Monthly Archives: January 2010

Missing

Life was beautiful before cancer came knocking on our door. Sam was a pretty girl, active in church, loving uni, with a fabulous group of friends, a stable family life and a home near the beach. Out of nowhere we were knocked down flat and a sharp blade began to cut through the beautiful image that was our life. It made its way around our family until we were cut into a thousand little pieces and thrown into a flimsy cardboard box. The lovely image of how life used to look was detailed on the front and then it was sealed in plastic, put on the shelf and we were given little hope that the picture would ever reform. At best it would always be scared from the blade that sliced through us.

Our life became like a jigsaw puzzle. We laid out all the pieces and spent many days trying to connect them again. It was long and mostly boring, joining those parts. Occasionally a whole scene came together like at the end of the ‘Induction phase’ when the chemotherapy proved to be effective and she was in first remission.

No one prepared us for what came next. Instead we were handed another sheet, a new protocol, the next phase and told that the MRD would be what’s important now. Like a handful of cardboard pieces, we had another scene to build. We began again with all those little parts that never seemed to fit no matter how hard we tried to turn them around on the table. That was early in May when they told us that the results hadn’t been what they were looking for and they would commence their search for a donor. All the little pieces got scooped back in the box and we had another go at trying to survive until the donor was found.

At night I would look at the flawless photographs of my daughter. Her sassy smile, her long dark hair, the glint of starlight in her eyes that sparkled at her future. This was the image that kept me going and I pulled out all those little pieces determined that with God’s grace, the picture of her life would be fully restored.

The picture is almost in full view now but we have discovered that one little piece is still missing. Only the surface of the table peeks back at us from where it should be and we see that the picture is incomplete. We could shrug our shoulders; tell ourselves that in the scheme of things, it’s a pretty good result. You can almost see the completed scene. We can imagine what the finished picture will be like, we can compare it with the scene on the front of the box and be satisfied that life is forming for us again. I run my fingers over the image of what now is the picture of our life and under the tips of them I feel the indentations. I could tell a thousand different stories for each individual piece.

The piece that is missing now is the one where we try to make sense of it all. Some would say ‘it’s irrelevant,’ some would say ‘she has already impacted lives,’ some would say ‘just be grateful that what has been lost has been found.’ I understand their words. We are grateful. All will be made whole. Her hands will be still again, her skin less sensitive, her hair will grow back, her swollen face will return to its petite little frame. It will be the way Jesus (in Luke 15) taught in the parables, of things that went missing, the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Everything that was lost was returned and all the people rejoiced.

Over coffee, Sam tells me that she can handle all the stuff that has gone missing except when her thoughts become fuzzy from drugs or the exhaustion that is intensified by heat. Yet there is another kind of desire that is evoked in her. It is the desire to understand the purpose of being a survivor at all. Not everyone recovers from Leukaemia and the ability to discover why Sam did, weighs heavy on her mind. “I don’t just want to return to being ordinary.”  I understand her words. I too, want my life to count. We did not spend a year in the valley of the shadow of death to return to an ordinary life.

So I get off my chair and on hands and knees, I grope around under the table, reaching out, trying to feel that one little piece wondering if it’s dropped to the floor. Things go missing don’t they and its human nature to seek.

Matthew 7:7-8 (Amplified Bible)

7Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.

8For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.

Even Jesus went missing.

It’s kind of encouraging isn’t it, that Mary lost Jesus. She assumed He was with them. They traveled for three days before they thought to stop and look. Sometimes in this new season of recovery, I think Sam is with me too but she isn’t, she’s a long way behind me still. I can see that she’s spending time in God’s presence, she’s writing in her journal, she’s sitting at His feet. We can’t always run with the crowd. Sometimes God pulls us aside to tell us how to live.

It’s not surprising really that they found Jesus in the temple; after all the preceding verses (Luke 2:25 – 39) tell us that Simeon and Anna had known all their lives what the purpose was for Jesus birth. When we loose sight of our purpose we need people like that to help us make sense of the journey.  People who spend time in God’s presence and know how to hear His voice.

