The Defiant Cat

defiant cat

It’s hard to believe that it will soon be a year since we rescued Volta and his brother, Ampere.

I suppose it was fate that brought us together that night. My cancer diagnosis was still new, and the surgery to implant my port was just a few days away. So we went for an evening drive to play Ingress and Pokemon Go, just to escape the badness that had only begun.

We found these two hot and scared little kittens in the middle of the park that night. Volta, small and yet brave, stood in the middle of the street, meowing for help. My husband scooped him up even as we heard the pitiful cries from his brother echoing in the storm drain.

A car drove by several times and parked farther up the street, watching us as we struggled to coax Ampere out of the darkness. Finally, finally, they were safe with us.

Since then, strong, sparky Volta has grown into a defiant cat, ruling the roost, so to speak. He loves to dominate and annoy the other cats, caring little when he is disciplined for his behavior.

Volta has matured and mellowed a bit over the past year, but he is certainly obstinate.

He reminds me of a feral cat who had a run-in with our little Anakin so many years ago. So that Anakin could survey our fenced-in yard at our old house, my husband had placed a chair in the middle of the yard. Anakin would sit on that chair, happily enjoying the sunshine.

One afternoon, however, I heard Anakin barking angrily. I ran outside to find that feral cat–obviously a tom who paid little attention to dogs or man–sitting defiantly on Anakin’s chair. The cat ignored Anakin’s barking, really seeming to relish the fact that he was disturbing our Shih-tzu.

I shooed the cat away so that Anakin could have some peace, but I had to admire the strength of that cat.

And now we have our own defiant cat, one who tests our patience each and every day. Although he often disrupts the quiet in our household, I’m not sure how we ever lived without him.

Moving Forward

Moving Forward

Having cancer wasn’t part of my plans. And having cancer a second time?

Fuhgeddaboudit.

Indeed, cancer is like a thief who arrives suddenly, stealing all of the things you hold dear. He then decides to stick around, drinking coffee with you each morning and lying beside you at night. If a bit of goodness comes your way, he’s always ready to snatch it away.

Eventually, as the months have passed, I can’t even recognize myself in the mirror. Body and soul, I have changed.

But there is that grasping onto the past, all of those dreams and plans that I had. Having lost control of my body and life, I want my old self back. That self who could walk without pain. That person who could easily work ten hours per day. Someone who could spend hours reading and then suddenly get the urge to write.

Now things have changed. I have changed.

Reading Wonderlife by Mike Foster, I find a quote to ponder:

“God can’t change who we’re becoming until we let go of who we were.” –Bob Goff

That’s my challenge at this point. Accept how my life has changed–how I have changed–and mourn for what I have lost. And then move forward.

 

 

 

The Little Things

little-thingsHonestly, I’ve been struggling this past month or so.

It often seems like the days just drift by, with those around me bustling to work and fulfilling goals and stressing about life in general. Outside of it all, I watch them hustle and wish that I were still part of all of that stress.

Weird, huh? But it’s true.

When you’re in the midst of regular life, it is all a bit overwhelming, and a break is welcomed. When a serious illness–or other calamity–holds you down, however, things change. The regular falls away, leaving little but the illness.

Days are filled with doctors’ appointments, worrying about scan results, dealing with side effects of treatment, etc. Life becomes simply about trying to maintain a failing body. And that can be disheartening.

So I’ve been trying to count three good things that happen each day. Perhaps it’s that my husband and I were able to go for a walk today. Or I saw the first robin of the season. Little things.

In Katie Ganshert‘s upcoming novel, Life After, one of the characters, Anna, states:

“I guess that’s what life is, though, isn’t it? A whole bunch of little moments that don’t seem significant or life-altering at the time, but when you look back…They become the most profoundly beautiful things.”

Maybe that’s my lesson to be learned and lived out for right now.

If I had my druthers, this cancer would have never happened. I would still have a job and wouldn’t be scarred and wrecked physically. My days would be all about the hustle and bustle of regular life.

Really, really honest, though…If that were the case, I probably would miss the little things because I would be distracted by all the rest.

Cancer takes away pretty much everything when it comes into your life. With all of that empty space and time left behind, however, there’s the opportunity to see those blessings in each day and cherish the little moments that make up our lives. Because one of these days, I may be able to look back and smile.

What We Bring to the Table

what-we-bring-to-the-tableRecently we had a couple of friends over for dinner. In the past, I might have made something special for their visit. Pecan Sandies or even homemade ice cream. But this time? I baked a pie fresh from the freezer.

The pie was good, if a little crumbly, but a part of me felt a bit bad about it. Sure, I’m going through cancer treatment, but still…

I suppose the question in the uppermost part of my life at the moment is what do I bring to the table?

Until recently, I could have answered that question easily. I worked and cleaned and blogged. I was a wife and mother of fur babies. I had a place and a purpose.

