Sunday, June 19, 2016

Be Strong and Courageous

God blessed us with a low humidity, low 80s day. Since I only have two weeks before my second breast reconstruction surgery, I dashed out to kayak. I will not be able to kayak after the surgery for several weeks. Best to seize the opportunity now.

It was perfect kayaking weather. I have not been able to kayak my favorite river because the marina there closed the public launch access. However, I found a park down the street from them, and used my kayak cart to transport my kayak the few hundred feet to the water.

It was wonderful. The photo above is of a creek off of the main river. Some people go a little ways down it, but most turn around before following it very far. I followed it till it was getting too shallow to go much further.  It is a little spooky the further you go. It gets narrow, the trees interlace overhead, and you just know it is filled with creepy, crawly, slithering creatures.

No one will ever know or find me if one of those creatures kills me. My body will float in my kayak till it decomposes.

Kayaking is mostly peaceful and calming, but back in the secluded winding creek, all alone with primeval forest all around me, I was feeling a little nervous. I started picturing Water Moccasins jumping into my kayak, fangs bared. Next, I envisioned tipping a hornets' nest from an overhanging branch, and being stung by a thousand angry insects. Finally, I considered that stray alligators do occasionally wander into the Catawba. Hungry, stray alligators.

This is not relaxing.

With that revelation, I headed back to the open waters. The last thing I need in my reduce-stress-to-fight-cancer battle is freaking out over imagined disasters.

My radiologist made a similar point. He told me most people do really well with radiation, especially someone in as good shape as I am. However, he encouraged me to ask whatever I needed to know to be confident in radiation therapy. My attitude and positive outlook are critical factors in the treatment's success.

Attitude. Positive outlook. Where does one find that?

I am not looking forward to surgery or radiation. Frankly, they both scare me. So in my sleepless hours, after applying Essential Oils that induce sleep, I read the Bible. As often happens, my racing thoughts slowed, my worries began to dissipate, and I fell asleep.

I think it had to do with my attitude. God is in control. He knows my terrors, and what I am facing. He has not abandoned me in the past. He will not abandon me now in my moments of greatest need. However, that doesn't mean I am not afraid. I am afraid. Some days are worse than others, but there are times when I just want to run away from what I know I have to face.

At times like those, it is best to dwell on verses like this: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9

To be strong and courageous is a command! God doesn't command us to do things that come easily and naturally. There would be no need. He commands us to have strength and courage because they are hard. Of course, at the basis of that courage, and dispelling of fear is trusting Him. He promises He will be with me wherever I go. Through surgery, through radiation, through recovery, through pain, through struggle, through despair. Through narrow, desolate waterways...

It was really quite beautiful as I kayaked through the secluded creek back to the river. I even decided to sing out loud since no one was around. I don't know the song very well, but I did remember these words: "I am not alone. You are always with me, you will never leave me."

Only God...and the creepy crawly creatures... were listening.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there. You are doing the most important job on earth. Special hugs and kisses to my own Dad who gave me the courage to try so many exciting and new things and to bravely face a world filled with wonder. Love you, Dad!


Isaiah 41:10 

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  

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