Friday, December 28, 2012

70 X 7

This morning I feel led to write about forgiveness. I don't know exactly why this subject has been on my mind lately, but it has been interlaced through many of my thoughts. What I want to say is this... Forgiving another person is not only a gift you give that person but is a gift to yourself as well. Having been  on the receiving end of forgiveness, I can honestly testify that there is nothing sweeter than forgiveness.

Forgiving others is a choice. Yes, we are commanded to forgive (70 X 7), It's not a natural response, & sometimes it takes much work. If we could forget, it would be so much easier. I have found that sometimes I cannot forgive on my own. I need God to help me. In fact, I may be so haunted by my hurt that I have to go back to God 70 X 7 times just to say, "Lord help me. I want to forgive."

A few years ago, I felt I had been wronged to my inner most being. My heart ached. I couldn't understand what had happened, but I knew if I couldn't forget, bitterness would eat me up the rest of my life. Try as I might, I relived my hurt every day of my life over & over. I wanted to forgive, but on my own, the hurt was too deep.

Daily, when my thoughts gravitated toward my hurt, when a lump welled up in my heart, when tears filled my eyes, I relived hurtful conversations. This process went on for far too long as far as I was concerned. I just wanted escape. I wanted to forget. I wanted to walk away & never be reminded of this hurt again.

So... I went back to God again & again. I had to ask Him to forgive me of my thoughts. I asked Him to forgive me for not forgiving. I asked Him to help me forgive. My ability to forgive & heal depended on Him. I believe this is why we can't forget. If we could, we wouldn't need God's help. Forgiveness would be so much easier if we could forget!

As the New Year approaches, I think forgiveness is possibly the sweetest gift you can give yourself or another person. Forgiveness brings peace. It's God's plan. My forgiveness could never outdo His. I have received the ultimate forgiveness from Him. "Lord, help me to forgive myself & others."

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Today my heart was deeply touched. One of my fb friends messaged me that she had a little something for me. This friend goes back a few years, & I've always loved her. Her husband used to be my next door neighbor, & when our kids were little, he & I tag teamed in our driveways. While the kids ran circles around us, we'd laugh at their silly jokes, referee their neighborhood squabbles, & listen to their troubles.

Yes... those were the days. Little children in high heels pushing baby buggies. Artwork in the driveway made of sidewalk chalk. Lemonade stands.  Neighborhood clubs. Wading pools & sprinklers. Running barefoot from yard to yard. Those were the days! Sometimes they seem so far away, & other times, so close.

Today we brought those sweet memories to life. It was so much fun to visit the past & share some laughs. Those days weren't easy. In fact, some of them were rather stressful. After all, refereeing neighborhood squabbles wasn't really my thing, but the memories of carefree summer days, building snowmen, & always having a playmate are invaluable.

So as we reminisced today... we remembered Jennifer & Heather, Amy & David, Nikki, Beth, & Eddie, Sarah & Nick, Haley & Dustin, & yes, my 3 little daughters. Many of their friends came to mind too. We marveled at what nice young adults they've all become. Hearing about their professions, their husbands & wives, & some of their childhood traits which still remain was truly inspiring.

I couldn't help but think of some of those little squabbles & wonder how their small troubles helped them grow. I remember their beautiful young faces with fondness. I can still see them chasing each other with the hose, selling lemonade, & yelling back & forth across the street. These days were precious.

My friend brought me a special gift today. She made me a Pink Santa. I am deeply touched & honored. She & her husband also brought the gift of friendship. We visited & visited some more. As we said good-bye, my husband & I felt so refreshed. It was truly a Christmas gift that caught us by surprise. It took me back a few years to a different chapter of my life. It was a special time. Our kids were young, &  as we listened to their little troubles, made peanut butter & jelly, & scooped ice-cream into cones, we formed a bond. Today, we got to share that priceless bond.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

carry on...

Stress seems to be finding me lately. I have not invited stress to sit on my shoulders, tighten my back muscles, cause me sleepless nights, a run down feeling, & inner turmoil. No... stress is an unwelcomed part of life. It seems to be "dogging" a lot of people during this Christmas season. I know I am not the only one feeling it.

Last night when I went to bed, my husband told me to focus on the dog. I chuckled to myself but decided to take his advice. After all "Otis" had just had his Christmas bath & was snuggled up next to me. I put my hand on his soft head & let him comfort me. As I stroked his soft ears, I began to relax & drift off into a calm sleep.

