Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Compassion

                                          Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

As I headed out to my radiation treatment this morning, I could feel the nausea stirring up. By the time I parked my car in the parking lot, my stomach began to rumble. I knew then it would be a difficult day for me. Already being on a daily dosage of anti diarrhea  pills, deep down inside I knew it wouldn't be enough today. This, by far, is the worst part of my recovery.

Since my surgery back in early May, I have been dealing with either constipation or the other extreme, diarrhea. It's been never ending, first the surgery, then chemo and now radiation. I couldn't even remember what it felt like to just be normal, going to the bathroom like everyone else. I often wonder if things would go back to the way they were or is this to be the new thing.

I could feel the pity party welling up inside my throat as I headed back to that locker room. Pity party, until I stepped inside. There was a woman waiting for her turn. A woman who every morning packs up her family of five and brings them to radiation, because she has no sitter. Another stood by the lockers, one who travels two hours on public transportation each way. The one in the bathroom, my heart goes out to her the most. She's on two high blood pressure medications and she is lucky if a week goes by where she isn't sent to the E.R. because of it.

How dare I have a pity party for myself? I walk around preaching to other women on having a positive outlook, the acceptance of one's illness, living life to the fullest. Aren't I perfect! I have dealt with this and I have accepted that! Yet, I can't handle radiation. How's that for falling off my pedestal? Oh, I can write a good blog post, but I know nothing about compassion. For all my big talk, I lacked to show compassion to others. I failed to see their struggle, their walk. All I saw was mine. 

Arriving home, my phone beeps indicating a message. God is good all the time. And I burst into tears.

Good Morning Lottie,
This morning in my quiet time with Jesus ... I was thinking of you & lifted you in prayer. Lord bless my friend today. I love you.... This is what I read.

Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)

Psalm 15:1-2, “Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.” (NLT)

Have a blessed day everyone.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

That Bible Study

                                         Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

I've always been a person who has loved to be challenged and it's no different when it comes to a Bible study. I'm always looking for a more in depth study with many questions, activities and even homework. In the past, I have done many Beth Moore studies, because she offered that kind of challenge. Well, I can honestly say I found one more challenging than Beth's!

It's been a dream of mine to go through the Bible chapter by chapter, verse by verse. Dr. J. Vernon McGee's "Thru The Bible" on-line five year study provides just that. 

My original plan was to sit down daily and tune into his program for my study. First, I would write out the chapter we were working on. Then I would write in the explanations from Dr. McGee. A lot of work I know, but this method insures I will remember it's contents. The only problem is that I cannot do it on a regular basis. It does require a bit of time. Pretty soon, I found myself falling behind. 

Falling behind left me feeling inadequate as a Christian. If I was a good Christian I would find the time! That was my thought process. It took a lot for me to forgive myself. It wasn't about the quantity, but the quality. I'm sure God wanted all my attention and rushing through it without taking it in, would mean a lukewarm heart and lukewarm knowledge. He doesn't want a rush job, He wants me to learn!

Nowadays, I look to a day where my whole morning is free or evening and I find myself sometimes even going through two or more chapters at one time. I do more when I schedule my Bible study. Put it on the calendar and it will get down. I sincerely hope that all of you have a Bible study to engage in and learn the Word of God. If not, give this one a try!

Have a blessed day everyone. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

GBTW (Going Back To Work)

                                                       Everyday is a brand new day,
                                                       everyday is a journey.

My decision to go back to work has been a long thought out process. Even though I can stay home during this radiation, I've decided that it would be better for my mental state to return and focus on something other than this situation. I'm looking forward to the normalcy of my old life. I do wonder what that will look like since things never stay the same for long. Can we really go back?

Having said that, I know it will be a challenge for me to set the alarm for around 5 a.m., get dressed, eat and head out to radiation each and everyday for another 16 days. Come home, get changed again, eat lunch and head out for work. It will be a tight schedule and I will be tired, very tired, but I'd rather do that then sit around home fussing over this radiation. Maybe, it will go by faster, too.

Besides, I'm anxious to get my purpose started. This purpose will remain a secret for at least another two or three months. I usually don't like discussing things before they materialize having found that if I do, it just never quite works out. This is way too important to us.

As to the work environment, I'm a little anxious. It has been quite a few months since I've been gone and I'm sure there will be lots of questions thrown my way. Am I really ready for that, being the recluse I am? There are some things that I don't enjoy about my job. I definitely don't like the hours, the depressive mood of no work being available and definitely nothing good to look forward to. It's always challenging when one's work life has suffered economic hard times in the last several years. The uncertainty of going under very present. Let's not forget the heat. Please let it be cool!

So it will be very challenging, but I've always loved a good challenge.

Have a blessed day everyone. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

That Writing Itch

                                         Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

I had such great plans for my writing. I really thought my mornings would be spent in deep concentration typing out all these stories that were buried inside. That's how I planned on spending my recovery at home. All my good intentions fell to the wayside. There were times where no posts were available for several days on my blog let alone my literary projects. I didn't even touch those!

