I Seem to Have an Elephant Sitting on My Chest

 

I seem to have an elephant sitting on my chest – or so that’s what it feels like in my brain when I try to think what to say or write these days.

It has been months since I posted on this blog.

Does it even matter, I ask myself.

What do I have to say that hasn’t already been said?

Truth is: N O T H I N G.

Honestly, I began this venture of blogging because I wrote a book.  Forty-nine years of living and raising children and fighting the good fight, and then, I stayed up late for three months and wrote a book, and it was published three months later.  Not the usual progression, yet this is the way God paved the way for me and so, I had this book and I needed a platform (i.e. a place to connect with readers) to sell my book. Thus this site was born. I wrote, I sold some books and now, five years later,  I stumble around in my melancholy mind for words, like the proverbial writer who stares at the blank paper on a typewriter.

And, I mostly give my books away as an offering of help, from one to another.

Is this what God intended when he paved the way for me to be published?

The thing is, I am a bit of a hypocrite. My brain knows and imparts right information and advice, yet sometimes, I do not even live my own words. I have even been known to tell myself, Sheryl, you should read your own book; read your own blog; listen to your own lecture; take your own advice!

The problem is, that I forget; we forget. We are a forgetful people.

The word LOVE / the message of LOVE appears in the Bible between 300 to 500 times, depending on which version you read. I think God  knows for certain that we are a forgetful people; and so, He brings up topics over and over in different ways so that the message is eventually and hopefully heard.

And so, I fail.

Don’t we all?

I have forgotten that I am me, created by my heavenly Father, and loved.

Maybe what I have to say isn’t new.

Maybe posting on my blog doesn’t really mater.

But,

What matters is, that I share the Truth and Love of Jesus in whatever venue is available to me.

What venue has God has opened for you?

Join me in pushing that elephant off!

Stop staring at the proverbial blank page of life and opportunity before you and speak, share, and love others around you by proclaiming the Name of Jesus and His LOVE.

Dear reader, 

You are loved – today and always by a most loving and merciful Father.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

 

 

 

 

 

WORD – Part 5: Expect Two Things

As I said, my WORD for 2017 is: LIFE.

Living my WORD, is not easy.  It’s a bit like being a mother.

As a mother, I know that I am loved by my husband and children, and I certainly do “being love” 24/7, even when it doesn’t appear that way. Once a baby comes out of a mother’s womb, there is little room for the “I”… and forgiveness is a constant flowing gift, both sought after, and offered,

because mothers deal with a lot of messes.

So, what of the “E” in LIFE?

“E” is for Expect.

Expect two things.

ONE: Expect to stumble. 

We will be unlovable.

We will not want to love others.

We will be selfish.

We will hold grudges.

Right? This is realistic because we are perfectly imperfect humans. WE WILL STUMBLE as we live LIFE out.

The Psalmist knew this well and encourages us:“…though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:24

so…TWO: Expect to be upheld.

Upheld conjures up a cradle image to me, cupped hands holding a soggy baby bird that fell from the safety of the nest due to the storm.

That is what the LORD does for us. And we can expect this loving care from him: to be held with gentleness.

This WORD: LIFE seems to have gone full circle…

You are loved.

Be love to others.

Get rid of the “I” and give dangerously.

Be forgiven and forgive others.

Expect, to stumble and expect to be upheld…and loved….round and round we go in this WORD: LIFE!

Love is the thread through it all.

cropped-towdah-paintings-001-e13415278593431.jpg

There is always a song of Hope to be sung!

Have you read my published song of HOPE?

Towdah, A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope is available on Amazon, just click on this title. Towdah, addresses key issues universally prominent in any kind of trial, even though this is a telling of my journey through cancer.

Happy New Year 2017

What is it that Fills your Darkness?

Accept support.  Stick to the plan.  Stay vulnerable.  Trust God.

BUT

Even still…Darkness seeps in like fog curling and swirling, pushed by the wind, wrapping it’s tendrils around the anchors yanking them up and out. Doubt, and fear, and tangible offenses like nausea, burns, nosebleeds, and pain of various origins fills my darkness.

What is it that fills your darkness?

As the seeping continues, I find I have to make a decision. Do I focus on the darkness or do I focus on the light?  Poor-little-old-me parties tauntingly invite me to focus on the darkness and curse it.  Yet, the light offers me rest, healing, and peace through thankfulness.

Friend, it’s all about attitude.

