Tag Archives: Illness

Sorrow

Standard
Sorrow

It’s dreary here without Paula.

Her two greyhounds stare at me as if because I’m here, their female human should be too.  Chrissy and Scooby.  I don’t have the heart to tell them she won’t be home just yet.  They’ve already been missing her something fierce, I’m sure.

A sound outside makes me get up from behind the laptop and move to the front window. The dogs are excited.  Perhaps I’ll give them a treat, they think.  Or even better, a walk.

I see the neighbor across the street poking around in his garden.  He wears a lumbar brace, smeared with dirt and stained with sweat.  His belly protrudes over the belt.

I try to imagine what it smells like and my nose wrinkles in perceived disgust.

A UPS truck in the street slows but then inches forward stopping at the house next door.  I sigh and absentmindedly scratch the pooch that stands next to me.  I look down.  Scooby.  I take his long head into my hands and rub his ears playfully kissing the top of his nose.

No sooner does UPS pull away when another truck, larger and white, pulls up directly in front of the house.  I squint to try and read the small blue lettering on the cab.

Hospice.

This is what I’m waiting for.  But I wish I wasn’t.

You see.  Paula is not doing well at all.

The cancer has gripped her body and is causing a host of other issues.

But Paula, whom God put directly into my path so that I could love on her through her struggle, ended up loving on me so much more when I was diagnosed.

She saw me through the breast biopsy (which was negative) and then the heart issue (which required a stent) and then the surgery and then the chemo and then the radiation therapy.  All along being supportive and encouraging and ever so prayerful.

I won’t lie.  It was tough to tell her when I went into remission.

Because she wasn’t.

And I wanted her to be free with me.  I wanted us to celebrate together.

While she was finding cancer in more and more places I’d been diagnosed, treated, and relieved of the disease.

Why?

That awful question which has no answer this side of Heaven.  But I ask anyway knowing my words fall deafly into a void.

Why do I get to hear the words “cancer free” and she doesn’t?

Instead, I watch forlornly as Hospice moves in the bed and the tray table and the oxygen tanks and my eyes fill with tears.

It doesn’t matter that I know we’ll all meet again in Heaven.  I want time with her here – now.  We’re just getting to know each other apart from our shared medical journeys.

I sign the paperwork of receipt and plop down in the chair behind my laptop, exhausted.  I put my head in my hands and pray.

Pray for healing.  Pray for Heaven.  Pray for her husband.

It’s all I can do now.

Hold her hand, love her, and pray.

And pray.

Demise of the Interloper ~ 2

Standard
Demise of the Interloper ~ 2

This is Part 2 of a post that began last Friday.  I guarantee you’ll be confused if you didn’t read that so here’s a quick link so you can get caught up.  Part One

I stumbled because I didn’t realize it would be this hard or this painful.  I became so weak I wasn’t able to continue working on the project.  To finish what my Guardian wanted me to do – had promised I would do.  The visitor had other plans for me.  With every month that passed I became more and more frail and my dream of completing the project slipped further and further away.  I clung tightly to what my Maker promised like a life preserver flung to a drowning man, quietly repeating the words to myself, etching them into my soul.

God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill? ~ Numbers 23:19

No one told me that I would have such a difficult time removing the intruder when he decided to lay down his tentacles deep and strong.  He was solidly entrenched like a soldier avoiding enemy fire in a foxhole.  It would take more than me to do away with him and the Guardian called in the experts.

The professionals’ sole purpose was to exterminate him from my house.  They did all they could.  Not all at once of course, but in an orderly fashion, even though I wanted everyone to throw everything they had all at once at the poser.  Remove him quickly and once and for all.  They couldn’t do that, they said, but they came, one by one, to ply their various trades.

The first one brought in his knives and his lasers and attempted complete eradication.  He was a nice man with a quirky grin and a funny bounce in his step.  He was brilliantly superior to others in his field and got very close to ridding my home of the unwanted.  But in the end my enemy remained.  Sitting there with a stupid grin plastered on his face that if you looked at it long enough began to look maniacal and gave you the shivers.

The second professional was from Brazil and poured toxins all over the house which undoubtedly quieted the trespasser but made me sick in his wake.  He too, was very nice and enthusiastic and interestingly brought the same turkey sandwich to work each day for his lunch.  I wondered how someone could eat the same thing day after day, but never got up my nerve to ask.  His toxins wore me out and damaged me physically yet the interloper remained.  I’m pretty sure he was hiding under the bed in the guest bedroom.

