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



Just Do It!

IMG_9576 copyI’ve been having a hard time getting back into writing. My book of poetry is 90% complete – just the finishing touches. Sure, I broke my leg, which disrupted routines. It took a long time just get up and ready in the morning. You would think being stuck at home would be a writer’s paradise. It was not.

I can give a lot of excuses, but let me just say I made choices that began new patterns of how I spend my time.  My lack of mobility crept into a lack of motivation. My lack of energy morphed into laziness. My lack of ability formed a lack of focus.

And I confess, I numbed the pain. I’m not just talking about pain-killing drugs I was on after the break or surgeries that left me in a fog. I’m talking about TV and easy things that numbed feelings of inadequately and frustrations of dependency.

Just like the drugs, it wasn’t my real world. My world has people in it I wanted to encourage. My world has obstacles to overcome. My world also had words that needed to be put on paper.

It’s easier to avoid responsibility. It’s easier to live in dependency, letting others care for me.  It’s easier to spend time watching reality TV, other people living their lives. But it’s not me. It’s not my life. It’s not who God called me to be.

So, “just do it!” is what came to me as I prayed. Turn off the TV – I really don’t like the show anyway. I can get myself to the computer. I can spend time with God and let his spirit flow. That is who God uniquely made me to be. And the process of publishing is back on track.

I can’t help but think of others. They may not be writers. They may not have a broken leg or cancer. But they may be numbing themselves away from what God has called them to do with things that in and of themselves are not “bad.” Are they asking themselves, “Is it who God made me? Is it what He is calling me to do? Is it how he has asked me to reflect his character?”

Just do it!

October

IMG_5215 copyThe word for right now is October. We went to the oncologist last week and, as pleased as he is with the healing of my leg, he feels that we should not wait much longer to begin chemo. My next orthopedic appointment is October 1st, so he want to start immediately after my release from that doctor.

What does treatment mean? 2-4 months of chemo followed by a stem cell/bone marrow transplant (6-9 months total).

The good news: I can now schedule and actually make plans. We’ve been given a green light to celebrate vow renewals with my daughter and her husband in September. I know what time I have to finish projects before becoming fogged over in the chemo zone. People know how to pray.

The bad news: It is a reality check. It’s been a wonderful summer of grace. I’ve enjoyed the freedom of driving and accomplishing. I’ve connected back with friends. I’ve felt relatively good. But the truth is, I still have a disease living within me.

Spiritual truth: Even when I’m doing well spiritually, I still have the disease of death/sin within me. At any moment, it can tempt me to not focus on Jesus or desire to do His will. While I love His grace, I should never take it for granted or think “I’ve made it.” My life is always in His hands.

Thanks for your prayers for me. I don’t take them for granted either. Each day is a precious gift. Who would want to waste it with sin?

I Can Walk!

IMG_0147I can walk!

It was amazing to hear those words from my doctor last week! He was so excited, he got out of his rotation of seeing patients and threw his staff off from their routine.

As Roger and I caught his excitement, he began to back away. I think he was afraid I would being jumping and leaping for joy, so he told me to begin with 1-2 hours a day  without the brace.

 

Spiritual lessons from this? You bet!

 

1 – How often have I dampened the excitement of a new believer, fearful that they might trust to much and become disillusioned? It’s ridiculous when I write the words, but a reality. Why not just let someone enjoy the unbridled feelings of grace in their life? Reality of the pain in life will come soon enough. I don’t need to bring it.

 

2 – My walk is not pretty. It’s amazing how quickly (although it was 8 months!) we forget something as basic as walking. All sorts of muscles in my hip and left leg compensated for my weakness. I have to re-train them to do what is “natural” in a walk — but I have forgotten what natural is!

I think of sin in my life and how I compensate for it. Even when God removes it and there is victory, there is a time of re-learning. I’ve been on compensation mode for so long, it’s easy to let old habits slip back.

 

3 – I’m switching internal messages. When I used to think of something I needed or wanted to do, I usually had to tell myself, “You can’t do that” or “You’ll have to ask Roger to help you.”  Now there is new potential. I can drive. I can go into the office. I can meet friends. It’s amazing freedom. I do have to ask, “Is is worth the energy to do it?” and “Is this what God wants me to do?” but it’s so much fun to consider the possibilities.

 

4 – I am SO grateful to all who have loved me and prayed for me through the last 8 months. I have one more appointment with the orthopedic (he called it a “high five” appointment to celebrate!) in September, but I know it was not he who heals. God holds our lives, our legs, in his hand. Many have been his arms around me during this journey.

