5 ways to embrace darkness in your life

What do you do when you feel like you’re going through a dark time in your life? And it just keeps going. Like you’re in a tunnel with no end in sight. I feel like I’ve been in this stage for over a year now. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m ever coming out of it. Like I’m walking through the fog, only able to see part of the path in front of me – not knowing where it will lead, but blindly proceeding onward anyway.

 

Into the unknown
Into the unknown

 

On Sunday, the pastor at my church was saying he was sensing some of us have been oppressed by the enemy for a long time. Yeah. Sounds about right…

The thing is, at some point last summer, I felt like God was telling me he was going to restore me. But oddly, it was at a point where things looked like they were going in the right direction anyway. It didn’t make sense. Things didn’t keep heading in the right direction for me to recover financially, but they had started. Now, I find myself wondering if he was referring instead to my mother and the cancer we did not yet know about that was about to be revealed. And if not, could I trade my promise and apply it to her? Which lead me to my first point.

Bargaining: My bargaining goes somewhere along these lines.So, God, not sure where that restoring is that you promised me last summer, but could we please take that word and apply it to my mom’s cancer? It’s more important. I’ll live below the poverty level for the rest of my life if you can just restore my mom instead.’ 

 

Another nut, please.
Another nut, please.

 

Like living below the poverty level for the rest of my days on planet earth sounds fun. So then I bargain some more. ‘But you can restore my mom’s health and me as well. Because really I’m not going to feel restored if her cancer gets worse and I’m doing better financially. Taking her cancer away is a part of restoring me, so really, could you restore both me and my mom? Let’s apply that word ‘restore’ to all aspects of my life.’ Like, you know, why not go big or not at all?

I keep running into this verse lately: Hebrews 4:16 “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” So I’m approaching the throne of grace with confidence. I’m holding Him to his promises and making sure I bargain for Mamacita’s life as well. Hopefully I don’t look like Mr. Chipmunk here. With his cheeks stuffed full of nuts but still begging for more…

 

Ain't too proud to beg
Ain’t too proud to beg

 

Let Go and Let God: I feel like I keep playing certain songs over and over again. The main one I’m stuck on lately is Thy Will by Hillary Scott and The Scott Family. I’m not sure if it really makes me feel any better as it’s basically saying Thy Will be Done when really what I want is my will to be done. But it helps me to let go and let God. And that’s important. Maybe I feel like on the one hand, God is telling me to approach the throne of grace with confidence, but on the other hand as this song says: Sometimes I’ve gotta stop, remember that You’re God and I am not… Woah. That’s a hard one when you’ve got a loved one fighting cancer. Like, just kick this cancer to the curb already!

 

Letting go...
Letting go…

 

Listen to music that makes you feel good: A couple of days ago, the song What a Feeling by Irene Cara from the movie Flashdance was going through my head. So I played that one over and over. Finally had to stop playing it because it’s a pretty upbeat song and I didn’t want to re-hurt my tailbone which is feeling way better and on the mend right now, but needs more time to be fully healed.

The next day my mom and I were heading down to OHSU to meet with her doctor and then do her chemo. I was worried that the news from her latest cat scan would be be bad. It wasn’t good news last time. Since she started on the new trial through OHSU, they keep having to take her off the new trial drug she’s on because of dangerously high levels of GGT levels in her liver. She’d been off the pills for a week before getting the cat scan. Her weight is down – not a good sign in a cancer patient because it could mean the cancer is winning. And here I am listening to What a Feeling and trying not to dance my tailbone into a setback in the healing process. But, it made me feel better – imagining us getting good news instead of bad at the doctor the next day and dancing our way across the Tilikum Crossing Bridge. (Which is near where her doctors office and the chemo ward are.) Trying to mentally prepare myself for the worst while hoping for the best.

 

Mt St Helens as seen through the Tilikum Crossing Bridge from OHSU
Mt St Helens as seen through the Tilikum Crossing Bridge from OHSU

 

Channel peace and serenity: Just before my mom and I left for OHSU a couple of days ago, I saw a picture I’d forgotten to post from a couple of weeks ago. It looked so peaceful and tranquil and I knew I needed some of that peace for the day. So I thought it fitting that it somehow hadn’t gotten posted and was just sitting there waiting for the perfect time for me to post it. A reminder that whatever was coming, we’re in God’s hands ultimately. And those are good hands to be in.

 

Peace and serenity
Peace and serenity

 

Embrace the darkness: You know that saying, ‘The nights always darkest before the dawn’. Know that you’re dawn is coming. And not all dark things are bad. As my mom and I sat at the doctor’s office, the doctor was showing us the tumors. This time the news was good! The tumors had shrunk down in size – one of the original ones on her lungs was back to it’s original size, and the other one that was a bit bigger was smaller than the second cat scan she’d had but still bigger than the first time. And then he pointed to the middle and said ‘But it’s darker here in the middle. Even darker than the last time.’ That’s actually good news when it comes to looking at a cat scan of cancer tumors! The contrast stuff they give my mom before doing a cat scan makes those things light up like Christmas tree lights, so the darkness in the tumor actually means they’ve gone necrotic. They’re dying out! Whoohoo!!!!!

