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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

#1Life #Ministry #Testimony #LifeInChrist #Faith #Hope #Love

I suppose that all the people reading this humble blog have, at some point, come to a crossroads in their lives. You had to choose which direction your life will take from that moment on. I’m not talking about simple, daily decisions like must I have coffee or tea; I’m talking about those that will totally change your life.

Many years ago I arrived at just such a crossroad. I was very young and didn’t quite understand, but did what my heart and soul cried out to do.  I stepped onto a path that will eventually lead me through many trials and temptations.

On that evening, many years ago, I gave my life to God. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Redeemer. That night I realized that I’ve been called to a life of service. Service was something I was used to, though few realized the commitment and responsibility I felt at that young age. For me, at that point in time, my purpose was to serve my family, my friends in school and anyone whom I could help.

1 Peter 4:10:As each has received a gift, employ it in serving one another, as good managers of the grace of God in its various forms.”

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Over the years these acts of service grew and consumed my life, my soul and my identity. People took advantage of me, but I didn’t really care, because I felt I am doing what I was called to do. For many years I served in that way and thought that it was enough. What a fool I was, because, while I did live close to God, I don’t think it was ever close enough. Serving God was just the beginning; He had greater plans for my life and needed me at His feet, not in the doorway.

Of course, Lucifer was hanging around all the time. He saw what God was planning and had plans of his own for me, my life and my loved ones. He also knew that my relationship with God did exist, but that I was not yet strong enough in faith. This was something he wanted to use against me.

I was 18 years old when the first big attack took place. It popped up out of nowhere. A child was lost. A child who was precious to me.  The way she died was horrific and unthinkable, especially since she was so little, only 3, and innocent. It was a terrible time for my family and I witnessed their demise. It was as if the entire foundation of our household was crumbling beneath our feet. We were in ruins. The sorrow and pain of the parents (my brother and sister-in-law) drowned out anything good. There was nothing ‘good’ about the event. I saw all this happening and, in the midst of those dark days, I heard a voice telling me to get up, to get going. The message was clear. Someone had to stand up and SURVIVE this and I was elected. My family needed to mourn, but they also need someone to pick up the pieces of their lives and glue it together again.  I made the decision to take charge and be strong for those who were feeling devastated and weak. This was my calling, after all. God told me to do the work and I did it as best I could.

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Of course the devil was, yet again,  waiting in the wings. He was biding his time and over the course of the next few years, he did his best to lead me further astray. He saw that I was standing firm and supporting the family. He also saw that my faith, while there, was still not strong enough. Through faith we conquer, not through our own strength and that was my mistake. I tried to help everyone deal with their grief, while not even giving myself a second to consider my own sorrow. ‘I tried’, you understand? Not ‘God made me strong enough to do this’. Lucifer saw this and pounced.

He nearly killed me. During that time and in my efforts to overcome numbing grief, I started to hate the body God gave me. I now see it for what it was, the devil whispering in my ear: “You are NOT good enough. You are fat, ugly and not worthy of love or anything else on this earth.” I was struck blind by his lies and made the mistake of listening to his deception. Mixed up in all these thoughts were ideas of self-harm, even suicide, so that I can be with my girl again.  Life became unbearable, but my resolve to support others grew even as my own physical appearance diminished.

The outside world didn’t help much and neither did close friends or relatives. According to the media (even in the present day) being super-thin is THE thing to be. Being a bit chunky is NOT cool. Only thin people are loved and admired. It was a whole lot of issues concocting ideas in my head. On the one hand I had the grief and the overwhelming responsibility of keeping my family strong, on the other hand I had this issue with my body. This issue was basically a means to an end, said end being self-destruction. You see, I wanted to be perfect, because I couldn’t fix my family, I couldn’t take away their pain, I couldn’t bring our girl back from the dead. So having a ‘perfect’ body would somehow compensate for that. Yes, I know it doesn’t make any sense at all, but at that point I was so confused that it was all I could do to regain control over my life. (Notice what I’m saying: ‘control over my life’. It should NOT have been like this. GOD should be in control of my life!)

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Throughout my torment, though, I still read the Bible, prayed and went to church, but my mind was in such turmoil and I was so focused on regaining some sort of balance and control that it meant nothing. Satan was ready for action and I stepped into the trap willingly. I stopped eating altogether (control, remember). Physically I literally melted away. Psychologically I was totally becoming unravelled. Anorexia nervosa the doctors called it. A wasting disease that eats at your spirit, your physical body and your soul until a mere husk of a human is left. Depression, anxiety, fear, responsibility, guilt, all rolled into a physical body weighing less than 32kg. Doctors reckoned I had about two weeks to live and, man, I was ready to die. Wasn’t this exactly what I wanted? The final, blissful end, completely orchestrated by myself. My life, my terms, my ending. That is how I thought it was, while, of course, it was exactly what the devil wanted. He wanted me to think that having control over my life is the best thing. He made me believe that I can, in fact, refuse to be a mere pawn to a God who obviously does not care. A God that stole a precious life, that allowed a family to be torn apart by grief and was allowing me to become physically and emotionally so sick that I can barely move. He blinded me to the fact that, in my selfish battle to win control over everything in my life, I’ve forgotten the original call, the call of service to God. A person with a sick body and mind cannot serve God properly. A person focusing so much on ‘being in control’ cannot be a useful tool in God’s service either. Sin leads to death, always, and Satan was making cartwheels of joy, because he got me and he got me GOOD!

James 1: 14 & 15: “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

When I finally realised that the end was inevitably close (I still didn’t realize my mistake nor my sin) I became obsessed with the Word of God. I felt a great need to study the Bible, to seek God, to seek redemption. I felt abandoned by God Himself, because NOTHING was getting better. I now understand that this was the Holy Spirit, gently trying to pull me back towards the road God wanted me to travel. Through my Bible study the Spirit showed me my transgression against God.  My sin was twofold: I neglected the temple of God, my body, and allowed Satan to have his way with it. Then there was the element of pride, I wanted to be accepted, I wanted to look good. But that was not all, this pride took over the wish of every true, devoted Christian. The true follower of Jesus Christ allows God to control his life, I, on the other hand, was trying to take charge of my life and to do God’s work on my own, without His help and intervention. I thought I could do it. ‘I am strong’, I thought, ‘I will survive’. I-I-I, me-me-me. When I realized this it was as if everything fell into place and I stubbornly started to fight for my survival again. I entered a programme with the help of a psychiatrist and eventually managed to get better, healthier. I thanked God for His help, for finally showing me the truth. I even gave testimony in church. But do you notice? I still said ‘I entered the programme’ and ‘the psychiatrist helped’, ‘I gave testimony’. Lucifer was lurking in the shadows again and he was rejoicing, because he knew that I was not quite living for God yet. You need to take note of the mention of ‘I’ in the story as I continue. I tell it as honestly as I can, leaving nothing out. I want you to understand that one can praise God and still not be His true follower. You can say ‘Jesus, Jesus’, but have no clue what commitment and true, heavenly citizenship entails. It took me years to understand this, as you will see at the end of my story.

After my discharge from hospital, I remained under the care of the psychiatrist for another 6 months. I took a lot of medication and things settled down a bit. What I didn’t realize was that the war has only begun. I’ve won the battle, yes, but there would be many more challenges ahead.   I was not yet ‘right’ with God and was still standing in the doorway.  I was not yet worshipping at His feet.  Lucifer was adamant that the situation remains unchanged, that my relationship with God will not grow and that he will ‘get’ me in the end.

Life went on. I got married and started a family. I had a job I enjoyed and things were finally looking up. During these years I continued my mediocre relationship with God. From time to time real passion will flare up and I will devote myself to His Word for a while. Then something will happen, life will happen, and I will fall back on the old ways, lurching along the road, not really going anywhere, just ‘being’. I had so many blessings. A wonderful husband, children, a beautiful home, but I never quite saw it that way back then. At the end of the millennium, the devil remembered about me. Perhaps he has been around all along, just waiting to grab me, I don’t know. But the Word tells us that he prowls the earth and looks for souls to devour.

1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

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I’ve let down my guard, you see. I was relaxing everything, even my daily worship. We still went to church on occasion, my son to Sunday school and I did read my Bible and prayed. But this was more out of habit than anything else. As I said, I was just ‘being’. I did try to feel thankful for everything, but my relationship with God was not as intense, as intimate, as it was (and is) supposed to be.

Luke 6:45-47: “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them:…”

Yes, I still spoke like a true, devoted Christian. Yes, I would not be ashamed to be called a child of God and yes, I still remembered the God of my childhood. But even so, I did not walk the talk, so to speak. My heart was miles away from devotion to God and I never allowed Him to lead me. I was too busy trying to control my own life…..AGAIN!!

I once heard a saying: “On the road from Gethsemane to Calvary, I lost my way” [from the Inspector Lewis series by Colin Dexter – episode: Life born of fire] I could immediately identify with that. I did indeed lose my way.

It was August 1998 and we were desperate for another child. Both I and my husband were thrilled when we learned that I was expecting. Unfortunately, only two days after we received the good news, I lost the baby. Being the person I am, I got up and battled on. I was used to falling down and getting up, you see. It was simply how life treated us. Years later I would finally mourn the loss of that child. At that time I refused to allow grief to enter my heart. The last time it [grief] consumed me, I nearly died, and I was determined to avoid going through that again.

