5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Cancer

 

Finding out you’ve got a tumor the size of a fun size candy bar making itself at home right where the sun doesn’t shine, can change a girl’s outlook on life.

It can change a lot of things.

Like how you love your kids, how you take care of yourself, how you pray, and how much toilet paper you buy (in case you didn’t know, my cancer was rectal cancer – I know, a bummer, literally).

I’m hoping to be cleared by my oncologist next month. Yeah! I’m quite excited to say the least and may celebrate with a glass or four of bubbly.

To say the last five years have been a roller coaster would be like saying Jaws is a small fish and Bill Gates is comfortably well off.

It’s been MASSIVE, friends. Like, crazy oh my goodness I think I’m going to barf, wild. There were highs, with outpourings of love and deep connection with the Man Upstairs, but the lows were horrid (no gory details now because I’ve shared some of my Why me, Lord, why me? stories before).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never stepped off a rollercoaster quite the same girl as when I got on, so I’m sharing some of the things I wish I knew BEFORE I got cancer.

Continue Reading

Do You Want to Feel God’s Love?

“We all want to be loved, don’t we? Everyone looks for a way of finding love.

It’s a constant search for affection in every walk of life.”

Audrey Hepburn

In that one statement she goes straight to heart of the human heart. Deep down we all just long to be loved.

To be seen, known and loved, just the way we are.

God sees my cellulitey bum and road rage, He knows I covet my best friend’s designer wardrobe and toned thighs. He’s aware of my control issues and fear of failing.

Yet He loves me anyway.

The trouble is, however much I know it in my head, I just can’t seem to feel it in my heart. Not really. Not as much as I want to.

My heads a stubborn place and the chances are, yours is too. It’s as if God’s love gets stuck there, gathering dust, unable to trickle down to our hearts to work its healing, give us peace, comfort us and bring us joy.

It’s SOOOO frustrating.

I don’t just want to know about God’s love. I want to feel it. Feel its warmth spread through me, clutch me tightly and never let me go.

Continue Reading

Breaking the Myth of Costly Kindness When You Have Nothing Left to Give

kindness

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 15:12 (NIV)

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill

 

I just didn’t have the capacity to help others.

After my diagnosis I’d run for the hills at the first whiff of somebody else’s need. I could barely hold my own fractured life together so the thought of being the glue in someone else’s shattered world filled me with dread.

I’d bought into the myth that being there for others comes at huge personal cost.

Then I met Vicki.

It was only a brief encounter in the radiation department’s changing room, but she opened my heart to the gift of reaching out. Sitting in awkward silence, our hospital gowns gapping precariously round our knees, our cancer diagnoses hung silently in the air. We waited our turn, awkwardly perched on the clinical pleather seats, doing our best to preserve our modesty.

Whatever cancer she was battling, Vicki was clearly having a rough ride. Her pink scalp glared through wisps of what remained of her hair, and she sucked desperately on a mint, her dry cracked lips threatening to split and bleed.

Continue Reading

Is Your Greatest Strength Your Biggest Weakness?

My strength can be my biggest weakness.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a body builder able bench press a small country. I’m just pretty tough emotionally; like a true Brit I keep calm and carry on, my stiff, and perfectly bleached, upper lip holding fast.

I tough it out, I suck it up, I plough on through and keep going. There’s a dogged determination when I get my teeth into something. I’m reasonably good at most stuff, and if I’m not good at it, I find a way to get good at it or don’t try all. So on the whole, I’m a strong nut.

Hardy by name, Hardy by nature, that’s me.

It’s not like I don’t have any weaknesses. Oh no. Hiding at the back of my closet, behind my super hero outfits, I have boxes of Achilles’ heels lurking there, persuading me they’re invisible, claiming people won’t like me if they see me as weak.

But where’s the room for God in all that?

Continue Reading

4 Ways to Change How You Feel about a Life You Cannot Change

 

 

Some things just wont change. Ever. However much I try or pray.

I can’t change the pain and hurt people have caused me, or the death of my mum and sister Jo. I can’t go back and not get cancer or save Al from burning out.

We all live with a past we cannot change. With hurts and pain we cannot undo.

Maybe you’re wading through the dark waters of grief, or exhausted by children with special needs. Perhaps you’ve been overlooked at work or dumped by the man you gave your heart to.

I’d love to drive on over and change all that for you.

Wave my magic wand and Biperty, Boperty, Boo! Life’s all hunky dory again.

But I can’t – I’m no fairy godmother.

Continue Reading

How to feel God’s love in your heart, not just your head.

I’ve spent years telling people about God’s love. How ridiculously, brilliantly, marvelously, ginormously amazing and unconditional it is.

I’m a bit of a broken record on this one, can you tell?

I know He loves you like that – and me too.

The problem is, I rarely feel it.

I know it in my head, just not in my heart.

I don’t feel it like I long to. Do you? Do you feel God’s love as much as you crave to?

