Let today make a difference

24 Feb

Have you ever felt like your life was going nowhere or you question your purpose here on earth? At times I find myself doing that very thing. I look at my life and I wonder what special talents I have or what things about me me stand out from the rest……….. often times I hear a voice deep within whisper ………. nothing, nothing about you stands out. Then I look to the cross and recall John the baptist who never performed any miracle, yet in the eyes of Jesus there was no one born who was greater than he. Johns mission was to be a “witness to the light” ( John 1:8 ). John was content to be only a voice if that’s what it took to get people to think of Christ.
I often times think about this and then find myself looking back at myself and my life and feel like what kind of a witness has my voice or actions been to those who don’t know Christ, and my answer is “not a good one”. We all make mistakes and fall short. We all get caught up in the moment from time to time either in our thoughts or actions, but we are blessed to have a God who loves us enough to forgive us of our mistakes. If you’re someone like me who has made mistakes in life, do not allow it to cloud the rest of your life. Take that mistake and lock it deep within your heart and make it yield strength and character.
My challenge for you today is this: continue to sow seeds and share Christs truth to evryone you come in contact with, whether it be loving all over the difficult person, by your words, or simply just by your actions, and be satisfied knowing that one day, somewhere, someone will say “he never performed any miracles, wasn’t a rock star, didn’t travel to the moon or break any world records, but he told me about Christ, which led me to know Him for myself”.

My darkest hour

15 Apr

My life, my story, my darkest hour.

Valentine’s Day 2012 wow, it’s a day I don’t think I’ll ever forget. For most people this is a day to share the romantic bliss we feel in our hearts for another person, reminisce about how and when we met, take in a movie, dinner, or just hang out at home and enjoy whatever the moment brings. For me, Valentine’s Day brought nothing more than a sting to my heart, a fear like none I’ve ever felt, and a feeling so overwhelming that my life as I knew it would be forever changed.

Please don’t misunderstand the meaning of the words I am about to write and those to follow; in no way am I writing this to look for sympathy. I am only writing to express, share, and hopefully open the eyes of many who may take the time to actually read what I am putting down on paper.

I woke up on Valentine’s day and got up to get ready for work just as I do every morning, however this day was different, different in the sense that as I was getting ready for work I discovered a lump on my breast (Sorry for the bluntness but it is what it is). I tried to stay calm but my natural tendency is to worry; and worry I did. This foreign thing that now was a part of my body felt like an extra-large marble. My first thought after I already had myself dying was “how am I ever going to get to a doctor with my 6 day a week 12-14 hour work days. Not to mention I work 45 minutes away from my home-town and family doctor. Most of you right about now are probably thinking the same thing my husband was verbalizing and that was “who cares about your job, this is your life”. I felt caught in the middle of a responsibility to my position at work and my health. Sounds crazy I’m sure but a lot rides on me and what is expected and how I handle and run 9 labs on a daily basis. Trying to get time off my job is like asking your spouse to literally shoot you.

My husband, being the best there is drove me to work and told me he was going to make an appointment with a doctor in the area where I work sense I’m surrounded by tons. OK, the brakes of my heart just came to a complete halt because I am not a fan of doctors to begin with and the one’s where I work; I seriously wouldn’t recommend my worst enemy to any of them. My apologies to those of you who know where I am working and the town in which it is located, nothing personal I just feel there are better medical experts located in other parts of the state. At this point in the game I felt I really had no other option so I gave in reluctantly to my husband’s plea and gave him the ok to make an appointment. The appointment was made, for the following day! I was told because I am in the field and they know who I am they were going to get me in on priority. REALLY! The next day was priority? Didn’t they know this was my health, my life? For those of you who have gone through this or any other serious medical issue you can relate to the urgency your gut is feeling.

I was counting the minutes until the 15th of February like I was getting ready to go to St. Lucia’s Island or something. I’ll never forget this day as long as I live. I get to the doctors and they weigh me like they are supposed to and the scale with all my clothes on reads ….well I’m not going to share that, but it was less than it was the day before and I was fully clothed. Any other day and I would have been throwing a party. This particular day I wanted to know why my weight was dropping. Earlier that week I was losing weight as well. Up to this point I calculated a 15 pound total weight loss in a couple month period when I wasn’t dieting or trying to lose weight. Now I’m really panicking.

