Christmas

Corporations spend countless funds on advertising to impress on us how the latest product will enhance or change our very existence.  Or maybe the newest Mercedes will suddenly grant the esteem and respect you well deserve.  Or maybe your kids will love you so much more if they find the latest and greatest toy under the Christmas tree.

You cannot turn on the radio or television this time of year without being bombarded by advertisements for everything under the sun.  It’s rather sickening to be honest.  Shameless pandering to the open hearts and wallets of the season.  I’m purposefully avoiding Amazon and certain online sites for the time being, lest I get sucked into buying for the sake of the deal.  There’s honestly nothing more I need.

Sometimes pause is in order.  What are we celebrating?

Christmas has become a complex time of year for many.  We don’t want hurt feelings over gift giving.  We have to keep up appearances and decorate our homes to the hilt.  We have to bake fifteen dozen cookies for the school.  We have to mail out two hundred Christmas cards to our nearest and dearest friends and family, complete with a family photo and newsletter. Everything must be perfect.  So much pressure!

That first Christmas in Bethlehem was anything but perfect.  There was no room in the inn for Mary and Joseph and the greatly anticipated birth of their baby boy.  But, God always makes a way for His plan to be born.

“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  ~ Luke 2

 

And, so here’s wishing you much peace and joy this Christmas season!  May we focus on the tiny baby in the manger who became flesh to take on the sins of the world rather than be distracted by all this world heralds as certain pure bliss.

Jesus, Immanuel (God with us).  A simple message of love, hope and redemption.  He did not arrive in a neat package with a crisp, red bow and the perfect gift tag with calligraphy writing.  No, he emerged bathed in humility and wrapped in love.

Christmas is a celebration of the day love entered the world for you and for me.  So thankful Jesus came.

” For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

~ Isaiah 9:6

 

 

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I Will Catch You

As I lie on the CT scan table, the gracious and very thoughtful technician gave me these simple instructions – “Just fall back in my arms and I will catch you and very slowly lower you.”  Me, in my pain wracked state just one day post-op from my hysterectomy, said, “Are you sure?”.

He assured me he was more than capable of supporting my weight and making the transition as gentle and easy as humanly possible.  I was deeply touched by his compassion on me and empathy as I endured this ordeal.

His instruction required trust on my part and the ability to fully place my life in his arms.  I was reminded of this scenario yesterday after I received a phone call from my health insurance company notifying me of a cancer support program they offer.  Anything from wigs to out of state hospital and lodging requests to community resources, etc.  The representative on the phone was very chipper and upbeat as she reiterated all of the wonderful facets of this program and the fact that I do not have to go this road alone.  As she concluded our mostly one-sided conversation, she felt the need to add that with a diagnosis like this, “Perhaps it causes us to pause and contemplate our priorities and the important things in life.”  I’m sure it was an attempt to comfort and encourage, however, what she doesn’t know is, I’ve been a deep thinker all of my life and since losing my mother when I was 23, I’ve perpetually considered life’s true priorities.  At any rate, we ended the conversation with me thanking her for the call, despite the fact that I was left with the feeling that certainly this should’ve been directed toward someone else, not me.

As I stood in front of the bathroom vanity, tears began to fall as I told God that I could not take this cancer journey.  His reply: “Just trust me.”

I said, “I’m not strong enough.”

God said, “In your weakness, I am strong.”

I retorted, “I don’t want to go through this.”

God said, “If you don’t, many won’t see your testimony of my goodness.”

Trust.

God said, “I will be with you.  I will never leave you.”

Clearly I have some work to do in the trust department.  I have walked with God for forty-one years and we have overcome some real mountains, giants and obstacles that I thought surely would swallow me alive.  They didn’t.  I’m still here.  Cancer won’t overcome me either.  Ever since I received the news just nine days ago, God has constantly been assuring me that He will walk this journey with me and that I will get through this.

Yesterday I actually felt somewhat well enough to unload the dishwasher and noticed a 3×5 card I taped to the inside of our kitchen cabinets as I put the plates away, which read:

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” ~ Isaiah 43:2

Later in the afternoon, there was a loud knock on the front door.  My son peeked out the front window and noted it was our neighbors, a young couple in their early 30’s and their year and a half baby girl.  I happily greeted them as they inquired about how I was doing.  They also shared about a time when they were newly married, the wife was referred to an oncologist due to some highly irregular lab work.  It turned out to be nothing in the end but they wanted me to know they understand the emotional ups and downs of news like this.

