Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: Silver & Gold I Do Not Have, But…

It’s been over two months since I’ve written a blog post! The long hiatus has not been intentional. I began the New Year with an upper respiratory infection and bronchitis. Since then I have had numerous colds and as I sit here typing I have a terrible sinus infection. It seems my immune system has yet to receive the memo that I am DONE with breast cancer! Lol.

Yesterday, I went to my oncologist’s office to have my port flushed (I’m hoping to have that wonderful piece of equipment removed soon!). It was wonderful to see my family, as usual. One of my favorite nurses did the honor of stabbing me in my chest to make sure the port is still working properly, which it is. The visit was all of 15 minutes. As I was leaving, standing behind a woman and a man waiting for the elevator, I heard the woman say, “Thank You, God!” Before I could catch myself, I said, ‘I don’t know what you are thanking Him for, but it sure sounds good and I want to thank Him with you!’ She turned to me, smiled, and said, “I just finished my second round of chemo.”

We talked on the elevator and I shared with her my journey thus far. She has to do six months of chemo and seven weeks of radiation just as I did last year. When we arrived at the parking lot we both laughed when we realized we were parked next to each other. Before we parted ways she asked my name. I asked hers. We gave each other a big, warm hug. I didn’t want to let her go. She strengthened me in that moment. I hoped I had done the same for her.

As I was driving home the Scripture Acts 3:6-7 (NKJV) came to my mind, “Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.”

I had been feeling so discouraged and just tired of being sick. Throughout the year last year, during the hardest part of the breast cancer journey, in the heat of battle, the Lord would ask me, “What do you want to do next?” Some days it would infuriate me! I’d be thinking, ‘NEXT! Don’t You see what I am doing NOW?’ But, most days I was so battle weary the best I could come up with is, ‘Lord, I just want to give people hugs, pray for them, and make them laugh.’ Yesterday, as my fellow warrior and I embraced one another, my discouragement changed to joy and I believe hers changed to strength.

For me, I remembered all the Lord has already done for me, how far we have already traveled on this breast cancer journey, how nervous and broken I was on my second day of chemo… A respiratory infection, bronchitis, a few colds, and a sinus infection are NOT breast cancer! For her, I believe in me she saw her expected end. She saw the finish line! And it gave her hope and strength!

For today, I may never have millions of dollars to give as I would like, but my prayer is that my heart always freely gives what I do have!


Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: Beauty-FULL

I use a wonderful journaling app called Day One, that notifies me on the days I have a journal entry from the same calendar day in the previous year. On Tuesday, January 9th I got an alert that I had a journal entry on January 9, 2017. The date, embedded in my mind, made me nervously curious to revisit what I was truly thinking and feeling the morning of the biopsy on my left breast. When I opened the entry I found only the picture above on the left with these words: “Headed to the biopsy, not nervous, in perfect peace!” The picture on the right was taken on January 9th this year as I headed to an appointment with the nurse practitioner at my oncologist’s office.

I had a good visit with the nurse practitioner. She explained over the next five years, they will monitor my “tumor markers,” among other things, in an effort to get ahead of any reoccurrence attempt. She talked at length about my specific cancer, the affects treatment has had on my body, and encouraged me to be patient in allowing my body to recover from all it has been through. She called me and my fellow warriors, “Superheroes!” During the five years I am taking the cancer hormone medication, they consider me in “remission.” At the end of five years, should there be no reoccurrence or high spikes in my tumor markers I will then be considered a “cancer survivor.” She is new to the practice and it was my first time meeting her. So, she was not aware of my perspective. I told her I am glad I know I am HEALED so I don’t have to worry about any of that! She just smiled.

