Friday, 25 May 2012


We're linking up with The Gypsy Mama this morning for Five Minute Friday.  Our prompt today is Opportunity.  Won't you click the link and join us?


Today is the day my daughter rings the bell to signal the end of radiation treatment!
Sunday is the day my daughter will celebrate her 6th Birthday!
That leaves one day in between.  And with an opportunity placed in front of me, what's a girl to do?

"Do it!" said Nancy
"Come home, you need to be home!" said Jenn
"You can have one hard night packing and getting ready or one hard week before you fly home!" said Serenity
"You've killed enough time here.  Do what's best for you! " said Amy
"The benefits are huge, it's worth it, " said Rachel
"It's up to you Babe" said Rick
"In case, I wasn't quite clear, do it!  DO IT!!!" said Nancy again.

So I found myself scurrying round madly last night getting packed to take a flight that leaves for home on Saturday instead of next Thursday.  I have been in Boston for 2 months with both my children whilst Jasmine has been having proton therapy radiation.  And today is her LAST treatment!
Home is on the west coast, so I will grab the opportunity, spend the money, take the earlier flight to leave the east coast and take my baby home in time for her birthday.

What an opportunity!  What a journey!  What a blessing!  I can't wait to be re-united with my husband, my home and my community.  I know the friends I have made here will be life-long friends and I will take every opportunity to see them and keep in touch.  I will pray for each of their families and follow the progress to recovery for all these children.

Thank God for the opportunities He presents us with!  Let's be bold and say yes!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Fear Not, not Feel Not

Jasmine has begun her final week of proton beam radiation today and we're counting down!  We're all looking forward to going home, much as we like Boston.  I want to say we've enjoyed Boston, but am hesitant to do so - yet it's true - we have enjoyed Boston - sometimes.  We've felt joy, we've laughed, we've played, we've had fun.  We've also experienced gut wrenching grief, sadness, anxiety, despair and fear.  At times I've felt this whole experience devouring me, and other times I've felt uplifted by things that are shaping me and happening all around.  I see courage in the face of cancer in the very young, in the very elderly, in the faces of parents, in resilient teenagers, in the young couple just starting out in life, in the face of the man celebrating 10 years of marriage with a young family at home.  I've seen so many emotions fleetingly expressed on so many faces.  And I feel it too - a jumble of feelings all mixed up and if asked how I am, the answer could be so many things.  I answer "fine" because it's partially true but also because I have no idea how to express this feeling I feel - I don't know what it is.
I do know one thing though - God keeps reminding me to "fear not," not "feel not"  and there is a world of difference.

There is only one thing to cling to in all this journey and that is God.  I'm grateful that faith is a gift, that God is full of grace and love, that He carries me,  He really carries me.  But there is a part I must understand if I want the Lord to carry me now.  I must turn to Him and rely on Him, and TRUST Him.  I believe that He has a plan.  I believe that He works all things for our good.  I believe that though He sees and feels my pain, it isn't in vain.  I know that when I feel grief, He does, and when I am joyful, He celebrates with me.  I recently read the parable of the sower and was reminded of the need to be firmly planted otherwise I will be devoured, like those seeds that fall on stony ground, or grow amongst thorns and choke.  I have to plant my faith firmly and deeply in the Word of God.   And that way when He whispers "fear not" I can feel whatever I may have to, but can rely on the fact that I need have no fear.  I can dare to dream, dare to live fully and dare to believe but most of all, dare to be grateful for this journey and each day it brings.

Friday, 18 May 2012


Joining Lisa-Jo at the Gypsy Mama for 5-minute-Friday today.  Click the link and join the fun!

Our prompt today is Perspective

We've been in Boston for almost 2 months now, and Jasmine is approaching the end of her treatment.  We take the opportunity to explore the city when Jasmine's energy allows and last weekend saw some sunshine and good spirits in the children.  On a guided duck tour we learned of a church with stained glass windows by the world famous "Tiffany"
The church we drove past on our tour was an impressive building architecturally, but the windows were boarded up.  Our driver told us it was to protect the glass from outside breakage because of course, it is irreplaceable.
I wanted to visit the church and see the windows but I felt disappointed.  With boarded up windows the colour and design would be difficult to see.
The following day we walked to the area of Boston where the church was located and as it was open, I told the children we would visit.  Expecting a dark, dimly lit church we ventured in.
I opened the door to the interior of the church to a blaze of light, colour and beauty that took my breath away.  I literally gazed round in wonder and awe at the sight before me.

My expectations had been based on the outside condition, not the inside, and isn't that true of our hearts and souls too?  If we are right with God, our facade is not what makes the beauty. The beauty comes from His light, life and vitality that shines forth from within.

Friday, 11 May 2012

We're writing for 5 minutes with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama today.  Won't you click the link and join us?


How often do I think quietly to myself, "I can't do this!"  It is like something that creeps furtively, a feeling of dread and that the path in front of me is too dangerous, too frightening to even behold, never mind tread upon.  That fear can creep in to my heart and soul and can steal my joy in a heartbeat.  
And the truth is the path in front of me is frightening and dangerous.  Then my friend will breeze in with an email of scripture of a hug, or a call, or a greeting at the door of church and say "how are you my steadfast friend?"  
It is not an identity I would readily give to myself, steadfast.  But her word becomes a breath of life that the Spirit breathes in to me and I can say, "ah yes!"  And the voice that whispers to me and I cling to, though fine and barely there in all this fear, like a gossamer thread of a spiderweb says "you can do this because you do not do it alone."
And it is from Him who brought all in to being that I can rise up and find my identity, my strength to take the step, to keep going on this road.  He gives me the faith to follow, He gives me the hope for healing.   He beckons me from the darkness saying "follow me" and radiant light will show me the way.  I need Him for my identity, because alone is not the way we're meant to be.  I need God for my identity, because He created me to do this in partnership.  So I will cleave with steadfast steps, if I find my identity in Christ, because "All things are possible with God."  Mark 10:27

The Woman Who Fears the Lord

10 [d] An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
    she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself[e] with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[f]
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
    when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
   and let her works praise her in the gates.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Three Weeks and Counting!

