Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘comfort’

Pit Stop

She was beaming as she took both my hands in hers. “I’m so happy for you!” Her beautiful smile revealed the sincerity of her words. Taking me off a particular medication had relieved a lot of the pain I was experiencing. This young woman had worked hard to become one of the foremost cancer specialists in the country. She had worked just as hard to see me through nearly two years of cancer treatments. Together we had been to Gehenna* and back. I truly believe she suffered with me every step of the way. Oh what empathy and kindness she has shown.

Another friend Mary has a great deal more sympathy. She too has been through years of cancer treatments but the disease keeps returning. Just when she gains strength enough to enjoy life again, a test will reveal the cancer has spread to a different area. So when she sends a message that she’s been praying for me, I know she understands firsthand what it means to try another medication, or to be scheduled for another test.

Our friend, Eddie relates even deeper as he lost his wife to breast cancer. He knows exactly how to pray for David. His kindness is overwhelming and when we really feel the need for prayer, I message him. What a comfort he’s been to both of us.

Sometimes though, it feels as if there will be no comfort.

Last month, we had to switch the preventative medication I’m on because it was causing extreme joint pain. However the new drug drop kicked me into the pit o’ despair, as in major meltdown, can’t stop sobbing for no apparent reason.

From the pit I begged God for help. Like a pebble falling into a bottomless hole I cried out to Him. I wondered if I was losing my ever-loving mind. At this point you’re probably nodding in agreement.

Have you ever been there?

Nothing makes sense. You tumble down that shaft so far that all light disappears. There is no ray of hope. The darkness is so thick you can feel it.

That morning, I opened my Bible to the following passage while begging God for help. It said,

“So then, since we have a great High Priest Who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” –Hebrews 4:14-16

It wasn’t immediate. I really struggled for a while. I feel sure it was a chemical imbalance. But since I nearly failed high school chemistry, my knowledge of such is limited. However, spiritually I’m learning that through these types of trials, I must stay strong no matter how I feel. God said that His Son understands what I’m going through because He suffered in a similar fashion. Through Him I can find grace to help when I need it most.

Though I would never purposely dive headlong into a dark bottomless pit, it’s a great relief to discover a very strong bungee cord called “faith” is attached to my soul. Soon I will rebound to solid ground. His promises are sure no matter how unstable I feel. Emotions shift like sinking sand. That’s when I MUST hold firmly to what I know to be true.

Jesus is the solid Rock on which I stand!

PS:

How faithful God is to hear us when we cry! All this happened on March 2nd, just when we were about to participate in a family wedding. I didn’t think I could do it. But God is so kind! He held me together and loved me through the whole week-end. We started a new medication, which is to help block hormones that feed my particular kind of cancer, the following week. I’ve been on it a month now with very few side-effects. Praise His sweet holy Name! He is faithful whether I realize He’s there or not.

Oh… and Gehenna* is just a polite word for Hell and should not to be confused with the heavy metal band by the same name.

Read Full Post »

What’s Next?

Traditionally we think of women as the cooks in our homes. At our house however, that chore is my husband David’s. As previously stated, to me it is a chore. To him it’s an opportunity to try new things and prepare something delicious for the lovely wife of his youth. All he requires from me is lots of yummy noises plus the cleaning of the kitchen. Though his creativity as a culinary wizard includes every gadget and utensil in the house, I will gladly clean up after the meal if I don’t have to cook.

I guess that’s why one of my favorite stories in Scripture is at the end of the book of John where Jesus cooks breakfast for His friends. John says there were seven guys hanging out together after Jesus had risen from the dead. When Peter decided to go fishing, the others join him. The tone of the story suggests the guys were probably wondering WHAT to do. The Man they’d been taught by for the past three years had been beaten beyond recognition. Those in power had him executed. Roman guards were placed outside His tomb for good measure.

But death could not hold Him!

The risen Lord appeared to His faithful followers two other times before this one. Though they knew He had risen, they didn’t seem to have a clue what to do next.

I’ve been there. Have you?

Easter is over and life is hard. Sometimes weariness hits and our souls cry out, “What now Lord?”