I have found that time spent with loving people also helps refresh my spirit. Laughter is the best medicine. Just knowing someone cares helps immensely. Having something to look forward to seems to take my focus off unpleasant thoughts. Of course, music is a wonderful reliever of stress. Sometimes, a scripture will come to mind which soothes my weary soul...

"Cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you" is one of my favorites. Knowing I can lay my burdens down at the feet of Jesus at anytime is a gift from God. When things are out of my control, prayer offers me comfort. It is both the least & the most I can do. It's the least because it's the easiest thing to do. It's also the first action I should take. It's the most because God has the whole picture & can miraculously touch his healing hand upon any situation or soul.

Sometimes just carrying on is the only option. Knowing that we don't carry on alone brings peace. God's presence is the most I can hope for & is better than any outcome. So when things are out of my reach, when there is nothing I can do to change a situation, I must rest in Him. Once I realize this, I always feel better.

Monday, December 17, 2012

It doesn't matter that it's Christmastime.

To say the least, it's been a rough couple of days... I don't want to forget the tragedy at Newtown, CT. It just makes my heart so downtrodden. It seems like this season brings out the best & the worst in people. As I continue to read articles & see news coverage, I learn new things that take my breath away.

This evening I read a report about a man that met 6 kids at the end of his driveway. They told him they couldn't go back to school, their teacher was dead. I just cannot wrap my head around 6 & 7 year old children running past their slaughtered teacher, running for their lives. I cannot fathom the toll this will take on their young lives. What will the lasting effects be? How will this evil manifest itself in their lives?

Today I was at the mall. I thought a woman was finished with the cell phone man, & I asked a simple question. He & I began to banter back & forth about his phone cases. The woman who stood there smiling peacefully, turned to us & said she was leaving. The young man apologized saying he didn't realize she wasn't finished. I apologized for intruding on her purchase. She walked away in disgust. The damage was done.

I'm finding myself a bit more hesitant about life. After all, who knows when someone's rage will turn into a rampage? I don't have a crystal ball to foresee how my words & actions may effect another person. I try to be kind.  I'm finding myself causing grief without even knowing it. I hate that.

I realize there is no way for me to second-guess how a person will take what I say to them. I don't know where a perfect stranger is coming from or what he/she's been through today. I don't know what makes people react the way they do. But today... I have been taken aback. Not only by the disturbed young man that took 20 young lives but by others too.

There's so much in this world I cannot comprehend. I feel short sighted. People are hurtful on so many levels. Sometimes trouble comes your way, & you did nothing to bring it on. After all, most people do not seek out trouble. So... there you are, suddenly thrown in the thick of things, having to deal with life. No... you didn't ask for it. That doesn't matter. It's yours to behold, & dealing with it is your only viable option.

It doesn't matter that it's Christmastime. It doesn't matter that you meant no harm. It doesn't matter...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

sweetly & forever...

As a beautiful blonde hair blue eyed little girl seemingly prematurely went home to be with Jesus, a hero came forth. His name is Robbie Parker. He is her Daddy. A hero is a person who in the midst of an unspeakable crisis reaches out to others. As he spoke, his body trembled. He is still visibly shaken. Yet, even as he is still absorbing his own tragedy, he has chosen (with tears) to speak.

He adored his little girl. He was so proud of her because she was always reaching out to encourage others. She always carried her pencils & markers, so she could make someone a card at a moment's notice. Wow! Extraordinary for 6 years old.

Her Daddy said her caring spirit didn't come from his or his wife's parenting. No, it was how her Heavenly Father gifted her. Wow! Extraordinary for a Daddy who just lost his precious baby girl to a violent inexpressible death.

He says he is not mad. In fact, he wishes to reach out to other hurting families & to the family of the sick young man who committed this heinous crime.  Again I say, "Wow!" This 30 year old man said that he is empowered by helping others. He knows it will be the best way for his own healing to take place.

He sees his little girl's 6 years of life as a gift from his Father in Heaven. He said her life impacted others. She was a blessing, & he was blessed by her. My heart goes out to Robbie Parker. He wants his legacy to be that of a loving Daddy. His sweet baby girl had 2 little sisters who will deeply miss their big sister. She mentored them. They looked up to her. The 3 of them were very close.