Months ticked by as I lay in pain followed by exhaustion followed by nausea followed by more pain followed by more exhaustion.  The intruder triggered an endless loop that even though I knew it would eventually end – knew it had to end – there still seemed to be no escape.  When that helper left he told me confidently that he’d see me again, but as I shook his hand goodbye I secretly hoped I wouldn’t.

I leaned ever harder on my Guardian’s shoulder.  The peace He afforded me was almost more than I could bear.  He was so lofty, so far above me, how could He love me so?

You might wonder where my family and friends were in all this.  They were there helping, supporting, assisting me and the professionals as best they could.  They prayed diligently and there were times I felt enveloped in a cocoon of their prayers.

But, I worried about my parents.  I didn’t want them to have to watch me go through this.  I knew they thought often of what might be, projecting a future they couldn’t comprehend.  We’d lost my brother in a car accident at an absurdly early age and one night I lay in bed speaking softly to my Guardian, “I don’t want to go before them,” I whispered, tears slipping down my cheeks and wetting my pillow.  “Why should they have to battle through the death of another child?”

“They’re not going to lose you,” He said matter-of-factly.

I sighed and laid back, knowing it to be Truth.  “I will trust you,” I said as I turned over and drifted off to sleep, swearing I could hear my visitor in the kitchen rooting around for his late night snack.

When the intruder surfaced again, showing his hideous face and parading around the house, we brought in the third professional.  This last one was a handsome, serious, mastermind with a machine that loomed as big as a house.  He set it up and left it to run its course of pulsating photon radiation beams while I lay on a special bed to protect me.  For thirty-eight days I listened to noises that sounded like photon torpedoes firing out of the Enterprise at a cloaked Klingon vessel.  Could this be the answer?  I had a special bed, but the intruder didn’t.  Could I dare to expect that torpedoes would be the answer to destroying the nemesis that wouldn’t leave?  I prayed his aim was true.

When the last guy was done with his newfangled photons we knew we’d still have a long wait before we could determine if the intruder had finally backed his bags and left.

We waited and prayed.

And prayed.

And prayed.

I could hardly contain my anticipation, a part of me was still suspicious because the house was so silent, almost too silent.  It’d been over a year since I’d had real harmony in my home.  At times I wondered if I’d be able to exist without him.  Sometimes I held my breath and tip-toed around the house just to see if I could hear him breathing.  Perhaps he was just hiding in the basement and would pop out and scare me like a scene from Nightmare on Elm Street.

My Creator was silent too.  I expect He was sitting on His throne with a grin on His face.  He already knew my future.  He knew what was to become of me and He knew what had become of the interloper.  I was reminded of His promises and settled into a peaceful holding pattern.

But it was during a church service when the pastor prayed victory over anyone dealing with a thief in their home that my entire body trembled and every piece of my skin sprouted gooseflesh that I knew my home was healed.  I wanted to cry in relief and thanksgiving.  I looked heavenward and mouthed a silent, “Thank you.”

Three days later the professionals that my Guardian had called in to help arrived at my door.  Their joyful grins couldn’t contain the news they so desperately wanted to relay.  From Stage 4b to cancer free.

The intruder was gone.

Demise of the Interloper ~ 1

Standard
Demise of the Interloper ~ 1

It all came crashing down last Tuesday.

To be sure I was ready … but somehow not prepared … does that make sense?  I was used to this particular threat, this unwelcome guest who had been staying so long at my house I’d become accustomed to his presence – almost complacent with his company.  We lived together as though an uneasy truce had been called by some higher power.

Every day he was there spiraling around me like the coils of a slinky, plenty of room in the middle to bump around the house yet steel bands held me tightly within his grasp – defining the space I could actually roam.  In a weird way it was a prison I couldn’t leave.  Each day we existed in this unusual dance.

Like it says in Proverbs 26:11 … “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”  I always came back.  I always returned.  After all … weren’t we joined together?

It’s almost as though … …

Don’t be silly.  I hadn’t fallen in love with him.  I always knew it would be me or him in the end.  One of us would have to go.

We could not exist in the same house forever.

It’s just that I’d developed a curious ease with him.  Easy … like your favorite jeans so holey and frayed and threadbare and probably illegal to wear in public, but you wouldn’t get rid of them for all the tea in China.  Well, maybe I wasn’t that comfortable with him.

So what was the fascination?  This hold he had on me?