When I got home I again looked at the pictures posted above. I could see how a year later cancer has aged me a bit. As I visually dissected every inch of my face, I recalled the morning in the summer I was preparing to go somewhere and as I was putting on my makeup attempting to tame my left eyebrow, a portion of it brushed completely off of my face. I remember seeing the face looking back at me thinking how sick I looked with half an eyebrow on one side, a very thin one on the other, huge dark circles that were getting harder and harder to hide under both eyes, patchy, dry skin all over my face… What I saw looking back at me that day looked everything, but, beautiful to me.

My breast cancer journey really challenged my perspective on beauty. I always believed true beauty resonates from the inside out, not the outside in. At least that’s what I thought I believed. Breast cancer forced me to examine myself, my body and all of its parts at a depth and level of honesty that I don’t know I ever would have otherwise. Like many women, deep on the inside, I found I wanted to be counted among those considered “sexy” or “beautiful” according to whatever the current standard of beauty is, which is always based on body size, type, shape, look, or parts in some form or fashion; everything on the outside.

For the past few days this notion of beauty has been swirling around in my mind. I have been processing my thoughts through the lens of Isaiah 53:2 (NIV) which says, speaking of Jesus, “…He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” When I read that verse I got into an argument with Isaiah in my spirit like, ‘How can you say that! He is the most beautiful person I’ve ever met!’ Just as I was about to get real indignant with Isaiah about his physical description of Jesus the Lord whispered to me, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. What he saw at a distance you see from close proximity. What he saw from the outside. You see from the inside. What he saw as a foreshadowing. You see as a manifestation. He knew Me personally. You know Me intimately.”

That one scripture profoundly changed my desire and perspective as it pertains to beauty. When you read the accounts of Jesus’ life in the Gospels He couldn’t go anywhere without attracting a crowd. Even those who didn’t subscribe to His teachings were still curious and lurking about. He had to teach from mountains and boats just to put some space between Himself and all of the people that were constantly swarming Him! According to Isaiah, the women weren’t flocking to Him to see the hot new Rabbi in town. The guys weren’t coming to see the buffed guy, decked out in royal garb to see if maybe they could get the “in” with Him. His beauty surpassed all of that surface level, superficial stuff that we put so much emphasis on. He was simply irresistible!

A year ago the thought of losing my left breast was absolutely devastating to me. I couldn’t imagine what my body would look like without it. What man would find that “sexy” or attractive? For that matter, I didn’t think I would ever be able to look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman anymore. A year later… I didn’t lose my left breast. The scars from surgery have healed nicely (last year, after surgery I cried, because I said my breast looked deformed). “Sexiness” or “beauty” according to the general standard is no longer my goal. Now, I want to be unforgettable, irresistible, and magnetic like the Spirit of Jesus that lives inside of me. Not based on my physical appearance, but rather His love, His Mercy, and His grace that fills me…HE is what makes me beauty-FULL!

I may never fit into the ever changing standard of what we call “beauty.” But, for today, I thank God for allowing me to see that I am forever beauty-FULL! That is a gift breast cancer gave me!

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I made it through the first week of 2018 relatively unscathed. One down, 51 to go! I ended 2017 spectacularly. At least it was spectacular to me. It started with taking small Christmas stockings, filled with little gifts and candy, on December 21st to my fellow warriors still doing chemo at the Infusion Unit where I did chemo and to the Radiation Oncologist for those warriors as well. All of my doctors are in the same building, which makes it very convenient.

That Thursday, was a wonderful day! I wasn’t prepared for the greeting we received. My five year old granddaughter, who helped me fill all of the stockings, went with me to distribute them. One of the evenings we were working on them she looked at me and said, “Nana, I am so grateful I have two hands. It makes it so much easier for me to help you!” I will never forget her words. She was so excited that we were doing something to try to make the “sick people” like me smile. When we arrived in our Christmas attire (pictured above) there were immediate smiles all around. We got a lot of hugs and laughs that day. My granddaughter, Chloe, was a bright beam of light when we went into the treatment area of the Infusion Unit to hand out the stockings. It was a day I’m sure neither she or I will ever forget.

