Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Plant a Geranium in your Cranium

Please be patient with me as I am trying to compile my thoughts throughout this whole trial. A dear lady in my Bible Study group sent a book, Plant A Geranium in your Cranium by Barabara Johnson. I am thankful I had it with me during my stay here in good Ole' Houston. (say with a Texan twang')

This book does a great job at expressing my thoughts and feelings. Barbara Johnson has a witty sense of humor, loves Jesus and has also gone through brain cancer along with many other personal trials. It is so good to read in the quietness of the hotel room. I wouldn't be able to read like this at home with all the activity & household demands.

Thoughts / Comments from the book that have stood out to me: (modified)

* God loves to decorate. Let Him live long enough in a heart, and that heart will begin to change. God can no more leave a life unchanged than a mother can leave her child's tear untouched.

* I know God will bring me out the other side better than when I started.

* As all parents know, it's much harder to deal with adversities affecting our children than it is to face something that hurts us. Let one of my loved ones suffer, and I'm beside myself with concern. And although it wasn't the easiest thing in the world to have Dr. Forget tell me that I had cancer, I never felt a moment of fear. Shock, yes. Sorrow, maybe. Fear, no. I know without a doubt, I am in the Lord's hands.

* Admittedly, cancer can be a terrifying word. It evokes images of no turning back, of having no control over your body and your life . . . not finishing the big game the way you wanted to. Hearing you have cancer can be one of the toughest challenges you will ever face.

* It's down in life's valleys that we grow, because that's where the fertilzer is. (God is fertilizing my heart.)

* Most people step up to the plate & endure these difficulties. . . . . It isn't the end of your life, unless you choose to stop living it!

* Don't let despair take over. Let the news of cancer be a catalyst that leads you to reevalutate yourself and your relationship with others.

* No more of asking "Why me?" I am now asking "What can I learn from this experience?"

* Laughter is the best medicine even if my health plan does not cover it. : )

* An excerpt from A Bend in the Road written by David Jeremiah - "Crises never leave us the same as they found us. Those of us who love and trust God through the worst time - those of us who are receptive to what He might be trying to teach us - find that our hearts have changed by the time the stillness replaces the storminess." (I know my heart is already in the process.)

* The Lord gives us no more than He gives us the strength to bear.
Sometimes, though, I wish He didn't have so much confidence in ME! (I really relate.)

* Cultivating Joy - When you deliberately cutivate a joyful outlook, it soon blossoms into an outward sign of your God-inspired character. You feel yourself filling up with the deep, fulfilling kind of joy Paul described as " the fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:22. it's the kind of joy that begs to be shared. Surely that's why Jesus, as He comanded His disciple to "love each other as I have loved you," explained to them, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." There it is in living proof: The joy of Jesus has already been planted in us. It's already there! And, believe me, Jesus' joy isn't a superficial or mindless thing. Instead, as one clergyman wrote, this kind of joy "is often sober, quiet and deep. it is not easily dislodged by passing moods or the ebb & flow of events. {It} conveys a sense of being firmly rooted in spite of - or even because of - the . . . difficult things that are woven into the fabric of our lives. Because joy is the work of the Spirit in us, it grounds us in the confidence, courage and consciouness of the risen Christ."

* Jesus' joy is in me - Sometimes it just has to be fertilized and cultivated to get it to grow. And what blessings it brings when it sprouts!

* Help me to find God's hope and goodness in the depths of my cancer.

* Can anything good come from cancer? - YES! Seeing God's provision, unexpected blessings, His nearness in my illness, seeing the many "gifts" through people serving me & my family, etc.

* If we only focus on the stinky stuff, it's easy to believe we're stuck in the manure pit. But if we put our difficulties in perspective, mixing together the hardships with all the blessings in our lives, we realize we're living in a garden of beautiful perfumed flowers -- well-fertilized ones!

* Maybe the HOT furnace of my pain is the only place others will really see Jesus . . .

I pray and hope you have been able to see into my heart a little more clearly as I shared these excerpts from the book. Note: this is still a process for me. I still get frustrated, irritated, rude, etc. I am a total work. I am trying to see others trials unique to them and not put mine on a pedestal. That is becoming more difficult for me. When others tell me of their trials, I continue to think "Well YOU don't have brain cancer." I also admit at the beginning of the book it stated that her doctors gave her a 85% chance of survival. I wanted to discontinue reading right at that point. I am glad I didn't. This book has been a blessing. I have laughed outloud, (similar to the rodeo clown experience at the Illinois State Fair) and contemplated many things.

God is so good - He is so good to ME.

trying to find joy and blessings - kate


Em said...