We did indeed have another child. A boy, who grew up to be a wonderful, loving and kind person. During my pregnancy the doctors again feared for my life as well as that of my unborn son, but we both came through and survived. Raising him was quite challenging, but he is such a sweetheart, it made up for all the difficulties I had during pregnancy.  He is 18 years old now and had a life filled with struggles and challenges. Being ADD, he had his share of academic troubles. Most teachers couldn’t care less about him and only told him he was not good enough. His troubles were part of my own pain and worries, part of Satan’s plan to bring about my final fall from grace.

I started to doubt God, because I couldn’t understand that he allowed an innocent child to be verbally abused, ridiculed and demeaned by adults who should know better. Sometimes I got SO enraged that I screamed at God. Afterwards I would be so ashamed, because I could see myself as a three-year old throwing a temper tantrum. This was all exactly what the devil wanted. He wanted me to get angry at God, to blame God, to feel ashamed and abandoned. He was driving both me and my husband into bouts of deep depression. We worried all the time and nothing we did seemed to work. Eventually this particular situation worked itself out, but not before we both felt that we are all alone in this battle for our child’s wellbeing. And even now, today, I still worry about him, but for reasons I’ll eventually explain, the worry is not so intense anymore.

I resigned from my job when he was born and my focus became the children and our home. The early part of the 21st century wasn’t easy. A lot of factors added extra stress and worry. We were constantly building additions to our home, changing things around to suit our family better. I was left to care for the kids amidst dust, bricks and plaster, while basically living in one bedroom for months on end. My husband had he’s own set of troubles at work and often came home under a cloud of depression. Then, in 2004, my sister passed away. A few months before that, my parents moved in with us. Mom had Alzheimer’s and needed constant supervision and Dad wasn’t too healthy himself. Add to this the problem of my sister’s diagnoses (it was breast cancer) and her subsequent battle, and you have a recipe for disaster. During this time I continued to care for the children, as usual, driving them around to their activities, helping with homework, assignments and test preparation. I was still trying to control it all, you see. If I couldn’t cope, I fear the world will perceive me as a loser, a bad mother and a horrible daughter. What I didn’t know was that, with all these things happening at once in our family, the devil was busy setting the scene for the grand finale. He planned to drag me into darkness so deep, that the light of God could never reach me.

With my parents staying and both being sickly, I had to step up (again) and be the strong one. I cooked and cleaned and tried to deal with sister’s illness, well knowing that she was terminal. Her death was imminent. She died in November and Mom took it VERY bad. My parents remained with us for another 8 weeks after the funeral, during which time their new home in the retirement village was completed.  Helping Mom to cope was difficult, as she would keep on forgetting that my sister is gone and when we told her the truth, her grief was absolutely devastating time after time after time. That was the worst thing, to bring bad news to someone who can barely remember her own name.

During this period God was completely out of my mind. I would sometimes remember to read my Bible or pray a little bit, but I was so busy trying to hold everyone and everything together, that I simply had no time for God. Looking back I can, once again, identify the work of Satan in all this. I don’t blame him for my sister’s death, of course I also do not deny that he may have had a hand in it, but the circumstances just kept on getting more challenging, the evil attacks coming one after the other. I didn’t realize it at the time. I was too busy surviving. (Have you remembered to look at how many times I’ve used the word ‘I’? We’ll get to that later, but it is very important that you understand that ‘I’ was trying, ‘I’ was doing this and that. It is like carrying a heavy mountain on your shoulders. Yes, I think I felt like Atlas himself.)

My parents finally moved into their own place again and we had a respite, some minor moments of peace and quiet.  All the time I was still trying to help my younger son cope in school, as well as encouraging his older brother to study harder, helping with exam and test preparation and so forth. Mom’s health kept on getting worse and I would receive calls from Dad to come and help.  This I had to take care of in the mornings, rushing home to be with the children and prepare lunch and dinner for the family. Mom finally passed away in January 2009, but that was not the end.

During 2008 we started an adoption process. We took in a lovely little 3-year old who soon became a bright ray of sunshine in our lives. My husband said that he got a sign from God that we should do this and we did. Everything worked out beautifully and by the end of 2009 she was fully adopted and her name was changed.  We would say that it was God’s hand, but at that point, speaking about God was just that, ‘speaking about God’. We didn’t feel connected to him anymore. Satan, causing so much trouble in our lives, made sure of that. He had his own ideas for this young life in our care.

The little one had a lot of difficulties, especially with feelings of abandonment and she was very attached to us. She couldn’t bear to be separated from us. There was always anger brewing just below the surface and sometimes she would lash out and attack me physically. Since I was the stay-at-home Mom, I was always the victim. We learned to deal with this, and eventually these attacks abated somewhat. She received proper psychological treatment and, though the issues will take years to be dealt with, she learned to manage it in a healthy way.  Now I understand exactly how the devil tried to undermine God’s plan with this child in our lives. He wanted us to hate her, to abandon her again, to hurt her emotionally and scar her for life. He wanted us to feel guilty about it. He did not succeed. Not then and, even now, with the troubles she has at this moment, he will NEVER win.

During this period my Mom died and Dad became dependant on me for everything. He would call me day and night and expect me to rush over to his house to help him find his remote control or his sleeping pills or his keys. Silly things like that, but I did what I could. Something else also caught my attention about him. I noticed odd things, like he would lose stuff or he would get lost when driving to the shop. I recall one time when his neighbour told me how he left his house to do shopping at 9 o’clock in the morning and only returned at 4 in the afternoon. He admitted to her that he couldn’t find his home. The residents in the retirement village started to notice more things and it worried them so much that they would call me about it at all hours. Dad would, for instance, get up in the middle of the night and start nailing his doors and windows shut. It was to keep the ‘bad people’ out, he said. One time he locked himself inside his house and couldn’t find the key. He had to call a neighbour for help. The final straw was when he fell in his bathroom and hurt his back so much that he had to use a wheelchair. I called an ambulance to take him to the emergency room, but it became clear that he needed more care. After his hospital visit, the demands increased and I eventually had to do buy his groceries, pay his bills and drive him to and from his doctor.

Keep in mind now, that all this time I still have a troubled daughter at home, a son with learning disabilities and an adult son who needed my support for further studies. He was also in a new relationship and would obviously need some advice and guidance in that department. But I battled on, because I am to serve, am I not? I need to do this and I was never one to say no to a challenge.

Throughout this time, I would sporadically return to God. I would study scripture and pray. Thing is, I never felt His presence in my life. The troubles that were sent upon us stole my happiness, it was destroying the last vestiges of a relationship I had with God. During one of these ‘returns’ I remembered my first calling. God called me to serve. I knew that I was serving anyway. By helping my Dad, my family and everyone else, I was serving them. I wanted to do more and decided on reaching out to people further afield. I started a foundation that cared for orphanages and day care centres in rural areas around Pretoria. It became busy fast, with organizations calling me and asking for help. These days I am still officially involved with 6 charity organizations, not counting my own and I assist more than 80 facilities across South Africa. I tackled this monstrous task on my own and am still doing it on my own. I have no assistance, no helpers and only two volunteers who will help on occasion. I held onto the call and the words in Galatians 6.

Galatians 6:9:Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

I did not care about the harvest, I was helping others. When they praised me, I told them it was NOT me, it was God’s work. I believed this and I feel that, because I held on to this truth, I was able to ‘keep in touch’ with God. I was misled. You cannot speak about God and praise Him to the masses, you have to LIVE a holy life as well. Nothing should stand between you and God.

The foundation grew and while that was wonderful and a blessing for others, I had other problems to take care of. My children still presented an enormous challenge and I felt for them. I cried often and got cross more, not at them, but at God, for allowing this to happen. My anger came directly from Satan. I know this now. He wanted to lead me further away from God, hence the encouragement to blame God for what was going on.

Then there was Dad. He was placed in a retirement home, but completely lost it during his time there. At this point he was still driving on his own, but we took away his car for fear that he may get lost or be attacked or even be in an accident. I suspect he never forgave me for that. His midnight wanderings in the village and his irrational reaction to people got so bad that the nurse in charge of the facility suggested we move him to a 24-hour care facility. This meant we had to pack up his things and move him for the second time in two months. Fortunately this time I had no need to worry about selling a property and finding a buyer, so we moved him. He spent his last days in a 24-hour care facility in mid-town. I felt terrible about it. I think all children feel bad when they leave their parents at a place like that, even if they knew for certain that the parent will be well cared for and that it was for the best. It felt as if I abandoned by Father and I’m sure he held that against me as well. He was never really happy there and he missed my Mom terribly. I was feeling a little better in knowing that he will now be cared for. He will make friends and not be so alone. Still, I went to visit once a week and bought his few groceries, took him to the doctor and dropped off his medication at the nurses’ station. It broke my heart when I finally saw him fading. The thought of losing him was terrible. My Dad was my hero, the one who always protected me from Mom’s wrath. But I knew, even that last day I saw him, that his time was close. He died on 31st May 2013.

