CindyFrench-stranger than fiction stories

about facing life with hope and confidence, no matter the diagnosis

Archive for August, 2009

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?

Posted by cindyhfrench on 08/30/2009

This is an edited, previously published post that for some reason I have been remembering all week–from September 2009–and so looked up to republish as the Lord must have put it on my heart!. We all know my memory is not that great!

Who is my neighbor that I should love as myself?

In Luke 10:25, Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan. He told it because he was asked how to inherit eternal life by an expert in the Law. Jesus asked him “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” The expert answered “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself”.  Jesus told him that he had answered correctly and that if he did this, he would live.  But the expert wanted to justify himself and so he asked, “who is my neighbor?”

We all know the story of the Samaritan-and how he was the one-different, from another culture, belief, considered “unclean”-who took care of the robbed man on the highway.  HE took care of his “neighbor”, vs the priest and the Levite who had passed him by.

So who is MY neighbor? I think it is anyone that God brings into my sphere-by phone, by email, by meeting, by GriefShare, by Bible Study Fellowship. Do I listen to the needs of those people? Maybe they aren’t broken and bruised on the outside–but maybe half dead on the inside? And what do I do with that information? Try to connect, to understand, to share, to help–or do I brush them off because I am in a hurry and scheduled all day?

What does it mean to be the hands and feet of Jesus? I have watched as my church has reached out to those in the world in particular missions–Growing in Grace-where they supply sewing machines to women in a small country in Africa. These are women with children who have been abandoned by their husbands or widowed but are living in desperate poverty. This little bit of care and our continued support by our church women who go at least twice a year to encourage and teach is so wonderful to my heart. There are other places where we are supporting a couple who were formerly on staff at our church, but called  to Africa. We have helped with installing a water purification system and now there is savings account where we are raising funds for a large tractor that is needed to plow the fields. Tangible help that makes a difference sometimes in whether someone lives or dies. When you are working for a people like this-they want to know why? Why are you doing this? Helping us? And then is the opportunity of course, to share Jesus and His saving grace.

And we don’t neglect our immediate area-our city that we live in! There are so many incredible areas to serve that people are being first ministered to and then shared with. I think we have adopted an elementary school and a middle school -both of which have the highest incidence of children who come to school not having been fed-not being able to provide the most basic of school classroom needs: tablets of paper, pencils, crayons, backpacks, whatever school supplies are needed.  We must fill hundreds of those backpacks  with supplies in an assembly line just before school starts so that children will have what they need.

But really what does all this mean to me? I can’t go out on the mission field. I pretty much have to stay in my safe bubble, so that I stay well and not exposed to all those bacteria, virus’, fungi, and whatever else there is out there that likes to come home with people like me. I understand it is my job to stay well-by following the rules, the protocol. I was never any good at that! But that is one of the lessons that the Lord has taught me-over and over-until I finally got it. I have no choice in the matter, but to be obedient.

And our Dear, Wonderful Father rewards that obedience with answering a long time longing in my heart to be out there and go therefore, by giving me a way to go out there and be amongst anyone with any need anywhere in the world. Of course You know I am talking about this new ministry of blogging. I can’t go out, but He brings them in to me. Just the right people to hear what He has to say . With a prepared heart to answer Him–YES!

Just a thought to share and think about. And a lesson, not to forget.

Posted in 4 spritual laws, christian, Christianity, GriefShare, immune disorder, life stories, missionary journeys, Religion, sharing loss of loved ones, Spirituality, surviving major health issues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Falling off the Grand Canyon and Other Childhood Stories

Posted by cindyhfrench on 08/29/2009

This was my first memory! My dad screaming my name! He was at the top of the Grand Canyon walk, I was down on outcropped rock looking at the pretty river. I was 5.

We had traveled out to the Grand Canyon on the way to Disney Land from  Houston where we lived. My parents had waxed poetic about how beautiful everything was and the river below–of course they could see all that–from their height! So I had simply climbed under the guard rail, and part way down the mountain to see what they were seeing.  Little did I know that grown people are often blown off of outcropped rocks if they’ve trespassed as I did. I was just a skinny little mini at 5–but no wind came up to blow me away. My dad said the hand of God protected me that day. I only knew I was in trouble again! Even while I was being kissed and hugged after “being found”.

