Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day Six

I don't know how I feel today, other than I have a bad headache and my eyes hurt. Those who know me, know me to be very independent. My life in many ways has become a strict regime of timed medications and insomnia interrupted cat naps. It has become a daily schedule of radiation, chemotherapy and a complete reliance on others to drive me anywhere. Most of the things I could do before GBM I cannot do for now. As a person who has wrestled with depression, I have mulled over the possibility of a visit from "darkness, my old friend" while going through treatment. I struggle with the medication. Today, I have to work hard to focus on the positive realities of the drugs and not the very real negatives that also come along with them.

In His mercy and goodness (yes, I said mercy and goodness) I have been confined and forced into utter dependence. I believe I have been healed of GBM. Ultimately, the Lord will make that decision according to His perfect will that extends far, far beyond my small life. He has turned my life over and over in His hand like a stone. I am learning quickly the priceless treasure of what is eternal and on what truly has value. You idea of control over your life is an illusion. Make no mistake. Like Matt Chandler said "We are all terminal."

Psalm 86
A Psalm of Supplication and Trust.

"Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me;
For I am afflicted and needy.
Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man;
O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
For to You I cry all day long.
Make glad the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.

Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;

And give heed to the voice of my supplications!
In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You,
For You will answer me.
There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord,
Nor are there any works like Yours.

All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord,

And they shall glorify Your name.
For You are great and do wondrous deeds;
You alone are God.

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,

And will glorify Your name forever.
13 For Your lovingkindness toward me is great,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

O God, arrogant men have risen up against me,
And a band of violent men have sought my life,
And they have not set You before them.
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness and truth.

Turn to me, and be gracious to me;
Oh grant Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your handmaid.
Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day Five

I got a fairly immediate headache after radiation today. I tried preemptive Tylenol which did help for a while. My attempt at a nap when back home failed. I guess I was kind of wired thinking about the headache and weird eye sensitivity I have had for the last few days.

About two p.m. I was dozing on the day and heard footsteps on the roof. Someone came over and cleaned our gutters. I have no idea who. The sacrifice of neighbors and even strangers has been stunning to us and the wreckless manner in which God has poured out abundantly on top of our heads is overwhelming.

A few nights ago in my insomnia I began to talk to the Lord about how amazing the medical technology available to us is in current days. Just a few years ago with this diagnosis I would have been told to enjoy what short time I have left to live. He said "I freely give without measure. This is who I am. I want you to freely give as I have freely given. I saw a windshield, a glass, wet with clear water being wiped clean.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day Four

Today was the fourth day of radiation. Last Wednesday, the first day, I had a seizure about an hour after treatment. What a way to start and in particular to begin the all too human practice of building anxiety around an traumatic event. Though these seizures are short, they are very uncomfortable and apparently, unpredictable. Two things we hate.

At this point what I am experiencing are headaches about a half hour after the treatment. The battle in my mind is not to look down the long road ahead of 26 more exposures and wonder how bad it will get. I am being forced to live each day within it's day.

Matthew 6:34
"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Glioblastoma Multiforme Arrives

It is about three in the morning thanks and to the last month's journey and I am awake in more ways than one.

I have been mulling over how to write about the flooding hurricane that has been the last four weeks. Do I even want to? How much should I share? But my commitment to vulnerability and openness of myself and especially my faith in Jesus Christ propels me forward. You'll just have to bear with a painter attempting to write and then come to your own conclusions. I am fine with whatever they may be. I love and am friend to many kinds of people with all sorts of world and spiritual views, but under the circumstances given the massive work I see God clearly accomplishing beyond myself I must be honest with you all. And, I am prepared as well for your honesty.

The first thing I want to link to is my story which you can read in the previous post called "The Gospel." It is my journey of faith which began in 1994. Actually, it was a downright supernatural conversion accomplished within a matter of days. Overnight.

So, here we are now. On July 21st a series of focal seizures sent me to the ER, a CT scan showed a tumor. Within a week, I was admitted to the hospital, diagnosed with a brain tumor, stabilized on I.V meds, and had a complete resection craniotomy. Pathology revealed Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). This is the most aggressive and malignant of brain tumors. I began six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy last week. My plan is to write about each day. I welcome your comments and thoughts.

My husband, Craig, has been keeping a thorough Caring Bridge journal specifics here if you'd like to read the entire story of the last six weeks.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Gospel

How do I put into words the incredible circumstances that led me to follow Jesus……I have talked to many people about it, yet always feel so inept at describing the spring of 1994.

I can start with telling you a bit about my background. I was raised in a single parent home. My parents divorced when I was 6 over my father’s violent alcohol fueled temper. I was not raised in the church and it was not until my mom remarried my step dad when I was 12 that I first went to church with my family. Mostly, I didn’t get it and rather ended up loathing religion as years of unresolved pain, anger and depression lingered in my system into my 20’s. When I was 13 or so in a very real moment I did pray with my Sunday school teacher to believe in Jesus. All I can say to describe what transpired is that something went out through the top of my head and something else came entered. It freaked me out so much I never said anything about it to anyone.