Christmas Day was filled with the excitement of my baby sister getting engaged. I was really tired and wasn’t feeling great, but was so happy just to be here to witness the man of her dreams get down on two knees and ask her to be his wife! That too, is a day I will never forget.

The day after Christmas my two sisters and my soon to be brother-in-love (well, I already love him dearly) traveled to Ohio to spend a few days with my mom, her sisters, my uncle, and cousin that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. My grandmother had six children. My mom, who is a twin, and my three aunts are the four remaining. I can’t even put into words what it felt like spending time with all of them. I was so grateful to be well enough to make the trip, but it definitely took a toll on my body. It was extremely cold in Ohio and the long drive was painful. By the time we returned home I was sick.

So, I spent the last days of 2017 in bed, feeling miserable and rang in the New Year asleep. It almost seemed fitting somehow that I would enter into 2018 just as I began 2017. I got the breast cancer diagnosis on January 9, 2017. Though this year’s diagnosis was a little different. I had doctor appointments all last week. I have an upper respiratory infection and bronchitis, but on Friday after a very painful mammogram, which was the final scan I had to have done, I was declared “CANCER-FREE!” My results were NORMAL! As sick as I felt (still feel, actually), it was as if I was able to breathe fresh air for the very first time in a year! All I could do is cry when they handed me the results.

I expected to begin 2018 full of energy, back to my “regular” self. I don’t even know who that is anymore. When I saw the radiation oncologist last week she brought my expectations to a more realistic level. Though I finished my last radiation treatment on November 20, 2017, she reminded me of the entire journey and what my body actually endured last year. It went through major surgery, six months of chemotherapy, seven weeks of radiation, not to mention all of the medication and tests thrown in the mix… It was not a battle. It was a WAR! Now, I’m just trying to get through the rest of the winter without getting sick again.

The radiation oncologist told me I’ll still be hanging around all of the doctors and nurses I’ve come to know so well for quite awhile. I will see her every six months and my regular oncologist every three months for the next five years while I am taking the cancer medication. That kind of knocked the wind out of me a bit at first. After a year of nothing but doctor appointments and treatments I wanted to just be DONE and maybe see them once a year when I have my mammograms. But, we’re family now. I’d probably go into withdrawal if I went too long without seeing them, anyway. 😂 It’ll be an opportunity to meet more warriors along the way.

For today, my doctors say I’m in “remission.” I say I’m HEALED. I will never see the picture the way they do. I can’t afford to. I won’t leave any opening in my mind, heart, spirit, or BODY for the slightest possibility that breast cancer could ever return. Doctors are practicing medicine. My God does everything to perfection. And I choose to believe He has healed me PERFECTLY and I will never have breast cancer again!

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: And the Journey Continues…

As of today it has been a month since I completed my last radiation treatment. Since that wonderful day, November 20th, I have celebrated Thanksgiving with many of the people I love most and on December 3rd I stepped over the threshold of my 47th year of living. In fact, I have spent most of the past month doing all I could to simply celebrate finally being finished!

This morning I was thinking about how different “finished” actually looks and feels, compared to my idealized version of it a month ago. I started taking a medication called, Anastrozole, which I will take for five years. Just as my oncologist warned it has been causing me muscle and joint pain, along with heightened menopausal-type symptoms. I’ve yet to regain my pre-radiation energy level or pre-chemo appetite. I still take what amounts to a series of 20-30 minute “cat naps” throughout the night. And most days I can count on waking up in some level pain and ending my day completely spent no matter how much or how little I have done throughout.

Somehow, in my own mind, completing the most rigorous part of the breast cancer treatment meant I was finished. I was “me” again. I could get back to my life. Well, trying to build one. I wasn’t at all prepared for the journey of FULL recovery that still lie in wait for me. This new revelation had not reached my full awareness on Thanksgiving. It had only been three days since I completed my last radiation treatment. So, it was okay that I didn’t feel great. I ate like a bird and just enjoyed my family.

