Tag Archives: Disease

It’s Not Goodbye

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Bob and Paula

Bob and Paula Nilsen

It’s hard to cry for departed Christian friends because I know where they are and am confident I’ll see them again. It’s much easier to weep for those they left behind. We must all await our time to enter the realm of God.

My friend Paula left us last month. Paula is a vivacious, generous, and gentle soul who God pulled into my life and became my friend just before I was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. (If you missed it, here are easy links to part one and part two.)

I originally assumed God had brought us together for me to help her with her cancer diagnosis; but in a short matter of time we could see that we were meant to lean on each other through the suffering of this disease. Two Christian women fighting shoulder to shoulder with the big C.

God’s plan in our friendship really became evident when Paula’s disease metastasized to bone and brain and her faith began to falter. (You can read that here with links to part one and part two.) It scared me because she was one of the most solid women I knew. If her faith could crumble so easily … could mine?

What I didn’t know until later was that her doctors had told her she was incurable from day one.

Incurable.

It’s a hideous word that should not have found its way into our lexicon. I wondered how having that word spoken over you could damage your psyche. Now I could really appreciate just how tough and resilient she was. She’d lasted almost two years with that label slapped on her and her faith had just now had begun to slip. I counted my blessings that no doctor has ever used that word or, the alternate, “terminal” with me. Of course we are all terminal in one way or another.

Determined to restore her faith, we embarked on a 28-day bible study by Kay and David Arthur called Lord, I Need Answers. I’m not sure if it was the weekly camaraderie or God working through the study itself (or both!), but we were equally refreshed and stronger by the time we completed that study. I cheered as Paula was able to say with confidence the ultimate statement, “I know I’m going to Heaven when I die.” Faith reestablished! Hallelujah!

It wasn’t long though before Paula’s body began to ignore her directives. Since the disease had begun ravishing her body, she slipped into hospice care and friend after friend came by to sit with her, offering their love and support, and praying over her and with her.

It was very tough to witness this vital, faithful, loving woman fade away and I was with her on what was to become her last day. That afternoon I prayed a couple of Psalms over her (something she liked me to do when I’d come over) but found it very difficult to get through Psalm 91, one of our favorites. I dissolved into tears as I prayed God’s undying love over her. I couldn’t be sure she had heard me at all but had her hand in mine and as I was saying goodbye with a promise of returning the next day, she squeezed. I reported it to her nurse as I burst into a fresh round of tears.

Her husband, Bob, let us all know that she passed into Jesus’ arms at about 10pm that evening. I can’t say enough about Bob. He’s a good, godly man and a verifiable rock. There’s no wonder that God brought Bob into Paula’s life for a time such as this. It’s never easy for a man to lose his wife, but really God? They just celebrated their third wedding anniversary in March.

I’m beyond grateful that God brought Paula and I together two years ago. I’m overjoyed that He was able to use her in my life and me in hers right until the end. I’m thankful she heard a few chapters of my book and never once laughed!

Farewell, my friend, I love you.

Three Amigos 2

Me, Paula, and another friend at church.

Three Amigos 1

Three Amigos

“Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”

~ Richard Bach (Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah)

Devilish Dreams

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How can I explain these dreams of the devil? If you’ve been reading me for any length of time you’re aware that one of my spiritual gifts is dreams and visions.  Knowing that, it makes sense that the devil uses this gifting to try and speak to me, to attempt to sway me, to confuse my mind and mislead me.  Aware of his proclivity to utilize what God has given, I accept the responsibility to be ever vigilant to his methods of warfare.

But these days, I find myself happily dreaming away through the night, only to awaken at some point with the realization that the message I’m receiving is not what it appears to be.  That just around the edges of the dream is something sinister.  Like a vapid thread that if pulled would unravel the very cheerful picture before me and cause me to tumble straight into depths of some kind of hell.

That what I thought was a pleasurable dream was really just a deception.  Where bad memories lurk just below the surface and a wee spot of angst that develops in the dream quickly festers and bubbles and boils until it becomes frustration and threatens to morph into outright anger.

Did you know that in these dreams I always seem to be smoking?  That smoking was a terrible vice that held me in its grip for decades.  Somehow I think the devil wants me to remember those days as if they were great and good and pleasing – when in truth they were years of isolation and smelly clothes and hair and decaying gums and rotting organs.  Oh the joys of smoking!

Contrary to what the devil may wish, his inclusion of me smoking in the dream has been the very reason I know he’s orchestrating the dream.  That the dream which seems pleasant enough and happy enough ends abruptly when I realize that there is a cigarette in my hand.  I rapidly awake … knowing I’ve been played.  That the evil one is near.

You see, there is something I haven’t discussed with you, and the devil has been sniffing around my heels happy to make it the focus of my heart and soul.

There is something suspicious in my body.

That’s what doctors say when they don’t want to say the c-word.

“It’s suspicious.”

I envision the doctor on the other end of the phone repeating these words to me.  Mouth grim, head bowed, maybe even a slight nod in genuine concern.

My mind blanks.  This is not what I expected to hear.

Suspicious sounds like what it is.  Like something not quite right … precarious and nebulous … something hidden just beyond the scope of what we can see or know.

Suspicious … drawn out long … a snake’s hiss.

Was I going to let what someone calls suspicious to define me, shape me, proclaim my future?

It’s amazing how fast the devil will attack when you find yourself in a situation such as this.  Yet, it’s more remarkable how quickly the Lord responds when you run to Him.  Which is what I did.  Like a major league ball player trying to turn a single into a double with a long, buckle busting, belly-flopping slide into second.

How fast can I fall at His feet?

In a New York second.

I’ll be back on Friday with more of this ongoing story … please join me then.