Kara’s Collection: New Borders

from an article originally posted June 21, 2014...

I will bless the Lord at all time;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
— Psalm 34:1

What does it mean to bless the Lord at all times? What does a life of constant praise look like? How do I turn towards Jesus in my desperation and not simply turn away in fear and anguish? How do I trust when the story continues to crumble my hopes and dreams? How do I raise my face? How? I just do.... Because I know Jesus is trustworthy when the story is without pain as well as when it includes devastation.

Yesterday was a beautiful, awful day for our family. A day like many others we have known—the test results came in from my pet scan. The cancer has found new borders to invade, new places to overtake. I do not wish to go into details about the new corners cancer has invaded. My frame is struggling with nerve pain or just general pain. Nights are the hardest. From the pain, we were not surprised by the new results. We were not caught off guard. But we were broken, deeply broken by the news.

I have been offered a new plan, new pills, a new angle of attack to slow this beast. I will dutifully take the pills, attempt to manage the painful side effects, and hope that this cancer is slowed and even destroyed.

These are the moments that break me in new corners of grief I did not know before. These are the moments I look into the faces of my children and feel such love for them. These are the times that desperate midnight prayers for their lives are quietly uttered.

A friend recently told me I was a realist, not a cynic like I have claimed. He said it’s the difference from being one that arches their back towards the pain of the cross, and one that feels the splinters from the rough wood when the pain of life keeps you from fighting the providential pain. It was a picture I understood.

Yesterday, my oldest noticed my weeping and simply knew. My tears were falling into the laundry and she stood beside me and quietly asked about my tears. I simply told her the news wasn’t good. But that it didn’t mean my story was a mistake. We quietly hugged. We know this walk.

At bedtime, my sweet second asked simply what was happening. I gave her a simple and true answer. Cancer has found a new border, a new corner to invade. She sweetly rubbed my back and worked to find something to be optimistic about. I told both girls that the doctor has new pills that he feels hopeful about in battling my cancer.

If they were listening close, they would have heard me say that he has hope, not me. I offered them the optimism of my kind-faced doctor. My hope is not in the pills that I will dutifully take. Seeing my sweet faces makes the taking of the pills possible. The side effects are bearable when I look upon their faces, but the place I put my hope has little to do with what I can see, feel, hear, and touch.

If I’m honest, and I have always tried to be in this place, I feel like I’m fading. You know, like in Star Trek when they are beamed away. I feel like I’m becoming a different version of myself. Words fail me in describing it here.

Yesterday was casual Friday at the doctor’s office. My kind-faced doctor came into the room in his polo and gave me his gentle gaze—no clinical long,white jacket. He knew I had spent hours crying; the kind nurse had read me the results before my appointment. Friends had captured my tears. I called my dear Steph and pleaded for her help. I told her I couldn’t breathe, and could not manage lunch. Peanut butter and jelly felt too much. She flew to my side. She brought playmates, friends for the kids to play with, and flowers. Then she carried me to the places I needed to go and helped me find the pills I need to dutifully take.

I know something today. Today is all I have. Knowing that is a gift. A precious gift. So many live without knowing that today is all they have. I once lived gluttonous that my days were endless. But today—this day is here. I have faces to kiss, bags to pack, prayers to pray, and love to share. Today, I have this.

So today I will bless the Lord at all times. Today I shall sing praises as I clean toilets, pack my bags to run away with my people. I will swallow the hard pills in life and from a bottle, and attempt to seek grace in all of it. Trust me, I’m weeping through all of it. These new borders that cancer has crossed are shattering us in a million sweetly kept pieces.

Where is your story feeling raw and broken today? Where have the edges of life wearied you? Blessing the Lord at all times is not living in a happy fake existence. No, it’s meeting him in the midst of the impossible and knowing He will be there, near, loving and walking with us through each impossible step. As I fade in this place, there is a place ready to capture me and recreate me new. I have struggled with my imagination for that place, but slowly, Jesus is growing the beautiful reality into my life. Where is your hope today? Where do you believe you go when you die? Look honestly, ask the hard questions. Do you know peace today? Peace not from this place.