At 14 I left secretly from home to Florida to live with my dad….after five years, I went on the Altanta College of Art where I formed my philosophy of life, slowly becoming more and more convinced that there was no god. I became heavily involved with the underground punk scene. I spent alot of nights going to see bands and drinking A LOT. The magnitude of my anger and depression was oppressive. I was working as a vet tech at the time in Decatur, a suburb of Altanta, spending evenings seeing bands. I didn’t do much art at the time being so busy with a demanding full time job, but somehow in the spring of 1994, I had the idea to paint a large scale work of Jesus. To me, he was just a great teacher, a historical figure. I thought it would be really cool to paint him nude. My first order of business was to do a little research. So, I would visit the local library to check out any books I could find. I read books from many different perspectives on who Jesus really was…..and this is where it becomes challenging to articulate.

In that little house in Decatur Georgia at some moment of time I cannot place, the presence of God filled the room surrounding me in a sort of bubble. It was the purest most beautiful thing one could ever imagine. To describe what the very presence of God feels like in words……impossible. This went on for several weeks. I slept little and even had multiple experiences with demonic attack. It did not take long for me to understand that the Spirit of God was pointing me to Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. As a matter of fact, the scripture speaks of a literal “rebirth”, a moving from death into life. And that is exactly what happened to me. I noticed that colors were more vibrant, I heard sounds with a certain new clarity. It really was like being dead and then brought to life. From that day on, nothing could convince me of any truth other than that Jesus Christ is exactly who the scripture says He is: The son of God sent to take on the sins of the world and offer reconciliation with God. Thus began a 16 year journey of study, prayer and following Him.

I cannot count the times He has spoken truth to me, blessed and worked in me, changed and healed me and I owe Him my life. I challenge each of you to truly examine the Jesus.

So, my friends, this is my story. And this is the gospel:

God, out of an overflow of His being and His glory, creates. He speaks and things come into existence. He creates the universe, the planets, and at the apex of His creation, He creates man in His image. He creates out of love. And He breathes His spirit into dust, and man is created. And then he creates woman. God created this perfect, harmonious, beautiful creation, and man decided that he could do things better than God, that he was smarter than God, that he could be a better sovereign than God could. So he rebels against the word of God. God told him how to live, what life was supposed to be like, told him want to do and what not to do. He gave man a path that leads to life. He displayed the way that leads to our ultimate joy which is only found in relationship with Him.

In love He said,
“Go this way, not this way.”
And man said, “You know what? I really appreciate You giving me some heads up, but I really think I know better than You, God. So I’m going to do this.”
So man sins, rebels against God and thus separates himself from relationship with God. And death enters the word, and it infects and shatters everything. And all of us now, in Adam’s fall, all sinned. All of us became sinners by our nature and by action; we join in this fall. And we do it every single day. All we have to do is look around and be honest about our own hearts and we can see the trail of pain we leave.

How in the world is God going to deal with this problem of having sinful creatures that rebel against Him and at the same time finish what He set out to do, which is namely to have a planet full of creatures who image and glorify Him?

After the fall, the rest of the Bible is preparing for Jesus Christ to step on the scene. It is the grand Metanarrative. It is a preparing for this great news to be trumpeted. He prepares for the coming of His Son by raising up a people, the Jews, who by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and a priesthood, by kings and by prophets are taught something of what God is planning and what He expects. This is the Old Testament and then in the fullness of time, His Son comes. Jesus of Nazareth, born of the Virgin Mary, in Bethlehem comes and takes on human nature. Jesus was fully man and fully God. Onto the stage of history in response to man’s sin and rebellion steps Jesus. Our problem is that we are separated from a holy God because we are sinners, because his wrath is deserved by us, and there is nothing we can do about. There is no amount of good works that we can do. Nothing. We can’t fix it. We can’t sacrifice it. We can’t do enough good. As a matter of fact God calls the “good” we do “filthy rags.” We will never be able to live up to God’s standard. So Jesus Christ went on the cross and died, and herein really lies the heart of the gospel. So, He lived the perfect life, performed miracles as a sign of His Godhead and then died for our sins. There is substitution that happened at the cross, a supernatural
substitution where God took on our sins. God the Son took on our sins and died for them
and gave us His righteousness. He got what we deserved, and He gave us what we don’t
deserve in dying for our sins. And then God raised him from the dead. The gospel is that Jesus Christ is Lord, He’s been raised from the dead and has come with Saving and transforming power. The great news is that God has decided not to leave this world and us in the mess that we got ourselves into. Through His Son, He’s decided to make all things new, and He’s invited us into that if we would trust Jesus Christ and submit our lives to Him as Lord and Savior.