Monday, October 21, 2013

Continuing Gifts...

Christina and Stacy
This past week, one of Christina's good friends spent the week with me.  Stacy became Christina's friend through mutual cancer diagnosis' in the fall of 2007.  Stacy was overseas and was being sent home for treatment.  She and I spent some time on the phone and then one year later, I invited Stacy to our home to meet me face to face and also to meet Christina.  I didn't even know if they would like each other.  Apparently, Stacy was not too thrilled with Christina's blog.  She was not sure Christina was for real:)  Well, it all worked out in their first 5 minutes of comparing stories, encouraging one another, and laughing together.  I still remember one snippet of conversation when Christina mentioned how tired she continued to be even a year after surgery and radiation.  Stacy said, "That is completely normal.  You know that don't you.  You don't know that?  How could you not know that.  Of course you should take naps--lots of naps."  What freedom for Christina.  It was the first time she had ever talked to another young cancer survivor.  Yeah for naps!  Lots of naps!

Stacy also happens to be a hospice nurse and has attended many brain cancer patients.  We talked through Christina's last weeks.  Stacy had visited twice during those last 11 weeks but was not here when Christina died and was not able to attend the memorial service.  So, we talked through it all.  What a gift to my heart--to share again the things that stunned me, that made me laugh, that made me cry.  Stacy opened my eyes a little further to the miracle of Christina's last days.  It was quite unlike what Stacy has seen in other patients..  For Christina to be aware to the end and to even be able to communicate at all in the last week was truly a gift.  I see again that God gave Christina exactly what she asked for--an answer to her entire prayer.  I posted the prayer on my first blog entry but it bears repeating because it is so amazing to see God answer so specifically.  It was a prayer from April 16th, 2013--two months before she moved into the full presence of Jesus.

"Lord, can I ask a simple, maybe even selfish request until the moment I go home?  Will you somehow miraculously allow me to stay vibrant, coherent, clear minded, and fully able to feel you, express you, and maintain my own personality in this process?  Oh, Lord, I can't imagine a better way to end my days--besides perhaps getting to lead someone to the Lord personally somehow.  I pray that the way I go is not traumatic to anyone who might have to witness it.  May it be peace, peace, peace.  May it be a time where your presence is so beautiful, thick, and joyful that no one witnessing it or even hearing about it would ever deny you.  Lord, please put the exact people to be there that need to be, for their own hearts, for mine, and for your biggest glory to be known.  I so deeply trust you with this too, Lord.  I don't wish to die, Lord, but I do long to see your face, and I feel it stronger every day.  To be swallowed up by life, REAL LIFE.  Thank you Jesus for this excitement.  It gives me a bit of a skip in my step, even with an 'ouchie' back.  :)
I never expected or even knew that I could experience it now and in this powerful way.  You are so kind, my Jesus.  So kind.  I love you."  Christina

Christina, Christy Meyer Wilson, Jesse (high school years)
Another gift I never expected came a few months ago.  Christy Wilson, author of The Serpent and the Sparrow, sent me a beautiful set of CD's that contain the hours and hours of interviews that she did with Christina in order to write that beautiful book about Christina's first two years of her cancer journey.  I sat in my kitchen and listened to a very articulate Christina describe in detail how she felt, what she thought, what she hoped for, and a thousand other little details.  These are recordings I have never heard.  My overwhelming response is absolute joy that her struggles are done and she is with Jesus.  I love having her voice fill my kitchen and I love being challenged by her focus of letting her life be known publicly so that Jesus can be made famous.  She shared everything freely, honestly--holding nothing back.  Wonderful.

This past week, I also had to rely on some video responses that Christina had allowed us to record back in April.  Someone asked me why Christina had to die so young and did not get to enjoy much of life.  I played Christina's response to the question, "What would you say to someone at your memorial service?"  She talked for about 10 minutes about this question but here are some little piece of her response--

"Have some pie.  It's probably good.  (laughter)  I think the main thing would probably be, for sure, I am so happy where I am.  If you could see what I'm seeing now, you would understand. Us being separated by death is the hard part but Jesus died so that we don't have to have that.  Don't be sad for me....Death is hard, because of that temporary separation but you have to know that I didn't come to an end and I am living the ultimate life.  Be not sad for me.  Ever.  I love all that life is...The blip of life on earth that we get to experience drawing us into Jesus--there is nothing more beautiful but then moving into eternity--there is no better place.  No better."

