You fight – we wait

waiting_for_dog_by_cathleentarawhiti-d64g7uz Every single day, you fight. You fight to hold onto what was, clawing your way to what could be, regretting what should have been. You ache for days that fill themselves with family, with loved ones, with hope. You wait, oh how you wait – for relief, for a cure, for some hope.

But it doesn’t come.

Grasping at every opportunity looking to find peace, you search with all your heart. For the next medical treatment, the newest doctor, some glimmer of hope. Oh how you fight, climbing up out of the pit of pain and suffering, you search becomes desperate. Hope flew away with the wind as you heard the word, hospice.

You want positive motion, energy, life. But hospice? No, no, not hospice. That would mean giving up. That would mean no longer fighting. That would mean defeat. Right? Well, no.  The battle has been fought and fought so hard.  With each breath you have struggled to take –  you find yourself moving closer to the unknown. Staring it down, it reaches into your core forcing you to face something so unfamiliar. You fight with all your might to keep yourself together, to not let go and to maintain control.

Yes, control.

The days run along, one after another – like the ones before. Filled with appointments, expectations and responsibilities that weigh you down. You move about your life and embrace times of hope filled healing. hard work and satisfaction that comes from the toil of your hands, your mind, your strength.Yes, your strength.

Relying upon yourself you face your fear and when doing so, you often fail. It’s not the power of your words or your actions that speak. It’s not the power of your mind or body that revel you. Oh no, it’s the power of your spirit. Of the strength of who you are as a person that radiates throughout your hospital room. This strength rises high above any expectation. Your goals and your hopes are high, your desire, strong. Your will, unshakeable.

You will beat this.

Yet the words ring in your ears. Hospice, hospice, hospice. Death looms on the horizon and you hesitate to make any decision – for in doing so it may stop your light from leaving this world – peering down at your impending death. You ache to remain here in this world,  while we begin to prepare our minds and hearts for the world without you. Meditating on life with the gaping hole you will leave behind.

Oh how we want you here. Oh yes! But even moreso, we want you in peace. We need you in peace. You hold on and we ache to hold onto you. Experiencing these moments of true joy and authenticity drizzle sweet mercy upon our wounded hearts. We embrace times of grace, love and forgiveness. For maybe the first time, we live, you live.

Live!

In these moments I know it’s true, you will  live on. Hospice or no hospice. Cancer of no cancer. Life or death. You will live. You will remain. You will stretch beyond this world that you know and challenge us, challenge me. We will grow, because of you. We will love, because of you. We can find hope, because of you. We can fight, because of how you taught us to. You will always be with us and in our hearts. Loving us from afar, nudging us to take another step and reminding us that love comes in many forms. Perhaps not with the words we want to hear, but the life we want to live. Each moment with deep passion, and with you – God. Yes, God.

The time for control is over. You are preparing to leave us behind. We are embracing the total measure of your life. It’s not found in money, nor career or material things. Hardly! The peace we find, is resting in the arms of Jesus Christ and letting Him care for you. Embrace you. Love you. Yes, you.

From this life into the next.

Which stage are you?


Helping-hands

About 6 months ago, we learned of a very close family member diagnosed with cancer. Not just any cancer, but a rare form of incurable cancer, stage 4. After a recent hospital stay and surgical procedures – the rays of hope dwindled as we learned that there is no surgery nor even one clinical trial that is available to try to help with this disease as it advances. In essence, we wait, we watch, we strive to comfort – and we grieve.

Oh, we grieve.

The life we have lived, the moments we missed, the time we cannot reclaim. We deeply grieve and we learn. What a process this is! You cannot force someone to deal with their own mortality. Whether they accept their fate or not, it effects all in the family unit. The ripples of denial of the current reality leak out – crushing  hopes and dreams of reconciliation and forgiveness.

How do we  face a prognosis you aren’t allowed to discuss? In what ways do you deal with loss in an environment that says over and over again, “this is not happening.” I’m sorry, so sorry, but it is happening. It’s happening all around us as we all grapple to cope with the days ahead. The cancer keeps moving along whether we accept it or not, changing lives and generations to come with how we choose to handle our final days.

We die, as we have lived.

Not facing the reality that stares us in the face. Refusing to admit the days to come, avoiding any discussion of what lies ahead. Denial has deep, deep roots entrenched in familial relationships that will forever be touched by it’s tentacles. In denial, we move through life, often feeling alone, desiring deep relationships but not knowing how to have one. Afraid to ask questions, for when we do, it rocks the boat and puts the truth out there for all to see. It’s a hard way to live, and evenmoreso, a terrifying way to die.

I remember heading back and forth to the hospital, over and over again. Problems needing hospitalization and care. Getting you settled in and pray with you, over you – trusting God in His provision for you.  You’d heal from that setback, but the disease continued to raise havoc in your body. Accepting the truth or not, here we are.

I don’t want to see you go. I don’t look forward to that day. No. NO. Not at all. I do however, yearn to be able to talk about what’s happening, to be able to walk together and forward in this journey. We don’t need to walk alone, we really don’t.

