Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolved


You all know from last year's post how I feel about New Year's Resolutions. As I was going through some of my old notes from my more intellectual days, I ran across some of the writings of Jonathan Edwards. He wrote a series of resolutions that he committed to read through every week. There are seventy of them. I picked out some of my favorites to share...things I want to keep in mind each day.

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. 

41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better.

43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s.

53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. 

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Survivor Phase

A friend of mine posted the following comment on my blog recently. She's an oncology nurse and experienced in all things cancer. I love getting her perspective.

"Stephanie, your journey with cancer is never over. You are just entering a different phase of it called Survivor-ship. Some say this is actually the hardest part of cancer, the watching and waiting. Not having the pronounced end goal of finishing treatment in sight, not having your weeks filled with tests and treatments and doctors. You have to learn to live with a different normal. The best part of this leg of the journey- you are a Survivor!"

I can't get her post out of my mind. My first thought was, "Wow! She really understands!" She articulated well the battle that all cancer survivors face. She understands those moments of fear, wondering if the latest symptom is a sign the cancer has returned. She understands the dread of potentially more horrible treatments. This is a battle that I face constantly. I will be honest in confessing that there are moments when I get tired of the battle and think, "I just don't want to deal with this!" and I wish the cancer had taken me to my home in Heaven. The possibility of recurrence hangs over my head always. It feels like the week before finals and the stress of the semester is hanging over me. But in this case, finals never come, and the weight remains, with no end in sight.

So, is it true that my journey with cancer is never over?
Is this my new life?
Dread? Fear? Watching? Waiting?
Carrying a never-ending burden that feels too heavy to bear?
With all my resolve, I muster up my war-cry: "Absolutely not!"
I will not let these moments of fear steal from me! It is my choice. I will not give in! Today, my battle with cancer is over. Today, I choose not to live in fear. What do I have to fear? Death? Certainly not! My home is in Heaven, and my faith is in a God who is in complete control. My days are in His hands. My children are in His hands. Today I don't have cancer, and today I will live as if I don't have cancer. I refuse to worry about tomorrow.

My parents were divorced when I was young. In a misguided attempt at protecting me, they innocently tried to prepare me for the possibility of divorce in my own life. Finally one day I rebelled. I said, "No! I will not plan my marriage with the expectation of divorce!" Call it naive. Call it whatever you like. But I feel the same way about cancer. I will not live my life with cancer in mind. I will not live in fear of something that is only a possibility.
So I ignore that soft whisper in my ear, telling me to fear, telling me the cancer has come back. And on the days where it changes from a soft whisper to a loud cry, I find refuge in the arms of my Savior. I seek comfort from the God of peace. I allow Him to lift my burden and give me a reprieve.

"You will keep in perfect peace 
   those whose minds are steadfast, 
   because they trust in you. 
Trust in the LORD forever, 
   for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal." 
 ~Isaiah 26:3-4

My battle is not against cancer. My battle is the same one it's always been: Where will I fix my eyes?
On cancer? On my circumstances? On possibilities?
Those things lead only to fear.
I fix my eyes on the eternal. I fix my eyes on Jesus. And all else fades away...

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. 
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  
~2 Corinthians 4:18

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..."  
~Hebrews 12:2

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Growing Old

Today I am 38. I'm not sure what happened to 37. It seems like just yesterday I was 36. The last two years have been a blur. I am very thankful to be celebrating my birthday this year. I was at the store check-out a few months ago, when the young clerk told me it was his birthday. The kid couldn't have been much older than twenty. He commented about feeling old and not looking forward to birthdays anymore. I smiled to myself. Then I decided to speak up. I told him that I had just finished a brutal battle with cancer, and how thankful I will be to celebrate my birthday. Growing old is a gift. Every wrinkle, every scar, every gray hair, each representing an experience that makes us who we are. It is sad the lengths we go through to cover them, and how little we value aging.
I remember a friend once prayed for me. He prayed for long life. He prayed that I would see my grandchildren. It took my breath away. I had not dared to hope for that. My prayer was that my kids would have a mom as long as they needed one. But grandchildren! Oh what a gift that will be!
I'm excited to grow old. I'm excited for 40. I'm excited for 50 and 60 and 70...
What wonderful opportunities to celebrate the gift of life!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Power Port

I had my port removed last Monday. I was hoping they would knock me out, since I am intensely squeamish. Instead, I was awake for the entire procedure, and am now left with a very sore incision that has been nicely stitched up. Damie, who is on the other end of the squeamish spectrum, watched the entire thing, all the while telling the surgeon of all his brutish experiences doctoring up his own wounds. Damie has, in fact, given himself stitches multiple times. He loves to learn new and better techniques from trained professionals, just in case he ever finds himself needing to perform emergency surgery.
For those of you who don't know what a port is, it is a medical device that is placed under the skin. It is attached by a catheter to a vein. It makes it easier to take blood and to administer chemo and other drugs, and causes less damage to the veins. Although I detested it, it is, in fact a wonderful device.
It is placed right below the collar bone. Because I'm very boney in that area, mine protruded grossly. It made it easy for the nurses to find and accurately place the needle - so much so, that I was the perfect candidate for nursing students to gain practice, and I got my chance to be a lab rat.
How glad I am to be rid of it!