I need grace.

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I can’t breathe. I can’t think. This is not the life I planned or dreamed of, but this is the life I live. Unpredictability at its finest. One day great, the other a complete mess. I can’t comprehend the un-comprehend-able, yet I walk through its shadows and webs blindly, a foreigner to this new normal, the normal I still gnash my teeth at and throw my fists towards and scream “ I DON’T WANT YOU- GET AWAY FROM ME!” There is no escape, unfortunately. Just the vacancy of this broken soul gripping desperately for a relief of some sort of tangible existence to mercifully cover me from the rawness death leaves behind after it rips the life of my present and future right from out of my hands.

Tomorrow I will be thirty eight. I did not expect thirty seven to be as it has. Perhaps my fault, I have often tended to not live with many expectations, because expectations when not met, hurt. In honesty though, I never expected to have to walk this part of my thirties in this manner and this crazily. It is frightening. Perhaps the intensity of the fear has not even yet permeated my brain, because it is just too painful to grasp, but I want to be made whole. I want to be real. And this thing is breaking me to the ground. Is this what it takes to be grounded? Is this what it means to walk in absolute surrender? Tomorrow I will return to the place where we celebrated Sean. My stomach is in turmoil. I feel like I will vomit when I walk through the doors of the facility. I don’t know why I thought that once we celebrated, I would never have to step foot in this particular place again, but this is life. Avoidance doesn’t work nor is it an option. I am realizing this at an alarming rate. My birthday. If I could avoid it. I would. I can’t.

Jesus, He Is So Good.

God is good

It is hard to believe the fifth month mark of Sean’s death is approaching. That day. The most significantly traumatic, most devastating day I have yet experienced in my 37 years of life. How do I feel? I ask myself this question daily. How does one feel when everything in one moment, one day, one second, completely turns a life upside down and shakes the foundations of everything we invested in, built our lives upon, and dreamed of, radically goes sideways and all I can do is stand in awe. Stand in awe of God’s goodness, yet stand in awe that this life is really mine and this has really happened to me. To me. It is me. This is my life, my story, and my witness of how in the most impossible situation, there is One who is able. He is able to help me get out of bed in the morning and whip up three lunches for school. He is able to listen to me talk my thoughts out repeatedly, obsessively, and dramatically in the fashion that I do so. I have tried to numb this. I have tried to escape this, but in all honesty, there is no escape and there is no way to numb the un-numb-able. To exist has never been an option. I don’t exist for the sole purpose of existence. There is a purpose and a plan and I graciously accept it, however I have not been doing this solo. Nor would I be able to do so alone. I have no words to express the impact of this amazing village that has intricately wrapped its arms around me and my three children and chose to do this life together with us in the grossness of death, as well as in the sweetness of life. And this village is not untouchable or out of reach, but they are the voice, the touch, the sounds of love that has allowed for me to go forward and not stay in the trenches of grief or bitterness. They are tangible. I don’t believe anyone can make it through life on their own, as a lone ranger. There is no way. I stand in absolute thankfulness of what I have as well as what has been taken away from me. I can not understand it. I don’t know if I ever will. Nevertheless, I remain thankful. I refuse for discouragement, defeat, or despair to walk through the doors of our home and rob us of what goodness we do have. We have lost so much, but have gained more. It seems so messed up. It honestly does. I close my eyes at times as I lean myself against the walls of our home and ask, “God, how am I to do to this? I feel so unqualified.” Yet, He is so faithful. There is no rhyme or reason. He is just so good. He allows in this time for me to continue to dance, regardless the circumstances that lie behind and before me. 

Image Credit: Pieter Breugel: Scene With Dance Around The May Pole

Cemented Heart.

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The ice princess, now cemented heart, about to freak out on the innocent and the translucent. I just want some relief, whatever that may look like. I don’t know if it is near or far, but the feelings of a trapped animal are all too familiar. I want out. I want out of the pain, the grief, the disturbance of this reality that I did not ask for. I want out. There is no way out, only in and through. Do I have the energy or stamina to commit to this process? In the natural, no freaking way, however, I chose a path in which I wanted the supernatural for everything, so this is absolute reliance on the Creator, not me. I can’t. I just can’t. I have nothing, but in Him, I have everything. I submit, I surrender, I give up. I really do. I don’t have one ounce of any thing, but nothing to give. I am D. O. N. E. Seriously. My hair is always clean, but there just might be one day it aint. That’s right, I just used improper English. Do I care? No. I don’t. My house may have lego here and there. Yesterday that would have made my whole world crumble…today…I don’t care. I really don’t. Step on it. That is what I am doing. Stepping on lego bodies, lego cars, lego pieces, I DON”T CARE! I am not in the head space to clean, to sweep, sweep, sweep, I am freaking done. Let this process begin. I have nothing to lose. I have already lost what meant so much to me. Let’s get down to business Jesus. I am ripped, wrecked and ready to roll. Despite it all, as Sean would have said to me at one time, I am still the greatest.

