Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Keep the change
- Galadriel, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"
I cannot explain what is happening, but I do feel changes happening in me. Changes that have been happening for a long while, and are soon going to bear fruit. What this means, I don't know. But I realized just today that I am in a position that allows me to be moved in any direction, and to go without hesitation. It is an exciting and frightening place to be in, all at once.
Today I realized that all that has been happening over the last few weeks has served as a wonderful means through which God has gained and held my attention. For so long, I have been praying for direction, for clarity of purpose, for the unmistakable voice of God to speak to me and tell me which way to go. I have been seeking this, and I believe I will soon have that answer. I believe it is slowly unfolding for me.
I have been wandering in the desert for some time now. I believe that the events of the last few weeks have been used as a means of bringing me to a place of rest and reflection. As I've wandered through this desert, I have often gone to the right or to the left, not staying the course. In this season, I have had to lay down some things that were very dear to me...some of that, I had no control over. Circumstances would not allow me to hold onto those things. Other things...particularly in the area of relationships...were my choice. A choice between embracing God's purposes in my life, or embracing something other than God's purposes and settling for less than His best for me. The good is always the enemy of the best...and I want the best.
I am learning that, while God does have a plan for us, He has also given us the ability to use wisdom and sound judgement to make choices, and we are responsible to make good choices in our lives. The Word says, "Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you." The phrase "these things" is often interpreted to mean earthly blessings of one sort or another. I believe that one of "these things" is our gut-instinct that tells us when something is wrong, even if we have no idea what that something. I am learning that my instincts are to be trusted. My feelings matter. My thoughts matter. And if my instincts, thoughts, and feelings are telling me that something in a situation is not right, then I need to pay attention. I have to take responsibility for my life, and make sound choices.
Such a simple concept, so often complicated and convoluted by "seeking God's will" for a situation that you already know isn't right, or seeking direction when the direction is clear. If eternity is written in our hearts, it only makes sense that a good deal of how to live out that eternity is also written there. I realize my tendency to invite pain into my life by not living what I know in my heart is truth.
I am learning more and more about God's grace as I walk through this season of change. I am learning that it is okay to go off course, because if you are truly seeking God, He will be faithful to lead you back to where you should be. Surely, there are consequences to be paid for moving away from the course you were on, but nothing that is beyond the vast expanse of His grace and mercy. I am learning that God loves me enough to take everything this life gives me, whether it is of my own doing or it was beyond my control, and turn it into something beautiful that will draw me closer to Him. I am learning that God is the biggest dreamer of us all, but He fully expects those dreams to be realized...through us.
There are moments when I feel the Giver of Dreams beckoning to me, inviting me to sit with Him, saying "Stephanie, come dream with me awhile."
A change is stirring. I can feel it.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Harold and I have a deep love for each other. A love that is deep enough to allow for painful honesty with each other, and to do what it takes to protect each other, even when it is the hardest thing to do. After sifting through the pain and finding the beauty in this season of being apart, we have agreed to spend the next 40 days entirely seperate from each other, and seeking Christ independently. Not seeking His will for "us", not seeking healing for the relationship. Simply sitting at His feet. At the end of that forty days, we will see each other again as two friends coming together to share what has been happening in our lives. It is anyone's guess where "we" will be at the end of all of this. Right now, that is not the point.
I have not lost hope for us. I am confident that this relationship will weather the storm, and we will be restored. In what form, I do not know. But I do know that we have been given a gift, that this season is not meant to hurt, but to heal. I see Jesus in this, and I am grateful.
Sometimes love requires much. Sometimes love requires you to hurt and heal at the same time. Sometimes love asks you to let go of the thing you love, acknowledging that letting go is the most loving thing you can do. Letting go is painful. Confusing.
Sometimes I wish my heart was other than it is. I wish I were other than I am. I wish my heart could reciprocate the wonderful love that has been shown it.
There are times when perspective is gained only by stepping out of the moment and looking at it from a distance. And so I'm stepping back. Looking. Gaining perspective.
I don't like it. Not one bit.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
My Faithful God
In addition to trying to rest and get well, trying to give my wonderful Harold the love and affection he deserves even when I feel totally tapped out, trying to give Heidi the attention she craves from her auntie even when I have no energy to give to her, trying to figure out how I am going to stay above water financially when I have had no income for over a month now (and was barely making ends meet before all this happened...), one of my major concerns has been how I will pay my rent. That has been a source of tremendous pressure. I concluded I would need to vacate my apartment so it would be available for a new renter. However, as I still had a lease to fulfill, I would need to continue paying the rent until a new renter was found.
I tried several different resources to get my rent paid for May, and continually encountered obstacles. I did not know how I would pay the rent, and was dreading the conversation I needed to have with my landlord. Then, my mom told me that funds from an anonymous source were coming in, and my rent would be taken care of. Wonderful news, and a great blessing!
It gets better...