It seems that God had other things planned for me. I certainly spent this time in contemplation on what to do with all of this dissatisfaction I've been feeling. Little did I know that beneath the surface of dissatisfaction lay an entire host of pain that I spent piling under the rug instead of working it out. You can't get past the Holy Spirit. He'll stop you dead in your tracks until you deal with it. 

It has always been very therapeutic for me to write about my feelings. There are things that I've never shared with anyone for fear of negative responses. Or embarrassment. Since that first radiation day, where I lay there so exposed for anyone to see, I've realized I cannot keep these feelings hidden.  I need to say them out loud and dispose of them. I cannot move into my purpose holding on them.

So I started writing and writing. Suddenly, all the blockage I felt all during recovery opened up and flowed effortlessly. I feel such a release! Why couldn't I write like this back in May? Why did my writing itch come back a week before I'm due to go back to work? Do you have any idea how many times I sat in front of the keyboard and couldn't write a single sentence?

That young woman in the waiting of that first radiation, she opened up a can of worms that cannot be put back in. Some people would call her the devil, but I have another name for her. She was my angel, my writing muse. She was holding the mirror I needed to look into for the reflection it held. God does His best work in the worst circumstances.

Have a blessed day everyone. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Family Of Believers 2

                            Everyday is a brand new day,
                            everyday is a journey.

 Being social in Church is not an easy thing for me, especially since my mentor Anna left over five years ago, moving to Texas. I'd rather write about it then talk about it. Since we both were single moms, it was easy to hang out together, especially when it came to Church events. It's a good thing to have a buddy for those awkward moments we all go through when it comes to meeting new people. Breaking the ice, not an easy thing for me. Give me a blank sheet of paper and I will pour my heart out. Ask me to speak to someone face to face, I clam up my emotions faster than Roadrunner. 

When a neighborhood Church opened up it's doors, I could't be more delighted. I no longer had to travel a distance, so I quickly joined. Being a newbie Christian, I embraced the Church life. I loved the idea of a Church family, I wanted to belong. I volunteered and supported every event, showing up to fellowship. It didn't matter how difficult it may have been for me to engage, but I gave it my all. I wanted to be part of them. 

Too bad that none of them wanted me on a personal level. Sure, they loved my volunteering and show of support, but never invited me to their BBQ or their home. Unless it involved Church business. I would watch on social media as the main group in Church would go out together to the movies, a coffee, a game night at their homes. At Church they would embrace me, hug me, tell me how much they loved me. Showing that beyond the Church walls was a different matter. I kept trying, maybe if I volunteered more, showed up more, maybe then I would become one of them.

When I decided to take a break, they took my Ministry out of the Church bulletin. When I began visiting other Churches to be fed, the ladies from Church that were in my Ministry, stopped coming. Oh, they wanted to concentrate on their families or had way too much going on right now, but I knew what was what. I had cancer four times and not once has any of them called me, prayed over me, prayed over Emily, made me a meal or anything.

That Church broke my heart. Where was that Church family of believers that one hears about every Sunday? Certainly not there. I know that every Church is different. Believe me, I have been to many who are the real thing. The one I go to now is the real thing, but it has changed me in how I approach others. There is a wall I've placed around me. 

I've kept all of this inside of me for the past two years, trying to work it out on my own. It seems that I cannot. Something with this radiation has changed me. I don't want to hide things inside of me any longer. This is my hurt. This is the pain I carry. I need to say it out loud and throw it in the trash where it belongs. I believe in that family Church where people care about one another.  I believe it can and does exist. My son is a Pastor, for heaven's sake! It's these little cliques that accept certain types that give us Christians a black eye. That has to change people.

Have a Blessed day everyone. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Family Of Believers

                                                      Everyday is a brand new day,
                                                      everyday is a journey.

Thy sinless mind in us reveal,
    Thy spirit's plenitude impart!
  Till all my spotless life shall tell
    The abundance of a loving heart.

Almost every Church out there proclaims to be a Church family or community. Isn't that the goal of every Church? Ever since I have become a Christian, I have been looking for that Church family of believers. Even though my son is a Pastor, I've struggled in finding a Church where I can fit in.

How can I plug into this Church family of believers? I can see how people who live near the Church and have day jobs (9 to 5) are able to join the weekly Bible Study or Church events. Everything seems to happen during the week, not leaving much room for us who don't work normal hours.

I have been on the lookout for that family atmosphere that every Christian Church claims it has. Maybe it's my lack of interaction with others. Or maybe working second shift doesn't allow much room for that interaction. Or a Church can be guilty of cliques and if you're not in that favored group, you're out of luck.

In the past, I've been a believer of sticking to one particular Church regardless of any issues I might have with it. I'm not a believer of Church hopping. It is all about Christ anyway, isn't it? With that firmly in mind, I stuck it out in my last Church for almost six years dutifully volunteering as a Sunday school teacher and even filling in as Director when needed. If there was a Church event, we were there. 

No Church is perfect, but I soon found myself spending more time volunteering rather than feeding my soul. I mean, I wasn't only there for my volunteering shift, but for all of them. Every Sunday, we would get up early with the birds and head out to Church not coming home until maybe 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon. All volunteering. You see, volunteers tend to cancel at the last minute or not show up at all. Someone has to fill in. 