The doctor confirms what I already knew and informs me that there are many other lumps. She sends me for an ultra-sound and then tells me she is also going to refer me to a surgeon. Ok, here come the brakes again. No way on this side of the moon was I going to a surgeon. I looked at my husband trying to hold back the tears with a plea in my eyes to get me out of here. This doctor doesn’t even know what it is and she’s sending me to a frickin surgeon? Excuse the language but you have to understand that my trust in these doctors was already at an all-time low and now she’s talking surgery. From this point on everything became a big blur. The only thing I remember is her saying she was going to schedule the ultrasound in some facility in the area and me blurting out “NO”! Then apologizing afterwards and asking her if I could just make the appointment closer to my home.

Little did I know that this was going to be the beginning of a month and a half long ordeal with a lot of tears, worry and feelings of uncertainty. Breast cancer runs rapid in my family so at this point I have every right to freak out. I answered yes to all of the risk factor questions regarding “what are the chances you will get cancer” and if that wasn’t enough my mom had it, my grandmother had a double mastectomy, my aunt had it, my cousin had it; the list just kept growing. In my head I’m thinking “great, why couldn’t I have been cursed with high blood pressure, arthritis, migraines, I would have even settled for swollen ankles, but cancer, thanks mom”.

I began to do a lot of research and learned a lot. Being in the medical field has its positives and negatives. Negatives in the respect of you know too much, positives in, you know too much. It felt like every patient I was seeing all of a sudden had breast cancer. Kind of like when you buy a new car that you never saw on the road and now everyone is driving that same car. I began to feel like I needed to cling to something, someone, and anything that would take this away from me and tell me what I wanted so desperately to hear. Unfortunately God was at the bottom of that list during this point. Not because I didn’t believe but because I needed something tangible, something now, I was desperate. My poor husband was my counselor, friend, doctor, investigator, you name it and he was that. He did more research than I thought possible, he held me every second I couldn’t stand on my own, he took days off work, made all my appointments, called me continuously throughout every day and night that he couldn’t be home, and through it all he kept directing me back to God.

I’ll refrain from every detail from this point forward and get to the end result. I had my first ultrasound, which lead to an MRI, then another MRI with contrast. At this point they found a “SUSPICIOUS MASS” on the left side. This all was so overwhelming that I told my husband I wanted to go to my own doctor. May I let you know that at this point I had already seen three different doctors and had one biopsy. The mass really got me freaked especially sense the left side was never the issue nor was anything ever felt on the left side. So here we go, a referral to an oncologist after my own doctor confirms everything, two more ultrasounds, two more biopsies and another MRI with contrast. My oncologist (that still sounds weird) said that surgery was in the making and that the mass was on the breast bone as well as the upper chest cavity located right around 7:30. Can we say PANICK, my breast BONE? Did I just hear him right?

Now I’m desperate so like many I start to kick into action. Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong believer in Jesus and the power of prayer but I never had to use my faith like this on myself. I began to seek out a friend from the past who had gone through a much worse experience than I at a young age; so that I could have a ray of hope. I also contacted three very good friends and a pastor at my church for prayer, comfort and counsel. I had a hard time understanding any of this because all I could think of was what will happen to my kids and my husband. I kept wondering why God was allowing this to happen and the list of questions kept going on.

The oncologist told my husband and me that he wanted to do one more MRI guided biopsy before I would be admitted for any kind of surgery but warned that the location of the mass would make this procedure difficult. Really, than why do it was all I kept saying and when the details of how it would be done were presented to me I could only think of one thing, “Are you flipping crazy”!?

My husband and I pulled up to get this wonderful procedure  done and I have to admit that if it weren’t for his strength and support I would have drove away at that moment and never looked back . I was tired and done with all the poking and prodding and kept wondering and verbalizing why every woman who has breast cancer has to go through such a long process. Just take the stuff out already, but why make them go months with worry and anxiety? We walked into the already too familiar facility where everyone knew me by name (comforting right, NOT) for one last procedure before I was going in for the big one. Somehow the technician was under the impression that no guided biopsy was going to happen, just another MRI with contrast. My husband was asking “are you sure because…..” I’m looking at him like, “sshh don’t say another word, if they want to do just contrast than that’s good with me.” And so it was, just contrast.