My dad was in the navy in WWII. He also grew up in a household where he was not wanted or loved. He coped by being as perfect as possible and expected everyone to do the same! He was very intelligent. He had a PhD in Physics and during his business career actually invented things used in our everyday lives-but of course the companies he worked for hold the patents!

At any rate, our household was run by Dad. And in all things, we  had to ask him first-even to switching from winter to summer PJ’s! Even though he was a very strict father, he dearly loved his wife and children. All the love he hadn’t been able to receive or give as a child, he gave as he was able.

When I was 6, for Christmas , I got handmade doll furniture, even a wardrobe with doors to put my dolls clothes in. I still remember how everything looked! I loved it so much! Of course, at  the time, I didn’t understand how much time and love must have gone into the making of it all, but I do now.

That summer, my dad was going to finish the big remodel on our house. My mom, sister and new brother and I rode the Greyhound bus to South Carolina. My grandmother lived in Timmonsville where she had a farm. We stayed with her for the summer-probably one of the best times of my life. Unfortunately when she came to pick us up at the bus stop, I was so excited to see her, I left my precious doll and her furniture on the bus. For years afterward, I would check to see if anyone had turned it in. Now I guess that some other little girl had the joy of the doll and the furniture-as that would be just like God’s nature to see to it.

Grandma raised cotton and tobacco. She also had cows and chickens–all the things you’d expect on a farm. They were pretty self sustaining. Milk from the cows, no,I couldn’t milk them, did try! Eggs from the chickens,which I collected every morning and I took the cows out to pasture every day.  The only bad part about living on the farm was drinking the well water! It must have had sulphar or some kind of mineral in it, but I could not drink it! I didn’t like cow’s milk either, so I was in trouble every day because I only drank juice or the sweet ice tea Grandma made.

I had to sit at the table for hours each night, looking at that glass of water my mother wanted me to drink!. Grandma had such a soft heart and often tried to intervene or sneak the water away. It took me years to be able to drink water after that! Iguess I was in my 30’s before I learned to even drink seltzer water.

As I said, my grandma raised tobacco. My favorite time was riding the tobacco drags and picking the leaves for harvest. Then the people she hired to harvest, wrap and dry the leaves taught me how to wrap them for drying. I was working but having so much fun! When we went to market to sell the tobacco, I had my first experience at an auction. All the growers would bring the tobacco to the warehouse and it would be laid out to be looked at–I guess some looked better than others-and then the lot would go for the best price. The really fun part of that visit to auction was riding those pallets with wheels up and down the warehouse levels. My cousins were with us and it was such a great time that it is one of my favorite memories 50+ years later.

I celebrated my 7th birthday in Timmonsville. I got cowgirl clothes and a cap pistol with which I chased all my guests, shooting them! I had mostly boy cousins my age, so that summer, I became a full-fledged tomboy. I learned to play softball and basketball and touch football.

My aunt visited from Nebraska, coming by train. When she was leaving to go back, my mom and I went on the train with her to get her settled. Of course my mom and aunt were big talkers and before we knew it, the train was pulling out of the station!  We didn’t/couldn’t go too, so my mom told me to jump off the train as she did. Of course, I broke my ankle and spent the rest of the summer on crutches.

When we went back to Houston, I just played with the neighborhood boys as there weren’t any girls around then. I was a good pitcher, decent batter, so I was welcome. we also played Tarzan and Jane a lot.

All the lots in our neighborhood were 1 acre so there was plenty of room to play. We had lot’s of trees in our backyard and I desperately wanted a treehouse (shades of Swiss Family Robinson). I never got one, but we did have a playhouse. A one room, little cablin. Of course, no electricity or anything, but during the day, we had plenty of light and played in there. Later, it turned out to be a scary, unsafe place, but originally, we did girlscout type camp outs, sleeping w/flashlight, cookng breakfast  on a can with serno underneath. It was really cool to make pancakes and bacon. I remember either a brownie or girl scout deal for a year or two and getting lot’s of badges.  That’s how I learned to cook on that “homemade” stove.