Such beautiful thoughts and magnificent gifts. 

 Lord, help me to see more of your generosity and goodness
 in all the hard things I pass through.  
You are truly present and powerful and more generous than I can imagine.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Turning the Corner Quickly

I have been away for a week and had time to look at one of Christina's journals from the fall of 2009.  She was two years into her cancer journey--one brain surgery completed and radiation done--and still very little energy.  My heart hurt as I read her words of frustration.  Here is a peek--

 "Wow, what do you have for me?  I can't even imagine.  Why am I alive, Father?  That's the hardest and most tender subject to my heart.  Why am I alive?  I want to live my life SOLD OUT for you...what is that supposed to look like?  Life can be exciting Father, just you and me.  Why am I all of a sudden feeling lonely and like I need companionship?  There is no doubt you are providing for me, Father.  I am so grateful.  But I still feel like somehow you must be disappointed in me.  How do we overcome this, Father?  How do I live in freedom, working hard, but being OK if it's not the results (financial independence) I was hoping for?"

And then...

"Jesus, let's do this thing! Let's thrive as a team.  Let's do things that strengthen me in You.  Let's try things that don't come easy.  I wonder if you want to speak to me through dreams.  I always thought that would be cool.  Lord, show me where to read in your word.  Show me how to pray.  Show me how to best spend my time.  I am excited to thrive together, Father.  Oh, how I need you. I love you!"

What challenges me, as the reader of her journal,  is the way Christina moved from deep struggle to deep trust in the space of one journal entry.  As I continue to read, I see the pattern.  Pour out the heart--especially the hard stuff.  And then turn to the Source of Life--Jesus.  Let His refreshment, His peace, His purpose flow in.  Turn the corner quickly.  Don't get lost in the dizzy swirl of confusion and struggle.  Reach out and grab the hand of the One who walks on water.

Another example--

"Oh life... What does everything mean?  Where do I go?  What do I do?  Where do I belong?  Do you have a purpose for me, Father?  Am I just taking up space?

I know you must have a plan Father, I just don't know what I'm striving for.  With limited energy, and limited funds...and not much clear direction...What is this supposed to look like?

I so trust your plan but I feel blind, or like maybe I'm missing something.  Lead me and I will follow, Lord.  I feel like right now I'm just guessing.  I love you.  I trust you."

And then this scripture written out in her journal--

"But you are a shield around me, O Lord; 
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from his holy hill.
I lie down and sleep; 
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me."

I think the thing that speaks to me so strongly is that she trusted her Jesus completely.  As I read one of her journal entries, I noticed the date--November 1st, 2009.  Exactly three years later, not only was she married, she was giving birth to her beautiful son, Isaiah.  She could never have guessed that portion of the story.  And before she got to that beautiful moment she had suffered a bout of deep depression brought on by an anti-seizure drug, another brain surgery, and a move back to Port Angeles to see if she could marry a wonderful young man.

No matter how confusing or difficult our journeys look, we only know a small part of the story. In my own life, I loved being Christina's mom.  That part of my life is now complete.  I wonder what God has in store.  What is my purpose?  What new adventures lie ahead?  I will join Christina in turning to the One who has my days numbered and live each one for Him.  

Again from Christina's journal...

"This moment is all we have!
It is all we are responsible for!

We can spend half our lives waiting for hard phases to pass and easy/good ones to come along. 

But then we've wasted....hmmm...half our life.

We are not granted tomorrow, meaning we are not guaranteed the next 'easy/good' phase we are waiting for.  So what does that make this moment--our last moment....absolutely empty.

How unbelievably sad...fear, disillusionment, neglect, avoidance, disengagement...

The cool thing about flourishing is, we don't have to just hunker down and 'survive' life..
  • We get the choice to stand up, take in every moment, and THRIVE in it!
  • We get to shine light in the darkest caves.
  • We get to charge our fears with sword in hand.
  • We get to be squished and then regrown.
  • We get to stare ahead at a scary future with a pounding heart, trembling knees and a smile our faces wondering how in the world God is going to direct this journey for His glory."