So as Emilie Parker's little body is laid to rest, a hole is left in the hearts of her sweet family. Her photo catches your eye. She could have been a model. Her blue eyes sparkled. Her blonde hair was striking. Her radiant smile leaves a lasting impression. She melts your heart. Her Daddy's words melt your heart. A hero comes forth as his beautiful baby rests sweetly & forever in the loving arms of Jesus.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Unopened presents.

Tears are shed today for unopened presents under the tree. These sweet gifts represent lives that will not be fully lived. They were bought for little ones, too young to know that Santa isn't real. These young lives, like the presents under the tree, will never know their purpose on this earth.

Parents will sadly put these treasures away as the Christmas season passes, not really knowing what to do. Their broken hearts will never fully mend. A part of their own heart died today. Lives forever changed. How will they go on? Only God knows...

Tragedies befall us without warning. Aftershock is painful. Sometime it never goes away. Our greatest blessings are taken away, & we are left with empty hearts that seem beyond repair. The crime was senseless, absolutely so unnecessary. Innocent little souls taken up to Heaven long before their time.

Our greatest fears become our realities. How do we cope? Knowing our little ones are safe in Heaven is our only hope, but still... we must grieve. Our grief will know no bounds. We will suffer more than we knew possible. Our broken hearts will hurt for years to come. We will cry tears even when our eyes are dry.

There is no understanding because there is no answer. Today, people were robbed of  lives that can never be replaced. They will always wonder how their babies suffered, what unbearable fear went through their little minds. Was someone there to comfort them, or were they just scared & so alone?

They never got to say good bye. They weren't even allowed to hold their little ones as their spirits left their  bodies & ascended into Heaven. Left with empty arms, unopened presents, unanswered questions, unconsolable grief, hearts that cannot be repaired, they wish they could awaken from this heinous nightmare.

God, we pray... Please comfort these hurting hearts. Let them know your presence. Help them know this life is only temporary, & one day, they will be reunited. In the meantime, you will hold these precious little souls safely in your arms until their journeys bring them back together. One day... there will be no more tears & no more suffering. That's a promise. 

Bananas & Jelly Bellies

It had been a long day. Her mood was somber, almost cross. She seemed like she had little joy left in her life. All day, I wished for a smile, maybe even a little laughter. Nothing. Very little conversation. Just existing seemed difficult.

As darkness came & the Christmas lights began to twinkle, her grand son sat down at the piano & began to play beautiful soft music. He just played what came to mind. I realized her spirits were quietly transcending to a different place. I could see a soothing effect as her facial muscles began to relax. Her head even swayed slightly as the beautiful chord progressions permeated her soul.

It was as though Heaven came down & sweet healing took place, at least for a moment. As her grand son said good night, I hugged him. What peace he had brought to her troubled mind. She headed for her bedroom to dress for bed. As I was tucking her in, she decided to come back out to the living room.

We sat on the couch & listened to classical music. Again, I noticed peace & even a little joy. Her foot began to sway with the beat. She began to come to life. We ate Jelly Bellies & shared a banana. We talked about Mozart & Beethoven. She even asked for some Rachmaninoff. She said to tell my brother she didn't get to hear Prokofiev.

Her highlight came when the Mormon Tabernacle choir sang "O Come All Ye Faithful" (her favorite of the night). As we picked out our different flavored Jelly Bellies, we laughed because we both knew we shouldn't be eating them. The banana we shared? Well... in the morning I offered her a banana, & she informed me she doesn't like bananas. Really?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


In truth, I wanted to find a little Christmas devotion that would be be very special. I searched for a specific miracle to share only to have it shot down by Snopes. I was mortified. I didn't know a miracle could be dissed. Really?

As I began to recover from my disappointment, I started to ponder the brilliance of Christmas. Honestly, no other miracle compares. I decided I needn't look any further...

But then... the problem arose... which angle of Christmas, which beautiful lesson should I use? The  solution seemed simple, I would use them all. Next problem... my devotion was cluttered. So, I asked God for His divine guidance, & here's what He gave me...

The 3 Wise Men & the Shepherds both came to the Manger Scene by Heavenly appointment. The star in the East led the Magi. An Angel appeared to the Shepherds. So... in a very Godly fashion, the lowliest of lows & the wisest of the wise were present. Hmmnnn... this pattern is not new to us.

God sent His son for all people. Yes, the richest of the rich & the poorest of the poor & everybody in between. It matters not how others see you or how you see yourself. He came for you!