He was more like the character in the story that you love to hate.  The one that you’ve already met and you already hate and then he shows up right when the story’s gettin’ good and all the other characters are finding their stride.  The author has the audacity to pluck him off the shelf and drop him back on the page and in doing so places a humongous boulder in the path that causes other, already well-loved characters to faint or stumble or fall.  Him with his wily ways and his evil grin.  What will happen next, you wonder?  What could possibly happen next?

To be sure he was like one of those devil-worms that the evil men on Star Trek slip into your ear while you can’t defend yourself.  When you’re tied down to an exam table that magically appears in the middle of whatever room they’re in on their spaceships.  Even just watching the show you watch that worm slip into the ear and your skin creeps and you swear you hear a gnawing, feel the munching, in your ear canal as the worm seeks out your brain stem to make you go mad … or worse.

He was an evil that arrived last spring and had rooted himself so deeply into my life I wasn’t sure I would survive.  Afraid that he might suffocate me … squelch my existence.  My burgeoning anxiety must have caused a ripple in the fabric of the universe because it was then that my Guardian stepped in.

My Protector.  The Man I’d entrusted my life to many years prior.  The Man who’d given me a singular focus and a task to complete that I, with my procrastinating ways, hadn’t worked on as hard as I could have.

One night as I lay still on my bed under the oppressive heat of a Floridian summer I managed the nerve to ask, “Have I waited too long,” I whispered?

I didn’t get an immediate answer which furthered my trembling.  “I’m sorry I failed you,” I wept quietly.  Ashamed.  Mad at myself for not doing what He told me I would do.  But that’s when I heard it.

Softly, like a gentle spring breeze sailing past my ear, “Numbers 23:19”.  I brighten instantly and wipe away my tears so happy he’s answered.  I pull my Bible off the bedside table and thumb directly to Numbers, anxious about what I’ll find there.

“God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?”

My shoulders, which have apparently been tightened up like a screw around my head, relax and sink into their normal position, as I soak in this truth.  He doesn’t lie.  He hasn’t changed his mind.  He promised and it will be fulfilled.  I am elated by this knowledge direct from the Man Himself.

His promise will be fulfilled.  I know I must work hard now and not procrastinate any longer.  I want to make my Guardian proud.  But then, as if I was a character in a novel, the visitor was dropped onto my pages; the boulder was cast and I stumbled.

Join me Monday for the rest of the story …

The Right to Ask Why

Standard
The Right to Ask Why

Our Lord is love and grace … and justice and mercy and wrath … He is All … and thank God He is, because I need Him now and nothing less will do.

I’d texted Paula last night to see how everything was going in Atlanta (where she goes for her cancer treatments).  She was going for scans and we’d been praying for no new activity in her lung or leg – the places where cancer has settled it’s nastiness into her body.  We prayed … asking for healing, perhaps searching for remission, or any positive news that we could hold on to.

I think about something I’ve read over and over again this past week:

Do you cling to the crisis or do you cling to Christ?

In retrospect, I think, how silly we are.  Why don’t we just hold on to Jesus?  Oh He is with us, definitely.  He always goes where he’s wanted.  How nice that no matter how ‘mature’ we are in our Christian walk, He allows us to behave all human-like and attempt to grasp the reins of our situation rather than just slip our hand into His and walk with Him through it.  He never shakes His head in disgust or tsk-tsk’s us when we manage to move around Him, like we never saw Him standing there, and look everywhere else before we come back to Him.  I guess that’s grace, hmmm?

Paula’s reply text comes the following morning.  “We got bad news,” her text read.  “The cancer has spread to my brain.”

I sit there in shock and devastation, my phone slipping from my hand.  Tears immediately well up and spill down my cheeks.  “Why?” I ask God.

It’s such a human thing to ask but I still immediately ask God’s forgiveness for asking it.  Do you think that’s weird?  I don’t.  It’s never weird to talk to God about anything that is on your heart.  But I know He’s not going to tell me why.  It’s a futile question that won’t be answered because His ways are not my ways.  I still feel badly for asking but then I just talk to Him – a river of words gushing out of my soul: Lord, I’m gonna ask why and I’m probably gonna ask why for a long time today, so please just listen. I take a breath and chuckle to myself.  Sometimes I envision Jesus sitting in the chair next to me listening to me prattle.  I imagine He shakes His head silently – even though I know He would never do that.

“Why?” I ask again wiping my eyes. “Oh Lord, why Paula?

“Why not Paula?” I hear in my mind. “Why not you? Or the guy down the block? Or a lady in California? Or a kid in Germany?”

