Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"It is well with my soul."

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Each day, I've been praying to just turn the corner.  To somehow "go back" to feeling well. To be that mom, that friend, that wife, I long to become once again.  

But after a few days of recovering from my 3 chemo cocktail last week,  I awake to a sticky substance seeping from my nose.  I had thought this might be the day I'd begin to feel better.  As I raise myself up out of a deep slumber,  I swipe my nose with my hand only to see the deep red droplets of blood, now splashing down around me.  I hurry to find a tissue, but as I rise my stomach cramps and the intensity of the stabbing pain has me clutching my stomach as I double my efforts to just make it to the bathroom.

The stabbing pains have been on and off for awhile now.  Intense, but also brief.  Just enough to make me catch my breath. 

My tongue erupts with small sore spots.  I have trouble eating even small amounts of food, with a constant feeling of fullness. I scan the booklet filled with side effects and what to do for them, until my eyes glaze over.  

Soon, I find the days meld, one into the other.  

Suddenly, its Saturday.  Having embraced the chance to go with my friend, Roxane, to the Carmelite Monastery,  I quickly choose to allow distraction to guide me today.  So despite the morning nosebleed. Despite the intermittent pangs shooting through my stomach.  

And the hair.  In spite of the hair I am suddenly losing.  The pile I clean off the floor before I shower.  Then gasp, as I shut off the hair dryer later, only to discover, a bigger pile on the floor.  

Despite this, and the phone call I've received in response to my inquiries for a summer wig. 

My insurance company has suggested the perfect way to garner insurance coverage for a summer wig.  Simply ask my doctor to look at my head and decide what he sees is "alopecia."  Because I don't have any insurance coverage for a cranial prosthesis, due to chemotherapy hair loss.   But I can get coverage if I have a script for "alopecia."  No wonder I feel nauseous.  (Stella saves the day- a cut and a new style and she'll be good to go)

No wonder I can't wait to "escape," out my door.

It feels immensely appropriate for the cloudy skies to begin to release rain drops as we travel to Wahpeton, to Carmel.

I relish feeling the cleanse of the water washing over me.

As we pull into the driveway...  that feeling of arriving at "home" surges inside of me.

Almost instantly my mind hushes and dials down, as my eyes feast on the glory all around.  Words it seems, become unnecessary.  Language always surrounds me in the sounds of the birds, the hum of the wind, the whirl of the leaves and prairie grasses,  and the smell of the fresh rain.

Our time on retreat passes by quickly.  I'm immersed in nature, and solitude and sharing bits of my heart, and longing with Him.  

As we leave to go and treat ourselves to dinner, the sun sinks just low enough to light up the fields around us.  "Amber waves of grain," crosses both our minds.  

As always, I leave feeling refreshed.  With a vibration of love and peace in my heart.

Despite what my body says, "it is well with my soul."

But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

Horatio Spafford


  1. Oh Vicky...thanks for bringing me back there once more. Absolutely beautiful. Each time we go, different visuals of the same place and yet, new. You do such a nice job of this and I am so grateful to share this sacred space with you, my friend. XXOO

  2. I think of you daily my friend, you and your peeps. BEAUTIFUL pictures and writing, you are such a good, good person. xoxo

  3. Gorgeous pictures. I'm glad you had that time away to retreat and relax with Roxane. So sorry that your illness is so difficult. Prayers for you and your family.

  4. Praying for you often in Oregon!

  5. Peace fills me as I look upon your gorgeous pictures. I can see why you long to go there. And I'm so glad you were able to go. Nothing helps heal the body, mind and soul more then time alone with God and nature. Praying that you take this feeling of being refreshed stays with you well into the future. Sending love and hugs.

  6. So grateful for the cleft of the rock you find in the Carmelite monastery. I love to think of you there knowing that those around you are surrounding you in prayer. Grateful that you are such a warrior princess and you battle through to seize the day. Bloodied and bruised you will not let it stop you. But I AM SO SORRY you are bloodied and bruised.

    What long days these are for you, sweet friend. Anyone who thinks time is flying by just needs to be sick or in pain to realize how slowly it sometimes crawls. And you have had that time stretched out before you in ways unthinkable. But you find the beauty wherever it can be found and you keep showing it to us so we are encouraged, too.

    Love the photos and that song is one of my all time favorites. And, as I'm sure you know, it was written from a place of unfathomable abject pain. But he, like you, showed us "All will be well" because it IS well. I love you, beautiful heart.

