Oh, my lov-e-ly lov-e-ly (pronounce the separate syllables to make it sound like her) mother. She may not be the most graceful and elegant woman she imagines to be, but she has her charms. She is boisterous and her laughter is contagious, she tackles problems head-on, she has a tender heart and is the opposite of my often unresponsive father, her enjoyment and commitment to studying the Word is honorable, and she is passionate. It took me nearly twenty years to appreciate her intended motives and efforts, and what I came to realize was: she tried to the best of her abilities. She wanted a better life for us (me and my siblings) and though things did not turn out the way she wanted/expected, we know that God works in mysterious ways. I was subtly rebellious and did not like the idea of obedience and conformity–so foolish, I know. To tame and love such a sinner–the Lord knows the grueling task that was given to her and the struggles, agony, tears along the way. I am humbled and ashamed by my sinful past, and now as I raise my own child, I hope I can cling to Him as she did.
Here are a few life lessons she has taught me by example:
Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind.
I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: I gazed—and gazed—but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.
I may have posted this poem before, but it’s one of my favorites and it came to mind this morning as I was washing the dishes. I unconsciously recited the first line in a random tune, “I wandered lonely as a cloud…,” and Elaine asked if it was a Winnie the Pooh song.
On March 6th, 2019, Elaine witnessed her first rainbow. We were driving down to San Marcos on a rainy day to celebrate my father-in-law’s 60th birthday. It had been raining all week, all winter, and rainbows were nothing new. But Elaine had been in school, at home, at church, indoors mostly because of the rain, and she never had the chance to see the magical colors paint the sky at the right moment in the right place, when the rain stops and sunlight seeps through the clouds causing light to refract and reflect to form a rainbow.
We pointed to the faint rainbow almost camouflaged by the colorful hills, and she yelled, “A rainbow! A real rainbow! I’ve never seen a real rainbow!” Then the rainbow disappeared because we were driving away, because light works in funny ways, and she was sad to learn that they didn’t last.
A few minutes later, we witnessed another rainbow along the road and I exclaimed, “Another one! Look!” and pointed to the left of our path. “God wanted to show Elaine another rainbow,” I thought, and surprisingly another rainbow appeared, and another, and another. I think we witnessed at least five on our drive down, and the very last one was painted over the poppy fields. Patches of orange against green hills, and a giant rainbow gracing itself across the green, down to our road, exactly on our path,
and we drove along the rainbow road,
with a pot of gold on the other side shining with golden poppies.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[d] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 aswe look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
I’ve been asked this question a number of times and thought it would be worthwhile to post something about it since it is a life-relevant topic that someone might search for on the internet or might simply be wondering just in case a situation occurs.
I want to preface this by acknowledging that everyone is different and what I think would be thoughtful and/or appropriate may not be to someone else. I also want to add that unless you’ve gone through the same exact situation (even cancer experiences differ), there really isn’t anything that would/could alleviate the matter.
Try to understand the person’s personality and situation: Is he/she sensitive? emotional? reserved? Is he/she young/old, with/without children? Is he/she currently in a distraught state? acceptance state? hopeful? in denial? etc. Knowing the person’s personality and situation can help determine what to say and not say. Don’t go about saying things that you would like to hear, but put yourself in the other’s personality. For example, if you are an emotional person but the person who is diagnosed is not, it doesn’t help to try and console using emotions.
Ask how they’re feeling. What’s been on their minds/hearts. But do so with discretion. Sometimes the diagnosed may not want to share, and again, knowing the person’s personality helps. Sharing may be burdensome or overwhelming. But some may appreciate being heard.
(For believers) You are praying for them, and praying. This has been the most meaningful to me because people I personally never knew or met have come to me to share that they’ve been praying for me. And this has been the most uplifting because I know that God is listening, and to know that I’ve been in someone’s thoughts and prayers simply means a lot, especially because I know that everyone is going through their own troubles in life.
(For unbelievers) I would share that I love him/her, that God loves him/her. And because God loves him/her, I need to share the gospel, even if it may seem unwelcome. Sharing the gospel and my testimony seems like the most loving thing a believer can do. I guess a non-believer may think, “If God loves me, why is this happening to me?” and this could be a good segue into sharing why there’s suffering in the first place–another segue into the gospel.
God loves you. The reminder is heartfelt and brings me to tears almost always. To know that our almighty God loves me and knows my suffering is the most comforting. He is the only one who knows my heart, my burdens, my worries; He hears my cries, sees my tears, feels my pain, knows how much it hurts, how tiring everything can be.
It’s been 3.5 years since my diagnosis. The hardest has been my first year. It was spiritually, emotionally, and physically the most difficult; I felt the most vulnerable and distraught. Year two had its ups and downs. Year three has come with some peace, maybe because I have been stable for the most part, but I have also come to terms with death. During my first year, I felt as though I was given a death sentence and I would soon be separated from everyone I loved. Now… well, it’s still heartbreaking, but I also long for heaven where there is no more suffering. (Oh, how I long to be completely healed! Physically and from sin). A period of time would pass until Christ’s coming, a period of time which I would not be aware, and I would wake in a moment to see those I love around me (so I desperately pray for my daughter’s salvation), and it would be a time of celebration. Everything will be perfect and there will be no more pain.
To those who have been diagnosed and to those who have loved ones who are diagnosed,