John 21 tells us that the friends of Jesus went back to doing what they did before they met Him. I’m guessing those were some weary fishermen. Though they worked all night, they caught nothing. Then a familiar voice called from a dimly lit shore.

“Catching anything?” He asked as if He didn’t know about the emptiness of their nets… and their souls. “Try casting on the other side.”

I picture His playful smile as He remembered former days with similar circumstances. Then Peter, bless his heart, put his clothes ON and jumped in the water to swim for shore. He must’ve been one strong manly man to swim the length of a football field after working all night. But he wanted to see his Friend.

As Peter’s companions tried to pull in the net full of large fish, he went back out to the boat to help haul in the bounty. Can you imagine the emotions swirling around in Peter’s brain?

Not only had they just caught a boatload of fish in one fell swoop, but Jesus was back! Like many of us, I bet Peter wondered if Jesus was mad at him. After all, Peter HAD denied knowing Jesus during His time of need.

The aroma of breakfast surely cheered him. Talk about comfort food! John says that the Lord not only cooked and invited them to breakfast, but that He served them.

What a Man!

Yes dear one. Easter has come and gone.

But don’t dare let your enemy whisper, “So what?”

We serve a RISEN Savior! No matter what we’ve done, He is not mad at us. Instead He graciously invites us to breakfast which is code for fellowship. Then gently He asks, “Do you love me?”

With tear-stained faces we look into His kind eyes and nod yes; for the words won’t come when we think of how often we’ve failed Him.

He smiles and encourages us with the answer to “What’s next?”

Just as we’ve been loved in spite of ourselves, we are to do the same for others.

“Feed my lambs,” He whispers.

And suddenly our next step is not a mystery. For whatever it entails, His message is clear.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind… And love your neighbor as yourself.” –Matthew 22:37 & 39

Love God. Love people.

Everything God desires of us hangs on that wisdom.

All the rest will fall into place… no matter what comes next.

Photo by my daddy, Seabert Pittman

Read Full Post »

Faith of a Regular Joe

I had a CT scan this week. It is the last of the tests to see if my cancer has been defeated. It’s been a long hard year and a real struggle. But today is also the last opportunity I have to praise God before knowing the results of the scan. You see, I’m still having unexplained pain in my lower back. It’s different from the usual everyday stuff. And as you know my beloved mom-in-law had breast cancer too and seemed to be improving. Then suddenly her back began to hurt. Sadly the cancer had moved there with a vengeance, eventually taking her life. So I can’t help but wonder.

However, today is the day I can praise the Lord and trust Him ahead of time, no matter what the test reveals. It’s not that I am sure He has taken the cancer away. Many good people with much more faith than I, have died of the nasty stuff; like my sweet mom-in-law. Instead, my faith rests in the goodness of God. He alone is wise and holy and knows the best path for me. So today I will praise Him.

During the past year some of my best encouragement has come from the Psalms. The folks who wrote those words were just regular Joes like me with all kinds of problems. When I saw these words, I wondered if the writer had been watching the last year of my life.

Psalm 107:18-21 says, “They couldn’t stand the thought of food, and they were knocking on death’s door. ‘LORD, help! They cried in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He sent out His word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death. Let them praise the LORD for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them!”

Author Philip Yancey says, “Confidence in what the Lord will do springs from the knowledge of what He has done.” When I recall the goodness of God in my past, His lovingkindness, and His many answers to prayer, it fills me with confidence that no matter what the future holds, I can trust Him.

Though my body is weak, my faith is small and my brain is tired, my heart can’t help but praise Him. For His unfailing love is higher than the heavens! His faithfulness reaches to the clouds! [from Ps. 108:4]

 

Lest you misunderstand, let me tell you what you already know. I am no saint. However, this is not my first rodeo.

Obviously.

But this one thing I’ve learned.

The Lord can be trusted.

“‘LORD help!’ they cried in their trouble and He saved them from their distress.

He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.

