Wednesday, April 17, 2013

beheld in a different Light: beauty in cancer

There is beauty everywhere, but so often we look through the eyes of the world, and we simply miss it...or maybe dismiss this beauty because it does not seem to hold up to the standards that our society has created.  But what if we take the words of Romans 12: 1-2 seriously and we get serious about not conforming to the patterns of this world, but instead, we let our minds be transformed by the Spirit.  What if we allow God to bend and mold us, what if we allow Him to touch our eyes so that we might see again in new light, what if we prepare our hearts to be astounded by what He has created?  What if we become astounded by ourselves, not with a sense of selfish pride, but with heartbeats of gratitude?  What if we let God's Word lavish our souls with wonder and amazement?  What if we believe Him when He tells us that we are beautiful and that we are His?
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2001

“Tracy, your mother’s on the phone, do you want to take her call?”

That is strange… my mother never calls while I am at work.

“Hi mom…”
“Tracy… it’s… it’s… falling out.”
My mother was weeping.
“Mom, what is falling out?”

“My hair, it is coming out in clumps. I was taking a shower and now it is all over the bathtub. Your dad is at work and I am here by myself. I just need to hear your voice…”

The lump in my throat grows thick. I will not lose control of my emotions.
I picture her naked laying on the floor of her bathtub.
Scared.
Alone.

“Tracy, are you there? Should I keep pulling it out?”
“Oh mom, I will sit here with you while you do. You’re going to be ok. I am with you…”
“Ok… Tracy, I feel so ugly.”

Minutes pass.
I cry silently on the other end.

“Tracy, I think I am done.”
“Mom…
mom, you are and will always be beautiful to me.”

2007-October 7, 2012

My mother’s hair returned, but so did the breast cancer.
Now it was all over her body.
More hair was lost and more chemo was taken.
There were days when my mother needed to hear my voice because her pain was great and because her reflection repulsed her.
My answer remained the same: “Mom you are and will always be beautiful to me.”

October 8, 2012

It hurts to look at what remains of my mother’s body. I rub her bald head and grasp the skeletal remains of the hands that first held me.
It’s just me and her in the room.
I am not sure what to do with the silence.
The lump in my throat is growing.
I will not lose my emotions.
I am her daughter and I hate cancer.
But I love a God who is good and gracious. What doctors said was impossible, He made possible. He honored countless prayers.
Jesus is coming to free and heal her now…

+11:00 am
I lean in close so she will be sure to hear me. She can no longer speak or open her eyes.
I know that she needs to hear my voice
one
more
time.  
“Mom… I am here now. I am so thankful God chose you to be my mom. It’s time for you to go home to Him now. You are and will always be beautiful to me.”
And then I sing “Amazing Grace” and “Jesus loves Roxie” over her again and again…

+1:25 pm
My mother won her battle against breast cancer.
She beheld Beauty, literally.
Her suffering ended.
Her questions answered.
Her joy is unending.

March 28, 2013

I stand beside my grieving father as we clean out my mother’s side of the closet. Her clothes smell of her perfume. I quickly place the shoes she wore to my wedding in a trash bag. To stop and hold them is painful. Her High school ring and pearl necklaces are still here with me. But my mother is gone from me, temporarily.
Memories overwhelm me.
The lump in my throat returns.
This time I let my tears fall and I remember.
I remember beholding my mother’s beauty.
Cancer couldn’t kill the beauty of her courage or the beauty of her faith and trust in God.
Beauty cannot be purchased in a bottle, achieved by a diet, or purchased off the rack.
Beauty isn’t skin deep, it is soul deep.
My mother will always be beautiful to me.

I have beheld Beauty now.
Praise You, Jesus.


