Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When I'm thankful you are not here...

Sunday morning I woke up for church and I was laying in bed thinking about how I miss going to church with Isaac.  I was just thinking about how I miss the feeling of finding him in the lobby in his red sweatshirt and hugging him.  And then I heard this voice (makes me sound a tad crazy, huh?) that said "Do you miss how I almost never made it sitting through a single church service because of the pain in my hip?"  Well... of course not.  I hated seeing him in pain.

Things like that have been in my thought process a lot this week - things that make me thankful Isaac is not here.  Sounds strange, I know.  I wish Isaac was still here, but I wish he was still here and he was completely cancer free and totally healthy.  I don't wish he was still here going to get blood drawn twice a week, driving to Pittsburgh for chemos, flying to Houston and just praying there was some treatment.  I don't wish he was still here chained to an oxygen tank.  I don't wish he was still here taking huge amounts of pain killer just to make it through the day.  I don't wish he was still here and I had to check my phone every half hour wondering how he was feeling that day.

Every single day I thank God for freeing Isaac from the chains of cancer.  I don't wish Isaac was still here...but I sure wish Heaven had a phone so I could talk to him. 

Check this song out - it's called "The Valley Song" by Jars of Clay, and it happened to play on my Pandora as I was writing this!

"I will sing of Your mercy
That leads me through valleys of sorrow
To rivers of joy.
When death, like a gypsy,
Comes to steal what I love
I will still look to the heavens
I will still seek Your face."

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Best Worst Week Ever

That blog title didn't make sense, did it?  It's the best way I can describe this week.  It was not a great week...but it was also one of the best weeks I've had since Isaac died.  Strange, huh? 

It was not a great week because I was feeling extra emotional (it's totally awesome being a woman!) at the beginning of the week, and just found myself overall feeling empty rather often this week.  I spent some time this week looking back - looking at old emails (I saved every single email Isaac and I sent each other!), looking at the notes our hospice workers left every day they saw Isaac, and even read all my old blogs (some of which, I actually really forgot about writing).  It just reminded me how quickly Isaac's condition went downhill - and how that was the worst part of the entire experience for me.

It was a great week because I have experienced awesome encouragement this week.  A group of wonderful gals and I have been emailing each other every day to share what we read in our quiet time (quiet time = time spent with God, reading the Bible, praying, etc.)  For a few of us (me included), this meant actually having a quiet time every day - something I've been out of habit in doing.  I look forward to their emails every day, knowing I'm going to be encouraged!  I also kept hearing really fabulous new songs on the radio at random times every day.  And, I got a handwritten letter from a busy college student in the mail today.  (a busy college student who spent every day of his last week of winter break sitting in my dining room with Isaac...and harassing my poor overweight cat!) 

I was thinking about this idea of a "really good bad week" this morning.  And, this verse 'randomly' happened to show up in my quiet time:  "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living." (Psalm 27:13)  Um....coincidence?  I think not.  More like a perfect reminder from God that the reason I have hope...the reason Isaac had hope...was our faith in Christ!  The reason I can smile through the tears is how completely confident I am that God is using all of this pain FOR GOOD!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Grand Canyon - 2 miles

I was reading through some old emails between Isaac and I, and I found this.  It is just absolutely, exactly what Isaac wanted his life to be about.  So, I'm making him a "guest blogger" today.  Enjoy, and be blessed!

I am extremely insecure in the fact that I feel absolutely powerless to accomplish something great in man's eyes. But you know what? I'm actually ok with that. My friends can earn their degrees, get their houses or apartments, cars, tv's, vacations, whatever, etc. I'm fine with them doing that. But I'm not content with doing that. I want to help to change people's hearts and minds to think, and reason more clearly. To make people take a step back from all those material things that make us happy but not joyous. I want to grow to know God more, to love and connect with Him more. When I die, I don't want to leave a legacy, I want my life to be like a sign that points to the Grand Canyon and says: "Grand Canyon 2 miles".  Most people will look at the sign and not even think twice about the sign in itself, but instead, will look forward to getting to the Grand Canyon. Do you understand what I mean? I think that is a perfect picture of what God is telling us. I'm there, but I'm not as important as I thought I was. and you know what? I'm ok with that too! God hasn't called us to impress man. He's called us to do what He asks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Grace Like Rain

Whenever it rains outside, I can't help but sing Todd Agnew's "Grace Like Rain"

...Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me...

So today, I was in my kitchen this evening listening to Pandora (Hillsong Station!) making some salsa and getting my lunch ready tomorrow when "Grace Like Rain" came on.  Which, if you've never heard the song, is "Amazing Grace" with an extra chorus.  I paused for a moment and just looked outside at the drizzle while I sang the song and this verse stopped me in my tracks:

When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We've no less days to sing Your praise
Than when we've first begunI've heard it tons and tons of times before.  I've sung it many, many times before. 

Here's what hit me tonight: 
I have to live without Isaac here on earth for a few years...but when I get to Heaven, I will have eternity to spend with him.  The song reminds us when we get to Heaven, even after we've been there for ten thousand years...we'll still have that much time and more to sing God's praises!  Our time in Heaven never, ever runs out!!!  I'll still have all the time in the world to be with my Lord.  And I'll have all the time in the world to be with Isaac.  When I grasp the number "10,000" makes living the next 60 or so years (Lord willing) here on earth a little easier.

I'm sharing with Chatting at the Sky.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Think Like a Tree

I was going through some poems for my students today and I found this poem I just love!  It is simple, but beautiful, and I think depicts much of how I have approached this journey.

