Sunday, February 20, 2011

Word of God Speak - Part 1

Tuesday came with much anticipation....and a bit (ok a lot) of house cleaning in preparation. About a month ago, my Aunt Kay called and asked if she could come and spend a few days with us, as my radiation was beginning. We looked at our calendars trying to work out the days and both of our schedules and a forecasted snow storm prohibited our time together. A later date was put on the calendar, one that worked for us all and one that would mark the final days of radiation. She would be able to be the hands and feet for my tired body, and she would be able to walk the steps with me that my feet have traveled daily for 20 some days. I was thrilled to be able to share this leg of the journey with her.

She walked through the door around lunchtime on Tuesday, cleaning cloth still in my hands and quickly jumped into our daily routine and life, making lunch for the kids as I hurried off to shower and get ready for that day's radiation treatment.

One day closer to the door closing, the chapter ending and cancer treatment being behind me. A door that I am having trouble closing. A threshold that you would think I would be running full steam across, but instead feel tethered to a harness, holding me back. Like I am swimming upstream, wanting to reach the end, but unable...tired, sore and restless....characterize my going forward, and yet somehow, I make few strides in that direction.

And it is there that I have been this last week somewhere in the midst of faith and fear. Kay has been a much needed distraction, a helping hand, a dose of laughter, a special gift.... offering words of encouragement, loving arms, an open heart and reminders to surrender: A favorite word for she and I. A word that God has been speaking to my heart for many, many years. A word that she christened me with  almost 3 years ago, following our attendance at the Rochester Women of Faith. As we attended together with some other special women in my life, my sisters included. The platform for many deep conversations. Little did I know at the time, how God was using that time not only with her, but also my sisters and grandmother, to deepen relationships, chisel away things from the past and push forward in healing some deep hurts, while at the same time, preparing me for what 2010 would hold...breast cancer.

A few weeks after the conference ended, a special package arrived in the mail, its contents as meaningful as the one who gave Aunt Kay. Nestled inside a creamy white ceramic pitcher were tokens of remembrance from our time together that weekend, and the deeper messages that God had for our lives and our hearts.

"It is with a full heart, filled with love, that I give you this pitcher, capturing the memory of our incredible experience we shared, offering tools to keep us all remembering what we need to do, to survive and blossom."

....a pair of glasses to keep a clear vision of what you need to do, 
....lens cleaner for when they get foggy and need cleaning
...notepaper to write down those important ideas, fears, hopes, issues
....a mirror for you to see those traits, strengths and weaknesses
....Kleenex to dry the inevitable tears
....mints for when your breath needs calming 
....The "church lady" with raised arms, to remind us to raise our arms to God in prayer and praise
...a telephone to call each other for support, to share, to listen, cry or celebrate
...a worded stone...

My word.....surrender. 

Little did she know that it is a word that God had been speaking to my heart since I could remember.  A word that held more significance than she knew. A word on a rock, a polished stone....that in Christ alone, I can surrender all. Outside of Him....nothing. And that as I surrender, He makes me that polished stone for Him. What was significant then, in the Spring of 2008, has become that much more significant today, 2011. And here I am once again, at those crossroads, will I walk over this next threshold with fear or will I walk in faith, surrendering my future days, my future breaths, all the uncertainty that lies within treatment ending and the waiting to see if cancer will return...the unknowns, the fear that can easily sweep into my mind holding me back from fully crossing the threshold....whole. 

Today, will I surrender my fears, my future, my what ifs, my life to the God of the heavens? The sovereign one with whom there are no accidents. With whom truth gives way, shining its light on the very core of my fears. With whom His very Word, that which we can hold in our fingertips, and take into the inner places of our beings.....

brings hope, love, truth, comfort, encouragement, courage, forgiveness, healing, strength and endurance...and the ability to surrender to Him. 

These precious reminders were all tucked neatly inside a hand chosen ceramic pitcher. 

"Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days." Jeremiah 32:14

The reminder through Jeremiah that restoration of the land was certain. It would be possessed again by the Jews. They would return to their land. 

Kay said...."And all is contained in the memory of the visual of the white pitcher....of our fractured, imperfect lives made whole and beautiful by God's love, blessing and forgiveness shining through."