By my birthday, I fully understood there was still quite a bit of road left to travel on this journey. And since then, my mood has been a little less than overjoyed. I told God I am tired of being sick. My daughters kept trying to get me excited about my birthday asking me what I wanted to do and what I wanted for a gift. But, I couldn’t come up with anything. I spent the morning before my birthday at the MVA renewing my driver’s license (I felt super accomplished when I aced the vision test without my glasses! 🤓). While standing in line, I glanced at my Facebook page on my phone and “Memory” from December 2, 2010 popped up. My status that day in 2010 read: “Woke up thinking about how fragile life is and really thankful for mine. Not sure if it’s turning 40 tomorrow or just another moment to stop and say, ‘Thank You, Jesus!’”

I could never have imagined exactly two months later I would have a stroke that would forever change my life.

As I stood in line thinking about the past seven years since I wrote those words, I was suddenly able to take all of the overwhelming pain, sicknesses, losses, and more devastation and disappointments than I can list here, and instead of viewing them as individual events they just looked like one long season. It wasn’t a thyroidectomy, because of tumors on my thyroid gland, a stroke, rehabbing for a year just to be able to be someone I’m still learning, not being able to return to my job, my husband divorcing me, losing practically everything I owned, having breast cancer… They weren’t individual events. It was just a season. And as with every season, when it is time, one season ends and another begins.

That day, standing in line at the MVA, I finally knew what I wanted for my 47th birthday. I told God I wanted to take the year off! I have not worked at a job where I have received a paycheck in the last seven years, but I have worked harder than I ever have in my entire life just to stay alive and stay sane! I am tired now. While standing in line, I was talking to a very nice woman in front of me about my battle with breast cancer. When my birthday request jumped into my spirit I said it out loud. She turned and said to me, “You know what you should do?” I responded, ‘What?’ She said, “Whatever you want! Travel! If you can’t travel far, travel wherever you can!”

I believe with my whole heart God not only heard, but responded to my birthday request with a resounding “YES!” I announced to my family that I am off for my entire 47th year! “Have to” is not a part of my vocabulary this year. I will only do things I WANT to do. At the top of my “want to” list is I WANT to be WELL! So, I decided I am taking the year off from being sick. I just have to convince my body to do the same! 😁 To help it along I have connected with a wonderful woman I met at a friend’s “Pretty In Pink” event in October who is in phenomenal health and shape, a real sweetheart, who truly inspired me! She has given me tips on how to get started with exercise and resistance/weight training, which the oncologist said will go a long way to counter the affects of the medication I have to take. I have also found a nutritionist who I hope will be able to help me ease back into a healthy diet that my digestive system can handle. Right now my goals for 2018 are to become an avid hiker and to go horseback riding! I may even try some mountain climbing (why not aim high?)!

So far, during the three weeks of my 47th year, I have attended a wonderful holiday party where I got to get dressed up and wear sparkly heels I was able to keep on all night and had enough energy to do one line dance, which was a MAJOR victory! I’m going on a road trip for a few days after Christmas. But, the highlight of finishing out 2017 for me is taking Christmas stockings filled with some small gifts and candy to my fellow warriors still in the heat of battle at the Infusion Unit where I did chemo and the Radiation Oncologist where I did radiation. My two sisters, my five year old granddaughter, and I are taking them tomorrow. I hope we’re able to make them smile!

For today, though there is still more road to travel on this breast cancer journey, I’m going to keep my eyes focused on the atmosphere instead of how I feel. I’m looking for signs that the season is about to change! In 2018 I’m looking for nothing, but rainbows and sunshine! Anything else is just scattered showers or isolated thunderstorms. But they will pass. You need the rain for the rainbows to appear!

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: The Cost of Breast Cancer

On Monday, November 20, 2017, I crossed the finish line of my final radiation treatment! It was a wonderful day. Much like September 7, 2017, my last day of chemo, I was a ball of all kinds of emotions. I woke up Monday expecting to feel over the moon with excitement, but instead felt kind of somber and reflective.