The end of March was now with me and I’m scheduled to see the oncologist one last time before surgery to go over the MRI and what is about to take place. Joe and I get there and of course I am a balled up mess, we’re told to go into the exam room to wait for the doctor. The door opens and my heart drops. The famous question comes out of his mouth “So how are you doing today Narda”? Really, did he really just ask me that? Why do doctors ask you such silly questions when you’re ready to go under the knife? I told him I will be doing great if I don’t have to see your face again. That’s just my sense of humor and luckily he knew that. He then began to study the report and looked at me a couple of times than back at the report. After what felt like an hour he looked up at both Joe and I and said to me, “there’s nothing there, it’s as if nothing had ever been there. There’s no sign of a mass nor is there any evidence that there was ever a mass.” Praise God! I knew what it was, answered prayer, but I still had to ask the question of “why do you think it shows that?” to the doctor. Earlier on he, the doctor, had Joe and I in his conference room and began to approach the situation in terms of “IF I WERE A BETTING MAN” and I then answered back with “well I am a believing person of the miracle of Jesus”. His answer back to me after he told us that the report came back showing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING was the best; his response to me was “It’s what you said”. He couldn’t say the word Jesus or miracle or answered prayer, but we knew he was baffled and all I cared about was that I was cancer free and over joyed that he, the doctor, was able to witness God’s hand on my life.

With all this being said, cancer is very real and it has played a toll on my life and mind that I never thought possible. My medical instructions are MRI with contrast and blood work every six months, but for others it’s different. The emotional trauma one goes through can never really be understood unless you have personally gone through it. I wake up each day still afraid to do self-exams for fear of finding another lump; however I wake up each day feeling very blessed to be alive and to have not gone through what so many others have endured as a result of breast cancer. One in eight women will get breast cancer and 75% of women will get breast cancer without having any risk factors. Breast cancer is the second major cause of death after lung cancer. I tell you this and shared my story because it’s so important to get checked frequently regardless if you have a family history. I have come to learn of many women’s stories as a result of my own experience and witnessed my good friends mother go through breast cancer at the same time I was. There’s no cure, this is true, yet there are precautions and life style changes that can lower your risk.

Like many I never gave cancer much thought even though I have a pretty good chance of getting it based on my family history, but like I mentioned you don’t have to have a history to get breast cancer. I felt like it would never happen to me because I am healthy, feel good, etc. I was wrong. I encourage everyone who reads this to please get checked yearly, demand an Ultrasound because mammography only detects a small percentage of lumps etc. Breast cancer if detected early enough can be cured so please don’t take this lightly, don’t allow yourself to go years without checking. You only have one life, take care of it while you still can.

 

 

WORRY

14 Jan

As I’m sitting here drinking my coffee and enjoying my day off many things begin to race through my head, one being how blessed my husband and I have been this past week by God. In reality we are always being blessed, unfortunately I am not always in clear vision of it.  So many things that have weighed us down on our list of  “I’m not sure how we will get through this”, has been suddenly taken care of. I was telling my husband how great God is and how His timing is most often never ours. I shared how instead of thinking about those things that stress me out I want to divert my thoughts onto the things that God has graciously given to us; even the small things we take for granted such as waking up each day. Yet, I continue to find my mind  wandering about when we will end up in a valley again. It’s easy to tell yourself or others not to worry but to actually STOP worrying is sometimes difficult. With my medical background and a bit of common sense I know that worry and stress can do some serious damage to our body. The definition of worry simply put means to feel uneasy or concerned about something; to be troubled and to feel anxious, distressed, or troubled (The free dictionary).

When worrying becomes excessive it can lead to anxiety and literally cause illness.  For some of us we worry for a short moment, which I will classify as being concerned, but for others we just can’t seem to get this nagging emotion of doom out of the inner pit of our gut; this my friend is worry. Have you ever experienced this? I have, in fact many times. Just last year I worried about our daughters health, financial issues, jobs, transportation, friends…… the list goes on.  Is it normal to worry, yes I suppose it is. I mean after all God created us with emotions that consist of numerous things, worrying being part of them. However, worrying can be disruptive to our physical being and body. Worrying interferes with your appetite, lifestyle habits, relationships, sleep, and sometimes our job performance. Worrying mixed with anxiety, a normal emotion that follows bouts of worrying, will ultimately cause a stress response which can bring about a perception of the challenge, or an automatic physiological reaction response that usually brings a surge of adrenaline; called fight or flight. Let me just stop here because this topic and the health issues that go with it can go on forever, especially with me talking about it.