 

Don’t stop now. 

 

 

The Changing Face of Cru

CSU 2013I’m sitting at the Denver airport at 5 in the morning, reflecting on the last 5 days. It’s been amazing.

Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) has grown up. 2 years ago at our last staff conference, our name was changed.

This year we changed our face.

Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) has a firm foundation laid in it’s past. It’s a foundation of risk-taking faith. I remember when one critic exclaimed, “They would charge hell with a squirt gun!”

We are recapturing that faith in a new generation.

Instead of reminding us of our past, this conference focused on the future. The world has changed in the last 60 years. Our methods have changed with it, in a commitment to reach each generation. Satan has different strongholds. We need different weapons for different contexts.

But what was evident was that in each generation, the Spirit is the same. We feel inadequate in ourselves and have to depend on the Holy Spirit. The Great Commission is the same, and we are closer to seeing it accomplished. The opposition is real, and we need the Spirit of God as He is the victor.

In a world where Christians are often known for what they stand against, we committed ourselves to be known for what we stand for — the good news of Jesus Christ delivered to the lost through an ultimate sacrifice of love.

The stage presented us with fresh new faces representing the future of Cru. They were multi-ethnic, wrestling with issues different than our generation. They honored the past, but looked to a future.

Roger and I are so humbled to be a part of this organization — an organization that dares to change in order to stay true to their mission.

Taking in Good News

noname
First, the good news — The CT scan showed no myloma in my neck! So with nothing else to check, I’m good to go until August! I’m so grateful to God!

But as I try to take in the good news, I’m flooded with thoughts and feelings. Why was the PET scan positive and the CT scan negative? Which is right? I still have blood tests that indicate the cancer is active. How can I be sure what is true?

There have been so many ups and downs. As I have been transparent in this blog, I wonder if others are weary of my ups and downs?

Then I started to realize that it can be hard to receive good news. We get so use to living in our fears that we fear what we would do without them. Somehow there is safety/ boundaries in fear. We don’t know what to do when we are freed. In fact, it’s hard to believe that we are free.

When it come to news, I realize that I emotionally try to block out most of it, lest it be bad.  I don’t like it; I don’t want to hear it. Bad news has a way of jolting us back to reality whether we want to hear it or not. We can’t escape it. It affects our life.

So then our fear of bad news gets associated with any news, it makes all of it hard to embrace. Good news no longer feels “good” but more “neutral” (the absence of bad). I have a tendency to try to ignore it, and unlike bad news, I often can. I can choose to continue to live in fear, afraid to be excited about good news.

It’s kinda like a girl not wanting to smile back at a boy lest it not be real…

As I think about this good news, right now, I’m choosing to embrace it. If it was that boy, I’m running over to him with abandonment and throwing my arms around him. Yes, bad news may come later and maybe this is a false moment of hope. But it is a moment of hope.

God has allowed this moment of hope in my life in the same way he has allowed the suffering.

To live fully, I choose to embrace both.

PET Scan Update

noname copyWe found out last week that the PET scan showed “activity” in my spine of my neck. Since insurance could not approve it before we left for our family vacation, I’ll have a CT scan as soon as I get back. In the meantime, we’re having lots of fun, enjoying what God has given!

After the tests, Roger will leave for Staff Conference July 11-22. We had hoped I could join him for it, so pray that God will give us wisdom.

A Longer Leash – Good News!

2011-5-22 Great WallI just got back from the cancer doctor with some good news! The bone marrow biopsy came back negative, not showing any cancer. The doctor made sure I didn’t get too excited – it doesn’t mean I don’t have cancer, it just means that it did not show up in that test. However, I can’t help but get a little excited.

Basically, he said I am “complicated” (no surprise to all of you in my process group!). I still several indicators for cancer including elevated/spiked M Protein in the blood, a genetic chromosome #17 which is a “high risk feature” for MM, have had multiple bone lesions, a recent IGG spike and my Lambda Free Light Chain is abnormally high and increasing.

He rattled off 2 possibilities with big names which we could not capture but basically meant:

  • It is in the bone marrow, just not where it was tested.
  • Or that it is cancer that is a complication of Multiple Myeloma

He game me my choice to

  • Continue to monitor until it becomes more definite (do nothing)
  • Repeat a PET scan taken a year ago to see if there are any active bone lesions the Xrays are not picking up (like the first one I had 7 years ago)

I choose to take the PET scan. He wants me to do it next week. He is also going to do more tests on the bone marrow biopsy sample already taken. If all is normal, I won’t go in for 2 moths! (YEA!) If not, he will call me back and we will start chemo after family vacation/early July (which is still good news to my ears!).