I love Jesus response to His parents when they found Him. He sounds like Jack: Gosh, didn’t you think I’d be here? Didn’t you trust me? Didn’t you know? I think that in spite of the fact he was (and is) God, he was still fully human. Like us, He was looking for answers. He wanted to be around people who could fill Him in on all the gaps that He didn’t understand about the purpose of His existence. It’s a very fine line between humanity and the voice of the spirit. God’s voice is more familiar than we think.

So there I was on Saturday morning, under the table looking for that piece and some of the picture came into view. A message came to me from a friend on my Facebook page. This is what she wrote: “I was praying for Sam this morning and I saw this picture of her. It was a blueprint of a plan but it was invisible. I knew it was there but you couldn’t see it. Then water was splashed on it and you could see the plan as the invisible ink was made visible by the water. It was like one if those “paint with water” books we had when we were children. The water was the Holy Spirit, as He began to renew Sam this year, the plan would begin to become clearer. I also saw God restoring the gaps in her heart that have been stolen, with a warm liquid substance and her heart was not broken, cold or empty anymore.” (Holy Spirit via Wendy Gilbert)

My friend words did not complete the picture the way I would like but she re-ignited my hope. She was like the voice of my Father acknowledging the gaps, reminding me that He hasn’t finished yet but He hasn’t forgotten us either.

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Rest

I dedicate this post to you, Sam. A year today, since your diagnosis on January 28th, 2009.

I don’t understand the journey, I don’t know what lies ahead, I don’t really know how you or we, will ever recover all that’s been lost but this I know – God is writing over our lives and when He is finished, it will be magnificent. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, we see time and time again that He is the author and the perfecter of our faith.

I am so proud of your resilience through the mightiest of storms. You are an inspiration.

Thankyou for letting me walk beside you.  Mum.

John Ruskin wrote ” There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music. In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests. During those rests, we foolishly believe we have come to the end of the song. God sends us times of forced leisure by allowing sickness, disappointed plans and frustrated efforts. He brings a long sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives and we lament that our voices must be silent. We grieve that our  part is missing in the music that continually rises to the ear of our Creator. Yet how does a musician read the rest? He counts the break with unwavering precision and plays his next note with confidence as if no pause were ever there.

God does not write the music of our lives without a plan. Our part is to learn the tune and not be discouraged during the rests. They are not to be slurred over or omitted, nor used to destroy the melody or change the key. If we will only look up, God will count the time for us. With our eyes on Him, our next note will be full and clear. If we sorrowfully say to ourselves, “There is no music in the rest,” let us not forget that the rest is part of the making of the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God waits to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson!”

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Moving Forward

I woke at 5:15 this morning thinking how difficult it is to move forward. So many days this year it has felt like ‘Groundhog Day.’ I mentioned this to a good friend of mine. I told her it all feels so strangely familiar. The cleaning, the sorting, the getting ready for class and dropping off things I no longer want to ‘The Salvos Store.’ This is what I did last January just before Sam was diagnosed. ‘We are moving forward,’ she said in response to my comment with the same kind of authority she had all last year when I let her in on my concern. Its true, we are moving forward but no one really lives happily ever after. That’s just fairy tales and this is real life so we have to look for a way.

A few weeks ago I found the perfect table at the local antique store. It’s kauri pine, with turned legs and has the most beautiful soft, golden colour. It has been lovingly restored and was not expensive. I put a deposit on it straight away returning a week later with cash, a trailer and Reid. We had a table like this one when we first got married. My dad had rescued the original one from the firewood room at Gladesville hospital where he used to be a chaplain. I loved that table but somehow through the stages of trying to define my style I replaced it with a white laminate one with stainless steel legs from ‘Freedom’.

I am good at getting rid of things, giving things away and letting things go. I am not a hoarder but some of the things I have given away I have come to regret. I am eternally grateful to my mum and my sister for rescuing things off my throw out pile and storing them to return to me later.

It can be tricky to find the balance between what to keep and what to get rid of. Sometimes you can be lucky and discover that someone still has the thing you loved and is happy to give it back to you. Or like my table, you find the perfect specimen at the local store in better condition than the one you originally had, at a price you can afford.