As I pulled my pitcher out of the package, two pieces fell back into the box. 

My pitcher had arrived broken. The handle cracked in two places. I smiled at the imagery. God wasn't finished with me. I didn't know then, what I know one can but God. 

Kay was beside herself, apologizing profusely. 

I just smiled and reassured her, all was would be a constant reminder of the unfinished work of God in my life.....I was still in His hands being made whole. 

I placed the pitcher up on the shelf sitting over my desk in the office.

A constant reminder of the work of the cross. The work of master life His masterpiece. 

(Kay had asked Barclay on Thursday to glue the handle back on)

Kay joined me and Barclay on Wednesday, as I had my first follow up appointment with my Medical Oncologist. My "chemo" doc. It was the first time seeing her since chemo ended back in December. I wanted Kay there. She, too, having had breast cancer 16 years ago. She would think of questions we had missed, be another set of ears. 

My oncologist greeted us with smiles and proceeded to get the results of my blood work. Within a few minutes, I learned that my white count is still low, under the normal range. Immediate fear swept over my body as the questions poured into my head. My oncologist seemed unconcerned and verbalized just that. Still, I couldn't move past the new information. The appointment continued as we discussed Tamoxifen...a pill that will be added to my daily intake beginning next week. A pill that will encapsulate my breast cells prohibiting estrogen to enter in. A pill that I will be on for 5 years that will catapult my body even further into menopause with all the lovely side effects. 

And yet, my mind couldn't get off of the low white count. 

Stacy....will you surrender to ME? Will you continue to trust ME? Will you? 

Kay left on Thursday afternoon, after my radiation treatment. As we hugged and kissed farewell, she got in her car and said, "Remember your word.....SURRENDER"

I arrived home shortly thereafter. The house was quiet as the children were all at a friends. As I walked into the office, there on my desk sat a new, creamy white, unbroken....ceramic pitcher....with a note on top.

"I always felt bad that your vessel arrived broken ~ you deserve to have a perfect vessel to hold your tools."

And the tears welled up as they freely fell upon my cheeks. This side of heaven, I will never have a "perfect vessel." After cancer treatment comes to an end, there will be other tryings, other pressings, more refining, more lessons to learn, more brokenness.  But the King of kings and the Lord of Lords will heal the brokenness. He will bring faith where there was fear. He will speak words of Truth, shining His magnificent light into all areas and then out through the cracks that He has mended, I pray He shines...if I would only surrender to His mighty Hand, trusting Him fully.

It is a choice. A daily choice. And the irony that that is right where God had me this past versus fear. Choosing Him and His Truth....or choosing me and my circumstances.

"Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words." Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter, so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make." Jeremiah 18:2-4

"But now, O LORD, you are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand." Isaiah 64:8

God gave me a glimpse of what He desires me to be.....a vessel for his honor. A vessel fit for the Master's use. A vessel marked by the healing brought only by my Father's hand.

The events of Tuesday through Thursday were divinely orchestrated. Each moment, as He knew. He knew what I would struggle with. He knew what I needed to be reminded. He He knows the beginning from the end.

And as I taught on Thursday, at our ladies Bible Study.....that there are no accidents with God. There is no darkness in Him. In Him is light. He is the revealer of all things secret.....just as with Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar....God had an eternal kingdom to show Neb, Daniel, and all those in Babylon....and He had intimate truths to share at the same time to each one of them. The big picture and the little picture. He cares about it all, is over it all and through it all.  And just as the Neb's dream and its interpretation were certain and sure (Daniel 2:45), so too is God....certain and sure.

And He kept asking....Stacy, will you just my faith and my fears kept colliding, as a pendulum swings back and forth. Monday marks the end of radiation and the crossing over into life after treatment. The treatment door swings closed. Two more reconstruction surgeries to go....but no more treatment. A waiting, as 5 years is the magic number for recurrences. A getting on with it, with life, with living and my emotions need to get in line with my faith.  Where uncertainty in the physical needs to rest in the certainty in the who God is. Not just a passing through, but a true resting. He is certain and sure. Nothing else is. But in Him is where I need to be planted, firmly and securely. In Him there is no fear.

