Saturday, August 4, 2012

No More Tears, No More Pain

Hello everyone, this is James, Cathy's oldest son.  Many months ago, when Mom began hospice, she asked me to post occasionally on her blog in the event that she passed away.  She wanted to make sure that all her blog friends she loved so much, weren't left in the dark about what was going on with her or us.  I've delayed posting this because I haven't wanted to acknowlegde what has happened.

On Sunday, July 22nd, the greatest mother the world has ever known went home to the loving hands of our Lord.  Her seven-year, hard-fought battle with cancer is over.  Despite how much our hearts are breaking, we know that she has finally had the privelege of seeing God face to face.  She completed her race and now gets all the rewards for how well she ran it.  The tears and pain that had plagued her life for quite some time vanished, just like the Lord promised in Revelation 21:4.  She no longer has to deal with even the slightest of health problems in her new body.  For eternity, she gets to experience an absolutely perfect existence, filled with all the joy and pleasure that we can only dream of.

Life without her will be a struggle every day for the six of us.  She constantly was taking care of us, rarely using any time for herself.  I've never seen such a selfless person in my life.  Every problem we ever had, we could take to her.  Even if she knew she couldn't fix it, she would try her utmost.  And when that failed, she would be there to love and encourage us at every point on this journey through life.  She homeschooled all five of us so she could train us in the ways of the Lord.  I know many of you understand what a difficult task that was!  While some parents send their kids off to school so they can have a break, mom enjoyed every possible oppurtunity to spend time with us.  When God decided that she was going to be my mother, I feel like He told me, "I'm gonna give you a HUGE head-start in the life; let's see what you can do with it."  We all loved her so much and will miss her unending love, beautiful smile, smart problem-solving, love for pictures and music, funny expressions, and joy in life.  But most importantly, we will miss the godly example she set for us every single day and the amazing relationship she had with Him.

On behalf of Mom, the rest of my family, and myself, I would like to thank each and every one of you who lifted up prayers for her during the last many months and years.  Even though she's gone, your prayers were definately not in vain!  We were told countless times while she was on hospice that she only had one month to live, but God heard our prayers and gave us nine months instead!  I can see more clearly now how each and every day He allowed us to have with her, though very difficult at times, was a tremendous blessing.  We humbly ask you to continue praying for us, that we would grieve and heal in a manner completely glorifying to Him.

 A memorial service will be held for her on Saturday, August 11th, at 11am.  If any of you wish and are able to attend, below is the address for the church:

The Grove Community Church
19900 Grove Community Drive
Riverside, CA 92508

I'll leave you all with this song.  For me, it's a constant reminder of how she strove to live every second of her life.  I sure think she did an extraordinary job!




Saturday, February 11, 2012

Remarkable

Some other parts of my life that went unmentioned in my last post deserve their due light. Those parts being my children . . . all five of them! They definitely have risen to the occasion and are true servants to this mama, this home, and their schoolwork. Our life has presented them with some very challenging circumstances. Every time, they are ready to serve . . . putting aside their own desires. Typically one of these life circumstances involves my health, so I'm especially honored for their servant attitude.

For example, they (being all five of them) just cleaned the entire house. This covers four bathrooms, vacuuming, and dusting of a large home. Right now, James is building a new treadmill. Jacob and Jared are sorting cans and bottles for recycling. The girls are putting some fine touches on straightening the schoolroom. Since I can't get up and do anything, there are many times throughout the day I must call upon them for even the simplest of things. They serve without whining. In trying to find some good in these hard times that have plagued our home, I have often said my children are learning life skills the average young person doesn't have exposure to. It's making them better men and women, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers.

Now mind you, they still are young people who struggle with sin. They succumb to sibling issues on a regular basis and sometimes don't clean their rooms up to what is expected. I'm aware they are not perfect. I just thought with so much they do above and beyond with such willingness, I was going to sing their praises for a bit! I am a blessed mother with five blessings who love her dearly. For this, I am so very grateful!

And for a brief update on me. There's not very much new to report. I continue to feel better than anytime over the past number of months. However, this improvement is not changing from week to week or day to day. My life is quite sedentary, sitting most of the day. I'm struggling with feeling lazy, but have been reassured by The Main Man that that's not what I'm doing. He's thrilled for the progress I've made and is so happy I'm not at the pain rating of 8-10 (where I was for 2-3 months). For the past almost two weeks, I would say my pain rating is 2-3 with times during the day that I don't feel any pain at all while sitting still! While I'm grateful I don't remember the past six months or so, I have memory of today and that's not a happy place to be. We'll keep pressing on, trusting Him for a miracle, and praising Him for what good He is doing on a daily basis!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Long Overdue Update

Here's a long overdue update on our family and me . . .