We lifted the table into the trailer and drove it home without realizing that the trailer contained little stones. In the brief time it took to get home the table got damaged and dented from the debris. All it had needed was a soft blanket to cushion the ride, to lie flat on, to protect it from the bumps and friction of the road but we hadn’t been thinking at all. Even the smallest bit of gravel can cause scars.

Last week when Sam went for surgery I didn’t think either. We went through the extensive least of drugs that we now know she is allergic to. She even added ‘bee stings,’ to be extra careful – “You never know,” we laughed but we didn’t stop to think about all the dressings and cleaning agents that she is allergic to now as well. She came out of surgery with a drain extended from her beautiful, once flawless, chest and to keep it in place was a primapore dressing.

Her skin is so sensitive, the slightest change in the weather causes her to react. When she walks on warm sand her feet blister, when she sits in the shade on a warm day she gets a sunburn mark around her sunglasses and Reid says she looked like a reverse raccoon. Her skin bruises and tears in the strangest ways and under the primapore I could see her skin ruptured, red and sore. We gently removed the dressing to discover it was too late and now her chest is covered in scars that I am sure will eventually heal.

The Haemotology doctors say the skin problem could be any number of things. Perhaps its new skin from the transplant, perhaps its from the extensive doses of cyclophosphamide chemotherapy or perhaps it is graft versus host disease. It makes me a little bit fearful. I want it to be over. I want her to bounce back unencumbered

Rumi wrote, “Give up to grace. The ocean takes care of each wave ’til it gets to shore. You need more help than you know.”

I still feel a little helpless and uncertain. I don’t know what to do with this residue of fear. It sticks to my sides like baked on grease, it wakes me at dawn. I find my place on the right hand side of the couch crying out to God for His wisdom. He always comes. I need just as much help on the shore as I did in the ocean. I pray for grace as I sip my early cup of tea.

“Three times I called upon the Lord and besought Him about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) in your weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

As I prayed I placed my daughter again in His capable hands. Later today I took a photo of my table to post in my blog. In the background of the photo is Jack playing his guitar. My son is a great musician. He came out of the womb singing it seems. I thought about this as the photo enlarged on my computer screen and again I was reminded of God’s faithfulness. “Do you remember when Jack was small and you were worried that he wouldn’t be able to sing after his voice broke?” I sensed the Holy Spirit asking me. With tears in my eyes I remembered and God showed me that He is able to do above and beyond what we ask or think. He takes what is broken, even a young boy’s voice and creates an even better sound. A sound that is deep and mature and full of passion.

I know He is taking the broken pieces of our lives and creating something beautiful. Just like the Salvation Army Band used to sing: Something beautiful, something good, all my confusion, he understood. All I had to offer him was brokenness and strife but He made something beautiful out of my life.

As I let go of all my stuff, He is finding ways to bring it back redeemed and restored with a golden wax patina. He knows I will damage it again and again but He keeps on giving anyway. We are moving forward. It’s just like my friend said.

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Ocean

The lady in the bed next to Sam woke after surgery and asked, “Is there someone behind the curtain?” I pulled it across to introduce myself, asked her if she was okay and was there something I could do to help her. She wanted me to call her daughter.

“Of course I can.” I said taking down her daughter’s number and proceeding to call. Her daughter was grateful and arrived moments later. She had become anxious through waiting and I watched as they tenderly exchanged the gentlest of hugs. Annie just had her breast removed.

There is so much pain in the world, so much sickness, so much trouble. Often we don’t see it coming. A week before Christmas Annie got the news she had breast cancer. A week before Christmas! It doesn’t seem right. “It’s okay,” Annie said. “What choice do you have, you just get on with it.”

“You do whatever it takes to live.” I said

“They asked me if I’d ever had surgery and I really had to think for a long time.” She told me. Then she remembered that she never had but when her son was young he had a problem with his heart and they spent so many months in hospital that she felt as though she had actually had surgery before. I totally understood what she meant.

Sometimes the unexpected happens. Out of nowhere, trouble comes. Jesus said it would happen. He came to prepare us but when it happens its unexpected. Trouble happens to others doesn’t it, not us!

