Monday, September 28, 2009

- And Sometimes Shadows Fall


I guess after every high comes a low, right? Odd to be saying I was on a high considering what I've faced this past month or so, but I've been amazed at the actual exhilaration I have felt over the past few weeks. I'd gotten so used to it, and now that it's faded a bit, I miss it. I guess this is where character building comes in.

I think my 'high' has been comprised of a network of things: tons of prayer and encouragement, lots of cheerleaders in the wings, no notable physical symptoms telling me I was sick in any way, and an amazing sense of health and strength immediately following the surgery.

Ah, but back to reality. One week to the day following the operation, the pain, discomfort and fatigue set in. "The anesthesia takes one to two weeks to wear off." Oh. Did you forget to mention that before, doc? It would've been handy to know. No matter . . . except that the painkillers do a weird number to my chest area - makes me feel like I've been frozen with a thousand needles and I walk around feeling like my boob area is vibrating. Very odd sensation. Do not try this at home.

The pharmacist suggests taking half a pill instead of a whole one. Right. I've made note of that, believe me. I do not enjoy feeling like my chest is a cell phone on vibrate, ringing constantly. Nope, not at all. :)

"You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage him."


Found this quote today on a friend's email - I like it and it's timely. I don't want to allow life's daily trials to discourage me. Tonight I spoke with Cheryl, a wonderful woman who has faced and is facing her cancer with strength and dignity. She encouraged me over the phone and urged me to eat right, to keep exercising and to stay positive. Right. I'm making note of that, too . . . thanks, Cheryl: you go, girl.

Tomorrow I go to the hospital get the remaining clips removed from my incision. Doesn't that sound gross? Well, I've decided not to edit what I type tonight. Besides, one of today's trials is that I couldn't connect to the internet where I'm staying, back in Roxboro. (I'm so grateful to Anne, who took such great care of me from the time I came out of the hospital until this past Saturday . . . thanks, Annie, for a wonderful eleven days in Kirkland - you rock!)

Anyways, so I've driven here to Rockaberry's (I didn't eat anything naughty - honest! Only an apple juice!) to hook up to the internet and to blog, and it's almost closing time, so I *really* don't have time to edit. It hurt to drive, but I decided that it was hurting more to stay home without the internet and not blog. So here I am . . . just me and my vibrating chest, sitting in the dark, broody atmosphere of Rockaberry's, typing to you. Please reward my efforts by leaving a message so that I know you're reading this fascinating stuff!

Oh, dear, I'm being kicked out. Well, here's to brighter days ahead, and to determination, and to not lying down when it's tough. Here's to each one of you reading who are also facing life's challenges with bravery, with dignity, and with grace . . . here's to us! God bless us, every one. :)



Saturday, September 26, 2009

- Monique Lepine (mother of Marc Lepine, Ecole Polytechnique gunman)


Last night, Anne, Jennifer and I went to hear Monique Lepine speak. Monique is now seventy years old and has had a life fraught with difficulties so terrible most of us cannot even begin to imagine. She married a man who turned out to have utter contempt for women, and was physically and verbally abusive towards her and their two children. They finally divorced and her husband moved away.

Here is a brief testimony by Monique in French:



In 1973, Monique returned to work as a nurse and began further courses to advance her nursing career. During this time, the children lived with family and friends, seeing their mother on weekends. The family spent a year in family psychotherapy in 1975, because of difficulties expressing and receiving love and affection.

In 1976, she became director of nursing at the Montreal General Hospital, and the family moved to a house in Pierrefonds, Quebec (a couple of kilometres from where I live).

Years passed. On December 6, 1989, Monique was headed out for her Wednesday night prayer meeting when she heard there had been a tragic shooting at Ecole Polytechnique, an engineering school affiliated with the Universite de Montreal. A young man had murdered fourteen women and wounded ten women and four men in what later came to be known as the "Montreal Massacre" or the "Ecole Polytechnique massacre". The young man then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.

Says Monique, "...before going to my prayer meeting. I saw this news and I was in shock, like everybody else. Nothing like this ever happened here, in the province of Quebec, in a university. I thought it was terrible, a horrible tragedy. I went to my prayer meeting and I was moved to ask for prayers for the [gunman’s] mother...."

What Monique did not realize was that she was asking prayer for herself.

The next day, Monique learned the horrible truth - that it was her son who had been the perpetrator of this senseless massacre. She was brought in by police for hours of interrogation. She was able to return home only briefly, but because of the journalists camped outside her place, she could not live there, and was forced to stay at her pastor's house for a month.

What followed were obvious years of darkness for Monique. Years of guilt, and shame, and pain. Years of mourning and isolation. "The shame was terrible. You feel you have no real value anymore. You want to be alone, you don’t want to see people anymore. And the guilt! I’m not a murderer, for sure, but that was my son. Even at my church, I was never mentioning that I was the mother of Marc L├ępine. Nobody knew who I was."

Seven years later, another blow, too unimaginable to be happening to the same woman. Monique received an emergency phone call. Nadia - her only remaining child - was in hospital, victim of a drug overdose. Monique rushed to her side, where her daughter died in her arms. "She had problems with drugs already, but she couldn’t cope with all this turmoil, so I think partially it was related."