This is not a post about bad mouthing Churches or it's volunteers, so please don't get me wrong. This is about my experience or how I saw it from my point of view. This is about me. This is my story.

So I found myself starving for the Word of God. I decided to take a break from volunteering and sit in a pew like everyone else. I also found that I could not do that without someone asking me to fill in for an absent volunteer in Sunday school or could I please go and welcome that newcomer. The problem was I didn't want to do that. I wanted to be fed and I soon realized it wasn't going to happen in a Church where I was so well known. 

I basically became a Church nomad for almost two years, opting for a different Church every Sunday. Or at least, I've tried diversity deciding not to go to the same Church two Sundays in a row. I loved it, because no one knew me therefore, no one could ask anything of me. I could be fed. 

That worked for me, but then a day came when my Pastor son said these words to me: Mom, you know you are to connect with another body of believers. You need to belong to a Church. You have no idea how much his words bothered me. They stayed with me and stayed with me, burning a hole within my soul. He was right. I needed to be part of a family of believers. I chose my current Church to be that family. I come. I connect. I volunteer once a month for refreshment duty. I participate in Church events when I'm available, but most of all, I'm being fed. 

To be continued.

Have a blessed day everyone. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gaining Contentment

                                         Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

 O, my friend, rise up and follow 
Where the hand of God shall lead;
 He has brought thee through affliction, 
But to fit thee for his need.-
-Mary Howitt.

If you could have one thing in life, what would that be?
Answer:I want to be content.

Wow, that's pretty heavy and a wee bit difficult to achieve. How does contentment look like to you? That depends on the person. Everyone has their own version of contentment. There isn't one particular type that suits everyone. For me, contentment means being with the Lord in Heaven. I feel that it's the only place where I can truly, truly be content.

If we wished to gain contentment, we might try such rules as these:--
1. Allow thyself to complain of nothing, not even of the weather.
2. Never picture thyself to thyself under any circumstances in which thou art not.
3. Never compare thine own lot with that of another.
4. Never allow thyself to dwell on the wish that this or that had been, or were, otherwise than it was, or is. God Almighty loves thee better and more wisely than thou dost thyself.
5. Never dwell on the morrow. Remember that it is God's, not thine. The heaviest part of sorrow often is to look forward to it. "The Lord will provide."

Quite a list, isn't it? I've been thinking a lot on this subject in the last few weeks. I've been so dissatisfied with so many issues that I have to ask myself, what exactly am I looking for? What would it take for that to change that dissatisfaction? It's easy enough saying I don't like the way things are going, but what am I going to do to make it better. We have this saying at work, don't come with a problem, come with a solution.

I wish I knew what that solution looked like. Sometimes, I think my attitude and behavior affects my dissatisfaction levels. Maybe if I concentrated more on the positive side of things, I wouldn't be so dissatisfied and instead more content. Quite a concept, isn't it?

Sometimes I think we carry around all the negativity where it becomes part of our being like an earring, a purse or that cellphone. We adapt to it's weight and soon forget that we can lay it down somewhere. We don't need to have it on all the time for us to exist or to feel.

What will that look like for me? Not exactly sure, but I do know, I'm pretty tired of lugging it around. I want to be content here on Earth and not just look forward to it as something for the future in Heaven. Remember, I've been waiting on the Lord, but He's been waiting on me. 

Have a Blessed day everyone. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Day 5 Of 25

                                         Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

Here it is, day 5 of 25. Lord, it's only been five days, yet it feels like forever. Somehow, I thought it would go a little faster. Everyday, I wake up around 3 a.m. and spend the next three hours trying to convince myself that all of this is worth it. I go kicking and screaming every single day for my radiation treatment. 

Today was a little different. Today I sat at my desk and began to write. I watched as the world slowly woke up to another new day. I watched as the lights of my neighbors homes came on one by one, as they prepared to face their day. I watched the world go from the dark of the night to a crisp morning. And I wrote.

No matter how I might have felt or still am feeling about the last few months, God still blessed me. He had my best interests in mind. I acknowledge that truth. This certainly has been a hot and humid Summer, especially July. There is no way I would have been able to withstand this weather at work. Manufacturing is a hot place to work at. I was here at home, sequestered in my cool apartment.

Not only was I able to wear something other than pants or work related clothing, but I wore dresses. I wore flipflops all Summer long. I was able to mingle and attend many of the activities that I've always felt I missed out on while at work. I had breakfast, lunch and dinner with my friends. My car broke down several times, finally dying, but at least it happened while I was at home and didn't need one on an everyday basis.

No matter how I feel right at this moment, I'm grateful and understand why things had to happen this way. I'm still kicking and screaming all the way to my radiation appointment. I don't think that will ever change, but at least I go. There have been many times where I wanted to do the opposite. 

Today, I saw a woman at radiation who was sent to the ER. Her blood pressure soared so high, even though she was on two medications for it. I am grateful for God showing me His Mercies, even though I definitely don't deserve it. 

Have a blessed day everyone.                                                                                                                                                       

Monday, August 22, 2016

Airing It Out

                                                    Everyday is a brand new day,
                                                    everyday is a journey.

