Wednesday, June 25, 2014

As usual . . .

. . . the days have slipped away.  The two weeks surrounding infusions are "down" days, not necessarily because I feel bad, but the body and brain don't function at full capacity.  The two weeks off are filled with as much energy and activity as I can muster.  When days are "down," I spend a lot of time thinking about what I will do when I'm "up."  Crazy, isn't it? 

Summer is in full bloom.  We've had fresh vegetables from Paw Paw's Garden Market: corn, snap beans, cucumbers, squash and finally tomatoes.  The children have had Vacation Bible School, been to the lake for a couple of days to see Mimi and Pop, Drew has been to baseball camp, Sarah, in addition to her week of mallet camp, and Jacob are going to band practice once a week and in between they spend lots of time in the pool.  This weekend Sarah, Jacob and their dad go to Puerto Rico  a mission trip.  I love the tastes and sounds of summer.  Grandchildren in Raleigh are pretty much doing the same things--just too far away for me. 

Meredith and Elisa spent the night Friday night.  We had been talking about it for days--where they would sleep, what we'd do, what I'd fix for breakfast.  Bags were packed early in the day and brought over with pillows and blankets right after lunch.  Sleeping arrangements didn't quite work out the way they planned; both ended up with me in my bed.  It was a little crowded, but worth every minute.  I was reminded of all the nights Marty went to spend the night with my mother and their making muffins for breakfast.  Marty always seemed excited to go and now I know, her excitement didn't even touch what my mother felt! 

In my younger, more foolish years I was not shy about expressing my opinion.  As I've aged, I have become less vocal, probably just as opinionated, but quieter, and more tolerant of others.  I don't have to be right; I don't have to win every contest.  However, I want to go on record right now and let it be known that I am not now, nor have I ever been a liberal Democrat!  I have no liberal persuasions, theologically or politically.  I have family and good friends who don't share my conservative beliefs, but, so far as I know, they don't condemn me, nor do I condemn them.  For the most part, my opinion on the Republican Primary this summer has not been shared except with family and a few close friends, though many things have angered me.  Last night was the final straw.  Enough said! 

The last time I was in the infusion room there were several patients around me who were anticipating their final treatment. Lots of you know the relief and excitement that brings.  One lady who was just getting started, asked how many more treatments I had left.  I fumbled as I tried to think of a positive, encouraging way to tell her that treatment for me is indefinite.  I don't remember exactly what I said, but I do remember the look that seemed to indicate, "I'm sorry I asked."  Still trying to be encouraging, I told her that my cancer history was long, huge advances had been made in treatment and that the fact that I was standing there talking to her made indefinite treatments worthwhile.  Since then, I have had a change in vocabulary.  From now on, I will define my regimen as "maintenance," not indefinite treatments.  Sometimes, a word makes a difference. 

Til the next time . . .

Pastor Margaret

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My new friend . . .

. . . from the infusion room last week has given me lots of food for thought.  Theologically, her story underscores my Calvinistic  beliefs.  Practically, her sweet, gentle spirit affirms the fact of promised peace when our eyes "are stayed on God."  I hope she will be at the Cancer Center when I return this Thursday.  The message I received from her is not new.  It was a reminder of God's irresistible grace; a reminder of the importance of planting seeds; a reminder that someone plants, someone waters, someone nurtures, but God, alone, gives the increase. 

"D" told me that she had been involved in an abusive relationship, that the man abusing her was also the one who got her hooked on drugs.  She had wanted a loving relationship with husband and children, but instead has young adult children and no husband.  Now, she has cancer and is in treatment.  I don't know her prognosis, but I know she trusts God completely.  Usually, I listen, allowing people to tell me what they want, but Thursday I asked if she would tell me how she got out of her addiction.  She said she was preparing to "shoot up," had the needle in her arm, when she said to herself:  "I don't want to live apart from God.  I want to be with Him and I can't do that and be on drugs."  She pulled the needle from her arm and stopped then and there.  That had to be hard for her to do.  Sometime, in some place, some person or persons told her about God and the life available to her if she put her trust in Him.  It could have been in Vacation Bible School when she was a child, it could have been a parent or grandparent, it could have been a word spoken in passing.  But, the Word had been planted and God used that Word to turn her around.  Today, she professes that trust and is planting seeds herself. 

How easy it is for us to slip into retirement, wondering what purpose there is left for our years.  How natural it is for us to think that our usefulness to God is based on our productivity!  I needed to be reminded that God can and does use us when we are led by His Spirit.  "D" touched my life last week; made me remember . . .

