Thursday, November 22, 2012

The applause of falling leaves

Snuggling into soft flannel sheets at night
Owls dialoging under an autumn moon
Tangles in my hair
Fresh cranberries
Being afraid and shy
God - always big enough
Slippered feet
Daddy's big hands untying knots in my back
Library books
Jennie's silly faces through the window
Finding Yellow Shafted Flicker feathers
Night sweats
Waking up to birdsong
When God steadies me
Her suitcase with pomegranates and persimmons
Wearing hats with Christy
Paper lanterns and lights
Family visiting from afar
The applause of falling leaves

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Health Update

Dear People :)

I realized that it has been over 2 months since I last gave a health update. And for you dear folk, who have been so earnestly lifting me up in prayer, it is not very considerate of me. Forgive my extreme tardiness please.

This fall I have been learning so many things! Learning about nutrition and how to make decent raw food. Learning about herbs, supplements, juicing and all sorts of alternative cancer treatments. Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought that simply eating a primarily vegan diet and staying fairly active covered the basis of preventative health. I have since learned that being vegan did not mean that I was getting good nutrition.

Many of you have been asking questions about what I am doing - so here is a little summary.

These are some of the general ingredients of a typical week - (not in order of priority :)

A solid chunk of time with God each day - reading, praying, journaling
1 hour of sun - weather permitting
1.5 -3 gallons of fluids total each day - (this includes the quarts of juiced veggies)
Juicing - greens and carrots
About 90% raw whole food diet
Nutritional / herbal supplementation
High dose Vitamin C infusions 3x a week
Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy 3x a week
Fever treatments 5-6x a week
Contrast hydrotherapy daily
Charcoal / clay poultices 4x a week
Jogging 4x a week
Rebounding (mini-trampoline jumping) daily 30-45 min.
8-9 hours of sleep
Spending time with family and friends!

(all possible because of the great team support from my family)

So far, the biggest change I have noticed is that my mental clarity has really increased. I had no idea how much chemo brain fog I really had last year until I started eating raw! It is such a blessing to be feeling better!

In early October my chest x-ray was clear - this means that no large solid tumors are showing up (x-rays don't show the small stuff). This means that the cancer is not growing as fast as my Dr. expected. The tumor markers in my blood work had increased.
During the middle of October my hemoglobin dipped low - all the way down to 7.0 (12 is normal) and it directly correlated to my energy ebbing quite low. But both have come back up some and seem to be holding steady.

I do not know what my future is - only where it is - His hands. But I do know that He is graciously answering the many prayers by giving me more time so far. For this I am grateful. For the precious time that it gives me with those I love so much!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Alpine Heights of His Heart

My family gave a musical vesper program at my grandma's church a few weeks ago. What I shared that evening included excerpts from a book by a shepherd on the 23rd Psalm that I read earlier this year. This book is filled with practical insights from every day sheep husbandry that has greatly deepened my understanding of this wellknown psalm. It is on my "highly recommended" list. 

Here is a bit of what I shared from the chapter on the Valley of the Shadow of Death:

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“Many shepherds take their flocks on long drives to distant summer ranges during the summer. The sheep move along slowly, gradually working their way up the mountains behind the receding snow. By late summer they are well up on the remote alpine meadows above the timberline.

With the approach of autumn, early snow settles on the highest ridges. . . Finally, toward the end of the year as fall passes, the sheep are driven back to the ranch headquarters where they will spend the winter. It is this segment of the yearly operation that is described in the last half of the poem.

During this time the flock is entirely alone with the shepherd. They are in intimate contact and under his most personal supervision day and night. All the dangers of rampaging rivers in flood; avalanches; rock slides; poisonous plants; the ravages of predators that raid the flock or the awesome storms of sleet and hail and snow were familiar to David when he wrote this. He had handled his sheep and managed them under all of these adverse conditions. Nothing took him by surprise. He was fully prepared to safeguard his flock and tend them with skill in every circumstance.

In the last verses there is a grandeur, a quietness, an assurance that sets the soul at rest. “I will not fear, for you are with me. . .”

Many Christian people speak of wanting to have mountain top experiences with God. Often we get an erroneous idea about how this takes place. It is though we imagined we could be “air lifted” onto higher ground. On the rough trail of the Christian life this is not so. As with ordinary sheep management, so with God’s people, 

One only gains higher ground by climbing up through the valleys.

There is a second reason why sheep are led to the mountain tops by the way of the valleys. Not only is this the way of the gentlest grades, but also it is the well watered route. During the journey the flocks experience intense thirst. How glad they are for the frequent watering places along the valley route where they can be refreshed. As Christians we will sooner or later discover that it is in the valleys of our lives that we find refreshment from God Himself.

A third reason why the rancher chooses to take his flock into the high country by way of the valleys is that this is generally were the richest feed and best forage is to be found along the route. The shepherd wants to be sure there will not only be water but also the best grazing available for the ewes and their lambs. Generally, the choicest meadows are in these valleys along the stream banks." 

~A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

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In my own life journey, specifically with cancer, I have found this to be solid true. In every dark crisis and challenge God has proved his consistent and gentle care. 

It may be hard for some to imagine how refreshment could be found in what, from all outward appearances, seems to be a dangerous and dismal place. As a human, I instinctively fear darkness – but with God I am secure - even joyful. As David wrote in another psalm, “ Not even dark is dark to you. Night will shine like the day.” 

Though there are hard decisions to make. But though there is grief - I am not afraid of cancer. 

God is with me. 

The dangers of the journey are not unknown to Him. As we walk along together I am in wonderment at His tenderness, surprised at His provision for the smallest needs, and joyful in His love. 

The view from the trail is stunning. 

May all your valleys become passages to the alpine heights of His heart.