I'm always a little concerned when it comes to voicing or posting my true feelings on things in general, especially on this blog. I don't ever want to come across as a whiner, a gloomy person or depressing. So I weigh my words very carefully, tweaking and re-reading my entries over and over again. 

The very first week I've ever blogged someone said to me, "Oh God, not another cancer story! It's just too depressing!" Since then, I've been very careful to be a different kind of cancer blog. I've written posts that I thought would be received extremely well, only to find the opposite. The same goes for the ones that I felt were lackluster and yet, the response was fantastic.  

That's why, when I started posting about my current status with radiation, I was a wee bit worried as to how it would be received. The last thing I wanted was for people to think I was experiencing depression or that I've given up. I process things by writing my feelings out. That's how I deal with things. 

Secondly, I do want everyone to realize that I don't have a problem having cancer. I am confident in my relationship with Christ and death is not something I fear. Having said that, I do realize there might be areas that I need to work on. This current obstacle seems to be one of those areas. What will come out from it, we can only wait and see. So please be patient with me and pray for me as I figure some of these gray areas out.

Have a Blessed day everyone. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Fmla

                                                    Everyday is a brand new day,
                                                    everyday is a journey.

O Lord my God, do Thou Thy holy will,--
I will lie still.
I will not stir, lest I forsake Thine arm,
And break the charm
Which lulls me, clinging to my Father's breast,
In perfect rest.

Flma, one of my least favorite things to take care of. I know there are people who love to go on Fmla and use that benefit to it's fullest, but not me. In fact, I hate to even call it a benefit. I have so many nightmarish stories to tell, but I fear my blood pressure may not take it. My experience with them has been anything but pleasant. I truly, truly believe their main purpose is to upset you so much that regardless if you are ready or not physically, you will come back to work just to avoid dealing with them. 

With my company, they would like to have at least a month notice if you plan on using this benefit. Fine, I called them a whole month ahead. We are informed that we have an entire month for the paperwork to be filled out and mailed back to them for approval. If not, we will have to do this all over again. No problem. 

It takes about 7-10 days before the paperwork arrives in the mail. I quickly fax it over to my oncologist the very same day at work. I give my doctor two days before calling them to see if they have filled it out and faxed over to the fmla people. Of course, that's not possible, because the doctor is in clinic only certain days. The papers were faxed over Thursday, but the doctor can't sign them until the following Tuesday. It's already going on three weeks.

Finally, after much pressure from my end the papers are signed and faxed over to the fmla people. I have a little over a week left before the deadline and this is the tricky part. We begin to play a game, the fmla people and I. I call them and inquire about the status of my claim. Well, they're waiting on the papers. They were faxed over. They never received them. I fax them over again. Then my call is mysteriously dropped every time I ask to be connected with my claims agent. I fax them over and email them hoping this will be the end of it. Finally, the day before my surgery they received them and will review them within ten days.

I have the surgery and another two weeks go by as I recover at home. One pay period goes by and no check, but I'm  understanding due to the time frame. Then another. Then another. Six weeks go by since the surgery and numerous and I mean numerous phone calls back and forth between my work, my doctor, and the fmla people. They need more paperwork. Finally I'm approved and my pay is activated. Not only has it been six weeks since my surgery, but another month before that since I let these people know. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. 

There is no reason for me to be dealing with these atrocious people. If this is a benefit that my company provides for me, it should not be this difficult. It should be a help to me not a hindrance. Once someone, no one will admit who, kept listing me as a part time associate. Part time associates are not eligible for insurance. I would go for my chemo only to find out I had no insurance. Many times this has happened and all they do is point fingers at each other in blame. How do these people live with themselves. 

No, no, no, no!  No matter how many times management may try to convince me how wonderful this benefit truly is, I find it to be the opposite. Maybe this time around, all this added to my frustration level. I feel like my company, that I've worked for over 21 years, really dropped the ball. I am a seasoned associate who gave them all, plus my loyalty, but in time of my need, they didn't do the same for me. Now that's the skinny!

Have a Blessed day everyone.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Highlight Of The Week #22

                                         Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

I met a little Elf-man once,
Down where the lilies blow.
I asked him why he was so small
And why he didn't grow.
--John Kendrick Bangs.

Health-wise, I'm feeling so much better. Not having chemo any longer, I can see my body becoming stronger on a weekly basis. What a relief not to have side effects, especially the constipation or the exhaustion. 

As to the radiation, it has been only the first three days and so far physically, I'm adapting nicely. I've had some minor stomach upsets, but it might be too early to tell. Mentally, not so much. I find myself being very robotic and mechanical in behavior. I'm not joking with the technicians or even smiling. I just want to get through it and run away. I did confide in my female technician on the first day my feelings. I feel so bad for her, because she is trying desperately to make this a comfortable experience for me. It's not her, it's me. 

My moods have not been any better either. I find myself irritable at just about everything. The heat especially is irritating me. What I would do for a week of open windows of flowing breezes. I feel I have spent my entire July and August sequestered behind closed blinds unable to look outside my picturesque scenery. How in the world am I to write without my muse?

Living in the city is quickly losing it's appeal to me. I'm tired of the noise, the angry drivers, the crowded traffic filled streets and constant construction. I long for the corn fields, the open sky filled with stars and long winding roads. I no longer fit in the city.