You would think that I heaved a sigh of relief at his passing, but doing that never crossed my mind. I miss him, even now. He was a good man and couldn’t help himself during those last few years. He was grief stricken after Mom passed and then his mind simply went AWOL. He is not to blame and I am, in a sense glad that I had the privilege to do for him what I did. It was an honour to give back a little to the man who took such good care of me during my entire life. But still, being there for him was exhausting and I thought that I will finally have time to spend with my children. I wanted to focus on them, help them and take better care of them. I have always seen myself as someone who can do better. I was never good enough and thought that, hopefully, now things will stabilize, the bad things will start to go away. I was wrong, of course.

Things only got worse at home. My poor husband suffered greatly at the hand of his colleagues. People whom I believe to be the devil’s ‘hand puppets’. We managed a holiday just after my Dad’s funeral, but during the holiday my husband had a fall and hurt his back. He was unconscious for a bit and suffered mild concussion, broke his coccyx and two of his vertebrae and had muscle damage. We had to extend our holiday for a week before the doctors would allow him to drive all the way home. Fortunately his back healed relatively fast, but he still suffers some intense pain from time to time.

A year after Dad’s death and my husband’s fall, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I couldn’t care less, though. For me death was a way out of this mess (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). I didn’t die, I survived and I was lucky, or rather, I was blessed. They could remove the malignancy completely and I did not even have to receive any kind of treatment! How did I deal with this? Well, I barely considered it. Even now, when you talk about cancer I struggle to identify myself with being a ‘cancer survivor’. It was then that I began to understand that I was not surviving anything, not on my own strength. There was someone or rather, Someone else in charge. I will tell you why.

10 years before my diagnoses a doctor told me I should consider having a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, since breast cancer seems to run in our family. My Mom, aunt, sister, grandmother and great grandmother all had to face this truth at some point. Great-gran and sister actually died in exactly the same way, with exactly the same symptoms. I thought the doctor was a bit loopy, but the idea stuck. During those 10 years I’ve had various lumpectomies done, but the lumps never were malignant. In April 2014 I visited my GP and brought up the subject of a prophylactic mastectomy. To this day I cannot understand exactly why I spoke to him about it, but after that, things started happening. I was referred to a surgeon who, in turn, referred me to a cosmetic surgeon. Approval was received from our medical aid for the procedure and on July 3rd that year I had both a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. It was only when they tested the tissue that they discovered the cancer. It was ductal carcinoma, the one that killed my sister and great-gran. Did Someone save my life? I think so. There I was, thinking I was making this very clever decision of having the operation done as a precaution, but all the while God was working in the background, pulling strings to secure my survival. One of the ladies at an orphanage I represent had something to say about this as well. She said that God was not done with me yet. That He had bigger plans for me. I think she was quite right. Looking back, I can now see how God was starting to stir my soul. He was slowly trying to lead me back to the road He had planned for me.

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You can imagine how upset the devil was about this. Here I was, finally GETTING the fact that I was NOT in control of my life. I was, at last, moving back through the doorway towards God’s throne. He must have been foaming at the mouth, because during the second half of 2014 things rapidly got worse. One brilliant moment was the wedding of my older son. He married a lovely girl and the wedding was perfect. Despite the perfection of the moment, we were having a mountain of trouble at home. The wedding placed an unnecessary financial burden on my husband and we felt extremely angry at the people who placed us in such a position. In addition to this, there were issues with my in-laws. The relationship has been vulnerable forever, but that December it all came to a head. We will never know or understand the truth of what happened and why, but the point is, they abandoned us. They ‘wrote us off’. Apparently because of something I’ve said 14 years ago. We suspect we know who the instigator of this trouble was, so we’ve honoured their ‘abandonment’ and haven’t seen them since. This was a terrible blow for my husband. He never felt loved by them, but to be so rudely dismissed by your own parents and them not even considering the fact that they are not only cutting ties with him and me, but with their grandchildren and future great-grandchildren as well. That is quite an emotional storm to deal with. Even today he still struggles with this and the fact that he is also experiencing victimizing at work doesn’t help his state of mind at all. Personally I went through emotions of shock, at first, then anger. I couldn’t understand that parents can do that or that sisters can tell such tall tales to cause such a thing, a thing to hurt a son and a brother. It is an unspeakable act. Eventually I just felt disappointed and sad. These days I pray for them and believe that they will see the truth for their own sakes. I will get to the part where I finally found the courage to do this for them. Perhaps then you will understand how grudges, hate-speak and anger can fuel the devil’s furnace.

For the next three years our lives were a rollercoaster ride of more downs than ups. My husband wasn’t coping at all emotionally and the burden to carry on quickly became my responsibility. Once again I was in a position of ‘surviving’. I was to get up and fight the good fight, keep up my spirits and find a way through the horror of our lives. We coped, somehow, but during the past couple of weeks, it all came to a head in the strangest manner.

My husband was diagnosed with acute depression and put on medication. His colleagues had no sympathy and used this to discredit him at every turn. The decision was made to put him on ‘sanity leave’ for a while. During this time, our daughter had her own troubles to deal with. School became unbearable for her and she acted out in ways that made the teachers horrible angry. She was treated in ways I cannot imagine by people she thought she could trust. It was suddenly as if everything that can go wrong, went wrong. My husband was in the deep, dark hole and he started to ask questions about God. How could God allow this? How could he allow our children to suffer like this?

Over the past few months I got into the habit of reading my Bible again and praying. I still felt distanced from God, but had an intense need to be closer to Him. Now, during the worst of times, God finally spoke up loud and clear. I was at the end of my strength when I was given this scripture:

Psalm 55:22: “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.”

It suddenly dawned on me that, all these years, I have been trying to ‘fix things’ myself. Despite knowing better, knowing about faith in God, praying and more, I did not understand.

Romans 12:1-2: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

God wanted me to realize that I need to lay down my own ego and commit my entire being, my whole life to Him. He wanted me to step out of the doorway and closer to Him. My life, forged with spiritual fire, must be His, not mine. I am NOT in charge of my own life.

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Then God gave me this scripture:

Revelation 20:6: “Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”

The Holy Spirit impressed upon me the importance of ‘dying’ for this world; meaning that you must spiritually lay down all that belong to this world. That first time, so many years ago, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour. I accepted Him then as a child, not fully understanding, but hearing His Voice nonetheless. Now I understand and KNOW that I am called for a second time to reclaim my place at His feet. I now see how I must leave this world and all its beautiful temptations behind, which is the first death. The death of the ‘I’, consumed by the world and its evil, will allow God to fully take charge of my life. I will arise in Jesus Christ and live a life filled with hope, faith, glory and love. Only then will I be able to find true peace.

God showed me that, whatever has happened to me in the past, all those challenges and struggles I faced, have been orchestrated by forces beyond our understanding. Evil forces that wish for us NOT to turn to God. In the end those were allowed to mould me, like clay, so that God can use me as His instrument for the task He has in mind for me.

Ephesians 4:14-15: “So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,…”

Isaiah 64:8: “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

The Holy Spirit continued to reveal the footholds satan got in my life. He urged me to pray for release from bondage. The forces of evil had made my body and spirit their home and they were ever so comfortable. Every day I was made aware of certain things that I need to address, things that I have done wrong or thoughts I had that didn’t please God. First and foremost I had to get rid of the pride in ‘coping’, the ways I’m hurting my body (His temple), the anger towards Him and others, the judgemental attitude. It was all consuming me and I was quickly losing the battle. Satan and his minions were almost everywhere in my life and they were having a BALL!

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1 John 5:4: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

Showing me the doorways Satan had into my life was not all God did, He also showed mercy. All my previous prayers were not authentic, you see. How can I ask God to help me or forgive me and not be pure in His sight? How can I expect Jesus to stand in the gap for me, if I only half-heartedly believe that He is the Son of God? I have been blinded by these evil forces in the world. The dark clouds gathering over my head, the challenges of satan and my own transgressions kept God’s love and compassion hidden from me. In a way it kept me hidden from Him, as well, because He wanted to reach in and save me, but knew that I need to walk this road so that I can learn valuable lessons. He wanted me to ‘find my own way’ back to Him, and I did.

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Through faith I had victory over myself, my pride and ego. I let go and let God have His way with my life. You will remember that I asked you to notice how many times in the story above I used ‘I’, there was a reason for that. I wanted you to understand that, all my life, I trusted only myself to ‘fix things’. I did not want anyone else to take over and soon, everyone was seeing me as ‘strong’, as a ‘survivor’ and that made me proud, it made me feel good. Few people in my life really understood the battles I was fighting. I think they will be appalled if they knew how bad it actually was. Now I know that it was NOT me fighting and that, even in the depths of despair, it was God who was doing battle with me. I was never alone at all.

I can’t express the relief I felt once I’ve given it all to Jesus. There is simply no way to describe the feeling of sweet release. To know that you do not need to carry your burdens anymore, that you will receive an army of angels to help fend off satan and his demons if he dares to attack you (which he does).

Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

There is so much more that I can share with you. Things that have been revealed to me, some of them quite unbelievable, but I will do so in time.

I want to tell you how to be free from bondage, how real spiritual warfare is, how to pray for your enemies and how to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, which I feel in my soul is closer than we can imagine.