Mascara down my face.

Ready? Am I? I don’t know much of much these days, but I hear the question. Ready? Who is it asking me this question? Again, I don’t know. We would often say, ‘It is what it is’, which transformed to a ‘It is what I say it is’, to now a ‘It is what I don’t know what it is.’ I stand expressionless in front of the mirror and habitually reapply the lipstick I feel more comfortable in than in my own skin. Hang up. It is the colour I wear. Hang up. I have been hung up and I have hanged up. The indifference of the emotional with the physical married together with the spiritual has become this outlet passed away with the essence of everything concrete I rested my head on. Am I grounded? Kind of? Am I solid? Maybe? Am I out of control? Have I ever been in control? I question the questions and answer the answers with more questions, because my hands are emptied with only the residue of debris, like gun powder of absolutes I was so certain were the obvious of the obvious. Last night woke me from a reality of a certainty that this seaside view doesn’t come without challenges. I have no strength to fight a good fight and march the grand march, however I do have enough breath to breathe by this fire as I lie my weary soul and bathe in its heat. I have nothing to give. I have preciously nothing. Am I ready to fully walk this walk and talk this talk? Not at all. However, as I bask in the heat from the only who can be trusted, I cannot be moved by this situation. I refuse to be moved by the results of this perfect storm and the devastation brought down on us viciously and without mercy, I just can not be moved. I wipe my eyes with my muddy sleeves and stare the adversary in the face with my limited strength, limited vision, and my limited understanding, with my rouge coloured lips, and continue this undertaking, regardless the cost, oh God, please Lord, show me some mercy.

You won’t see me fall apart.

My mind was so full when I ran this morning…and then this song came on my playlist. It is funny how songs can be the beginning of a bigger picture unintentionally.
I remember being fond of it when I first heard it and that was about it. However, today I am almost lost my breath because of the tears that began to run down my face
as I ran harder and harder and faster and faster inadvertently. Fear has a way of arousing and complicating things. Somethings that are good, as well as things that aren’t so good.
As this song played and I lost absolute concentration with my breathing, I realized, fear won’t break me. It can’t. I don’t want to live like I can’t trust anyone anymore.
I just refuse for this to haunt the way it likes to do.

Deep waters.

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It is unfortunate a month goes by and the words and motions that I have gone through are trapped underneath the blankets of every smile, kind gesture, innocent prayer, loving embrace, and unimaginable compassion given to us by so many. Perhaps trapped is not the best word to use, but these very things have indeed been stored deep inside my heart, protecting, encouraging, and equipping me. There have been hours in which I have had Mahalia Jackson playing throughout my house while sobbing at the kitchen sink. There have been moments when in the shower I have burst out in tongues, praising God for His goodness despite not understanding the reports or the results in our hands. As I have layed on the hard tiles of our floor, and stared aimlessly, praying my children to never find me in such a place of vulnerability, absolute loss, or in a state of complete devastation. There have been times of such darkness in which I prayed for the Rescuer to rescue, the One who guides to just guide.

It was July 24th, exactly four months ago we found out it was cancer and three weeks later told it was not only a large mass in the colon, but had spread to the liver and the lungs making it stage IV colon cancer.

After getting off the phone with our naturopath, I stared out the kitchen window and realized that life was going to be forever different. A movie I would have turned off or a television show I would have switched. In life, we can’t turn it off nor can we switch it. We just do it. As I looked down at my hands, I took a mental photograph of them, for they were going to experience a new way of life, as well. Chopping, juicing, beet and carrot stained side effects, only one in a place of transition can get. Sean came down the stairs and I looked at him from the kitchen sink and told him what Mrs. Ewing had said. She said, “Until we are able to see him, juice vegetables, minimum fruits, mostly greens, go vegan, stay away from sugar and anything processed.”

