Thursday, July 7, 2011

Front Porch Courage

Awkwardly I unlocked the back patio sliding doors while balancing my Bible, pen, iPod and computer. I refused to make two trips. My husband always lectures me for loading up so precariously, but I was determined I could carry all my belongings outside without the need of walking those few feet twice. It’s not being lazy, it’s being creative.

I managed the manoeuvre without incident, settled myself in the “anti-gravity” chair and took a deep breath. It felt good just to sit outside. Two months ago today I was in the hospital recuperating from surgery that removed a mass diagnosed as ovarian cancer. Having just completed my second round of chemotherapy, it was a gift to be feeling well enough to adventure outdoors. I had been anxious to step outside the safety of my walls. The loss of my hair had been sudden and saddening. Only cosmetic, yet my bandanas now universally proclaimed to the world that I was a cancer survivor. Although their declaration was one of success, they spoke a new insecurity to my heart. My home and my backyard became my protection…or were they more my voluntary prison? I was under house arrest and personal solitary confinement.

Opening my Bible I began to read today’s passage. I couldn’t focus. Two things were interrupting me; the buzzing of the bees in the wild flowers near the patio, and the heat of the sun that refused to offer just a gentle warming. I shifted my position. I readjusted my chair. Still I had lost my concentration. Frustrated I decided to move back inside. I felt defeated and annoyed. Why couldn’t I just enjoy a simple pleasure like a few minutes in the fresh air savouring God’s creation?

“Sweet Joy, you still can.”

No I can’t. The sun is too hot. The buzzing insects interrupting.

“You have another choice My daughter.”

No I don’t and please don’t ask me.

“You have a beautiful, shaded front porch with two chairs. One for you, and one for Me.”

Oh Lord, I can’t. It’s too hot out and I don’t want to have to stop and bother to take time to put on my wig.

“You don’t have to wear your wig. You are beautiful and I will be your covering.”

Oh yes I do. If I sit out the front wearing my bandana everyone will know I have cancer.

“My precious daughter, I don’t believe even you have made that full acknowledgement yet.”

I’m frightened Lord. I’m frightened of the stares. I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been the one who has glanced and looked away, afraid of the disease and uncertain as to what to say. Do you know what it's like to wake up every morning...realize you're living the nightmare...and start the day in fear and tears? Do you know what it's like to walk into any room...even in the privacy of your own home...with your head afraid to make eye-contact with a mirror and see your reflection? Do you know what it's like to look down at your laptop, your t-shirt, the pages of your Bible and have to constantly brush off falling hair? Do you know what it's like to feel your own body is a walking time-bomb? Do you know what it's like to feel sadness so deep that its cuts and scars will forever remain? Do you know what it's like living as a prisoner to a disease? How do I get past the need to understand and continue living?

“Child, you take My hand and together we open your front door and step outside. Will you trust Me? There is a world out there that still needs the gifts and talents I have planted inside you. Together you can move from backyard cowardice to front porch courage.”

Backyard cowardice or front porch courage. Which was I going to choose?

My name is Joy Brown, and I have ovarian cancer.

Yes...that IS my front porch.

A quick update! When we obey the Lord, He is quick to infuse us with more and more of what we need. After posting this blog, God moved me from "Front Porch Courage" to "Convertible Courage". Check out the Driving Diva who was cruisin' around town last night WITH the top down. :)

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Lori said...

Oh Dear Joy, this so touched my heart! What a beautiful princess you are; and, what a gift to us – your writing – bringing us to places we’ve not yet experienced before. Each word turns into a picture that is visualized in our mind. Yes, I’d have to agree with God ~ He’s planted some gifts and talents within you, that are too precious to keep inside! Welcome back! You’ve been missed my sweet, surviving friend! OX, Lori

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

That may be your front porch, but it also looks a whole lot like freedom to me!

Live your courage and grow your understanding. These are some of the best days to fully get in touch with your feelings and to wrestle our your heart before God. You will find a strength and corresponding witness that you never knew you had!

I love you, Joy Brown.


Cindy said...

Oh Joy, What a precious conversation to share with us. You have encouraged my own heart. It doesn't really matter what the 'issue' is that causes us to place ourselves under house arrest (for me it's grief) I think we all do it at some point or another.
Last night I was to meet some friends for frozen yogurt, but my pain of grief caused me to back out. I spent the entire night sad and lonely, feeling left out, yet paralyzed by my self imposed exhile!!
Thank you for sharing your JOY of freedom! Praying you continue to freely enjoy life!!!

