Two Weeks In

Two weeks in to chemotherapy and I was in hospital with sepsis. It was my first time ever as an inpatient and, despite not even realising how serious my condition was, it was upsetting.

After much moving around, I was eventually placed into a ward with one other lady – we’ll call her Bella – a dear old lady of 84 who had been suffering with chronic diarrhoea for over two months and had lost over two stone in weight as a result. She was in incredible pain and was completely out of control of her body – going about 20-30 times a day and all through the night.

Needless to say, she was really suffering.

Honestly, this was a test of my character as it was really hard hearing her condition while I was also so weak but by the grace of God I pushed through my own desperation to find the place of compassion and I began to pray. My mum and many of my friends were already praying for me and so I asked them too if they would pray for Bella, who had no hope and felt utterly degraded by her condition.

One day when my mum came to visit, she offered to pray for Bella but was politely refused as she had her daughter visiting who was a strong atheist. However, after visiting time was over and both our family members had gone home, Bella turned to me and said, “I would very much like your mum to pray with me.”

So, the next day, Mum came in at a different time and no sooner than she had walked in the door than Bella asked, “Will you pray for me?” Mum had already been up in the night praying for Bella back home and so gladly took the opportunity. As she finished, Bella expressed a sense of peace; visiting time went on as normal, Mum went home and we both went to sleep.

The next morning, as soon as we were both awake, Bella excitedly called my name, exclaiming, “I had my first dry night!! I feel like my whole body has been cleansed all the way through!!”

I felt like I could have shot through the roof with excitement! I was so overjoyed! I text my mum, who danced around the house singing and we were all filled with joy.

I was discharged that same morning and as Mum prepared to come and pick me up, she felt she should bring with her, and pray over, a shawl that I had crocheted when I was first diagnosed. In my weakness, crochet was pretty much the only thing I could manage and I had made this lilac shawl with some left over yarn that Mum had. The shawl had ended up looking far more ‘granny-ish’ than I had hoped and I had been left wondering what I would do with it. But as it happened, Mum felt we should give it to Bella and it suited her perfectly! She looked simply beautiful in the lilac and the small size of it was just perfect for where she had lost so much weight. She was so blessed to receive this gift and wore it continually.

We heard, weeks later, that the diarrhoea had not come back from that point onward, despite the doctors having been at a complete loss as to what to do. They had given her steroids the day Mum prayed but nothing could account for the sense of utter cleansing and joy with which Bella was filled that morning and from that point on.

Our wonderful God lifts the lowly, restores dignity to the broken, gives hope and healing to those without and plants the most beautiful surprises for us in the most unexpected places. Praise to Him forever!

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Assurance

Back in September last year I was diagnosed with cancer.

But let’s backtrack a bit…

Seven years earlier, in September 2010, I was inspired to start drawing a photo that my friend had posted on his Facebook page. I made good headway for a while but then got discouraged by how much detail I’d put in it and so it sat unfinished in a drawer until March 2017, when I finally finished it. And here it is below:

Hold that thought.

In August, I discovered the lump on my neck and wondered whether it might be serious. I was due to fly to Portugal on a study year abroad in September so I didn’t want to hold up my trip for something that wasn’t serious, but equally didn’t want to go flying off if it was. So I prayed.

“God, would you just let me know if I need to do something about this?”

And then I went to bed.

That night I had a dream. A friend of mine who was a doctor came up to me, looked at the lump on my neck and then looked me straight in the eye and said, “You need to go and see a doctor straight away.”

Well, it couldn’t have been clearer than that!

In a previous blog post, I described how God gave me the promise from Isaiah 43:1-4: that when I walked through deep waters, I would not be drowned; that He would give others in exchange for my life. And true to His word, cancellations were made on my behalf. The NHS were beyond marvellous in getting me seen and diagnosed as quickly as possible. It was cancer. It was stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; cancer of the blood.

I won’t go into the emotional rollercoaster of that time.

As you might expect, the treatment plan I was placed on was 6 months’ chemotherapy. I was going to have poison pumped into my blood for a good couple of hours every fortnight… and I prayed.

Because I know God can heal, instantly. It doesn’t take a second thought for Him to be able to do it. And I was scared.