I was very encouraged by their little visit and touched that they would take the time to stop by and see how I was doing.  God has orchestrated such timely encounters over the last several days to combat the discouragement and fear of the unknown.  When it all comes down to it, do any of us know the future?  No.

I had a great aunt who was a little eccentric, let’s just say, but we loved her dearly.  She never married and lived to be 89 years old, despite having long survived a brain tumor the size of a grapefruit!  She was very stubborn.  Perhaps that was her secret to longevity, along with good genes.  She was my grandmother’s sister and my grandmother lived to be 98.

This great aunt said something I must’ve thought profound because it has stayed with me for many years:

“It’s a good thing we don’t know what’s ahead of us.  Just do the best you can.”

For a simple, country woman who used to raise chickens, she sure had a lot of wisdom.  No truer words were ever spoken.

Life sometimes throws us curve balls.  No one can anticipate them.  They simply come.  Our response must be trust.  God will catch us if we merely trust.

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Things Beyond Your Control

Did you get to choose your parents?  Your eye color?  Your height?  The size of your feet?  No?  What about the location of your birth?  The year you were born?

And once you were born, what about your socioeconomic lot in life? Later, as an adult and particularly as a parent or spouse, the idea of circumstances unraveling beyond your wishes becomes crystal clear.

We can, however, choose our thoughts, our priorities, our daily routines, our diets, our work out plans, our spouses, our friends, but there are countless situations that require trusting God that He will work all things together for our good and ultimately for His glory.  Have you found this to be true?

I currently have a situation with someone close to me that if I had a magic button to make them do what I would prefer, I would certainly depress it.  My plan, of course, is the best course of action, and theirs is simply not.  They are being selfish and not seeing things through the lens of love.  At least this is my limited scope of vision from where I sit today.  I am frustrated.  I am angry.  I am not getting my way, at least not presently.

The Lord in his gentle kindness whispered to my heart yesterday, “Let it go.  It will all work out. Put it in my hands.”  Yes, God, you are so right.  And that is what I have chosen to do in the end, but not without first having a two year old tantrum because things were not unfolding the way I demanded.

Control.  Yes, I like control.  I would like life to be predictable, safe.  In the full scheme of things, how boring would that be?!  God knows what’s best for His children.

I am reminded once again how very limited our line of sight truly is, how minuscule the fraction of the present we see compared to God’s ultimate plan.

Yes, I’ve seen disappointments, frustrations in life, but I’ve also seen the hand of God patiently weave the fabric of my life together in such a loving way.  In the end, everything will be taken care of.  Life’s situations rarely reach the frantic level of emergency that I sometimes bestow on them.

Learning to trust more and worry less….that is a life goal that I must be reminded of daily.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 

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The Empty Chair

A figure hobbled into the elegantly appointed kitchen complete with granite countertops and new cinnamon spice wood cabinets.  She set a saucepan of water on the island cooktop in hopes of a pleasant cup of decaf black tea to soothe her sore throat.

As she waited for the pan to come to a rolling boil, she spotted in the living room her favorite cream color, tufted back, reading chair.  You see, she just had surgery and has been on bed rest for two weeks now.  In addition to that, she has had two subsequent emergency room visits due to reactions to the pain medications, etc.  The first episode happened the night she was discharged from the hospital when she could not stop vomiting.  The doctor was concerned there was a bowel obstruction so she was re-admitted 4.5 hours after the initial discharge and scans and X-rays were run.  Thankfully, all were completely normal.

The second episode happened at home when she nearly passed out after taking pain medicine.  Ironically, she was preparing for her post-op doctor’s appointment.  Instead, she was taken via ambulance to the hospital.

And, as if all of that were not enough, she contracted a horrible cold/virus complete with fever and chills likely from germs in the ER.  It’s been a rough run of late.

She’s only been home for three months now after caring for her ill father out of state for four months.  Her father lives with her now and his new, tan leather recliner sits on the other side of the room.

Her favorite reading chair has significance because it is the spot where she began her day with a cup of coffee, her Bible and a prayer on her lips.  She has a written prayer list as a guide to what she wants to talk to God about each day and has seen a number of those prayer requests answered in just the last year.  It’s amazing the situations that loom so large soon become unimportant and resolved, seemingly on their own.  But she knows better.

