stories of grace, hope and life beyond cancer


The bus of opportunity

Since moving to London I have been wondering how I should best use my time, my spare time that is. For the first time in a long time I have felt that maybe in amongst all my normal day to day commitments I had just a bit of spare capacity, some space in my mind, some energy in my bones, a longing in my soul to do something different… The problem was, I didn’t know what.

Seriously. Not a clue.

The peculiar thing about this was that every time I set time aside to pray, and think and plan, I came away with a big fat zero. No ideas. No vision. Just silence and an empty page with the word “ideas”, underlined and doodled around staring blankly back at me.

This had started to become quite disconcerting and I started to get frustrated. After all, now Jonty had started nursery I had a spare six hours a week which I needed to fill (I know! Don’t laugh!)

The years of university teaching me to be a rational economic agent, and productive member of society working and contributing to the economy weighed heavy on my mind… But still, nothing! No ideas at all!

It was at this point that I questioned why I never got a profession. Surely if I was a doctor, or a teacher or an electrician, I wouldn’t be having this crisis (this probably isn’t true but this was my thought pattern…)

But then, one day a few weeks ago an email popped into my inbox inviting me to apply for a job. It was part-time, with an organisation that I thought was brilliant. Hooray! The opportunity to become a productive member of society appeared once more. I duly filled in the application form (all the time wondering if it was a good idea… Mummy guilt and all that jazz) and waited to see if I would be shortlisted and invited for an interview. I was. Another hooray! This was going well.

The interview was on Tuesday. I had lost my voice over the weekend and it was just starting to return so I sounded like a chain smoker, but nevertheless, I was excited, if a bit apprehensive.

The interview was fine. Not spectacular, not terrible, just ok. Underwhelming I know. The problem was that I just didn’t feel at peace about this job at all. It just didn’t feel like a good fit for a host of reasons. But, of course I wanted to be offered the job. No one likes a rejection. No one likes having their ego squashed.

But, late on Wednesday night the email came through. I had been unsuccessful. There was someone more suitable than me.

There went my chance to be a productive member of society. There was my ego being squashed.

But, slightly surprisingly, I felt ok about it. In fact, other than feeling embarrassed they didn’t offer it to me, I felt relieved that the decision that I had no peace about had been taken out of my hands. And the next day I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom. This sense of freedom hit me square between the eyes as I walked on the bridge over the Thames on my way into town the following morning. The river looked beautiful, the air was fresh and it was quiet, and I felt myself physically give a sigh of relief.

However, in spite of this sense of freedom, I found myself once again thinking about my lack of vision (old habits die hard). Why was my mind, that is usually so full of ideas and schemes and plans, suddenly blank?

Maybe it’s something in the water? Maybe. But more likely, I realised, maybe it is because now isn’t the time for a hundred new ideas and for filling up every scrap of time I have. Maybe now is a time of waiting. But not waiting and spinning my wheels. No, this is different. This is waiting with purpose. I suppose a bit like waiting for a bus.

This waiting comes with knowing that the next season full of opportunities and creativity and ideas is coming, in the right time, without me rushing to meet it.

I don’t want to miss it because I was so busy filling my last little scrap of time. I want to have the space to see it coming and have the capacity to jump on board when it does!

So, for now, I am waiting. I am parking my “productive member of society” hobbyhorse somewhere out of the way of the bus of opportunity and am allowing myself the time to enjoy the gift of the space to wait.

A view of the Andes from my last Peruvian bus of opportunity!


Life in a waiting room

I seem to spend a lot of my time sitting in hospital waiting rooms these days (all I can say is thank goodness for the iPad and its games to while away the hours). Waiting rooms are funny places, no one wants to be there but no one has a choice. Life is on hold and yet life can change completely from when you walk into the waiting room to when you walk out.

I will never forget the day my cancer was diagnosed. We were on holiday in South Africa for my lovely sister’s wedding. The day of my diagnosis was sunny and warm and I waved Joel off as he was spending the day sightseeing with his Mum who was also visiting for the wedding. We thought I was just having some more routine tests. When he came to fetch me from the hospital later that afternoon everything had changed and our lives would never be the same again.

And so my treatment began as did the waiting… Waiting for tests… Waiting to see how I would respond to treatment… Waiting for me to recover from each bout of chemo… In a few weeks, waiting for the surgery etc etc… And hopefully waiting for the day when I will be given the all clear…

This waiting game is difficult in a culture where everything is instant and just waiting for a website to upload can be a frustrating experience.

So where does waiting fit into the whole picture? Where is God in my waiting?

One of my favourite Psalms is Psalm 40, the scripture we chose for our wedding. Psalm 40:1-3 says…

1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

And this is a truth I can stand on. God is with me as I wait. He hears my cry and he sets my feet on the rock. Even when I feel I am sinking, He is there. I am slowly learning not to be afraid to wait. I am learning to keep moving forward but when that even seems impossible just to stand firm and to wait for Him. And through this all I trust that He is doing a new thing in me and I look forward to the new song I know He will give me.