John 16:33 (New International Version)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

So there we were, Annie with her daughter and me with mine when out of nowhere my own mum arrived. It was unexpected but lovely. My mum arrived in the ice blue cardigan that reflects the blue of her eyes. At 71 she is still a picture of loveliness and she stood back a little from the bed not wanting to interrupt the exchange between Samantha and I.

“Let’s go for a coffee and food for Sam,” I suggested since Sam was asking for burgers and chips. This amused us since the nurses were concerned she may have difficulty swallowing her tablets because her entire thyroid had just been removed.

As we waited for the food to arrive we exchanged gratitude. We didn’t need many words.
“Clare, her hair is growing back beautifully.
Clare, the sound of her voice. It’s amazing.
Clare, her hands, they are still. It’s incredible.
What a lovely view from her window.
What a fabulous, young doctor.
And oh this coffee is good.”

Gratitude filled our eyes with pools of water. I marvel now, at how much water the bottom rims of our eyes can hold before they spill over into tears. My mother’s eyes are blue like steel. They reflect her strength of character but yesterday they were an ocean and in that ocean the heartstrings of three generations began to float. Samantha was beginning to surface.

A year ago the enemy put her in a sack with the rest of our family. He loaded it with stones and dropped it to the bottom of the ocean from the highest bridge. We sank to its depths like a litter of unwanted kittens gasping for breathe. We didn’t see it coming, there was no prior warning, no signs of ill health, it just happened, trouble came. Jesus said it would.

We were packing away the tree, making new years resolutions, returning from holidays, spring cleaning the house, preparing for university, getting ready for work, expecting life to go on and suddenly we were drowning wondering how it had happened to us.

John 16: 1 & 3 “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.”

Jesus warned us, he prepared us, he told us to abide in Him. Through it all he promises to make our joy complete. There is nothing that this life can throw at you that can separate you from knowing God, not sickness, not pain, not death, not brokenness. It is Him who paved the way before us, going through death so that we could be resurrected into eternal life.

The pools of tears in my mother’s eyes magnified the truth. God is faithful. He is always faithful.

I imagine her unraveling the string that’s been wrapped around her heart and her navel (you’ll have to read my last post) and placing it in my hands. Looping the knotted strand over my right thumb and baby finger and then another loop the same way across my left hand. In silence we play ‘cat’s in the cradle’ with our string passing it back between us. I loop my middle fingers one at a time to form to crosses and tramlines. She reaches in and scoops and folds the string until it’s on her hands again. We are united in our gratefulness, revering our God.

Deuteronomy 4:9-10 (New International Version)
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”

The string we pass between us is the strand of hope. It’s the power of the Cross of Jesus; it’s the thread that fell away when the curtain in the temple was torn in two. What the enemy intended for evil is being turned for good.

Luke 23:44 – 46 “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Before His death only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies to offer blood sacrifices for our sins but on the day of His death He became the sacrifice on our behalf. He took away the cloth that made it hard for us to know who He was. He took our sin, our pain, our sickness and disease.

Hebrews 10:10
When Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:15-23
“The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

People ask me how I can follow Jesus after all that has happened to Sam. Why did I not abandon my faith? How do you cope with such a diagnosis? In the words of Paul the Apostle I write, “he who promised is faithful.” This is not the path I would have chosen but this I know. He still exists behind the curtain, He makes all the calls that I need. He gives me access to my Father. He holds me close, He kisses me tenderly, He shows me how to live.

The enemy tried to drown us in the sea of despair but we rise again. The power of the cross of Jesus untied the destructive knot that held us bound. Just us Jesus rose from the grave after three days, we rise again. We experience this resurrection power that He has made available to all. He came to our rescue, he delivered us, He is bringing us back. The circle of HIs love is complete.

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Stitches and thread

Reid and I were out walking along the edge of the sea, on the uneven ground of the headland where walkers over the years have worn a natural path. It was hot but the walk was not particularly strenuous so when I noticed the stitch in my chest I decided I was simply unfit, more reason to press on.

