What Do I Need?

(As you read this, please take the time to blow away the chaff of my scattered mind and find the grain of my heart.)

Over the past few days I’ve had several people ask, “What do you need?” I’ve thought a lot about the answer to that question, and the practical, black and white, type-A in me wants to make my list of things. Well, let’s see… I’ll need help with childcare… meals… anything else?

Oh, yes, well, I need to get things done. Things like getting my home as organized as possible, updating emergency information on the kids for sitters, figure out where they’re going to be for the first few days after surgery. Gosh. I need to figure out Christmas and shop and get a tree and decorate all in the next week and a half.

And somewhere in all of this is Thanksgiving and my mom’s 60th birthday (on Thanksgiving Day!). I have to celebrate with her somehow! I need to celebrate with her.

I need an advanced directive/living will. That one I don’t want to think about. But it’s practical.


I’m tired of being practical. I’m tired of being a slave to my “to-do list”. I’m tired of trying to distinguish my needs from my wants.

What do I need? Wow. Loaded question.

I need people in my life who aren’t afraid of my neediness. I need to hear those knocks on my door and open them to see people (like Jessie or Terri who both showed up this weekend) to hug me and cry with me. I need to see those emails in my inbox from friends who are authentic and are struggling with all this, too. I need to know friends aren’t tired of me and I need to know they aren’t going to tell me how to deal with this (trust me, laughter is not always the best medicine). I need to hear voices on the phone or answering machine telling me they’re praying. I need to grieve. I am tired of loss.

I need to know that my friends are taking care of themselves. That they are getting check-ups and looking for lumps and eating healthy so they can be here for others and not have to go through what I’m going through, because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

I need to feel B’s arms around me every night telling me he’s here. That he’s not going anywhere. That he’s not giving up on me, even though my “warranty has run out” (Not long after we got married and all my health problems showed up, B jokingly asked my parents, “Does she come with a warranty?”).

I need to take time to breathe. To look for the joy in each day. I need to make gratitude part of my daily “to-do list”.

I need “perfective” (that’s perspective in Bear language).

I need to stop putting disclaimers on my blog and not worry about appearing like I have it all together, because I don’t. I sin in my struggle. I place expectations on myself and others that aren’t healthy.

I need to hear truth. I am weary from preaching it to myself over and over and over, but I am afraid I will forget the truth in the mire of all of this, my mangled life. So I keep preaching.

My friend, Monica, wrote…

I imagine finding out you have cancer is something like that day. You are living life, planning what’s for dinner that night, what you’ll do next week or next year, and then without warning it hits you from behind and mangles your life. When the dust settles from the surgery and the treatment and the months of life you have lost you take inventory. Am I totaled? What’s the blue book value of this crazy life, and do I have any equity left once the loan is paid? Can I get a new life? And you wonder why this happened. Deep down inside you feel this might be a result of a lopsided checks and balances sheet where God and sin are concerned regardless of what you know in your head about Christ’s saving love.

She describes the struggle perfectly. I need to hear that it’s not God punishing me for my lack of faith. It’s not God up there banging His head against the wall thinking, “She’s just not getting it, so let’s give her MORE cancer.” God doesn’t work like that, although I want to put Him in a box and think He does. No, God is grieving with me. And I need to know that. To be reminded of that. That He is with me, even when I don’t feel His presence.

Fear is there. While this isn’t as ugly or scary as breast cancer, it is scary and ugly nonetheless.

Elizabeth Berg wrote a novel called Talk Before Sleep. It is a very raw, very real, very heartbreaking look at the loss and pain of cancer and a friendship that is strengthened through it. She writes through the eyes of the friend…

“Today is Thursday. Tomorrow is Friday. It scares me, the way tomorrow keeps coming. I look in the paper for a good comic strip to bring Ruth. All of them today would only hurt her feelings. Try this sometime: read the comics as through time were awfully short. You will be hard-pressed to find anything funny. You will understand irony. You will put down the paper and look at the way the sun happens to be lighting the sky and you will be thinking one word: please.”

Please. Please?

There are days where I need to hear I have tomorrow. But then I remember that it is today for which I am responsible. That God still holds tomorrow in His hands. All my tomorrows. And that I will spend eternity in Heaven with Him and there will be no tomorrow… just forever.

As I’ve read Berg’s book, I’ve noticed there is something lacking. Hope.

And that is one thing I need, too.

Hope is one thing I know I have, but it’s one of the things I need to be reminded of.

And that reminder came in the form of my eleven-year-old nephew this morning who wrote me an email saying, “I am so sorry you got cancer again… Just keep on having hope. The Lord’s with you!”

What do I need? I need to find that boy and give him a huge hug!

11 responses to “What Do I Need?”

  1. “This I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” Lam 3:21-22

    “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

    You know I wish I was there to clean your house and make you dinner and decorate for Christmas and do all the practical things. Instead God has me here breathing your heart and your life as closely as I can while I fervently hope and pray. I love you.


  2. PS. So glad you found Berg’s book. Although not written with faith and hope I knew you would be touched by it. I have every single one of her books, and she writes for women in a way no other author I have ever read does. The friendship between Ann and Ruth reminds me of us. I really wish I was there with you. Hugs.


  3. Angie,
    I ask God why. “Why, again, God, hasn’t she had enough?” Knowing that it is not your sin that put you here in this place of cancer again, but realiziing that if it was me, I’d be thinking that very thing. “Maybe if I read my Bible more…maybe if I was less selfish…maybe if I sacrificed more…maybe…” the list could go on and on. But I do know the TRUTH and will pray and believe the Truth for you so that when Satan comes at you TRUTH will be there. I am crying with you, I am grieving with you, but there is hope. Praise God! Hope.


