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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

. . FAITH is dancing to it NOW

While one part of me gives its full attention to how serious a matter it is to have breast cancer, another part of me can dance and rejoice.

“What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives…a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”

You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.

Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.”

1 Peter 1: 3-21 (The Message)

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Yesterday we met the oncologist to talk over the side effects from my second phase of chemotherapy and to plan ahead. On the scale of experiences I have had a rough time – needing antibiotics, sleeping tablets and an e.c.g. to check the effects on my heart. He was clear that the risks now outweigh the benefits for me and we should stop.

I was not surprised.

The amaryllis greeted us on the window-sill when we came home – blooming beautifully.

I bought it to pace me through the second three treatments. The day I reached rock bottom and called for sleeping tablets, the head of the amaryllis began to bulge and show red. The stalk was only 11 inches tall instead of the 20 inches I expected it to be.

This flower was stopping short and moving on to bloom early.

What can this mean?

Chemotherapy is treatment with chemicals that kill dividing cells. Whatever cells are dividing at the time will be destroyed – cancer cells, bone marrow, hair follicles, gut lining. The chemicals cannot tell the difference. And so it has benefits when it hits cancer cells and risks when it hits normal cells.

In breast cancer treatment chemotherapy is used before surgery to shrink the tumour, or after surgery to mop up any cells that might be left or that might have spread. There are many unknowns.

For me the treatment is addressed at might. No-one can answer questions about might and no-one can make the decisions for me.

And so, last November I went for prayer with two doctor colleagues who run a monthly prayer meeting for healing in their surgery. I shared my situation and my dilemma. As he prayed for me, one said with a twinkle in his eyes:

Well you know you are dealing with the God of the Universe here.  If he wants you to have chemotherapy, then he will make sure you get it

5 days later  I had another visit with the oncologist.  As I listened to him speak about might . . and maybe . . and perhaps . .  and in case . . I heard God speak through him and I signed the consent form.

Then I did a deal with God.

Okay – I get the message and I commit myself to this treatment – but please let me know me when I have had enough

It did not dawn on me at the time that, once I started the treatment, the only thing that would stop me completing it would be bad side effects.

This cycle I reached enough.

But who can say what enough is? I am relieved that this period of suffering is over. The specialist is cautious because I have had ‘less than optimal treatment’ – even though ‘optimal’ cannot be defined. We have drawn a line under the treatment of any cells that might already have spread and might have escaped 4 hits with chemotherapy.

Returning to what this means for me, I discover I bought an Amaryllis Ferrari – a type that blooms on stout short stems. It was never going to be full height. God knew what would happen. He planned my enough while I was committing to stay the course in obedience to him.

Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.

And a verse given to me yesterday by a friend . . .

Now glory be to God who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes

I dared to pray for enough and I dare to trust God for what might or might not happen tomorrow . . .

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Day 3 of my 4 day celebration. We look at our beliefs, in particular the limiting beliefs that cause dis-ease.

Beliefs form a large frame around what we think and what we do.  They can be the power that lifts us to achieve our highest goals – or they can be the terrorists that sabotage everything we attempt.  From our beliefs we attribute cause and meaning to events: you catch a cold if you go out without a coat: because he did not call it means he does not love me. And most sinister of all the terrorists can be the negative beliefs about who we are: I am not good enough: I am not loveable. Try those beliefs on for a while and see how it feels – maybe you already know.

The good news is that we can learn to identify, challenge and change our limiting beliefs. Listen carefully and spot when you use a word about yourself like always or never.  Be cheeky and ask yourself  ‘How do I know that?’ and ‘How do I know that is true?‘.

For day three the meditation is about the air around us.

I go back to being a tree planted by streams of water. I feel the security of deep roots that are always watered; the vitality of  life running through the trunk and branches; the strength to withstand any storm.

I explore the space around me and let it fill with thoughts and images that come to mind. It is light and bright and warm – and there is movement and sound. The air is busy with heavenly hosts – I cannot identify their form and yet I recognise they are angels, God’s messengers.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways

And there are shadows of darkness – a sense of threat, accusation and opposition. Fear rises instinctively as I recognise conflict.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms

I feel troubled yet safe.

A name comes to mind – the valley of the shadow of death. I give thanks for the deep roots that anchor me and the angelic messengers that surround me – they protect me from the shadows. The peace I feel comes through my roots as my eyes and my mind engage with the spiritual forces around me.

What does this mean and how can I know it is true?

I get the message about spiritual warfare. My bible, the map given by the Creator of the universe, confirms it. And my family and friends give first hand accounts of meeting an angel.

