First blog on pioneer life

I don’t know that the Bible has anything to say about pioneer life or living off the land being what a person should do, but I do know that God gives us certain passions and I have a passion for the pioneer life! I love all things old. I love antiques, I love figuring out how to make meals from scratch (soon hopefully over a wood burning stove at our someday trappers cabin) and I love picking the ingredients right out of my backyard. I love horses and wagons, I love country schools and churches, I love dreaming about having an old time farm with chickens, pigs and a couple cows and I especially love being out in the countryside where there are no telephone poles, satellite towers, tv’s, or buildings. There’s just the sound of chirping birds and rustling leaves, the feel of the sun on my face and the wind through my hair (or lack of lately😜), the taste of sweet berries picked right off the bush, the sight of trees swaying and animals scurrying and the smell of the trees and water (that might be my favourite, especially in the wee hours of the morning when the dew is just coming off the grass and the sun is just beginning to peek out) 

ahh, there’s just something about nature and living back in the day. When people had time for each other, time to make their kids a play barn, a crib for their doll or a pair of mitts, when people got together for potlucks and barn dances and everyone helped out their neighbours. When Stores were closed on Sunday, and everyone went to church. When everyone was poor so keeping up with the Jones’ wasn’t a big deal, and people made what they had. Entertainment was enjoying time spent with neighbours instead of watching TV, travelling or running to the next activity. I may have an idealistic view of what it was like but I like trying to re-create that kind of lifestyle in our chaotic world today. (Minus the lack of immunizations and education as well as death by accidents because you had to have your children helping you when they were 6 years old or you may not have food to put on your families table!) ahh, yes, the good ol’ days! I’m so grateful to live in the era that I do now where I can have plumbing and electricity if I want to but I can also go out into the great outdoors and enjoy the peaceful quiet life as well. I can chop out ice from the creek and cut up firewood if I want or I can have heated water in an insulated gas warmed house if I feel tired and lazy. We are living in great times and I think we need to remember that when it seems like the world is going downhill so fast. we need to be grateful for what we have and not be so focussed on the evils that are going on around us. Bad things have always been present and even though I have an idealistic view of what it was like in the pioneer days, I know there was evil then as well just like there was in the Bible times and now. Staying focussed on eternity while living out our passions AND while living in this world of darkness is the key to living a good life! As much as I would love to run away and live in the woods just with my family so I could keep us safe and live life the way I want to, that’s not what God has called us as Christians to do. We are to be lights in the world, shining Jesus love to all we encounter. So while I live my life of pioneer passion I will not live a life of seclusion. Pioneer life CAN be done in this world while living for Jesus!

A few words about condemnation

Most of us judge people for some reason, even if we don’t mean to. I’ve come to realize that I do this as well. But something else I realized is that Everyone has different struggles and just because I don’t struggle with whatever I/m judging them for does not make me a better Christian. I struggle with a lot of things and I wouldn’t want someone judging me for those. We’re all on a journey and none of us have “arrived”.

there are a lot of things that I think we as Christians, decide in our hearts are worse sins than others though. And That’s just not right. All sin is equal and deserving of punishment. Who do we think we are that we can say that someone who struggles with alcoholism, gossiping, extramarital affairs or yes, even something like murder (just to name a few) is worse than we are? Take King David or Saul/ Paul in the Bible for examples. We’ve created some kind of heirarchy of sins in our minds/hearts that never existed to God. Why? Just to make ourselves feel better because we don’t do THAT sin? 

We all need a reminder sometimes of who Jesus came to love and save and it wasn’t just you or me. It wasn’t just for the REALLY bad people.  It was everyone, who ever did ANY sin. So let’s love people despite their obvious flaws!!

The reason for my passion

I just want to take a moment to tell you why I’m so passionate about living for Jesus. I’ve mentioned before that I feel very blessed. There are a lot of reasons for that but the biggest one is that I’m so grateful for The plan of Salvation. I believe in the Bible and the Bible teaches that if we accept that Jesus is God’s son who died for our sins, that we will have eternal life. (The famous John 3:16) Jesus has the power to forgive sins and He forgave mine when I asked Him to. I am living my life for Him because I am SO grateful!! The Bible says that everyone has sinned and that the penalty for sin is death (Eternal death which is Hell) but the gift of God is eternal life (Heaven) through Jesus. We just have to accept the gift! My sins are forgiven because I asked and I’m going to Heaven when I die because of that. Not because I’m a good person. You can never be good enough. Perfection is the only way and the only person who has ever been perfect was Jesus. Take the gift people!

The other reason I feel so blessed is because I am absolutely amazed and baffled that the God of the universe, the God who created everything, wants to have a relationship with ME, a mere peasant in the grande scheme of things. (And it’s not that I’m so special-He desires that relationship with everyone!) 