Two weeks ago, I had a day of seizures -- nine of them in all. Everyone was very afraid of what was going on and whether or not I would make it through them all. A hopsice nurse spent the next three nights here with me getting through the time facing whatever outcome with which there was to deal. Well, praise the Lord, I awoke on the other side seeming to be pretty normal! I still had the physcial limitations I had been struggling with for months, but the seizures were over.

One major side effect that did occur was six months of memory loss. Lee and the children are telling me about life of the last six months and I don't have any recollection of the events that have happened. From birthday parties to family get togethers to hospice time, I don't remember about the last six months of time. That's really strange to see pictures and read about events on the calendar, and not remember a thing about any of them.

Lee says that life has been a risk every step of the way. Hospice was called in for some major pain relief the first part of October. They said I wouldn't see the next month and then the next month. But, the Lord kept defying what their predictions were! Throughout these past four months of hospice care, we have faced an unexpected place we never anticipated in life. I have been heavily drugged as a measure of relief from the severe pain I was experiencing. There have been days I have not woken up, not eaten, thrown up all day, cried all day, but there have been days I have gone shopping and even made Christmas cookies.

Today, I have extreme pain in my feet and lower calf region as well as my lower groin area. I have a catheter, so doing anything is just about impossible. I'm not allowed to walk without someone with me. And, even when someone is walking with me, the pain is so challenging, I don't have much desire to be moving about the house. When you consider what I remember, I'm only two weeks into this new realization of life's circumstances and I'm just about to climb out of my skin. Lee's been doing this for five months now. He is a picture of the "in sickness and in health" part of our wedding vows. Our home is functioning in such a compromised condition. He has to do everything, including all he did before. I'm so honored to have him for my husband. Everything he does is with such gentleness, love and care. Never does he complain or grumble about what life is today. He just loves me along the way.

The hope is for this pain to reduce to nothing. For our life to get back to some sort of normalcy. I would just like to be able to walk without pain, to lay down without pain and to not be taking as many pain pills. So there is an update on our home. Don't know how we got to this place, but the Lord's protecting us here as well.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Our Life on This Day

Have just checked each one of my precious babes! They're all sleeping in such angelic fashion. So often, I just stop at the end of busy days and watch them sleep. Watch them breathe. Watch them lay still. Watch their chests gently move to the beat of their hearts. I've even been known to snap a pic or two of them up close and personal deep in slumber! At these times, I am reminded in resounding form of the blessed woman I am! Indeed, God has gifted me with value . . . value far beyond what the mind can comprehend.

An update on our life seems to be necessary, considering the date of the last post.

Here's the flowery version (for those faint of heart):

Start: This past week has been gloriously perfect! We've accomplished every bit of school work. The house has been cleaned from top to bottom (even the blinds have been dusted in each and every room). The cars have been washed, waxed and vacuumed. All of us have had at least 30 minutes per day of elevated heart rate. Books have been read by each in our spare time. Meals have been prepared from scratch . . . nothing processed here! Oh, yeah . . . and this cancer issue hasn't really been anything because we're thinking positive and not letting it bother us. End.

That "joking around" just about makes me sick. However, there are those in my life who need that version to make them comfortable about my life. To a degree, I think I understand where they are. Yes, it hurts that they cannot walk this road with me and my family. That, however, is something they'll have to work out with God.

Here's the nitty gritty version (for those who are "bearing our burden"):

Our days seem to become more challenging with each passing 24 hours. Sadly, not one of us looks to expect good anymore, learning to settle for okay. Okay is at least better than the awful that so often is the case. My Main Man has become the Man of Gold in recent days! He's had to do things we never even imagined when we said our wedding vows 20 years ago. The way he has navigated each of our needs simply amazes me! It reminds me why I married him and makes me grateful he's mine!

Presently, we have chosen to implement extreme alternative treatments for this terminal case of cancer with which I have been diagnosed. (Did you see that ugly word "terminal"? Yuck.) You know, chemo is alternative when you consider the attack that is taken upon your body. But, chemo is readily accepted in our society because we are trained from birth to accept it. Since the doctors have nothing to offer me, alternative is our only choice, yet it is the choice that God has directed us to for sometime now. These extreme treatments are proving to be incredibly cumbersome and time-consuming. They also bring about a very great measure of sickness upon my body as I detox nearly 46 years of "trash" that has settled within my cells and tissues. Maybe another time I'll share about the specifics of this detoxing stuff. Just know, though . . . it's a gruesome job that's gotta be done.