“I realized that the way to attaining joy and rejoicing in my sufferings was to have a heart of thanksgiving.  Through the offering, the sacrifice of thanksgiving, I entered into relationship with God Himself.” (p. 92 Towdah)

Thank God for all He has done and will do for you, even before you see or experience it; trust Him for it all.  That is “Towdah!”

“On May 22, 2011, I sat still and thanked God for my cancer.” (p 93 Towdah)

039

How could I do that you might ask?

By keeping my eyes on Jesus and seeing Him in all the glory that He is;

He sacrificed His life for mine and He lives, now, to assure me, carry me, and offer me salvation fully.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16

Friend, THANK the LORD through the trial – no matter what trial it is that has you undone.

“…he who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” Psalm 50: 23

Thank God for it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly…and you will be renewed.  You will be shown salvation in the fullest sense!

What is it that fills your darkness?

Turn. Instead, fill it with Thanksgiving and you will unfurl those dark tendrils and

You will be IN the light!

4 Anchors for a Tiny Sailboat

This is where I left you last Thursday, promising to give you an answer…

“What is fair anyway?”

Truth be told – the answer is: N O T H I N G.

“Life isn’t fair – get use to it.”

Don’t you hear your mother’s voice echoing in your head, as I do?

Someone will always get the bigger cookie first, the longest turn on the swing, the better card in the game.

Yet,

when we get the biggest cookie, the longest turn on the swing, or the winning card in the game – — do we still exclaim, “It’s not fair?”

Of course not.

Suddenly the path of the exclamation goes from “Why me?” to “Why not me!

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Why did I have to get cancer? I do not know…but, why not me?  I am not above the perils of this world.

Four anchors held me as my life, like a tiny sailboat, tossed violently in the stormy sea of a dark trial. 

One: Accept Support.

Hand in hand, we opened the door and stepped out into the brazen sunlight, neither knowing what lay ahead.” (p. 6 Towdah)

Do you have support? Do not try to go it alone.  Call on your closest loves in life and let them hold your hand.  My aunt, who battled against cancer for nearly 12 years, told me, “No matter what, always let people help you, for if you deny them the opportunity, you squash the Spirit working in them and you lose out on a blessing.”

Two:  Stick to the Plan.

With a battle, there is a plan – always.  And once a plan is in place, everything seems doable.  Stick to it and fight with everything you’ve got!

Medically: follow through with the treatment plan.

Spiritually: pray; “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;”

Three: Stay Vulnerable

“Without words, I drew close…Tears once again began to flow…Emotions gave way with an ever so gentle explosion of sighs and tears.”(p.34 Towdah)

Keep it real my friend. Embrace your humanness.

Four: Trust God.

There is a choice to make.  You can be swallowed up by fear or you can be cradled by trust. Seems a no-brainer to choose trust – I mean, who wants to be swallowed up! The next question then, is who do  you trust?  Entering the unknown territory of this trial, I put my trust in God as Joshua did.  Cancer, disease, sudden loss bring unknown territory and it is scary.

“Like a child, holding the father’s hand, I couldn’t bear it anymore and I turned with anxious asking, ‘Pick me up Daddy! I’m scared.’ ” (p. 30 Towdah)

003

Accept support.  Stick to the plan.  Stay vulnerable.  Trust God.

 

 

Two responses to the Big Bang

Ever experienced the BIG BANG in your life?

You know, the explosion of events that takes you totally by surprise – the kind of thing that changes your life in an instant and threatens the comfort of everything held to the routine of daily living?

For me, it was the pronouncement in a doctor’s office that I had cancer.  For you, maybe the same — or something different — an accident, a sudden death, another kind of disease…?  No matter which BIG BANG changed your life in an instant, I believe we all go through similar universal stages of experience.

The first stage I experienced seemed to have 2 steps.

First: SHOCK.

The kind that makes your jaw drop, renders you speechless, and causes you to drop what you are holding, or fall back against a wall, or collapse all together.

“I couldn’t even be sure if I was still breathing. In fact, I am sure I was not. I was frozen – suspended as if above all concept of time.”  (Towdah p. 5)

That was my initial response. And it is a normal first reaction for all of us.

Second: INDIGNATION.

That’s a big word for – IT IS NOT FAIR!

“…heaving great spasmodic breaths, gasping for air in my voiceless cries….I was weeping and gnashing my teeth as I drooled and bit my pillowcase in the silent darkness of the night, when no one else was awake.” (Towdah p 13)

And I wailed, Why me LORD? Why Me!

