Friday, 21 December 2012

What Cancer Can Do........

I got a glimpse in to another friend's cancer journey this week.  It was unexpected, and it moved me and  made me think. A lot.  With a year consumed by this disease,  I can't help but think about cancer, but as my friend shared and what I'm learning is that perspective plays a huge part in how I think about and walk this journey.

I've read so many encouraging words about what cancer cannot do and some great and insightful things that have truly blessed and helped me.  Hearing these stories and reading these words is incredibly uplifting.  Today however, I wanted to share a slightly different perspective about what cancer can do.

What Cancer Can Do ......
  • Give me the opportunity to form new, lasting and deep friendships which may otherwise never have happened.
  • Give me a new appreciation of surgeons and medical teams who work tirelessly to save lives, heal and restore broken hearts and bodies and find new ways to tackle this disease.
  • Bring a community together in support and solidarity for a cause.
  • Gives me the privilege to share another person's insight and journey and with that comes the gift of incredible inspiration.
  • Bring a deeper relationship with God.
  • Makes me realize the "bad stuff" really isn't that bad at all.
  • Helps me stop worrying about the "small stuff"
  • Helps me pick up the phone, email, pause long enough to chat with friends.  The I'll do it later mentality gets replaced with, I'll do that now!
  • Gives me a nudge and reminder to live in the moment, for the moment. Take pauses to notice the little things and grow a new appreciation of the marvel of the world.
  • Makes me realize I'm truly blessed to be able to hold and hug my children each and every day.
  • Give me a new innovative approach in getting children to eat.
  • Heals rifts in relationships.
  • Change perspective.
  • Gives me a grateful heart.
  • Gives me the opportunity to witness both friends and strangers in selfless acts of kindness
  • Brings out the best in people
I have been thinking about this for a day or two and I think the list will be added to. What occurs to me is the grace, beautifully given by God and extended by others. Cancer can be a platform for so much of God's blessing with provision made and every need met.

So heartfelt thank you to those willing to share your journey with us.  As we unwrap the gifts this Christmas, once more I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all who have helped us along the way.  Knowing how friends and strangers spend time praying us on our way, giving freely their time and resources to help during this year and this journey has been such a gift to us all. Thank you sincerely for taking the time to think and care about Jasmine on her journey and might we ask that you continue to pray for her and her continued strength and recovery in to the New Year.  Thank you!  

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Pause



Life is getting a bit hectic round here and the Christmas festivities and all that goes with it are upon us.  There are cards to be written,  packages to be posted, gifts to be wrapped, shopping expeditions to be planned, children's pageants to be attended, cookies to be baked, cakes to be iced, homes to be decorated.... the list goes on seemingly endlessly.
In amongst all of this, I find myself wanting to simply slow things down, take notice of what's going on around me.  With a pause, comes reflection and conflicting emotions wrestle for first place.

I want to rest in the holiday season and reflect on why we celebrate Christmas. Celebrate the birth of a Savior - the God child who came to save us - save us from this broken world.

I want to do that, but this morning I found myself shedding fresh tears of grief for another child who lost her battle to cancer.  And I'm mad - because why should a child have to have this battle?  We don't send our children to war, but for those given a cancer diagnosis, we expect them to step up and have the fight of their lives. For their lives...

Jasmine's journey is not over.  And as I wanted to write about her journey here and update all our supporters who want news of her, I realise that Jasmine's journey documented here is rather a mum's journey.  Christmas being a season for peace, joy, gratitude,  I wonder what "God with us" does with all the pain and brokenness during this season?  Do we just shelve it for a while and manufacture a bit of joy with the tinsel and fake tree?
Does God really come when we ask to heal the hurt?

When I became a mum, life changed forever.  Something happens and there is no going back to the thoughts, feelings and way we lived before children.  When I became a mum of a daughter with cancer, the same happened.  Life just changed forever.   Maybe we shouldn't wish to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.  But sometimes I don't want to walk another mile in my shoes either.

In the last week, I have had my check up for my skin cancer and talked to my mum who is getting ready for round two of chemo.  Jasmine is in between MRI's and other follow up appointments and I just wonder what on earth?  Sometimes it seems like this wretched disease isn't going to rest until it takes one of us.  It's taken another mum's daughter this week.  And sadly she's not the only one as one of our Boston family friends start grieving a child in their circle of friends too.  And how many more who we don't hear about and don't know?

I went to my children's bedsides and watched them sleep awhile this morning - just wanting to watch their rhythmic breathing and touch the warmth and life in their skin.  Reflecting on this great big year we've had, I think about what Christmas looks like for me this year.  I think about having BOTH of my children. Here. With. Me.