The other incredible thing to me is The fact that He designed a way to talk with me by giving me His Holy Spirit when I became a christian. That’s why I say “I felt like God said to me…” It’s not an audible voice, but it’s a feeling of His presence saying something to me. That is crazy amazing to me. So Not only do I now have peace and joy amidst a life threatening illness-gifts He gave me through His Holy Spirit- but I also have a hope that is greater than anything. I have the hope of knowing where I am going when I die because of His death and resurrection and my receiving that gift from Him. The hope that I have does not come from knowing God will heal me in this life. the hope that I have is knowing I’m walking this life with God present and loving me through every difficult situation as well as knowing when this life ends for me I will be in heaven with God. Can I get a whoop whoop?!! Now that is hope my friends! And there ain’t nothing anybody can do to take that from me! So… I am living life abundantly, peacefully, joyfully and with great hope that whether I live or die God is with me. Death is not scary but exciting! How can a person not be passionate about something so incredible?! It’s called “good news” for a reason. It’s the most amazing news!

I try not to be “preachy” because I know people don’t like that But please try not to  be annoyed or angry at someone who “preaches” to you. If this is what you believed, would you not want to tell people about it?! 

Live life abundantly and for eternity and you’ll have a blessed life no matter what comes along!

Thoughts about life

(Originally written around March/2018)

I wanted to share a bit of what’s been in my heart lately:

I don’t know why God grants miracles/blessings to some at certain times and not to others. I don’t know why he gives us what we need/want sometimes and other times lets us struggle. but I can say with confidence that I have experienced both and I can also say with confidence that God is a good and loving God so there must be a good and loving reason. When my kids were babies/toddlers, I struggled. I cried out to God every day for help but I often felt like I was drowning and defeated. God gave me little glimpses of himself and I knew he was always there with me but I wanted to be rescued and for some reason he didn’t rescue me. I was meant to go through that difficult time. 

And for some reason The Lord has chosen to give me a huge blessing at this time of my life. The Father gives his children good gifts and I have been given some of the best. And I didn’t even ask for them! I can’t describe how blessed I feel that God would choose to give me such peace, joy and strength right now. It is supernatural and God given because anyone who knows me knows that I would normally be an overwhelmed, stressed, crying mess right now. But Jesus has chosen to give me a glimpse of what it looks like to walk in fullness with Him. What it’s suppose to be like when your circumstances don’t dictate how you feel. 

That doesn’t mean life is perfect when we follow Him, it just means when the storm hits, He’s the anchor to have. He’s the only one that knows what wave is coming next, so I want Him to be guiding the boat! It’s a crazy feeling, and not easily understood but I’m so grateful for where I am right now. Right where I’m suppose to be. 

Things I’m learning on my cancer journey

(1-5 Originally written January/2018)

  1. Life is not about this life. Think eternally 
  2. Don’t worry about what you eat /striving to keep ridiculously healthy. God’s got it all figured out and it doesn’t matter too much what you do. We all have to die sometime. He wants you to enjoy life! Not be in bondage.
  3. Don’t hold so tightly to this life and the things of this life including our kids. They are His. (Ecclesiastes) Hold them loosely.
  4. Let go of control and having things done “right” and let Your husband lead, giving him grace to make mistakes. 
  5. Take the time to think about what’s great in your life. The things you’ve seen in the past and present that have been changed for the better or always were great. Be grateful for everything! Never forget what God has done. He didn’t have to give us anything, but he wanted to because He loves us.

Part 3: Feelings

I’ve written enough now for you to know that I’ve felt really good the majority of the time through this so I don’t think I need to do a step by step summary but I did want to tell you of a couple times I felt really sad/scared and some times that I felt blessed.

There were two specific moments that stand out in my mind of the times I did cry. The first one was when I went for the mammogram and the dr came in and said “This looks really bad. we’re sending you for a biopsy” That was my confirmation of what this was and I thought I was going to throw up, pass out or bawl. I cried in the waiting room that day waiting for my biopsy to be booked as I was scared of the unknown. The next time was one day when I watched my husband struggle through this and I thought about him being left here to do life without me. That part has been pretty tough when I allow myself to think about those who would miss me if I died. Thinking about my husband not having his wife, my children not having their mom, my parents watching their baby girl go to heaven before them…the list goes on. I just don’t allow myself to go there because I know God has the best plan in the big picture even if it hurts for a while.

The rest of the time, I’ve really been able to enjoy the process (minus the sickness of chemo, the pain after surgery and the annoyance of radiation burns/dressings.😉) It’s been one of the most relaxing, joyful, exciting times of my life. I’m just excited about life! And I’m so grateful for all the blessings I’ve seen and felt along the way. I was hugely blessed to have help with everyday life, to spend a lot time with my husband, to have seen answered prayers, to see God’s people using their gifts, to have had opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have had to tell people about how great God is and how he’s helped me through this, to feel Him speak to me in a real and powerful way,  to have seen how my journey has helped others, the opportunity teach my children about being selfless and having compassion, to be able to rest and have a lot of time to myself to reflect, pray, write and study Gods word, and to have a lot of time with our families. It’s been a great year and full of good feelings about life, love and God.