I'm seriously contemplating on going back to work full time regardless if I finish this stupid radiation or not. I want and desire normalcy in my life. Since this has been such a head game for me, maybe it would be better for me if I didn't have so much time for thinking.  

I am looking forward to the weekend where one of my Ministry ladies (Cindy) will be coming over to help with some of these boxes (all five of them) that will be going to three separate organizations. I'm always glad to see them go as my little bitty apartment begins to look even smaller with all these boxes thrown around.

As you can see, I'm just a crabby old lady. I hope the rest of you enjoy your weekend. Have a Blessed day everyone.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Reading List

                                          Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

Mind, it is our best work that He wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think He must prefer quality to quantity.

I've always been a huge supporter of books, but throughout the last few years, I've found myself collecting them more than reading them. When did that happen? 

Somewhere along the way, I've developed a deep sense of busyness where I needed to be constantly doing something. Busy with my Ministry. Busy with my blog. Busy with work. Busy. Busy. Busy. I needed a sense of accomplishment that busyness entailed. Every space on my calendar had to be scribbled in with appointments or activity. I would subscribe to anything and everything so my e-mail folder was over brimming with mail. 

Remember the girl in the waiting room of the radiation dept.? So who am I trying to impress with all of this busyness? God desires quality not quantity. With that in mind, I've spent the last few weeks reading, actually sitting down and giving it all my attention. Instead of taking my crocheting to doctor appointments, I've taken a book to read. I have to be honest, I'm not in love with every book I have on my shelf, but I like the idea of diversity. The wider the topic, the deeper the knowledge.

In Touch Magazines
I have to say, these are my current reads. My friend Linda gave me tons of them so they vary from 2011 to 2013. All of them hold a special value in my heart, because Linda is no longer with us. Dr. Charles Stanley is a great teacher of the Word of God. It doesn't matter how outdated the literature might be, the words hold true for any generation.

Hard Questions, Heart Answers
By:Bernice A. King
This book was quite a surprise for me. The author happens to be Dr. Martin Luther King's daughter so right away my mind thought of something else entirely. I felt the title didn't fit the contents inside since it dealt more on social injustices, racism(and not just black) comparison of the world today vs. during her father's time. I did find her completely neutral and inviting on the above mentioned topics. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting, maybe more of a personal comparison of views regarding her father? I felt the book was more of a college type read than reminiscing of her father's sermons and speeches, which it did imply on the cover. All in all, I found myself agreeing to many of her proclamations. 

Simply Gospel, Simply Grace
By: Bob Christopher
This book is actually one of Emily's. The author generously and personably signed the book for her which I thought it was awesome. I read this book all in one sitting. This author knows what he is talking about. The problem is that he didn't tell me anything I don't already know. I hope I'm not sounding arrogant. If one is looking for a book to give to someone who is a new believer in Christ or someone who is looking for a beginner bible study, this is it. 

Trusting God In Times Of Adversity
By:Kay Arthur and Pete DeLacy
This is actually more of a bible study type of book. There are verses to look up and various activities to do on each day. If you are looking for a deeper kind of bible study, Kay Arthur is a great teacher, but there will be homework. I wrote all over mine with notes, personal feelings and any aha moments. I don't see myself passing this book on to someone else, because of all the personal notes I made in it. 

I hope that all of you will find the time to open up a book in the near future. I've come to realize that I've filled my life with busyness that really has no lasting value. All it did was stress me out. Is it any wonder that I had a meltdown? So silly, sit down and relax. It's okay to just do nothing. 

Have a Blessed day everyone.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Radiation 2

                                         Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

 The idea of radiation really broke me. I'm not afraid of the symptoms that come with it or or the act of radiation, but just the whole process. To think that I would have to give up so much of my time, valuable time. It disrupted my life so much that I wondered if any of it was worth it. 

I mean, I have to get up so early in the morning, drive around 45 minutes, get undressed and wait in the waiting room, get zapped for a fifteen minutes, get dressed again, pay for parking (6.75 each day), drive another 45 minutes back home and do that every single day for five weeks. All so I can do it all again next year.

You know, what that young lady from my meltdown said?  When it comes to one's health, it's all worth it. Mmmm, let me think about that. In another words, as long as I'm alive, the quality of life really doesn't matter. It's so easy for someone who has had cancer once or maybe twice, but I want to hear from the person who has a chronic illness. I want to hear if they're not tired of continually going to doctors, continually being treated by poisons, who continually have to deal with the side effects of the side effects. Aren't you tired of it all?

One of my Ministry ladies asked me, "Lottie, are you giving up?" Absolutely not, I will never give up, but I am tired. That particular day, that young woman really got to me. I wonder to this day, who was she really? As I lay on the simulation table, completely naked from the waist down with just a small sheet covering me, I thought back to these nine years. A male technician marked up my body, that exact spot for the radiation to zap my cancer. That sheet barely covering anything. Why even bother having it on? How many times during these years have I been humiliated? My body exposed for everyone to see? Where is my dignity? I laid there just like Jesus on the Cross, naked and exposed, pretending it didn't bother me.
When it comes to one's health, it's all worth it. Is it? Is it worth using all your vacation time on doctor's and tests year after year? Is it worth it for strangers to be poking and prodding away? Is it worth dealing with all the long lasting effects and the sleepless nights, because you're in pain? Because my leg hurts like hell? The leg that no one can tell me what is wrong with it? Just send me for more physical therapy. More visits and more tests.