For now, however, I want to leave you with these words:

Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

SOURCE:

All scripture references from: https://www.openbible.info/

I wrote this under guidance of the Holy Spirit. Believers, listen and learn, Jesus is almost here. Do not make the mistakes I made in the past. Believe, have faith, give your entire life over to God. The world and what it demands of us is worth nothing at all. Look at your life, your possessions and your friends through God’s eyes and get rid of that which keeps you from His grace and glory. And above all else, love one another, love your enemies, love God with all your heart.

Blessings until we meet again.

S

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#Faith #Hope #Love #LifeEverlasting #EndTimes

Acts 2:17-22: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.  I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.

The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’

This message has been pressed on my heart to share. We need to take stock of our lives, we need to examine our hearts. Who is your God? How do you serve Him…..really? Be honest with yourself and if you hear a whisper about anything that is amiss in your life, THAT would be God pointing out something you have to change. Truly give your whole being to God. Allow Him to lead you on the road He has planned for you. Do not be stubborn and insist on doing things YOUR way. Listen to His words, His commands. Confess your sins, seek forgiveness, bless your enemies.

There can be no excuses, for I suspect the time is nearly up.

Don’t you believe me? Just look around you.

Be vigilant, my friends, be prepared, keep your lights burning for the Lord. It will not be long now.

Video via YouTube: youtu.be/BSy4wd4QbaA<br>

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How very strange that I found this in my inbox on this, the last day of, what many would agree, has been a terrible year. 

This has been a tumultous year for me personally and I do hope and pray that 2017 will be a gentler year. It seems as if I’ve been running around like a wound-up toy, trying to make sense of life and not getting anywhere. 

One thing this verse tells me, though, is that I must battle forth, hold on to hope and onto God and all will be well.

That is also my prayer for all of you. I do hope that 2017 will see me keeping more up to date with posts so that we can visit often and share our thoughts.

Have a blessed new year’s eve, friends and followers. Stay safe, keep the faith and be filled with excitement at the dawn of a brand new year, always remembering that, if you believe, you will be carried through every storm, guided through every darkness and handed the gift of everlasting light in the end.

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Over this past festive season I’m sure we all took the opportunity of reflecting on 2015; what we did, what happened to us and the world (both good and bad) and we also look forward to the new year. I’m sure many have a lot of resolutions (get more exercise, eat healthier, work harder, etc, etc). I pose the question then: why all these resolutions? I guess the answer is quite obvious – because we can still CHANGE it!

I hope therefore that, when you look at the past, you will do so without regret and, if you DO feel a tinge of sadness or regret or disappointment or even anger, please let it go. You cannot go back and change it, you can, however, learn to EMBRACE it and USE it as a tool to become a better person.

Now this is all old news….we cannot travel back in time, accept what you cannot  change and blah-blah-blah…you’ve probably heard it a 100.000 times in your life. Question is: ‘Did you actually GET it?’ Or are you still stubbornly clinging to ancient differences, quarrels, disagreements and disputes? Will holding on to all those things of the past make a difference to tomorrow? No, I don’t think so. Look at it, yes, but do not dwell on it and make yourself miserable today….look, remember and LEARN, then get off your behind and take ACTION to make things better for yourself. That is the ONLY way to a better future.

In November 2015 I met a lovely lady from Rwanda and she told me something very important. Coming from Rwanda one can imagine the life she must have had while living there as a child. She witnessed it all…the war, the genocide…she really had first hand experience of the evil humans are capable of. Today she is an accomplished researcher, with a lovely family of her own and she doesn’t hold grudges. She said that people should make an effort to put the past behind them, only then will they be able to move forward. She and her family are an example of people who managed to do just that, and they thrive.

You see, one should perhaps not forget the past, one should remember, but with a kind of nostalgia…something like: ‘I remember when that bad thing happened, but look where we are now, I’ve certainly learned a lot from that experience.’ I know this may sound naive, but people should let go, because what has been is done with, it’s over, it’s forever in the past….the only way to move forward in a positive way is to change your attitude and to do so without all that extra baggage. Do not keep returning to the time of grief and sorrow, digging at it with your bare hands, wallowing in it, pointing fingers at the guilty party who caused your pain – the wound will NEVER heal. It will keep on festering, filling your soul with despair, anger, hate and unhappiness. But you have it in your power to heal that wound completely by expressing your gratitude to an experience that shaped and formed you and made you the person you are today. Forgive the person you hold accountable, but do so actively, not only with empty words…mean it…and prove it in action. You will come to understand that, whatever is holding you back, the purpose of it was NOT to have you cling to the memory forever, the purpose was for you to experience and learn, to BECOME the person you are supposed to be.

The thing is, friends, we are all in charge of our own lives and attitudes, only we can change it, not the world, not the preachers or politicians. You have to decide, do you want to stay miserable, struggling with your bag of past grievances and pain? OR Are you prepared to let it go, let it heal and move on with your life? I have to warn you, though, life is very short, shorter than you can imagine, so you have to decide now if you still want to live a fulfilled and happy life. Don’t waste another minute and always remember this: when you die, HOW will people remember you? What will YOUR legacy be?

Allow yourself to keep loving the world, your life, despite what may or may not have been….you owe that to your future.

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Watching the biographical ‘’Starving in Suburbia’’ otherwise known as ‘’Thinspiration’’….a true-life drama  about a 17-year old dancer struggling with anorexia, brought back some tough memories of my own. The struggle that never really ends once begun, the obsession that no one seems to understand, it came back in a flood.

This young girl in the story was influenced by something she saw on the internet, so people could point fingers and accuse those who created the website or sites for being the cause of her illness. What caused me to become sick back in the day? I wonder that myself. Over the years, 30 of those  now, I’ve been wondering….why did it happen? Me, who so adamantly professed that I will never get an eating disorder, because I loved food too much….when and why…questions forever unanswered, even now, after all the years. Maybe it is time, yes?

Was it the gym-teacher that refused to say my weight out loud in class? Was it the family member that said I’m well-built? Was it stress at the loss of a loved one? The many wild changes in my life that flooded my teenage years? Personally, I think it was all, and none of those things. In the end something did trigger it, but I made the choice to starve myself. It always begins like that…the simple decision to lose a few pounds, not necessarily because it is the ‘’it’’-thing to do, or because I’m a bit chubbier than my peers or because somebody called me fat….and then it escalates into obsession.

Every person who ever suffered through this disease, be it anorexia, bulimia or NSEA (non-specified eating disorder) has a different reason for becoming ill. While doing my dissertation on the subject, I’ve discovered numerous answers to my questions about the trigger, the final nail in the proverbial coffin….well, it is simple, actually, when you, as a person, more often than not a perfectionist, feel you are not in control of your life and the things happening around you, you seek out ways to regain that control. Sometimes people become obsessive about their work, they start drinking, using drugs or….starving…..that is how it was with me.

And eating disorder gives you that sense that you are NOT a failure after all, that you ARE in control of SOMETHING and that you CAN do a GOOD job at it. Of course, underlying that craving for final and ultimate control, are many other issues….having low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, ….that all serves to fuel the wish for control; to SHOW people that you’re worthy. And, of course, it is all a sham……it is fake, this control, because in the end the disease becomes the ‘’entity’’ that gains control and the victim becomes powerless…..it slips away…. My experience may differ widely from other survivors’, but that is why I said, each person has a unique experience with an eating disorder; triggers differ, backgrounds and family dynamics are different, there are unique personalities with different emotions and even some with underlying physical illness. You cannot always blame society, although there is something to be said about the worlds obsession with perfection and ‘’thinness’’, neither can you blame friends or family….in the end, the only thing that matters is that the affected person gets the help and support needed to get well. Why it happens is not always so important…you will understand when you read what I have to say about my own experience.

Let me tell you how it was…….this is an old story and you may have come across it once or twice on my blog. I was a strange girl, weird even, according to many opinions, a perfectionist, never accepted by  my peers, a nerd; I was known as an ‘’academic wreck’’, never allowed to participate in sports, cultural activities, never allowed to go to school dances or parties or movie-nights. That was my life; I went to school, to church and home…it was fine, I never complained and learned early on to enjoy my own company. To this day I don’t particularly need companions, friends, people always hanging around…I can entertain myself. People blamed my parents afterwards, even my boyfriend (whom I eventually married). Me, I never blamed anyone but myself for everything that happened and, somehow, that made it worse. I carried the burden for every little thing that happened in my life and the lives of others I’ve known…..perhaps that is why, when we lost a dear one in the year I got sick, I couldn’t bear it….I couldn’t bear the sadness of the others. It broke my heart to see tears of loss and I could do nothing to take it away, to make it better. To understand why I wished to help it go away, you need to understand what I did, what I was, when I was growing up….other people’s happiness always came before my own. I would have sold my soul to the devil if it would put a smile on my Mother’s face. I’m not saying this to gloat about my good intentions and holier than thou little heart, no, never….never that…it was just important to me that people NOT be sad. I’ve always felt so responsible for other people’s joy in life that, if they are sad or unhappy, I’d take it so personally that I’ll go to great lengths just to make them happy again. It always felt sure that I was the cause for unhappiness….even if I knew that it didn’t make sense, that is was not true. Why was I like this? I don’t know….just another mystery to me.