I mean – really?  Who ever expects to have the Big Bang explode on them! Right?

It isn’t fair.  OR ….is it?

What is fair anyway?

sad face

Yes, shock and indignation are quite normal human responses because we are forgetful.  We forget that we are not in control; God is.  We live our lives planning the next day and the next day to be as we want, assuming nothing will go awry, prideful because we believe we are in charge.  That is why we are caught unaware when the Big Bang explodes in our face.  Yes, we forget that God is bigger than any Bang – big or small; that God is in charge.  He knows all and still loves us; He always has.

Friend, are you experiencing shock or indignation, crying out that it is not fair in reaction to something in your life right now?

Take comfort and know, that Jesus loves you right now and He will keep loving you right through this difficulty.

I know.

I have been there.

Follow me to my next post and I will answer that question, “What is fair anyway?” 

 

 

“5 Year Clean” Anniversary

Like a marathon runner stepping over the finish line, I have reached the “MARK” – and the medical field supposes I can breath easy now – I made it!

I am enjoying my  “5 Year Clean” Anniversary season!

CLEAN & CLEAR of detectable CANCER!

WOO- HOO!

This is what every cancer survivor hopes to do –

step over the numbered-year-mark that science says gives you the highest likelihood that you will not have a return of the cancer.

So here I am.

I have arrived.

Now what?

In anniversary fashion, I  am taking a look back to see from where I came.

The journey was unexpected – nothing I would ever have chosen.

towdah-paintings-028.jpg

When God says He has a plan for each one of us, none of us imagines that the plan might include cancer.

Yet, mine did.

I never imagined that I would write a book either; but God included that in the plan for me as well.

This is how it happened:

I got Cancer. I endured and survived horrible treatments. I sat down to write about my experience, in hopes to give “my story” to my family, members who may or may not know the God who carried me through.  So, I had a few friends proof read it, to make sure I kept out any Christian-jargon, so it was understandable to all.  One friend said,
“More people need to read this.”

With some awkward disbelief, I said, “Really?”

Meanwhile, months previous, a few of my close friends bought me a ticket and took me on a cruise to celebrate the end of my treatments! (I never expected that as part of God’s plan for me either!)  As we boarded the ship, and checked in, the last check point person asked me,

“Do you have an appointment with an editor?”

I said with a laugh, “No, but how do I get one?”

I was told that you had to book one when you bought your ticket…..but if I wanted to check back after check-in was over, I could see if someone didn’t show up. I chuckled to myself and said, okay — like who doesn’t show up for a cruise!  For laughs – I came back – and lo and behold – ONE person did not show up – and so they gave me the editor’s meeting.  This was for a 15 min. block of time to show the designated editor your stuff.  As this was unexpected, I had not even one line written to show – all my pages were at home.  Nonetheless, empty handed I went.  And since I was the last meeting on the schedule – I could stay and chat with this expert editor as long as I wanted.  She gave me 45 minutes of her precious time.  Keep it authentic, was the take-away for me.

Yup – this was part of God’s plan for me too.

Simultaneously, as I arrived home from the cruise, another proof reading friend said,

“I know a publisher that would like to read your manuscript; she said just to send it to her”

I sent it.

Tracy Ruckman, then publisher of Write Integrity Press/Pix-N-Pens, called 2 weeks later, and said she wanted to publish my book.

This journey too, was unexpected — nothing I had set out to do.

Wham!

Wham!

Wham!

That is the sound of God throwing open the doors to my adventure in becoming a published author.

God did it.

He planned it.

And it was awesome!

Towdah, A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope was published in 2012.

Over the next several weeks, I am going to share what God did for me so that perhaps you may be encouraged to persevere and hold tight to God’s hand through whatever trial of suffering you are enduring.  God planned this all for me –

so that I could be used by Him,

to share His love with you!

Follow my next several posts if you want to hear authentic telling of my suffering and my awesome God!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

 

Give Hope: Dump an Omelet in the Trash!

The Holy Spirit works in amazing ways and sometimes

may call you to do the most unexpected thing!

Several months into my journey of treatments and surgeries related to my cancer, I found myself suffering and unable to eat for days – yes – days, not hours.  The phone rang  and then this happened:

” He said, ‘I just have to tell you…’ ”

“He said he heard the Holy Spirit prompt him to stop, not eat his omelet (which he had just labored to make), and throw it away……with confidence, this brother declared, ‘The Holy Spirit wanted me to share in your suffering today.’ ”

“I only share this with you to encourage you…to let you know the Holy Spirit is working and that you are prayed for.”  Excerpts from; Towdah, A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope — p. 110 – 111

End of phone call.