I'll rest on that truth for a while.  And while I rest there, I can't help but be grateful to God, for delivering my baby girl back to me.  She was held a while between the two worlds and only God knew if He was calling her home.  Saying I'm grateful to still have her with us,  is the biggest understatement I just might ever make.  So I will pause a while in His presence this year and ponder what it is to have Christ born, Immanuel, God with us.
For me, "God with us" is a miracle who walks and talks and breathes and laughs her days away with us - she completes the family four.  She is eating more, participating more, has a skip in her step, a ready smile and gets the giggles - they're infectious.   It is a son, strong and brave who has a deeper knowledge and understanding of things, who can shoulder a year that only adults should endure, yet remain grounded in love and childhood and be a 9 year old boy.  It is a return to better health.  And it means perhaps there is a way forward for us, even though I often can't see one.  It is trusting His outcome when we are struck in ongoing adversity.  When I can't take one more difficult piece of news or hit to our lives,when all seems too big and overwhelming. it is taking a moment to pause.  Pause and notice the small things.  Pause and really take notice.  Pause and be thankful for right here, right now.  Because my here and now in all it's messy circumstances isn't a given - but it is what is given.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Stay

I'm joining Lisa-Jo and writing for 5 minutes this Friday.  Come on over and join in.

Stay

I can't stay where I am.  Much as I might like the fragile peace that today brings.  Today means I have food on my table, a roof over my head and clothes on my body.  I have a husband, much loved, and I have two precious, precious children.  I have these things only by the grace of God, and this year has been all too painful and I've been shown clearly that these things can be lost - gone - forever.  My daughter's life was so close to being lost, and now we take it one day at a time pulling the cancer cart.  And I want to stay in this day - where we live and breathe and can stay warm and safe together for a few hours before all may change and be different.  The big picture is not so pretty.  And in the bigger picture, I don't want to stay in this situation of too little work and the funds dwindle, and our home is only our home for how many days now?

And there's a call from distant shores to go and stay there as my mum begins her own journey with the fight of and for her life with leukaemia.  This pain and grief and loss is too difficult to stay in.  Stay in hope and light and peace, stay covered in prayer, stay standing, stay breathing and stay together - for this day, because that's what's been given and that's what we have.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Roots

Writing for 5 minutes on Friday from Lisa-Jo's site this morning.

Roots ~

I couldn't help but think of that song that says "I'm zipping up my boots, going back to my roots, to the place of my birth, back down to earth..."

I have sometimes thought that travel makes me rootless, but maybe it's living so far from home the call to return to my roots is just distantly whispering.  Sometimes it pulls really, really hard and right now, I'm rather like my orchid that is sitting just over there.  I can see it's spidery roots bursting from it's pot and stretching out for freedom.  Orchids have a shallow root ball and can easily be transplanted.  Yet they can still produce beauty and their fragility is stunning.  Am I an orchid in this season of trial?  It's been a long one - and I don't see much beauty, nor do I see spidery roots bursting for freedom.
Root bound.... like my cyclamen.... My mum said don't plant it in a pot too big because it likes to be root bound.  And it does.... it creates the most amazing blooms when it was in a too tiny pot.  When I did transplant it.... it didn't survive.  It got lost in the space surrounding it.

Do we just need to be held close and tight to feel safe and bloom, or do we need to be like that mighty oak tree, the seed that fell on good soil and just keeps on growing, it's roots growing surer and deeper and more steadfast every day, strong enough to weather every storm.....

Friday, 26 October 2012

Voice

We're writing with Lisa-Jo, the gypsy mama, for Five Minute Friday.  Join the community and give your best 5 minutes on

Voice

What if the voice you hear speaks ugly?  What if all that voice is telling you is the bad stuff and all I crave is some silence and just to shut it off?

All of those thoughts and whispers and right out there shouts, I want to take captive and claw back and as I exhale there's just the smallest whisper of "Lord - give me peace."

And I wait, and I wait and I wait and the FEAR lurks big and dark keeps chattering.   Because sometimes my fear is bigger than my faith and no amount of pleading for peace shuts off that voice.

Sometimes.

I felt fearful when the brain surgeon told me that there was a possibility that she'd come out of this surgery mute.  He'd just told me that she had a tumour, that we wouldn't know if it was cancer until pathology came in, that there was a risk of physical disability, swallowing and breathing problems.  When he said she might be mute, it was the biggest thing he'd said to me in amongst all of that.  All I thought for the next 8 hours whilst she was in surgery and unconscious was I may never hear my 5 year old daughter say "mama" again.

I don't want the silence.  For sure, take captive the thought and pray through the fear for the peace, but not the silence.  For the silence, brings isolation and desperation.  Lack of communication brings lack of understanding and brokenness follows.  Trust the truth and hear the words.  That voice.  A voice that brings life, brings hope.  Let the words all tumble forth and sing forward for a stronger and deeper love.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Three Months On

It's hard to believe that 3 months have passed since Jasmine's last MRI.  And with the passing of time, more victories, hard fought and won.  Those victories parry up alongside the losses - the grief and the disappointments.  The cancer road travelled is a long, arduous and uphill one and even when the inevitable twists come that were half expected, they still somehow catch a mum by surprise.