During that last year, before the demon took over, I’ve done a lot of silly, crazy things, made choices based on this ever-increasing wish to bring happiness to others, to be the ‘’good girl’’….wrong choices…wrong for me. I’ve studied so hard in school to make my grades, to get distinctions so that I would be offered a bursary to study, saving my pensioner parents the money. I decided to study for a degree that would be paid by part-time work in a hospital and the other half by the bursary. Included would be lodgings and a uniform…again saving my parents the extra expense of paying my way, paying for clothes and food, etc, should I stay with them. In the end it was all for nothing….it didn’t please my Mom, so I decided not to go to university. Mom wanted me working and/or married and with babies in short order….as a ‘’good girl’ was supposed to do. In that year I started dating my husband, I got my first job (which I hated), started studying for a diploma in Banking (yuck!) and lost my mini-me….a little girl…in a car accident. I was 18 years old, without proper emotional support throughout and, fool that I was, I still thought I’d be happy if others were smiling…which they were not, especially after the death of the child. I felt helpless….out of control….

Now, you need to understand….I was someone that thought I could control everything….even other people’s happiness and here, something happened that I couldn’t change, make better. I tore up my university papers and Mom was semi-happy (good), I started working at a financial institution and my parents were happy (good)…even if I disliked it, they were happy…so what! I sang in the church choir, went to church every Sunday, to youth every Friday, taught Sunday school, dated a good, church-going boy with a steady job in the Air Force (good girl) and then…BAM…it all crashed and burned, literally on that night in September 1985. For me, that was the final straw….the last hold I had on the semblance of control I had in life….so I had to get it back. I remember the decision as clear as if it was yesterday….I was sitting in our back yard, by the pool and thought…’’They are falling apart. Someone has to stand up….that someone has to be me.’’ I did, I got up, made lunch for the mourners inside and went on…yay! Control is back! It didn’t end there, though….the unhappiness stayed, despite all my efforts and in the end all my efforts to bring joy in other people’s lives, nearly killed me….

Yes, so, I lost control, regained it in a way, but…..I was not perfect, I was NOT a good enough girl…I must be better; I need to bring new happiness. It was easy, I thought, I have to be better or die, better or die….it was like a constant drum-beat in my mind. I decided to starve myself every time I saw unhappiness in someone’s eyes, unhappiness that I couldn’t change,  and since joy was absent, I simply stopped eating. At first it was obsession towards perfection…perfect smiles, perfect family, perfect life. It evolved and became…perfect body, perfect work, perfect dress, perfect daughter, perfect girlfriend;  good girl and, perhaps then, acceptance, ….by family, by peers….even by the ‘’it’’-girls I knew in school, miserable as they were. I thought my efforts at being perfect for those I cared for, would make them smile again. However, no one noticed….no-one got any happier either, they were all drowning in sorrow, their outlook on life dark, gloomy. Rapidly losing weight, those close to me saw the physical changes, but they were so consumed by their grief that they turned a blind eye. Instead of talking to me, finding out what was wrong, I was teased: I was the thermometer look-alike with my red, and very fashionable, bow-tie, I was the pea-shooter, the straw, the slinky, the happy-go-lucky-legs and the ‘’bad, bad girl’’ for making Mom worry more…and this while she was so sad for losing her grand-daughter. The obsession towards perfection changed…it became the obsession to vanish from existence, to take up as little space as possible, because, you see, I realised that nothing I do will ever be good enough. In fact, I’ve been fooling myself all those years, thinking I had the power to make people happy, while the truth was that I never succeeded even in that. I was stupid, unworthy, nothing….

Yes, losing the weight was about counting calories obsessively, measuring the circumference of my thighs and weighing myself constantly. Yes it was about drinking laxatives, counting how many times I chew my food, writing my weight in a diary and obsessing about every ounce gained. I wanted to get smaller, because I wasn’t worthy of being here, being human at all…I was a failure. I wanted to stop BEING by becoming a child-shaped person, and eventually simply, poof…gone. I nearly succeeded…..anorexia took over every nook and cranny of my life, not because I wanted to be model thin, to look like Kate Moss or because I was emotionally and/or physically abused….it took over my life because I just didn’t want to be here anymore. It was suicide by Ana….and the sad thing was….I made the choice; it was nobody’s fault but my own.

I survived though, also by choice……the doctors told me I had three weeks to live. The guy who is now my husband saved me ….he convinced  me to choose life and, if it wasn’t for him, I would have died…..I went to hospital and they managed to fix my body. My mind, well, I’m still working on that!

It took me 20 years to accept the body I have now, to accept the fact that I MAY live, that I have right to life and that I could actually stop pleasing others. (On that one I’m also still working.) The thing is, even today, I can quote chapter and verse, the fat and calories in food, I still count my meals, I don’t own a scale, but I sometimes stare at my shape for hours on end, hating what I see, despising the fact that I’m here, alive. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lovely life, I have a gorgeous family, a happy home, I adore my husband, I’m finally doing something that I love (my counselling, my charities)….now it is a question of: do I really deserve this? Wouldn’t they be better off without me? That is something that I still struggle with….that is the residue of my anorexia experience. Fortunately now I have the wisdom, if not always the will, to understand that my life has a purpose, even if I don’t know exactly what it is and, more important, I am responsible for my own happiness, NOT that of others. Each for his/her own….you cannot make someone’s future for them, they have to do it all on their own.

When asked what would I change if I could ever travel back in time….I’ll change nothing (oh,  maybe the loss of our girl…yes, maybe that)…but what I’ve experienced, good, bad, ugly…whatever, I don’t hold it against myself or anyone else….I accept it for what it was and now, looking back I understand there were lessons to be learnt, even in the events we couldn’t find reason or purpose and, if we change our lives, wouldn’t we forfeit the wisdom we’ve gained? Wouldn’t a change in the past, change what we have become?

Years ago I read a book called ‘’The Tommyknockers’’ (laugh if you like, and yes, it is a Stephen King, of COURSE it is!). The story is quite weird (to be expected from King) and is about a lady that digs up a spaceship. The spaceship ‘’infects’’ the villagers of a nearby town by altering their brainwaves and ultimately their body-chemistry and physical appearance, in the end they all die (spoiler, sorry prospective reader of this SK-tale). Past experiences are like that….these people changed because they were exposed to the waves emitted by the spacecraft. They couldn’t change back into their old selves once the change began…..in the story it is said that they ‘’become’’. The past and our experiences change us, we can never be the same, but we can USE those experiences to ‘’become’’ better, more fulfilled, wiser and ultimately more HUMAN than we’ve ever been. The other day I heard the singer Rihanna say in an interview that her Mother used to tell her ‘’there are no mistakes, only lessons in life’’.

Yes, indeed, no mistakes, only lessons….we are so hard on ourselves, I know I am. We should stop chastising ourselves for our bad choices and start accepting that, yes it happened, yes it was wrong, but it is over, done with…. We would be far happier if we live with thankful hearts in the moment, reaching for tomorrow and the rest of our lives, because, friends, it goes by quickly and we shouldn’t waste time scratching and clawing at the old, dusty wounds.

Let me tell you this, if I can do it….you can too. Anorexia saved me from myself, it showed me that I’m stronger than I ever thought I was and surviving that and whatever else happened in my past proved to me that I have reason to feel proud, reason to give myself a hug and say: ‘’Good girl.’’

Mirrorsoul

Do you need help with your eating disorder? Do you suspect a friend or family member to suffer from and ED? Why not get in touch with me? Let me be your friend…I’ve been there and I KNOW…click here and email me NOW before it is too late.

Help is available here too:

  1. https://www.b-eat.co.uk
  2. www.twinriversrehab.co.za
  3. www.anad.org
  4. www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
  5. www.eatingdisorderhope.com

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Via @ClubSTEPHENKING

Stephen King Quote

There was a time that horror only existed in books and movies. These days, horror is a part of everyday life. We read about it, see it on television, watch horrific YouTube images of beheadings, war, famine….you name it. This is old news and I have written about it in the past.

Today, as I scrolled down my Twitter timeline, it was business as usual….an airplane crash, a train wreck, a pile up on the freeway, riots, war, refugees, home invasions, shootings….never-ending stories of suffering. Finally I saw this quote from one of my favorite Stephen King novels……..and I thought to share it, because I really wonder how much more can the human race, the world, withstand; how much horror until we’ve learned the lesson – be kind to each other, care about our planet, care about a prosperous, peaceful future, reach out with a loving hand, NOT a gun or knife… In the sixties Joan Baez sang the song about the flowers…you remember that one? She sang: ”When will they ever learn,” yes, indeed, when will we learn.

There is so much good in the world and we try so desperately to live our lives in a good, honest way inbetween all the sorrow and pain. Every single day you find inspiration, tips on healthy living, wellbeing, how to combat stress, etc, etc…..yet, all that is just dealing with the symptoms, the healing superficial and often people treat change as a phase, a whim. You want to exercise, so you enroll in a gym, go once and then stop; you decide to be kinder to others, you do it for a few hours, then nearly bite someone’s head off for cutting in front of you at the supermarket check-out. The problem is, our subconscious are so overwhelmed by all the horror in the world, that  it finds it hard not to conform. It would take action, commitment, for us to change.