I sit quietly.  Those questions don’t seem very constructive or comforting, but I see God’s point.  Asking ‘why’ doesn’t help move the situation forward.  Asking ‘why’ allows me to sit transfixed by grief without making any progress.

I do one thing that I can right now – get Paula and her husband on the church’s prayer chain and on every prayer warrior’s lips I can think of – and then I pray.  It’s fitting that part one of the post about Ephesians 3:20 had just dropped that morning and so I pray Ephesians 3:20 over Paula.  We definitely need more than I can ask for or imagine.

Then I remember reading a post from one of my favorite bible teachers, Margaret Feinberg.  In her post “How to Cling to God When Everything Falls Apart” Margaret talks about replacing the ‘Why’ question with a ‘Who’ question:

Who is God in this?  This is a daring question to ask.  But such a brave question will not just lead to a deeper connection to God, but to answers that transform us—making us look just a little bit more like Jesus along the way.  You see, God listens to our stinging words, embraces our frail hearts, and meets us where we are.  Nothing is too much for the Holy Who.

As the day wears on I’ve stopped asking why and set my sights firmly on God.  God knows how much my heart aches.  He knows the pain and sadness and frustration that Paula must be feeling.  He knows the heart of her amazing husband, Bob, who has been such a rock throughout this ordeal.  He is within us, between us, going before us, and covering us.  Jesus in our midst.

I wonder if He is crying.

Dear Lord, our almighty Father in Heaven, how grand are your plans and purposes. You are the Alpha and the Omega, without whom we would not be. Let your healing hand of mercy and grace fall gently on my friend and all of your children who suffer from this dreadful disease.  Help us to be constantly touched by Your magnificence, recognize Your wonder, and abide in Your truth. We may ask why, Lord, even though our soul knows that the answer remains with you. Thank you for allowing us the freedom to ask. Propel us to a better future by helping us to not wallow in misery over our present. We love you, Lord. Amen.

Thank you to all who prayed with us this past week.

My heart is full of joy for you.

It’s Not the Cancer That’s Killing Me

Standard
It’s Not the Cancer That’s Killing Me

I sat in the neurologist’s office the other day and heard myself ask, “Do you think I’ll ever walk properly again?”  I was sitting behind still on the exam table, my feet swinging free because she had needed to tap my knees and watch my reflex.  “Ouch,” I said as she used that baby rubber triangular hammer on my right knee.  She moved on to the other leg, “Yow!” I remarked sharply as the baby hammer fell against my left knee.  It was part of the reason I was here.  I’ve fallen a few times and landed squarely on my knees which is why they sting so much from a baby rubber hammer tap-tap-tapping away.  I’ve fallen because I’m not steady on my feet and I’m experiencing a bit of a foot drop while walking.  I can’t wear flip flops because I can’t grasp with my toes (and believe me that’s a real pain in Florida) and at home, with no shoes on, my feet dully smack the tile floor … I call myself Slappy.

The neurologist, having completed my exam, sat at the computer with her back to me typing her findings into my record.  I do love that about Cleveland Clinic – I can visit any doctor in a multitude of different locations across the state and each office has complete and immediate access to my history.  She stopped typing when I asked the question I knew she really couldn’t answer.  I was essentially asking if I’d ever walk, run, jump, and play again.  I wanted some kind of assurance that one day I’d regain my normalcy.  I realize I want this promise from all of my doctors.  To be told I’ll be normal again.  They can’t do it, at least not yet.

The neurologist says what I expect, “We need more testing.”  She’s very nice, even if her hands are frigid.  I want to hold her hands in mine until they warm up so the next patient won’t be so startled.  Instead I leave with prescriptions for a brain MRI and some sort of orthotic for my shoes and some other type of nerve test.  I sigh.  I was hoping to be able to live through the month of June without having to see a doctor or undergo any sort of test.  I brighten a little.  Perhaps I can get it all done before the end of May!

My feet, and my hands to a much smaller degree, are suffering from neutropenia a type of neuropathy that occurs in varying degrees to most chemotherapy patients.  I’ve known patients that have experienced it in one toe, the left thigh, an entire arm and hand, and some who’ve never had the thrill of it all.  It’s the worst side effect I’ve encountered.

Even though in the early days I had a very hard time grasping anything and my cell phone certainly took a beating, my hands have healed very well since my last infusion (Dec 2015).  I dared not carry a plate across the room if I couldn’t use both hands.  But now they just feel like tiny pins and needles at the tips of my fingers; making it hard to insert earrings or pick up something thin or delicate.  My feet are a whole other story.