And here we are again, on the threshold of another MRI scan.  It's hard to describe the feelings that go with this one.  With this last passage of time, we've had some "normality."  Jasmine has started school, she's engaged in activities, she's slowly unfurling her wings and taking some tentative steps back towards what a little girl's life should include - play dates at friend's houses, games of tag, tickle fights with her big brother, energy enough for some good arguments.  I see her sometimes skipping across the classroom, just a few steps, and a shy, short wave to me at the window before she begins her school day and I breathe again and think,  "yes, it will all be alright"

Then there are the other times when she still can't bear to eat, and she feels nauseated beyond belief, when she curls up fetal position on the sofa to watch a favourite show on t.v because she's just too dog tired from just the business of being alive and breathing.  Her appetite still eludes her and every day I have to encourage her to eat something - and have to be content for small victories when a few mouthfuls have been eaten.  It's hard.  I used to firmly believe that children will not starve themselves, but now I'm not so sure.  When food tastes so wrong and the desire to eat simply isn't there, sometimes I think she would just waste away without me forcing her to attempt a few bites.  And here we are in the abundant western world where food is plentiful, yet a child loses weight so dramatically through lack of nourishment.

All that said, I have to admit a huge improvement in Jasmine.  At times she is animated and bright and full of laughter and smiles as she reports something from her day.  The difference is as marked as night and day to a few short months ago.  A huge psychological leap for us all was the VAD was finally removed a couple of weeks ago.  She is proudly sporting the stitches where her port used to sit and can't wait to indulge in rolling down hills, bouncing on trampolines with friends and playing "dead zombie" whatever in the world that is and get back to being a 6 year old girl.  Life is good - LIFE is good - all the time.  It is just this broken world with all its sickness, disease, pain and sorrow that is not so good - but even amongst all that, this world is beautiful.


So the next MRI is just a few short days away.  We have come to not expect anything in this journey.  Two or three days of rogue headaches for Jasmine a week or so ago mean we don't enter in to this with any such thing as quiet confidence and I wonder if I will always feel this sick about her MRI scans that follow.  I know I am ecstatic to have my daughter with me this day.  I know I also worry about whether the cancer will return.  I can only add that my experience of my child having cancer is like always being aware of my shadow, and just as your shadow fluctuates in size depending on the time and position of the sun, so does the cancer shadow that is snapping at my heels.  Some times it looms so large that it seems there is no light.  Sometimes I'm full facing it and can't see the light, other times, it's just there in my peripheral and sometimes I'm just so bathed centrally in that warm and beautiful light that my shadow is full crushed under my feet - I might know it's there but it's in it's place.  So I guess, moving forward, I just need to keep my eyes focused on the light and steadfastly move towards cure, praying and believing for a brighter future.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

MRI

 MRI

I feel weary to my bones this evening.  Tomorrow's dawn brings a trip to Vancouver. The sun has beat down today and the forecast is good for tomorrow.  Driving the sea-to-sky highway before the world wakes with the rising sun, I will see it at it's best.  I have longed for this day to come and simultaneously dreaded it.   Jasmine will have an MRI tomorrow morning and by early afternoon we may have a preliminary reading of the report.  With that result there can be no turning back.  People say that fear of the unknown is the worst kind of fear.  I'm not so sure.  Right now is unknown and I can believe that we have travelled the hardest part of the journey already.  Right now, I can believe that my daughter is healing, that the cancer has been eradicated, that the tumour is not growing back, or metastasizing in another part of her body.  I can trust that
the radiation, with all its side effects that harm, has been worth it.  That she is well.
My beautiful girl finds it hard to eat anything, and she rests as though the life coursing through her veins is 70 years older than it is.
I have prayed hard for her life and she was delivered back in to my arms.  I have prayed hard for her to walk and eat and talk, and all those things came to pass.  I have prayed for her to feel well and she danced through her treatments.  God is good.  I have no doubt.   But fear is still creeping.  If I trust God with all my heart and the worst is to come for Jasmine and our family, how do I do that?  Ann Voskamp says all is grace, and grace and love freely given, and that the hardest part is giving thanks for that which we don't want and doesn't seem good. She dares me to live fully right where I am - give thanks for it all - all. I understand this.  It is hard to give thanks for cancer in a body so young and innocent.  I will just say thank you - for the daughter who stands before me with a small smile, a request for milk and a bedtime story.  I'm grateful to be able to scoop her up in my arms this night and joke while we brush teeth.  These simple things should not be taken for granted, so thank you for these things, this night.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Dance

We're writing with Lisa-Jo this morning for 5 minute Friday and her prompt today is

Dance

Click the button or the link and join in!