As I’m sitting here pondering how amazing and good God is I decided to go further and find out what exactly God says about this emotion we all get hung up on from time to time. I came across some quotes on worrying, not biblical mind you but very logical.

  1. Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.          Leo Buscaglia
  2. It is not work that kills men, it is worry. Work is healthy; you can hardly put more on a man than he can bear. But worry is rust upon the blade, it is not movement that destroys the machinery, but friction.         Henry Ward Beecher
  3. What worries you, masters you.             John Locke

These are all so true. Worry robs us of the joy we have today, destroys our body, and becomes master over our life. Wow, pretty powerful when looked at like that.  So then, what do we do to not worry? I mean to really just not worry. I’m no biblical scholar and as ashamed as I am to admit this, I am not even real good at keeping verses stored in my head. The information I am about to share I had to stop my blog and do some quick refreshing as to what God says about worry. When we worry we are forgetting about the one person who created us, God. God didn’t create us to be mastered by anxiety, worry, and a troubled heart. Nor, did He intend for us to carry our load by ourself and try to figure out a plan of how to get through our present circumstance on our own. In fact, God did the exact opposite. He created us in His image and in doing so He has instructed us to not worry about our life, what we will eat, drink, or wear. Worrying my friend will not add time of any kind to our life. It will only do the opposite. God has also instructed us to not borrow trouble by reaching into tomorrow, but to take one day at a time. We are not to worry about what to say or even what words to use when we are faced with situations that we are unsure as to how they should be handled. Basically, we are not to be anxious about anything but to cast all our anxieties upon the Lord. We are to trust in Him, delight in Him, commit our way to Him, and above all, we are to be still and wait patiently.

This is easier said than done, I know because many times I find myself having faith that’s smaller than a mustard seed. So you’re probably wondering why on earth am I blogging about this, especially when some may not struggle with worry or better yet, some may not even believe in the God who created us. I know in my heart that somewhere out there at this very moment and at some time in each one of our lives we all worry and lose hope; even if not for but a split second. My blog may not be the answer or even the light at the end of the tunnel for those of you reading. It may however, be just enough to encourage you that there is hope, that worrying is really an emotion that we are in complete control over. You see, God is so much bigger than we are and if He takes care of the birds in the sky and the lilies of the field then why I ask, would He not take care of our concerns? Trust is what He wants from us followed by placing our every worry, thought, plan, idea, concern, and next move, at the feet of His son Jesus. Anxiety and worry will only weigh us down. God tells us to seek first His kingdom and all these things will be given to us. Yes, WILL be given to us. It took me a few years to grasp that promise because I still found myself compartmentalizing God, along with misinterpreting what that verse in Matthew really meant.

So my prayer for each of you is that the God who created you will continue to reign over your life and that each of you will allow yourselves to put your trust in Him and cast all your cares upon Him. We were not created to carry the load alone and cause ourselves to become physically ill as a result. Proverbs 12:25 says an anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.  Proverbs 17:22 says a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. I encourage you, whether you believe or not to open the Bible and cast your every care on each page you read. If you feel moved to share your own story as a comment or feelings regarding this blog, I invite you to share that as well. May your weekend  and each day to follow be a truly blessed and peaceful one.

Blessings,

Gal 6:17

References used:

  1. 1 Peter 5: 6-7
  2.  Ps. 37: 3-7
  3. Matthew 6: 25-27,   6:33
  4. Matthew 10:19
  5. Phil 4: 6-7

Why Jesus and not religion

13 Jan

This is an amazing video. Click on the link to see for yourself.  http://youtu.be/1IAhDGYlpqY

News on Chuck Smith

10 Jan

Calvary Chapel Founder Chuck Smith Diagnosed with Lung Cancer says “God is Good”