I started 2016 with feet that hurt so badly there were times when I couldn’t even walk – each step was excruciating.  Then when I sat in a chair or got into bed, what felt like tiny electrical shocks would bombard my toes and insteps causing my whole leg to jump and me to yell out, “Ow!”  There were even a few nights when I was awake all night due to “the shocks” as I called them.  The shocks have largely abated and just appear now and again.  But perhaps the worst symptom was the stabbing pains. Usually coming at night, it was as if a pint-sized goblin was underneath my sheets sticking a sewing needle under the toenails of my big toes.  It was pretty rough.  I can give glory to God that the stabbing pains have long subsided.

But what drove me to the neurologist, aside from the neuropathy in my feet, is that I get dizzy when I close my eyes.  It only happens when I’m standing – so you say – well don’t close your eyes when you’re standing.  Have you ever tried to take a shower without closing your eyes?  Even when I’m out of the shower and throw a towel over my growing hair, the world starts to go wobbly.

The worst part though is church.  When I sing I’m one of those people with at least one hand up to God in praise and my eyes closed until … you guessed it … I start to teeter and have to grab at the people standing on either side of me so I won’t fall over.  I sometimes wonder if people, who don’t know me, might think I’m being slain in the Spirit.  That would be funny!

The truth is, no one can tell me how long these side effects will last or even if they’ll ever go away.  But I hold out hope that they will fade and I’ll soon regain the strength in my legs and be able to stand surely on my own two feet.

And … maybe even wear flip-flops!

Thanks for hanging in with me!

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Standard

This is part three in an ongoing story.  If you’d like to catch yourself up, part one can be found here and part two is here.


 

The days stretch on.  My mind wanders.  Probably asking the question everyone in a similar boat asks … did I do something to deserve this?  My mom is ever the optimist.  “There’s no history of cancer in our family,” she says brightly.  “I had out of control fibroids too,” she later admits, hoping that it makes a difference somehow.

I start asking people to pray … “No Cancer.”

But with all the testing another issue has now reared its ugly head.  It seems my ECG is abnormal and I need a stress echocardiogram.   While my heart has never had an issue other than high blood pressure, there is a history of heart disease in my family.  I shudder and remember a scripture the Lord impressed upon me several years ago … it’s become my life verse:

No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.  As I was with Moses,

so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  ~ Joshua 1:5

When God gave me that verse I had grabbed it as if it were a lifeline that would pull me through the seas of despair … and it did.  I can’t recall how many times since then I’ve had to lean on those promises.  Today, I see how important it was that He imparted that message to me then, it gave me necessary strength.

Then a distant recollection struggles to make its way out of the depths of my brain.  It was a past dream.  A God dream.

I segregate dreams, you see.  There are regular nonsense dreams, dreams where the devil invades, and dreams of God.  I can remember every single dream of God that I’ve ever had.  Truthfully.  It’s one way I know they are of God.  They stick.  The nonsense dreams fade away in the light of morning faster than you can brew a cup of coffee.  Any nightmarish nonsense dreams may hang around a little longer because I dwell on them wondering if there is meaning, but they too cannot hold up to the light of day and eventually slip away.  The evil dreams usually masquerade as dreams of God until I evaluate them and detect the lie.  It’s a given that something in the dream will not hold up to God’s truth.

Shortly the entire warning comes into focus.  And it was a warning.  I don’t get many of those which is perhaps why this one was so startling.  I remember that I received it right before waking, hearing the inaudible voice …

“I needed to alert you of this before it was too late.”

Alert me of what?  Too late for what? I didn’t know at the time and wonder if now, this is what He meant.  You might think that because it’s a somewhat ominous sentence that it might be from the devil, and that thought crossed my mind.  But with this warning, there was no fear.  No panic.  No angst.  Just truth.

I keep the warning in the back of my mind while I take my stress test.

My cell phone rings before I’m even out of the hospital and it’s my cardiologist … ‘there is an abnormality … a slight blockage’.  Next stop – a cardiac cath.  Which is taking place this morning.  The worst case scenario will be that I need a stent and surgery will be delayed.  The best case is that they can open whatever is there with the cath and my surgery goes forward next week.

Driving home from the hospital after this bit of news my Mom is understandably disappointed.  But I check myself.  I am not.  I poke myself to see if I’m just numb, but that’s not it at all.  I’m at peace.  I’m truly under God’s care.