He had more for me.....more that He unveiled on my heart sought Him deeply.....

Aunt Kay and I at my Grandmother's 90th birthday celebration, June 2009.

Part 2 later....until then....

Much love,


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

With you, sister, through it all. Would love to talk soon. Call when you feel like it. You are brave and strong and just where you need to be. Together, we'll mark these next five years with our faith and honesty. God will see us through them, each one.

Love you.


lisasmith said...

Oh, this post makes me want to talk with you in person so much!! I am crying as I read, remembering the "end" of cancer treatment.

Maybe it will comfort you to know that I wept that day. I wept the day my oncologist gave me the miraculous news that I didn't need chemo right now. Tears are so much the result of any cancer milestone because nothing about cancer is good. There are good times and good news but even that makes us cry. We are human.

I have no doubt you will continue to breathe in faith, breathe out fear. i have a post about this towards the end of my radiation treatments. I struggled with the same feelings.

And I promise you, one day you just know that you are now a survivor and no longer a patient. Your brain will do a switch where you no longer feel like fighting for your life and find yourself actually enjoying it. And in that moment, you dare to whisper the words with conviction and emotion and ownership, "I'm a survivor." I think each person finds that in their gut in their own time. Take your time, it's okay.

Last thing, I know you've probably read this but your pitcher reminds me of this

I love you sister,

PS I love your aunt too, she sounds truly lovely :)

Jill - FNA Photography said...

Ahhh surrender! A word for all of us. To let go and truly let God. Not just in word but in spirit and mind! To let Him and fill us with His love and light. To not just be in our midst but to dwell deep within where there is no room for fear or darkness to hide.

Stacy, we are praying for you and know that this journey will continue to refine you and through it all by His grace you will be a huge blessing to others.

I pray that the door to enjoying life in your new normal will come quickly and you will breath out all the fear that has tried to become part of you!

Much love in Christ,

Anonymous said...

Stacy, I am so sorry for all that you are going through but you must know what an ispiration you are. Your faith, your trust, your love and your surrender are so incredible. You are a great teacher of faith. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post, you are in my prayers.

Sara G said...

Sending you big hugs!! I pray for both of us to continue in His love and walking in Faith. Love You my dear Sister!

Sara said...

Stacy, \
Beautiful words friend as you cross over another threshold in this journey:) I will be praying for you Tuesday and as you continue with reconstruction surgeries. He is carrying you and working through you and you are a willing vessel... that is so easy to see. Thank you for ministering to me across the miles during my stretching and refining process as well... only 3 more weeks at the most till Levi arrives... praying for Satan to have no foothold for either one of us:) We have the Lord our healer on our sides!!!

Much love,

Child of God said...

Surrender! This is a hard one! To give up self. Why ever since we were babies we focused on self and God wants us to surrender that to Him. For when we do He will replace it with Himself which far surpasses us! Talk about hard but well worth it.

Oh Stacey, this is a tough journery you are on. I am thankful you have support. I am praying for you. Have no fear but only the fear of God. God is taking care of you and looking out for you. Rest in Him and trust in Him for He will not harm you but only grow you into the beautiful vessel He is creating.

Praying for you often!

Anonymous said...

We won't trust in horses and chariots, but in GOD alone! I too am a breast cancer survivor...last treatment was just two years taking Femara for 5 years, now and then I hope I am finished for the rest of my life! May God protect you and continue to bless you and your family.

tab said...

Oh, girl. So thankful for our beautiful aunt and the breath of truth that she poured out upon you... remembering that weekend and how it was such a transformation and so thankful for Kay- building an alter of sorts to mark the importance of that time in our lives. I love you and am weeping for your tomorrow. Just keep reaching that hand up to heaven.

Kelly said...

Precious, precious Stacy ~

Tears filled my eyes while reading your post. I simply cannot come up with all the words my heart wishes to express.

I loved the picture you posted of you and your sweet Aunt. You look soooo much alike and truly share a heart for our Lord!

I have been *absent* from all things internet based lately, but please know that my family and I have continued to pray for you - lifting you right up to our Heavenly Father.

Many, many hugs as you continue on this journey my friend.

In His love!!