Today's word is GREEN.
That's a tough one. Or maybe not.
Life has gotten a lot harder since we met last Friday. Every time I think , well, it can't get worse, atleast for awhile, it does. Now, it's getting really hard to keep food down, and I'l losing weight. Not a good sign.
Things feel ominous.
On Facebook and in other venues I read of friends whose lives are going well...they take vacations, get promotions, get represented by literary agents, get book contracts...I love to read about it.
And I'm not green with envy. I don't envy them at all.
It's not because "I have compensations". I don't. People who say that a terminal illness is a blessing are, pardon me, idiots. This SUCKS. I do not like incontinence, and my service dogs don't like mandatory baths after I puke blood all over them.
I'm not closer to God. he seems awfully far away at the moment, though I still believe in Him. I don't know His plans; I accept what's happening as part of them.
I'm not envious because envy obviates what good I might have been able to do. To wish a changed situation at the very least wishes the deaths of some of the dogs in my care, because the circumstances that brought them here were a direct result of that illness.
Here are two of them, Josie and Reebok. They were puppies, and a day from being euthanized. The first picture is on their way home for the first time, the second is now.
So others may have the vacations, the contracts, the fun. My life may not look like much, but saving a life isn't wasting your life, is it? (If that sounds familiar, it's from the most recent Rambo movie, a film with an unambiguously Christian message).
And now, if I may, a brief revisit to last week's keyword, TRUST
I had initially thought to do a piece on the trust inherent in my relationship with the Almighty, but the thoughts didn't gel coherently. Now they have.
I trust God, but there's no way I can have an "Abba-daddy-trust" with Him. I'm being bludgeoned to death by disease, and sniped at by annoyance (did I really need a painful eye injury that refuses to heal, right now? Seriously?)
If there's 'good and not evil' coming, I'm not feeling it.
But I still trust Him. But it has to be the trust of a fully-functioning adult. A soldier in the abattoir of the Anzio beachhead in 1944 famously said (and only partly in jest), "Please, come, God. Come yourself; don't send Jesus. This is no place for children."
I get it. What the man was saying was, "Let me be a man to match what You're demanding of me in this place."
And thattrust has to be that of a grown up. Time to put childish things away.
I trust that He created a world in which free will is necessary for us to become beings who could share eternity with Him. He has His angels; apparently they aren't quite making it. He made us because he wants us. And maybe needs us.
And the only way we can reach Him is through an exercise of free will, to choose him, however imperfectly we think our execution of that choice is. If we saw our motivations from His perspective, I think we might be surprised at their basic purity.
And I trust that given the necessity for illness and painful death, I trust Him to give me the strength to try to help make the world a better place while I'm in it, and the intelligence and insight to know what to say.
And the compassion to try to understand what my wife is going through, as she sees her world irrevocably changed and the future she hoped to share with me passing beyond hope.
I would love your thoughts. Please, help me to understand.
Ah, Andrew. May the God of green hope infuse you and your wife with peace, faith and hope. You are right. He will give you and your wife the strength that you both need. I hope you can feel his hand on your shoulder and hear him as he whispers in your ear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Anita; they say that where there's life, there's hope.Delete
And there is still life.
Andrew, I have clearly never dealt with a terminal illness or i wouldn't be here to write this, but I have dealt with severe depression and other mental health issues and have felt abandoned by God when I should be surrounded by Him. I once overdosed and then while out of it, cut my wrists 57 times.... I apparently used my blood to write on the wall "God won't even take me back". At the time, all I felt was broken and dispair. I wanted the pain to stop at any cost -even if it meant my life. I don't recall cutting myself that time or writing on the wall but the aftermath was there to see. I don't even want to pretend to understand what you are going through or feeling. It has always intrigued me to an extent though, because we all know we are dying, afterall, it is the ONE thing guaranteed in life, but those of us who don't have a timeline handed to us by doctors don't live our lives the way someone does when they are given a time frame, an amount of likely to be good days. Suddenly the bucket list kicks in and people of all ages have more to do, more to live for. I have often wondered if my doctor was to tell me if I was dying how my life would change, how would I choose to live? Would I go all out with reckless abandon? Would I mope and lock myself away. Would I end things on my terms so I didn't have to constantly wait? I am definitely praying for you, and your wife (and your beautiful dogs). I can only pray that Heaven is a million times better than what we expect and that at some point we will meet on the other side. Until then, keep on writing and sharing and leaving your legacy here on these pages because we care and want to know about the bad days as much as we do the good. Thank you for being honest and raw. (((hugs)))ReplyDelete
Oh, Marisa, that's WAY more difficult a situation than I'm in. Thank you so much for your transparency and honesty - our prayers are with you. (And please excuse my delayed reply, the past few days were worse than most.)Delete
And thank you for the kind words and thoughts - I will keep going as long as I'm able, however long that may be.