I’m a great believer in the ability of people to change for the better…maybe I’m naive, but frankly, I don’t care what people may think of my views. I am convinced that we brought all this horror upon ourselves, so we can indeed change it, we can make it better. We MUST change, we should stand up for goodness, our right to live peaceful lives and we must do so without force; violence begets violence. Change begins in the individual. You must make the choice. I know, for me, on the outside, only being a spectator of the horrors, it is easy to say these, seemingly empty, words but someone has to speak up and, or at least, try to show people the possibility of change.

It begins with me, I must commit myself to be kinder, more caring, accepting, respecting others for who they are. We are all different, and we should cherish the unique nature of each person, of each individual’s belief system, sexual orientation, gender and race. We are in the world, on this earth together…..together we must stand against the horror. Make the choice, let it begin in you, in me, now. Let us, once again, have some faith in the basic goodness of humankind. That is, after all what it boils down to, FAITH. Change may seem impossible, even to me, the ever-optimistic idiot, but with faith, anything is possible. We may think that we can, perhaps, bring about change in our own lives, but changing the minds of those against us, the people that cause all the horror and evil in the world, well….impossible. But with faith, don’t you think it is actually possible?

After all, faith is the one thing that, in my opinion, we lack in the world….we’ve stopped believing long ago. Have faith – faith in each other, faith in our ability to bring change, faith in the possibility that we can actually live in peace and harmony with one another, despite our differences, faith that we can change the heart of even the darkest, most evil person on earth…..stop looking with your eyes at the horrors, it will consume you, drive you insane….we cannot, as the quote above states, take it much longer. We are on the verge of become an insane world, so filled with misery that we cannot find our way in the darkness anymore. So, close your eyes for a moment to the horror, and look to the inside, YOUR soul, YOUR heart…..find that little seed of faith and let it grow…towards hope, towards change. Now look at the world from a different perspective and try to find the good things, the hopeful things around you, let THAT grow………who knows what you will be able to achieve.

Don’t tell me you can’t, at least, give it a shot. The alternative is bleak: stay ignorant, stay consumed by the world of horror and bear witness to mankind’s demise. Your choice…..have faith, or not….

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#BreastCancer #Survivor

Psalm 23:4:

 ‘’Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.’’

I’ve been wondering about how to speak my mind about the situation I currently find myself in. Where do I begin? How to I decide what should be said and what should be kept hidden in my mind-files? Well, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I should just, kind of, begin in the middle and work my way in both directions, especially considering the fact that there is no definite outcome yet.

So, here goes (and if I, like always, babble and ramble on, bear with me…I am NOT sure yet about anything, so digressing and contemplating things is just my way of getting the tale told).

Over the past few weeks I’ve been blessed  with compliments and thanks for the way I inspire people. I’ve been nominated for awards, won a few and was even called an ‘’iconic woman’’ at some point. I don’t deserve any of this, though…not to be misunderstood, I am eternally grateful to the people who’ve said these kind words, but mostly I’m surprised that I’ve been noticed at all. I am such a ‘’nothing’’ person, so invisible….something like this is quite unique and, actually, a little bit strange, even slightly embarrassing, for me. I’ve been wondering though, why, after nearly 48 years of being who I am, doing whatever it is I do, that people are noticing me now. In my opinion the answer came by way of a wonderful physician who gave me the most awful news (I’ll get to that eventually). You see, even though I thought that all these years, while I’ve been doing kind deeds, supporting others in their time of need, taking on battles for others, being the strong one while others falter and so on, no one actually SAW me…I was wrong. People did notice and all my efforts were not for nothing. I did help others and I did give hope and inspiration. Now, even in my own time of need, I can still be strong, still stand up and fight my battle and continue to relentlessly inspire others. All the kind words, all the nominations, all the winnings of the past few weeks were meant to happen just in time for me to realise that all is not lost. I hope you will understand what I’m trying to point out: in short, I was told that people saw what I do, so that I can have the courage to continue speaking out, sharing my life, my experiences and now this disease and in that way spread a word of hope. But, not only THAT, no, I want people to know that God Himself placed me here, at this moment, in this position, with this problem so that His Name can be exalted through me and other lost souls can find their way back to Him, using my testimony as a guiding light. THAT is why I’m here, now, at this specific place and time.

That said (I will get to the matter of my ‘’situation’’ soon enough)but, in the meantime,  be patient please. I may repeat myself (the old noodle is not what it used to be, you know!) and I may tell you things you already know about me, or things that you may not agree with….just know that what I’m telling is the true story of a family, of life, of pain, sorrow, darkness and a little bit of light (for some, believe me, the darkness was overwhelming), but mostly, it’s just a way of telling you how things came to pass…and perhaps, WHY it came to pass and how it happened that, today, I can look at those things in the past with more understanding and empathy, because now I am in the same position as the ladies I am about to tell you about.

The first person I’ll introduce you to is my great-grandmother. As a child I was told about her suffering and how she died of breast cancer in the 1940’s. My Mom used to tell me how she and her sisters had to help great-gran during her battle with the illness. Her cancer was so aggressive that it had the appearance of a skin ulcer that constantly wept. Mom said she never forgot the smell or the how horrible the wound looked. She said it looked as if someone punched a hole in great-gran’s breast. The girls (Mom wasn’t even 20 years old) had to clean this wound and help great-gran get around, to bathe, dress, whatever. I cannot imagine how bad it must have been so see someone you care about suffer like that. It was excruciatingly painful and the doctors had no way of treating it back then. Remember, it was before chemo and radiotherapy. All the family and the medical profession could do was to make her as comfortable as possible. Needless to say, the cancer spread like wildfire through her body, so in the end it was a relief for both her and the family when she passed (I think), though Mom was careful not to mention her own feelings about great-gran’s death. Her eyes told the story anyway….her horror at being responsible for nursing a sick old woman, her disgust at doing the chore of cleaning the wound and the embarrassment of bathing the family’s matriarchal figure, seeing her helpless….and, yes, possibly also guilt at wishing her dead, released from the misery. Years later, with Mom becoming the type of person she was (you’ll see more in another paragraph), I looked back on these tales of hers and understood why she was such a bitter, depressed person.

The next lady you’ll meet is Grandmother. Gran also had lumps in her breasts. That was in the 60’s, but it was all very hush-hush and Mother only mentioned it a few times. Even my aunt seems reluctant to talk about it, so about her struggles with breast cancer and lumpectomies, I know very little.  My aunt Ester, though, she has been to hell and back with it and not at all shy to share her survival story. She is some woman, this aunt of mine. Her energy and positive attitude have always been an inspiration to me. Aunt E has had several lumpectomies over the years and some of those lumps were malignant. She has had parts of her breasts removed and went through the treatment programmes. In addition to the cancer, she has the same heart defect that I have and she’s had some of her toes removed, because of bunions and malformation of bones, etc….AND a few years ago (I think it was around 2008) she even had a stroke. Being the type of person she is and much to the horror of her doctors she relentlessly hounded them to be discharged from hospital, because, she said: ‘’I have orders for paintings to complete!“ She still has trouble using her right side and sometimes have trouble holding her paintbrush, but hold it she does…without complaint, without the ‘’suffering’’ disposition one would expect from someone who has been challenged so often in life. She is the last one of her family left, having survived her parents (my grandparents), who died years ago,  her brother and 3 sisters (aunt Betsy, my Mom and their retarded little sister, June). Yet, when you meet her, she has this aura of electric energy around her. Her eyes always glitter like stars and she’s always busy doing something. Her attitude is very contagious…..it’s like she literally GLOWS with positivity. I remember she used to say that she wanted to live until she’s 105, but, because my Mom is such a ‘’sufferer’’, she had to change it to 102…out of respect for Mom, you understand. When Mom passed away in 2009, her words of goodbye, as she bent over my poor Mother’s body and kissed her were: ‘’Spoilsport! Who will be my competition in birthday celebrations now?’’ I couldn’t help but smile…that was just SO aunt Ester. These days she still continues working; painting, running her framing business, holding art exhibitions, inspiring and teaching other artists……..oh, I forgot to mention, she’s 80 years old. To me, this woman’s picture should be next to the word ‘’life’’ in the dictionary.

