When You Have One Foot in the Grave….Lori’s Story

Just to be transparent with you, I am in a different season right now fraught with change and uncertainty and letting go.   That’s why I haven’t written in a while.  

In this life our journeys take a turn that sometimes come out of nowhere, it seems, and knocks us out for a while.   I am starting to very slowly see through the veil that this is another lesson, another level, a gateway into a deeper level with Jesus.  Though I feel the breath has been knocked out of me and I am very tired I know from my spirit that Jesus walks this valley with me. 

And, yes, I will write more about my story soon. 

Which brings me to Lori’s story.  I have known Lori for about 30 years.   I have watched her and admired her devotion to family and motherhood and God.    I knew her Dad, a mighty man of God,  and loved him very much.   I have been following Lori’s journey through breast cancer and praying along with countless others.  

Then yesterday I read this on Facebook and instantly knew her story is a wake up call for me and all of us.   Not that we will get cancer, but through her valley of trial, and what she learned there, brings us a message to look at our lives and evaluate what is most important.   For our walk on this earth is very short compared to where we are going.

carnival-masks   We get so caught up in our ‘masks’ of who we think we are, or we only show what we want people to see; not the real us.   Vanity takes over and we live this kind of pseudo life of insincerity.   I so admired Lori’s bravery to reveal it all in this trial so that others could see into her world and maybe find hope.

The church was meant for family, for realness, for loving support and transparencies….so that we can grow and heal and know we are not alone.   

Peter 5:8-9 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

What is the Holy Spirit assuming about your life? That you are under spiritual attack. This is not a passage about nonbelievers; he’s talking about “your brothers and sisters.” Peter takes it for granted that every believer is under some sort of unseen assault. And what does he insist you do? Resist the devil. Fight back, take a stand.

Lori took a stand and has won her victory.   But the lessons were many.

Thank you sweet Lori, for allowing me to share your story.

lori with hair  “Twenty-nine radiation treatments ago I was overwhelmed thinking that I would never be standing with one foot hovering over the finish line. On Monday, I will get my last radiation treatment. On Thursday I am having my port removed. I have spent half a year tearing up my body to rid it of cancer and the next half will be spent rebuilding it.

 I still have a long road of recovery ahead, but I face it knowing that I am cancer free.

 I know it sounds odd, but I am grateful for everything that I have gone through.

Grateful for the pain?

Grateful for the worry?

Grateful for a disease that ravaged my body and tried to kill me?

lori3  Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I am grateful because it has changed me in more ways than taking away (just trying to be real here) half of one of my most magnificent physical features. 

 The fact that I feel grateful is in itself due to the lessons that fighting cancer has taught me.

 When you are diagnosed with cancer, everything stops while you concentrate on beating it. You don’t have the energy to participate in all of your normal activities and your treatments take precedence over everything else in your life…a job, family activities, church, or any other pursuit that normally occupies your time. You try to keep things as normal as possible, but basically your schedule is at the mercy of your disease.

 

At first, I thought that the world was going to crumble if I had to step down from all of the things I was in charge of. Amazingly, the world did just fine during my sabbatical. My husband and kids survived. My house didn’t burn down. The church, the PTA, the cub scouts and all those other things soldiered on. I learned that I don’t have to control every…single…thing.  1209389_575103479218871_301732771_n

I don’t have to stress myself out to make everything my version of perfect. One day it hit me that the same God who I was trusting to heal me was also capable of taking care of the everyday worries in my life. As I began to hand those worries over to Him, I also realized that if I were to leave this earth, He would be there to take care of all those that I left behind.

 lori Cancer certainly causes you to face your immortality. We all know we are going to die…someday. When you are diagnosed with cancer, that far off someday is suddenly smacking you in the face. Death itself, doesn’t scare me. I know where I will spend eternity. I am not afraid of what is to come. For me, facing death was more about worrying over what I was leaving behind.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a peace that God would watch over my family, but I was still sad because I had so many more things that I wanted to do with my kids. There were life lessons I wanted to have the time to teach, memories I wanted to make with them, and my own life experiences that I still hadn’t shared. I was angry at myself for all the time in life I had wasted on things that just don’t matter in the bigger picture.

Cancer forced me sift through all the unimportant things in life, causing me to recognize the things that truly mattered…. Ironically “things” didn’t even make the list. I was actually able to clean out my closets and get rid of those clothes I have been holding onto for 15 years because one day the stars might align and they will once more fit me and come back in style all in the same week.

 As I begin to purge the stuff in my house, I also took stock of the stuff in my character. I realized that I had held on to grudges, bitterness, anger, hurts, and worries, much the way I had held onto my Members Only jacket from Jr. High.  mind-clutter

It was time to let it all go.

When you have one foot in the grave, what this one said about you or that one did to you really doesn’t matter so much.

 With the sweeping away of emotional cobwebs comes clarity. Suddenly it occurred to me how much energy I had wasted being worried about what other people think.

How many times had I not embraced life because I was afraid that someone would say I was too old or too fat or too anything to be participating in something I really wanted to do?

 Losing my hair was a wakeup call for me. I thought everyone would stare, but the truth is, most people don’t take the time to look beyond themselves and really see those around them. It only took a few times of walking through the grocery store bald, to figure out that no one was looking at me.   

bald lori

Mind blowing!