Now most of that part of my identity has fallen away. Cancer has taken my job and my sexuality. And even doing the most simple things, such as paying a bill or fixing dinner, can be quite an accomplishment. Blogging too has been more sporadic as the pain from the treatments has increased.

As the prognosis for my cancer has become worse and worse, I have struggled with my faith more and more. The comfort that is so often spoken about among Christians seemed far away. And with each loss, I wondered why all of this was happening.

Reading the upcoming book from Katie Ganshert, Life After, I could so relate to Autumn’s crisis of faith depicted in the book. Looking back on the traumatic event that had changed her life, she asked questions similar to mine. At one point, though, she thinks,

“Maybe comfort wasn’t to be found in the why.

Maybe comfort was to be found in the who.

A God who wept.”

I suppose I realized that night as we ate the crumbly pie that my life has changed dramatically and that I may never be able to do things I once accomplished with ease.

But perhaps I still have something to bring to the table, even if it’s a frozen pie. And blog posts that come less often but are maybe just a bit more meaningful. Days that aren’t centered around a work schedule, but about communicating with family.

In the novel, Autumn goes on to conclude,

“Maybe it was time to stop trying to make the puzzle pieces fit. Maybe it was time to let go of the why and remember the Who.”

I may never understand the why of all of this, but I’ve got to move on, keep trying to bring something to the table, even if it’s not what I would have wanted. Letting go of the why is what I need.

That and some time to remember the God who cares and comforts, the God who understands our struggles.

Waiting and Darkness

waiting-and-darknessI don’t do well with waiting, y’all. Seriously.

I like to plan and have a purpose. Good days have always been those that are productive, filled with work and chores, the completion of tasks that always seem to pile up around us. Busy-ness has been my specialty, and I love the feeling of accomplishment.

But what do you do when your plans are smashed and purpose is well…unknown? When all of the things that you’ve worked so hard to accomplish disappear, leaving you with simply waiting?

If you’re me, you probably get depressed, angry even. As Julie Manning describes the feeling in her upcoming book, My Heart: Every Beat Surrendered to Our Unchanging God,

“The fear and darkness would consume me, sometimes just for a few hours in a given day and other times for multiple days at a time.”

These past couple of weeks have been such a time for me. I’ve hidden myself in novels, passing the days in stories of fictional characters, fantasizing about things that can never be.

I quit doing everything I should. My Bible lay unopened and prayers were simply angry cries. And of course, there have been many pity parties, attended only by me and my cats. As Manning goes on to say,

“The soul longs to trust Jesus with every fiber of its being, and yet the human heart is fragile and untrusting.”

When all you have is the waiting, do you still trust God? When the future is unknown and there is nothing left to do, what then? When we are truly faced with our own mortality, when it becomes more than an abstraction, how do we live each day?

I wish I could provide some easy answers, something akin to those positive memes that fill my Facebook stream. But unfortunately life and the human heart aren’t always that simple. Sometimes life is a gray unknown with no exit in sight.

At this point in my cancer treatment, I’m just tired. This isn’t even close to the life I imagined for myself. But some part of me is still grateful.

Today’s a new day. God is still God. And perhaps there will be more than the waiting.

Weathering the Storms of Life

donutsFriday was one of those not-so-great days I’ve had lately, one of those days where I find out too much from the doctors. Retreating to bed sounded like the best course of action as we drove home from the hospital. The cold swept over us and through us, chilling everything in our lives.

We had already prepared for a coming ice storm, but there is no preparing for the emotional ups and downs of cancer treatment. And unexpected news from a doctor can mean some serious downs.

Ice began gathering on streets and trees last night, creating havoc in our city. But here at home, there was a different sort of chaos, that of reviewing the day’s events and wondering about what lay ahead. Sirens wailed all around us.

How to find peace in a time like this? Craig Groeschel says in his upcoming book, Divine Direction: 7 Decisions That Will Change Your Life:

“When life gets tough, and we know it will, how we respond can either build our faith and draw us closer to Christ or weaken our intimacy with him as we slide in the wrong direction.”

Surprisingly, as the sirens began to quiet, I heard a knock at our door. Two visitors for me. We discussed grace and strength during hard times. And we agreed that we had been blessed, even as the night grew colder and darker. I hugged them as they hurried out into the storm.

And today more predictions of ice. As the rain began to fall this afternoon, I asked my husband about a treat for the coming morning. So we bundled ourselves up quickly and drove to our favorite donut shop. We each picked three donuts, all new flavors to us. Something sweet for our Sunday morning.

Learning to trust God in the midst of a storm can be a lifelong process, but hopefully there is growth over time. And occasionally weathering the storms of life can also mean a big box of donuts. Because the darkest days sometimes need a little bit of extra sweetness.