This weekend, my mother and sister drove up from Central Florida and stayed overnight with us. It was a very low-key visit, and it was nice. No conflict, no issues, just visiting with my family and watching my kids enjoy their aunt and grandmother. Trever had to work Saturday until three, so I took advantage of the fact he wouldn't be with us and suggested we go to Pizza Hut for lunch. Trever loathes Pizza Hut but I love it, so I try only to indulge in the greasy, cheesy goodness when he isn't around. As a bonus, they had cherry Pepsi, which is my favorite.
I needn't have stressed over my mother's birthday present, she liked it very much. I also made her a chocolate cake to celebrate belatedly, and I added an entire bag of milk chocolate chips and half a bag of semisweet chips to the batter, topped with fudge icing. We put candles in, sang, and then Libby blew the candles out.
We all stared at her, dumbfounded, and then asked her why she had done that. She had mistakenly thought that the cake was meant for her, Ella, and Dylan, and that grandma had come to celebrate the April birthdays early. She was absolutely mortified , and began to cry, even when we told her it was okay. She eventually got over it though, and the cake was great. I'd added a few tablespoons of sour cream to make sure it stayed moist, which was a good call because I forgot about it while it was baking and ended up leaving it in the oven a bit too long.
After they left at around three o'clock Sunday afternoon, I laid down to sneak in a short nap before getting ready for the evening church gathering, but my plans were all foiled because apparently I was more tired than I realized and I didn't wake up (and no one woke me up, as they promised to do) until six thirty, which is right when church starts, and I was no where near to being ready. Andrew went, and told me afterward they mainly discussed the plans for the Easter outreach, and didn't really have an actual Bible study, so I was momentarily pacified. It's really the Bible study and discussion I go for, after all.
Today has been a rather lazy Monday. Thankfully, I didn't have much planned for today, because I've felt very tired and rather sad. Last year, I lost one of my closest friends to cancer. She was in her forties, she was lovely and beautiful, she was an example to me in faith and marriage. I still miss her rather horribly. Yesterday, while I napped and enjoyed my family, another beautiful soul entered eternity. She too had cancer, she was in her late thirties, and she had four precious children and a loving husband she had to leave behind. She wrote a blog, and she lived and died in Jesus, an inspiration to so, so many. To me, for sure.
I know that in Christ, nothing is lost or wasted. Still, I struggle to grapple with the length, the intensity, the grotesqueness of cancerous disease and suffering.
I spend a large majority of every day in a tiny nook in my bedroom. I lie in bed, with a stack of books and journals on my nightstand, and laptop within reach. I listen to praise and worship, I read, I write, I sleep. On days I feel particularly awful, I put on audio books and just lay still and listen. This is a radical change for me, but it has happened gradually, not suddenly.
Some days, I get out of the house for a short outing. Church, for instance, or coffee with friends. Occasionally, I make it to the grocery store or the hair salon, and not very often but SOMETIMES, I will even attend a party or a barbeque or a fund raiser. Inevitably, I have to pay for it the next day. I tire out easily and it takes a while to pay off the energy debt.
A few years back, I used to be much more active. I'd take my children to the park and chase them around, I'd push them in their swings or pull them around in a wagon. I played baseball and basketball and I went bowling and sometimes, I even played tennis or racket ball. I danced with my kids in the kitchen. I carried my babies on my body in slings and backpacks and we'd go for walks and field trips and to museums and amusement parks. On particularly emotional days, I lament my inability to do these things, I wish I could do more and be more to my children.
Most of the time though, I am content.
I still hope to improve. I am grateful the medications that are costing my insurance a fortune are making some progress with my RA, which has now been labeled as moderate to severe, with rapid deterioration. The last two visits I had to see my rheumatologist were encouraging. The lab tests have shown significant improvement. I am still easily exhausted. I still ache, a lot. I still get frustrated when I realize the only solutions my doctor can offer is more medication, or higher doses. I dislike being dependent on medication to function.
I have often wondered about the why of it all- why does God allow this kind of sickness, this suffering, this pain? Why does He heal some and not others? Why did he take Amanda, or Kara? Why am I still here? How am I meant to live out whatever number of days I have? How are we all?
The truth is, I am realizing the answer to all the questions is love. Love. To love God is to trust Him, to believe He means it when He says He works ALL THINGS for our good, to rest in His care. I've stopped praying constantly to be healed. Instead, I pray that God will do whatever will bring Him the most glory from my life. I have a couple hunches as to what He is doing, but it's kind of like looking at an artist's canvas after just a few brushstrokes- sometimes you can make things out, but for most of it, you have to wait and see.
In the meantime, He is making me more gentle, more compassionate, softer, kinder. I'm becoming quicker to listen and slower to speak. The scriptures are just about popping off the page, they are so transformational for me right now. For all this, I can only bow low in my heart and bless him. If I could have reformed myself, I would have by now. I have learned the most sought after character traits are impossible for me to display on my own. The transformation has to come from the inside out. As I see signs of transformation, I recognize God at work in my life, and I rejoice. Surely He who began this great work in me will complete it.