LOVING to see you grow supernaturally! Only He can do these works in such an amazing way. So glad your having time to think and rest and be together, with the Lord and with Dave. Love Em

aunt dee dee said...

it's true, grandma and i made our appearances last night at america's favorite golden arches, a.k.a. McDonalds, and we were quickly reminded why it has been years since we've been to Mickey D's. we agreed that the motto should be changed from "i'm loving it" to "i'm barely surviving it." don't get me wrong, the company was desirable and the cause was worthy, but even little Stuart, our connoissuer in training, couldn't stomach his plain cheeseburger. he munched on a little bit of the bun, but then turned his face in disgust when we tried to intice him with the leftover meat and cheese. the kid's favorite food is blueberries, so why should we expect him to eat an overprocessed cheeseburger?

of course the kids enjoyed themselves, and that's all that really matters. when it was time to go it was hard to pull them away from the colorful tunnels, but they were good sports and acquiesced graciously. maybe they sensed that aunt dee dee's meter for overstimulation had reached its apex. i was in the red zone, a headache threatening my equilibrium. but who can blame me--i had worked all day in an equally busy restaurant, prior to the mcdonald's run. so for the record, grandma and i did our part: we stayed at least an hour. but if you ask the kids, they will tell you we only stayed for five minutes.

tonight we hope to do something more quiet, like look at christmas lights and get frozen yogurt, with blueberries of course.

Anonymous said...


What a great image on what you are feeling and thinking. We continue to pray for you and your family. I'm happy your appointment with Dr. Yung went so well. When will you start radiation then? I really hope you and Chuck have a great few days "alone together". Maybe this would be a good opportunity to go out and get your new do (hairstyle). Hope you have a great week. With love.

Marcie said...

I saw a passage in an Advent devotional that made me think of you. "The world today needs people who have been shaken by ultimate calamities and emerged from them with the knowledge and awareness that those who look to the Lord will still be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth." It is so encouraging to watch the Lord work this knowledge of His preservation in you. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kate,
Your honesty as you struggle in the midst of something so huge (most of us can't begin to imagine) is absolutely beautiful and so refreshing. Many have said this, but God IS using you to encourage others as you wrestle with making sense of it all.
Being a Believer in Jesus does not mean life will be easy; it DOES mean we have immediate access to His unlimited wisdom, peace, and joy as we experience life's difficulties.
I'm so glad you've been encouraged by that book, and that you chose to share some of it with us.
Love to you,
Tiffani Gibbs

Anonymous said...

Trials are never easy, but your your pain in the furnace is a perfect testimony of how God spreads the seed to unbelievers! You have already encouraged and blessed so many through your dear words and transparency. As my mother-in-law mentioned yesterday - JOY is Jesus, others and then yourself. Sometimes, my JOY looks like YOJ! Your JOY definately is spelled correctly. (It is completely normal to go through the emotions you have expressed) The Lord knows every hair on your head and will not allow one of them to fall without his permission. He knows your faith and has entrusted you with great riches for kingdom glory. Praying for your safe return and that you two will have a glorious time together alone. Love, Jennifer G.

Jennifer Schulte said...

Kate, Dave and all....I feel as if a clarification is in order for my prior comment. Since my comment, there have been more than a few entries with McDonalds references. I was out in my yard yesterday picking up all the sticks and leaves that had fallen from the trees since the ice storm and such. Carter and Cole were out singing, talking and just playing around, as they were waiting for their"ride" to take them away. Carter was singing the Batman rendition of the Jingle Bells tune, with alternate endings. I had asked him if he was enjoying the snow and of course he answered with a very enthusiastic "YES!" Then, he kept telling me to "get this"...he kept singing the above mentioned song, also telling me that his mom had heard of a particular ending when she was a kid. I told him that I was even older than his mom, several years older, and I had also chanted that same tune as a child and was also aware of the other alternate ending...laid an egg vs. did ballet....HEY.....He couldn't believe that I had heard of both endings. I actually felt ancient, in a good sort of way. It was funny! Meanwhile, Cole was yelling from his own driveway that he was going to McDonalds and that the whole school would be there. I just assumed he was making a childhood exaggeration. I had no idea that a fundraiser was going on...who would imagine that location for a $$ raiser?? Anyway, he told me several times of the evening plans....during the Batman/Jingle Bells song from Carter. The beauty of the whole thing is the complete innocence of children...what a joy they are, and don't we all wish we could have their energy on a daily basis. My daughter is now in middle school and the years have gone by sooo fast. She, too, brings home verses of childhood songs that have been around forever, as well as all the little "hand slapping" and hand held string games you play with a friend....only to make parents laugh as they remember back when we were that age doing/singing the same things. I look at younger children all the time and think back to when Han was that age. Life passes so quickly before us and too often we take advantage of the little things. When something unfortunate happens to others around us or to ourselves, we are all forced to take a very long look at life and reevaluate things...promising to not take advantage of the little things again....including going to McDonalds to make our kids happy when we would much rather go elsewhere. I don't know your family very well at all, but I do know that Kate makes everything from scratch and she is an amazing and very healthy cook....and even enjoys it. I am touched by your continued strength of faith and your honesty throughout this ordeal...as well as your loss of privacy because of this blog site. This site has become an inspiration for many, as evidence from the overwhelming responses posted. That has been a gift to all of us. So, while your boys were back here just hanging out and having fun, you were back in Houston, after a very long and exhausting day...but also after receiving some positive news from the medical community to cling to and hope for. If anyone can beat the statisitcs, it is you, Kate....you have so much on your side....youth, health,loved ones around you helping you through, and above all an amazing faith, and prayers from sooo many.....and the additional factor of, your boys...all four of them! May God continue to bless you and help you ALL in the months and years ahead as you go through your treatments. Have a safe and enjoyable time in Houston!! Take Care!! Have a safe flight home, too! jennifer