Pastor Margaret 

Friday, June 06, 2014

TBT might mean . . .

. . . Think Back Thursday in addition to the original Throw Back Thursday.  As it is tonight, it's not even Thursday anymore; it's early Friday morning or Too Blasted Late to Think, changing it to TBLT.  Network problems required several minutes of attention, plus I got started late. So, in keeping with the last post, my "throw backs" are word pictures, not photos.  The memories keep coming. 

One reason for the lateness of the hour is a project I've been working on the last couple of days with Sarah.  She plays flute in band and is a new member of the Petal High School Marching Band.  One of the band directors asked her to participate in "mallet camp" this week to learn marimba for Indoor Percussion.  She knows and plays scales well on the flute, but learning to play them on a marimba when you have never played a keyboard instrument is very different.  My "throw back" is to a little blue staff book that my high school piano teacher, Miss Eason, had me write all major and minor scales, arpeggios and I, IV, V, V7 chord progressions.  I can still see her neat illustrations in that book, but most of all I remember that basic instruction and how it literally carried me in college freshman theory.  Helping Sarah has made me want to get back to the keyboard myself. 

My morning Bible readings have been in Deuteronomy, one of my favorite books.  It is a book of remembering.  As I am trying to adjust to this "chemo indefinitely" schedule, remembering is vital.  The tendency is to complain, think about what I can't do, how chemo affects my life.  That's not good!  Like the Israelites needed to remember where they were, the fix they were in, where they are currently, all because of God' faithfulness to the promises He made, I need to remember where I was, the nature of the cancer, where I am today, all because of God's faithfulness to the promises He has made to me.  A thankful heart is so much healthier than a grumpy, complaining heart.  Moses didn't merely summarize the Israelite's journey, he reminded them, in detail, of both the good steps and the bad.  Remembering the journey is a "throw back" for every day, not just Thursday. 

A different bedspread on my bed provides a warm memory, no pun intended.  In 1936, pregnant with my older brother, my mother began crocheting a spread out of twine.  It is a beautiful popcorn, diamond pattern that Meredith tells me has 90 knots or popcorns to a pattern. After his birth, she rested from crocheting until pregnant with me four years later.  My birth stopped her work again and it wasn't until the mid 1970s, after her retirement, that she resumed work on the spread.  By that time the twine had yellowed with age, the same or a comparable kind was hard to find and it needed to fit a queen rather than a double bed.  My mother persevered, completed the spread and gave it to me.  It is a real treasure, but not terribly comfortable to lie on its top , too hot to lie under and too heavy on your feet.  You might say beautiful, but not practical.  I have found a way to make it work.  Seeing it on my bed, viewing it up close, I am reminded of my mother's determination to complete what she had started, a trait in her that was obvious in most of what she did.  I am reminded of her giving nature, knowing that the spread was special to her, but she wanted Tom and me to have it.  As I throw it back when I get in bed at night, I remember my mother.  

Yesterday, Thursday of this week, was a doctor day and day #1 of another chemo cycle.  Counts were good, so I was told, though I am always anxious to see for myself, and I made a new friend.  At first I thought it would be quiet in my area:  the man on my right had on headphones and was engrossed in his I-pad; the lady on my left was asleep.  I read, got out my lunch and as I was eating my pound cake, the lady commented on the cake and asked if the chemo affected my taste for food.  That opened the door for conversation.  She has endured an abusive relation, drug addiction, colon cancer and expressed how God has brought her through all the problems in her life.  Her spirit is beautiful; her heart is grateful; her trust in God is complete.  I was glad she awoke and saw my cake!

I have begun to look forward to seeing my friend, Cindy, who I met several months ago in the infusion room.  I had not seen her since April because of scheduling conflicts in May, so I especially looked forward to today when we should be back on the same schedule.  Her attitude and her countenance have been encouraging, not just to me, but to all who sit near her.  Not long before I finished treatment, I saw her come in and one look told me she wasn't feeling well.  She has done well thus far, but the last treatment has not been kind to her.  Please pray for her to be able to keep down food and liquids.  Hydration is vital and it is frustrating not to be able to keep anything down.  Even as she brought me up to date on her status, she was anticipating feeling better and getting us together with other women we have met there. 

It is way past my bedtime, so I will say goodnight.  Remember God; remember what He has done for you and be ready to share.

Pastor Margaret