I took doughnuts and balloons with me to celebrate the wonderful staff. I made a silk flower arrangement for the receptionist. I wanted to do something special for her, because she greeted me and all of the patients each day with a big, bright smile and infectious joy that really lifted my spirit on the days I just barely made it there. I was greeted on Monday, with hugs and gifts. One of the nurses gave me a beautiful hat she made (the one I am wearing in the picture above). I was also given a pink gift bag with some goodies in it and a certificate commemorating the completion of my treatment. I made it through the entire cycle of treatments with minimal damage to my skin and two relatively small areas that were burned (which is normal). I will see the radiation oncologist for a follow up appointment on December 21st. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again.

After my treatment I went for a walk at the lake. There I celebrated just Jesus and me. I thought about all that has occurred this year. It is still mind boggling to me all that has happened, actually happened. Not only did it happen, it happened to me! Various snapshots of the year passed through my mind. I thought about how utterly defeated and devastated I felt as they wheeled me into surgery in January. I saw myself and my daughter with our bunny ears on handing out candy bags during my second chemo. I recalled the complete detachment I felt from everyone and everything on the morning of my eighth chemo when I asked God why other people could have strokes and cancer and they got to die, but He kept keeping me here. As I tried to process all that has occurred this year my only thought was, “Did I represent Jesus well?”

Two weeks ago I visited a dear friend’s church and the pastor preached a sermon called, “It Costs to be a Disciple.” During the sermon he said, “Salvation is free, but it costs to be a disciple. Everything it costs you, you didn’t need anyway.” Before breast cancer, I wasn’t much of a crier. Breast cancer has cost me more tears than I have cried my entire life. It cost me my pride. I was forced to ask people for help and admit I’m not as strong as I appear to be. It cost me my plans. I’ve had to learn how to surrender my plans to Jesus, and let His will, not mine, be done. It cost me some unforgiveness I didn’t know was hidden in my heart. It cost me my hesitance to trust Jesus fully in all things, knowing He knows what is best for me. It cost me my stubbornness. I’ve had to relinquish the “control” I thought I had in my life and allow Jesus to lead, while I simple follow…

Along with the mountain of medical bills I am still working my way though, I am still unpacking all that breast cancer has cost me. In a very real way, just like the stroke I had in 2011, who I was before January 9, 2017, the day I got my breast cancer diagnosis, died. Yesterday, as I was thinking about coming through what I consider to be another monumental death experience that left me feeling kind of sad inside, Jesus said, “Lisa, the caterpillar has to die so the butterfly can live; The seed has to germinate and essentially die so the flower can live. You see what has occurred as one monumental event. But, dying to self daily is how you walk out your salvation and begin to look more like Me. Over the process of time, if you let Me, I will prune away all of the dead things so nothing hinders your growth or progress, because if you’re not growing you are already dead. On the other side of every ending is a New Beginning. Embrace the endings and rejoice in each New beginning.”

For today, I’m holding on tightly to all the lessons I’ve learned thus far, doing my very best to leave the luggage behind, thanking God the most rigorous part of the journey is over, believing with my whole heart I am healed and will never have cancer again. At the lake on Monday, I thanked Jesus for allowing me to partner with Him in ministry through breast cancer, I told Him I truly hope I represented Him well in the midst of my pain and was not a hindrance in any way for Him to reach every person He wanted to reach through me along the way. Though there are more scans to do, many more tests and follow ups ahead, I’m going to do my very best to focus on the butterfly, not the caterpillar; the flower, not the seed. I’m looking forward to the adventure that lay in wait for me on the other side of my New Beginning!

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: Traveling Through Time

I am convinced I am one of the world’s greatest time travelers. On any given day my mind travels anywhere from 10, 20, or sometimes 30 years into the past or I venture off into my mind’s version of a day, week, month, or years that lie ahead. My travels through time are mentally, spiritually, and emotionally exhausting. Most days, I am barely awake in the morning and my feet have just hit the floor when my mind revs up the time machine and off we go!