It was there again, the stitch like pain, when I woke in the morning and again when Sam went for blood tests later that day. The sharp edge of the needle entered my chest close to where my heart is. I saw the needle make a loop to form a neat little stitch like my mum showed me once, when first I had shown interest in embroidery.

The stitch pulled tight and I felt a gentle ripple flutter inside me as the long loose strand cascaded down, causing butterflies in my tummy as well. ‘It is a stitch!’ I thought to myself but this has nothing to do with fitness. This tight thread is the pull that every mother feels when something is up with her children. It isn’t left to hang there, the thread. It has purpose. Another tug and it is wound tightly around our navel.

Is this is the female journey, the strain of motherhood, the agony that none of us can escape? This thin invisible cord, entwining our hearts that are overloaded with emotions, throbbing with dreams and magnificent plans for their futures; it weaves around our navel, our belly, our core. We feel the sting of the tug, the weight of the agony of hope. It fills the space where they were once physically connected; the space they grew in and though many years have past since their birth; its still here that we carry them.

I hear the voice of the girl at the gym. She is young, beautiful, and patient. “Navel to spine,” she instructs, “make it work for you. Navel to spine.”

Its not just the physical cut of three caesareans that makes the sit-ups difficult. It’s not just the scar tissue the doctors found and cut away each time they performed another delivery, warning me that a fourth child wasn’t an option. Its not the numbness of the surrounding area or the outer layers of fat nor the way they roll together on full exertion that prevents me from gaining a flat stomach. The truth is I sense my core. I don’t need to find it by tilting my spin with a gentle rock. My core is tight but not in the Pilates sense of the word. My core is tight because the cord of motherhood is looped around it. Heart to navel not navel to spine.

It’s a gift to be a mother, to care as much as we do. But its hard to not let the weight of their stuff overwhelm us, whether its sickness, or relationships, or their grades at school.

The surgeon who’s removing the thyroid explained that one of the risks in the procedure to remove it, is the chance that they’ll damage her calcium levels. He explained that calcium is stored in our bodies in little grains like rice; four grains in fact and they attach themselves to the thyroid much like shells attach themselves to a rock, or barnacles do to the bottom of a boat. He said that they would find them and try to gently push them out of the way but sometimes in the process they are completely destroyed and the patient needs calcium for the rest of their life.

It reminds me of the path of mothering. All the times we try to coax our children towards independence, to stand alone, to rely less on us and fend for themselves. It’s a gradual process and throughout the years sometimes there is a moment of returning. They are attached to us like that calcium attaches to the thyroid. They cling to our nurture enjoying the ride. They swing from that invisible cord that links our heart and our navel. They glide down like children with rubber tubes on a water slide weighing us down in the pit of our bellies every time they land. They enjoy the stability we provide, the taut thread is immovable. They don’t think about us. They don’t see if it hurts us, the pulling of the thread how it stretches us inside.

What they do know is that we are the constant. The place of safe returning. I pray my children will continue to come back; that they will always find comfort and feel safe in my arms. I cannot promise to be perfect. Like the rock where the shells lodge I am rough from the tides and the swells of the sea. I want them to move on, to settle somewhere else but in the process I hope I don’t damage them.

For my daughters I want them to know, first hand, that invisible tug that reaches from their hearts to their navels, that they will have children of their own. There is so much that I want for my daughters and son. Sometimes the weight rises from the pit of me where hope is stored. The dreams for them to live fully and cultivate the land.

Deuteronomy 6:1-3
“These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.”

So much has been stolen but God promises to return what the locust devoured.
Joel 2:23-27
“Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm —
my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.

The heart though powerful and strong can become unreliable with emotion. Like Mary we can ponder what we observe about our children, what others say, what gifts they have.

Luke 2: 16-19 “So they went with haste and [by searching] found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known what had been told them concerning this Child, And all who heard it were astounded and marveled at what the shepherds told them. But Mary was keeping within herself all these things (sayings), weighing and pondering them in her heart.”

Like Proverbs 22:6 suggests we can lead them in the path they should go. Yet when the strain on the thread is more than we can bear, its our thoughts we must take captive bringing them into obedience with Christ. Reminding ourselves that we are only mothers on borrowed time. It is for His good pleasure they were created and it is in His hands they ultimately belong.