I actually made up a song about how I’ve been feeling. It’s very ametuer so don’t laugh but I’m going to put it in here anyways.

”Blessings”

It’s all I think about 

It’s your love given out

 I can’t contain myself 

‘Cause blessings 

Its my eternal hope

It’s your word that you spoke

Your peace and joy and hope

 

Oh Lord you’ve given me all I need 

you are my everything

My one eternal King 

oh Lord I’m grateful for my life 

This thorn is my only plight

I’m willing to fight the fight

 

‘Cause blessings 

are your gift that’s got me through 

This trial that I never knew

But you’re asking me to continue

‘Cause blessings 

I use to serve my king 

My gifts and offerings

I’ll always seek to bring

 

Thats it. I feel blessed!

 

 

 

 

 

My cancer journey Part 2: An overview

You know how you’ve heard of cancer taking over a persons life for a year…Well, they mean it. I didn’t think it was that crazy busy at the time because I was just doing what I needed to do but looking back over the last eight months, it really was busy. Not only because of all the cancer appointments, but in between that I still had a life to live and two kids to raise. Thankfully between my mom, Jons mom and Jon, I didn’t have to go to or do everything that would normally be required of a wife/mom/friend etc.

Here’s an overview. I’ll write how I was feeling through it all in the next post.

November 7: Dr.appnt for the lump. Sent for an ultrasound and then a mammogram.

November 14:  biopsy

November 21: diagnosis-cancer. started on antibiotics for 2 separate unrelated infections which made me very sick.

November 27: pelvic ultrasound to see if cancer had spread. It hadn’t.

November 23: surgery consultation diagnosis: in-operable tumour due to size

November 28: bone scan. clear.

November 29: CT scan. diagnosis- stage 3. cancer had spread to lymph nodes.

November 30: another biopsy

December 5: 1st appointment with the oncologist

December 8: 1st chemo treatment

December 12: wig shopping. Feeling sick.

December 19: lab work

December 20: oncologist appointment

December 21: clip placement for surgery

December 22: 2nd chemo

December 25: Christmas at home. sick.

January 2: lab work

January 3: oncologist appointment

January 5: 3rd chemo

Faith and Remington start skating lessons

January 15: cardio appointment

January 16: lab work

January 17: oncologist appointment

January 19: 4th chemo. last one of that drug

January 30: lab work

January 31: oncologist appointment

February 2: 1st of the next chemo drug. unable to go to Mexico for a Berstad family holiday as planned:(

February 13: lab work

February 14: oncologist appointment

February 15: 2nd surgeon appointment

February 16: 2nd round of new chemo

Ski lessons for kids

February 27: lab work

February 28: oncologist appointment

March 2: 3rd round of chemo

March 7: 1st appointment with plastic surgeon

March 13: 1st appointment with radiation oncologist.  lab work.

March 14: oncologist appointment. Another ultrasound

March 16: last round of chemo

Remington‘s 4th birthday

March 26: CT scan

March 27: lab work

March 28: oncologist appointment

April 5: 3rd appointment with surgeon. Faith starts dance lessons.

April 17: 2nd appointment with the plastic surgeon

April 19: anesthesiologist appointment

April 20: mastectomy surgery

April 26: drains taken out

May 3:  appointment with surgeon

May 7: physio

May 16: oncologist appointment.          soccer starts for Remington.

May 18: 1st day of oral chemo meds which will end in November

May 24: physio

June 5: lab work

June 6: faiths birthday. organized a full day of events.

June 12: radiation begins

June 13-15: radiation

June 18-22: Radiation

June 25-29: Radiation.                                 Lab work. Oncologist appointmentPostponed chemo meds for a week due to burns starting.

July 1-4 Radiation

July 8: off to Saskatchewan to heal from Burns and continue with help. dressing changes twice a day which I’m still doing.

After this I will just be on chemo pills until November and then regular check ups and CT scans to monitor me.                                      And hopefully no cancer returns…             so that will be THE END!!

 

 

 

 

 

My cancer journey: Part 1

Originally written feb/2018

The story of my cancer journey started to unfold on oct 24, 2017. That’s the day I discovered the lump. When I first felt it, I thought something wasn’t right, so I told my husband. He reminded me that our daughter had just accidentally kicked me and that it was probably just from that. I wasn’t so sure. During the next 2 weeks that I waited before going in, God confirmed that for me. I wasn’t praying about it or anything at this point, but I just felt the Holy Spirit say to me:

“1. This is cancer. 