Revisiting my past almost always leaves me with a feeling of mourning. I mourn the little girl who was molested for a number of years, beginning at age 5. I hurt that the opportunity to grow into her body and discover sexuality naturally was stolen from her. I want to go back and tell the 18 year old teenage mom that she doesn’t have to marry the boy she fornicated with to try to cancel out the sin. Jesus already died for every sin she would ever commit and He still loves her the same. I want to talk to the 21 year old wife and mother of three little girls who feels like she is “less than” in every way and tell her what a great job she is doing. I want to hug and never let go of the 35 year old woman who is in the midst of her second failing marriage, trying to process her father’s death, wondering why he couldn’t have been different so her parents’ marriage, eventual divorce, and her childhood wouldn’t have been so dysfunctional. I want to tell the 40 year old woman who suffered a stroke two months after her 40th birthday, who was never able to return to her job and whose husband divorced her nine months after the stroke, to embrace the new life she was given, because the person she was before the stroke died.

On a good day I can return from my journey into the past reminding myself what Jesus has told me repeatedly, “Take the lessons. Leave the luggage!” I don’t get angry anymore. I don’t cry anymore. It was what it was. And on a really good day I can see how God has used the events of my past to mold, shape, and create who I am now. However, because my mind is the vehicle through which I travel, the only fuel I have available to help transport me into the future is the memories of my past. That being the case, when I arrive in the future the circumstances, relationships, hardships almost mirror my past. In my mind’s version of my future, although I am different, everything around me is not. I am still surrounded by lack, dysfunction, illness, broken relationships…

Lately, most of my time travel excursions have been into the future. I have had long discussions with Jesus reminding Him frequently that when I am finished with all of my cancer treatments and recovery I still have an entire life to rebuild! I’m still discovering who I am, what I am passionate about, and what marketable skills I have now. So, when I travel into the future looking for a new career all I see is an almost 50 year old woman surrounded by people who are younger, smarter, healthier, with their left brain fully in tact. On my lonely days I think about what kind of man I could see myself with, but that quickly spirals into my future self reminding me of my previous failed marriages. Rarely do I actually remain in this moment – my NOW.

Yesterday, just as my mind was fueling up for take off into the future Jesus said, “When you look into a future moment and project into it what is or has been that you perceive as negative in your life you negate My Word, which says all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). How can more of the same be good? Repeating the same lessons over and over again is only good if the purpose of the lesson was not learned the first time. I am not a remedial God. My desire is you take from each experience that which is needed, leave the rest, and move forward. What you call “future” I call “history.” What you call “destiny” I call “predestined.” The only moment we share at the same time is now. It is for this reason I have said worry not about tomorrow for each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34). All you have is NOW!”

Jesus’ words helped me see how traveling between the pain of my past and the uncertainty of my future has eclipsed the beauty, joy, and tremendous gift of now. Now is the moment I am learning, growing and maturing in my relationship with Jesus. Now is the moment I am spending time with my grand babies that I was unable to spend with my own children when they were their ages. Now is the moment I am seeing that broken, abused, messed up teenager I once was, by God’s grace, raised three little girls to be the most loving, kind, compassionate, intelligent, beautiful young women I know. Now is the moment I have been given a blank canvas upon which I can create a beautiful tapestry that honors, glorifies, and magnifies Jesus. I just have to park my time machine, steady my feet, and begin to create one breath, one step, one moment, one day at a time.

For today, I will keep Jesus’ words hidden in my heart. On the days my mind tries to fuel up the time machine and delve into the past I will remind myself that I learned my lessons well. There’s no need for repeats. Everything left behind is luggage I need not carry. If the future is the destination of the day I will empty my time machine’s fuel tank with, “But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (I Corinthians 2:9 NKJV).”

Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: Joy Comes in the Morning

Last week was a bit of a challenging week for me. It began as every week since October 2nd has begun with me getting up at 5 AM Monday morning to get myself together to go to radiation. I’ve kind of gotten into the rhythm of things now. I get up at 5 so I have a chance to exercise, have my coffee, eat breakfast, and do a 10 minute Facebook Live video, chronicling my journey, before I leave for radiation.

Last Monday, although I had a wonderful weekend spending time with my family, physically I wasn’t feeling well and emotionally I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness that stayed with me most of the week. On Tuesday, after radiation, I went for a walk at the lake. As I walked I tried to figure out what was weighing on my heart so heavily. I knew it wasn’t the cancer stuff. This was a different feeling. Nothing surfaced in my mind, but still tears made their way from my heart to my eyes. So, I walked and I cried. When I finished my walk Jesus asked, “Why are you crying?” I replied, ‘I don’t know. Please restore my joy!’

To that He said softly, “Your joy is in tact. It is just hidden beneath the sadness you feel. You are sad because you are weary. You are weary because you have been striving to accomplish something that will never be. You will never be who you were before this day. You will never do math and manage money like you did before you had a stroke, but I will always help You manage everything I place in your hands. You will never be able to focus on more than one thing at a time like you did before you had a stroke, but I will always help you do all things with excellence. You will never communicate the way you did before you had a stroke, but I will always help you find the words to say what needs to be said. You will never be able to just keep going like you did before you had a stroke, but I will always be right here to remind you when it is time to rest. So, you can rest now, Lisa. There is nothing for you to do except rest in Me.”

I was totally unprepared for His response to my plea. At first I thought, ‘The stroke? Why are You talking to me about that? That was almost seven years ago. I’m used to who I am now.’ When I got home and began to process His words each time I heard in my mind “You will never be able to…” it was as if a knife was piercing my heart. It was then that I knew Jesus had pulled the band aid off of a wound that I didn’t even know was hidden in my heart. For the rest of the week I thought about what He said.

I thought about how upset I had gotten at the lake when I was walking and began to drag my right leg, because I was tired and it is still much weaker than my left. I thought about how I pushed myself all summer during chemo, doing as much as I could, pushing my body well beyond its limitations and as a result, out of total mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion waking up the morning of my eighth chemo asking God why He wouldn’t let me die. I thought about how I find myself apologizing or feeling as if I should apologize to those closest to me for not being able to do the things I can no longer do. The more I thought about Jesus’ words and what my life has been since the stroke in 2011, I discovered adapting and accepting are two very different things.

Over the weekend I was looking through my closet and saw where I had segregated it so on one side are the clothes I wore before the stroke and the clothes I’ve purchased since the stroke are on the other. When I looked at the “pre-stroke” side of my closet I thought, ‘I would NEVER wear any of this!’ All throughout my bedroom I systematically set aside things that I no longer like or have any use for just in case the person I was before February 2, 2011 suddenly reappeared.

So much has happened in my life in rapid succession over the last 6 1/2 years. I have had very little time to really process it all. I adapted to the stroke, but until Jesus said what He said to me last week I hadn’t really accepted it. With acceptance comes responsibility and accountability. I am responsible for this miraculous life Jesus gave me on the other side of the stroke. I am not going to be held accountable for all the things I can no longer do, but all the NEW things I can. He gifted me this resurrected life. The pathways in my brain that died in the stroke gave way to new ones that I haven’t even explored, because I have been stuck in the tomb of someone who is never coming back. Over the weekend I gave her a proper send off. I cried my final tears over losing her. I cleaned out my closet and got rid of all of her old clothes. I’m still working on cleaning my room and taking down my memorials of her.

For today, I can say I finally understand Psalm 30:5 that says, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” My journey from the stroke to today has been a very long night. But, it’s morning now. And Jesus was right. My joy is still in tact!