Oh my brother, the distance is so difficult to stretch across. If any of us were to pretend to be able to help you understand, we could then sell you a land bridge in Athens. The struggle, the suffering, the continual praise on the lips of those who love Him though their bodies are in agony, it is unfathomable to those who do not have that hope.
This week the passage, "though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" came to mind as I heard of Pastor Saeed Abedini's condition in Iran.
You, my brother, are in His hands as well.
I hope you're transported away from it for a brief minute when you look at the waterfalls I posted (#6 this week).
I have no answers, but I pray for renewal and strength for you this week. I have some extra weight that you're welcome to... (that's a total girl joke...but hope you'll smile)
And metaphorically, though you are losing weight physically, I pray that you'll continue to lose any weight and burden in all other senses. That when God does release you, that you will have joy and freedom and walk and run and jump and dine at the table with great vigor!
Tears and love to you and Barbara. And silly songs like "there's a tear in my beer 'cause I'm crying for you dear". You should look that up. I hear it's hilarious.
Tammy, yes...you made me smile, and I love the waterfalls. Always did, always will! (And please excuse the delayed response; not goo days at all.)Delete
I will look up the "there's a tear in my beer" song; sounds like something I will like! Thank you. And sure, if you've got a couple of extra pounds, please send them. I'm beginning to get feet-light in a strong breeze.
Most of all, thank you for the kind encouragement, and the prayers, Tammy.
Oh Andrew. I wish I understood. And yes this does suck! So often things hapoen in life and we can't understand. I wish I had the answers. Continuing to pray for you and Barbara.ReplyDelete
Tara, please excuse the delayed response...and thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am sorry I have not had the chance to visit your FMF post yet, but will try to get there tomorrow. I only have a short useful 'window' of time now. It's hard.Delete
Who in their ever-loving minds would call a terminal illness a blessing? Who are these people?!?!ReplyDelete
Anyhow. I'm sorry. It DOES suck. It's unfair. And despite all of that, instead of choosing to be brooding and envious, you choose to see life from a different angle (i am a dog person, so I love your story!).
Instead of curling up in a ball and letting this disease beat you, you've chosen to continue to write openly and honestly about the hell you're facing-- and yet without the slightest tinger of bitterness or jealousy you deserve to have. It's awe-inspiring, friend.
You write in your post: "I trust Him to give me the strength to try to help make the world a better place while I'm in it."--- I think you've already done that. Truly.
Continued love and prayers for you all.
Jordan, first, please forgive my delay in responding.Delete
You'd be surprised at the number of people who call terminal illness a 'blessing' - a few weeks ago there was one on the "Hour Of Power" televised church service, calling her FATHER'S cancer a blessing. Go figure.
Thank you so much for the sympathy,, the kind thoughts, and the prayers. Jordan, your presence here is a blessing.
Andrew, you are becoming wise in this illness...I'm sure an exponentially small prize for the suffering you and Barbara are having to face by the will of God. Do any of us completely understand the why's? No, certainly NOT! And he doesn't bemoan us in asking, like some teach. Who else would we ask if not our LORD? But somehow, someway this is for His glory! If nothing else, we, your readers and friends, are watching you be brave through circumstances none of us wish for even our worst enemy. You dear friend seem to be nearer to that understanding than most of us. Continued prayers alwaysReplyDelete
Christy, a friend is a major prize, and this has been 'worth it', judged solely by the friends I have met. I would not change things, given the option.Delete
And yes, somehow, it is for His glory. I have no doubt whatsoever.