I don’t, and in fact I’m jealous of people who do.

I ache to feel its tender caress, breathe in its comforting aroma, and hear its melody. I long to be shaken by its power and left breathless by the intensity of its embrace.

Do you too? Are you aching to feel His love more than you do?     Continue Reading

When sitting still moves you forward

 

When our kids were little we loved We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. In verses that repeat the same upbeat refrain, it’s the humorous story of a family’s adventure to find a bear. Along the way they encounter tall grass, a wide river, a big dark forest, thick oozy mud, a swirling whirling snowstorm and a narrow dark cave, all brought to life in delightful illustrations.

At each new obstacle, we’d join in shouting, in our normal over the top theatrics,

“We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!” before pretending to squelch through the oozy mud, or stumble and trip through the forest. Once we found the bear we’d turn and run back through the cave, the storm, forest, mud and river, screaming all the way, before collapsing in a heap of giggles.

Buried deep in the giggles and dramatics, there’s a simple yet profound story I still grapple with today. It gently whispers the harsh reality of encountering life’s obstacles and difficult seasons; we can’t ignore, avoid or go round them – we must go through them.

Continue Reading

What to Do When You’re Angry with God

If God had a face, I’d have punched it.

That’s how angry I was.

My anger wasn’t a red hot, raging anger, but a smoldering slow burn, built up over time, corroding my heart and soul, straining our relationship.

I’d lost my mum and then my sister to cancer.

Now it was my turn.

He had to be kidding me?

The injustice. The grief. The unknown future. My kids, what about my sweet children?

Was He deaf and blind to all I’d been through and the damage heading my way.

I was mad. Deep, dark, smoldering mad. Wouldn’t you be?

What should I do with this smoking time bomb of anger?

Continue Reading

Is There Anyone Else There?

Trusting God isn’t Easy, but it IS a Choice.

There’s an old story that tells of a young man who tripped and fell while taking an early morning walk along the cliff tops above the ocean. Suddenly he found himself hurtling towards the jagged rocks below. Half way down he grabbed hold of a scrawny branch growing out of the cliff face. He clung on for dear life, dangling precariously above the raging surf shouting for help for what seemed like hours. So far from the cliff top, with the roar of the surf below, his shouts went unheard.

“Help, help. Is anyone there?”

Eventually he heard a voice, “Yes I’m here. Do you need help?”

“Yes, yes desperately. I’m about to fall – please help me.” He shouted.

“I’m happy to.” Said the voice.

“I can’t see you. Where are you?” The guy shouted; his hands about to slip.

“Oh you can’t see me.” Said the voice, “I’m God.”

“Oh! OK, that’s fine, I just need you to get me to safety.”

“I can do that,” said God, “I just need you to trust me and let go of the branch.”

“WHAT? You want me to let go? If I do that I’ll be smashed to bits on the rocks, and even if that doesn’t kill me, I’ll drown.”

“If you let go I’ll save you,” reiterated God. “I promise.”

The man pondered silently. Time stood still.

“Is anyone else there?” He shouted.

Whether you’re dangling thousands of feet above the rocks or overwhelmed by the junk life likes to throw our way, trusting God can seem like a gargantuan leap of faith or sheer madness.

My cancer diagnosis (rectal cancer – I know, there’s nothing sexy about it and it doesn’t come with a cuddly pink teddy bear) sent me plummeting over the cliff, leaving me clinging to that branch.

Continue Reading

Don’t Shop Lift, and Other Resolutions I Can’t Promise to Keep.

How are those New Years resolutions going? Did you make any? I didn’t. I knew I wouldn’t keep them.

Resolutions are so black and white, demanding success or failure, and in this uncertain world, failure to keep my resolutions is my only certainty. I end up beating myself up and feeling like a screw up, but when I’ve got enough on my shoulders I don’t need guilt and shame to hitch a ride.When I've got enough on my shoulders I don't need guilt and shame to hitch a ride. Click To Tweet

That’s why I didn’t set resolutions this year and why you shouldn’t either. Instead, I set intentions; they focus on our inner desires to move forward, not the external results of whether we did. Intentions bread hope out of desire rather than guilt out of failure.Intentions bread hope out of desire rather than guilt out of failure. Click To Tweet

If you did set resolutions why not switch them into intentions (it’s not too late) so you can offer yourself grace when you veer off the path you planned and live happily ever after. Grace isn’t an excuse for not trying, but it is forgiveness for our guilt swamped hearts – and we all need more more of that in our success driven world don’t we?

Here are some of my 2017 resolutions I turned into intentions.

In 2017 I intend to;

1.Have a daily quiet time .

Sitting down with the creator of the universe, reading the book he wrote for us, worshipping, listening, and asking for His help with all that’s wrong in the world and my life, is THE best thing I could do to kick off my day. Yet experience tells me I won’t manage everyday and that’s ok. I know He’s with me and loves me anyway. But my intention won’t change.

2.Remember to feed the dogs.Continue Reading