Morning juice, afternoon juice, snack juice, dinner juice, evening juice, something just because juice, we juiced like crazy the first three months. Sean began to lose weight, but this was solely because he was no longer stopping off at Tim Hortons for a large double-double with Timbits or at the 7 eleven for a Coke is it and a package of superior Joe Louie’s. His skin began to clear, his energy levels completely changed, and his eye whites were whiter than I had ever seen them to be. He began to grow hair on his face, which was thick and bristly, and hair began to grow thick on his legs and lower back. What was happening? In absolute amazement of these sudden changes taking place in his body in only two months, we thought for sure his body was on the road to healing. We met with the cancer clinic oncologist who didn’t seem too concerned about his new found energy, happy spirit, or furry body, but more interested in getting him on the highest dose of chemotherapy right away and having an appointment to have a port put in his body. Two years. With chemo, he would only have two years. Um. This didn’t really seem to make any sense to me. Was I sad? No. In shock? No. I believed God was in control and leading us somewhere, but not too sure of where. We told the oncologist we were going to be doing an integrated approach with natural medicines as well. He right away shook his head and couldn’t understand why we would spend such money on things not proven to help extend a person’s life, when all the chemo and drugs were free. After much more blood work, Sean’s numbers were showing the cancer was aggressive and the doctor from Integrated Health phoned recommending he begin the vitamin C Intravenous treatments that day, so he did.

September 22nd Sean had his port installed. It was a crazy day. I remember feeling queasy about what was going to be surgically placed in his body. To this day, I still have no idea what it looks like or how it functions, because just the thought of it causes my legs to go numb and I want to faint. SO….the next day was his three hour stint of chemo. He was quite sick and vomited throughout the process, while a woman beside him having chemo too ate a chocolate bar. Sean walked home to a mess. A dishwasher was being installed and one problem after the next, the kind gentleman didn’t leave our house until quite late. We ended up ordering in food. Sean was able to eat toast and miso soup, but weakly made his way up to our room to sleep with his chemo baxter bottle hooked up to him, pumping faithfully every hour into his body. The next few days were absolutely insane, no in fact, the next few weeks were the most difficult I have ever endured. Do I remember them? Yes. I have a photographic memory, but what my memory chooses to remember is another thing. I remember the mouth like Cameron Diaz’s on the “substitute” doctor as she showed kindness to Sean when after two rounds of chemo saying she recommends he takes a break from chemo to get his mind right. He was unrecognizable spiritually to me and emotionally. Physically he was my corpse husband barely holding on to anything, but the blanket around his body. I remember the smell of the hospital entrance and the hand sanitizer that only draws be back to any previous times of entering a hospital and the nameless faces of those of hopelessness waiting in the room with us, as if we were all cattle going in for the slaughter. I remember the sounds of my shoes walking in the changing of the season. The dewy sound of my distressed oxfords as they hit the pavement and the squishing of soggy leaves that had fallen from the night before. The driest summer to be recorded, fall was welcomed with a faint embrace. My sister and I had joked how it was such a summer of sadness and shortly before hand Sean had preached that last year was such a time of death for us, with so many loved ones passing, that this year was going to be a year of life. I began to question this with his diagnosis. However four months later, we have experienced more life than we have ever in the last 10 years we have been married. There has been a unity in which man made strength could not possess. We have been blessed by a community we have loved, but have never known how love expresses itself in such a mosaic kind of way. The love of God, the love of man, the love of a brother, a sister, a stranger, has reshaped our whole way of thought and existence. This love is bringing life and healing in areas where there was no life or health. After one bad report of the next, I began to wonder if I was experiencing -on an incredibly small scale-post-traumatic stress disorder. I could not handle one more report; I could not face whispering one more prayer of hope, or anticipating the words that were going to spill out of the doctor’s mouth after he took a deep breath with a report of some sort of Sean’s in his hands giving a finite prediction of his timeline.  I really couldn’t handle the thoughts that raced through my head and swallowed me whole as I drowned in endless negative reports and contradictions of what I believed to be truth.

But Jesus, He does things in ways that benefits us and gives Him the glory. There has been a mirage of events, God happen chances in the last months in which I am endeavoring to record, for it is important for us to not forget His benefits, however the decisions we have chosen together to make, make sense for us. We are seeing results that are bringing hope and faith and our belief still remains the same, that there is a bigger picture. What that looks like, we don’t know yet, however, what we do know, is God’s hand is at work and we continue to remain His humble servants doing all things unto Him. His promise says when we go through deep waters, He will be with us. As we go through rivers of difficulty, we will not drown. When we walk through the fire of oppression, we will not be burned up; the flames will not consume us.

 

 

 

The Great Escape

Am I looking for a way to a great escape? To laugh, to cry, to be the emotions that weigh me down, but to free me at the same time? To stuff, oppress, or even to compress will not settle the fact that this day is what it is. It is a brilliant day. It is a wonderful day, it is a magnificent day, however this is also a day in which I wrestle and fight. I punch and I stomp. I laugh and I put my glasses on to block my washed out blue eyes from the sun behind the clouds, somewhere up in the sky. It is up there, somewhere, right? I can run my hands through my hair and feel. I can chop vegetables into unrecognizable states, and feel. I can feel objects, but the subjects of sickness, offence against my household, the afflictions on the wounded,  or the severity of one’s shame or humiliation pressed against the glass wall of hopelessness, I can but feel, only see, as if a part of a silent picture show in slow motion. July 24th will forever be a date in which time stood still for a brief moment, yet also for a lifetime. I am in awe of such stillness, a breathless moment in which my heart stopped for a moment, the air disappeared, and sound, all around became absent. A place to escape, there was none. A place to hide, there is none. This is real life. I must continue to stare at this through the rear view mirror. For it follows me constantly. It does its business around me, but it will not do it in me. Enough is enough.  Bad news will not take me down into the currents of despair and impossibility, to the places of no shelter or provision. For I will not dwell in a domain like this. Though I can’t escape the nay-sayers in my path, I can escape their words on my life. And that is what I determine to do, with my hands blood stained from the jagged rocks of their words and labels. My knees bruised, and my legs scraped as I hike up the God mountain from where my help comes, to soothe and caress, to give and to nurture. It is here where I will escape to. My eyes not on what lies before me, but on He who goes before me.

Oats In The Water.

To be. To be still. To be angry or to be quiet? To be mad or to be hurt? To be confused, numb, guilty or sad? How about to be so overwhelmed beyond possible human capacity? To be. I feel, but to be is not an option. It is as if I were on a see-saw. One side is my emotional crisis of bad news, the lingering of the bad report sits…heavy, hopeless and whispers doom. But across is the other side. The side that says impossible possibilities and faith can invade the human sphere of the finite makeup. You see, I can’t turn the music up in my head phones loud enough. I can’t do 100 sit-ups or run fast enough to make it go away because there is no going away from this. It is here and it is real. To be stunned and faced with the mass of uncertainty is not a safe place for me. This is not my comfort zone. I feel exposed, vulnerable, and naked. My only hope is not of man’s ability, but in the One who gives man the capability. The capability to believe where there is no belief. The capability to stand unshakeable when the storm that hits is stronger than human strength itself. To be in denial, fantasy, or disbelief is just not in the cards, but to give thanks over and over again is all I can do. To be thankful when thanksgiving should seem out of reach however, it is not, for it is all I know, like the oats in the water.

Calvary Love.

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Amy Carmichael once wrote, ‘If I take offence easily; if I am content to continue in cold unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.’ Offence, an annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles is exactly what it is. It is an annoyance, a wrong doing, causing resentment, indignation, wrath, displeasure, animosity, feelings of bad ill and disgruntlement. However, in the midst of the swollen fires that burn throughout the realms of this little world of troubles and tribulations, there is a deep wound festering in the body of a bruised heartbreak. It was not my intention to be the last straw to break the camel’s back. But I was. A mere flimsy piece of dried out straw, with no thought, no resolve, no compassion or mercy to taint, like  the smudged handprints of a child with jelly on their clumsy hands, all over the eye glasses of an unpretentious oversight. My hands have been washed, and my eyes have been cleansed, however my heart beats rather un-rhythmically. A cautioning, a voice of one crying out in the wilderness to prepare a way…I can’t remain stuck in something I have been set free from, if not by man, but by Him, the one who beckons me into the throne room of grace. His mercies endure, His love remains in the darkest fires that burn throughout the driest season, and His presence rests quietly, unshaken, amid the fiercest storm. I am the product of Calvary love, rescued and forgiven, undignified and vulnerable for such a time as this.

Love More.

Sharon Van Etten once stated that a boyfriend she was with didn’t think her music was good, but in fact terrible, so she hid her music writing abilities from him. She apparently was in this relationship for six years. Six years! To have to hide from someone you were partners with sounds wretched and complicated. In relationship we are to know and be known, to love and be loved. Sometimes, whether it be friendship or relationship, maybe even with strangers, we wear masks to protect ourselves from just that, being ridiculed or mocked. Sometimes it’s we are so sick and tired of not measuring up, if we purpose in our heart to not measure up, then no measuring up is needed! I am doing some self reflecting this season. To hide is to be ashamed. Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden because they were naked and ashamed. No hiding, my new motto. Love more, hide less. Mankind needs to be needed and wants to be wanted.