This word brings an instant smile to my face and stirs an array of memories and emotion.
Dance is a red dress swirling when my youth meant I would wear a shorter length skirt - I caught my husband's eye dancing in that dress.
It's a tight arm locked circle with my best friends jumping and stomping in doc martins to an Irish beat so fast we could scarce draw breath to keep time.
It's being spun laps round a dance floor by a man who was a strong leader - how elegant a girl can feel and the synchronized steps of two moving in unison as one.
It's my Dad finding time to teach a teenager how to foxtrot in the kitchen and how she wishes she remembers now. 
It's cranking the music and dancing round my living room or kitchen when a favourite song comes on the radio.
It's taking part in a group of 8 to form a fluid beautiful rhythm of a Scottish country dance.
It's dancing on the beach on my wedding day to a steel drum band 
It's watching my 9 year old son busting his moves to so many different styles of music with a facial expression which just shouts he knows how cool he looks
It's my daughter practising ballet with her turns and spins, it's her skipping across the room.  And the common factor across all these is joy - because you can't skip with sorrow in your heart.  The very act of dance will lift your spirits and make your soul sing.  I pray I always find time to dance.


A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.


Ecclesiastes 3:1-8



Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Jasmine's Journey

Jasmine's Journey continues....

As June approaches it's close, it is hard to believe that we have been back from Boston for a whole month.  It is so good to be home, though this period of time has taken some adjusting back in to - just as arriving in Boston did.

Both Finn and Jasmine are doing well, though Finn is often too quiet and thoughtful for my liking and I wonder how a 9 year old processes all that has happened in these last few months.  I don't know how to process it myself most days, and thinking about it all stirs up such a melting pot of different feelings that I struggle to find the words, ways and courage to help him through all of this.  I find I hug him and tell him I love him often and hope for now it carries him and relieves some of the weight.

Jasmine seems the most unscathed from the whole experience in many ways.  She has just booted back in to life - there are differences but they are subtle.  Throughout treatment, Jasmine felt well.  Her appetite and energy were low but she didn't suffer some of the other side effects that were a possibility.  She was excited to be home and it was an absolute joy to have her home for her birthday :-)  The following couple of weeks saw a dip in her energy and she needed to rest often.  She tired easily but would bounce back.  She continued to re-introduce some foods back in to her diet as they began to taste "normal" again though this is still an area with slow progress and takes ongoing effort to encourage her to eat.  Ironic as we're now full speed ahead with Rick's cooking business!  I pray she grows stronger in health in every way, daily, and I try not to fret and worry when she doesn't eat or has a tired day - I have to keep perspective of how far we've come and really, how amazingly well she is doing.

As we find our new "normal" with all the considerations it now brings, I notice Jasmine also being quiet and thoughtful at times.  She LOVES being at home and I think it is where she wants to be right now.  She has been going to school for some half days and has enjoyed them but has been too tired to attend a full day.  I think she also is trying to process all of the additional attention she has been receiving and for a normally quiet and relatively shy girl, I think it has been tricky for her sometimes.   Sometimes she shares with me her thoughts - her  VAD (Ventricular Access Device - permanent IV access) which she had surgically implanted bothers her.  She worries it will get bumped or knocked when she's playing with her friends at recess and I feel it is a psychological stumbling block for both her and me.  When in Boston they said she could have it removed and wouldn't need it anymore.  In Vancouver, policy is to wait until the results of the first MRI are in.  I like their optimism and good faith in Boston.  It wasn't spoken but the unspoken is louder - they don't want to remove it yet in case the cancer is still there and she needs chemo administered.  Of course this is sensible, but as mentioned, I prefer the optimism of her Boston team and I feel the weight of the waiting.  I think Jasmine will be so much happier once we have the port removed too.

That said, this mama is so happy to see Jasmine skipping across the playground humming to herself, because I think its impossible to skip when you're feeling unhappy!  So I pray you always keep that skip in your step little girl and we continue to give thanks for it.

We're moving in to the next phase of the journey.  This week sees our return to Children's Hospital for a check up and to have her VAD flushed (prevents infection).  Jasmine knows whats coming.  She woke this morning and said "is it emla cream day?"  and I whispered, "not yet baby girl, one more sleep."  It may be another mascara monday even though its a Thursday.  The memory and emotion may be stirred somewhat tomorrow after this temporary reprieve we've had in June.  But again - perspective - it is what it is and I'll be grateful for the care taken of her.


We now have a date for her first post - treatment MRI.  She will have this on Monday 9th July.  For now, I'm grateful for the day I'm in, for the good health my family have, and might I ask for your prayers for continued healing, hope and health for Jasmine.  God is good all of the time and there have been and continue to be so many gifts within this journey.  We are so very grateful for all your kind words and prayers and know the power they have.  Thank you for your continued support for our whole family on Jasmine's journey.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Risk

I'm joining up with the community writing with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday today.


