Tag Archives: healing

Milestones

In days gone by, a milestone was literally a stone or pile of stones which marked the distance along a route. A milestone reassured a traveler of the distance he/she had traveled and that they were still on the right path.

Now it also means an action or event that signifies a change in a stage of life or in one’s development. I think some seasons just have more milestones. May and June seem filled with them: weddings, anniversaries, reunions, school years ending and graduations.

Sometimes milestones seem to come along mildly and well-paced so you have time to mark them, to realize you are there, to feel all the feelings attached to that milestone and to move from where you are to the next phase.  You have time to breathe, take pictures and wipe your eyes with a special hanky. Sometimes you have time to make speeches,  celebrate and have parties and toasts.

And then, there are other seasons, when the milestones just fly by, one after the other with such a fastness about them that you feel out of breath, overwhelmed and wondering what just happened.

In the past week, our youngest child graduated from high school, accepted some scholarships and spoke at church on senior Sunday. We had three different family and friends gatherings, entertained relatives from out-of-town, celebrated his friends’ graduations and told him over and over how proud we are.

In the same week, I had a doctor’s visit where I learned for sure that I can stop taking the medication I’ve been on five years which has caused me countless side effects. I learned I only have to see the oncologist once a year now and can now do mammograms just like other women do, once a year. In the midst of all the other milestones, I cried in the parking lot happy tears of joy because it felt like a giant healing milestone. I wanted to feel it and to give God thanks for it.

Now, while we are still putting away graduation decorations, we are packing for our son’s college new student conference which begins in the morning. We will continue hovering around the milestone of getting him ready to leave the nest in just a couple of months.

In the midst of it all, our baby grandson was trying to play the piano while holding a toy (he’s a multitasker) and fell right on the corner of the piano bench getting his first big boy face boo-boo. His mom and dad were great saying, “Oh he will be fine and kids get bruised.” I could barely take it. I didn’t want that milestone to be at my house.

Milestones. They are everywhere…with so many feelings attached. Psalm 25:6, The Message translation, shares it as a prayer, “Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, God; Rebuild the ancient landmarks.”

God, be with us in our milestone moments. Help us breathe, pause and reflect at each one. Help us to notice the Holy, sweet, difficult passages in our lives and to let your mercy and love enfold each one. Amen

Five Years

Five years ago today I found a lump in my breast. I was 49 years old and completely unprepared for the journey that would follow. For some reason, I never dreamed that cancer could happen to me at that point in my life.

In some ways I had it easy, only a lumpectomy, only one lymph node removed. It had not spread anywhere. No chemo, only radiation after the surgery and then a daily pill, Tamoxifen, since then. Mammograms, blood work and oncologist visits every six months. Some people go through so much more. I had it easy.

On the other hand, it completely rocked my world, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I realized early on that I would be fighting an emotional and spiritual battle along with the physical one. I had to deal with fear and facing my limitations. I had to call on God’s help. I had to depend on others.

I still deal with the side effects of the medication (weight gain, fatigue, joint pain, hot flashes, foot pain)  and I will not be getting it off of it anytime soon. My doctor says to count on several more years. I try not to glare at her when she tells me this because I know she’s on my team.

Despite my continuing treatment, five years is still a milestone for me and for cancer patients in general. It’s not a magic number but it is a marker that doctors use to breathe a sigh of relief. I wondered this morning if I’m allowed to count my five years from the day the journey started or maybe you are supposed to start counting it after surgery was over or radiation. Either way, I’m close.

I’ve heard some people say they are grateful for their cancer. I’m not there. But I am grateful for other things. I’m grateful that it helped me have a crystal clear perspective that life is short, fragile and that we only have right now. I’m grateful that I learned that I’m not invincible and that I need to take care of myself. I savor and celebrate more now.

In the last five years, our son graduated from college and got a big boy job. Our daughter got married, received her masters degree and gave birth to a beautiful boy. Our youngest son went from being a sweet 13-year-old boy to an amazing 18-year-old man. We’ve had holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, vacations and ordinary daily struggles. I count it all as gift.

My daughter has told me all along that she and I should get some kind of matching tattoos to commemorate the breast cancer battle and the victory. I told her I already have tattoos.  I have two scars and a whole set of black dot tattoos that marked me for radiation. I have a tumor marker implanted in my breast at the site of the lump. I am marked. I will not be forgetting this journey. No further tattoos needed here!

The devotional book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young sustained me daily these last five years. The entry for today, August 20, the beginning of my journey, has taken my breath away every single time I’ve read it because it is so spot on. “I am a God who heals. I heal broken bodies, broken minds, broken hearts, broken lives and broken relationships. My very Presence has immense healing powers….Your part is to trust Me fully and to thank Me for the restoration that has begun.”

Five years. Healing. New Life. Gratitude. Perspective. Trust. Thanks be to God!.

 

Healing

After six weeks of not driving and wearing a boot on my broken right ankle, the doctor gave me good news. He said, “I can see on the x-ray that your ankle is healing. Your body is creating new bone.”  He released me to remove the boot to drive and told me only two more weeks in the boot for walking.

Then, he was funny. “No racquet ball, tennis or water skiing for you, though.” Since I’ve pretty much never done any of those three sports, I took that news quite well.