"After she died, I didn’t want to live anymore. I was just praying, praying, just living one day at a time, until in 2001, I felt I had a choice: to live or die. And I chose life, to serve God."


And so now, twenty years after the Montreal Massacre, Monique has written a book called "Aftermath", finally going public with her story. She has chosen life. She has chosen to serve God in the midst of horrifying circumstances. She has chosen to hold her head high and face the world.

In her interview with McLean's magazine, Kate Fillion asks Monique, "Is this the best time of your life, so far?" And Monique answers, "Yes, I think it is. Nothing could be worse than what I’ve been living. Now what I want is to live. Now I smile, I have purpose in life, I have friends, and I want as many years of happiness as I had of suffering."

"It could happen at times that I have shame, but I won’t nourish it, and I will never let the shame destroy my life."


That, dear fellow sojourner, is the stuff we need to have to face this life. There may be years of pain, and of suffering, and of shame, but then we stand up....we stand up and we start to walk again, and we face life in the eye, and we say to ourselves,

"I will not let this defeat me."

"I will not give in to despair."

"I will choose to walk with God, and He will walk with me, and together we can do great things."

"He can take the broken shards of my life and gather them up, and use them to create a priceless, precious vase for all to see."

"I believe in Him, and I trust Him with my life. My life is in His hands."

Can you say that? Can you say it and mean it? Oh, precious warrior, yield your life to Him, and tell Him He can have complete control of every last piece of your broken heart.....

....and then watch and see what He will do! He loves you SO much! And He will use whatever you give Him and make it an awesome sight to behold!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sources:

MacLeans Magazine article:
http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20081022_87668_87668&page=4

Wikipedia - Marc Lepine / Montreal Massacre:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_lepine

Photo of Monique Lepine:
http://www.lhebdomekinacdeschenaux.com/imgs/dynamique/articles/gros/Monique_Lepine.jpg

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

- I Think I Can Do This (That's The Way It Is)


This week has been a lot more difficult than last week. I don't remember anyone telling me the anesthetic wears off after a week or two, but this week, I've been able to experience that firsthand.

I've been in a lot of discomfort, particularly in the area of the right underarm. That's where my doctor went digging for the sentinel node and the one lymph node that he removed, and it's very sore.

Yesterday, my hero / hostess / chauffeur / Julia-Child-clone friend, Anne, drove me to the hospital to get my drains removed. If you don't know what drains are, I'm faced with the difficult choice of either telling you here in detail what they are - and hoping you don't faint if you're queasy - or just hopping over their description and hoping you can imagine what I mean when I say 'drains'.

Enh, what the heck . . . basically, there were two plastic tubes coming from the inside of my chest to the outside, and the tubes lead to small portable plastic bottles I wore for the week following the surgery. They filled up with blood that was still draining from the surgery site and needed to be emptied every few hours. I certainly won't miss those babies. (Are you still conscious? If not, come back later. If so, keep reading . . .)

So yesterday, my nurse Kim decided to remove everything: the drains, bandages and half the clips (translation: staples . . . remember the good old days when they sewed us back up so we had 'stitches'? Well, clips replace those . . .) Owwwwwww. Painful! I felt sorry for her as I sniffled, snuffled and sobbed through most of the procedure. The drain removal at the lymph node site was the worst - there's no other way to remove it but to pull it out, and although Kim did a wonderful job, it was still very painful.

The main thing I was experiencing throughout the hour-long ordeal was that I felt as though my body was being assaulted . . . that's the only word that comes to my mind. Not assaulted deliberately by medical staff, of course: my doctor and nurse are wonderful, but assaulted by pain. As we try to protect ourselves from physical pain, that effort of self-protection is in itself very stressful, and I felt as though it was a type of trauma; my body was so tense and on guard the whole time.

And in the midst of all these procedures - bandage removal (uncomfortable but bearable), drainage removal (awful on the right side, not so bad on the left), and clips removal along the incision lines (pinched a little but certainly tolerable) - I looked down and saw my body for the first time since the surgery with no bandages; no cover ups; no pristeen little white camisole hiding the inevitable new me. This is the me I'll see looking back at me in the mirror for the remainder of my life, and I had been wondering just how I would handle it.

Oddly enough, that sight was the least painful part of yesterday. It wasn't pretty. It's not yet healed up, of course. But it wasn't all that bad.

It sure beats having cancer. It beats living in a country where this kind of cancer removal isn't available, or affordable, and where people die from something that could have easily been removed from their bodies.

It beats launching myself into a whole new life (as I had originally planned to do a few months ago), starting to feel really unwell somewhere in a foreign country, and finding out months or even years down the line that the cancer had been sitting around in my body doing awful things to amuse itself.

It beats limping back to Montreal, going through a battery of tests, visiting a physician who would have broken the news that I was in advanced stages, or whatever, and not being around to enjoy life to its fullest.

So in retrospect, it wasn't really all that bad. And I think I can do this.