What a blessing was that stillness as He brought them safely into harbor!” –Psalm 107:28-30

When I look at my trial as an opportunity to trust Him, it feels like victory rather than defeat. And like the regular Joe begging Jesus for help I pray,

“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” –Mark 9:24

Beloved reader, may the storm you are navigating today be calmed to a whisper and the waves be stilled. And may the stillness in your soul be a blessing worthy of praise and thanksgiving.

PS:

Special thanks to my daddy Seabert Pittman who took the beautiful pictures used in my story. He has an appreciation for every sunset and sunrise God gives, and also an eye for contrasting darkness with light… just like the Lord. As our Father says, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” –Psalm 30:5

Also, I got a call from my oncologist before I put this story out. The CT scan revealed a cyst on my liver but she does not believe it is cancer. I will have an MRI on July 14th. So again we wait, and walk by faith.

Read Full Post »

Our firstborn daughter was recounting a recent teen mission trip by way of her daily video. Each morning she visits with Facebook Nation and gives a little insight into everyday life. This time she quoted something I say that went with her talk on critical words and thoughts.

“It’s one thing to let those birds fly over your head. Just don’t let them make a nest in your hair.”

Though the adage is not original with me, I was happy to be associated with it. It made me wonder what other “wise sayings” I will be remembered for. Probably something motherly and nurturing like, “If you shrug your shoulders at me again I will jerk your arm off and beat you with it.”

Since the recent loss of my mother-in-law Nina, we often find ourselves quoting her. She loved to say things like, “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger!” “Lipstick fixes everything.” “You can learn a lot from T.V.” And her favorite “One monkey don’t stop the show.”

She also said something so funny that I laughed much louder than I meant to at her own mother’s funeral. Nina being a woman of many words advised that when she died, we’d have to “cut her tongue out and beat it to death.” Later on in a church service we sang the old hymn There is a Fountain Filled with Blood that includes the words, “When this poor lisping stammering tongue lies silent in the grave…”

Suddenly I thought of Nina.  Laughter came and tears ran down my face from trying to hold it in. I wanted to bring my thoughts back to holy things but it was a lost cause. Those birds set up shop in my curly red hair and had their way. I didn’t hear another thing the preacher said.

Last month as we stood in line greeting all the wonderful folks who came to pay their respects to Nina, I noticed that her daughters had placed a tube of lipstick in her hand. The woman never went anywhere without it. No need to start now.

Right on cue my sister whispered, “Did y’all have to cut her tongue out and beat it to death?” Even in our sorrow, we smiled at each other tearfully remembering Nina’s great humor. Once again she made us laugh.

As I’ve talked about the loss of her with our preschool grandchildren, Able said he is happy she is in Heaven, probably eating Pringles. Jesse announced after our lunch time blessing one day that we didn’t have to pray for “Nanny” anymore. I asked him why and he confidently stated the obvious. “She is all better now!” I asked him and his sister Marie what they thought she was doing. Jesse decided she was listening to Jesus music like they have at church. Marie laughed and added, “She might be dancing!”

Like her great-grandchildren I picture her there too; eating Pringles and reapplying lipstick often. As her sisters and friends gather round, she is likely talking a mile a minute, catching them up on the latest news. If they happen to ask about her family she will probably add with a rose colored smile, “Oh they’ll be fine! What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger!” With a twinkle in her eye I’m sure she’ll add, “Besides, one monkey don’t stop the show!”

Read Full Post »

My mouth has gotten me into trouble more than once… mostly because I’m trying to be funny and something goes amiss. Two of my biggest regrets happened on Mother’s Day. As a kid, I remember making a card for my mama and putting in big letters “HAPPY MOUTHER’S DAY!” Daddy would not let that die. It got us both into hot water. Although I really don’t think I was at the age of spelling accountability yet, Mama was not amused.

The second mishap was all my fault. Mother’s Day used to be commemorated by wearing a rose to church. Red meant your mom was living and white that she had passed away. It was a pretty big deal to honor your mom with a bud. We’d ask a neighbor for permission to pick a blossom from her loaded bushes. One year I was especially cute… and unthinking. I came home with a pink rose and told my mom I’d wear that for her since she was always sick.

Not funny.

It makes me sad just remembering the look on her face. Funny is not fun if it is at someone’s expense.

