging, and in some ways, with my heart. There was so much to do, so many feelings, I didn’t blog.

I still don’t have answers, but decided to start posting again. I’ve been going through Psalms, rich in emotion and meaning, writing observations. Enjoy!

Maggie

 

 



So Am I Still “Doing Better?”

SAMSUNGYou may be wondering after our recent news how I am doing? (see latest post under Prayer Letters)

I’m not sure what to judge it against, but I think I am doing well. This was not unexpected. Every time I went to my oncologist, I knew this might be the day. Last Wednesday, it was. Afterwards, Roger and I looked at each other  and repeated back what the oncologist had said. We hugged.

The battle has begun. 

It’s a battle physically, emotionally and spiritually.

  • It’s a time to hold on to what you know is true.
  • It’s a time to not give into fears.
  • It’s a time to give to others.
  • It’s a time to focus on what will last – here and eternity.
  • It’s a time to rest, physically and spiritually, and let God take over in our minds and hearts.

I won’t say I haven’t shed tears. This is hard. But with my personality, I get more into facing the challenge than into the feelings, especially my own.

I have tremendous hope, not in living, but in my Lord.

Wherever I am, He is there. He will never leave me or forsake me.

I am sad for those who love me, and my “hope” is in the fact that God has allowed these circumstances not only into my life, but into their lives. They are part of his opportunity-giving for them to grow and deal with things they might not normally deal with. God has been so gracious to give me these 6 years, and I lean into His grace right now.

God’s grace will cover them as well.

All in all, when I look at the list above, this time is not that different what should be true of all of my life. It’s transferring values into a new set of circumstances. It’s “spiritual breathing” on a whole different level.

Thank you for journeying with me through this. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. God is still the god of heaven and earth, and today, in this moment, I choose to rest in Him.

Why Am I Doing Better?

 

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Some people have been asking me why I am doing better about my leg, and it made me give it some thought. I think we would all like to figure hard things like this out, almost as if we could create a magic button we could push in our own lives, or in my case, when my life becomes hard again.

But there is no magic button.

The best I can do is propose a rough formula that I can see as I look back.

  • Time – Time inand of itself does not heal all things, but time helps us see ways to get through. Instead of flailing for instant relief, time gives our brain space to think through options and eventually make choices that lead us in a direction. And time, if we let it, results in rest.
  • Open Heart – When we quite fighting our circumstances, our heart opens up to what is left in our lives. It might not be what we want it to be. But there are still possibilities for good. When I quit fighting the process I hate, I can choose to embrace the idea that some good might come of the pain.
  • Belief – This ingredient starts small, becoming bigger over time. As my heart opens a crack, I want to believe that someone, somewhere, is in control and has my best interest (or the interest of the universe) in mind. I do believe in a personal God, who loves me deeply. Sometimes I feel far from that love, or don’t understand it, but as I look at nature and the fine detail of a hummingbird’s wing or the petals of a flower, I realize I don’t have to understand it. I just have to believe.
  • Gratitude – As I begin to come out of the fog of a closed heart and unbelief, I begin to see the world differently. Things could be so much worse than what they are. I have a wonderful family and friends who share my pain. And physically, my pain could be so much worse than what it is. It’s just my leg, and not my whole body.
  • Peace – Peace is the place I want to end up. Jesus said he would give me his peace. Not peace like the world’s, but something far beyond any earthly answers for pain. Peace that not only gives rest, but motivates us to get up off of our (?!?) and go about the mission he has given us to glorify Him.

I’m not good at Algebra and someone out there might want to help me, but maybe this could be:

T (OH + B + G) = P

 Time multiplies the combination of an Open Heart, Belief and Gratitude which together equals a Peace that surpasses all understanding. I think that is where I’m living these days. When any ingredient levels go down, my peace goes down.  But when they are high, I can face

I’d love to hear from others…what would your formula be?

My personal paradise…

SAM_0727 copyWe’re back in Blue Ridge, Georgia, one of my favorite places.

It’s an unusually warm day. Often it’s cold and snowy, like this picture taken just days ago.

But today it is so mild, I’m able to sit on the porch. The sun is setting, but the clouds obscure any sunset. The only sounds I hear are the wind chimes tinkling out their individual tunes as the breeze moves gently. It reminds me of how unique each person is as the Holy Spirit runs through each life. I hope we sound just as beautiful to God.

It is my own personal paradise. I know some people like Key West and some like mountains of Alaska, but for me, this is my own personal paradise.

We started coming here 12 years ago for family vacation. Roger found the town and was captivated by the area. Renting a cabin seemed like a good way to connect with nature since his wife (me) was no longer willing to freeze in a sleeping bag, on hard ground, in the middle of noisy campgrounds, washing dishes in cold water — you get the idea.

Our family has grown to love the area, and even though life has gotten hard at times, it’s been a place to get away, have some fun, re-connect with kids and watch grandkids grow. It’s also been a place where we have had devotions, sharing our hearts about God and celebrating our growth.

Two years ago, my mother died. Dad had died years before and she had been left alone. We always stopped to see her in Atlanta on our way to Blue Ridge. We felt it would honor her to buy a cabin for family vacations with our inheritance. It would also keep us connected to relatives here. Little did we know that just minutes from our cabin is where my great, great grandfather’s life started, born in a little white farmhouse in the hills. Mother’s spirit of love and generosity permeates the cabin.

But most of all, the peace of God is at the cabin. I have met with him on the porch and he has poured through me words I have needed to hear. I have laughed and cried with friends on this porch. I have made new friends, seeing them grow in their faith in amazing ways. His creativity has flowed through me in poems and crafts that both surprised and delighted me. Even when I fell and broke my leg here, his peace filled me.

That’s why I dare to call this “a piece of paradise.” I know my true paradise is heaven. I know God is with me wherever I go, even into the depths of hell.

But right now, in the midst of this gentle breeze, he is with me in Blue Ridge, Georgia. It is a glimpse, a tiny piece, of what the fullness will be like in my true, eternal paradise.

Where is your personal paradise? Is there a place the Lord meets you in special ways? I’d love to hear about it…

God…We Need to Talk…

 

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I think I’m tired of asking “Why?”

It’s been 3 months since the fall. It’s not been easy for either of us, I’m sure. It wasn’t easy for me with all my questions. And I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant for you, God, in listening to me complain.

But you never left me. Never forsook me. You were always there.

You amaze me. While I’m being so “human,” you remain so “god.” I’m railing against my mortality while you rest in your sovereignty.  I’m searching every corner desperate to find answers while you listen in your wisdom.

You know that I cannot fully have the “mind of Christ.”

But I can lean into you, and that is what I have been doing, when I’m not ranting. And when I do, amazing things happen. I’m quiet, listening, even in the stillness, until peace overcomes me. I experience rest, not in the “knowing” but in the “being.”

And I gain perspective. If I had landed just inches from where I did land, I would have broken my neck. What would my life look like then? How much worse than a broken leg?

You have been so good to me in that I am not in a lot of pain. Inconvenienced, yes, but not much pain.  Maybe that’s some of my issue – if I were in more pain, I wouldn’t want to do the things I want to do — not that I’m asking for more pain!

I look around the world at people who are suffering so much more than I am. Many are depressed and hopeless. But they don’t have a relationship with you, so how could I expect them to have hope? Some don’t have support systems like I have, or money to seek medical help. I start to see the many ways I am blessed.

I don’t understand why this happened, but it did. I don’t understand why it wasn’t healed, but it wasn’t. I think I’m done pushing against it.

Lord, if you want me to never walk again, I submit to your will.

There, I said it. Now I need to live with it through my every day actions. If you decide to heal, it’s an extra special blessing from you. But if you decide not to heal, I receive that as a gift from you also.

In the meantime, I want to get on with the business of glorifying you. I still have my smile, my witness to others. May I shine today and every day until I see you in glory. Thank you for forgiving my lack of faith, my questioning. Embrace me with your pleasure. Cover me with your righteousness, making me white as snow.

God…We Need to Talk…

Why in a moment did you change my life?

IMG_0278We were at our cabin in the mountains, having a great time finishing the basement, installing a ceiling. I say that because I LOVE remodeling (just ask my husband who does not!). We were making great progress in learning new skills. It was challenging, but we were attacking the challenge and succeeding.

Then, in a nano-second, everything changed. The board slipped out of the groove and I went flying. I never felt my foot hit the ground, but I did feel my hip crash and braced my head, hoping I would not go unconscious. The wind was knocked out of me and I fought for breath. 1 inch different and my head would have hit the wall, leaving me with a broken neck.

Did you turn around? Was there someone else in the world who needed you more than me in that moment? Why was my life interrupted?

Why do I think you don’t have the right to interrupt my life? Why do I think everything should be glowing and happy and I should be successful?

And why do I think that because I am a relatively “good” person, this should not happen to me?

There are more questions right now than there are answers. I remember when I miscarried our fifth child. I was devastated with the loss, asking “why?” for seven years. I never heard an answer on that question, but I remember the moment when you filled me with your peace and the assurance. I never asked “why” again.

Maybe this will be the same. Right now, I can’t think of any really good answer you can give me about this. The pain, the daily disruption of the simplest human task, the total dependence on others, disrupting their lives — it’s hard to imagine this is “good.” But I know you give good things to your children. How do I reconcile this?

I remember when church leaders asked you, “Who sinned?” when you healed the blind man. They wanted someone to blame the blindness on. They wanted to know the “why” so they could look past your power, who you are, and their need of you. But there was no one to blame – only a moment of time, a nano-second.

Why? At a certain time, in a certain place, all questions will be answered.

God…We Need to Talk…

UnknownI believed in a miracle, and it didn’t happen.

I don’t believe for miracles often. The whole time I fought the cancer, I never asked for a miracle.