The Way It Is
I can read your mind and I know your story
I see what you're going through
It's an uphill climb, and I'm feeling sorry
But I know it will come to you

Don't surrender cause you can win
In this thing called love

When you want it the most, there's no easy way out
When you're ready to go and your heart's left in doubt
Don't give up on your faith
Love comes to those who believe it
And that's the way it is

When you question me for a simple answer
I don't know what to say, no
But it's plain to see, if we stick together
You're gonna find a way, yeah

So don't surrender cause you can win
In this thing called love

When you want it the most there's no easy way out
When you're ready to go and your heart's left in doubt
Don't give up on your faith
Love comes to those who believe it
And that's the way it is

When life is empty with no tomorrow
And loneliness starts to call
Baby, don't worry, forget your sorrow
Cause loves gonna conquer it all

When you want it the most, there's no easy way out
When you're ready to go and your heart's left in doubt
Don't give up on your faith
Love comes to those who believe it
And that's the way it is

When you want it the most there's no easy way out
When you're ready to go and your heart's left in doubt
Don't give up on your faith
Love comes to those who believe it
And that's the way it is

That's the way it is
That's the way it is, babe
Don't give up on your faith
Love comes to those who believe it
And that's the way it is

Sunday, September 20, 2009

- A Simple Sunday Song (Mighty To Save)


Okay, so I had a great day! Went to church this am, came home and chatted for an hour or two with my sweet, sweet hosts, had a poolside nap, a visit from a dear friend, and then pizza, popcorn & a suspense-filled movie!

And now it's time for bed.....zzzz......

So I'll cheat....instead of pouring out my deepest thoughts for you guys here in bloggy-land, I'll post a video for you to watch. It's shot at a humungous church in Australia called "Hillsongs".



Kinda funny how people can rock out at a death metal concert and it seems somewhat normal, but when Christians rock out at a worship concert, they're sometimes seen as w-e-i-r-d-o.

Remember, the definition of a fanatic is: someone who's more passionate about something than you are . . . ha ha ha!

Sweet dreams!


Friday, September 18, 2009

- Health Update (Carry You)


Because I know many of you lead very busy lives and may not have the time to read through the reams of stuff i write, I'm going to try and put the highlights in a different color so that you can just scan these postings. For the rest of you, you get to savor every word, no matter what color the ink is! Cool?

So here's the update on my health: on Tuesday, September 15/09, the cancerous tumor (which was embedded in the milk ducts, as I understand it), the sentinel node, one other node plus both my breasts were removed for analysis.

The sentinel node is the node closest to the tumor. It was clean! If it is clean, it means that all other nodes in the area (around 30 of them) are also clean.

Does that mean I am now cancer-free? Let's hope so, but it's not a given. Now that the tumor has been removed, it will be analyzed and in around 3 weeks, we will know both the size and type of the tumor. That's when more decisions will be made.

From my understanding (my doctor is being very vague but I pumped one of his visiting team members for information before I left the hospital), certain types of tumors may have 'maverick cells' that float off into other parts of the body and start doing their dirty work elsewhere. My doctor's job is to analyze the size of the tumor, I suppose so that he can guesstimate the amount of time it was in my body, and what kind of cancer it is.

Based on that information, he may decide that follow-up chemo is in order, to ensure random cells or tumors are zapped and destroyed.

So, although the cancerous tumor had not spread much within my breast nor into the surrounding lymph nodes, this does not mean I have been declared 'cancer-free'.

Hmm....does this freak me out? No! I am grateful to have received the news that the cancer hadn't spread into the lymph nodes, and now I am choosing to believe God that it has not had enough time to do much other damage in other parts of my body.

The tumor, I believe, was a Stage 0 or 1, although I'm not entirely sure - that's one question I didn't think to ask my doctor, since I was still half-drugged and thinking more about the lymph nodes than anything else. But the tumor was not advanced, and I think we caught it early enough that my situation is looking good. :)

My feeling is that my doctor will probably order some sort of chemo for me, for awhile, anyways. He had previously talked about doing the chemo for a year, but we'll see what he says after the test results are back. The intensity and duration of the chemo will obviously be determined by the size and type of the tumor.

And in the meantime? Like with so many things in life, I'll wait.....
In the meantime, you'll find me living my life to the fullest - for sure!

There are no lifetime warranties that come with life....
No manual that comes at birth.

No promises of how long our lives will last...
Nor how happy...
Nor how healthy....

So I have two choices:
To live in fear...
Or to live my life fully, live it joyfully....
And to live it content,
Knowing that some things are just out of my control.

That's okay, because when it's all too much, He will carry me.
He will carry you, too, if you'll let Him.



Carry You by Amy Grant

Lay down your burden, I will carry you
I will carry you, my child, my child
Lay down your burden, I will carry you
I will carry you, my child, my child

If I can walk on water
And calm a restless sea
I've done a thousand things you've never done

And I'm weary watchin'
While you struggle on your own
Call my name, I'll come

Lay down your burden, I will carry you
I will carry you, my child, my child
Lay down your burden, I will carry you
I will carry you, my child, my child

I give vision to the blind
And I can raise the dead
I've seen the darker side of Hell
And I returned
And I see those sleepless nights
And I count every tear you cry
I know some lessons hurt to learn

Lay down your burden, I will carry you
I will carry you, my child, my child
Lay down your burden, I will carry you
I will carry carry, my child, my child

I will carry you, my child, my child
I will carry you

Thursday, September 17, 2009

- Wow

I am SO blessed by all the emails and Facebook posts from you guys over these past few days....they have been so encouraging and uplifting.

Please stay tuned....I will be back to blogging again in no time. Am feeling great - just weak - and would you believe, there is no pain - just the expected range-of-motion difficulties that will subside in a few days.

Surgery was a success - the double mastectomy was completed with no complications, I lost 4 lbs. in 2 hours :) and the cancer from the tumor had not spread. Yay! Thank you, God!

If you are one of those weary pilgrims also battling with cancer, may He strengthen you, uplift you, and keep you safe in His care....He loves you and is concerned for you.

In the meantime, whilst you are awaiting new blog entries from me, please scroll down and click on Older Posts to view previous entries. My hope is that they will encourage you and give you the lift you need to keep forging ahead and to stay focused....

Blessings & Peace,

Wendy

Monday, September 14, 2009

- Hosanna!



HOSANNA
!!!
Praise is rising, eyes are turning to You, we turn to You
Hope is stirring, hearts are yearning for You, we long for You
'Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day
In Your Presence, all our fears are washed away
Washed away!!!!!!!!


CHORUS
Hosanna, hosanna!!!
You are the God Who saves us, worthy of all our praises
Hosanna, hosanna!!!
Come have Your way among us
We welcome You here, Lord Jesus

Hear the sound of hearts returning to You, we turn to You
In Your Kingdom broken lives are made new, You make us new
'Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day
In Your Presence all our fears are washed away, washed away

CHORUS
Hosanna, hosanna!!!
You are the God Who saves us, worthy of all our praises
Hosanna, hosanna!!!
Come have Your way among us
We welcome You here, Lord Jesus

'Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day
In Your Presence all our fears are washed away
'Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day
In Your Presence all our fears are washed away, washed away

CHORUS
Hosanna, hosanna!!!
You are the God Who saves us, worthy of all our praises
Hosanna, hosanna!!!
Come have Your way among us
We welcome You here, Lord Jesus
(Repeat)

Hosanna, hosanna!!!
Hosanna, hosanna!!!
______________________________________________

So surgery is booked for 7:45 am tomorrow. They have changed their tune and said they won't be keeping me overnight, which is so weird, but anyways....maybe I'm safer at home than in the hospital!

I am at perfect peace....no fear, no butterflies, no dread....just perfect peace. Pretty cool, huh? It beats lying awake all night!

Thank you, guys, for all your amazing support, emails, phone calls & prayers....they're obviously having quite an effect.

I'll be staying at my friend Anne's for a week or so....if you want to visit, she's cool with that. Just email or text me, and I'll send you her phone number....she's going to co-ordinate my visitors.

Blessings & Peace,

Wendy




Saturday, September 12, 2009

- Tribute To My Dad

My dad died of cancer in the Fall of 2005. I had written this song "Remember" a few years before that, and I hadn't had anyone in mind when I wrote it, but now it's truly "his song".


- Fear (Voice Of Truth)


I've been thinking about fear lately. Fear is a terrible thing to have to live with. It's humungous; it's paralyzing....it's that crawly feeling in your stomach that comes when you hear bad news, or you imagine something awful happening to you, or to someone you love, or it's that wrenching within you when you think there's just no possible way that life is ever going to work out the way you hope it will.

Fearing the worst is the worst feeling in the world. It's no way to live.

And I am SO fortunate that in all the days that have passed since I received my cancer diagnosis, I am simply not afraid of what is happening to me.

At times, I've wondered why......but mostly I know why. It's because in my mind, I've gone over this ground many times before, and in reality, with nine cancers in our family, I've been half-expecting it for years.

I've even assumed, at times, that I had cancer, only to be told by my doctor that I was perfectly well.

But from time to time, I reviewed the scenario in my mind......what would I do if one day I was given this news? How would I react? Well, now I know! And I'm fine with it.

First of all, for me, this is not the worst thing that can happen to a person....I think I talked about that in a previous posting. It's not the end of the world....not my world, anyways.

Have you ever faced your fears? Have you ever laid awake at night fighting off random fears descending on your mind? Have you ever froze in horror at the thought of something in particular happening to you, and thought to yourself, "If that thing ever happened, I would just die! I'd die of fright! I'd die of grief! I'd die from the sheer pain of it!" or whatever?

But one thing I've been thinking is that, in order to be a strong, confident person and to be able to face life unafraid, the simplest thing to do - even right now as you sit there reading this - is to make a list of all the things you're afraid of.....

....your child being involved in an accident....
....your spouse leaving you for someone else....
....your doctor calling you with news similar to mine....
....your house burning to the ground, leaving you homeless and without possessions....

Are you still reading this? Or is this just too painful to think about? Don't log out just yet! I can imagine this is not easy for some of you to even imagine....and yet, I believe there is a wonderful freedom in doing exactly what I've just suggested, starting with making your "Fears List"....