So, you can imagine that I am smiling. Thank you for your prayers. The doctor wants to make sure I know what is coming, and I assured him I am realistic. However, I told him that I felt as if my leash had gotten longer, at least for a little while. And I will, like most dogs, walk as far as I can to take full advantage of it!

I’m sure you are smiling too — Maggie

Bump in the Road

climbI hit a little bump today. I felt like while I had the 3 weeks reprieve in my hand looking at all the “candy” (things I could do) someone said, “Is that real money?”

A little after 8am this morning, sweet nurse Mary called to tell me the Bone Marrow Biopsy came back “inconclusive” (in other words, something happened to the sample so that they could not get valid results) and I would need to do the test over again. Let me remind you, this is the one that hurts, where they bore into your hip and pull bone marrow out with a needle…

I took a deep breath and said a tentative, “O…K…?” She told me they would put me asleep this time (thank you!) but that my appointment with my doctor might need to be rescheduled if results are not back in time (so what do we do with the plane tickets we just bought?!?).

Soon afterwards I got the call to schedule the procedure and (Praise God!) they can do it tomorrow (a new Friday tradition – that’s when I had it done last week!). But hopefully this means we can move ahead with the plans we have made and results will be in by 6/12. At least pray for us for that end.

Life is full of bumps, isn’t it? Just when we think we have some amount of control, God reminds us it’s an illusion. But his control is never an illusion and he’ll help us walk around, through or over whatever he allows in front of us. I’m so glad I have friends I can share this with!

What bumps are in your life? Let me know so that I can be praying…

A “Gift” of Three Weeks

photo copyThis is more of a medical update than a blog today. We’ve had a great weekend with friends and family, remembering those who have gone before us.

On Friday I had a bone marrow biopsy and skeletal survey – the final tests before chemo. A funny thing happened with the timing. Because of the short holiday week and my doctor going out of town, I have 3 weeks until I get results.

In the past, news like this would have caused anxiety, but this time it felt like a gift! It’s was as if someone had given me $100 and told me to spend it wherever I want. They say “time is money” and it certainly is valuable. I’ve been given 3 weeks of freedom before the chemo schedule kicks in.  I’m like a kid in a candy shop trying to decide how to spend my quarter.

And in looking at my latest blood tests, there is more good news. The key tests did not jump as much as they did before. In fact, some are down. Realistically, I know it won’t continue, but it does take a bit of the panic out of the situation.

And my orthopedic doctor will be pleased that we aren’t starting chemo. The leg will have more time to heal. I pray that God will use this time and I can walk again soon. The evenings are so pleasant and I just yearn to walk down the street holding hands with Roger. Pray with me towards that end…

Sojourner (Exodus 22:21)

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him,

for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

Sojourner.

This clearly means those who journeyed out of the land of Egypt with them, those who believed the Lord that there would be a promised land. I think of immigrants in our nation and how we need to treat them with respect politically as well as personally. We should never forget that our ancestors at one time entered this land.

Sojourner.

But there is more, even deeper. It refers to a people in the midst of us who are on a journey, not just physically but emotionally. They have experienced loss of what was familiar and are traveling a new road. I think of those who are just beginning their walk with God, leaving old habits and friends, looking for new faith and community. They look different than us, a little “rough around the edges,” but are sojourners. We need to remember back to when we started walking with Jesus, just coming out of our Egypt. What was it that we needed?

And I think of those who are experiencing loss. A friend from 10 years ago was hit with a stroke the day after Mother’s Day. His family is journeying in a strange land. I think of my widow friends and their journeys. I think of my own strange journey and some of the insensitive things that have been said to me, simply because those next to me have not put themselves in my shoes. How many times have I “oppressed” sojourners by ignoring their struggle or demanding more of them than they can give?

Sojourner.

How do we journey with others? Verse 27 says “for I am compassionate.” We have a compassionate God who models the journey for us. He is personal. He loves. He uses his strength to help. He doesn’t force us in directions, but walks alongside. He listens. He reminds us of truth. Most of all, he is present.

That’s the kind of sojourner I want to walk alongside me. People who are real about their own journeys. People who are relational and compassionate. That’s the kind of sojourner I want to be.

God has harsh words for those who wrong sojourners. The key seems to be in remembering — remembering who we are in the midst of hardship and who He is.

Are you a “sojourner?” What are you walking through? Can I walk with you? (If you want your comment to be private, just note it)