So yes, I might sound silly and foolish. I might be over reacting and melodramatic, but I don't care. I'm going there kicking and screaming every inch of the way. I better be in remission for at least two years before any of this is worth it to me.

Have a Blessed day everyone.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Meltdown

                                          Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

I do not ask, O Lord, that life may be
A pleasant road;
I do not ask that thou would'st take from me
Aught of its load.
For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead:
Lead me aright--
Though strength should falter, and though heart should bleed--
Through peace to light.
--Adelaide A. Procter.

According to Rick Warren, there are three questions that are unanswerable.
Why me.
Why this.
Why now. 

I haven't written anything since my meltdown two Fridays ago. As much as I have embraced my cancer these past nine years, an encounter that particular day with a young lady really got me thinking. Mind you, I've already had a horrible day. It really has not been an easy transition this time around. I'm older (51 1/2) and I could see a real difference in how my body recovered from surgery and treatment. It was slow and exhausting. 

I met this young lady in the changing room of my radiation simulation. Her mom was here for her daily dosage of treatment. We began a conversation no different from any others I may have had. What kind of cancer do you have? What was different was her incredulous expression that I still have a job and that I drive myself. She then proceeded, incredulously, to ask me if I had any symptoms. Believe me, I could not shake off both her expression and questions for the remainder of the day.
When I told Emily of my conversation, her response was "Well mom, you have a different attitude about your cancer, you've found Christ."  As upset as Emily was about this encounter and the young girl's upsetting remarks, I think it's something else entirely. I don't believe the girl was being disrespectful in any way. I believe I was in total contrast to where her mom was at emotionally, spiritually and possibly physically. I already went through what she was going through now. This was my fourth and her mom's first. It's a huge difference here.

Yet, I couldn't shake off this feeling that there was something there I needed to see. It truly bothered me. I kept asking myself why am I doing this? Why am I going through all of this only for it to come back in a year or two? Who am I trying to impress with all the busyness of my life? The ministry, the blogging, working:what am I trying to prove?

 A lot of soul searching has gone on within my heart . I know I haven't been around for a while posting any blogs since my meltdown. I needed some much needed and deserved break from all the social media outlets. We have decided to turn off the television, the internet and staying away from games on Facebook and even e-mails. Instead, we have focused on the quiet. We watched old DVD movies like Terminator and Bourne. We spent every evening working out together to the Biggest Loser. There was such silence in the apartment, it felt both weird and relaxing at the same time. A pad and a pen became my therapist in place of all of you. I cleaned out my storage unit, all my drawers and even had time to go through my desk's paperwork.

You see, I just wanted to think. I wanted stillness, the silence. I didn't want to hang around anyone except for Church. I wanted to really think about what was going on in my heart. Obviously, something was hindering my emotions, desperately wanting to burst forth. What I wanted, what I needed to let go of, I just didn't know what that was. There is always something we need to let go of or learn. I've been feeling a deep sense of dissatisfaction and not only in one area of my life. I spoke with Joey. He listened and spoke to me not as a son, but as a Pastor and counselor. I love being a mother of adult children, because we can have an equal footing conversation.

I've discovered that during this entire treatment I have been uneasy. I felt like a cat or a dog that keeps circling over and over again on his bed until he finds that certain spot. Only problem, I haven't found that spot.  I have been feeling dissatisfied with my job, my car, my Ministry and even my writing. Being unhappy and being dissatisfied are two totally separate things. Overall, I am happy, but I wish improvements in certain areas of my life. Things weren't where I wanted them to be. Does that make sense?

I'm not sure what all of this means, but I do recognize the fact that I've been waiting on God and He's been waiting on me. All of my life, I've been scared to step out boldly, opting for the safe things. Everything God wants me to be are right there in front of me. So why am I so afraid to step out onto the water and walk towards it? If I truly trust Him, I won't drown. There's that word again, trust. Am I scared? Absolutely, but I'm tired of feeling dissatisfied with the way things are going. It's time to do something about it.

Have a Blessed day everyone.  

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Radiation

                                         Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

I, and the bird,
And the wind together,
Sang a supplication
In the winter weather.
The bird sang for sunshine,
And the trees for winter fruit,
And for love in the spring time
When the thickets shoot.
And I sang for patience
When the teardrops start;
Clean hands and clear eyes,
And a faithful heart.
--Arthur C. Benson

Lately, when I awaken in the morning, I find myself laying in bed just thinking. I think about everything and I mean everything. The minute my thinking turns negative I jump out of bed before the devil moves inside of me. That's my strategy. I want to stay on the right and stay away from the left.

This morning my thinking turned to my radiation since I had an appointment in a few hours for a simulation (sims). Even though, I have resigned myself to the act of receiving radiation, I still had problems with the idea of having to go there every single morning.  