Her prompt is :-


Risk

Risk - even typing the word sets a shiver down my spine.  It's a thrill of exhilaration, a rush of adrenalin and a chill of fear.  All wrapped up in to that one word.

There are risks I have looked in the eye these past months.  Risks I have agreed to take, when a daughter most beloved was sick and I had to make choices to see her return to health.  Sometimes running the risk of treatment damaging her as much as the disease she fights so bravely.

I sometimes don't like to hear the risks involved - it means we have to make an informed decision and assess the course to be taken.

But I learn something within these risks.

I am not in control.  There is one who is far greater and all knowing who holds all in the palm of his hand.  And risk doesn't even touch the sides of the great I AM.  I learn to lean a little harder, press a little closer, trust a little more, step in faith for this day prepared for me.  And yes - I will risk it all in this one day, for one day has been given to me.  It has been lovingly set before me and prepared and He beckons and asks me to take a risk and leap in to the living of it, joining Him in this harmonious existence.  Dare I?  Oh yes - risk it all and be fully ALIVE and find JOY today.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Opportunity

We're linking up with The Gypsy Mama this morning for Five Minute Friday.  Our prompt today is Opportunity.  Won't you click the link and join us?

Opportunity

Today is the day my daughter rings the bell to signal the end of radiation treatment!
Sunday is the day my daughter will celebrate her 6th Birthday!
That leaves one day in between.  And with an opportunity placed in front of me, what's a girl to do?

"Do it!" said Nancy
"Come home, you need to be home!" said Jenn
"You can have one hard night packing and getting ready or one hard week before you fly home!" said Serenity
"You've killed enough time here.  Do what's best for you! " said Amy
"The benefits are huge, it's worth it, " said Rachel
"It's up to you Babe" said Rick
"In case, I wasn't quite clear, do it!  DO IT!!!" said Nancy again.

So I found myself scurrying round madly last night getting packed to take a flight that leaves for home on Saturday instead of next Thursday.  I have been in Boston for 2 months with both my children whilst Jasmine has been having proton therapy radiation.  And today is her LAST treatment!
Home is on the west coast, so I will grab the opportunity, spend the money, take the earlier flight to leave the east coast and take my baby home in time for her birthday.

What an opportunity!  What a journey!  What a blessing!  I can't wait to be re-united with my husband, my home and my community.  I know the friends I have made here will be life-long friends and I will take every opportunity to see them and keep in touch.  I will pray for each of their families and follow the progress to recovery for all these children.

Thank God for the opportunities He presents us with!  Let's be bold and say yes!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Fear Not, not Feel Not

Jasmine has begun her final week of proton beam radiation today and we're counting down!  We're all looking forward to going home, much as we like Boston.  I want to say we've enjoyed Boston, but am hesitant to do so - yet it's true - we have enjoyed Boston - sometimes.  We've felt joy, we've laughed, we've played, we've had fun.  We've also experienced gut wrenching grief, sadness, anxiety, despair and fear.  At times I've felt this whole experience devouring me, and other times I've felt uplifted by things that are shaping me and happening all around.  I see courage in the face of cancer in the very young, in the very elderly, in the faces of parents, in resilient teenagers, in the young couple just starting out in life, in the face of the man celebrating 10 years of marriage with a young family at home.  I've seen so many emotions fleetingly expressed on so many faces.  And I feel it too - a jumble of feelings all mixed up and if asked how I am, the answer could be so many things.  I answer "fine" because it's partially true but also because I have no idea how to express this feeling I feel - I don't know what it is.
I do know one thing though - God keeps reminding me to "fear not," not "feel not"  and there is a world of difference.


There is only one thing to cling to in all this journey and that is God.  I'm grateful that faith is a gift, that God is full of grace and love, that He carries me,  He really carries me.  But there is a part I must understand if I want the Lord to carry me now.  I must turn to Him and rely on Him, and TRUST Him.  I believe that He has a plan.  I believe that He works all things for our good.  I believe that though He sees and feels my pain, it isn't in vain.  I know that when I feel grief, He does, and when I am joyful, He celebrates with me.  I recently read the parable of the sower and was reminded of the need to be firmly planted otherwise I will be devoured, like those seeds that fall on stony ground, or grow amongst thorns and choke.  I have to plant my faith firmly and deeply in the Word of God.   And that way when He whispers "fear not" I can feel whatever I may have to, but can rely on the fact that I need have no fear.  I can dare to dream, dare to live fully and dare to believe but most of all, dare to be grateful for this journey and each day it brings.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Perspective

Joining Lisa-Jo at the Gypsy Mama for 5-minute-Friday today.  Click the link and join the fun!