  4. You know I read this and thought of Lord of the Rings and all that Frodo endured for the sake of a thing he did not bring upon himself. I also thought of Samwise who could do nothing more than to express his loyalty in word and deed; who, when Frodo could bear it no more, took it upon himself to carry his weak and fainted friend to the fulfillment of his faith.

    In a very tangible sense, YOU are on a Quest…a quest of faith. And on this quest we are your Samwise. We are imperfect, though, and so God Himself enters into your suffering and becomes your Samwise. He is carrying you up the steep, rocky, firey mountain where you can go no farther on your own.

    Whatever the outcome, dear sister, when this quest is over you will find that there was an invisible, ubiquitous Hand that not only gave you this quest, but also governed the wills and ways of men and nature so that you most assuredly would finish it for His glory and for your good. The world is witness of this fact in your life…He is real, He is powerful, and He is good. He is the Author and Finisher of your Quest.

    We are honored to join your Fellowship. You have our swords. You have our bows. Even though some of us are taller than others. 😉


  5. I don’t know why some are tested in their faith through their health or loss, and why others who aren’t faithful are not. The only thing that I cling to is that God is using you in this way to be a testament in your faith. People who read your blog and know you, see your faith and it helps to strengthen their faith as well. Others may even be led to begin a relationship with God, which would be amazing. Continue to shine so that all may see.

    I love the name of my friends blog: Be Strong and Courageous, I like to sign off like that to remind others.

    Be Strong and Courageous!


  6. Angie, I’ve tried hard to think about this exact topic…what is it you need that I could offer from a distance, beside my prayers? When you wrote that you need the truth, I had an “aha” moment. In my own deep waters, I’ve found that the only way I could take every thought captive was to search the Scriptures for words that jumped off the page into my waters with me and offered solid rock instead of sinking sand upon which to put my trembling feet. So…to get you started, I’m going to send you some of the verses God gave me that I lived upon through the best of times and the worst of times. Maybe others who read your blog could do the same. Let’s begin:
    “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” Ps. 20:7
    “Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Ps. 73:23-26
    “Do no rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” Micah 7:8
    “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you in HIs love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
    “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels.’” Malachi 3:16-17
    With much love and awe at what I see of Jesus in you,


  7. Melissa Bruining Teeter Avatar
    Melissa Bruining Teeter


    I’m glad you wrote this. You come to mind often and I think, “How the heck is she getting through this?” I need to know that you are scared and struggling and hurting and freaked out. . .let’s wrestle with God together. Love you.


  8. My dearest Angie,

    May the God of hope fill us with joy and peace in believing that Christ will dwell in our hearts through hope.

    I know the suffering you are going through. You are not alone, the same work is being accomplished in many, may this fill you with comfort.

    I had a blood test last week that shows I have elevated liver enzymes. I have to go to a specialist to find out what is causing this. I just bow my head, because of so many trials, and say, Your grace is sufficient, Your power is perfected in my weakness, I will glory in my weakness that Your power will be shown in and through me.

    Suffering comes, the storms are with a fury and He is in the midst. The hours of battle, knocked down, but not utterly out and He comes and picks us up. Long hours of battle seem to cloud our minds to reason, but we have wisdom our sister and understanding our intimate friend to guide us. Long life is in her right hand and riches and honor in her left. Having the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, leading us in the reality of Christ in us, giving life to our short lived mortal bodies.

    My dear one, I am running this race with you. The storms and the weaknesses that we run into is the reality of our inadequacy and the inadequacy of others. Let’s run this race until we win Christ and be found in Him not having a righteousness derived from the law but on the basis of faith.

    In Him we live, move, breath and have our existence.
    Love to you,


  9. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in HOPE of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverence; and perseverance, character;
    and character, HOPE. Now HOPE does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Rom5:1-5

    Sometimes we just get so tired, and want to give up. We don’t want the tribulations any more, and we sure don’t feel we have the strength to persevere, and that is when we do need to cry out to the Lord and the Body of Christ, as you even now are doing. But, after all you’ve learned and grown, in your relationship with the Lord I know you would say that you have grown closer to the Lord, and deeper in your faith through this. That’s the silver lining on the cloud.
    Really hard to see those silver linings…. I know that. Still striving with you in prayer. Much love from a mother’s heart who understands many of your struggles. Love you. Carol


  10. Angie, Reading Henri Nouwen today, and I could fill up a journal with his thoughts, but this one struck me and reminded me of what God is doing here on your blog, “You are confronted again and again with the choice of letting God speak or letting your wounded self cry out. Although there has to be a place where you can allow your wounded part to get the attention it needs, your vocation is to speak from the place in you where God dwells.” What touches so many is your gift to share the wounded part of your heart and life but always bring it back to focus on where God dwells. I love you.


  11. Angie, This is the first time I’ve looked at your blog and I can hardly see through the tears. Our many hours spent together date back to pre-sickness days, and as much as I cherish those precious memories, I just want to sit at your feet now and soak up the beauty and wisdom that God has adorned you with through all your suffering. There is something that only those who have suffered will ever really “get”. I really want to “get” it without so much suffering, and so I soak up your words and try to see God vicariously through you. I see my own suffering in it’s insignificant perspective, but pray that even that would draw me to my knees and open my eyes to see Him more clearly (instead of making ever so much more grumpy). I’m thankful that you’re doing this blog — not only for your own sake, but for OURS. I see LOTS of responses — i.e. lots of readers. You are a well LOVED lady. You know that song, “You find out who your friends are …. “?

    Just finished “Surprised by Hope” by N.T. Wright. You may have too much to read right now, but I’ll send it to you in case God puts it on your heart to read. It has changed the way I look at life.

    Love ya,


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