Aunt Ester and my Mother were sisters, but their attitudes were so different that I can still not believe they grew up in the same house, with the same parents, had the same experiences (yes, aunt E also helped to take care of my sick great-gran), plus she also had breast cancer herself. Yet, she still managed to light up with vitality and life, while Mom just sat on the rock next to life’s road and watched everything go by.  Life has never been good for Mom at all, but during the 80’s things got decidedly worse for her.  It was 1986; a difficult time for us already. I was just 19 and a year before we lost our little angel (brother’s little girl of 3) in a car accident. So times were really tough and Mom was especially depressed, gloomy and morose, even more than usual. She never went for tests, mammograms and sonograms, despite the fact that she knew the risk for breast cancer is extremely high in our family. One balmy Sunday evening in March 1986, she discovered a lump in her breast. The next day, Monday, she went to see her GP. He immediately referred her to a surgeon who, without hesitation, admitted her to hospital for a lumpectomy on the Wednesday. Those of you who’ve ever had a breast lumpectomy will know that, before you’re wheeled into the theatre, you have to sign a release form, stating that, should the lump be malignant, the doctor may perform a more aggressive operation like a full mastectomy or removal of more breast tissue than normally required with benign lumps. Mom signed without second thought, thinking perhaps that all will be well. It wasn’t, though. It was cancer and the surgeon decided to perform a radical mastectomy. She was, understandably, terribly upset, especially since, when she came to after the anaesthesia; her first sight was of two representatives of the Cancer Association of South Africa. (I actually thought that was very insensitive of the hospital to allow them so soon, but what could one do? It was done and we had to deal with Mom’s reaction.) Both Dad and Mom were devastated by the news and she never quite recovered. The medical aid refused to pay for a reconstruction, so she always had just the one breast (I can actually imagine how that must have been; seeing yourself scarred like that every day for the rest of your life). I remember when she died the doctors in the emergency room had the temerity to ask me why she just had one breast. I was tempted to give a snippy answer like: ‘’She just woke up one morning and thought, oh, perhaps I’ll have an op today…a mastectomy of just one breast, say. Having two is really SO overrated,’’ or ‘’Oh, I’m sorry, we didn’t have time to pack it….she became ill quite suddenly, you know.’’  Of course, with her dying, I just gave the proper reply and let it be, but I’ll never forget that. Such a stupid question…don’t you agree? Honestly!

Anyway….back to 1986. Mom went for treatment for five years after diagnoses and was declared clear of cancer at the end of it. She was cancer free, as far as we know, until her death of a heart attack in January 2009. But, as I said, she never got over it. She always had this cloud over her; its darkness infiltrated her entire existence. Nothing was ever the same after and, perhaps, losing a granddaughter also had a lot to do with it, or perhaps it was the two catastrophic things that happened to her within one year that caused her mood to spiral downward, I’m not sure. Mom was never really happy after that. One got the feeling that her smiles and laughter, if one were lucky enough to witness it, were just pretending.  She and Dad fought constantly. They used to fight a lot before, too, but it steadily got worse as the years dragged on and living with them became quite challenging. (No one ever knew about this, of course….I’ve never told a soul until now.) When I got married in 1988 it was a relief to move in with my husband.  I cannot fully explain the extent of her mood swings or the senselessness of her actions and cannot dream of comprehending the true source. In fact, I’m not sure I’m up to going into all the details now, but suffice to say that, having had cancer and the mastectomy, on top of everything else,  definitely left more than just a physical scar. She used to say that she felt like ‘’half a woman’’. All this was only aggravated by her eventual sinking into Alzheimer’s and then, the final blow was perhaps my sister’s death in 2004. To say Mom lived a ‘’blue’’ life would be an understatement. She was never particularly jolly, but ‘’blue’’ is too bright to describe her desperation and depression over the last 20-25 years of her life. Poor Mom, how I wish everything turned out different, better, for her.  When I look back on her life and the struggles she had since her teens; the challenges she faced….I understand why she was like that, why she didn’t have a fighting spirit. It is such a shame, because she wasn’t a bad person at all. She actually had a very good heart, despite her very sharp tongue and I loved her very much. I just wish that I spoke to her back in the day and told her that she needn’t feel guilty about the past or cling to old grudges and dislikes. That she deserved some happiness and that nothing is as bad as it seems. All it takes is a different perspective….I should have told her that she must allow herself to let it go of all the sadness and live the life she was freely given to the full. I do so hope that, in death, she has made her peace.

This brings me to my sister. Sis was a lot like Mom (mood-wise). Sister was clinically depressed and, occasionally, she even tried medication (without much success, I must add). Her life was not a particularly happy one, but she had her moments. We used to be known as the ‘’giggling sisters’’. Gosh, we had laughs!! Yes, she could be great fun….but then her mood will swing and the depth of her depression, more often than not, became, well, indescribable. Only people who know deep depression will understand how she felt. Being depressive myself, I did, or tried to, but where I always tried to fight off the strange attraction of those dark emotions, she simply couldn’t resist. To her the possibility of not being depressed was not an option; it was one or the other……total crazy, hilarity or deep, dark depression (I sometimes think she was bipolar, undiagnosed though…and, remember, it is just my own opinion. Maybe if she got the proper help her disposition would have been better.)  Well, despite her volatile emotional state, sister got married when she was just 19 (that was way back in ‘73). I was a little girl, grade 1 and was the flower girl at the wedding (wearing yellow – don’t you DARE laugh! The wedding colours were purple and yellow with the groom and his team wearing purple, yes PURPLE, suits and the bride and her team with hair done up in beehive-styles with yellow flowers stuck in it!) The colour scheme may have been a laugh, but it set the mood for the wedding…..it was what she wanted and it was the happiest day of her life. They never had children. Sister had endometrioses and gave up after one treatment (that was her style, poor thing). She stopped working at age 27 and stayed home after her diagnoses caused a nervous breakdown. She had to face the fact that she would be childless forever….she adored children, you see and would have been a wonderful Mother, I’m sure.  The depression only intensified after that and, in the end, I think her death was not so much the result of cancer as it was SUICIDE by cancer (once again, this is just my opinion). She and her husband seemed happy, though, despite having lots of troubles over the years. They always got along, never fought and were always very supportive of each other. In 1991 he was involved in a terrible car accident and were forced to take early retirement, because of his injuries. Receiving a small monthly pension resulted in some financial strain, but they continued to seem okay, despite that. She had her good days and her bad days; we had our laughs and our tears….life went on. Then, in 2004, February of that year, in fact, I had to have a breast lumpectomy myself and called to inform her. She told me that she had a lump in her breast too, but refused to get it examined, even after I insisted that she should see someone. Brother-in-law said that he noticed her purchasing creams and balms, but never thought to ask why. It turned out that it was great-grandmother all over again. The cancer burst open on her skin’s surface in August that year. The doctors discovered that it had spread to her lungs, kidneys and liver and suggested chemotherapy, but they refused to remove her breast. In retrospect, I think she was too far gone already and she wasn’t strong enough for the operation…the doctors knew this, I suspect, but chose not to mention it. Perhaps they thought they had a chance with the treatment, who knows? Anyhow, she received only 3 dosages of chemo when they discovered the cancer in her brain. They discontinued the chemo and gave radiotherapy instead. By then she was very weak, her immune system totally compromised and the welcome mat out for any old virus or germ that was looking for a cosy little body to set up shop in. She died on 5 November 2004 – complications following bronchitis. Once again I worried that she lived an empty life. She could have enjoyed it all so much more if she had a different view on things, a different approach to the challenges life threw at her.

You may wonder why on earth did I tell you all this. Well, it will explain why I eventually did what I did and, as I mentioned a while back in a related post …I’ve been contemplating this step for most of my life. You also needed to understand the depth of the emotions that ran through these women in my family. You needed to SEE what I saw, perhaps get an indication of the feelings I had eventually about them and their deaths (or lives, if you consider my VERY lively aunt Ester). I loved them all dearly, not that I knew my great-grandmother, but my gran, Mom and sister….despite all their dark moments, their desperate attempts at living some kind of authentic life. I’ve accepted them with their darkness and all and I’ve also accepted that I am different in a very profound way. I am NOT a sufferer, I am NOT afraid to live and I am NOT afraid to die, either….just not  yet, mind you!! Whatever life used to throw at me, I survived, I got up and challenged the circumstances, shouldered my way through troubles and swam through oceans of sorrow and pain. Many times in my life I carried these women; times that they just couldn’t go on…I HAD to do something! Someone HAD to take responsibility and I was always elected, either by choice or chance, I was elected. I never held these times against them….it was my job, I was the fighter, the warrior in the family…I HAD to do it.  I never resented them for just numbly laying low while I kick some ass somewhere (so to speak).  So, please, I loved them all, but, to be quite honest, I don’t want to live like they did and even more so, I don’t want to die like they did….without having ever taking a chance, ever really grabbing every opportunity life presents and simply BE. Having said this, I need to mention something else…it always bothered me…people say that, when you pass, you see your life passing in front of your eyes, like a movie. So I pose the question: What did they see? Were they happy with what they saw? Did they have any regrets? Did they finally understand that they missed something?  I don’t want to have regrets; I don’t want to wonder about ‘’what if’s’’ and, perhaps more importantly,  I want my children to remember me for my life, for living, for experiencing thousands of different things, of being a bit nuts, weird-crazy, funny, sometimes even a bit scary. My kids shouldn’t be allowed to remember my death. These women now,  I try to remember them happy, but with only great difficulty I am able to recall distinct moments of joy in their lives, yet all I can remember with painful clarity, is their deaths…..poor, sad, souls and on the heels of that…what a waste. What a waste of life…..God’s gift. Do you understand what I’m saying? The terrible sadness of it all?

This finally brings me to my story, my experience and the events that lead up to whatever is transpiring in my life today. I do hope you will, when reading these final paragraphs, understand why I explained in such detail about the 5 most important women I’ve known. Their lives and their disposition, their choices and reaction to challenges, had a direct influence on what is happening to me now.

In November it will be  10 years since my sister died; just a few months after her passing I went to my Ob/Gyn for my annual check-up. Before that, as usual, I had my annual breast scan and mammogram, so the test results accompanied me on my visit to the doctor. Of course they discovered yet another lump (no surprise there, but instead of referring me for the usual lumpectomy my Ob/Gyn suggested I have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. He didn’t even know my sister had just died! I nearly fainted in shock and surprise! Remember, I was just 37 years old and, although I’ve had thoughts of breast cancer, my thoughts were more in the direction of preventative screening – something that neither my Mom nor sister ever considered doing. I was going for my check-ups religiously, so the need for major surgery seemed quite ridiculous at the time. The surgeon I was referred to felt the same way, but suggested that I keep it in mind for future consideration. He decided to do just the basic lumpectomy and that was that. So I filed the idea somewhere in my mind. But, I didn’t forget (as per instruction)….I also didn’t just remember, no, the idea started to haunt me continuously. Every time I discover a lump, every time I had to have an op to remove it, every time I went for my screening….I turned it over and over in my mind like a dark jewel. But that was just how it remained….a haunting thought that I sometimes stumbled upon, picked up and considered for a while, then shrugged away, returning it to its dusty drawer in my mind. It was just something that became part of my little life.

Until this year, that was. The first one to mention it was my GP. I did go for my screening and a lump was discovered; in fact, I’ve known about this particular lump for some time – almost 2 years. One could actually SEE it; very small, the size of a pea, but THERE. The sonogram confirmed its existence, hence my visit to the GP. He referred me to a general surgeon, who also suggested a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and, perhaps, having a BRAC 1 and 2 genetic test beforehand. I asked the doctor if he thought I should really have this operation; if maybe I shouldn’t just consider having the usual, a lumpectomy. You see, I realised it will not be a walk in the park. Surgery always carries a risk and recuperating after such a major operation may take a while, plus, I’m a baby when it comes to pain. I remember he just sat there behind his desk, picked up the pathologists referral, balled it up and threw it in the dustbin. ‘’Let’s not waste time anymore,’’ he said and wrote a referral to a plastic surgeon. Prophylactic mastectomy, he said; 95% chance of getting breast cancer with my family history, he said, and proceeded to write a motivational letter to our medical aid. Within 3 days they approved the procedure. Even then, after the decision has been made, I doubted doing it, but something kept on trying to convince me of the fact that I MUST do it; that it was the right thing to do. Everywhere I went I suddenly met other women who also had breast cancer. They encouraged me to do the procedure, to get it over with and then, a few weeks before the operation was due to take place I had a prophecy from someone.

All the while I had this bizarre feeling that something was wrong; something was different this time and all these ‘’coincidences’’ were becoming extremely ‘’non-coincidental’’, it was slowly becoming confirmation.

Let me tell you a bit about these incidents….it happened daily.  In one week I met 4 women who had breast cancer, one of them nearly 10 years younger than myself, with small children. Talking to them, seeing how they dealt with the blow of being diagnosed and how they survived the treatment really gave me hope, especially since mine would only be prophylactic (or so I thought then). Furthermore, their attitude towards the diagnoses was so different from the attitudes I’ve witnessed in my family….so much more positive. It also seemed that every day in my Bible studies, God spoke directly to me about the step I was about to take, constantly confirming that the decision was the right one. In addition to this, as I mentioned earlier, there was the prophecy I received. Now, as I said, I’ve had a strange feeling about the entire procedure. Everything about it seemed almost pre-destined, pre-ordained and the feeling I got overall was one of strange foreboding – as if, though the decision was the right one, there was something else, something bigger behind it all. I told a friend it felt as if a shadow hung over me all the time. It became so distinct that I could literally feel the coldness, like a constant breeze on my neck. It was VERY weird. Then, one day after my yoga class, a lady I’ve only met once before during a previous class, came up to me and said she had to tell me something. She said that she wasn’t sure she should say it out loud, but it felt as if something was compelling her to talk. By then I knew that the operation was inevitable, and I knew that my decision has been made, but she didn’t know anything about it. She said that (and note the words): ‘’I see the shadow of cancer over you, but you will be healed.’’ I told her about my decision to have a bilateral mastectomy, but that, despite the fact that I did indeed have a lump at the time, cancer wasn’t yet confirmed. However, the moment she spoke up, I had the distinct feeling that she was correct in her observation, but I still held on to the hope that everything will be fine and kept on worrying that I was wasting money and the surgeon’s time (silly me, yes?).

The scripture continued to confirm my choice and so did dreams I had… The day of the operation dawned. When they wheeled me into the operating theatre I said to the assisting doctor that I felt like getting up and running away. It was only then that I decided the total finality of it all….I was going to lose both breasts…by choice. The only comfort I had was the fact that I felt, deep in my heart, that God Himself put me on this road and that I’ve actually taken 10 years to finally decide what to do. As I explained to my daughter…rather Mommy go into hospital for a few days, than Mommy going away to heaven forever. I didn’t want my children to see my dying like my sister did, remember….what I did, that terrible decision, I made, NOT for me, I made it for them. I wanted them to have a mother for a long time, not a vague memory that will only be at their weddings and their children’s christenings in spirit….I’d prefer being there myself, in person, front and centre, cheering them on as they continue on their lives paths. As it turned out, this may be something I wouldn’t be able to do after all…..

About the operation….no fun, not recommended….. This op was in part ‘’cosmetic’’ if you will…actually it was more ‘’reconstructive’’, but the basics are the same. The mastectomy itself is a very destructive procedure. The reconstruction involves the placement of silicone-filled implants underneath the pectoral muscle. Now if you think having cosmetic surgery is fun, think again. It may be a far different and less invasive surgery than mine, but I still think it is just as painful. In my opinion doctors should insist that people who have any type of breast surgery (that is, COSMETIC breast surgery) go for psychiatric treatment, or at least some kind of counselling beforehand. Man, it HURTS like hell!! I was in hospital for 3 days and the doctor prescribed extremely strong painkillers. For two weeks I was ‘’higher than a kite’’….just going through the motions of everyday life, literally lying low with my eyes unfocused, watching CSI Seasons on my computer. In retrospect it was actually very funny…I must have watched the same episodes a thousand times, simply because I couldn’t remember watching them in the first place! During that time the plastic surgeon removed my bandages and told me that the results of the pathological tests on the tissue removed were still pending, but that he had decided in theatre to remove the glands as well. As I mentioned earlier, he didn’t want to do this, but changed his mind during surgery. For me it was a bad omen. I told my husband that, the moment he told me that news, I knew that something was up. I thought he discovered something unexpected while removing tissue.

I was right…last Friday he gave me the news. There was cancer in the tissue he removed and, although he thought he got it all, he couldn’t be sure. The pathologist told him that, according to him, the operation happened in the nick of time. The next step would be to visit an oncologist and talk about the treatment. This will only happen in a few weeks’ time though…..I cannot receive any chemotherapy or any other type of treatment for the cancer before my wounds have healed properly.

Well, there you have it….it turned out that I didn’t decide on having the prophylactic mastectomy just because…it turned out there was a reason why all the signs and messages I received from God and other people pointed me in that direction. I just did it the other way around….first the op, then the diagnosis.

Now I know I have (or had) breast cancer and I deal with it rather well, I think. It is a very strange idea…thinking that you have a body that turned traitor like that, but, as I said to my husband, the only thing that REALLY makes me angry, is the fact that the damn cancer took so long to finally make an appearance!! I’ve actually been expecting it for a long, long time. Now it’s here, present and accounted for, thank you very much; not at all invited, not really welcome, but something to live with for a while anyway.

As usual I surprised everyone, including the doctor, with my reaction. To this day I haven’t cried about it or showed any type of emotion, not unless you think a positive attitude counts. This has been presented to me; this thing that I have to deal with now and I am going to do just that, whatever it takes. What gets to me, is how others react to the news. I’m sometimes so shocked at their reaction…their tears….it is almost as if they are already grieving for me. I told someone the other day that it’s as if I didn’t get the memo that told the world I’m very sick, possibly dying. One would think that they will be supportive and try to give one hope; instead I have to comfort THEM, put my arms around THEM and give THEM hope, dry THEIR tears… It just feels wrong. But, I guess this is life, this is me, this is the way I handle things. Perhaps people would always consider me strong enough to deal with everything, strong enough to bring comfort to others, even though it is me who has this little problem called cancer. I accepted this and I feel so sorry for these people who desperately try to swallow their tears; tears they cry for ME. When I think carefully about it, I should actually feel blessed that they care so much and that they will really miss me if I have to die.

Me, well, I’ll take every day as God presents it to me. Be thankful for the sunshine, be thankful that I can be alive……..I’m already going about my business as usual, grabbing huge handfuls of life along the way. I am NOT afraid of this thing that may still be lingering inside me. I will NOT give up and I know that God will be exalted through this experience. That is the whole idea, I think….I’ve been set upon this rocky road and I will walk through every shadow, climb over every fallen tree across the way, build bridges over the potholes if I must….but I will get through it, I will come out the other side. Do you want to know how I’ll do it? I’m NOT alone in this, God sent this my way, because He knew I will be able to conquer it in His Name….I know He will give me the proper tools to take it one day at a time, step by step….and in the end my survival will be a testimony that can bring hope and inspiration to all.

You see:

!!! I WILL FEAR NO EVIL !!!

 

…neither should you…

 

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