Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Trust in God

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is my life's refuge; of whom should I be afraid? When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies themselves stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear; Though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust. One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek; to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate his temple. For he will hide me in his abode in the day of trouble; He will conceal me in the shelter of his tent, he will set me high upon a rock. Even now my head is held high above my enemies on every side. And I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of gladness; I will sing and chant praise to the Lord." Psalm 27: 1-6

I am so grateful that God sent me this reading today through a book I am reading. What is described in this Psalm is what I have been going through the past few days. I have been experiencing that feeling of an "evildoer devouring my flesh" as I support my body through the side effects of this latest round of chemo.

Yesterday the battle entered my spirit as well. I truly felt that I was simply resting in the arms of the Lord as I waited for the storm to pass. My dear friends Tricia and Nicole were there at work to literally catch me in the morning and uplift me when they saw the battle I was in. How blessed I am to have people all around me who are God's arms. They reminded me that this is temporary and that I would be whole again. They reminded me of the importance of this battle for my kids. They spoke God's words to me as I regained my strength. It worked! Their reflection of God's love spoke to my spirit and rekindled the energy inside of me to keep going.

The afternoon brought about another round of fatigue and spiritual battle. I just had had enough of feeling sick and of not being able to find pleasure in eating anything. How is a foodie to seek pleasure when she can't eat? I had to just surrender. I got into my pjs, got cozy on the sofa and stared at the empty chair across from me, right next to the Christmas tree, where I picture Jesus is watching over me and listening to me. I learned this form of meditation from the book Sadhana: A Way to God by Anthony De Mello, which my brother Gene gave me at the beginning of this journey. I remember my mom reading/using this book when I was a child. Meditation number 21 is called "The Empty Chair." You simply picture Jesus sitting in the empty chair and you talk to him and then think about how he would respond. I expressed my frustration, my exhaustion, my anger, my hopes and my fears. He said back to me, "Relax, take a deep breath and just go to sleep. I will take care of it all." Sure enough, I took a nap and woke up refreshed. But, I will admit that within 15 minutes of being awake the attack began again. I became very overwhelmed by all that I wanted to accomplish between now and Christmas. I began to worry about how I would not get to experience Christmas with my boys the way I usually do. Things will just be so different this year. But then Nicole's words from earlier in the morning came back to me, "This is only temporary. You are fighting a good fight so that next year you can celebrate Christmas any way you want to. You are doing this for your boys." THIS IS TEMPORARY! How blessed am I to be able to say that!!!!
The Empty Chair with Our Lady of Guadalupe blanket on it. Thank you Janice Givens! I talk to Jesus and Mary.

This is what "gazing upon the loveliness of the Lord" is all about... having people around you who will remind you of God's promises. When the boys and Pete returned home from school I was again reminded of the HOPE God has promised. I was covered with kisses and concern and quickly the boys began to make me laugh. Pete comforted me as I recounted the struggles of the day and worries I was dealing with. Ricky shared funny Christmas music with me to make me laugh. God even provided two customer calls that drew me out of my self pitty and gave me the opportunity to serve! Then Gene called, my mom called (for the third time), our dear friends delivered a meal to us, friends were texting me, God's love came flooding in around me. AMAZING! I resigned to drinking a protein shake for dinner, took my medications and went to sleep.

My family continues to be blessed by many of you who have come to visit, brought us meals, thoughtful gifts and have sent cards with prayers. Thank you to all who continue to pray for us. It can become quite overwhelming to think about how this journey is not any where near done. We have a long way to go. Maybe that is why the thought that I am "half way through chemo treatments" is not comforting at all. The thought of having to go through 3 more treatments is quite daunting! But I know that I wont' be alone. I know you are all right by my side and there to catch me and hold me up.

I went in to the center to have my blood work done yesterday. It was the first time that my white blood cell count was low at 3.8. But they don't really worry about it until it is down to 1.8. So, they did ask me to be careful about being around crowds and sick people. I also have to monitor my temperature in order to catch the slightest of low grade fever and let them know about it. But, I will say, I am not worried about that. I am boosting my immune system in all of the ways I know how. My brother said to me last night, "So, I guess this means you won't get to go to our family Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) gathering." My reply, "Come hell or high water I will be there!" I can live with not being able to eat my favorite foods or not do some of the usual traditions, but I will NOT miss the time I am given to spend with family! Family love fuels me! Even if they have to prop me up in a chair I will be there.

As you each continue preparing for Christmas or celebrating Hanukkah during these days, I pray that you will be given peace and the perspective to appreciate the little things, appreciate the love around you and forget about the material gifts. May you "gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate his temple." You are each in my prayers.
Much Love,

A few pictures of Angels to share:
Treatment #3 with Gisela Polanco, a long time friend and ESOL teacher who was receiving her treatment the same day.
Treatment #3 on the same day as friend and colleague, Nikki Mouton.

A lovely visit from the Montealegre family! They brought so much JOY!
Advent by Candlelight at St. Pius High School with childhood friends who are all fellow Latinas! Nothing like reminiscing about the good old days.

Thanksgiving Day brought the chance to spend time with family including the Peek family. Fr. Kevin and I shared tips on how to care for our bald heads. I'm in great company!

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