Yes, the reading chair beckons as a symbol of normalcy, routine and intimacy with our Heavenly Father.  When will I resume my daily routine?  At present, it seems light years away.  But I know that in God’s timing, He has a way of working things out and soon…yes, soon, I will find myself seated in my favorite cream colored, tufted back, reading chair.

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So I Got Some News…

It’s the kind of news nothing can prepare one for.  As I lay on the ER gurney recovering from a horrible reaction to pain meds following my hysterectomy, my GYN surgeon pulled up a rolling stool and sat close beside me.  She delivered the pathology news one week ago today that apparently the fibroid tumor they removed, which was inside the uterus, contained a rare, aggressive cancer.

Those are words you simply do not expect to hear at 46 years of age.  From everything I’ve ever read about fibroids – they are almost always benign.  This is the kind of thing that happens to “someone else”, right?  But, in this instance, it was happening to me.

My GYN surgeon said she is referring me to an oncologist GYN at a large cancer hospital in our area because I would now need to have my ovaries (which I was hoping to keep so I wouldn’t embark on presto-insta-menopause) and surrounding lymph nodes removed in another surgery very soon.

As I laid there in pain, the thought of another surgery was not one I’d choose to entertain.  However, if it would save my life, then sign me up!

So far, the pathology report indicates that everything else they removed was unaffected by this cancer and we are very hopeful that great reports will continue to come in.

My GYN said that this type of cancer is super aggressive and spreads rapidly and is almost never caught in time!  Wow.  All I can say is, thank God I elected to have the hysterectomy due to some negative symptoms I was having.

A little background … I went to the ER in January of this year and had a CT scan done, which is when I learned not only would I need my gallbladder out (which happened in February) but also that I had a large fibroid.  I was scheduled to have the hysterectomy in June, however had to assist my father through a health crisis for four months out of state.

It really is a miracle indeed that this cancer was found when it was!!  My GYN said had I waited, I could have been dead in a few months!

God has given me the very best GYN surgeon, who is both professional yet personable.  After delivering the difficult news (her first case of fibroid cancer in her 15 year career!), she gave me the biggest hug.  That was so special of her.

This is all quite surreal at this point.  I’ve only had one week to digest this news.  All I can do is praise Almighty God for saving my life.  I have future grandchildren to meet one day.  I have quilts to make.  I have a lot of living still to share with my husband and children.  I just give God all the honor and glory for the way He has orchestrated events.  It could’ve gone another way and I am keenly aware of that.

One week from today is my initial consultation with the oncologist gynecologist to discuss the game plan.  I am praying that having the surgery will be enough and that no further treatment will be required.  But I do not know.

The Lord laid on my heart the other day as I lay in bed for what felt like Day #99 of my recovery, to write as many bullet points as I could come up with “What I Know About God”.  So far, I’m on #270!  Over the course of several days, I skimmed through the Bible and just drew from what the Word said along with what I already know in my heart to be true.  Instead of focusing on my challenging situation, God was giving me the gift of focusing on His greatness, His majesty and His glory.  He truly is greater and bigger than any situation.  Although our way seems so dark at times, He promises to never leave us and never forsake us.  He is as close as the mere mention of His great Name, my friend.

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Introduction

Hey there!  I am a stay at home mom with three children, 28, 19 and 17.  We are homeschooling our last child and are nearing the end of this 20 year journey.  Our older son has been on his own for nine years while the two younger ones live at home.  I am married to an amazing man who constantly surprises me with his wisdom, innovation and depth of his love for me.

The content you will find here at “Ever Looking Up” is primarily Christian encouragement.  I’ve been on this Christian journey for 41 years and love to share nuggets I’ve picked up along the way.  The love of writing has long been a part of me and this blog is simply a natural expression of my thoughts.

Admittedly, I’m not a “tech-genius” so it may take me a little while to get this blog where I want it to be, so bear with me.  I formerly had a blog on WordPress as EnglishRose2014 but decided to start fresh here.

In addition to Christian living content, I also like to share organizing, money saving ideas and pretty much all things family.

I love feedback so please feel free to comment on my blogs and/or email me at:

Englishrose2016@aol.com

Thanks so much for checking out my blog and check back often… I plan on doing a lot of writing…

Blessings!

Amber

 

 

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