My mom called my landlord today to verify who the check should be made out to and where it should be sent. In doing this, she also learned that A NEW RENTER HAD BEEN FOUND! Yaaay!!! The new renter is moving in on June 25, which means....I do not owe any more rent after this month!
In addition to that, the new renter wants to buy some of my furniture. This will be a great way to generate some extra cash, and to save the trouble of moving all the furniture. It is a great blessing, and I'm sure my dad and his back would agree. :)
Through all that has happened over the last few weeks, I have learned a few things...mainly, though, I have been reminded again of God's unfailing faithfulness. He never leaves us hanging, even though it may seem like it at times. His ways are not our ways, but His ways are perfect. His timing is not ours, but He is always on time. What Satan meant for evil in my life, God has used for good. I am the daughter of a King, and He knows my every need, and has an unlimited supply of resources to meet those needs in the most wonderfully surprising ways.
Take that, devil.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
It is funny, I think, that of all the types of cancer to have, I have to have one that is so ridiculously rare that there is very little information available about it. Such is my life, though. I have learned to laugh about these things. I have concluded that my life will always be just a little left of center in one way or another.
I did find one article about renal carcinoid. Or, I should say, one article that said something beyond "Renal carcinoid is extremely rare...". If anyone is interested in reading it... Renal Carcinoid
After my post-op checkup today, I went to my former workplace to catch up with everyone there. I have really missed my coworkers, and it was great to go in and see everyone. It was bittersweet, because I did have to fill out paperwork stating that I would not be returning to my job. It brought some finality to the decision to cut my losses and move forward, and that was a bitter pill to swallow. Nevertheless, it was fun to see everyone, to find some humor in all of this, and just to have a few lighthearted moments with the amazing people I have been working with the last three months. I will miss them.
I could not stay long, because I still get worn out very quickly these days. My doctor said he is not surprised that this recovery has been so rough for me. I was not in the greatest of health as I went into surgery. Severe anemia required me to have to iron infusions, as well as a blood transfusion (two units) before I would even be well enough to have the surgery. Additionally, I had not been able to eat for several days before the surgery due to my twisted bowel, so my strength was very low. Combine those factors with the simple fact that I did have major surgery done, and it makes for a rough recovery period. I am getting a little better, day by day, but there are definitely some days that are better than others.
All in all, while I am looking at some losses and very big changes in my life because of all of this, there is no denying that things could be much, much worse. At the end of it all, I still have my family, my wonderful friends, and a God who loves me unconditionally...and I am learning that the rest of the stuff really doesn't matter a whole lot, and will take care of itself somehow. I am learning the difficult art of letting go of the things I can't control, and embracing with great joy the beauty of the simple truths this life has to offer.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
On Friday, I am going to talk to my employer and tell them that I will not be returning to my job. Moving out of my apartment and in with my family means that I can no longer commute back and forth to my job. When I move in with my folks, my current job would require nearly an hour commute each way. Again, simple math...gas prices and time spent on the road would not make it worthwhile to maintain my job.
All at once, I am letting to of two things that I worked hard and struggled long to obtain. Letting go of that, and embracing the very thing I worked so hard to move beyond.
This letting go is painful. It is certainly not what I would have chosen for myself, if I had any control over this situation whatsoever. But, I do not, so I am faced with some difficult choices and painful sacrifices.
I am also faced with the choice of how I will respond to all that has happened in my life over the last few weeks. Certainly, I have my moments where I find a quiet place to just cry a bit and process all that has happened. But, moment by moment, I am choosing hope over despair.
I am choosing to place my hope in God's greater plan, and trust that His purposes in this will surpass the pain of the moment. I am choosing to place my hope in the belief that nothing in our lives is wasted, and the outcome of all of this is going to be far more amazing than anything I could ever imagined for myself. I am choosing to believe that God meant it when He said that He knows the plans He has for us, and those plans are meant to propser us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future.
I do not understand why God has allowed for these things in my life. I may not ever understand. I do know, however, that I can choose how I will respond to this, and in whom or in what I will place my trust. I choose to trust God and His plan for me in all of this.
I have been through many trials over the last few years. Things that have tried my faith to its very core. I look back on all I have been through, and I can see that God was faithful in all of it. I look back on the days of struggling I've endured to this point, and I think to myself, "I got through that, I can get through this." And it is true...if nothing else, I have learned much about God's faithfulness to carry me through things that, without God, surely would have consumed me.
Though You slay me, I will trust You.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
I want to believe
In a sense, I am one of the lucky ones. The cancer was found early, and all indications are that the surgery was also the cure. The doctors strongly believe that I will not need to have any further treatment, and the type of cancer I had was not malignant. In that sense, I am very blessed.