....and then, if you do actually make such a list, the next, amazingly freeing step is this:

Look at each fear: look it square in the face, and begin planning in advance about how you will choose to react.

Of course, your first reaction may be stunned disbelief, shock, denial, hysteria, panic....whatever. That's normal - it's the human side of us, and there's nothing wrong with that.

But if you can get past that, can you possibly begin to imagine yourself getting through the emotion to the other side, and then choosing an attitude which will carry you through the rest of the ordeal? A kind of "decree" or a belief system that helps you soar over the problems and into peace and tranquility?

I know, I know - not all of us believe we'd even remotely be in control of our emotions enough to do anything but have a massive meltdown. A meltdown of epic proportions.

And yet, I think there is a strength within us that can emerge in the deepest of trials, especially if we have thought it through beforehand and "practiced" our responses. That's the only explanation I can come up with for why I am so peaceful and tranquil, and yes, even joyful! in this trial.

You see, as I've said, I had already imagined this scenario in my head....I had run through the script....and I had planned & hoped I'd be able to react exactly the way I'm reacting now. Pretty cool, huh?

And don't get me wrong - it's not all my strength: not by a long shot. I walked this through with God beforehand, and I'm realizing that with Him, fear just doesn't have that big a hold on me....not for this test, anyways.

Why? Because....

I am not afraid to die. I surrendered my entire life to him 'way back in 1978. That decision removed the fear of death a long time ago.

I am not afraid of surgery. My life is in His hands, and that is the safest place my life can be, on Tuesday, September 15th, when they do the double mastectomy, and on any other day of the year. My life is safe in His hands.

I am not afraid to have parts of my body removed. I can still enjoy life; still love; still dance; still rejoice...with the parts I have left.

I am not afraid of fear. I hate living life afraid - I did it for many years - and I would never want to go back to living like that. So I prayed and I worked and I strove to defeat my fears, and this past year, something wonderful happened.....

I discovered that my fears had been defeated! With God's incredible help and intervention, I -
we - overcame those fears, and I feel FREE! It's so wonderful to feel free! It's how He wants us to live - free! God did not create us to live as slaves to fear.

Accept His wonderful, all-encompassing, all-enveloping love, and walk in that amazing love every day, and you will see that there is life beyond fear....invigorating, passionate life that will fill your heart with joy and eradicate every single, last fear.



Voice Of Truth     Casting Crowns
Oh, what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is
And He's holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again
"Boy, you'll never win,
You'll never win."

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
The Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

Oh, what I would do
To have the kind of strength it takes
To stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound
Of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out
My name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again
"Boy you'll never win,
You'll never win."

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don't seem so high
From on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
The Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of truth says "this is for my glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me (calling out to me)
I will choose to listen and believe (I will choose to listen and believe)
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

I will listen and believe
I will listen and believe the Voice of truth
I will listen and believe
'Cause Jesus you are the Voice of truth
And I will listen to you.. oh you are the Voice of truth

Thursday, September 10, 2009

- Cardboard Testimonies

There is no pain too awful....
There is no agony too severe....
There is no sorrow too deep....
There is no wound too great...
....that the love of God cannot heal in your life.

Receive His love today, and be healed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

- It's Just A Tent


"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." 2 Corinthians 5:1

I've been thinking a lot about bodies lately. Er, well, you know what I mean. Ha! Thinking mostly about my own body and what's about to happen to it...what it's going to look like and how I'm going to feel after getting radical surgery....

But then I think, "Hey - it's just a tent."

We have these bodies to house our spirits - to carry the real "us" - from the first moment we gasp that breath of life, until the last day when we exhale and this earthly housing goes back to the dust.

Someone has said that so much of what happens in our lives is represented in the hyphen....

You know: when we die, it says, "Jim Smith, 1950 - 2009".

This tells when the person was born and when he died, but the hyphen in between those two dates....well, that's the part that the obituary outlines.

Sometimes those details are brief. Perhaps the person lived a short time, died young, and didn't get the chance to do a whole lot of living.

What's sadder, though, is when the person had many, many years on earth, but what is represented by the hyphen - in between the year of his birth and the year of his death - is a whole lot of unfulfilled dreams; a plethora of wasted years; a gradual decline to the grave.

God gives us the privilege of life and of years on this earth -
To do His work...
To live for Him, and to serve others...
To be an enriching force and to effect change wherever we go....
To be light; to be salt.

"You are here to enrich the world, 
And you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." 
- Engraved over entrance to Cabell Hall, University of Virginia.

"See how the masses of men lower themselves into nameless graves, while here and there a selfless soul forgets himself into immortality." 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Everyone can be great because everyone can serve." 
- Martin Luther King Jr.

We are in these earthly tents for a certain number of years.
Some of us will exit this world with our tents in pretty good shape.
Some of us will leave this earth with scratched, scraped tents.
Some of us will exit with battered, broken tents.

Our tents, unfortunately, do not come with lifetime guarantees.

But all of us have the chance to leave a legacy, regardless of the condition of our tents.

We can invest into the lives of others;
We can sow today and reap a rich harvest tomorrow
We can look towards the eternal and not be fooled by the lure and the attraction of the temporary.

