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



Home after surgery

I’m home again after the surgery on my leg. It did not go as expected (long story) but I choose to believe that it went as the Lord willed. Roger and I prayed right before the surgery that the doctor would have wisdom. He decided right before the surgery to not use the protein in the bone graft for fear that it might promote the cancer. We’re disappointed since it was the protein that made the difference when my arm was a non-union, but we know that God can heal — protein or no protein.

We’d love prayer on several fronts:

  • That I would be wise in what to do and what not to do. Anyone that knows me well knows I love to “do.” Pray that I will give my body time to rest and heal.
  • That Roger would know how to minister to me. I’m so independent and we’re used to each one of us carrying our own weight. Pray he will know how to lean into me and into others in a way that is not only loving, but meet needs.
  • That God’s love and grace will be evident to others in the midst of our challenges and that we will be able to be faithful in personal and ministry commitments.

Good News — Jason (our son-in-law) and Jacob (grandson) are getting baptized this Sunday! I’m going to try to get out to the beach to be part of our small group’s pot-luck and the celebration service. I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be!

New Beginnings

nonameEaster is a wonderful time of the year — a time of gathering family and friends and worshipping a Savior who defeats the grave. It puts life into perspective.

We have some good news. Wednesday, April 3, I’m having surgery on my leg. Now, to most people, surgery is not good news. But to me, it’s opening the possibility of new beginnings.

They will go into my ankle area through a small cut in the back of my heel (last time it was two 4-5 inch slices on either side of the ankle with a 3 inch tear crosswise where bone was exposed). They will “rough it up” so that my body sees it as a new injury it needs to heal and then they will pack it with bone graft taken from my knee and a protein to encourage healing. This creates new hope.

It’s it interesting how when you let the surgeon address an issue, it’s much easier than trying to recover from a traumatic event? When I injured it myself by getting into circumstances beyond my control, it was a mess — 6 days in the hospital, 2 surgeries, plates and screws and a fear of bone infection. This time the surgeon is able to use the plates and screws already in place in a clean environment so that it is an “in-and-out” procedure.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like life? We can do it “our way” which often means God has to do major surgery to put us back together again. Or we can let him do it in his time and in his way – much less painful! If we can read his word and obey, it’s much less painful than having to ask forgiveness and seek healing. However, when our ways do get us into trouble, God builds on the foundation laid to (hopefully) make future surgeries less traumatizing. We just need to cooperate.

Pray with me that this surgery will work and my leg will heal. The oncologist has indicated that I have 6 weeks or so before we would need to begin treating the cancer. With this surgery, I have renewed hope that we can get this process going, and renewed hope that I will see the Lord in the midst of it.

Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed! 

What can we be praying for you about? Where do you need new beginnings?

I’m a “Guest Blogger!”

2011-5-22 Great WallI’m a “guest blogger,” although I have to admit I hardly know what that means! I sent an email to a friend about blogging and she put it on her blog — so I guess it means writing on someone else’s blog or having them re-post what you wrote. Anyway, if you are into blogging, check it out at: http://equipping4eministry.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/maggies-advice-for-beginning-bloggers/

Let me know If you think I’m on track with what I wrote in “comments.”

Believing God Knows Best

James-boys on rideI don’t usually suggest another blog, but Sharon Jaynes is one I follow, and her posting today was better than anything I could write. It is found at: http://sharonjaynes.com/

It’s a reminder of who God is, that life contains suffering along with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. She quotes James Dobson, “Trying to analyze His [God’s] omnipotence is like an amoeba attempting to comprehend the behavior of man.”

Today we had another “twist and turn” that has left my head spinning like the tea cup ride at Disney. Roger is out of town on a ministry trip, so we don’t have much ability to process emotions or information. I feel like that amoeba trying to wrap my head around things being said by doctors filtered through the mind of Christ.

Pray for clarity…

And that I don’t throw up while I am on this wild ride. He is the engineer of the ride and is sitting next to me. I don’t know if I can be like James (in the picture) and raise my hands in pure joy of the process, but pray we will have enough trust in the Maker that our hearts are calm.

Twists and Turns

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 Life is an adventure.

For some reason, we think in terms of straight line, from where we are to where we want to be. Life defies that. I believe twists and turns are a part of God’s plan in growing us up into his image.

You may know my cancer (multiple myeloma) raised it’s ugly head again 2 weeks ago. It’s complicated because I have a broken leg (compound Tibia & Fibula fractures) that have not been healing (non-union).

Life has been difficult.

The oncologist wanted to wait a month to start chemo so that the orthopedic doctor could do the surgery he has talked about for 2 months. When I went to the orthopedic doctor, he changed is approach to quality of life and backed away from surgery.

Now I’m stuck in what feels like a holding pattern.  Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to feel stuck, trapped in circumstances.  I’m an action oriented person. I was really disappointed after the orthopedic appointment. I was up for the challenge. I needed something to do to — either attack the cancer or fix the leg.

God knows I don’t like feeling stuck.

That’s why he met me in the stillness of the morning. He reminded me of the road near our cabin, how it twists and turns. As you walk, you know you are headed towards the top, but you can’t see it. Sometimes you are actually walking downhill before you can walk uphill again.

I realized that I’m not stuck, the path just turned and that somewhere in God’s plans, there are reasons for the turn. There were things that I could attack (medical tests, physical therapy) and I could explore different options (get a second opinion). I smiled and started walking.

Why do I think the path from A to B is a straight line?

Where do you feel “stuck?” What could you do to become “unstuck?” Let me know in the Comments —

Statistics

Less face it, there is fear when we face a new challenge. And my experience is not without fear.

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I have Multiple Myeloma. 7 years ago, it exploded on my life. 17 years ago I had been diagnosed with Monoclonal Gammopathy, it’s precursor. So I have been living with this in one way or another for a long time and have learned several things:

Statistics are scary.

You know it’s not good when you are searching Google and come up with obituaries. I no longer search, but Roger sometimes does and filters them to me. I have always known this was not a good kind of cancer to have, if there can a be “good” kind of cancer to have. It is considered “incurable” which means you can beat it back, but never get rid of it. It always comes back.

I have a choice. I can give into the fear or lean into the Lord. I can fight emotionally or rest spiritually. I can focus on statistics, the truth of this world, or focus on faith in the truth of eternity.

Statistics reflect unique opportunities.

Somehow I have been “blessed” with MM. Statistically, it hits African-Americans males the most, then Caucasian males, then African-American females, and then Caucasian females – the lowest group.

So I do view this as a unique blessing. God chose me despite statistics. I feel it is a part of His plan in my life and in the lives of those around me. And who would want to emotionally or spiritually fight a blessing?

Statistics reveal grace.

Even with less energy and more pain, I am humbled and amazed by what God does in and through me. The lives I have touched, the ministry processes I have help put into place, the experiences I have had with children and grandchildren — I could go on and on! God’s grace runs through me like yarn in a knitted blanket, covering us over and over and lasting beyond me. How can I fight grace?

Statistics can be scary, but they do reveal opportunity and grace.

I’d love to hear from you, either a comment or question. And I wonder, what statistics scare you? How do you handle it?

 

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.