But this time felt different. I envisioned you healing the lame, the touch of your hand on my shoulder beckoning me forward. Your hand in mine as I stood and felt the rush of faith through my leg, testing it until I knew it was strong enough for weight. I envisioned the face of the doctor, amazed at the healing, telling me I could walk.

But it didn’t happen.

I am disappointed – so very disappointed. But I can’t say I am disappointed in you, God, as you have provided so amazingly in the past. I can’t believe you have stopped loving or caring for me. I just don’t know what to do with this feeling of disappointment.

Were there people that you didn’t heal when you walked this earth? Was there a lame man you walked past without a word? How did they feel when their buddy, the lame guy, comes running past swinging his crutches, yelling the name “Jesus?” He may have wanted to believe, maybe did believe, but weren’t on the right road, in the right place, when you walked by.

Did they still believe? Were they leaning on their crutches at the foot of your cross?

If they were, I’m sure they are walking now, enjoying sweet fellowship with you. I know on this earth we have trials created by the sin of death. Our bodies, whole and in part, are in death, waiting to be resurrected. It was a miracle that dead bodies rose out of graves after your crucifixion. But not all dead bodies of all history walked again. That’s why it is a miracle.

I guess a miracle was not in your plan for my life, at least not for today.

I’m rambling. This may be more raw than you wanted to hear, but you know my thoughts and heard them before they came out of my mouth. I know you will break through – you always do. But these feelings are real, for now.

I will walk again, either here or heaven. I need to keep listening for your voice, calling my name.

God…We Need to Talk…

Simply a broken leg – what’s so simple about it? And why can’t I seem to do things simply?

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A compound fracture, exposed to air and germs for 8 hours? Splintered Fibula and Tibia, 2 inches above the ankle running into the ankle. 2 plates, 19 screws. Looking at the xray, it reminds me of the Canadian Rockies.

Two surgeries and a week later, I was able to travel the 10 hours home. Life became more complicated as we struggled to find a doctor who would take over my case, learning that insurance companies lump the surgery and aftercare together – doctor’s don’t get paid as much for aftercare if they have not done the surgery. I needed bandages changed and was turned away. We couldn’t go back; we couldn’t go forward.

A month later, a doctor took my case. I sported a new cast (New York black, of course!). I tried to smile through each trial, through each pain.

Then I heard the words I dreaded, “non-union.” The bone is not healing, “knitting together” as the Bible would say it. I had the same situation on my wrist when I broke it – it  took 2 different bone growth stimulators and 5 surgeries to get “almost” corrected. No way will I go through that again!

Why can’t I just do a simple break? A simple healing? Why do I have to make it so complicated?

Life is complicated. I know someone right now in the midst of divorce. It is complicated. There’s little clear “right and wrong” but tangled feelings that have ended up in a lot of “wrong.”  It’s a mess. It’s a fall. It’s a fall in the midst of a “fallen world” of sin and mortal bodies.

Why should I expect it to be easy? Because I am a Christian? Because I’ve done some good things? Because Jesus loves me, saved me, and gave me a beautiful life with friends and family? Shouldn’t he save me from this also.

But he didn’t.

Somehow, in his love and wisdom, he wants me to go through this. He wants me to lean into him and trust his love like I never have before. He wants to grow my faith deeper. He wants me to share my pain with others so they can be encouraged and know they are not alone, even in the midst of pain.

Jesus is not just a patch we put on to avoid the complications of life. He’s not a “good luck charm” to help us escape pain. But he has promised to be with us through it all, never leaving or forsaking us. When the going gets tough, Jesus ramps up his availability, his love, his peace.

 Life is complicated…

 Leaning into Jesus is not.

God… We need to talk…

Isn’t having cancer enough? Did I really need a broken leg? Come on…

I think I was handling the cancer pretty well. Hearing the words “cancer” and “incurable” were hard enough. Going through a bone marrow transplant was very challenging. Contracting pneumonia on top of it, experiencing the brink of death, was almost unbearable, except for your peace. Continuing to live with the knowledge that is will come back can be despairing.

But you have been with me through it all. I re-learned the simple concept of “spiritual breathing” (exhaling sin/lack of faith and inhaling the peace and power of the Holy Spirit) in the midst of different circumstances. My circumstances had changed, but your Holy Spirit had not.

And I’ve done pretty good with it. Sure their were moments, but as I look back, I did pretty good trusting you. My friends and family came around me, each trying to encourage me as they tried to deal with their own emotions and fears of death. And I’ve enjoyed these years of relative health as the cancer is growing slowly. I’ve gotten back into a routine, loving life, busy doing things I enjoy and I feel you have called me to. I’ve tried to be obedient.

Maybe that is why I am here? Maybe in the midst of feeling good about my walk with you, you wanted me to dig deeper. In the midst of my business, maybe you wanted me to listen harder.  In the midst of what I thought was obedience, maybe you needed to get my attention.

Well, it worked. You got my attention. I’m listening. What do you want to say?