Our prompt today is Perspective

We've been in Boston for almost 2 months now, and Jasmine is approaching the end of her treatment.  We take the opportunity to explore the city when Jasmine's energy allows and last weekend saw some sunshine and good spirits in the children.  On a guided duck tour we learned of a church with stained glass windows by the world famous "Tiffany"
The church we drove past on our tour was an impressive building architecturally, but the windows were boarded up.  Our driver told us it was to protect the glass from outside breakage because of course, it is irreplaceable.
I wanted to visit the church and see the windows but I felt disappointed.  With boarded up windows the colour and design would be difficult to see.
The following day we walked to the area of Boston where the church was located and as it was open, I told the children we would visit.  Expecting a dark, dimly lit church we ventured in.
I opened the door to the interior of the church to a blaze of light, colour and beauty that took my breath away.  I literally gazed round in wonder and awe at the sight before me.



My expectations had been based on the outside condition, not the inside, and isn't that true of our hearts and souls too?  If we are right with God, our facade is not what makes the beauty. The beauty comes from His light, life and vitality that shines forth from within.

Friday, 11 May 2012

We're writing for 5 minutes with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama today.  Won't you click the link and join us?


Identity

How often do I think quietly to myself, "I can't do this!"  It is like something that creeps furtively, a feeling of dread and that the path in front of me is too dangerous, too frightening to even behold, never mind tread upon.  That fear can creep in to my heart and soul and can steal my joy in a heartbeat.  
And the truth is the path in front of me is frightening and dangerous.  Then my friend will breeze in with an email of scripture of a hug, or a call, or a greeting at the door of church and say "how are you my steadfast friend?"  
It is not an identity I would readily give to myself, steadfast.  But her word becomes a breath of life that the Spirit breathes in to me and I can say, "ah yes!"  And the voice that whispers to me and I cling to, though fine and barely there in all this fear, like a gossamer thread of a spiderweb says "you can do this because you do not do it alone."
And it is from Him who brought all in to being that I can rise up and find my identity, my strength to take the step, to keep going on this road.  He gives me the faith to follow, He gives me the hope for healing.   He beckons me from the darkness saying "follow me" and radiant light will show me the way.  I need Him for my identity, because alone is not the way we're meant to be.  I need God for my identity, because He created me to do this in partnership.  So I will cleave with steadfast steps, if I find my identity in Christ, because "All things are possible with God."  Mark 10:27

The Woman Who Fears the Lord

10 [d] An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
    she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself[e] with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[f]
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
    when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
   and let her works praise her in the gates.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Three Weeks and Counting!

We woke this morning to another day of proton treatment.  The rain was pouring as  it has been all week but every cloud has a silver lining and our silver lining today was the realization that 3 weeks today – God willing – we will be homeward bound, rather than proton bound.

I told Finn and Jasmine this, but they didn’t seem to respond with the same enthusiasm that I had.  I suppose 3 weeks is an eternity when you are 5 and 8 years old.  3 weeks is a blink of an eye when you are mum aged.  

Another family left Christopher’s Haven today.  I hugged my new friend goodbye, and hung on to her with so much unspoken but with everything said in that hug.  I may have only known her a few weeks, but I will follow her son, Sabir’s progress to recovery and pray him well and on his way.  We won’t lose touch with one another.

I started to think about life when we return home.  Initially I was looking forward to returning to normal, but then I became somewhat troubled.  What is normal life now?  There can never be any going back to how things were, because we now live with this shadow.  I have felt this before with my own skin cancer and repeated check-ups but Jasmine’s shadow seems so much more intense and looming large. 

So to get out of the shadow, one must always look to the light, step in to that light and bask in it.  I don’t know what our new “normal” will be and maybe we don’t need to know.  We can work it out as we go along – just doing one day at a time.

And for today we’ll settle for play dates in the loft with the Christopher’s Haven Kids Club, followed by an outing for ice cream.  Just plain grateful for the day I’m in, the place I’m in and the people I’m spending that day with. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Why I wear Mascara on Mondays

Why I wear mascara on Mondays


There’s a patter of feet and small girl jumps in to bed with me.  Her arm curls round bunny and she lays fetal position in the crook of my arm that has reached out to welcome her.  A lump comes instantly to my throat and I push thoughts of why we’re here to the back of my mind and instead breathe deeply the way sleep smells on her skin.  This too somehow brings tears welling in my eyes and I feel silly, grief-stricken and joyful all at the same time.   Precious moments in the quiet morning are these.

Soon she is bounding out of bed though, as Clifford the Big Red Dog holds more appeal than a lengthy snuggle with mum.  I tell her the sun is shining and it’s going to be a good day.
“No it’s not,” she says and points to her chest that harbours the port that needs to be accessed on Monday mornings. 
“Oh,” I breathe, and give her a hug and tell her she’s brave and I know it’s not fun but it’s really fast and she’s so … and my words seem ridiculous as the whole thing is horrible and she’s right.  It’s horrible.