 

It's always darkest before the dawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn.

 

*On a side note, another dark thing that isn’t bad is dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate! But not the kind that is so dark it tastes like baking cocoa. Blech. Maybe I’m more of a semi-sweet/dark chocolate lover. I’ve decided Dove Dark Chocolates are the perfect blend of dark chocolate. Not so dark they are bitter, but not yucky milk chocolate as well. And dark chocolate is actually good for you. I’m sure the kind that is really good for you is the really dark bitter kind, but any dark chocolate is better for you than milk chocolate. So yeah, yum. Dark chocolate rocks! So feel free to buy yourself a nice dark chocolate Easter bunny for Easter. You can thank me later…

 

Dove dark chocolate
Dove dark chocolate

 

Photo credit: Chipmunk photo credit – ankakay Ain’t too proud to beg via photopin (license)

How to get freebies for your birthday

I just had a birthday recently, and decided to see what all I could get for free for my birthday. I’m not counting restaurants, because usually most restaurants you go to have some sort of birthday freebie – I still have yet to get my free burger from Red Robin as it is. A few of these items are only for people living in the Portland Metro area of Oregon, but some are good across the US. I discovered you probably don’t want to be signing up for your freebie on the day of your birthday, because it will probably not process for 24 to 48 hours and you may risk not getting your free birthday item if you do it too late. However, if I did get my free birthday drink at Starbucks by just telling them I was signing up and asking if I could get the drink that day. And, when I still hadn’t received my free coupon for a milkshake over 24 hours after I signed up, I asked them if I would get the coupon if I signed up on my birthday and it processed the next day. The manager gave me the shake anyway. So, if you just speak up, you may still get your birthday treat.

Here are the ones I rounded up during my birthday week:

 

Coffee, coffee and more coffee!
Coffee, coffee and more coffee!

Did I hit the coffee jackpot, or what? Sign up for Starbucks rewards card.  My son said he did this without having to get a Starbucks gift card to get started, I ended up buying myself a Starbucks gift card with the minimum of $5 on it to get my Star code. I didn’t really want a gift card, but now I have one to me, from me. 

Dutch Brothers is awesome! No sign up necessary. Just show your I.D. on your birthday and you get a free drink. Voila! Couldn’t be easier.

The other one is a local coffee shop called Origins. They use the 5 star rewards card program for their business, and it sends you a text telling you that you have a free birthday drink to pick up on or before your birthday. Not bad.

 

Kitty treats
Kitty treats

Next up, kitty treats! No, not really for me, but the place I go to, Exclusive Pet Supply in Troutdale, Oregon also has a 5 star reward program card and I got to pick up free kitty treats (or dog treats if you have a dog) for the kitties for my birthday. So I can have spoiled, happy kitties on my birthday!

 

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.
My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

This is the free milkshake I had to ask about as I still hadn’t gotten my coupon after signing up on my birthday for. You have to join the Raving Fan Club for Del Taco for this one. Do it at least a day before your birthday. My coupon never did come. I did get the coupon for my two free tacos just for signing up, though. 

 

Mini Bun + Iced Coffee
Mini Bun + Iced Coffee

 

This one I did actually sign up for the day before my birthday and all of my coupons came in. You need to sign up to join Club Cinnabon After you join you will receive a Mini Bun for signing up and the free Iced Coffee for your birthday treat.  

 

Pip's donuts!!!
Pip’s donuts!!!

 

Pip’s Donuts are the Best. Donuts. Ever! Tiny little bits of deliciousness. They are mini cake donuts made fresh during store hours. Oh. My. Word. I love their donuts. And, if you notice, their box says ‘You’re the best’ on the inside of the lid. Not sure if that’s a birthday thing or if they do that on all of their boxes to go. This is a Portland only thing. Only one Pip’s Donut shop at this point in time. That’s okay. More for me, none for you unless you come to the Pacific Northwest. Ha.

 

DQ Buy one get one free Blizzard
DQ Buy one get one free Blizzard

If you join Dairy Queen’s Blizzard Fan Club you’ll get a Buy one, get one free coupon for a Blizzard. I tried the Royal Oreo Blizzard treat with a core of gooey, yummy chocolate inside. Yeah, baby! That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Technically I also signed up for the Cold Stone My Cold Stone Club as well and got another buy one get one coupon, but I was thinking you got that anyway just for signing up and didn’t take a photo of my ice cream before glomming it down. Looking at the website, it actually is a birthday deal, so it does count. So I’ll give it a mention even though I didn’t take any photos of my ice cream before eating it.