Kimberly said...

Oh, Joy. This is beautiful! YOU are beautiful!

How I love how He loved on He challenged you to trust in Him and how He more than met you as you stepped out towards Him and onto your front porch...and then into that car!

What a hope-infusing, courage-instilling post!

Love, hugs, and prayers,

Anonymous said...

Joy ~ such a beautiful choice! It would seem that the door to freedom is usually a painful choice. Although I can't know the depth of your journey, I am encouraged by it. You are beautiful. Believe it.

Nichole said...

It's everything on the inside of your Jesus loving heart that makes you BEAUTIFUL! I love you Joy!

Debbie said...

Oh Joy, I praise you for being so courageous! You are a blessing beyond words!!!!!!!! I love the pictures, keep living your wonderful life as before (when you are feeling well, of course). Looking forward to our visit! Lots of love to you!

Kathy S. said...

You look super cute in the bandanna!!! Thank you for sharing your battle and I am so grateful that you won!!! (as are not always being lead in triumph!)

Bless you Joy!

Marilyn in Mississippi said...

Good to see you on your blog again Joy.

Leah @ Point Ministries said...

Joy, this put such a big smile on my face. You are such a blessing and inspiration. I love that you were willing to put your foot in the water of the Jordan (go out on your front porch) and watch God roll back the waters.

You look beautiful!! Walk on, my friend. God may just have someone He needs you to touch on your front porch.

Maryann said...

You have much to offer, I so glad you ventured out on the front porch.It's a scary journey at times but he never leaves our side. I was so touched by this post, I hope you continue to share as you walk this journey, it can be an encouragement to others. By the way love the pink bandana and cap

Sharon Sloan - Joy In The Truth said...

Awwww.....LOVE this Joy! Wow! Loe how God whispered to you and how you walked with Him to the front porch!!! And then the convertible! Wow!

Love you, brave and honest friend!

Heather - On the Road... said...

Praise God for those words spoken to your heart! I am so glad to have gotten to see your smiling face!

As I have followed your blog, I have seen you grow and your courage get stronger and stronger - not courage or faith in any little thing - but your faith and courage in God.

Love you my friend,

Cheri Bunch said...

You look wonderful! You look so pretty in your pink!!! Joy, you and I could have a blast taking a spin in that car!!! I bet we could find us a Coffee Shop . . . Ice coffee? perhaps! You are so brave, Joy! Leaning into the Lord . . . He will give you the courage you need to face every day! You are a reflection of His beauty!!! Love you so!!! Cheri

lovefam6 said...

What a wonderful testimony of what happens when we listen to that quiet, still, and sweet voice of our Lord =)

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me????? You are sooooo cute!!!! Keep letting that light shine, girl!!!!!

atara said...

Your post reminds me of something I read in "Boundaries" by Cloud & Tonwsand. See the needs of others can tap in to our own fears of needing. I used to struggle going in a nursing home, now I go because it does remind me that we are all fragile and denying only makes it worse. Oh - p.s. that's a great song by STING - "Fragile"

Gaylene said...

Every step of courage you take infuses not just yourself, but others as well. Thank you for all the steps you are taking!!

~Grace and Peace said...

Beautiful Joy,

Your words move me. Thank you for sharing your journey.

If I may venture an opinion, the head gear is not always the first thing people see. Honestly, when I saw your pictures I was drawn to your smile and your eyes first before I even noticed the cap. Keep smiling, dear friend - that is what God is doing when He sees you.

Lois said...

Dear Joy, so happy to see you on your own blog space once again. His love and joy continue to shine through you. May His love and grace continue to give you the courage you need for the journey He is taking you on.
May His peace fill your heart until it overflows.
Praying every day for you.

Patty said...

Joy, it was so good to see those pictures of you looking fantastic with that big smile on your face!
I am praying for your continuing recovery and that you will never lose sight of the wonderful talents that God has given you. Thank you for sharing such a personal journey with us.
With love from one Canadian to another.

Laura said...

Hello there, sweet friend. It's been a while since I've been by and I had no idea you were in this battle. I saw your lovely face over at Elaine's and just wanted to stop in and say hello. You are in my prayers, Joy. I am sending you so much love.