Some major (strange) things happened along the way during time that have affected my health ever since.  My dad took us to the park regularly. I loved the merry-go-round. He told me that little people under it made it go round and round. Of course, being the inquisitive kid (remember the Grand Canyon) I stuck my head underneath to see the little people. Unfortunately someone turned the merry-go-round at the same time and all I remember is the REALLY bad pain in my neck and not being able to life my head off of the sofa. I was so young, I have no idea how long that went on, but know that I have had neck problems ever since.

In Texas, growing up, we never wore shoes. I don’t know about other states, but we were always barefoot. I think I only wore shoes to school and to church. One day, going to see my new best friend Candy, who lived behind us, I climbed the fence, just as I always had. This time, jumping off, I landed on a broken root which went right up into my foot and broke off again. Of course, as a little kid, probably 8, you don’t know when you have been seriously hurt, but our housekeeper did. She called my parents immediately when she couldn’t stop the bleeding. (my mom had gone back to work as a designer by then) I do remember how very painful it was and without MRIs or CTScans, all the doctor could do was probe around inside my foot every week, trying to find that piece that had broken off. They knew it was in there, because the wound wouldn’t heal. I spent another summer on crutches and finally the wound healed over. My granddaughters think the lovely “hole” in my foot is funny.

You’d think I would be careful after that, but the next year, playing Tarzan and Jane, swinging on the rope-it broke. I landed on my arm at the wrist. I could see my wrist laying beside my arm, held on by my skin. Luckily for me, my dad was home and heard the screaming. He put my arm in a pillow, taped it up and then scooped me up to the car and we took off. We ran red lights and he was blinking his horn and flashing his lights! All of a sudden, we had a police escort, if I hadn’t been in such pain, I would have been excited! Apparently in this kind of break, there is a possibility of an artery being cut and he was just trying to get me help ASAP. As soon as we were at the hospital, I was whisked away for surgery. They set my arm and I wore a cast for 6 wks. Unfortunately this was my first of many surgeries.

Posted in christian, surviving major health issues | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Saturday-dealing with a benign tumor

Posted by cindyhfrench on 08/29/2009

This past week I saw a general surgeon for a benign tumor (a lipoma) that is situated at the crown of my head. It had popped up in the last 3 wks and was pretty painful. After seeing my primary doctor, who ordered an MRI, I then saw a neurologist, who referred me to a dermatologist! The thing is in my scalp skin, not invasive into the skull.

The dermatologist did a biopsy, stitched it up, and told me to come back  in 10 days. I got the lipoma diagnosis on Monday. The only problem is that lipomas keep on growing. If they aren’t completely cut out, they come back! They are supposed to be slow growing and not painful, but of course MY Lipoma defies the norm!

I met with a great general surgeon who explained what it will mean to cut this much tissue out of my scalp. Not a pretty description. He also wanted me to consult with my neurosurgeon before going further. I am scheduled to see him on the 24th if not sooner-and I do hope it is sooner. It seems by the pain and feeling the edges of the tumor that it has grown quite a bit since Wednesday.

So my first feelings on Monday were-not again, why me?, I can’t afford to be away from work long, what in the world is God thinking? Why is He allowing this-one more thing to happen to me? I cried, I yelled at Him! I know that with every experience I have had He has brought someone into my life to share that experience and have complete understanding of how he/she feels! But this time, this time, I really didn’t want to do that either! I told the Lord to stop this! It isn’t fair that I have to hurt to share understanding, my faith, my God. I share with the people that come into my sphere every day. That should be enough!

I have learned the hard way not to stay mad at God for long. After a good cry, I opened my Bible to the Psalms. Once again, there was comfort and promise for His best for me. I was reminded again of all that He has provided and cared for and done for me all through the years. I know He is not going to stop now.

What was amazing was my first 2 calls the next day! Of course they would be people with brain tumors! At least mine is not in my brain! Something to be thankful for. But as we talked and shared, I knew that God was once again, doing His thing, helping me help someone else. In fact, after the calls, I raised my hands in the air and said, “ok God, I get it, I get it.”

So while I continue to work through this new challenge, I ask for YOUR prayers for me. That I will not be a complainer, but a good patient, always mindful that it could be worse.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Today’s story

Posted by cindyhfrench on 08/29/2009

After much egging on by friends, family and even 2 reporters! I am going

to share my life stories. Some will be present day, some will be from my

childhood-but they all have a link-God’s abiding Grace and Love and

Care!

