Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Isaiah 30:20-21 AMP

"And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide Himself any more, but your eyes shall constantly behold your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying This is the way, walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left."

So, for homeschool, one of the girls has been reading "Hinds Feet In High Places," a book I was introduced to by the lovely CaraMia, who was in my writing class. I loved the book so much, I made it part of my writing curriculum. I think, for those in the walk with cancer, it's a book worth reading.

The book is an allegory. In it, the Shepherd (Christ) is giving guidance to Much-Afraid, who has an incredible journey that must happen in order for her to reach the High Places. It's much like the journey that we are thrust in during cancer.

At one point, the Shepherd provides traveling companions to Much-Afraid. Here is part of the book:

"Here are the two guides which I promised," said the Shepherd quietly. "From now on until you are over the steep and difficult places, they will be your companions and helpers.”

Much-Afraid looks at the “companions” and realizes quickly that they are very different. Their faces are veiled, and they don’t speak! They don’t seem to be friendly. The Shepherd says they aren’t dumb, they speak a new language.

Wow, that is just what cancer does. The walk is a new language and you have to be able to speak it…

“They are good teachers; indeed, I have few better. As for their names, I will tell them in your own language and later you will learn what they are called in their own tongue. This,” said He, motioning toward the first of the silent figures, “is named Sorrow. And the other is her twin sister, Suffering.”…

“I can’t go with them,” she gasped. “I can’t! I can’t! O my Lord Shepherd, why do You do this to me? How can I travel in their company? It is more than I can bear. You tell me that the mountain way itself is so steep and difficult that I cannot climb it alone. Then why, oh why, must You make Sorrow and Suffering my companions?

If you wonder, what happens when you begin your walk with cancer, well, this is it. YOU are Much-Afraid, quite literally. And you take the hands of your companions, sorrow and suffering, and you travel with them, side by side. They teach you, they put your feet in places you don’t want to go, but you know that you must. They grow you in ways you never thought you would grow.

I happened upon a Pinterest connection today, a lady named Elizabeth who has Pins about her cancer journey. She has also pinned the journeys of others, including several of ladies who have posed showing their scars from breast removal due to cancer. It’s beautiful. These ladies have taken the hands of suffering and sorrow…and they have walked through valleys that most don’t understand. They have grown and become new people. Suffering and Sorrow do that for you. They become dear friends.

To all those who are taking the hands of the sisters today—may your feet be placed in high places…

ps. If you are interested, I have "repinned" one of Elizabeth's pins, perhaps if you are on Pinterest, you will be interested in following her page or at least checking her out! She is a kidney cancer survivor!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised."

In the last few years, my life has seen much change. One of the most interesting changes has been that of becoming a step-mother.

I had a great example of what a step-parent should look like. In a world where step-parents exist, which is of course, NOT a perfect world, Layne was probably the closest thing to a perfect step-parent that ever existed. So many people were shocked to find that he even WAS a step-parent. He loved our girls as much as he loved the boys. He thought of them constantly.

Now, I'm in no way hoping to be as good at this as Layne, who made it look--well easy. It's not. David and I are both learning that there are a lot of hurt feelings, a lot of worries, and a lot of confusion that comes with being step-parents.

What is it like? Have you ever seen the television show "Wife Swap?" Two moms switch places and have to interact with families with different lifestyles. You wonder when you first meet the two families how these people will make it two weeks without killing one another. Ultra conservative moms are sent to live with liberals. Moms who are neat freaks go live in homes that are mounded in trash. Sports freaks go to live with families that only read books.

That's what it is like. You have this one life. And you are pretty settled in that life. Suddenly, you are thrust into a new life. You have kids who don't respond to things the way the kids you have been living with have always responded. They have new rules, or new areas of flex. Add to that the stresses that come with whatever caused each family to be without one parent, and well, it's an interesting situation.

There are decisions to be made. Names, for instance. What do the kids call you? What do you call yourself? I always thought I'd never have one of those hyphenated names--my name was of course, to be supplanted with my husband's name. But what do you do when you have kids, and dad passes on? You want to be identified with those kids. You want to honor the man who gave his life for all of you, yet, there is this new husband who also should be honored. Answer? You hyphenate.

Changes happen...families blend...but it isn't like mixing Koolade, where the water meets the color, and everything is one. It's more like lemonade, where you stir and stir and stir and half the sugar insists on sitting at the bottom of the pitcher. It takes time. It takes prayer, it takes patience. You have to rely that God has a plan, even if sometimes, you don't see it clearly.

Slowly though, it happens. A little girl says "Betty, can I talk to you...not Dad, YOU?" OR a son making hard decisions gets some help from a guy who is willing to listen--so he doesn't have to burden mom with his concerns. A young man learns to drive, a little girl finds that she's got inner AND outer strength in Judo, a family takes a night off to watch "The Hiding Place" together and have wings.

And we learn from each other. Just like in "Wife Swap"... And God carries you, one day at a time. Here is to all those "step" parents...who STEP up, STEP in and STEP forward to parent kids they did not bring into the world, to help those kids make their way in it.