Category Archives: faith

Going to Israel, Part 1

You know, I have such a short memory that it occurs to me that I should be writing down my experiences as they occur. That way, I can remember this trip of a lifetime!

The Beginning

It all started when my friend Karen, also a lung cancer survivor, wrote on one of her medical updates that she was hoping to go to Israel early next year (2019). I replied to her message, saying I was looking forward to living vicariously through her pictures. (She is a great tour guide, even if you are not along with her! She posts pictures with lots of information accompanying them.)

My journey began when I got an email from Karen inviting me to actually join her for the trip. Upon reading the email, I yelled upstairs to my husband, “Hey! Do you care if I go to Israel?”

In a matter of moments, it was decided I could go! Wow! I never, ever dreamed I would ever go on a trip like this!! I am still not sure I believe it.

Oh Man! Where Do I Start?

Within just a few days, we had talked to our travel agency and paid the deposit. This is becoming real!

Since I have never been out of the country before, I have no passport. So, I called about getting an appointment so I could get that process started. Well. No. If you live in Texas, you need a special birth certificate … and that’s not the one I had, of course.

It takes up to a month to get one from the office in Austin, the only Vital Statistics office in Texas that has the birth certificate I need (long form). Okay. I have time.

But, the online ordering system crashes every time I try to place the order. I call their tech support. They can’t figure out what’s wrong. My case gets escalated.

I never heard back from Tech Support, but decided after a couple of days to try it and see if I could place the order. I was starting to get worried! Fortunately, even though Tech Support failed to inform me that they had corrected the problem (gee, thanks!), the problem was remedied and I was able to place the order.

I settled in to wait. God was on my side. I got my certificate in only a few weeks. Yes!!

Scans Good!

Karen and I bought trip insurance. Since we never know when or if our cancer is going to return with a vengeance, we felt it was prudent to do so. She’d recently had a scan showing that her tumor is stable; I was waiting on mine. I had it last week.

I admit I was holding my breath a little. I didn’t have any reason to think it wouldn’t show that my tumors are stable, the same as they have been for the last five years, but I still can’t quite believe this trip is really going to happen. I keep thinking something is going to cause it not to work out.

I was gratified to learn that my scan shows all is still well. Tumors are stable, no growth, no new tumors. Yes!! I won’t have another scan until the week after we return from our trip, so even if there is growth or spreading between now and then (I have no reason to expect there will be except that I am still expecting something to cause me not to get to go) I won’t know it.

Bible Study at the Passport Office

I’m not quite sure why, but I was nervous about going to the Passport Office. I guess that makes no sense. Well, really, there’s no “guess” to it. It makes no sense. But, I was nervous all the same.

A nice man came in, took my picture, and looked over all of the information I brought (driver’s license, new birth certificate, application), and we started talking about the fact that I am 65 years old and have never been out of the country before. He asked where I was going.

“Israel,” I said. He looked at me, probably noted the cross I wear around my neck, and said, “Your life will never the be same.” When he talked about walking where Jesus did, I got chills up and down my arms!

I’m sure that the Post Office probably wouldn’t condone our visiting for 30 minutes about God’s goodness and His mighty power and about how powerful it is to go to the place where Jesus was born, taught, died, and rose again. But, I left almost floating on air! It was as good as any church service would have been. And, I am even more excited than ever to make the trip.

Now, I just have to wait about 3 weeks for that passport to arrive. Then, I’ll really feel like this trip is going to happen!!

Finding Your Gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie

Begin your day with gratitude

Sometimes when we are delivered a blow, like learning that we or a loved one has lung cancer, it is hard to find reasons to be grateful. But, I believe that searching for and finding gratitude, even in the face of adversity, is vital.

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My Story

I just got an email from Greg Laurie with Harvest America. The email is entitled, “Stories are Important.” And I agree. They are.

In the email, Greg is inviting us to view a movie of three people whose lives were touched and changed because of a Harvest America crusade. He counsels that every Christian has a story. Some of us have a dramatic story. Others may think their stories are “boring.” But, they’re not. Because, whether you had a conversion like Paul did on the road to Damascus or one more like mine, where, as a young kid, I accepted Christ into my heart and life.

While there was nothing that seems all that dramatic about my conversion – I was not much of sinner at the age of 9 or so – the fact is, I, just like Paul and just like every other Christian, was saved that day from a life in hell, from a life separated from the God who made us.

So, you know, maybe my conversion was more dramatic than I sometimes think of it as being.

Not Perfect, Just Saved … and Forgiven

I haven’t lived a perfect life. Far from it. We are by nature sinners so none of us, except our Saviour Jesus Christ, has ever or will ever live a perfect life. Some come closer than others.

Over my lifetime, I have surely done things for which I am not proud. If I could, I would undo them. Of course, that’s impossible so the best I can do is ask for forgiveness. Ask for it … and accept it.

You see, I do believe God when He says He forgives me when I ask for it. If I continue to dwell on what I did wrong, am I not accepting His forgiveness? If I am forgiven, there is no longer any need at all to think about the sin, other than to keep in mind that I should never commit a similar one again.