Much later she overcame the sickness that had plagued her young adulthood. In those days asthma could not be taken lightly. Old Doc Shinn made emergency house calls to give her a shot of adrenalin straight in the heart. Times sure have changed.

Once her asthma subsided she was able to take up walking. She and daddy walked three miles each morning and repeated it some afternoons. They were very health conscious. So when a rare illness suddenly took her from us it was a terrible shock. Shortly after she passed away I went to look for flowers for her grave. She hated anything fake, so I was trying to find the most lifelike silk ones possible. Of course the prettiest happened to be pink roses. I stood there in the discount craft store sobbing like a baby.

Someday I will quit beating myself up for hurting her with my funny words. I’m sure if she could speak to me now she’d say, “Oh Lynna quitcha bawlin’! I’m fine! I feel better than ever!” … or something more heavenly.

Mother’s Day can be such a difficult time. A lady I know whose only son died, hurts terribly around this time of the year. Another friend in his sixties continues to grieve that his mother abandoned him and even though she lives near, still wants nothing to do with him. A young woman whose baby died before birth wonders if she counts as a real mother. Those of us with mothers who’ve passed on may find the sentimental songs at church unbearable. The pain for the childless woman, who must remain seated when the mothers in the congregation are asked to stand, is unspeakable. As she leaves and flowers are given to all the moms in attendance, she must shake her head, “Nope. Still not a mom.”

I don’t know the answer. Maybe there’s a way to do things differently. But how ever we celebrate Mother’s Day, let’s think a little. Maybe an extra prayer for the childless couple could be offered. Perhaps a card sent to someone the Lord brings to mind would be a good idea. Just be sure to check your spelling on those homemade cards. And stay away from pink roses.

PS-

I thought you’d like to know that the mother who lost her son battled through a very deep valley of depression. She got busy and sent out an armload of Mother’s Day cards.

The man in the story will no doubt spend the week-end enjoying his wife, grown children, and grandkids, knowing he has made a great difference in the lives of those who love him.

The young lady whose baby died will celebrate with her precious little miracle son Able, who is now a healthy five year old.

And the childless couple was blessed with two babies at once who keep them busier and happier than they ever dreamed possible.

I pray that God will bless you too, in some unexpected way, especially if Mother’s Day tends to stink.

My beautiful mom on the right with Aunt Termey.

Read Full Post »

Currently I’m in week two of my second round of chemo. In case you’ve never walked with someone on the cancer treatment journey, this particular regimen means a day of infusion every three weeks. Right about the time the patient begins to recover from the chemo it’s time to take another. And Lord have mercy, I’ve been sick. We’ve learned a couple interesting things along the way that are helping us maintain a small measure of sanity. One of those is to have Cheerios on hand at all times. Emergency consumption may be needed to ward off nausea which hits all willy-nilly for no apparent reason. Wiser folks warned me to keep lemon drops and ginger candy and other citrusy yumminess available for such occasions. So far they have not been the ‘godsend’ that I was promised. Ginger ale has helped a little, though it like everything else tastes like metallic dishwater. Thanks to several Father’s Day gifts I can now consume the bubbly treat from a Yeti cup so at least it’s cold any hour day or night. God bless the father of our home who graciously shares his bounty.

Back to the Cheerios:  I’ve found that as long as I eat a bowlful the second I wake up in the morning they help stave off impending barfage. Throw in a half a banana and the yumminess is enhanced twofold.photo (1)

Another simple thing which helps is Townhouse Crackers. A couple of those placed strategically by the bed not only settle the tummy but also invoke happy memories of a country song of yesteryear.

“You can eat crackers in my bed any time… you can kick off all the covers in the middle of the niiiight…”

I’m sure the cute little blonde singing the song on the Lawrence Welk Show never had a clue. Maybe she did. Perhaps verse two included the trashcan and the icepack and the two fans blowing at gale force speeds. But I doubt it.

Another simple thing I’ve learned to keep handy is a handkerchief. My daddy always carries one and now I do too. I remember learning to iron on his and was proud of how nice I made them. One day he informed me with all the love a man with a house full of girls could muster.