These are all choices we can make.
At least in the area of choices, we all have the same opportunities.
My tent may not be as strong as your tent...
...but at least I can choose to invest my time and my abilities wisely, with what strength God gives me and with whatever amount of time I have on this earthly sphere.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

- Wendy's Missionary Poem


My mother wrote this for me back in the 80s - even way back then, I was planning to go into missions. Hmm....it's taking me awhile, isn't it? Well, Lord willing, I'll get there one day...


Wendy's Missionary Poem


Now it's very, very scary to become a missionary

'Cause you never know where you may have to go

God might send you down to Cuba, to Australia or Aruba

Or away up north to land of ice and snow


And if that is where you are, without aeroplane or car

Then be sure you won't have any sanitation

And it won't be very nice when the pot is full of ice

And you have to cope with chronic constipation


If you're not away up there, and you're not away down under

Then you might be sent away across the sea

Where the marijuana grows, and where everybody knows

We confiscate their coffee and their tea


Of course, you could be sent out west - maybe that would be the best

'Cause it's later by the clock when you are here

But with the slightest motion, the coast may slide into the ocean

Leave you hanging by your nails in the thin air


So you see, there's not much choice, but with you we will rejoice

For you wanted to be poor, deprived and free

And I don't feel too bereaved; I'm just happy and relieved

That God has chosen you to go, not ME!!



- Encouraging Letters


Just thought I'd create a posting for these excerpts from encouraging letters I've received this week...they're helping so much. Thank you for sending them!

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Wendy,

I have been reading your blog. I just need to tell you how proud I am of your courage but moreover, your attitude . . . a real tribute to your faith.


If there is any way I can be there for you, don't hesitate to let me know!

K.
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Hi Wendy,

You have been in my thoughts and prayers, along with all the many other people who are thinking about you.


Your websites and blog are an amazing encouragement, which seems funny coming from a cancer patient to someone who really has nothing to complain about in comparison! I laughed out loud at the pantyhose story*. We've all had a few of those moments!

Many blessings on you in your recovery......

* Note from Wendy! My pantyhose story is on my website:
http://www.wendy.ca/content/view/38/69/

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Hi Wendy,


Gosh, I am certain that others will be touched by you...how could they not be? You have such a beautiful and loving spirit...yes, God will use this situation greatly for His glory, sometimes you will see Him working and it will bless you, and often you won't see the impact you are having, but lives WILL be touched....one of our prayers for you is that at EVERY moment throughout the hours, days and weeks ahead, you will feel Him in a sense carrying you through and above it all.

Will keep in touch...

Sue

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Wendy,

Your blog is awesome. The word of the Lord inspires me and helps me through my illness. You are so eloquent with your words. Your confidence and love for the Lord in awe inspiring.

Be well, my heart will be with your heart and the Lord will have both our hearts.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hello Wendy,


I just wanted to thank you for keeping me/us updated about your medical situation. I am so blessed and encouraged by your strength, faith and trust in our loving God, Who has you in the hollow of His hand at all times and in all circumstances. You are so right to cling to Him, and He will surely reward your faith and bring you through.

Every blessing,

Jill

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Wendy,


I lift you up to our Father every day. Blessings upon you. Strength, grace and His glory. If I can help in any way let me know. Keep singing and praising His name.

Isaiah 54: 5, 10
"For your Maker is your husband- the LORD Almighty is his name
The Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth."

" "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you."

Thank you, Lord, that every breath of Wendy's is in Your hand. What a beautiful, peaceful place to be. Thank you, Lord, that you are Wendy's provider, her healer, her Husband, her Redeemer.

Thank you that nothing can remove Your covenant of peace over her. Thank You for what You are doing in this situation, and for Your compassion.

In Jesus name, Amen

Catherine

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Hi Wendy,

I am standing with you in faith on the Solid Rock! What a shock just as you're about to set off but praise the Lord it was diagnosed before you left! I love (the song on your blog) "Your Unfailing Love" - which I am listening to right now - it is a good faith builder/keeper and will sustain you through your ordeal.

Feel free to call/drop in any time.

Love you and be assured you're in our prayers constantly!

Ann

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Hi Wendy,

Reading your diary is an inspiration - who knows what will be - one thing we do know is that our God is able to do more than we can ask for or think of. Your journey may have changed....your mission field has changed address for now. It won't be easy but with God all things are possible.

May the Lord be your constant companion - may He send the ones of His choice to hear words of encouragement and hope through you - Christ is your Victory - your Healer and Saviour.

God bless you and undergird your faith daily as you live for Him on this amazing journey of faith. May your faith be counted unto you as righteousness.

Holding you up before His throne of Grace....

Myra

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Dear Wendy,

I wanted to let you know that I've been praying for you and thinking of you since I first heard the news. It is an encouragement to me to see how strong you are through this trial - a blog and all! It's amazing, Wendy. What a testimony to all!

You are an overcomer and He is leading you though this every step of the way. Remember the poem Footprints? That always touched me. Continue to lean on your Heavenly Father and He'll carry you through this.

"The Lord is your strength and your song, He has become your salvation."