A while later we put the cream on her chest that numbs the sting so she doesn’t feel the sharp sting of the needle going in to her vein too badly.  I finish getting the children ready – though no food or drink for Jasmine as she is nil by mouth for the sedation that goes with treatment every day.  Finn furtively eats pancakes out of sight and I take a sip of tea feeling the guilt mounting.

Jasmine wanders in to the bedroom whilst I apply moisturizer and foundation to my skin.  She breaks out the nail polish and starts putting it on.  When I get to mascara she gazes and says,
“That’s funny!” and asks, “Why do you wear mascara mum?” 
I look at my reflection in the mirror and think about this question.  The answer of course is to make my lashes appear darker and longer, to make me look more beautiful, that somehow this ridiculousness of adding artificial colour can make me more beautiful outside and in. I look down at her and see the most beautiful face in the world looking right back at me and I say because “I wish I had long beautiful eyelashes like yours.  Your eyes look pretty and I would like to have pretty eyes like you and this mascara makes my eyelashes look more like yours.”

I turn back to the mirror and apply another coat – and it is like a coat of armour going on – a shield of defense.  I struggle on Mondays when I hold Jasmine’s hand tight and try to distract her by playing a game on an ipad or building with lego, or a music toy or story, whilst they stick a needle in her chest and get her ready for radiation.   There is some psychological factor for a girl who knows if she is wearing mascara and cries her face will be a mess, so I paint on my smile as I paint on my face and that’s why I wear mascara on Mondays.
 


Friday, 4 May 2012

Real

Writing for 5 minutes with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama today.  Come join us by clicking the link and enjoy 5 unedited minutes of flowing writing.  Today's prompt is

REAL

There is power in taking a pause.  That is where it really all happens.  When I stop long enough to slow down, to stop, to observe, to notice - all this beauty and life and vitality that happens around me.  That is when I know what is real.  It is real that I only post 5 minute Fridays right now and they mark a journey for me over the last 2 months.  How the prompts have unravelled this story!  My reality is so very different right now.  It is a portion of my life that will be like no other.  A 2 month slice of real life that I wish looked different.  But I'm grateful I'm here and living it.  I watch my daughter undergoing radiation treatment with other young children.  They gather together in the playroom with shrieks of glee, swapping stories, toys, jokes, laughter over the crayons.  They play music and make crafts.  And we mums - we share stories, tears, laughter, hope, companionship and understanding over coffee in the waiting room.  Waiting for our child's turn for the 15 minutes radiation a day that turns cancer in to cure.  God is thick amongst us - He is real and tangible.  He weeps with us and holds us, and celebrates with us when we ring that victory bell on the last day of treatment.  So you go - kids - go!  Each of you is a real blessing in my life.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Community

It's Friday again which means we get to write with friends over at the gypsy mama.  Won't you click the link and join us?

Today's prompt is

Community 

I need you friend.  I can't do this great big life without you ~ or maybe I could but it would look and feel a lot different.  I love you because you listen, because you understand, because you help me.  You walk this journey with me and you share the load, share the burden, share the joy.  And friend, when you become plural and one becomes two, then three, then a group, the magic begins.  Because we all have different strength - and weakness.  With a hand in yours we can accomplish much.  With a hand in yours I really can become so much more.  I cherish you friend.  You enhance my life with your love, your honesty, your wisdom and counsel.  You speak truth in to my life and friend, even when it could cost you dearly, you do it anyway.  That is the love and strength of community and we work together, love together, live together.  I'm glad we serve a God who understands the harmony of trinity and community and made us to long for this and be fulfilled by this.  "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them" (Matt 18:20) - and don't we all want to spend our time in His presence.  Thank you for community.  It is a rich blessing indeed.


Friday, 20 April 2012

Together

Writing for 5 minutes this morning with Lisa-Jo over at the Gypsy Mama.  Click the button and join us!  Today's prompt is

Together

I find myself doing this journey with other mums who know the pain of a child with cancer.  We talk, we share stories, we pray together, we tell secrets - the ones about crying in the shower, but laughing with our children.  My son and daughter play together and the laughter is the best medicine in the world.  I hear the patter of feet and the giggles from the toddler who is here in this haven, next to the hospital where all the children go for treatment together.  God teaches me much in these days.  Being so far from home for these 2 months and this part of Jasmine's journey doesn't mean isolation and loneliness.  There is a strength in together. And the Big C doesn't mean Cancer,  doesn't even mean Cure, but it means Christ - who is central to all of this great big life and all happening in it.  I am grateful that He is sovereign over all things, and most grateful of all that I'm in this together with Him.  Solo brings one so low - but together is the beautiful harmony of life that God intended for us.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Light