“DO NOT KEEP STARCHING MY HANDERCHIEFS! THE SNOT WON’T EVEN STICK ANY MORE!”

He gave me a hanky the other day at my request. Though I had some at home, now I know that at least one of them was his. It brings comfort having him near even if it is for wiping my nose. In case you didn’t know, after chemo the nose hair is scorched right off and clear snot just runs free without warning. Now I carry a hanky like daddy and tuck it stealthily like mama up my sleeve or in my waistband for quick and simple extraction.

Another simple thing came from Scripture this morning. I declare I’ve read all around this verse but had never marked it. Basically it says,

“You don’t know everything.”

I’ll take that.

Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The Lord our God has secrets known to no one.”

I also love that it is followed by verses I’ve heard and clung to for years. They are just as true. While I don’t know everything, this I know.

Deuteronomy 31:6- “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you!”

So take that CANCER!

You can have my nose hair, my taste buds and my sleep and my strength. You might even steal a lot of my courage. But you cannot take the things God has planned for me. Because like me, YOU DON’T KNOW IT ALL!

But the Lord does.

Read Full Post »

It was spring break and I had to get home. My boyfriend David drove me to North Carolina in his ’67 Camaro. I was in so much pain. When the prescribed dosage of medication didn’t immediately kick in I took a couple more, climbed in the backseat and basically passed out. It was at least a sixteen hour trip home from south Florida. Thankfully his buddy Barry Dyson was riding shotgun and helped him stay awake. My sweetheart would get me out of the car every time he stopped for gas, hold my hand and lead me to the ladies room. Being the perfect gentleman he waited outside then put me back in the car when I wandered out. At least that’s how he tells it.

I don’t remember a thing and didn’t wake up til we hit Charlotte. David, who is now my husband of forty one years, probably wishes more trips were like that. He could just stop for gas, push me into a bathroom and keep on trucking. No yammering from the little woman about the urgency of the situation and the importance of choosing “somewhere clean.” Sorry honey. I’m all out of drugs.

Once we got home my parents took me straight to the doctor. That idiot put me in the hospital… for ten stinkin’ days. I tried to relay to him that I needed to get back to school plus had a wedding to plan. He kept me there doing all kinds of tests, until it was too late to return and finish my freshman year. They found nothing; no slipped disc, no disease, no reason for the pain. David returned to school. The pain continued and I was mad. The cards poured in… so many sappy cards with happy words about all this crap working for my good. It was sickening.

My youth pastor came every day at lunch with a sack of burgers and fries. Now THAT was a spiritual experience. Occasionally a funny card would arrive at just the right time and make me laugh. That was kind of spiritual too for it gave a small measure of relief. One day however a pretty card caught my eye. On the front was a soaring eagle. The verse from Isaiah 40:30-31 which says even young people will grow weary got my attention. It went on to say that those who wait on the Lord would not only run and not get tired, but would walk and not faint.

Apparently God had been reading my bitter soul. If only I could walk and not keel over. If only I could dress myself and stroll down the hall for crying out loud. Who cares about flying and soaring and running? I would gladly take waddling without assistance.

Opening my Bible to the passage I wondered what would be the key to the strength promised there. Stink! If there’s anything I hate worse than being weak it’s waiting.

Apparently strength comes with the waiting. I didn’t much like it. I still don’t. Not many people do.

Chances are you’re waiting too; maybe for a spouse to change, for healing, for a prodigal to come home; maybe for financial deliverance. It is hard to wait. It’s in our framework to fix things. It is our culture to be self-reliant. We take pride in making things happen. God in His great wisdom however, gives us reason to look to Him and say, “I give up. I have no resources or power to make this better. I have only You.” He answers sweetly in Isaiah 41:10.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

The pain I experienced as a youth has grown worse through the years. But I believe by God’s grace, that I have grown stronger inside. At least now I don’t feel like cussing when someone tells me how all this is working for my good. Well… at least not as often. Waiting is still hard and I long to be well. But if it’s not time for me to soar just yet, I want to be content just holding His hand.

Even more comforting is the truth that it is He Who is holding mine.DSCI0183

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »