Faith Driven Thoughts

In the first two to three weeks I came home from the hospital, Tram, our puppy, just knew something was off.  Each time I got up, he got up.  Each slow step to the bathroom or strengthening walk around the living room and kitchen, he would match my pace, slowly and faithfully.  
It was a lot for him to lose me five days, then another two, without knowing if, when and what was happening to me, while I was at the hospital.  Every visiting nurse visit or appointment that took me away, he would cry when he was taken to another room, or, I stepped out of the house.  
When I left, He gave up his guard dog duties and wouldn’t bark when FedEx came to the door.  He’d drop treats onto the floor and would walk away from them.  He’d hide in his crate and only come back to life when I returned.
Each time I was back home, he’d get so excited, it concerned my mom he might get tangled in my drains, or, that I would trip over him when he walked with me.  But, there was no stopping him.  In due time, she realized he was determined to know at all times where I was going each time I moved, and that, wherever I landed, that I would arrive next to him, both of us safe and sound.
As I have gotten better, he has let me go for these short trips more or less on my own.  He gained a trust that he didn’t always have to see me to know I was there.  And sometimes now, he just  eyeballs me, maybe stretches, barely picks up his head otherwise, as if to say, “You’re good.  You’ve got this.”  He has been a master of reading the physical signs of strength returning and has become more secure that, even if I am seemingly gone a short while from his sight, I am still there.  
But, unless I am outwardly emotional, he doesn’t know how I am doing on the inside.  He’s never known the quirky self image burdens I’ve carried along with me daily for years and years.  He can’t see those.
Free of the drains, and in the proper support garments, I feel more comfortable and strong and am walking faster and taller.  But, I look at my scars and I’m a bit of a mess.  They’re huge and dark and, as clean and beautiful of a job I keep hearing the surgeons have done to rebuild my body, it is still so alien to me.  Covered up, it is fine.
I don’t know what to make of this hip to hip scar and new belly button.  When I stare too long, they spook me.  When the binder is off and I feel the heaviness of my swollen protruding abs return, pushing and pulling me forward… I know all we have is time to wait and see if this will please heal up on its own.
I wonder if the drain holes low on my belly will ever fully close up and lighten up.  They give me mean looks.  Oh, and when the repair surgery comes and they re-enter through the scar, will there be two new drain holes so that two sets of eyes glare at me, meaner and darker than they do now?
My nipples were saved, spared but are dark, crackly, armour like scabs, numb to the touch.  Too early for salves, they just wink at me.
Tram wouldn’t know how to help me with these mind games I trip over in some of my quiet time.  The times my values are skewed.  I suspect, even if he knew how uncomfortable I am looking in the mirror, as I apply my salves and try to press in my bulging abdominal muscles with my hands, he would nod off.
I’ve gotta keep my eyes on God.  If I am left to my own devices, I will focus on all the lesser things.  I will see the scabs and scars more than the healing.  I will focus on the frustration that comes from getting ahead of God.  The what ifs doomsday questions that He did not allow prior to surgery, but allows somewhat now. 
“How many bullets will He allow me to dodge?” I ask.  We met our oncologist last week and there is one more test result prior to knowing for sure if I am scott free of chemo by Mon.  It will take weeks to know of I will succumb to the many side effects of the 5-10 year preventative meds, which, at it’s worst, can cause a rare other kind of cancer.  
This is a continuous walk with Him, this road.  It’s going to take more trust and focus on Him than ever.  It’s over but it’s not over.
As it should be.
I really need Him to keep my eyes focused on His miracles.  He has always lifted me out of these stumble filled places and there has always been something bigger to gain than to lose.
If I haven’t been writing much lately, it’s because I am in listening mode.  I have to be diligent in these times at listening.  The miracles are in His quiet work within me.  I can’t hear if I am always talking or spinning my wheels.  He knows.  Everything. 
I am reminded by this verse that the goal is to keep walking at His pace.  To stick with Him and land where He lands us.  To come and go and arrive in His time.  And, without anxiety and worry, know deeply He might seemingly disappear on me in my neediest of times, but trust He is still there.  I’ve got to daily pray to be in a place where I can let Him walk ahead, side by side, or just wait, eyeballing Him from that faith filled place and say, “You’re good.  You’ve got this.”

(A powerful one)

Cracks on the Pot

In a few days, I will be a restructured version of my physical self.  The kind breasts that nourished and supplemented our children’s needs for some 6+ years combined, will be removed, biopsied for any further news and, finally, discarded.  In a few days, and within a ten to twelve hour time span, the bilateral double mastectomy and DIEP Flap reconstructive surgery will allow four sets of hands to rearrange and refurnish me.  New breasts will be formed and step in, to impersonate the old, from my own abdominal fatty tissue.  With humor, I have been diligently attempting to grow this landscape further, assisting the 43 year old metabolism with rigor, to, at the very least, have some kind of say in all this.  I realized from the start, the only choice I have on this new path I tread, is to stay steadfast in my gratitude, with humor, and complete trust in God and His plans for the rest of my life.  Quite unnaturally, I have had the facility to feel the complete and normally unnerving vulnerability and helplessness required, in order to receive the true outpouring of generous familial love and friendship.  Time off from work and retirement life, furniture much needed for recovery, meal provisions, house cleaning, care for my children in substitute guardianship on weekly homeschool co-op days, rides, playdates, sleep overs and, most significantly, heartfelt best wishes and deep prayer have come and more on the way.  A small loving army has risen to stand by us, so I can lay things down.  I soon move forward from this chapter with a telling scar across my belly and breasts.  Currently smooth and unscathed skin will soon bare permanent markings.  I will have cracks on my body I cannot erase.  While this malignant nodule’s appearance and escorted departure will mark my smooth regions forever, I trust, the most important things still remain.  And, that knowledge is all I need more than ever.

From Pastor Nicky Gumbel’s “Bible in One Year” Devotional, which I came across just this morning:

A water-bearer in India had two large pots, both hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot always arrived half full.

The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream:

‘I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologise to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.’

The bearer said to the pot, ‘Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.’

Thankfully, God uses cracked pots! You do not need to be perfect for God to use you…