Writing today with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama for 5 unedited and free flowing minutes
This weeks prompt is LIGHT.  Click the button or the link to join us today ~

GO ~

I am in Boston and the city seems filled with light.  His glorious light streams through fragmented clouds and breaks through magnolias.  I am in a foreign land and an alien city and times are stressful.  I am here with my beautiful daughter, my beautiful 5 year old daughter for her to receive treatment for cancer.  I can hardly string the words cancer and 5 year old daughter together - my hands shake as I type it.  I told her that the doctor had to cut some sickness out of her head and now some new doctors have to give her some medicine inside her head that will make sure the sickness doesn't come back.  The medicine is LIGHT.  And the medicine is all a bit like Jesus.  He will fill her head and heart with light, so she need not be afraid.  His light won't hurt her, but will heal her and restore her and renew her.  And where there is light, there is always hope.

May your Easter be blessed and light filled this year.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Gift

Today we're writing with Lisa-Jo over the The Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday

Gift

How do I look at my daughter's newly diagnosed brain tumour as a gift?  How do I hear the word cancer and attach that to a 5 year old precious girl?  How is that a gift?

Quite simply, I'm coming to understand that God's gifts to us don't always come in a pretty box tied in ribbons, or in the shape or form we ask for.  But maybe it is all an answer to prayers as our whole experience is wrapped in God's love and His gifts.

It is a gift that the whole tumour was removed when the surgeon thought he would only be able to get two thirds of it.  It is a gift how we have been cared for through this whole experience by the staff at the hospital.  It is a gift the way my church family rallied behind us instantly when my blood family were on distant shores.  My daughter is recovering from brain surgery without any of the horrific side effects that the surgeon had said may come - she is walking, she is breathing without difficulties, swallowing without difficulties and she is not mute after this surgery.  I wondered if I would hear my little girl speak again and whether there would be any structure to her sentences, and she sings and plays and speaks every day.  Every day with her in our family is a gift from God, an extra day, a blessing that we didn't think we would have.

The journey now takes us out of our country to travel to Boston, Massachusetts as she needs specialist proton therapy that doesn't exist in Canada.  We  don't have the financial ability to do this.  It is a gift that proton therapy exists and that we minimize the risk of paralysis to her beautiful body by administering radiation this way.  God is so good!  He blesses us beyond anything we could imagine.

This community we live in, our friends, family, church, and even those we don't know are a gift to us from God as with superhuman efforts that only God can ordain have pulled together to help with our fundraising to get us there for the 2 months we'll be there, and help pay for medical costs there.  The speed at which everything fell in to place is a gift - even the hospital staff are marvelling at how quickly its all happening.  Praise God and glorify Him for the miracle unfolding for us.

The Lord gives me his peace, protection and reassurance.  He cares for me and my family.  His sacrifice for me and my sins and His love is the most immense and immeasurable GIFT of all.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Brave

Writing for 5 minutes unedited this week over at www.thegypsymama.com with Lisa-Jo.

This weeks word is Brave


I want to run.  I want to run and hide and not be where I am.  I am not brave.  I am not strong, and I am not courageous.  One week ago my darling daughter was lying in pain recovering from emergency surgery to remove a brain tumour that threatened her young, fragile and precious life.  "be brave" and "stay strong" and "you're doing really well" people said.  I am not brave and didn't know how to stay strong and I'm sure I wasn't doing really well.
My daughter is brave.  She is strong.  She has courage.  And she IS doing really well!
And we are home from our ordeal recovering from this surgery by God's good grace.
To be brave is to trust God.  It is to recognize his sovereign power.  It is to know that life is a gift and that it is fragile and can end at any moment.  To be brave is to be ready to release my child to Him and to know that really she belongs to Him and I was merely blessed to have her for however long He deems it.  To be brave is to feel His strength in my weakness, to trust Him with my life, with her life, to turn to Him and pray without ceasing.
My brave came waiting to feel his peace when wretched and empty was all there was.  But He comes.  He whispers to trust in Him, rest in Him, that she is precious to Him, that I am precious to Him, that we are his daughters, that He loves us.  Trust him, trust him, trust him and watch the miracle unfold.


fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.... Isaiah 41.10

Jasmine is now home from hospital and recovering from surgery.  Her pathology showed the tumour to be Grade 3 malignant and a course of radiotherapy will begin in the near future.  As we turn to the Lord to ask for His grace, gift of faith and His strength, might we humbly ask you to pray for Jasmine and her complete healing and recovery through God's grace.  Thank you so much to all of you who left comments and encouraging scripture, words and prayers for us last week.  You really DO make a difference.  x


11 nHe will tend his flock like a shepherd;
ohe will gather the lambs in his arms;
phe will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.   Isaiah 40.11