We woke this morning to another day of proton treatment.  The rain was pouring as  it has been all week but every cloud has a silver lining and our silver lining today was the realization that 3 weeks today – God willing – we will be homeward bound, rather than proton bound.

I told Finn and Jasmine this, but they didn’t seem to respond with the same enthusiasm that I had.  I suppose 3 weeks is an eternity when you are 5 and 8 years old.  3 weeks is a blink of an eye when you are mum aged.  

Another family left Christopher’s Haven today.  I hugged my new friend goodbye, and hung on to her with so much unspoken but with everything said in that hug.  I may have only known her a few weeks, but I will follow her son, Sabir’s progress to recovery and pray him well and on his way.  We won’t lose touch with one another.

I started to think about life when we return home.  Initially I was looking forward to returning to normal, but then I became somewhat troubled.  What is normal life now?  There can never be any going back to how things were, because we now live with this shadow.  I have felt this before with my own skin cancer and repeated check-ups but Jasmine’s shadow seems so much more intense and looming large. 

So to get out of the shadow, one must always look to the light, step in to that light and bask in it.  I don’t know what our new “normal” will be and maybe we don’t need to know.  We can work it out as we go along – just doing one day at a time.

And for today we’ll settle for play dates in the loft with the Christopher’s Haven Kids Club, followed by an outing for ice cream.  Just plain grateful for the day I’m in, the place I’m in and the people I’m spending that day with. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Why I wear Mascara on Mondays

Why I wear mascara on Mondays

There’s a patter of feet and small girl jumps in to bed with me.  Her arm curls round bunny and she lays fetal position in the crook of my arm that has reached out to welcome her.  A lump comes instantly to my throat and I push thoughts of why we’re here to the back of my mind and instead breathe deeply the way sleep smells on her skin.  This too somehow brings tears welling in my eyes and I feel silly, grief-stricken and joyful all at the same time.   Precious moments in the quiet morning are these.

Soon she is bounding out of bed though, as Clifford the Big Red Dog holds more appeal than a lengthy snuggle with mum.  I tell her the sun is shining and it’s going to be a good day.
“No it’s not,” she says and points to her chest that harbours the port that needs to be accessed on Monday mornings. 
“Oh,” I breathe, and give her a hug and tell her she’s brave and I know it’s not fun but it’s really fast and she’s so … and my words seem ridiculous as the whole thing is horrible and she’s right.  It’s horrible.

A while later we put the cream on her chest that numbs the sting so she doesn’t feel the sharp sting of the needle going in to her vein too badly.  I finish getting the children ready – though no food or drink for Jasmine as she is nil by mouth for the sedation that goes with treatment every day.  Finn furtively eats pancakes out of sight and I take a sip of tea feeling the guilt mounting.

Jasmine wanders in to the bedroom whilst I apply moisturizer and foundation to my skin.  She breaks out the nail polish and starts putting it on.  When I get to mascara she gazes and says,
“That’s funny!” and asks, “Why do you wear mascara mum?” 
I look at my reflection in the mirror and think about this question.  The answer of course is to make my lashes appear darker and longer, to make me look more beautiful, that somehow this ridiculousness of adding artificial colour can make me more beautiful outside and in. I look down at her and see the most beautiful face in the world looking right back at me and I say because “I wish I had long beautiful eyelashes like yours.  Your eyes look pretty and I would like to have pretty eyes like you and this mascara makes my eyelashes look more like yours.”

I turn back to the mirror and apply another coat – and it is like a coat of armour going on – a shield of defense.  I struggle on Mondays when I hold Jasmine’s hand tight and try to distract her by playing a game on an ipad or building with lego, or a music toy or story, whilst they stick a needle in her chest and get her ready for radiation.   There is some psychological factor for a girl who knows if she is wearing mascara and cries her face will be a mess, so I paint on my smile as I paint on my face and that’s why I wear mascara on Mondays.

Friday, 4 May 2012


Writing for 5 minutes with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama today.  Come join us by clicking the link and enjoy 5 unedited minutes of flowing writing.  Today's prompt is


There is power in taking a pause.  That is where it really all happens.  When I stop long enough to slow down, to stop, to observe, to notice - all this beauty and life and vitality that happens around me.  That is when I know what is real.  It is real that I only post 5 minute Fridays right now and they mark a journey for me over the last 2 months.  How the prompts have unravelled this story!  My reality is so very different right now.  It is a portion of my life that will be like no other.  A 2 month slice of real life that I wish looked different.  But I'm grateful I'm here and living it.  I watch my daughter undergoing radiation treatment with other young children.  They gather together in the playroom with shrieks of glee, swapping stories, toys, jokes, laughter over the crayons.  They play music and make crafts.  And we mums - we share stories, tears, laughter, hope, companionship and understanding over coffee in the waiting room.  Waiting for our child's turn for the 15 minutes radiation a day that turns cancer in to cure.  God is thick amongst us - He is real and tangible.  He weeps with us and holds us, and celebrates with us when we ring that victory bell on the last day of treatment.  So you go - kids - go!  Each of you is a real blessing in my life.