Last night was the first night of our new GriefShare Ministry at our

Church. We had 15 people come who had recently-very recently-lost

loved ones to death. We had 2 hours of sharing their stories, getting

acquainted, watching a helping video and going over questions. All

of those 15 people came as a result of a wonderful newspaper article

that had been written by Michelle Bearden and published by the Tampa

Tribune on August 22. It was titled “Using Grief to Aid Others”. Using grief to aid others

I must say, I certainly didn’t expect the incredible response from hurting

people all over the Bay area! It seems that most people don’t know of

this wonderful ministry–any more than I did when I suffered loss.

I am the first born of 6 children. As such, I was very close to my mom

and dad. They were retired, living in assisted living after mom had

suffered a stroke. We saw them often, had then visit us often for several

days, and yes, I spoke with them mostly every day. I always knew that

they were THERE for me. I could call and ask for advice or prayer at any

time of the day, and they’d stop for me.

On November 5, 2008, my mom passed away. It wasn’t unexpected.

She had broken her leg earlier and from some reason that seemed to

heighten her dementia. So she stopped eating and drinking and 14 days

later, she died. But oh for the those 14 days, I was there every day.

Of course the rest of my precious family was there too. Everyone came

to say goodbye. But my sister and often my brother (who lived in the

same town) were there most of the time with me. We let our Dad come

for a portion of each day. But he was not in good health either and it is

very hard to sit for hours at a time, day after day in a nursing home

room. I would climb into bed with mom and up until the last 2 days of

her life, she’d put her arm around me.  Her only other response was

to purse her lips for a kiss. I would tell her how much I loved her and

what a great mom she had been. But I also told her to tell Jesus to come back

soon and get us-not to forget that one thing to say! And then I’d talk

about all those who had gone before that she would soon see and how

jealous I was that she was going to see Jesus first! Oh, she’d be seeing

my grandma, who had died when I was 12 and loved so much. I know

my mom said she missed her mother every day of her life since. Now I

know that feeling too. And she’d be seeing my niece and nephew, both

having died at 23 months, and my own lost 3 children to miscarriage.

I wouldn’t take anything for that time with my mom.

After her funeral, I brought my dad back to our home to stay for several

weeks. We had a good time with memories and tears but also talking

about the future. Dad was going to write another book and spent most

of his days working on it. I delighted in cooking his favorites and spoiling

him. We often spoke of my crazy life and he would say-“you need to write

it down”. But I always replied “my life is stranger than fiction. No one

would believe that all the things that I’ve been through have actually

happened to one person”.

When I took my dad back to his new apt at the assisted living facility, I

had him checked out first by his doctor, who assured him, he was doing

well and certainly not ready to die on us!

Exactly one week later, I received a call from my sister that my dad had

fallen and broken his hip. We also found out that the stress had led to a

heart attack. Needless to say, no one wanted to operate! But he was in

such pain! He begged for help! It was awful and we agreed to insist on

the surgery, regardless of what the outcome could be. No one can stay

in that state for long. After surgery, which amazingly he survived, he

was still in horrific pain. We had to be rather demanding with the ICU

people to get him enough meds. On Saturday night, the 13th, our

wonderful hospice mgr told us we could change his care–he was not

responding, his body was failing, but my sister and I couldn’t just pull

the plug! So we went home and prayed together, asking God to take the

decision out of our hands.

When we went in the next morning, the nurse who greeted us at the door

said, ” Your dad is going to die today. His heart began to fail in the night”.

I questioned her as to what that kind of death meant-essentially

drowning in one’s own blood. I asked that instead, they simply discon-

tinue his insulin as he was diabetic. That way, he would simply go to

sleep and into eternity. Dad died right after lunch time, very peacefully.

As I edit this nearly 3 years later, it is amazing to me how fresh the grief still  is –but that is

something you learn in GriefShare–that grieving takes time, sometimes more than that for others, but

you have to give it time. Being involved with GriefShare has been so wonderful for my own

healing. I can not recommend it enough.

Posted in christian, sharing loss of loved ones, surviving major health issues, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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