Daily, we accomplish the best we can with the life that this family of seven requires. All things are looked at in different ways nowadays. Character building certainly outranks any measure of academic accomplishment. (Don't worry, we still do "school"!) Lots and lots of time for "lovin" is reserved on every one's schedule. (You know, I thrive on skin-to-skin contact with my blessings!) And, you should see our refrigerator! We are being treated to some delicious meals being brought by dear friends who are loving us through this time. When I sit down to the dinner table and see the magnificent spread delivered by another, I am overwhelmed by the goodness of our Lord. Afterall, it is He who has seen to it that my family is fed. And, He has done it through some amazingly beautiful families. I trust for His blessings upon them in their gift to us!

There is much that is not getting done around here. But, then . . . I'm reminded by the Lord about what our priorities really ought to be. Are we walking this journey of uncertainty looking for a path paved with the expected? Or are we trusting Him with each step we take? Are we making sure to include Him in all that we do? Or do we stop and look around hoping to see Him in what we've chosen? Yes, I am being forced to take inventory of what's really going on here in regards to my days. I hope I'm blinded to the pull of this world and its desires for pleasure. My burning desire is that I be fully surrendered to my Savior and all that He has called me to do within every breath that He grants me. (I'll be honest and reveal that at times when the pain is so intense, I fail and cry for relief. Forgive me Lord for my fear and being scared. Sometimes, the pain is so great, I literally can't see straight.)

For those of you who have prayed for us, thank you! It is our hope that through this experience of our life, you would be drawn to a closer relationship with the Lord.

We continue to trust . . .

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ten Years Later . . .

. . . Am I closer to my Lord?

Ten years ago this past June, I said goodbye to our fourth baby, our fourth son, half way through my pregnancy with him. The heartache that came with that season was like none I'd experienced before. Many challenges happened during that time. There were days I didn't understand. Tears flowed from each of us five who were so looking forward to this new member for our family. The three precious sons we already had wondered where their brother "went". Could they "get on a plane to go see him" they asked. Aching for this littlest guy was overwhelming. There was, however, our amazing loving God that surrounded, engulfed, loved, nurtured and carried us through that time of aching. He drew us near and blessed in ways that melt me in just thinking about them. At the time, I remember thinking, I am already so close to you, Lord. How could there be need for this? I've experienced the "fire" and trusted you through it. What am I too learn now?

Well, as any "seasoned" lover of the Lord knows, trials and challenges are part of the journey to which there is no limit (as are His blessings along the way!). He has never promised this earthly life to be understood . . . for His ways are not ours, nor are His thoughts ours. Without question, however, does He promise to love, provide and protect us through it all.

So, here, ten years later, I do know Him more. I do know Him deeper. I do have a greater love for Him. And to think I thought I'd arrived back in 2001! Ahh, the growth yet to occur! Praise the Lord He keeps loving us!

Tonight while enduring some rather severe physical suffering, this song came up on my iPod "worship" playlist. Immediately, I was drawn into His presence as if literally on my knees before Him. Trying to sing along proved impossible as tears and crying to my Lord overtook every part of me. Shaking and trembling, I imagined His arms carrying me just like an infant . . . one He loves dearly, one He created for Himself. As I am faced with surrending earthly thoughts, I realize the relationship I have with the Lord has grown practically beyond my understanding, deeper than I ever thought possible.



Deeper in love with Him I stand everyday.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Passive Is An Ugly Word

This blog (or should I say my life) is starting to look like some I've "watched" over time. You know, the kind where horrible circumstance inspires curiosity . . . a parent or child struggling with a terrible disease or cancer; a child that has died; a parent that has died; the life after an awful accident. You know, those that make you cry when you don't even know the afflicted. Why, as a people, are we drawn to observe - typcially from a distance? I believe it's because God is at the very center of each one us, having created a deep place for love within our core . . . whether you want to believe in Him or not. Me, I'm guilty of "watching" blogs such as I've referenced. Very quickly, however, my heart becomes attached and I am drawn to pray for their situation. I hope that is what you are drawn to do for me and my family. Each one of us is experiencing our own version of this cancer. Not one isn't scarred, tired, or scared.