  7. I'm so glad you were able to visit this special place. Thanks for sharing all the beauty with us.

    My heart goes out to you, and the side effects, the pain. I wish it were not so. Praying for daily strength and hope. Sending love from over here.

  8. I just read this out loud to Mike- we both sat in silence when I was done.
    Your words so honest and raw are poetry my friend. Your journey, sacred...even in those days right after chemo. And your photos...oh Vicky, I enter into them.
    I pray you will feel better every day...and don't you think of Gitz whenever you say/write:
    All will be well... her words still strong and true. love you big and wide dear one.

  9. Well how could you not feel peace at this beautiful spot (and a sign I've been reading your blog for a long time that i remember the previous trips!). I have been thinking about you all week and wondering how you were feeling. The idea of waiting to turn a corner, to feel good again made my heart hurt for you.

  10. I am so grateful for Roxanne and the time that you both were able to spend taking in the wonders of our Lord. My heart is heavy as I read your words in this blog.
    Wishing I could take the suffering from you.
    Sending. You. Love. Always.

  11. Hi Vicky, I am sorry I have been MIA. This is a beautiful post. It filled me with awe...for you! Your attitude is so wonderful and your spirit can't be broken. You are sich an inspiration. It is an honor to go on this journey with you. XO, Pinky

  12. Beautiful post with pictures. I love that song. Praying for you.

  13. Glad you were able to have such a nice retreat. Be well, Vicky. Be well.

  14. I paused and tried to keep breathing with each picture. Do you even know how your writing touches people? Touches me? This one may be my all-time favorite post. Of course, I'll be sending it to my mother later today.

    Wish I could go to the monastery with you this weekend.

    So much love, my friend.

  15. You are so at home and comfortable with your spirituality - a trait I envy. The butterfly....oh, the butterfly. How did you get that shot? So many times I am tempted to print out your posts - this was one of them.

  16. "It is Well With My Soul" is a hymn so beautifully written, and even more meaningful when you learn of the tragedies experienced by the author. Another friend of mine who also has Stage IV BC refers to it as her "heart's hymn". You continue to amaze me with your faith and commitment to living each day to its fullest no matter what you are facing. I find that very inspiring and it brings me peace as I read your beautifully written words about how you make things well with your soul. Your words are feeding my soul as well!

    I am so sorry for the side effects of chemo, and will continue to pray for relief and healing. You are in my heart and in my prayers every day, my friend. Love you!

  17. The words written by you....bring so many different feeling's...such beauty in each feeling and such reality and twinges of pain. loved all the pictures but out of all the things in this beautiful post...it was the picture of you that stole my breath away. I cant explain it, but in your eyes, I saw such beauty...yet also vulnerability. But the whole picture had a radiance about it. A lite about it. In a way it was like a light was surrounding you in this picture of you with your friend..because you Utterly radiate in it. What a blessing you are. What a truly beautiful soul! you are so LOVED! prayers and love Vicky....always!

  18. Oh my dear sweet friend,
    I too am praying for you to "turn the corner" so you can be the kind of Mom and wife and friend you long to be. Yet, in the meantime, you are living each day. You are "all in" with all that you can give. I so hope you are gentle with yourself and realize that you are dearly loved, whether in bed feeling tired, at chemo, hair or no hair, feeling well or barely hanging on. We love you, Vicky held Westra... just as you are.

    And this hymn...oh my. This hymn that tells such a story, what a mantra to remember. Not just you, all of us. No matter what, it is well with my soul.

    As I read Jesus Calling today, I thought of you, dear one. It said,
    DO NOT WORRY ABOUT TOMORROW! This is not a suggestion, but a command.
    I divided time into days and nights so you would have manageable portions of life to
    handle. My grace is sufficient for you, but its sufficiency is for only one day at a time.

    His grace is sufficient, even when "sorrow like sea billows roll." I am praying non stop for
    your health and that you feel surrounded by peace and joy. I am praying that every prayer that is prayed on your behalf would touch your heart that you might know how dearly you are loved. And I am praying for protection and peace for Rick, Nolan and Colton that they might know
    God's love and abundant strength at this time.

    And your time of retreat and those photographs of Mother Mary, the butterfly, the grounds, you and Roxanne...well they brought peace to my soul. Thank you for sharing them.

    It is well with your soul, dear soul sis. Yes, it is well with your soul.
    Love you to the moon and back. Always!

  19. you are such an inspiration….i hope you know that! and as always, i pray for you and all that you are going through!!!


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