This is another recent artwork... One of my younger brothers and his wife are expecting their first child, a daughter named Violette, in the beginning of November. C and B painted the wall light purple and then I painted the mural—since C and his wife J love the Northwest, mountains, snow, and evergreens, that's what they got about 4.5-5 hours later. It was a lot of fun to paint.
I started this painting a long while ago and just finished it a week or so ago… It's my first and last self-portrait painting. My brother Ben is a professional photographer and he photographed it for me. He also photographed almost all of my other paintings, which was awesome and a really interesting process to experience. Thank you, Ben.
In a nutshell:
I took ibprofin for the pain in my sides, which was supposedly kidney related, and now, even without ibprofin, the pain is still gone three days later. How weird is that? Consistent pain for a week or two, worse pain for three days, took ibprofin (and only one tablet each time, mind you) for two days, and now, nothing.
This is cancer life for you. Symptoms come, symptoms look like something serious, then symptoms disappear again. Some symptoms have stayed, but it’s crazy how some of the things that seem like they would be something significant vanish.
In the beginning of my cancer process these things made my life feel like an emotional rollercoaster, and in some ways, they still do. The good part is that regardless of the junk in my body, God is keeping me in His peace. I am staying centered because the Center is holding on to me.
Dying is the process up to death; death is the split second transition to life eternal.
This post isn’t about dying, it’s about death.
Why are we so bent on avoiding the subject of death?
As my grandfather used to say, “We’re all terminal.” All of us will die.
You are just as terminally ill as I am; you just have a different timeline.
You might die peacefully or in unspeakable suffering, but you are going to die. Yes, Jesus might come back in your lifetime, but He might not.
Why don’t parents talk to their children about death?
How is it helpful to pretend it doesn't happen or to be dishonest about it?
Wouldn’t it be better to equip children, and people of all ages, with the ability to think about death?
Why does our culture consider death a taboo topic? (My parents didn’t and the ability to talk about anything growing up has been very, very beneficial to me.)
Why can’t we talk about death?
What are you doing to prepare for death?
Do you think about death?
What do you think about death?
Will you know that you have used your life for something worthwhile when you are dying?
Are your Earthly and Heavenly affairs in order?
If you died this second, would you leave your relationships in pain or peace?
Why is death almost always considered negative?
Why don’t we hear more teaching on Heaven as a main topic instead of just hearing fragmented information?
What if we did talk about death?
What if we were consistently aware of our fragility and the brevity of this life?
What if this awareness were something positive, something helpful, or something valuable?
How would that awareness change how we live?
What if death were something we accepted as something we all must face, a common experience, something for which we all must be prepared?
The fact of the matter is that we only have to be afraid of death if we choose to be. We can take hold of the freedom Jesus offers us, we can hold on to the fact that when He comes back, death will be annihilated altogether:
There He will remove the cloud of gloom,
the shadow of death that hangs over the earth.
He will swallow up death forever!
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears.
He will remove forever all insults and mockery
against His land and people.
The LORD has spoken!
In that day the people will proclaim,
“This is our God!
We trusted in Him, and He saved us!
This is the LORD, in whom we trusted.
Let us rejoice in the salvation He brings!”
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this
Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God!
He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 15:54
“No one has yet believed in God and the kingdom of God, no one has yet heard about the realm of the resurrected, and not been homesick from that hour, waiting and looking forward joyfully to being released from bodily existence.
Whether we are young or old makes no difference. What are twenty or thirty or fifty years in the sight of God? And which of us knows how near he or she may already be to the goal? That life only really begins when it ends here on earth, that all that is here is only the prologue before the curtain goes up—that is for young and old alike to think about. Why are we so afraid when we think about death? ... Death is only dreadful to those who live in dread and fear of it. Death is not wild and terrible, if only we can be still and hold fast to God’s Word. Death is not bitter, if we have not become bitter ourselves. Death is grace, the greatest gift of grace that God gives to people who believe in him. Death is mild, death is sweet and gentle; it beckons to us with heavenly power, if only we realize that it is the gateway to our homeland, the tabernacle of joy, the everlasting kingdom of peace.
How do we know that dying is so dreadful? Who knows whether, in our human fear and anguish we are only shivering and shuddering at the most glorious, heavenly, blessed event in the world?
Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith. But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.”
I’m doing not as well physically. I don’t know how much less well, but less well than a few weeks ago.
I’ve been having symptoms, consistent symptoms, of kidney issues. Tests were done yesterday, and as of right now the first results show no sign of kidney infection—which means, based on what my nurse told me, what my nurse practitioner told her, what I’ve read, and what my gut instinct (no anatomical pun intended…) tells me, that my kidneys are probably being messed up by the cancer, and I’m most likely losing kidney function. At what rate, I obviously don’t know. But the symptoms are there and that's what seems to be happening. It could still turn out to be a kidney infection, the second set of test results will be in on Monday or Tuesday.
Right now I’m processing this. It is another change. Mostly I’m excited, because it means I’m closer, closer to death—that glorious doorway to Heaven.
But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you….
Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God—the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God.
I am doing okay. I have a several week old lump/met right on top of a bone that has been hurting more since Saturday. And, since I can feel it so easily, it was easy to notice Saturday that it was puffier, and to notice today that what was puffy Saturday seems to be hardening. It was much smaller and better defined at first. It is disturbing right now. What fun.