Never again will I forgo an opportunity to swim with my kids or enjoy a gorgeous day at the beach because I am afraid of what people will think of my body. Never again will I allow myself to be shy because I am worried someone won’t like me based on my outward appearance. I also vow to stop avoiding cameras.

I have a ten-year gap in the photo album, where there are no pictures of me. I always made the excuse that I am the one who takes the pictures, so I am never in them.   lori2

 

The truth is that I didn’t want to be in them. We haven’t posed for a family portrait since 2008, because I don’t like the way I look. When I faced my darkest days of cancer, it hit me that if I were to die, my kids wouldn’t have any pictures of me. As they grew older, their memories might grow foggy. They might even be unable to remember their own mother’s face.

 lori donna    I have a picture of my mom and me that she hated because she thought she looked old. When I look at it, I don’t see wrinkles, I just see love. I could continue to be the phony girl with a profile picture on Facebook that was taken in 2004, or I could just say, “Screw it, this is me, love it or hate it I don’t care, I choose to be real.”

 As I look back on this journey, I see that the healing I received wasn’t limited to the physical. I like to think that in my battle with breast cancer, a tumor was removed from more than my body.

 I feel like a cancerous growth has also been removed from my spirit and for that I am grateful for everything that I have gone through. So thank you, cancer. You invaded my body with sights set on my destruction, but you lost!  Broken-Chains

 

Not only were you defeated, but what you meant for bad, in the end made me a happier person. I am not the woman I was a year ago and that suits me just fine.”

gi-letting-go-butterfly11

Advertisements

Nails In The Fence and the Wicked Tongue

 


anger-nails-in-the-fenceI really don’t like talking about the tongue, do you?  Yet the bible, the blueprint for our life, has so much to say about it. 

 Gentle words are a tree of life a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit;  , Proverbs 15:4 NLT

Have you ever been in the company of an angry person?  Have you been the brunt of their issues being lashed out at you? Have you been tempted yourself to just give in to your baser self and say whatever you want to say, in spite of who hears it?  

The bible says a lot about out of control anger and our tongues are a major part of venting our emotions.  


In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches, but a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.
  James 3:5 NLT

 But no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.  James 3:8 NLT

There is a story that always worked to remind me to call on self control when I am the angriest and wanting to indulge myself and let my words fling over whoever is standing there.

 

“There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
holes from nailsFinally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.” Author Unknown

I have had so many toxic words spoken over me and to me throughout my life. I remember one time my precious and favorite grandma, whom I had spent all my summers with growing up, was losing her mental faculties after having a heart attack.  I was a young mom and had so many loving memories with grandma.  I had always felt she was my one family member who always had my back.  One day she called me right before her death. 

She started telling me that I didn’t know anything and that “I was uglier than home-made soap”.I could hear my grandpa yelling at her to stop in the background.

I will never forget those words.  My intellect told me she wasn’t herself, but the words cut like a knife.  I knew she would never say those things to me, but yet, she did, and the words have never left me.  Of course I forgave and the memories I have of her are good.  But I still have the memory of those words floating in my head and still feel the sting at hearing those words come out of my trusted and loved grandma’s mouth, and directed at me, her baby girl. 

You can forgive and not let the past define you.  You can even reason them away.  But somehow the words spoken harshly have left you a changed person inside.


And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. 
James 3:6 NLT

In realizing the power of life and death are in the tongue I was always so careful how I talked to my own children growing up.   I would never call them a name, even when I was very angry at something they did. And I would not allow anyone else to either.  I endeavored to only speak life giving positive words to them.  Even when disciplining them, I would tell them that God had a plan for them and they were disciples, taught of the Lord, and obedient to His will. 

My own mother always told me I was fat, and so to this day I have to over-rule those words and conquer my addiction to food.  Even now that I am maintaining a good weight, I still see myself fat and struggle with that image she created with her words to me.  In other blogs I call those words spoken to us over and over as the “Voice”. 

nail1Words create, life or death, our choice.

Will we answer to God for destroying others with our words?  Yes, we will.  But even when we are forgiven, our words are still there in that person’s head.

It has taken me many years to learn that those words spoken to me were out of someone else’s insecurities and they do not define who I am.  Yet, because of those words, it is a fight and the hurt is there.

Some people are just not strong enough to overcome the death words in their life.

You know why? 

Because our words, without restraint, is the only thing the enemy can use against us.  He uses words to condemn, slice, wound, kill us, steal from us and destroy us.  Our own words are bringing life or death into our lives, our households, our children, and our grandchildren.  It is the only power Satan has in our life. 

And our tongue is the hardest to bring under God’s control. 

Self control is a fruit of His spirit.  Not our spirit.  When we focus on Him and His love in all situations, even our angry tirades, He provides His self control for us to use to conquer the rage. 

But we have to apply it and just do it!   

Learn to call upon Him for help in attaining this fruit of the spirit, self control.  Especially if you have a weakness of out of control anger. 

Let’s make it a practice to speak life into the lives of those Jesus brings to us.

  Let’s CHOOSE life and not death!!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.  Proverbs 18:21 NLT