Remember that I'm a creature of habit and there is something that I need on a daily basis or I will break. I need space. I need space for my Ministry and my writing. This is therapy for me. I can only run around from place to place for so long. If I don't get some space, I'll be a very crabby baby. 

So I laid there thinking how much I will dread losing a good portion of my morning, especially since I'm thinking of going back to work. That means, I will go there early in the morning, come home, eat, change my clothes and head out to work. I'm hoping there will be some time in between for space. 

I know what you're thinking. Radiation only takes a few minutes. Yes, it's supposed to, but I have been there in that radiation clinic three times already. Each time, I waited around 30 minutes just to be called. The nurse that takes care of me chats nonstop. The last time I was there from 9:30 until 11:15 a.m., that is not going to work. 

I know I'm fussing before anything actually happens. I think it has more to do with the uncertainty of what radiation will be like for me. Besides, going through cancer treatment is such a long process. A person's life sits on a shelf during that time. There is only so much a person can take. It is easy for everyone else who doesn't have to go through any of this.

God gives you only what you can handle. 
You're such a strong person. 
You can do this.
You need to stay positive.

I know I can, but I'm tired of doctor visits, scans and the constant waiting. Waiting for the pharmacy. Waiting for the scans. Waiting for the doctor. Waiting for the lab. Waiting for the fmla. My whole life consists of waiting. The worst part is that I cannot voice any of this, because if I do, all I'll hear will be:

God gives you only what you can handle. 
You're such a strong person. 
You can do this.
You need to stay positive. 

When all I want to hear is:

I'm sorry.
Let me pray for you. 

Whew, where did that come from? I guess, I did let the devil in after all. Well, back to the drawing board on that. So now I'm off for my simulation. Let's see how long I have to wait today.

Have a Blessed day everyone.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Throwback Thursday

                                          Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

  Here we at yet another Throwback Thursday where we take a look at the year 2013 and provide an update on where we are now. 

The chemo I was receiving in 2013 was one of the worst I've ever had. Or I should say, the side effects were the worst. My entire body broke out in these rashes, especially if I used hot water. At first, my oncologist thought they were basic rashes until the halfway point of my treatment where it spread like  wild fire all over my body. 

I had to take cold showers, use no deodorant or any restricting clothes, because of the irritation it would cause on my skin. Throughout the day, I would sprinkle on some corn starch all over my aching body for some relief. When it reached the bottom of my feet, my oncologist took me off and prescribed another type of chemo. 

Besides, I worked during this one, taking off a couple of days for treatment. My boss was a very demanding person who had no compassion for my condition. Yeah, not  a good experience.

Halfway Point

This approaching month will be my halfway point with the current treatment. So where am I at? How do I feel? What are your side effects? How are you? These are the main questions I have been asked.

So where am I? 

People seem to be worried how I'm handling this re-occurrence. They don't want to believe me when I tell them I'm good. They're expecting me to fall apart, especially Linda. When I tell her, she stares at me in disbelief. Why? Because Linda still hasn't accepted her condition. She still is at the angry and the why stage.

If I'm angry, it's not about this. I do hope that my next re-occurrence will be a longer interval in between like a few years. That would be awesome.

How do I feel? 

I never quite know how to answer that one. Should I really be honest and go into a lengthy and descriptive answer? Or should I say what everyone expects to hear like "I'm feeling okay"? I usually opt for the latter and say "it is what it is."

Honestly? By the time the halfway point comes (3 months), I'm fed up with everything. I want it over. Usually by now the side effects are in full force and my endurance is at a low. Yeah, it's getting old at this point.

What are your side effects?

People usually think that all cancer patients react the same way, which is not true. I've had three different types of chemo in the last six years and I've had three different kinds of side effects. My hands are red, dry, cracked and blotchy. I have a rash on my armpits, under my breasts, my thighs and not to mention some other private places. The palms and balls of my feet ache like callouses. My feet hurt.

At my last infusion, I only had the rashes on my thighs and head which my doctor didn't feel it was caused by my chemo, but something I have started using recently. I have used the same products for years. Gave me some pills and a cream. That was then. Now, my other list above has appeared and I'm curious what she will say caused it this time. It's not even a red rash but a darkened color.

How are you?
I'm crappy, that's how I am. I'm itchy and scratchy. My hands hurt. My feet hurt. I'm tired and sleep the whole weekend away. Otherwise, I'm okay. How are you? Plus, I've gained 5 1/2 pounds last month. Who knows how much next? So how am I? I'm ready for it to  be over and I'm crabby.

 I am proud of myself for downloading my first pic \!
Have a Blessed Day everyone, even if I am crabby.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Scorching Heat

                                                   Everyday is a brand new day,
                                                   everyday is a journey.

Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm over this heatwave! June was absolutely gorgeous weather and my heart was aching for a balcony to enjoy the cool evening breezes. July was quite the opposite! Heatwave after heatwave ensued where going out was almost unbearable unless one headed out to the beach. Hopefully, this scorching heatwave will end soon. I miss my open windows!

I became like all the other seniors venturing out at the stroke of 07:00 every morning before the sun came out for all my errands. I'm definitely becoming a fuddy duddy complaining about the constant air conditioner air, blinding sun streaking through the picturesque windows and the perpetual sweating whenever one headed outdoors for any kind of activity. 