Colleen Sust said...

Kate, I wanted you to know that you and your whole family have been on top of the Sust family prayer list. I was even reminded of this morning when I came across Michael's personal list and saw your name at the very top. We've been checking your blog for updates. As I was praying for you this morning, the Lord led me to pray Psalm 91 over you.
Colleen for the Susts

Marilyn McDonald said...

Barbara Johnson is a WONDERFUL author--go to the church library or a local Christian bookstore and read all of her stuff that you can find. You will learn that she faced not only brain cancer, but the death of two sons and the loss of a third to the homosexual lifestyle for a dozen years. She is a bottomless well of humor and encouragement--but she's real as she can be. She writes frankly about spending a year in bed "counting the roses on the wallpaper" after one of her major trials. You don't have to pretend to feel like a victorious Christian around her!
We are so thankful that you are having this quiet time away to relax and get ready for the next chapter in your story!
Praying for you with love,

Laura Joback said...

Loving you and praying for you faithfully! So glad the appointment was smooth sailing, other than the parking snafu. I'm so amused at Dave making smoothies in the hotel room! Most people would be hitting the vending machine or the local Denny's for an artery-clogging, colon impacting, gastric heaving, bilous oversecreting meal...NOT you! Glad to hear of Doc's recommendations being follow-out-able (not a word, but you get the picture) here in St. Lou! Glad, too, that you guys have the rest of your stay there for "you," instead of needing further testing, diagnostics, and, (dum, dum DUM) (dramatic buildup): the dreaded waiting room of, yet another, doctor's office! I was listening to Mike and Isaac having "music time" (quite a cacophany) at our house last night, followed by "hiding" (hide & seek) with Isaac counting, "One-ah, Two-ah, Three-ah, Foh-ur, Fi-huv,...all the way to Twenty-Ten (?)" and running through the halls squealing like a banshee (FYI: adult banshees scream, little ones squeal)...I thought of you in your quiet hotel room reading you Geranium/Cranium book and poor Gram and DeeDee attempting to fill your shoes (notice it takes TWO of them) on the homestead. I know you miss you little guys' antics, but I pray this time is cozy for the two of you! Hugs!

Anonymous said...

Dear Kate,
I haven't checked up on you lately but am glad to now know you and Dave had a chance to get away-though it was for medical reasons at least you had time to concentrate also on the two of you.

You are in my thoughts and prayers daily. And yes, I haven't checked in because I have been shaken by all the news and felt deeply for all you must be feeling! It builds me up to hear you both in such great spirits and filled with hope. Without that there is little and I am so glad it is filling you both up!

Just know that Lauren, Clair and I love you both and keep you all in our prayers.


Anonymous said...

Dearest Katiebug,
I've been following your blog (your mom gave me the address)and have been keeping a keen eye on all your happenings.
I know I'm not alone in not having the words or wisdom to convey messages of great substance or sustinence. However, after reading this last blog with references made to the book you were given, I want to thank you for your words. Your reflections. Your thoughts you so elequently put to words. I also thank God for giving you the friend, who thought to give you the book, written by someone who has had their trial, and who also elequently put them to words. She unknowingly yet confidently knew they were needed.
The following is what YOU reminded ME of today.
those of us who are receptive to what He might be trying to teach us - find that our hearts have changed by the time the stillness replaces the storminess."
I firmly believe in the calm of Christ after the storm and the strength and power of his love and faith in us to travel the storm.
Wishing you a peaceful day,