Christ Follower and Calvary Chapel Founder Chuck Smith announced to his congregation on New Year’s Day that he’d been diagnosed with lung cancer. In an interview with Harvest Ministries’ Greg Laurie on January 5th, Smith was asked whether he was afraid, and said “Not really.” He went on to say “Never trade what you do know for what you don’t know,” and what Smith knows is “God is good and God loves me and God is working on His perfect plan in my life. So, I’m just content with that…” The interview drew nearly 2,000 folks who filled the church’s main sanctuary and overflow rooms. Smith, now 84, has been the Pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa since 1965 and was a principal figure during the Nation’s “Jesus movement” of the late 60s and early 70s. He is lovingly referred to as “Papa Chuck” by his congregation, and to date there are over a thousand Calvary Chapel churches spreading the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. Several Christian pastors credit Smith as a mentor and teacher such as Raul Ries, Don McClure, Mike MacIntosh, Skip Heitzig, and Greg Laurie. When asked to define Calvary Chapel, Smith said “It is the exposition of the word of God. It’s encouraging people to read the Word of God and expounding to them the Word of God. It’s really built on the Word of God. It’s just God honoring His word as he said He would. He said He would honor His word even above His name. So, the movement has been built on the solid teaching of the Word of God.” Smith was then asked if he would do anything differently, and he replied “The Lord had charge of the whole thing and so I would not try and improve on His program.” Everyone who knows Pastor Chuck Smith, or has been touched by the ministry which God gave him through Calvary Chapel, is praying for him. It brings to mind something Pastor Raul Ries recently quoted in one of his daily devotionals “Security is not the absence of danger, but the presence of God. ~Author Unknown~” Amen and Godspeed to Pastor Chuck Smith!

About

8 Jan

About.

Hello world!

8 Jan
Wow, it’s hard to believe another year has passed. Sitting here with my cup of coffee, drapes pulled back to let the sun shine through and observing all that is taking place around me, I am forced to reflect on the year I have just lived through. I remember feeling as if I would never see the light at the end of the tunnel on a few occasions, wondering if the life I was caught up in was all there wa…s to offer, thinking to myself “what if”, feeling fear like none other when the disease of cancer fell upon one of our daughters, struggling with emotion when watching and listening to all the world events that were taking place around me and my family, wishing I could do something for all my friends that were struggling with their own battles, and feeling a deep sadness when hearing the news that a dear friend and loved one will no longer be with us, yet the world as we know it kept on going. With all the challenges 2011 brought our way we were also blessed in ways that were beyond our own understanding. One of our daughters, Janae’ was accepted into The Art Institute of LA, Danica’s cancer is in remission and she has a very promising and positive outlook for a future filled with children, I landed a job that was more than a blessing to our family and my professional career, we connected with old friends and made some very dear new ones, and we were able to take a few trips that brought our family together. When I think about 2012 I feel as if the number of the year is just that, a number. I have quickly thought about the resolutions I want to make like losing weight, eating healthier, working out, staying on top of house chores etc.. than just as quickly as I think of those things I begin to think on things that seem to matter more. For instance, not taking things, people and life in general for granted because in a flash of a breath they can be gone, caring for those who are less fortunate than I; such as the homeless, the battered wife, the single mom, the teenager who has no direction, or the terminally ill children and elderly who just need a friendly smile to give them a ray of hope to get through the next minute left of their life. I even think about my own family and how I need to spend more time with them, share a loving word of encouragement and not push them aside because my own life and schedule is too hectic. When I think about 2012 it forces me to think back again to 2011 and even though there were some rough and crazy moments mixed in with the good ones I realize that if it weren’t for the hard and challenging times I would not be who I am today. I would not be reminded that the Lord who created me is the one that also saw us through each moment we walked another step and had, as well as has a plan for our life. Though the thought of getting healthier, eating right, losing weight and so on sounds terrific for the new year, 2011 has shown me through many trials, challenges, and heartaches that it’s not just about me. It has come to make me realize that for the new year of 2012 my past sins and failures will carry with me but I have a Father who loves me enough to forgive me and make me new. It has shown me that the only resolution I want to make is that of stepping outside my comfort zone and lending a helping hand, reaching out to the lost and hungry, making a difference in the life of someone who has no hope, becoming more compassionate for those that have less or appear to be different, to love those who are or seem to be un-lovable, and above all to allow my Lord and Savior to work through me in His way and in His time instead of my own. With this New Years resolution I want to take this moment to give a huge apology to those I may have hurt along the way, pushed aside, or made to feel unappreciated. I want to thank all those friends and family alike for being here for us, loving us and coming along side of us to share our joy and pain, but most of all I want to tell my husband and daughters how much I love you and appreciate everything you do, who you are, along with the happiness and honesty you have brought into my life. With this being said I want to wish all of you a very blessed and prosperous year ahead. May the Lord who has touched and blessed our life in ways unimagined also touch and bless yours.
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