This morning was no different from all the others as I braved the early sun, marching to the nearest mailbox. I have walked this path every morning for the last two months, waving to my two new buddies, each sitting on their own separate front porch. I have no idea what their names are as we never introduced ourselves beyond the usual banter. 

"Another hot one today."

"Looks like rain."

"You're a little later than usual."

It dawned on me that I've become Mrs. Micholsen, my next door neighbor when I was thirteen. Every morning, rain or shine, Mrs. Micholsen walked to the mailbox to post a letter and bought a newspaper. I always thought to myself that she must have a lot of friends to be mailing a letter every single day!

This is what my life has come down to where I get up, eat my toast and drink my coffee. Then I get dressed and head out to the mailbox or store for that milk or bread or other mundane thing that I probably don't need. Let's not forget my usual "Good morning" to my new nameless friends. What will they do when I go back to work? Most likely they'll find some new friend to replace me.

Peeking out my window now, I can see another retired neighbor sweeping his speck-less front steps. A regular daily ritual of his. I guess we're all  looking for something to do or at least make it look like we are busy. Is this what it has come down to? Next thing you know, I'll be sitting outside saying "Good morning" to all who pass by.                              

"Another hot one today."

"Looks like rain."

"You're a little later than usual."

Have a blessed day everyone.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Language Of Flowers

                                                       Everyday is a brand new day,
                                                       everyday is a journey.

He who plants a tree,
 he plants love; 
Tents of coolness spreading out above 
Wayfarers, he may not live to see. 
Gifts that grow are best;
 Hands that bless are blest; 
Plant-life does the rest! 
Heaven and earth help him who plants a tree, 
And his work his own reward shall be.
--Lucy Larcom.

It's certainly been a long time since I sat down and read a book cover to cover without interruption. I have an entire bookshelf full of books and magazines, some even overflowing onto the floor. I love books! I've always wanted an entire wall of bookshelves from ceiling to floor. Love, love books. 

Back in April when my cancer returned, I decided  to take advantage of the recovery season to sit down and read some of these books. One of the very first happened to be called The Language Of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It was a book from my sister-in-law Pam for my fiftieth birthday.

The book itself is about a young girl who spent her childhood in foster care unable to connect with anyone and "her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings."
I read this book without interruption while undertaking my first chemo infusion. For three quarters of the book, I couldn't put it down. When the last quarter came, I couldn't deal with her choices and became afraid the book would end badly. I had to stop, put the book aside to absorb my frustration.

I thought about it for a minute. Why was it so important to me for this character to succeed? I mean, reality in itself isn't always a happy ever after. Many times, life for some even becomes worse. We don't always make the right decisions. Sometimes, we keep digging ourselves into deeper  holes filled with chains.

 The more I thought about it, the more I understood then that we are looking for a good ending. I don't care how intellectual you may be, you want a happy ending. You want to believe that there is hope for all of us. We see too much of reality out in the world. We see people struggling, losing themselves in situations beyond their scope. We want to believe in a happily ever after. 

Did the book end well? That's for you to read and find out. No spoilers here! One of my favorite things about this book was the section in the back with the different definitions of every flower out there. How lovely and romantic would it be if we received flowers based on the emotions of the giver? Or the emotions that the giver wanted to evoke in us? Alas, that's the romantic in all of us.

Have a blessed day everyone.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Blessings Galore

                                         Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey.

The Lord will guide you continually
And satisfy your soul in drought
And strengthen your bones
You shall be like a watered garden
And like a spring of water whose 
waters do not fail.
Isaiah 58:11 

We have a thwarted view of what blessings really look like, don't we? We expect them to be grand and over zealous in nature. We want and expect great blessings to be poured over us. I mean, we are so much better than that person at Church or at work or across the street from us. They're heathens and we of course, are saved.

When life is great, we all think like that, but the minute it becomes a little ugly . . . . . well, we're not exactly Job's, are we? We demand. We sob. We beg. We make deals with God. We make excuses for our behavior. Anything to get back on top.

The last few months, I feel I've been one of those people I described above. You see, I've fallen off the trust wagon the minute I said I  trusted Him. I have great faith.

 Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."
Luke 22:34

I am an idiot! In all of this wailing, I have been blessed numerous times, but just not in the way I wanted to be. I wanted more and God was like you have more than enough!

Why are we like that? Why are we behaving like brats as if it was owed to us? What have we done to earn all of these demands? Looking back, I'm more ashamed of my behavior especially since I've always considered myself such a faithful servant of God. Boy, how we have fallen!

I am blessed daily, sometimes in a small ways and others bountifully. It could be as small as a penny on the ground or as grand as a raise. Why couldn't I see that? Have I become the most trusting person in the world? Not exactly. Even now as I write, I'm just a short minute away from panic mode whenever I think of the upcoming months.  I may feel overwhelmed, but I quickly shrug it off by occupying my mind with something else. So far it has been working. Praise God!

Have a blessed day everyone.

Yarn Bombing My Life

                            Everyday is a brand new day, everyday is a journey. Some murmur if their sky is clear, And wholly bright ...