(When I say the piece of junk hurts, it's not excruciating pain, it's low level kind of aching discomfort. Just enough to be irritating, not enough to take any pain meds for...)
I have one more quilt that needs another hour or two to be completely finished. But these two are completed, and the last one (#4) looks a lot like #3, so I will just post these pictures for now:
You can click on the images to see them bigger.
#3, This is for my parents
My favorite part of rag quilts is the texture along the edges of the squares...
#2, This is for one of my younger brothers and his wife
Since I read Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, and heard what he has to say about Jesus preparing places for each of us, I’ve been thinking about what mine might be like… This is along the lines of what I’ve come up with so far. I just realized I forgot to include the open-metalwork-Victorian-style spiral staircase up to the loft...
It has been pointed out to me that my plan doesn’t include a kitchen or a bathroom. The kitchen was excluded because it never occurred to me to include one. I hate cooking and my plan in Heaven is to trade meals from people who love to cook for artwork of some sort. I guess I might have a mini fridge and a cabinet for milk and cereal… As for the bathroom; I figure we don’t know if we’ll need them, and it can always be tacked on the back somewhere.
In all seriousness, I drew the most awesome house I could and I know this plan is crummy, at best, compared to what Jesus is preparing. How exciting is that???
What is your place going to look like?
P.S. I’m having an awesome time with my family, my dog needs to be eating more, and the two quilts are almost done. I’ve been feeling almost annoyingly well for the last few days. Isn’t terminal cancer supposed to be terminal? Doesn’t terminal mean having an end point? Okay, I am incredibly grateful for the peace, excitement, and good time God is giving me while I’m waiting.
Love never disappears for death is a non-event.
I have merely retired to the room next door.
You and I are the same; what we were for each other, we still are.
Speak to me as you always have, do not use a different tone, do not be sad.
Continue to laugh at what made us laugh.
Smile and think of me.
Life means what it has always meant.
The link is not severed.
Why should I be out of your soul if I am out of your sight?
I will wait for you, I am not here, but just on the other side of this path.
You see, all is well.
Okay, so… a few people have asked what I’m working on…. Thank you very much for praying for the completion of my projects… I have issues with uncompleted projects, so this is very helpful for me as I prepare to leave.
I just finished a very big project that is a secret for now. It took a ton of time, thought, troubleshooting, and prayer, and it turned out incredibly well.
I just finished my first and last self-portrait painting. I don’t know if it looks like me or not but I am very happy with it as a painting.
My next two projects are quilts. And since I know everyone really wants to see fabric portraits, here are a couple pictures (Each quilt will be composed of 48 different squares. They will be like paintings, but with fabric instead of paint):
You can click on the images to see them bigger and be thrilled by the vibrant colors....
I'll post a picture of the quilts when they are completed.
Other than that, I'm very peaceful and very excited.
I’m enjoying hanging out with my cool parents and am looking forward to time with siblings over the next few weeks. For those of you who don’t know, I have seven brothers and two sisters, and they are all awesome.
One of my siblings had a vision of Jesus coming for me, and the overwhelming sense was joy and how excited He was for me to be with Him. For whatever reason, I hadn’t thought about Him being excited to see me before I heard that. Someone else made a comment about me being a daughter of the King about a month ago, and it's been echoing in my head ever since with an intensely helpful sense of identity and protection accompanying it. So I’ve been trying to soak these ideas in. My ideas about the Trinity have a long way to grow.
Also, I’ve had two recent questions about Heaven:
1. Will our hair grow in Heaven? Because I’m okay with short hair, but I’m pretty well over it, and I would like to have long hair again.
2. Will we all have at least baseline skill levels in areas like singing/music and physical ability/athletic skills? Because I’m looking forward to being able to sing well enough that I don’t have to worry about people hearing me and I have a big long list of things like hiking (as in up and down super huge awesome mountains), running, swimming, and handsprings, that I’d like to be able to do really well.
I’m doing about the same as I was a week ago, plus two new lumps/cancer filled lymph nodes, and I’m enjoying not thinking about breathing when I’m using my oxygen.
I’m going to hang out with my family for a couple weeks. Please pray for good time together. As always, this may be the last time I see some of my family.
My hospice nurse gave me a lecture yesterday on taking care of myself…. She said to be sure I sleep as much as I need to, use oxygen as much as I need to, and don’t let anyone give me a hard time about eating whatever I want or nothing. She’s great.
My nurse and I also had a really interesting conversation about dogs and sick people. THIS ARTICLE is fascinating and will give you the idea. I’ve already instructed my family that my DOG is to be allowed to be with me any time she wants at any point in the process. Did you know that dogs often smell death several days before it happens because of the chemical changes in the body and the odors they emit? Read the article, it’s wild.
I’m feeling a little stressed about things I want to complete before Jesus comes for me. There are three main projects and several little ones. Please pray for wisdom and efficiency.
HERE is an article that anyone who is female, who loves a female, who is a parent…. should read about the connection between talcum powder, including baby powder, and uterine and possibly ovarian cancer. Talc and asbestos have some similar properties.
I met with my pastor the other day about my memorial service and am very excited about the ideas we have mapped out. It’s going to be awesome.
I finally finished reading Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, and I wish everyone would read it. It has been a life changing book. A lot of my excitement comes from what I’ve learned from reading it. I will put up a post sometime with some quotes…
I’m off to Lowes to get hardware for one of my projects.