Thank you so much for being here, and for the lovely thoughts, and for the prayers.
Andrew, I'm sorry things have been so bad this week Praying for you and your wife. Thank you for sharing so openly. I loved your line "Let me be a man to match what You're demanding of me in this place." I don't know you but I see such wisdom, compassion and courage in your writing. Praying for continued strength and trust.ReplyDelete
Carly, thank yo so much...and please accept my apologies for the delayed reply.Delete
Your kind words are a balm on my heart. Thank you so MUCH for being here!
Andrew, I am with everyone else here... how I wish I had answers, or an explanation... and at this point, even encouragement must feel a bit rough around the edges - but know this: we are so thankful for you and are so happy to see you link up each week! We are praying for you, for Barbara, --for God to swoop in and lift up and carry the burden... for you to be strong in weakness and find hope and faith as surprising gifts that rise up in unexpected ways! Grace... grace... and always - we pray for grace!ReplyDelete
God does swoop in, Karrilee. You, and everyone else here, is wearing the wings.Delete
Thank you so much for the prayers. Things are a bit dreadful (hence the delay in responding), so all I can say is...THANK YOU!
Your illness is not a blessing, but you are!ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing your thoughts so openly to strangers on this bizarre thing we call the web. Web indeed - it traps and suspends, and holds...
Andrew, I think you have, at least part, of the answer to life - and no, it's really not 42.... That free will/choice thing is kind of tough - especially when it's put to the physical test and is not just an exercise of the mind. You are definitely enduring that physical test, aren't you?
I am reminded of the strength of Job, who, after losing all he held dear, fell on his knees to praise God - "God gives and he takes away, blessed be his name" (roughly quoted...) And I'm reminded of his friends who came and sat by his side for seven days and seven nights.
I pray that you continue to believe that your Redeemer lives, and that you feel the support of those who love you, standing by you in your suffering. I pray that you continue to choose God, even beyond understanding. I pray supernatural comfort and strength for you and Barbara. And Andrew, I pray that you be given the gift of knowing that what you say and how you live truly matters and that you be given the gift of knowing how much difference you are making in the lives of others - gentle hugs to you.
Janet...you mean 42 ISN'T the answer? Hoo boy. I've got troubles NOW.Delete
Thank you so much for the kindness in your words and thoughts, and for the prayers.
And for the gentle hugs. I do need them.
I don't think you need our help to understand, Andrew. You've already got this. There aren't pat answers, as you already know. It's this truth that sustains:ReplyDelete
"I trust Him to give me the strength to try to help make the world a better place while I'm in it, and the intelligence and insight to know what to say.
And the compassion to try to understand what my wife is going through, as she sees her world irrevocably changed and the future she hoped to share with me passing beyond hope."
Thanks for being honest about it all. You inspire me to keep trusting without ease.
Lisa, thank you so much...but whatever wisdom I may have grew from what I have found here, in the comments. My perspective is so limited, but my friends have lifted me to see above the walls.Delete
And yes, trusting Him is that to which all devolves.
Thank you so much for being here, my friend.
Dear Andrew, I'm going to be a little political here, you'll have to forgive me. As I've been reading your blogs over the past couple of months and enjoyed your post for my blog, I've often been struck and find it curious the contrast between you and your outlook, to make every moment count...including the pain-filled horror of it all, and the Brittany Maynard exit plan which made national press and a move in the direction of ending the difficult. I salute your courage and determined spirit to make these days, minutes, and years count. I do believe prayer is helping. We, your friends, need to step it up. Often during the hard times, we sense a distance from God. He is there, of course, but it is difficult to access an awareness of Him. I don't understand why you have to suffer such a horrible illness, but what I do know, is that you are making it count for the better good. And that is a good thing. I may add more later if a thought comes to me. Bless you, Andrew.ReplyDelete
Norma, thank you so much from raising this issue! It's been about a year since Brittany Maynard took the high jump of her own volition, and while I can't fault her personally...as I did not know her...I was appalled by the way in which she was used by the 'death with dignity' folks.Delete
What I found particularly unsettling was the fact that she was able to tak a 90-minute hike on the day she killed herself; I haven't been able to do that for a couple of years...so might someone come along and make the decision that hey, if life wasn't worth it to HER at that point, surely it would not be worth it to me...
Anyone doing that, though, would get quite a surprise, and would be in the queue to meet Jesus several steps AHEAD of me.
And I too believe that prayer helps. Thank you for being here, Norma.
Andrew - I had typed a long response on here and my computer shut down and rebooted for no reason that I can find. So I'm not retyping, because there are no words, except, brother, you're in my prayers. You are an inspiration in your faith and in your desire to bless those around you (including your dogs) to the last.ReplyDelete
Oh, Carol...computers! Mine has done that beaucoup times. Sometimes it's a 'planned' shutdown for updates, and it somehow forgets to let me know.Delete
Thank you so much for your kindness and your prayers, and please excuse my delay in responding.
No words. Just blessings and wishes.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Michelle. Blessings and wishes are at the top of my 'need' list!Delete
You are an encouragement to me and to others. I pray for you and your wife to find peace and for you to find relief from the nausea. There is nothing I hate more than feeling sick to my stomach! May you continue to persevere until you reach the finish line. <3ReplyDelete
Yeah, Michelle, nausea's a beast! Yesterday it kept my lying on a cool floor all morning. Cool was best for 'therapy'...and being vinyl it was an easy cleanup.Delete
Thank you so much for your prayers, and or being here.
I love how honest you are being. You are letting people glimpse all the raw unedited struggles of the heart. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Summer, thank you, and please pardon my delayed response.Delete
These posts are hard to write, and getting harder, both physically and emotionally, and comments like yours are what encourage me the most, never to quit.
Your commitment to show the ugly in the trusting is powerful, friend. I am praying desperately that you will be gifted with the tiniest sliver of the bigger picture... the Good that is promised to you and your precious wife, in and through and because of and beyond this horror. Thank you, and always more thank you, for continuing to show up, to write, to pour out honest strugges here tinged with hope. You are, as you said, taking it like a man... and setting an example for any who would suffer. Oh, God, we beg mercy for our brother!!!ReplyDelete
Angela, thank you so much...that kind of support, the kindness in your words is vital, because this is the hardest job I have ever had.Delete
And thank you so very, very much for the prayers. I believe in their worth, and their power.
This may seem like heresy to say to you at this painful point in your journey, Andrew, but I'm grateful for the harsh path God has allowed you to walk. Not that I'm glad you are suffering, but I cannot imagine your message or sincerity or wisdom that you share here nearly every day coming through any other vehicle than through the vehicle of injustice and extreme pain. You have reached so many through your words, Andrew--because they are true, unvarnished and powerful. Just look at the comment section here! I know you do, but think about the amazing and deep impact--for someone most of us have never met face-to-face--you've had on each of us. People are touched by your story, moved to reach out to you, and consider you their friend who's in the trenches. I thank God that He allowed that suffering in your life so that you could shine like a light in the darkness to the terminally ill and to those who care for them. Thank you, once again, my friend! Praying for you!ReplyDelete
Not heresy at all, Beth. Someone had to do it, and I am grateful and glad that it's me, and not someone else, because I would not wish this on anyone. I can carry it.Delete
Every step, every bit of the pain has been worth it; I have been able to do some good, and I would not wish it away by "wishing things had been different".
And thank you so much for the prayers!
Andrew, I am trying to "catch up" with reading your posts; and I'm not sure how I will find the words to reply properly. Yes, I can quite understand the "green with envy" when you read posts on Facebook...so many, as you say, vacations and fun times and promotions and book deals and whatever...we could ALL be green with envy reading those! Yet, I can say I am satisfied with where my life is at this moment...but I totally understand how that would make you feel in your situation...I wrote on "Green" thinking of the "green pastures" where God "makes us lie" in Psalm 23; perhaps you can find a bit of rest there: http://scrapper123.blogspot.com/2015/10/day-16-2015-green-fmf.htmlReplyDelete
And, trust...yes, trust in Him to help you through these hard times...what is at the end of the road will be so much worth it and so much better...yet, who really wants to say goodbye to this life unless it's just not the life we want anymore!
Still thinking of you and Barbara; and praying for you...