I was speechless.  I was stunned.  

I was filled with an immediate sense of the fullness of God himself!

080

 

Intercessory prayer is powerful.  

The second way you can help ease the pain and suffering of a loved one this holiday season

is to pray for them.  

Deeply.

Pray for them deeply and with compassion.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the saints.”  Ephesians 6:18

Peer into the space your loved one occupies in his suffering and listen to how the Spirit directs you to pray.  You may not have to dump an omelet in the trash…yet, the Spirit may call you to do something else equally as stunning as is fitting to your loved one in need!

Deliver HOPE by telling the one who suffers that you are praying for them.  

Bless them with that moment of knowing they are loved immensely.

TOWDAH

Be the first to comment on my blog today and I will send you a free autographed copy of my book and  a letter of encouragement to your friend or loved one who is suffering this Christmas season.  Message me on FB with your address & details – just click on my name below:

Sheryl

Merry Christmas!

Cancer is a BEAST

March is COLON CANCER AWARENESS month.

Maybe you knew this, maybe you didn’t.  I never heard of such a thing…until I had colon cancer.

Dark BLUE is the color that represents Colon Cancer...it seems each cancer owns a color.  I never knew.  It’s sad really.

My father said, his science teacher, from the 1950’s, told his class that everyone will eventually die of some kind of cancer if something else does not get you first. Pretty astute comment from that era.  Sadly, it seems he was right.

My Grandmother had colon cancer and breast cancer, and died.  My Aunt has breast cancer and has been battling it throughout her body for more than a decade.  Several of  my friends have, or have had, cancer.  And everyone I talk to knows someone close to them who has been touched by cancer in some way or another.  Sadder than sad.

Cancer is a BEAST.

I  know, firsthand, the beasty-ness of it.  IF I could give an image to the beasty-ness, I’d liken cancer to the dragon in Tolkien’s, Lord of the Ring’s, Smaug.  He is overwhelmingly huge, he is a dangerous fire-breather, claimed a mountain to be his own, and he scares the bejeebers out of everyone who treads nearby.  Yes.  Cancer is like that.

Tumblr md1pncbSmm1qeiyjeo1 500

It is overwhelmingly huge, dangerous, claims territory, and scares the bejeebers out of the one who is diagnosed with it.  SADLY, with all caps, I know this.

BUT, there is good news x 3.

Good news #1 =  Early detection of cancer means good chance of recovery!  Do not dismiss any odd lumps, bumps, or fluctuations in your body….feelings, tiredness, or  in the case of colon cancer, bowel movements; pay attention to symptoms!   Do not dismiss routine scans or screens meant for early detection.  Believe me, any test or procedure is nothing compared to the BEAST!  Sadly, early detection was not afforded me.

Good news #2 = There are excellent doctors and nurses and care systems and treatments that can prolong your life by eradicating the rogue cells and the tumor.  I am a colon cancer survivor (survivor’s own the color purple) and I have nothing but great things to say for the care I received locally and in Boston.

Good news #3 = In the case that something is found and you find yourself battling the BEAST, know that you have access to someone bigger than the BEAST.   Someone who can sustain you, carry you, and do miracles. Just three letters names Him: GOD.

In October of 2011 I began writing my memoir for my family, to remember me and my battle by — in April 2012, my story was accepted by my publisher and it was released just six months from the time I typed my first word in the manuscript;  I call it a God-thing.  He gave me the story and I mean to share it.

Towdah: A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope

I invite you to read my story and pass it along.  I invite you to encourage others to not procrastinate in getting their baseline colonoscopy.  I invite you to share this post for the purpose of enlightening others about Colon Cancer Awareness month.

 

The Big “C”

The Big “C”.

Otherwise known as C-A-N-C-E-R, first came into my world as a young teen. A trip to the movies was still a novelty.  I think Terms of Endearment was one of five movies I saw in the theater in my entire childhood years; Snow White, CaddyShack, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, and On Golden Pond were the other four.  Because I saw so few, movies back then had quite an impression on me.  Terms of Endearment left a clear picture of what cancer was like: HORRIBLE with a capital H; pain, suffering, vomit, weight loss,desperate crying, weakness, and sure to end in death.

Cancer is not a modern day disease.