Think Like a Tree
by Karen I. Shragg

Soak up the sun
Affirm life's magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.

I shared this with Melissa at The Inspired Room

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Random thoughts related to moving forward...

It's been a little more than 10 weeks since Isaac died.  It felt like April would never end, and now I can't believe we're in the 2nd week of May!  It seems things have settled a bit, and thoughts of moving forward come to my mind more often. 

The first thing I debate in my mind is my involvement with "activism".  Through the past monts, I have had the privelage of meeting many wonderful families and people who have been affected by cancer.  Part of me just loves this - I love reaching out to these people, sharing my story, etc.  But, part of me wants to step back from this.  I know several families who have lost loved ones to cancer and are doing all kinds of wonderful things to raise money and awareness.  Many are doing all kinds of awesome things.  They have started foundations, are doing awareness events, or starting websites in the name of their loved one.  For awhile, I had the thought that when Isaac died, I would do something like this.  Isaac and I had talked about starting a soccer tournament through his high school soccer team and after he died, someone approached me about starting a memorial run in Isaac's name. 

A small part of me wants to spend the rest of my life doing everything I can to raise awareness and champion this cause.  But...most of me does not.  Is that selfish? Maybe. I am 28, and the rest of my life - Lord willing - could be 60+ more years!  I remember a conversation Isaac and I had just a few days after we called hospice.  We talked about what my life would be like after he died, and Isaac told me he wanted me to move forward.  He said he had thought about writing me a letter to read after he died, but decided not to because he didn't want me to have anything I felt like I had to hang on to.  He said he didn't want me to spend the rest of my life mourning over him.  So, for me, if I spent the rest of my life championing the cause of osteosarcoma awareness, I think I'd never really move forward.  And that's not what Isaac wanted, and it's not what I want either. 

I will keep writing, I will keep reaching out, I will maintain the friendships with others through this time...I'm just not going to organize fundraisers and run races and do things like that.  To those who are doing those things, I think you are awesome and you need to keep doing it for those like me, who just can't.

The other issue related to "moving forward" is about dating.  I've had the "are you ready/when will you be ready to date" conversation with several people over the past few weeks.  So I thought I'd just go ahead and write about it!  Am I ready to date?  Easy answer: yes.  I miss having that 'someone' - like on Grey's Anatomny when Christina tells Meredith "You're my person" - I miss having "my person".  It occurred to me though one day, that while I am ready to entertain the idea of - someday in the future - dating again, I am not ready right now.  I recently got a new car, and when I was cleaning out my old car one of the things I moved and immediately placed in the new car was the "I love you" post it note Isaac had left in my car one morning.  That was when I knew - I am not ready to put Isaac away.  Being really, truly ready to date again would mean that I would put things like that post-it note away.  And I can't do that yet.  I like being reminded every single day when I get in my car, that he loved me.  So, that's where I am.  Someday I'll "get back out there" and date again. Am I ready?  Yes, and no.  Will I write about it when I do start dating?  Yes. 

Disclaimer:  No one in my life has made me feel like I need to date again.  No one has pressured me.  No one has asked about it in such a way to make me feel bad.  It's just a question I've been asked, and I wanted to answer.  I know it will take time, I know I will know when I'm ready.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Thoughts on Bitterness

Bitterness. It's a word that has been on my heart this past week. It's been almost 10 weeks since Isaac died, and I can honestly say: I am NOT bitter. Have you ever heard the song "Held" by Natalie Grant? There's a line in that song that says: "This hand is bitterness. We want to taste it, let the hatred numb our sorrows. The wise hand opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow."

That's how I feel about each day. Every day I have 2 choices when it comes to bitterness: I can choose that hand, choose to be angry at God, choose to let the anger overwhelm me. Or...I can choose the wise hand. In flower language, lilies of the valley symbolize the return of happiness. I can choose to focus on being angry and bitter, or I can choose to focus on peace.

I credit a large part of my peace to Isaac. I started dating, fell in love with, and married him all with the full knowledge that he had cancer. We never sugar coated the reality of our situation. He never promised me we'd grow old together, and somewhere inside me I always knew that too.

I credit more of my peace to God.  I remember one night before Isaac and I were married.  We had just gotten scans back that said there was cancer in his pelvis again.  I was so angry and afraid.  I cried and sobbed and screamed at God (and Isaac).  I was so angry and felt like God had let me down.  Something about that night really hit me and I asked God to change my angry heart.  Rather than playing solely for Isaac's healing, I began praying for peace no matter what happened.  I prayed God's will to be done, and that He'd just grant us strength and grace in the journey.  I could no longer feel "God let me down" when I prayed that way.  I began seeing His grace in my life.  That's where my peace comes from.
I remember one day during our time with hospice, when Barb (Isaac's mom) and I were standing in the kitchen talking. She said that some of the women in her Bible study said things to her like "I just can't imagine losing a child like you are", and she very calmly said "That's because you weren't called to lose a child. God has called me to this." I 100% know what she means. That is where my peace comes from - knowing that this was God's plan. Of course I am sad, hurt, broken hearted, and lonely. But admist all of that - there is peace. God is bringing me through something I never thought I'd be able to survive; how can I do anything but trust Him through every other circumstance in my life?

I've heard the cliche "Bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping someone else dies." and I believe that's true. No good could come from my being bitter. I hope though, as I share with you what God is teaching me, good will come from my choice to embrace peace.

P.S. Did you see I started a new blog? It's called "The Space Between"! Check it out!  You can see pictures of the repainted dining room!