"In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." (Is 30:15)

Love, Liv

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Hi Wendy,

I was struck by your faith when I heard you sharing with the women at the prayer meeting, the fact that you have breast cancer. I can imagine try to imagine how difficult it must be to receive news that you have breast cancer, and I pray that you will find good support and community amongst the women in your life as you go through treatments, and as you deal emotionally with this illness.

You had such a heart to go away on missions, but I know that God will use you where ever you are - especially now that you don't have a choice of where you're living. Your prayers, your words, your music all bring people into the kingdom....

Rebecca

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- Expectations


I've been thinking about why we get so upset when things go wrong...when things don't go the way we think they should. Why are we so surprised when our lives have twists and turns...detours...dead ends...?

And I think I can answer that in a word. It's "expectations".

We expect things to go well...and then they don't.
We expect our health to be good...and then it isn't.
We expect people to treat us with kindness and respect...but they don't always do that.
We expect - maybe subconsciously - that our lives will go as planned...but isn't that just like life, not to?

And so I'm realizing that while it's not wrong to have expectations for good, those very same expectations can sink us in the end...create false images of what's going to happen...get our hopes up so high, we feel we're gonna fly any minute, only to have our hopes dashed to the ground. And dashed hopes can lead to a desperate despair that is very, very difficult to recover from.

In the back of my mind, I've always half-expected this cancer. I'm not being negative; not at all. Maybe a better way of saying it is that I've been prepared for this moment, this season, for many years.

- I watching my mom wrestle with cancer four times in her life: kidney, lung, and twice in her right breast. She died in 1991, not of cancer, ironically, but from COPD - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

- Her sister had breast cancer twice, and then succumbed to cancer in her spine.

- My dad - my dear dad - was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma four years ago and died of this particular cancer that settles in the kidney and the bone marrow.

- And now my mother's sister's daughter - my cousin - is dying of terminal cancer.

That's nine cancers in our small little family circle, and eight of those are in the women, and four of those eight are cancers in the breast. So it's kind of a family tradition, you might say.

And so I have hoped for good health, but I have not had unreasonable expectations to be healthy, if that makes sense.

I have not demanded that God, or the universe, or good fortune, or good genes, give me good health.

I am a mere human, and I don't have that kind of pull, nor influence, nor clout.

I have never said "why me?" I think that is a silly saying.

Why not me, for goodness sake? I am not exempt from human suffering.

Asking "why me?" is sometimes like saying "why not someone else instead of me?" Sheesh! I wouldn't wish this on anybody. I wouldn't want you to have this instead of me. And so I say "why not me?"

Of the late Edward Kennedy, Barack Obama said that Americans are left with one image of him: "a man on a boat; white mane tousled; smiling broadly as he sails into the wind, ready for what storms may come, carrying on toward some new and wondrous place just beyond the horizon."

Robert Louis Stevenson said: "The most beautiful adventures are not those we go to seek."

And so we'll see where this adventure leads. Who knows what good can come out of the things God allows into our lives? He may be allowing me an ever-expanding circle of influence as He brings me through this experience, and it will be grand, and it will be good, because He will get all the glory! :)


"God has formed us for Himself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Him." St. Augustine




Friday, September 4, 2009

- Back to Earth (Nick Vujicic)


Hmm . . . so I guess we all come back down to earth eventually; wake up and smell the coffee . . . however you want to say it. The past two or three days weren't the greatest. Many tears.

Ironically, it was other "life stuff" that got me crying and being more emotional rather than the cancer itself . . . things that pop up and threaten to steal our joy, rob us of our peace, and generally just tick us off so much that we find it difficult to focus properly and cause us to feel as though we are living under a cloud.

For one thing, my Bible was packed somewhere and I hadn't been able to locate it . . . not that I was looking incredibly hard, unfortunately. Lots of people were emailing and calling to offer their support, empathy and encouragement, and I felt like I didn't really need to read or foster that intimacy with God.

After a few days, though, I finally realized I was drifting spiritually and needed to get back to Him; begin drawing from His strength again and hearing from Him before I found myself shipwrecked.

We humans are so fickle yet predictable . . . when things are tough; when we can't find enough peace to just roll over and go to sleep at night; when our lives feel so out of control, we think we're going to lose our sanity . . . there He is: good ol' God, waiting for us right where we left Him, available to hear our prayers and our complaints; there to comfort us; there to be God to us again as He always is and to provide the solace and strength we need in times of trouble.

. . . and when things are good again, it's just so tempting to brush past Him and get on with the day . . . there's no "felt need", and we're busy, and other priorities are screaming at us at the top of the "To Do" list, waiting to get done.

He's got a lot of grace, God does, that He watches us bump Him 'way down to the bottom of our priorities list, and that He doesn't say 'boo' when we jump back into His arms at the first sign of trouble . . .

Well, I'm about to jump into His arms again, and it's going to be a good place to be. Maybe this time, I'll stay a bit longer than I usually do.

And just when you think you've got it bad, there's always someone like Nick Vujicic to make you stop and think again:





Wednesday, September 2, 2009

- I Hope You Dance


The following letter came to me last night, and when I read it, I just wept. What a beautiful letter of kindness and encouragement; a lifeline thrown out to me in my hour of need.