It is good that they found this issue when they did.  My father needed a triple bypass at 65.  His brother, mother, and father all died of heart disease.  Catching this early prolongs the time I have to continue to work for the Kingdom.  This glory isn’t lost on me and in fact, doubles my determination to get this first book onto paper and into the hands of an editor.

There will be more to this story.

Do come back.

Choose Your God

Standard

The first part of this tale began last Wednesday.  If you want to catch yourself up, you can do it here.  Don’t worry, we’ll be here waiting for you.


 

When I first heard that there was something suspicious in my right breast.  I fell on my knees before God asking Him to come to my aid, to walk with me, to receive and be confident of His glorious peace.  He gave it … instantly.  I was almost immediately calmed and feeling as though a blanket of supreme peace and endless love was surrounding me.  Then the weirdest thing happened.

It was as if I knew deep down in my bones that the peace came from acceptance … from making the decision to be totally reliant on God.  And almost as suddenly I realized … clearly understood … that whatever the outcome of the biopsy, I would be fine because my King and my Savior was with me.

It reminds me of a time a few years ago when I was relocating from Arizona to Florida where, in the middle of the great State of Texas, I got tangled up with a semi-tractor trailer.  Somehow he’d lost control of his rig and suddenly the massive truck was drifting quickly into my lane.  I had nowhere to go but into the grassy median … at 85 miles an hour.  I immediately called on the name of Jesus in furious fashion to save me from impending doom – kinda like, “Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus save me!”  Certainly it was only through Him my car didn’t roll and after I’d reentered the highway, I proceeded off the next exit to spend some time thanking Him and collecting my wits.

In hindsight, Jesus had me safe the entire time. There were so many things that could have gone wrong and didn’t (obstacles in the median removed, a sudden lack of other traffic) that it was obvious He was in full and complete control.  But one of the most interesting outcomes to that incident came a few hours later when I fully realized that if I hadn’t made it, I would have gone to heaven, and that would have been all right.

When you realize that you are not afraid of death, your whole world changes.

I got the biopsy done and everyone rejoiced at the news of no malignancy.  Yet, the doctors weren’t done with me yet.  The day before my biopsy, I’d had a pelvic MRI.  It now seemed that two masses had taken up residence inside me.

On one hand, I already knew something was wrong down there.  My original trip to the doctor was because of pain and bleeding so when they found the breast issue in a routine mammogram, it was insult to injury.  A courtroom sidebar that was eventually ruled in my favor.  “Step back.” I envision the judge saying afterward, because we’re not done.  The main culprit was now being led into the courtroom.  The trial is being called to order.  Will I again experience victory?  Be found blameless of all charges?

Pre-op testing begins.  This doctor, that doctor. This test, that test.  All to discover that we still know nothing … and won’t know until the criminals are cut out of me and examined in the operating room.

“It’s suspicious,” they say in quiet tones.

It was while I was awaiting more blood work that I found myself glancing through the doctor’s orders and found a diagnosis she had written … endometrial cancer.  I shake my head and look to God.

‘She’s not the boss of me,’ I whisper with a smile.

I think I feel Jesus wink.

And then the dreams begin and evil lurks to take my mind off my Savior.  To tear the fabric of my faith just enough to allow his lies in to aggravate my peace … which is His peace.

I try to remain faithful and find it’s a lot easier to cling to your faith when you know who you’re battling.  Certainly no friend or family is speaking lies into my ear.  It is only one.  The only one who believes he has the right to intervene, to tear down, to destroy.

I awake from the dream I mentioned in the last post.  A dream with a dear friend in it who passed into the arms of Jesus two years ago.  She won’t look at me but I notice she is younger, strikingly beautiful.  I gesture to her and see the cigarette in my hand.

Awake!

I’m upset that the devil was in my dreams … again.  And that is when I start to contemplate the interlopers in my body.  In the pre-dawn dark my mind begins to generate the questions that will disturb God’s peace.  Why are the masses there?  Will I live through the surgery?  Will they be found cancerous?

A non-audible voice unexpectedly bursts my concentration.

“Whom will you serve, Felecia, them or Me?”  The thought chills me to my core.

“Choose your God.”

I shudder realizing how easy it was to slip into anxiousness and begin to weep.

“You Lord,” I whisper into darkened room.  “Only You.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There is more, of course.  The Lord has not finished ministering to me yet; and the ways in which He chooses to do so are remarkable.

Please join me on Monday for the rest of the story … at least this side of the pending surgery.

Have a glorious weekend!

Devilish Dreams

Standard

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.