But about what this means for me . . I have more to learn.

And what I believe about it will either limit me or empower me.

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I need a map . . .

NASA - Constructing a map of the world

. .  of life that I can trust because the map I construct is distorted by my perceptions of what I hear and see and feel.

When I am angry with someone I cannot hear what they are saying because the anger in my head is shouting louder.  We hear different things.

When I have rose coloured spectacles over my eyes I can easily miss the darkness of someone else’s pain. We see different things.

When I harbour bitterness in my heart I mistrust other’s motives. We experience life in a different way.

And so communication can be fraught with problems.

Yesterday, after I posted the new page About Me in which I spoke about discovering the difference between my map of the world and my colleagues’, I opened a card from a friend, written over a month ago,  with this verse from Psalm 119:18-19 in the Living Bible:

Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your word. I am but a pilgrim here on earth; how I need a map – and your commands are my chart and guide.

. . and this takes me back to the need to meditate on God’s word, and to the tree planted by the stream in psalm 1.

. . and I get it . . . again

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My brother teased me that I am going East in my philosophy by talking about meditation. Joining with monks and mystics. Not so! We all meditate all the time. If you know how to worry you are already an experienced expert at meditation!

To meditate simply means to think about something over and over.  Let it simmer inside your mind. Look at it from different perspectives until it becomes a part of you.

What most occupies our minds, whether intentionally or unintentionally, tends to turn into behaviour and reality. Try it out for yourself.  Think of a moderate problem that is worrying you, one rated at about 5 on a scale of 1 to 10.  Explore every aspect of it in detail. Take note of how it makes you feel; watch what happens to your shoulders, your expression, your energy levels.

‘I have a problem’ becomes ‘I am worried’ – we take the issue into ourselves. It can grow to define us. When people see us they see our problem.

Psalm 1 talks about meditating on scripture day and night – how much is that? Probably at least as much as we worry about some things! And this is how much we are encouraged to reflect on scripture if we want it to become part of us.

Blessed are those . . . who delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on his law day and night.

They are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.

Exploring the metaphors in the bible gives us helpful information about how to get to know God. The better we know him, the more we will trust him and be able to enter into the fruitful life he offers.

Give it a go for a day or so. Choose a verse of scripture that encourages you and reflect on it. You could use the 23rd Psalm; even just the first 5 words – the Lord is my shepherd. Ask God to show you something about himself through this.

Explore what it might mean to you to be like a tree planted by streams of water.

Days 3 and 4 of the workshop took me higher and deeper into the metaphor. More great insights to share . . .

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Day one of my 4 day celebration.  A day focussed on how our body speaks to us and the wisdom that is there for us to hear.

16 delegates and 4 trainers gather in a room overlooking Hyde Park.  All are different; some have medical conditions, most do not, our common bond is that we are keen to explore the body-mind-health interface.

We know what it means to have a ‘gut feeling’. Something just ‘feels right’ – or ‘feels wrong’. We recognise inner conflict when part of us wants to do something and the other part does not. There is wisdom in our body.  Listen to it!

We can use metaphors to help us understand the concept.  Our emotions are a guidance system. Our body is a tuning fork. We are only aware of 10% of our emotions – like an iceberg, most of them remain hidden from us and from others. And yet they can be uncovered and explored.

When we resist the messages we create tension. Tension produces stress. And stress causes dis-ease.

Our trainer takes us through a meditation to help us explore our personal metaphor for our body and how we relate to it. What is the physical landscape that I inhabit? And what relationship do I have with it? Am I an observer or engaged as a participant?

This is a new experience for me – I give myself to it; watching and waiting to see what I might learn about myself . . . . .First the flowing water appears, then the tree, and then the words . . .

Blessed are those . . .  who delight in the law of the LORD and meditate on it day and night. They are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.

I recognise straight away where I am.  This is from Psalm 1 – a metaphor from God about the landscape I can inhabit.  I smile and explore it.  Thank you, God.

Then the trainer’s voice comes through with questions: “How do you feel about the landscape?” – FANTASTIC.  I can feel the warmth of the breeze, hear the sounds of the water and see the branches with fruit reaching up to the sun.

“Where are you in the landscape?” . . . . Oh dear, I am an observer! How can I live my life to the full when I am watching and not participating in it?

And a third question – “What needs to happen for you to be fully IN your own landscape?”  I go back to the words for my answer.  It’s about investing time in building my relationship with God.

I have lots of learning from the day and lots to share – but what fills my thoughts is the meditation –  God was there and I have more to learn.

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