So, why are we?

Refusing to accept our terminal illness touches all those effected by this disease. When denial continues to be the way we handle difficulties then it’s highly likely we will walk alone. Be alone, grieve alone and perhaps die, alone. Alone. Oh my heart just aches, who wants to be alone? Ever.

How will we choose to live our days? If we think we have many years ahead of us or even a few weeks remaining – how will we choose to live it? We all have 24 hours in a day and every single day we choose how we will spend the precious time we will never get back. The harder we fight against the truth, the less we get to live in it.

Live.

Yes, live! Even in our dying, we are still living. Even in our moments of fear and great loss, we live. In moments of deep pain and hard realities, ripping at the core of who we are, we continue to live. Regardless of the stage of life we are living, or the stage that cancer has advanced to. We have choices. We can live out our days towards eternity, growing, healing, hoping and deeply present in love. We can!

We must choose.

Today I offer you no solution, no quick answer to this eternal question. I humbly point to Jesus Christ and offer His live as the way to live. Emulating His love, His grace, His mercy and His patience with one another, as we grieve, as we mourn and as we live. Jesus did not live in denial. He did not hide behind misunderstanding about what was going in the world or in the lives of those He loved. Jesus was present – He was authentic. He was real. He loved. I remember when Jesus’s close friend Larazus  died.

“Mary approached Jesus, saw Him, and fell at His feet.

Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would still be alive.

When Jesus saw Mary’s profound grief and the moaning and weeping of her companions, He was deeply moved by their pain in His spirit and was intensely troubled.

Where have you laid his body?

Come and see, Lord.

As they walked, Jesus wept; and everyone noticed how much Jesus must have loved Lazarus. ” John 11:32-36

Even Jesus, the One who raised Himself from the dead, mourned and cried at the death of someone He loved. Just like we too, mourn the loss of those we love as well. Jesus loved, loves and continues to love by His Presence in our present moments, even those filled with grief and denial.

We all will die – but how will we live?

I encourage you today, if you are living in denial, face it. If you are filled with remorse over time lost together, make time. If you are grieving the loss of relationships and yearn for something more, reach for it. It’s not the time to lose hope, but rather to gain hope.

No matter what stage of life you are in, or stage of cancer you face. Whatever  serious disease you battle. No matter the prognosis. Regardless of the difficulties. Free yourself from denial and learn to live.

For we die, as we have lived.

Do you thirst?

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Being alone.

That’s where she flees to.  Where it’s quiet and all the noise in her head is drowned out by the stillness of space. She has to get outside from the everyday moments where people talk and cast glances her way. Remove herself and run.

Some might call it discipline, others self preservation – yet maybe it’s just plain fear. A feeling of no longer being able to control the expectations and thoughts of what others think – and just trust who she is – and be. This is a daily ritual that she’s come to embrace in her routine. She runs, or rather, walks….

“In a small Samaritan town known as Sychar, Jesus and His entourage stopped to rest at the historic well that Jacob gave his son Joseph. It was about noon when Jesus found a spot to sit close to the well while the disciples ventured off to find provisions. From His vantage, He watched as a Samaritan woman approached to draw some water. Unexpectedly He spoke to her.

Jesus: Would you draw water, and give Me a drink?

Woman:  I cannot believe that You, a Jew, would associate with me, a Samaritan woman; much less ask me to give You a drink.” John 4:5-9

Just like that – He spoke to her.

She escaped to the well in the middle in the day. The hottest and most difficult time to attend to this chore was the time she chose to go. Why not go earlier in the cool of the morning? Why not find comfort in community as she tends to the daily task of drawing water? Perhaps there was no community and no comfort for her? There was no place for her to find rest.

In a culture when women had no voice, no place to call there own, no value – the first thing Jesus did with her was invite her into community with Him. He didn’t just ask her for water. No.

Jesus had a conversation with her.

“Jesus: You don’t know the gift of God or who is asking you for a drink of this water from Jacob’s well. Because if you did, you would have asked Him for something greater; and He would have given you the living water.

Woman: Sir, You sit by this deep well a thirsty man without a bucket in sight. Where does this living water come from? Are You claiming superiority to our father Jacob who labored long and hard to dig and maintain this well so that he could share clean water with his sons, grandchildren, and cattle?

Jesus:  Drink this water, and your thirst is quenched only for a moment. You must return to this well again and again. I offer water that will become a wellspring within you that gives life throughout eternity. You will never be thirsty again.

Woman: Please, Sir, give me some of this water, so I’ll never be thirsty and never again have to make the trip to this well.

Jesus: Then bring your husband to Me.

Woman: I do not have a husband.

