May 10, 2014

Life Has Lots of Corners by Sharon Espeseth

"If something is keeping you too busy to write, write about it." Thanks, Joanna Clark Dawyd, for reminding me of this in your column, "Writing in Life's Corners" (Fellowscript February 2014.) Considering Joanna's advice, I looked around our house and noticed many corners and right now most of them are too cluttered to write in. Here's why. . .

My husband, Hank, and I designed the house we live in, gave our plan to an architectural drafter, and hired a  contractor. We lovingly chose the colours, window coverings, cupboards, and we furnished our home with photos of loved ones and art pieces we liked. After living in our "dream home" for fourteen years and entertaining friends and loved ones here, we decided it was time to downsize before we got in a situation where we needed to.

Downsizing isn't a task for the faint of heart or the feeble of mind and body. Without a sign on our lawn, and in short order, our house was sold. Then comes the second-guessing and, yes, the grieving. Having put our love and energy into the building, furnishing, landscaping, and gardening, we realize this isn't just a house, it's our home. But in two months, it will belong to someone else.

Our house is full of books we enjoy, music, photo albums, antiques, china, crystal, memorabilia, file
Espeseth Collectibles
cabinets stuffed with tear sheets of published stories and drafts that need touching up before submission. Our treasures combined are the accumulations of a lifetime, but it is time to let many of the trappings of this life go. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21.)

Another matter on my mind these days is the fact that my sister, sixteen months my senior, was recently diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. Since Joan has been a single parent of one daughter, I joined them for Joan's oncology appointment. Being a support, along with my two other sisters, for our busy niece, Billie, has been my duty and privilege. Billie and Soraya live close to Joan's residence and spend much quality time with her.

Joan, Granddaughter Soraya, and Daughter Billie-Jo

The doctor explained that Joan has had this cancer for some time. Her main symptom has been a persistent and worsening cough. Miraculously, she has no pain at this time and it has not spread to her brain. I mentioned to the doctor that Joan has many prayer warriors backing her. He acknowledged that could be a plus.

After the appointment, I prayed for Joan for a couple days before I phoned her. As I broached the subject of cancer, Joan confidently repeated what she'd said the day of her diagnosis, "I've had a good life, and I'm ready to go when my time comes."

"So you're saying, 'Sufficient unto the day is the worry thereof?'" I asked, somewhat quoting from the KJV in the words we memorized as young people.

"Where is that?" she asked, the references not coming as quickly for either of us now. The "Do-Not- Worry" portion of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6: 25-34) is amazing advice to live by. I've pored over these words of Christ many times in the past weeks.

My sister knows that worrying will not add an hour to her life. The doctor told Joan not to worry. Joan's daughter, Billie, responded, "She won't." Joan will forget to worry and, if her illness comes to mind, she will leave it to God.

I had phoned to comfort Joan. Instead, she had comforted me and given me a refreshing view on downsizing and all of our earthly concerns. In that phone call, she shared a verse that comforts her, "Remind me each morning of your constant love, for I put my trust in you." Joan also mentioned the gospel song, "This World Is Not My Home." I can picture Joan seated at the piano or organ with a bunch of family or young people standing around her, some playing guitars and all of us belting out this song and other gospel favourites. Here's the song sung by Jim Reeves.

After my phone call with Joan, still my mentor, I read the rest of this verse, Psalm 143:8, which says, "My prayers go up to you; show me the way I should go." Joan, as my older sister, is still teaching me. I am trusting God for his continued care of my sister. I have faith that he will not let her suffer more than she can bear. I am also praying that God will show Hank and me and the rest of the family the way we should go in downsizing, illness, or whatever the corners of our lives may hold.


  1. Hi Sharon, sounds like you have a lot on your mind. My mother passed away from lung cancer nearly five years ago. I pray that things go well for your sister as they did my mother. Glad you found comfort when you spoke with your sister. The bible blesses us with comforting passages along the way. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Thank you, Vickie, for your encouraging comments and for your prayers. Today a bunch of my family met in Leduc for a visit together. We were three out of four sisters, plus some of our kids, nieces and nephews. Spending time together is a high priority.

  3. Sharon, you say this is a corner amongst many that is preventing the kind of writing you would normally be doing. May I suggest you journal about your part in this unfolding story, as you walk alongside your sister and niece?

    Many Christians find themselves in your position and feel helpless, angry, and lost. One day your journal could become a story of support that could be published as a help to those just starting the journey of walking alongside. It's a needed book. You have the gift of writing, and God is giving you the material. Something to pray about.

    God bless

  4. I agree Bobbi Junior. Keeping a journal is a great idea. Sisters are wonderful to have during emotional times. At least in my case they were. I don't have brothers so I can't comment on that but I do find that women tend to share more of their feelings with one another. I'm glad that you are spending time together with family. it is really important.

  5. Journaling is my go-to for stressful situations. The only problem is, I find i don't write in it as often when things are going 'right' - which makes it sound like I'm depressed all the time when I look back at it.! On another note, I see myself in what you are doing, sharon. We talk about downsizing, but like you, we have a lot of those same 'collectibles'... Finally, serious illness sure does put things in perspective, doesn't it?

  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bobbi, Vickie, and Tracy. I do need the prod to write in my Journal, even today. I have been journalling about what is happening in my life, but not as frequently as I'd like to. With your encouragement, I will spend more time on this writing.

    The last couple months I've been writing a more spiritual journal with Bible passages that speak to me, intercessory prayers for loved ones and friends, and prayers of thanksgiving when God works those mini miracles, and big ones too, and this cool cat lands on all four feet time and again. God is great at working out the details when I can't see the around the corners.

    Blessings to all of you mothers!

  7. Thanks Sharon for filling our corners with a small taste of what's happening in yours. Interesting how God can round out the corners and move into all the spaces. May it be so as you walk this journey with your sister, her daughter and granddaughter.
    Journals are so helpful when we look back and note all those mini-miracles we've recorded.

  8. I have been thinking about you again today, Sharon. Take pictures. I have pictures of my mother in her last days. I cherish them. They also create a catalyst for writing. My sister recently posted a pic for mother's day on my FB page of my mom and us girls together while she was in a hospice. I have the same photo but hadn't looked at it for some time. It brought back a lot of wonderful memories even though it was a sad time.

  9. Hey Sharon,
    Praying for you.You have a lot of your plate.
    I'm not yet facing the downsizing but helping my mother and my in-laws in the process. We're also facing cancer. My father in-law has been diagnosed with bladder cancer and my 25 year old niece has started chemo for stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I don't know how people face these things without Christ.

  10. I'm sorry to hear about your sister, Sharon. She sounds like a wonderful person! I pray that your times together will be full of joy and peace, and that things will go well for her and her family.
    Thank you for sharing your heart!


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