Right now, I am crying. My head is swimming with all the details I've tried to get in alignment just for functioning purposes. Many regular life issues happened today -- nothing too unusual for a family of seven. Although, as the day progressed, my footing began to slip. I could feel it happening as if my legs were losing muscle strength. Now, here at an hour past dinner that has yet to be served, I feel like a pile of limp spaghetti noodles (without sauce, by the way). My skin is crawling, my tears are falling, my heart is pounding. Oh, how do I shield the many little eyes around me from this ugly side of our reality?

Yesterday, was an incredible breath of relief! The Lord provided strength for me to dance with Him. My pain was little, barely noticeable. My sleep was sweeter than it had been in months. My heart was beating a chipper beat. These "treats" spilled over upon my precious family and soon they, too, were dancing! The encouragement from the Lord revitalized this weary soul to a point I didn't know possible. I awoke this morning a bit not as rested. But, that wasn't going to stop me! I was focused upon Him not for the moment, but for who He is yesterday, today and tomorrow.

While I may not be as challenged as on Sunday, the me in me is not as good as yesterday. The straw that nearly broke this camel's back today was the conflict in trying to schedule a consult with the radiation oncologist. The office girl was so passive about what I needed. Perhaps my "stage 4" classification needing "radiation for pain management" that interrupted her computer solitaire game was rather intrusive. (Oooh, that sounds a little spicy on my part. But, I really do think that's what was going on.) I sat there on hold feeling like a nothing, someone who wasn't important anymore. Why . . . because I am just trying to "buy some more time"? Do you know what it took for me to surrender in making that call to schedule beams of red to penetrate my body? Do you know the difficulty my mind has in grasping radiation or pain pills? And, this "clerk" was so passive.

Passive is such an empty word. It means you are blah on everything. I don't like passive. I like vibrant! Vibrant means life is with purpose! Life that has choices made with zeal, zest and exuberance! Isn't that how God would have us to life for Him. Let us not forget that He came to give us life and life more abundantly . . . not passively.

So, with bedtime quickly approaching and my babes needing some skin to skin contact, I will pop a pain pill for the anticipated slumber. This will calm me. My Lord, however, will refresh and strengthen me for His purpose. For those of you who may not know my Lord, He can be yours too. He yearns for that relationship with you. While my journey has been insurmountable at times, without Him . . . I wouldn't be here.

Listen to that still small voice . . . He's calling.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Here With Me

You know, the whole summer I've suspected something just wasn't right with the pains I was feeling. But, trying to keep the "what ifs" of cancer out of my mind, I kept fabricating, justifying, considering, hoping for all types of other reasons. Now that a fifth slam with cancer has been confirmed, the past four days have taken on a whole new look. While there have been many many tears, there has also been a strange development of sad/mad feelings. Sad/mad you ask? Well, I don't want to cultivate anger, yet I'm really not happy about this news. Therefore, it kind of feels like a huge enormous sadness, but that doesn't seem to really capture it. I'm not mad at God . . . I think I'm terribly confused and probably quite hurt. However . . .

Back nearly 40 years ago, I officially placed my life in His hands. That earthly surrender was for Him to have His way with my life . . . whatever His plan for my life may be. There certainly have been some unexpected turns, paths I hadn't anticipated, joys I couldn't fathom, mercies undeserved. When I asked the Lord into my life, I knew it was the right choice, the only decision. He has had a firm grip on me through some incredibly tumultuous periods of life that date back to birth. I have seen Him clearly through tear-filled eyes. I have experienced His compassion at times my heart was simply crushed. I have had peace that genuinely does pass all understanding. And now again, He is here with me, providing what a Heavenly Father does best . . . loving me. Loving me in my broken sadness, aching heart, confused earthy mind, and weakened body.

This song brought me to tears earlier today when the boys had it playing while we were preparing lunch. I thought I might be able to disguise my tears from them because I was cutting onions . . . no deal, they were onto me! The Main Man came over with his strong arms to engulf my shoulders. Please listen and allow our precious Heavenly Father to minister to you through these words. My burden was made lighter, my heart was made fuller, my smile was made wider. (Make sure to go to the bottom of my blog and stop the other music so you can listen to this song at this post.)



From the depths of my heart, Lord, I can feel your presence here with me. I am lost within your beauty, caught up in the wonder of your touch. Yes, again Lord, I surrender to your love, your grace, to the One who took my place. I know I'm not alone for you've called me as your own long before I drew breath. I'll continue the walk with you . . . even though I think you're carrying me right now.