But strangely, every time I prayed, I simply felt His assurance that He would be with me and He would hold me through it all. And then, one day, this drawing that had taken me 7 years to finish suddenly caught my eye. The writing on my friend’s hand refers to Mark 16:18. I didn’t remember the whole verse but I remembered this bit:

“…if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them…”

Somehow, it felt like assurance.

Blamed

I was angry tonight. 

I didn’t know it was anger until I tried to release it but the feelings of sadness and despair soon turned to hard, hot tears and a violent heart. 

I was angry with God. I was angry that He is perfect and I couldn’t blame Him. I was angry that He wouldn’t just let everything be perfect and stop bad things from happening. But He knows the weight of the lessons we learn and the value of the character formed in the process – formed with His help of course. 

I can’t blame Him for the mistakes I’ve made. I can’t blame Him for the lies and devastation – He was warning us all along. 

But He doesn’t judge me for my anger.

And the truth is, though He was the only good thing all along, He did take the blame…

For all of it. 

Jesus took the blows for every sin, bore the weight of every curse and wrongdoing, so that I, we, could be free of it. 

With no guilt for our past and no condemnation in our present. And a joyful hope for our future. 

So I am humbled by His perfection. And I am humbled by His love. 

What a God. 

Anon.

Yesterday I had to take a trip to the hospital. I discovered some lumps on my neck and had to be referred for tests to make sure it’s not cancer. I felt to pray beforehand for wisdom and for favour.

Well the consultant asked me some questions and did a few examinations before referring me for further testing,

Only I’m due to go abroad next week for a study year as part of my degree.

Well it’s not gonna be over in a week so I’ve had to cancel my flight but, knowing the urgency, the consultant looked at his nurse and said,

“I know we’re all full but make some cancellations so that she can be seen within the next 7-10 days. If all is clear we should know and you should be free to go in a month’s time.”

Talk about humbled.

“Because you are precious in My sight, you are honoured and I love you, I will give other men in return for you and other peoples in exchange for your life.” Isaiah 43:4

Let us never take His grace for granted.

~

And let us remember His Son.

Misplaced Desire

My heart is for you, I am not against you. My desire is towards you, I want you completely. 

~

When we fell, when we fall

We sense the weight of disconnection 

‘Tween ourselves, and the One

Who lives in light, who is perfection 

Washed in fear and in shame

We felt ourselves the curse of hiding

For our hearts, they long for more

And our desire is unrelenting

So we turned and we sought

Some satisfaction in the darkness

But the more that we seek

The more exposed becomes our weakness

Walking blind, we don’t see

All creation sings the story

Of a God, of a love

Cry I am for you, I am for you

Like Water

I am

Bathing

In the warmth of Your love

Surging

With the rise of the tide

Flowing

To the deep lowly place

Breaking

Through the cracks in the walls

You are

Walking

On the waves of my heart

Speaking 

To the storms in my mind

Changing

All my water to wine

Breathing

‘Cross the flaws in my life

Things Above

As I was travelling to uni this morning I was reading Colossians 3:

If you then were raised with Christ, desire those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on earth. For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

It’s a profound verse. And I got wondering…

What are the things above?

I mean, I’ve read this verse hundreds of times, but I’ve never actually made a concrete list of what those things above might be referring to. And it’s all very well having this verse in my head but if I have no idea of what it’s talking about then it serves me very little indeed. 

#diddlysquat

Now God is very kind. Just a little further down He gives us some clues to help us along the way:

So embrace, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, a spirit of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, and longsuffering. Colossians 3:12

Wow, Heaven is beautiful. 

But my lesson didn’t end there. 

No, God is more than just the words on the page and by the time I reached the end of my day He had brought to light some of my ‘mis-focus’ that was in need of His heavenly affection. 

I had come to realise throughout the day just how much I was worrying about what people think of me… and worry is definitely not one of those things above focuses. I mean, who wants to set their affection on worry? That would be ridiculous right?!

Now I’ve heard before, ‘You shouldn’t worry about what people think’. And sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I have hurt people because I don’t. But that’s because there’s more to it than that. 

I shouldn’t spend my time worrying about what people think because a. I died with Christ and b. I have far too much to invest in being concerned about setting my desire to showing kindness, mercy, love, patience, generosity, humility, gentleness, grace…

Those things above. 

Right. 

Re-focus, back on track.