Suzanne & her husband Brent are in charge of Missions in my home church - Westview Bible Church. Suzanne & I had met a few weeks ago to discuss my recent plans of going into missions full-time....she was so excited for me & was planning a send-off at the church for me when I got the news about my cancer.

Even though we hardly know each other, I think Suzanne was more devastated than I was with the news. Since then, she also has been emailing me on a regular basis, offering her love, encouragement and support, just as so many of you have also done.

I've asked Suzanne's permission to share this letter, and she's agreed:

"I hope you know by now that I think you are spectacular and I love you. I would do anything for you. But I just wanted to make sure you also know that this comes from Westview as a whole. If there is anything 'we' can do, let 'me' know. You ARE one of our missionaries, and we want to support you regardless of which battle you are currently fighting and where you are fighting from.


My sister-in-law's daycare is literally two blocks down Cote St Catherine from the Jewish, and since it seems you will be spending some time there on and off, I can very easily come join you! We can chat and pray and plan . . . hey, don't they even have a Second Cup inside the hospital?! :o)

Stay true to what you know is good, even though darkness tries to blot it out and destroy. I see you shedding layers, and what will be left is goodness. Then you will be ready.

For some reason I literally see a lotus in bloom when I think of you. Isn't it amazing, something so horrid is happening and God thinks of you as a beautiful flower, but not just a beautiful flower who stands to attention and brings smiles to peoples faces, but one in BLOOM!

Something is happening. Changing. I wonder if flowers are always ready for Spring or if it catches them off guard sometimes. The results are always stunning regardless.


We should hang out more, I think you are so freaking cool.

"The lotus flower appeared in legends originating from ancient Egypt. It played an important part in ancient Egyptian religion. The pure white lotus flower, the only plant to fruit and flower simultaneously, emerges from the depths of the muddy swamp. Growing from the mud at the bottom of ponds and streams, the exquisite Lotus flower rises above the water and is usually white or pink with 15 or more oval, spreading petals, and a peculiar, flat seedcase at its center."

I was wondering at God, "why a Lotus?", and so I thought I'd look into it. This was the very first thing I read on Lotus flowers. You are a white one, by the way. And perhaps not quite through the mud yet. But what a glorious day when you will be! :o)

Also, how funny is God! ". . . and a peculiar, flat seedcase." I am sure you are the only one He would tease at a time like this. You and your peculiar flat seedcase.

Love, Suzanne"

Wow!

Ironically, through this period of illness, God has been making me SO aware of His healing in my life in regards to relationships and my ability to connect on a deep level with other people.

I have always been able to connect well with people socially, or when singing & entertaining, or whatever. But throughout my life, I have always felt like a person stuck on the outside of the store, looking in through the window longingly at the close relationships of others . . . brothers & sisters, childhood friends, best friends, etc. And I've almost always felt myself standing alone.

I've seen the relationships others enjoy so much, and I've watched them, somewhat enviously, and wondered how on earth I could incorporate a few close relationships into my own life, but it's like I could never quite access them for myself. Either I felt a resistance within me, a wall of fear that kept me from connecting with others on a deep level, or I felt a rejection from them towards me. It bugged the crap out of me and I could never quite get my head around it.

But in just the past month or two, something truly remarkable has been happening. For example, two friends from my childhood who had virtually disappeared from my relational landscape have suddenly reappeared (through the amazing power of Facebook!), blessing and enriching my life immeasurably. One was my best friend from when I was 6 - I had not seen her since 1966 - and the other was a great buddy who I hung out with from 1970 to 1973 - we just met up again two weeks ago for the first time since the 70s!

The timing has been amazing - so healing, so affirming, so God. I have sensed His Presence through these and so many other relationships, through so many people like yourselves, as you have gathered around me and sent me your strength . . . and I have been strengthened.

In my heart, I am in awe of God, and I am profoundly grateful. For this reason, you are seeing a depth of strength and a vitality in my spirit that is coming from somewhere outside myself.

Yes, it is true that I am making choices to rejoice rather than to mourn; to look for the humor in every situation, rather than to wallow and feel sorry for myself; to surround myself with uplifting, happy people rather than with angry, negative people . . . and yet at the same time, I believe the powerful Presence of my Heavenly Father is also permeating my life, making Himself real to me and making this whole experience an easy walk rather than a tortured one.

Someone said the other day, and I love this: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." The speaker pointed out that it's a shadow that sometimes brings on the fear of evil - not death itself but a shadow of death that can scare us.

But a shadow is just that - a shadow. We can be brave because sometimes the threats in our lives are no more than shadows . . . mere shadows!

And in a worst case scenario, if it turns out to be more than just a shadow, that same Presence of God is still with us to comfort and guide us and lead us throughout.

There is so much in this life that can knock the stuffing out of us . . . can rob us of our joy . . . can eclipse the sense of wonder we can still feel.

We can allow ourselves to give in to the enormous feelings of sadness accompanying those experiences, or we can choose to see the joy and the blessings that are intermingled right there with our pain.

So for you, friends and fellow pilgrims, I hope you choose the joy! I hope you choose to laugh! And I hope you dance.