In another sense, I am feeling completely overwhelmed by all of this. I am still processing how quickly everything happened...Going into the ER for a belly ache, unable to find the reason for the belly ache, but being told that I may have cancer...then being told that they are almost certain I do have cancer, and I will need to undergo major surgery to have it removed. Going through the surgery, looking at weeks of recovery, gradually watching everything unfold and feeling like life has just run me over.
When I was first admitted into the hospital, I felt as though I still had some sort of control over what was happening in my life. I believed my stay would be short, the procedures quick and painless, and life would go on as usual shortly thereafter. Sure, I would have to do some financial wizardry to make ends meet, but I could do it.
Now, I feel that life is once again beating me up. I have worked so hard to recuperate since leaving my job at CMH, and it has taken every ounce of grit and determination to stay the course and achieve my goal of having my own apartment, finding a job that I liked AND paid the bills, and being able to live a life that was a little closer to "normal" for someone my age. (Being 31 and living with my folks was not normal....). It was a hard road to travel, but I did it, and I have been making it work. Sometimes, just barely getting by...but still, getting by. I was finally feeling like I had achieved the independence I so longed for. Now, I am looking at the very likely possibility of losing all of that, because I do not see how I will financially recuperate from all the weeks of income I will be losing because of the surgery and recovery.
For some people, I'm sure this seems like no big deal. A couple months behind in rent..so what? The overwhelming majority of people I know have jobs and apartments come and go, but they always land on their feet. For me, this feels like just one more struggle, and one more thing I've worked so hard for being slowly ripped away from me.
I want to believe that God will provide, and this will turn out better than I can imagine. I want to believe that. But the struggles I've been through over the last couple of years make it difficult for me to hold on to that. I know...God gives us enough for today. Frankly, I am tired of living with "just enough". Where is the abundance? Where are the blessings that are pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing? Where are the blessings that are exceedingly and abundantly above all we could ever ask or think?
I am grateful for how His hand has moved in this thus far. I can't deny, though, that I am desperately seeking some guidance from His hand for a very uncertain future.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
What the flip?
On April 23, I went into the ER for the second time in a week, with severe abdominal pain. None of the things the ER, Urgent Care, of my primary care doctor had told me to do were working to resolve the bowel obstruction they told me I had. So, on April 23, they thought they would do a CT scan to see what might be going on.
By the time they got around to doing the CT scan, I had been in the ER for three or four hours. Harold...my poor, dear Harold...had been enduring my ever-increasing crabbiness and irritability with each moment that passed. We waited in the quasi-room they had put me in, and I tried to sleep while he watched TV. I was just waiting for them to come in and tell me the obstruction was still there, they were going to admit me so they could get it taken care of, and I could go home in a day or two.
We waited. And waited. Finally, the doctor came back in, and without mincing any words said, "We have found a mass on your kidney that is causing us great concern. We are going to admit you tonight. They will do another ct scan in the morning and the urologist will look at it to determine what it might be. This has nothing to do with why you are feeling so much abdominal pain. We just happened to find it because we did this cat scan..."
The news came as a surprise, but I put the fears of the worst out of my head. I called my mom to tell her I was being admitted into the hospital, called my employer to tell them I would not be at work, and just waited to be put into a room. Harold left to get a few things from my apartment, and I'm sure was glad for the reprieve from my "Don't touch me!" attitude. I waited in the ER for another hour or so, until they finally put me into a room.
I slept well the first night, being so exhausted from enduring a week of horrible pain. I was glad that things were finally going to be resolved, and I could get back into life again.
The next morning, after my second CT, the doctor came in and said that the mass on my kidney looked to be cancerous. I don't rememeber all of what was said or what happened over the next few days. I only remember that the doctors determined that the kidney needed to be completely removed. The location of the mass on my kidney would not allow them to simply remove the cancer. The whole kidney would have to come out.
Typically, this is something that would be scheduled into the normal surgical shedule, and I would have to wait about three weeks for the surgery. I did not want to wait. Once you know you've got cancer in your body, you just want it out. Fortunately, the surgeon who did my gastric bypass surgery was very concerned about the symptoms associated with my abdominal pain, and decided he would like to do some exploratory surgery ASAP, and they could take my kidney at the same time. My surgery was scheduled to take place within three days of the decision to take it out.
Friday, I underwent major surgery, and had an internal hernia repaired and my kidney removed. As it turned out, my small bowel had pushed its way through my hernia and twisted itself 180 degrees. If it were not for that, I would never have gone to the ER and had the CT done, and they would have never found the cancer.
The doctor mentioned several times that it was a wonderful irony that I had the abdominal pain. The type of cancer I had is the type that typically goes undetected until it is much too late. Because of the CT scan done to find out why I had such a tummy ache, they found it early. They believe that the surgery was also the cure, and I will not need further treatment for the cancer. The pathology report is not in yet, but I am believing for the best.
That is the bare bones of what happened. As far as the psychological impact goes, I will write about that later. There is too much to write, and I am too tired. It is a lot to take in.
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