(keep reading for a giveaway below)

Tracy is proudly married to Chad, a pilot in the United States Air Force.  Whenever they are not being relocated, she loves to drink green tea and watch re-runs of LOST. She also enjoys chasing their two children, Jackson (4) and Katherine (2), throughout their toy-infested home.  Tracy graduated from Phoenix Seminary in 2005, and served as the Director of Student Women at Scottsdale Bible Church from 2005-2007. She is also the author of Images of His Beauty, a newly released Bible Study, for young women who struggle with self-image issues and eating disorders. You can find out more information about the study and follow her blog at www.onedegreeministries.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OneDegreeMinistries, or chat with her via twitter @tracy_steel.
Tracy is graciously donating one copy of her book, Images of His Beauty.  It's actually more than a book -- it's a bible study for young women desiring to find hope and healing in Jesus Christ.  It helps young women who struggle in any way with their beauty, but also specifically helps those who are battling eating disorders (or trying on behaviors that come with eating disorders).  This bible study can be done individually or in a group setting and its foundation on scripture truly covers our hearts with His abounding love so that we might see just who and how He created us to be.  Discussion/reflection questions are probing to our deep heart issues that interfere with seeing ourselves how He sees us.  If you would like to win this book for you, a friend in need, or your church, please use the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

20 comments :

  1. Only God can lead the way, through fear and tears, for cancer to bring beauty into our lives. He did it for us, too. And, losing three people this month, I shed my own tears with you. But He shows He is alive as we continue to hope. It will be OK...

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    1. I am so sorry to hear of your losses. May you sense God's comfort as you walk through this season with Him. He is our true source of Hope indeed! Tracy Steel

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  2. tracy - this is beautiful....cancer is a thief, but you are right. he doesn't take everything. our loved ones are lovely despite....

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    1. yes they are- thank you Kendal and God bless.

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  3. Beautiful, Tracy. Your post brought back so many memories of my own mom's battle with breast cancer. They are beautiful with our without hair. You said so well " Cancer couldn’t kill the beauty of her courage or the beauty of her faith and trust in God." My mom will always be beautiful to me too. Love you. :)

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    1. Eileen- I have tears as I remember reading about your own mother. She IS beautiful and so are you my friend...

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  4. So very blessed by your post here Tracy. Our precious Lord truly has given you many beautiful gifts, your family, your very sweet personality, your gift of writing, your gift of being a loving, compassionate parent, your gift to minister to many individuals of many walks of life. You are blessing many of us by your presence here and I believe that our Lord created you for such a time as right now! Keep on Keepin On! Love you greatly!

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    1. Terry- you have known our family for a very long time. Look at all that God has done- praise Him! Thank you for walking with us and for all of your prayers. God bless.

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  5. Oh my, this made me cry the ugly cry! What a beautiful tribute to your mom! And, her beauty lives on in you in a big time way.

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    1. I have shed more tears today too, believe me! I've given up on mascara/eye liner! Thank you for your kind words and for connecting with me on Twitter. God bless.

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  6. I felt your pain as I read this yet was comforted by your love and care for your mother. What a blessing it is that you have this memory of being so close to her as she prepared to meet the Lord. I am blessed to be a breast cancer survivor that had a much easier road to survivorship than your mother. My pain was nothing compared to so many other valiant women. Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life. She will always be beautiful.

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    1. Mardell- I am smiling as I read "breast cancer survivor." Yes!!! Praising God for you! You are valiant too and beautiful because you are HIS. Keep sharing His beauty with those around you and thank you for your comment.

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  7. Your words are beautiful, and your mothers memory still lives on, she touched the lives of many. I pray for you and your family as you go through this journey, and know that God is with you always.

    Amanda - Realityarts-Creativity
    Art Blog

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    1. Thank you Amanda- your words and prayers bless our family. My mother's life verse was Isaiah 41:10 (which also happens to be the theme verse of my Bible study mentioned above). I quote it often to remind me that God is with me- I have nothing to fear. He will strengthen me and uphold me with His righteous right hand...

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  8. Thanks for this vulnerable peek into the beauty that's buried even in the pain of cancer. And your love for your mom? Beautiful, too. I agree with Lyli- your mom's beauty is shining through you now even in her absence.

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  9. Thank you for sharing this. Heaven is our home. Here is ...not. {Yay!}
    Praise God who has given us this living hope and assurance!

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    1. Yes, we are just "passing through." Thank you Kathy for reminding me to set my mind on "things above." (Colossians 3:2)God bless.

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  10. Oh, Tracy, thank you for sharing, your love for your mom with us...I see her beauty and God's beauty in you.

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    1. Thank you Dolly. Praising God for all that He has done! God bless.

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