Ephesians 2:10 
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The cord should never be so tight that we are crippled in pain. It is then that He wants to hold us. To let them go and trust Him completely. The path of pilgrimage is often unsafe and not always predictable. Like the path on the headland the way has been worn by those who have gone before us but over the years the grasses and trees have grown back in places. Its up to us to forge a new path. To take risks, to be brave.

For Sam there are risks with the surgery. Risks for the calcium levels, risks for the larynx, risks of infection. These risks pull on my heart now, they pull on my core but our lives are in His hands. He gives us grace for the journey.

Did we think that by following Christ we had chosen a safe path? A path of abundance and prosperity. Yes, sometimes it is so but we must remember that the greatest thing is to be in the will of God. To know his voice, to feel his hands gently supporting us, loosing the strain of the load. ‘The safest place to be is in the will of God,’ but this isn’t safety as we know it, hardships come and He gives us grace to endure.

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The Kiss of the Morning

It’s amazing how He comes. Softly like the dew of the morning. So often I miss him, roll over into another half hour of sleep. He doesn’t disturb me. He just hovers hoping to catch me with one eye open and He whispers again.

“Forget the former things, I’m making things new.”

I sense Him, recognize his gentle voice and immediately roll out of bed. This is the direction I’ve longed for these last tormented weeks. I need to hear his promise pounding again in my subconscious thought. Something to hold onto when I squeeze her hand again in the theatre gown and wait til they ask me to leave.

The Holy Spirit is always hovering. Waiting for our anxious thoughts to step aside and make room for Him. He does not sit next to Fear. His light expels him. Yet somehow like osmosis it takes a while to seep through that invisible layer of mind and spirit.

I know He is teaching me to be attuned to His voice but my humanity takes over when things are going okay, when things are no longer life threatening. I never thought it would change after last year. His voice, His word was so tangible. That’s His way. “A very present help in time of need.” (Psalm 46)

The word is familiar but I can’t find it marked in my Bible so I search confident that this is not me, this is Him. Finally I find it, Isaiah 65:17 “the former things will not be remembered or come into mind.”

I’ve had such trouble sleeping. All those files of my grief are so hard to close. I need His help. The drawer seems to rebound open automatically during the night. The finger of the enemy flicks through the tabs, bringing them to my remembrance, the images too painful to face but too real to ignore. Layer upon layer splayed out before me like the pictures on my new apple Mac. The deep voice of the doctor, the clucking of his tongue, the dust on the windows, the NSW Health embossed sheets, the drips on the IMED stand, the smell of poison seeping into her veins, the thin trolleys of death and my breathless dash for another bed pan.

Everyone tells me that if you need to remove a body part the thyroid is the one you would choose. Its going to be okay. I know these things. I get it. But it is one thing to know something in your brain and quite another to hear His voice in your spirit. It’s His voice I want to hear; not mine, not anyone else’s.

I’m not drowning in the ocean anymore. I’ve climbed onto the pier, the worst is over but the waves of my memory lick at my heels. An evil force wants the waters of irrational thought to swallow me up, the fear to overtake me, the dread of what could still be. The staff at St Vincent’s continue to reassure me that the Bone Marrow Transplant has been a tremendous success but the words of our previous doctor telling me statistics of death and of relapse stick to me like gooey slim.

I see the enemy in the distance and when I pray God shows me that he is just a boy playing childish pranks.

Then I hear the voice of a middle aged woman. She is educated, well dressed and eloquent the way I aspire to be. “It happens” she says. “Best to be prepared.”

Images, voices, sleepless nights. The enemy seeks to destroy. He comes in all kinds of disguises.

God’s voice rings louder now. His word open on my lap. “I will rejoice and be glad in my people and the sound of weeping will no more be heard, nor the cry of their distress. They shall build houses and inhabit them, they shall plant vineyards and eat of the fruit of them… They shall not labour in vain to bring forth children for sudden terror or calamity; for they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord and their offspring with them. And it shall be that before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:19,21,23,24

Yes, he wakes me with the kiss of the morning. He closes the drawer of the files.

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