And then, I just felt proud. My body is creating new bone! How about that? I’ve been thanking God that bones and bodies and hearts can heal. Scientists don’t even quite know how it is that our bodies can heal or what exactly creates the just right condition for re-growth and new cell life in us.

In these past weeks, as I’ve poured over our new grandson, I can’t stop marveling at how the truth of scripture has come to life right before my eyes. Psalm 139:13-14,  For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Once there was nothing, and now there is baby Keller: his hands, his tiny fingers, his itty bitty finger nails, his sweet head and that kissable spot at the back of his neck. He is beautifully and wonderfully made, every inch of him. He arrived on this earth knowing how to cry, then nurse. His body somehow pre-programmed to grow and his personality all set to unfold. He is a miracle.

And imagine, if he ever falls and gets hurt or breaks his ankle, his body has been made somehow, to heal too. Or if someone breaks his heart some day or if life is hard on him, he has it within him to heal. He is fearfully and wonderfully made. We all are.

I had never broken anything except a toe before breaking my ankle. I’ve been surprised at how much it has hurt these past weeks. Without ever seeing the x-ray, I know exactly where the break is from the pain. I’ve felt the new bone growing. Healing hurts.  I guess that is true of all aspects of healing. You have to hurt to heal.

As a pastor and Christian, I have long celebrated and marveled at how we are made. I long ago surrendered to the mystery of life, healing and death, knowing I would never understand it all. Anne Lamott wrote, I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.  Plan B: Further Thoughts of Faith

I’m with her. I do not understand all mystery but I’m going to stick with the One who knit us together in our mother’s womb, so fearfully and wonderfully made. I’m betting my whole life on the One who heals broken bones and broken hearts.    

Stilled

Being still as a spiritual concept always sounded good to me. With all our busyness, most of us are drawn to and crave that one verse Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”  I had that verse on a cute pink magnet hanging on my computer back when I had an office. I used to look longingly at it and wish I could be still.

Three weeks ago yesterday, I fell in a hole taking a picture of a most gorgeous sunset (I still think there’s something sad, strange and ironic about how it happened.) The next day, at the ER, the doctor delivered the news, “fractured ankle, stay off of it until you can see a specialist.” Do you know how incredibly difficult it is to “stay off your foot?” I will not go into the difficulties of those days but all was made worse in that I was 5 hours from home; awaiting the birth of my first grandson where I had planned to be super helpful and mobile.

Back home, the specialist told me I could have a boot, bear weight on my foot and even shower like a normal person so I loved him and cried tears of joy and relief in his office to the point that his assistant had to go find tissues. The sweet baby came 9 days after I fell in the hole. I made it back to Houston in time. I was super functional. I cooked. I did laundry. I changed diapers and outfits and loved on him fully. My boot and I were one.

Home again for my follow-up foot appointment, I was told it was healing well. Then the words coming out of the doctor’s mouth got fuzzier because he was saying things I didn’t want to hear. Him: “This is going to take 9-12 weeks to heal.” “You need to wear the boot anytime you walk.”Me: “12 weeks? That will be autumn when I become boot free!” “I can drive, right?  Him: “No, that would be catastrophic.”

I quit talking but in my mind I was still arguing. Why did he have to use a big scary word like “catastrophic” in relation to my driving?  At home, still in denial, I wondered if I could drive with my left foot. My teenager forbid it, “Mom, you aren’t even a good driver with your right foot. No. Just no.” Suddenly, I have the one wise, sensible teenager on the planet?

Be still. Heal. Rest. I can hear the quiet voice of God whispering. For whatever reason, I’m in this season where I let go of my job to embrace family and then fell in a hole. For whatever reason, I’ve been stilled. When I turned in my church keys, all I had left was a car key. Now, I don’t even have that.

Stilled. Humbled. Downsized. Key-less. Broken. Healing. Grateful. Peaceful.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10  I still really like that verse.

 

Healing

Two years ago this week, I found a lump in my breast and began a journey with breast cancer that I never signed up for.  In spite of never signing up, I was lucky.  It was caught early, small, not in my lymph nodes.  It required surgery, radiation and now a five year course of medication that my body is still reeling from.  As the two year anniversary came and went this week, I spent some early morning time reflecting on healing.

I am healed from cancer.  It took 5 doctors, invasive and not so invasive treatment plus drugs.  I’m on 5 medications to counter the side effects from one.  No kidding.  But, along with that cancer healing, I’ve experienced other layers of healing.   My spirit seems healed.  I feel I’m in God’s hands and I trust God’s hands.  I’ve had healing in my relationships-past and present ones.  I’ve had healing in my daily routine.  I no longer believe I am invincible and should just push on through when my body, mind and soul want to stop and rest. I respect my limits. 

And this is probably the best healing–I savor life. Right now, it is nearly 100 degrees outside.  I’m inside and it is cool.  I’m eating frozen red grapes, drinking ice tea and writing.  I’m 100% aware of each of those gifts.

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young has seen me through the last years.  On August 20, the second anniversary of my “unplanned journey”–these were the opening devotional words, “I am a God who heals.”  Yes.  Yes.  Amen.