Rocking Along

You know, for most of my life, I have just rocked along. I have known and believed with all of my heart that I am saved, a child of my God, forgiven. And always, that has provided a peace that really can’t be explained to anyone who hasn’t known the same “peace that passes understanding.”

It isn’t that my life has been particularly rosy. It has definitely been fraught with plenty of challenges. I have the wrinkles to prove it! But, you know, those challenges have not been enough to weigh me down completely because, not only has God saved me, He has been there for me through every day of my life. If I have a problem or a situation, I can hand it over to Him. Then, I can quit worrying about it. I believe in my heart of hearts, “God has it. He will take care of it.” He is way smarter than I am. He knows the “big picture” when I only see a very small part of it.

Things I Don’t Understand

There are many, many things in this life that I do not understand. I don’t understand war, poverty, biting insects, drug addicts, murderers… I don’t understand mothers who steal their children and turn them away from their loving dads. I don’t understand why everyone can’t just think like I do. Wouldn’t life be easier? (And a whole lot more boring!) Why do good people who love God face difficulties in their lives when horrid, devilish unbelievers have all of the worldly goods and fame and peace they want?

Others who are just as saved as I am don’t agree with me on some things – politics, for one. I can’t understand how they can believe as they do … they can’t understand how I can believe as I do … and yet, God loves us all and we are all His children, provided we have accepted Christ, His Son, as our Saviour.

I have to accept that there are things I will not understand until I die. When I get to Heaven, I can ask questions. I think I WILL ask questions!!

Cancer

My faith has always been there, but it became especially real to me when I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. People imagine that I freaked out at that diagnosis, especially after my first oncologist said I would probably only live about 4 months.

The truth of the matter is that I have that same peace that passes understanding as always. Yes, my days on this earth might be shorter than they would have been otherwise. But, what do I have to look forward to if and when I die? HEAVEN!!!!

Win-Win

I tell everyone … and I totally believe it … I am in a win-win situation. If I live, I am happy! I love being alive. I have so much fun, nearly every day. But, death … leaving this earth … means I transition to Heaven! Heaven! Streets of Gold. Singing. Angels. God! Peace and perfection. Wow. What is there to dread about that?

That’s my story, in a small nutshell. Share yours!

 

 

Looking at the Positives of Having Lung Cancer – Am I Crazy?

Okay, this post is probably going to have a lot of people looking at me and thinking I have gone stark-raving crazy. But, here goes anyway!

What would life without cancer be like?

I participate in a forum whose participants have all kinds of different cancers. Today, a post was made that asked, “Do you get wrapped up in thinking about what might have been if cancer hadn’t come?” The person who asked the question is livid that she has cancer.

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Anxiety…An Unwelcome Visitor

I recently saw a study that found that lung cancer patients who do not have anxiety or depression live longer than those who do.1 I was surprised to find this information because I have always been told that attitude might make your remaining life happier, but it has no impact on how long you live.

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Everyone Needs Support Sometimes

When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I didn’t know anyone else who was still alive and fighting the disease. I started searching around and ultimately landed on a group where I feel totally at home – it is called WhatNext.

I am going to post two links below that will help you know if you think WhatNext will be a good fit for you. I go to a lot of different lung-cancer related forums, but I spend most of my time on WhatNext. It feels like home to me.

On WhatNext, there are caregivers and loved ones, survivors, and people from the medical field for all kinds of cancer from skin cancer to liver, lung, or lymphoma cancers. Take a look at the information below and please join, if it sounds like a place you’d like to be a part of!

This link tells you a lot of the benefits of the group in an advertising way:  https://www.whatnext.com/ilp/lungcancer/?campaign=AMLC

SandiA is a Stage 4 Melanoma survivor who is active on the site. She tells you why she loves WhatNext so much!

Let me know if you joined the group because you saw this post! I look forward to seeing you! I think you’ll love it there as much as I do!

https://www.whatnext.com/ilp/lungcancer/?campaign=AMLC

Hope Springs Eternal

“Study nature. Love nature. Stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” –Frank Lloyd Wright

waterfall

Since I have been surviving cancer, I have really, really enjoyed visiting the gardens at the Dallas Arboretum. Whether I go with friends or by myself, I am filled with gratitude and peace while I am there. I consider my enjoyment of the gardens as one of the blessings of having cancer, because unfortunately, before being diagnosed with cancer, I never took the time to go.

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Originally published March 10, 2016

Don’t Give Up: Taking Control of Your Life

donna-pastureI am sitting here staring at a blank sheet of paper, wondering what I have to say to you that will be worth your time reading it. I am no scientist. With the advent of chemo brain, I don’t even really enjoy reading and researching like I once did. So I have no great wisdom to impart.

What I do have to pass along is hope. Such a little word but one that has the ability to change your life. Hope crowds out anxiety and pushes away fear. It fills you with peace and can motivate you.  ….More

 

Happiness is My Normal

I was just looking at my Facebook memories. I love those! I find myself posting things I want to remember to Facebook now so that they will show up in my memories in the future. Am I the only person who does that?  More…

 

A few years ago, I wrote a number of blog posts for Patient Power. I am going to provide links to them on my blog.  Happiness is My Normal was originally posted 4/28/2016