Jesus: Technically you are telling the truth. But you have had five husbands and are currently living with a man you are not married to. ” John 4: 10 – 18

Just like that. Jesus looked her straight in the eye and spoke honest words, hard words but transparent ones. He saw the woman for who she was, all her imperfections all her sins, all her scars. He reveals this to her in the most gracious way by asking her to bring her husband to Him. Of all the things the Messiah could have said to her in those moments about Living Water, all the lessons about its life giving flow. Rather than teach, he reached. Reached into the depths of that Samaritan woman’s heart and uncovered her greatest shame, her darkest place and invited her to step out and speak. Use her voice

Jesus didn’t reject her or neglect her. He loved her. Her. Not the woman she could be, or would become or could have been,  but who she was now. Now, in that moment, He loved her so much that he chose to commune with her in the very depths of who she was, and hold her close. He loved her by the choices he made.

He did have a choice.

He could have adhered to the culture of the day. He could have remained at the well and let her go about her business. Ignored speaking to her or seeing her for who she was, just plain ignoring her as a person. Yet Jesus was counter culture, rebellious and willing to go against the social and cultural norms of the day to welcome this women into His heart. He went straight to the heart of the matter in their conversation – her heart. By exposing the ugliness that’s inside, it made room for the Living Water to well up her soul. But here’s the thing, He didn’t leave her there to remain in the ugliness, He invited her to drink. Drink long and deep of Living Water that comes from Jesus Christ

How often have our lives been this way? We get busy with our days and our circumstances that we just choose to go about them like any other routine and miss the opportunity to drink from the Living Water? This woman at the well, she didn’t recoil from the secrets Jesus exposed, rather, she struggled to understand what He was saying, how He was living, what He was doing in that moment – with her. Any encounter with Jesus can bring us to our knees in wondering who we are and what we are about. The very fact Jesus loved her, talked to her, engaged with her drew her into the Light of His Presence and the joy of knowing the Messiah. It was in her deepest shame and weakness, and looking them straight in the eye that she recognized Jesus Christ as the Messiah who was to come.

Upon meeting Jesus, we see that this encounter changed this woman’s life.

This woman who went to the well mid-day, who had chosen this time of day and hour to remain quiet and alone, keeping herself from community. This women, she returned from the well so full that she faced the thing she feared the most and spoke to those who rejected her, the community. She says in John 4:29, “ I met a stranger who knew everything about me. Come and see for yourselves; can He be the Anointed One?” She faced her shame and her fears and spoke right up. She left Jesus questioning – Can this be? Could it be? Is it true?

Don’t ever think your voice doesn’t matter.

With just one question, she engages the whole community to hear about the Messiah. Scripture says, “Meanwhile, because one woman shared with her neighbors how Jesus exposed her past and present, the village of Sychar was transformed—many Samaritans heard and believed.” John 4:39

Because this women, who was often alone and rejected  – heard the call of Jesus and responded to His love. She shared this hope with others and an entire village was transformed due to the faith of just one voice questioning His truth. She let Jesus expose her past and her present, she allowed Him in and in doing so He invited her to drink from that Living Water.

Are you thirsty? Bring your questions, saddle on the shame, let’s find the Living Water.

Drink.

Scripture taken from The Voice™. Copyright © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Alone

The Light_Wait.001

Alone.

Sometimes can’t you just feel it? Those moments when you fight off the crushing weight around you. You sit among those you love the most, care about deeply and find yourself – invisible. Lost among your thoughts, your concerns and your worries. There are things you want to do, yearn to break free from and promise to make anew. Yet, here you are, again.

You have a choice, you know.

We sit inside these old worn walls with wounded souls and look out the window and think, today might be the day. We see the crumbling paint, the broken windows and the well worn pews that are our comfort zones. And we sit.

Perhaps the battle scars of life have gotten in the way, you can’t think, you can’t move, you can’t see. You’ve been hurt one too many times, you’ve lost hope – you watch the paint crumble and you feel the pew harden as you sink further into loneliness.

You sit.

Sometimes, being alone is our own doing – we choose to sit. We choose to wait. We choose to see the brokenness that’s inside our hearts. We examine the walls we have crafted to find their foundation. We move in our pew to examine our comfort zones. We choose to be alone, and think, with Him.

You see, being alone does not have to be a fear filled thing. You are not invisible. Being alone with God is a sacred invitation, a place to hear Him speak – to you. He calls your name and invites you closer to Him. He may challenge you to move from that comfort zone in your pew. He may want you to tear out that foundation holding up that wall. He may encourage you to sit with Him, so when the time is ready, you can stand.

In His time.

His time. Yes. His. I’ve been in those moments where I stood up too soon -only to have it come crashing down. For me, it’s beyond time I rested in my Master’s arms and let Him work. He was once a carpenter you know. All He asked of me in this divine conversation, was to wait and trust Him. Trust.

How do I know He’s there?

See the light shining through the window? It’s evidence of His care. Jesus is the Light of the world (John 8:12).  Even as we wait, there is hope. The light, His light, permeates the darkness – illuminating places of hope and moments of grace. “It thrives in the depths of darkness, blazes through murky bottoms. It cannot and will not be quenched.” John 1:5 (The Voice) The light of Jesus Christ thrives to dive into the depths of darkness in your heart. He want to chart through those murky waters and fill you with Living Water. He cannot and will not be quenched. Hope is your treasure when Jesus is your King!

Why are you sitting?