Monday, November 18, 2013

To God be the Glory - Part One (part 1,001)

On weekend mornings, my iphone plays the song, "Grateful," as the alarm.
On weekday mornings, it plays "To God be the Glory."
I have decided that they are the theme songs for my life.

When the song began this morning, I lifted my hands in praise and gratitude.
"Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear God's voice.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice.
Oh come to the father thru Jesus the son,
And give God the glory, great things God has done."

There are so many things I am grateful to God for these days.

Five years ago today, my daughter was in the hospital. It was the third day of a 17 day stay at the end of which she would be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Three weeks after that initial release, she returned to the hospital for fourteen more days. That year, she spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve in the hospital. Ours was a sad holiday season back in 2008.

A little more than four years ago, she had a manic episode that almost landed her back in the hospital. I remember holding her by her shoulders and even wrestling her to the floor at one point and screaming at her: "I am not taking you back to the hospital. You are not going back there. So snap out of this." My words were not enough to snap her out of that terrible moment, but medication, prayer, and several visits to the very best psychiatrist in the world were.

Less than half an hour ago, she backed out of our driveway on her way to classes in her final semester at the local community college. She is waiting to hear the outcome of her recent early decision application to Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. She has not had a manic or depressive episode in four years.

The senior pastor of our church has been one of Kristiana's biggest supporters on this recent phase of this journey. He has already contacted pastors in that area and knows someone at Warren Wilson who may be able to advocate on her behalf. To God be the Glory!

One year ago today, I had the port put into my chest in anticipation of chemotherapy and a year of herceptin treatments. My mother and I ran into one of the pastors of her church while we were in the waiting room that morning. He prayed with us and wished me well on my kanswer journey. This past Saturday while waiting for a friend to meet me at Starbucks, I saw that same pastor. I don't think he saw me - or if he did, he didn't seem to recognize me. I thought it was great timing to see him again at the end of this journey. What a year this has been!

Today, I will have my final herceptin treatment!!! My faithful friend and companion, Gibbs, was with me for that first chemo treatment last November and will be with me today for the last accessing of this port. (I cannot express how much I love you, Gibbs, and appreciate your steady, patient, humorous, generous presence this year.) To God be the Glory!

There's a part of me that feels sentimental, repetitive and hopelessly stuck in this kanswer cycle as I write about it so often. But this is my story. This is my song. This is my life's story. I have learned more about myself, about my body, about the side effects of medication, about baldness, about hot flashes, about menopause, about nutrition, about vitamins and supplements, about life, about gratitude, about joy, about family and friends, about solitude and silence, and about faith in the past year than in the previous 46 years of my life combined. And if I'm gonna be faithful in telling my story, then this is what I'm gonna tell, this is what I'm gonna write about. I'm gonna laugh and cry and repeat myself and fill journal pages - and overflow with gratitude.

I went out for a walk this morning, singing, smiling, marveling at the trees, the children on their way to school, neighbors heading off to work, the dogs barking, the birds singing, the squirrels crossing the road, and giving a stready stream of thanks to God that I am still alive, that I have the energy to walk 2+ miles on yet another gorgeous morning in Charlotte, and that I am soon to be a former kanswer patient. To God be the glory indeed!

All of this gratitude is tempered by the sadness, the sorrow, the horror of the destructive tornadoes that landed in the midwest this past weekend and the typhoon in the Philippines two weeks ago. I have sent a limited amount of money to help provide relief and will send up unlimited prayers for restoration. A friend from Connecticut has had a recurrence of kanswer - lung kanswer - and is reeling from the seriousness of her situation. Two dear friends continue to search of work after being unemployed for far too long. Long term, chronic illness. Depression. Addiction. There is is much suffering. May God have mercy. And may we all find reasons to be grateful, even in the midst of all that we suffer.

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