“Some of the earliest evidence of human bone cancer was found in mummies in ancient Egypt and in ancient manuscripts dates about 1600 B.C. The world’s oldest recorded case of breast cancer hails from ancient Egypt in 1500 BC and it was recorded that there was no treatment for the cancer,…” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2927383/)

Remission, temporary cure of cancer is a modern day accomplishment. Yet, cancer still remains to be the second leading cause of death for humankind.

One who lives after the diagnosis, surgery, and toxic chemical treatment of cancer is dubbed a “SURVIVOR.”  I am one such person. Although, I would say that I am not really a survivor…because I am daily S U R V I V I N G the ravages of the treatments in my everyday life. Cancer cells are gone – but side effects remain. Surviving is ongoing.

Still.

 I am here.

Sustained and upheld; given daily breath: I breathe. Love and comfort have been mine.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3 &4

This is why I wrote.

Product Details

http://www.amazon.com/Towdah-Cancer-Survivors-Song-Hope/dp/1938092155/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389661056&sr=1-1&keywords=towdah

This is why I persist in writing.

Today is World Cancer Awareness Day.

If you have cancer… if you know of anyone who is suffering in such a way.. please consider doing three things:

1.   Love them just as they are…ease their suffering any way you can.

2.   Contact me.  I personally will write a note of encouragement to you, or to your loved one, wherever they are in this world.  I will share my belief that there is truly ALWAYS A SONG OF HOPE.

3.  Consider purchasing my book, Towdah, and sharing it with others.  It is my personal journey through cancer and I wish to share it as an encouragement to all who read.

Blessing to you my friendly readers!

Make my joy complete by sharing my message and by allowing me to be used by God to encourage and give hope!

47 Things on Thursdays: The Proverbial Fence

I dread big family gatherings.  I have nothing against family gatherings; the food and activity is always enjoyable.  What I dread is the clean up afterward. How I long for someone to volunteer to do the dishes and commit to completing the entire clean up job.  Someone who will do what he says and perhaps even do more.  What a delight that would be!

V O L U N T E E R  &  C O M M I T M E N T

are two words that many stumble over; The idea of each seems to propel people into a frozen stance upon the proverbial fence. Should I, or shouldn’t I,..…that is always the question… isn’t it?

When is the last time YOU volunteered to do something…

        AND committed to it fully?

                         Have you ever stood before the LORD and said,

                                      “I volunteer.  I will do whatever you want.  Use me, LORD.” 

The moment came when I could not do anything BUT surrender to the LORD in my deepest pain and I said between sobs, “I am yours LORD, use me, even in my broken-ness, use me.”  Then and there, in the stillness of the night, I volunteered and committed.  God heard and He was true to His nature. 003 He does what He says He’ll do and more. All throughout Scripture there are stories that exhibit the character of our God always doing what He promised and doing even more.  I experienced the LORD just like this as He carried me through my trial with cancer and beyond.

Even before one of my days came to be, the LORD knew I would suffer with the disease called cancer.  I prayed for healing and I volunteered to be used by Him despite my weak and sick state so that I might glorify Him.  I called upon the LORD for healing — and He gave it.

Psalm 50 : 15 says: “…call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

And….in the healing, He used me to honor Him.

He was true to His Word. He strengthened my trust and faith in Him and thereby used me to encourage others in their daily walk with Him, despite my weakness. He delivered me from the grip of cancer and He used me to glorify Him.  Done. Finis.  Right?

No.

God did not stop there.

The LORD continued because

HE DOES WHAT HE SAYS HE’LL DO AND MORE.

God put in me a desire to write. Effortlessly the words came; The Holy Spirit flowed through me.  God opened every door for the publishing of my book, Towdah, A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope.  ( http://www.amazon.com/Towdah-Cancer-Survivors-Song-Hope/dp/1938092155/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366855928&sr=1-1&keywords=towdah)         He equipped me and prepared me.  And when I went looking for rest, He opened the door for me to speak at a women’s conference.  In my sharing, I was blessed and refreshed.

The LORD healed me;

He did what He said He’d do.

He made me an author and a speaker.

I just asked for healing and to be used by Him.

He did even more.

In as much as I am always hoping for a volunteer to commit to washing dishes after a large family gathering, God is always hoping for His children to get off the proverbial fence and commit to saying,

Here I am!  Use me!  I volunteer!  

Will you?

Will you consider hopping off the proverbial fence ?

The LORD will delight in the commitment

and He will use you in ways you cannot even imagine.  

He does what He says He’ll do…and more!

**********************************************************************