  1. I want you to listen to the doctors and not research or stress.” 

And then, the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to a miracle happened. I felt a wave of peace and joy wash over me in the face of a life threatening illness. It was a gift from God that I did not deserve, but was very grateful for. I didn’t understand at the time why I was given that gift but I began to see what God was up to over the next few months. I was excited at the thought that I could be used by God through this situation. I didn’t exactly know how that would look but I felt very sure that I was entering into this difficult time so that I could tell people and show people about Jesus love. I had prayed a couple years earlier that God would use me for His glory and that if that meant going through something difficult, then I was willing. I knew that’s what this was about. 

I felt incredibly blessed that God would choose me! Many other Christians have prayed that prayer in yet God chose me, an undeserving sinful person to carry his message of hope to hurting people. 

(The neat thing that I realized later, is that He has called all Christians to that same calling. He just uses people in different ways. But I felt like I had been especially assigned something great!)

A couple days after my initial feeling that this was cancer and excitement in being used by God, I felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me that I would die at 33 from this disease. I felt like He was saying that people would hear about Jesus at my funeral who otherwise would never hear about His love for them and that this was my way of being a servant for Christ. I was excited again!! So excited to think that my life could be used to bring people to Jesus. Quite a few months later though, I started to question whether that thought was from God or just me. I thought “Either I heard right but God might change His mind and spare my life because of the prayers of so many righteous people or maybe that just wasn’t Him.” My father-in-law said something very interesting to me. He said “have you ever answered the phone and thought that it was somebody who it wasn’t? that’s what it’s like to listen to God. It takes practice and we don’t always get it right.” that was encouraging to me and made me realize that maybe that wasn’t God but even if it wasn’t, that IS what I felt and so it was very real to me to think about my life ending and prepare for that. I started to write out my will and what I wanted to be said at my funeral. it was so crazy because it was a joyous time for me, even though there were moments of sadness thinking about leaving my family behind but God gave me a wonderful picture of him holding my family in his hands and taking care of them and I knew that I didn’t need to be worried for them. Then the whole process began…

My life in a nutshell

Originally written January/2018

Where to begin…let me first tell you about my life up until this point. 

I was born in a small town in Saskatchewan and raised on a farm just outside of it. My growing up years were wonderful. I had 2 loving parents, 2 older siblings, grandparents close by and a host of neighbors within a 10 km radius who were just about all my relatives. I loved “helping” on the farm, making forts with my siblings, playing with my dolls and cousins, going for picnics, “four-wheeling”, cross country skiing in the pines, and swimming/boating/coneing in the lakes. One of the highlights of my growing up years, and the most important decision of my life came when I was 12 years old. I had accepted Christ as my saviour when I was about 5 but at 12 years old I decided to get baptized and make it known that I would now be commited to living for Jesus for the rest of my life. When I got older I started working as a waitress and then a lifeguard/swimming instructor. After high school I moved away to New Zealand for Bible school which was a fantastic adventure and time of growth in my faith. When I was finished my time there I decided to move to drumheller and take the licensed practical nurse course. That was a difficult decision for me because I had always wanted to be an elementary teacher, But I felt the Lord was leading me to that and it turned out to be a great decision as I met my husband during that time! I took my practicum in Cochrane where he was living, we got engaged, I got a job and then we got married -all within a year! It was a very stressful but exciting year! We bought a house a couple years later and moved to strathmore. Then back to Cochrane onto the ranch my brother in law and sister run, where we are now raising our 2 children that were born in 2012 and 2014. My Life has been like everyone else’s in that I’ve had moments of excitement, pain, happiness, difficulty and everything in between…but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

My journey to eternity: first blog post

Originally written January/2018

(I’m just new to this blog thing so it’s taking me a while to get it all figured out;)

I’m calling my blog “my journey to eternity” not because Im sure I’m going to die of the cancer I’ve been diagnosed with, but because I know I’m going to die sometime. we are all on a journey to eternity. so this blog is basically me writing about the different stages of my life here on earth (the challenges and joys) and how my desire is to live life focused on eternal things, not temporal things. 

That doesn’t mean if I make it through this, that I won’t write a few blogs about some of my passions “of this life” including crafting, organizing, money management and pioneer life but mostly I’ll write about what I’m learning regarding being a woman who fears the Lord, honors her husband, raises her kids Gods way and is a light for Jesus in her community. (And let me be the first to admit that I am certainly not doing this perfectly, or even well most of the time!!) But by the grace of God I continue to learn and grow.

My name is Tiffany haensel. I’m a Christian, a wife, a mom, a licensed practical nurse (albeit very casually) and a recently diagnosed breast cancer patient.

Life is looking a little different for me these days. We can’t predict what the future holds nor can we always change the outcome but we CAN choose how we will react and who we will lean on in the situations we are faced with. If we keep our focus on the things of the Lord, we will not easily be shaken when the storm comes.