Celebrating “Normal.” Over a year of tests.

I started this health journey and confrontation with cancer in 2011. I read through a few of the early entries in my personal journal. One of the first people I called after getting the confirmation of the diagnosis  was a pastor at church. I wrote that he said, “I don’t know what God has for you [in this trial].” Boy, was he right.

I started follow-up appointments in November 2012, after chemo and radiation treatments were finished. My assignment was to go to the dr every three months for routine tests and occasional scans, blood work and one outpatient procedure. This foto has snapshots of the letters with test dates, showing that the results came back “normal” every time.

Letters from the hospital showing medical test dates. The foto on the left column shows that test results were all "normal."

Letters from the hospital showing medical test dates. The foto on the left column shows that test results were all “normal.”

I am thankful that the Lord walked with me through the stress or emotional tension that usually surrounded these appointments. I would usually have to take time off from work, which would remind me that I was still dealing with this health issue. But the Lord would be with me, through the commute, the parking lot, the cold waiting room, the lab visits, even with the familiar smells of the hospital lobby, the clinic’s television and lights. He would celebrate with me when it was over and show me the hand sanitizing pump by the exit as my reward.

My dr recently said that since all of my previous tests have been “normal,” then I can scale back on seeing being tested so often and my visits have been spread out to every SIX months, instead of three. I just have to praise God in how faithful He has been and kept me company every step of the way. I would not have three sample letters that show “normal” if it weren’t for His grace and strength to see me through those repeated examinations.

If you in the beginning or middle of your health confrontation, I pray that you are encouraged that the Lord already knows what lies ahead for you and your family. But don’t rush to make everything appear okay and miss out on the precious moments that you would not otherwise have with Jesus, if you didn’t have these situations with which to rely on Him. I personally know that it’s not easy. But God is not one to relax. He will show up to your need, each and every time, with each and every step. I pray that you can cherish the hard times and look to God as a “normal” source of strength, relief and encouragement.

Blessings,

Mahal

11 Things I’m Thankful For

1. Salvation and all that comes with it (see Romans, the whole book)

2. Trials that have directed me closer to God

3. Hard work

4. Family, even the ones I wouldn’t choose if I could

5. Coffee

6. Precious moments with my daughter that only my mind captures in memory

7. Unfinished goals to remind me to keep striving

8. Blank pages in notebooks as permissive spaces for me to create

9. People who read/like/follow all three of my blogs! [Poetry, Fitness, Healing]

10. Sleeping In

11. Ministry

From our simple pleasures like flavored coffee creamer to the big, layered things like our careers and relationships, I pray that we learn how to cherish those things that are both absent and present, as we develop our relationship with Christ. Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,
Mahal

What to Do When You Have Grumpy Days in Healing

The reality of healing means a bumpy, clumsy, occasionally depressing road. I believe it’s part of the process. Sometimes,  I have had the tendency to think that things were easier when I was fresh out of surgery because I only had one or two big priorities: to be able to eat enough and make my minimum walk for the day.

But feeling better brings about a heightened awareness of responsibilities that I hadn’t been able to tend to. It’s like a sharp light when waking up. I get overwhelmed and irritable. I feel like I got better just so I can face worse things.

This is a sample of the low days, when we feel like today is a real struggle. If you’ve been there, you’re not alone. What works for me is to focus on the basics: Bible reading, work, simple foods and rest. For some of us at different stages in our healing, even that list sounds like a mountain of work.

Scripture is really important to me at those points because I only want to hear what God has for me. I want to distance myself from my own beliefs about my situation, especially if I’m comparing my circumstances to another time period in my life when I wasn’t as healthy or when my relationship with the Lord wasn’t as close. You know that saying to go with your feelings? Don’t do it. It’s better to see what God thinks, rather than what we want to complain about. Reading God’s Word will also direct our prayer, even though sometimes we pray for things that we wouldn’t dare tell our loved ones. But I want to reassure you that this is normal. The refinement of our trial is still working even at this stage of healing.

There are other things that I check, if my emotions or thoughts start plummeting and I need to reach for a reasonable appreciation of my life. Here is a quick list and you can do your own inventory for yourself. Just be sure to answer honestly so you have a truthful starting point:

Are you getting enough rest? This is different from, “are you sleeping?” Sleep is what our bodies do when we can’t physically stay awake anymore. Rest is all gears at a stop: mind and spirit. When I first went back to work, I pushed myself because I didn’t want to appear weak. But I really should’ve packed up earlier and focused on getting enough rest. Psalm 127:2 reads, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”

Are you eating healthy foods? Diet and nutrition plays a huge part in healing. Some foods can actually make us cranky. For me, I notice that if I don’t get enough fruits and vegetables, I will feel and react more slowly. Then it’s a snowball effect.The Bible cautions us about a “false balance” and that it’s “not good to eat much honey.” On my “struggle” days, I try to prioritize rest and then eat light.

Are you demonstrating love? This is probably the grittiest part of the curve on the “down” days. But I’ve found that if we reach out to demonstrate love to someone, it takes our mind off of our own situation. The exertion of effort to show love to another person, whether by a text message or a brief visit, remedies our own heart. When we direct people to God’s love, we end up travelling the route ourselves and discovering a new comfort on the way. “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones,” is from Proverbs 16:24

Every healing story is unique and I found that it’s up to me to add to it. The hard days will come and facing them with the Lord as the “First Responder” is a way to bring us clarity, calmness and growth.

I pray that, if you come across a hard day like I did today, that you would look to God for the real and practical remedies from His Word, His Wisdom and His Ways.

Blessings,

Mahal

Celebrating the release of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller

Giving God the glory this morning for the release of missionary Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller from North Korea. They had been imprisoned for alleged hostile acts against the North Korean government. Missionary Bae was in prison for two years, sentenced to fifteen years, and Miller has seven months under his belt for what was originally a six-year sentence. I can’t imagine the pain of separation and isolation that these gentlemen and their families had to endure. Praise God for their release and their safe return home. I’m also praying for the healing that will take place when they reconnect with their loved ones and the adjustment of returning to a free environment. Praise the Lord for walking with these men through their trial. Romans 4:20-21 stood out to me this morning, ” He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” For more information on their stories, you can check these sites:
CNN
NBC
Yahoo

Blessings,
Mahal