Just look at the treasured gifts the 3 Wise Men brought the Christ child. Obviously, they'd done their homework. They knew the scriptures, & with excitement they followed the star in the East. With them, they brought gold to crown a king, frankincense (that is incense for a Deity), & myrrh which was used for embalming.

Both the Shepherds & the Wise Men were overcome with joy. The Magi bowed down & worshiped Him. The lowly Shepherds spread the good news. They returned glorifying & praising God. All responded with awe. Without question, they recognized the brilliance of the moment. Do we?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Busy Busy Busy!

Today I visited a preschool. It brought back memories of my old teaching days. In fact, I felt like I fit right in. I even had the desire to be a part of the teaching team. The children were so beautiful. Their eyes sparkled. You could tell they were glad to be at school. Their teachers were dedicated. The kids greeted one another. It was sweet!

I enjoyed conversing with the lead teacher. Her program amazed me. My favorite room was the sensory room. This room had a small tent filled with colorful balls (kind of like the old McDonald's play land). It had a neat swing that allowed the kids to develop balance. There were a few preschool size trampolines & a whole host of other adventures. My favorite was the rocking boat. Reminded me of my own little Sunday School days.

We discussed the growing number of children in need of programs similar to the one I visited today. My conclusion: the family life style has changed so much that our children are suffering. It takes so much to nourish a child. Sadly, some children spend the majority of their lives being drug from one place to another.

Children need to spend time in their own home with their own parent(s). When they are little, they need to be read stories, have snuggle time, & be allowed to play. Too much fast food really isn't the answer to our busy lives. Signing them up for one more activity has its downside too. Both children & parents need time to breathe.

It seems that when children are allowed enough time to have their needs met, they feel better, are generally happier, & better behaved. I would describe it as being more centered, more secure. In the short time I was there, I was pleased to see how the children looked out for one another. The atmosphere was peaceful. What a nice place for a child to flourish!

As their school day came to a close, I could hear them singing "Ho ho... ho ho ho" to the tune of Bingo. Little faces were smiling. Their day began with a positive start. They even go to put up Christmas decorations. I don't know how their day progressed from there, but for that moment, all was right with their small world. My heart went out to both the kids & the teachers. The teachers can't fix a child, but I believe the time & love invested in the lives of these precious children is making a difference.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

How do you live life with cancer?

Recently, someone asked me if I still had cancer? My answer was... I don't think so, & I hope not. But until the next test, how do I really know? That is the truth, plain & simple. Right now, I live with a daily reminder of my past year. My radiated skin is shrinking. It's been said that radiation is the gift that keeps on giving. Seems to be an understatement.

Every night, I awake about 3:30am & frequently cannot go back to sleep. My left side, the radiated side, never feels quite right. Sometimes, I imagine lymphedema. Other times, it's just discomfort, but it scares me. I worry about the tightness & wonder at the longterm effects of that frightful day when my world was forever changed. My life was turned up. side. down.

As I reenter my world, I am constantly reminded of how my life has changed. If it's not someone asking me about my cancer, it's a dear friend hugging me for dear life. If I haven't seen someone in a while,  I can tell by her hug, she is rooting for me, praying for me, cheering me along on my journey. It still takes people a little time to recognize me. After all, I have a new do.

Of course, there's the frequent flashbacks. Something will trigger a memory, & whoosh, I'm reliving the early days of my journey. Perhaps it's somebody else suffering. It might be a TV show. Christmas, of course, marks a reminder of how far I've come. Then... there's the sadness that comes when you hear of someone passing from this heinous disease. It makes my heart ache the most when I think about the family suffering as they walk this journey with their loved one.

So... how does one carry on when their physical state & their memories keep slapping them in the face? Going back to our life prior to cancer sometimes seems like the best answer. At least, that's what we would do if we could. But... of course, that is not an option, so how do we live our life from this day forward?

I think we take one day at a time. We put one foot in front of the other, & before we know it, we are moving forward. I believe it's important to take time to mentally process our journey, & yes... to even embrace it. At first, that seems ridiculous, absurd. However, as your feet move forward, & your mind looks back, you begin to see beautiful treasures with eyes you didn't have prior to this journey.

I marvel at how my life has been so richly blessed this past year. The friends I've made on this journey have enriched me beyond measure. My faith has deepened, & that's the most precious gift of all. My relationships have more meaning. Wow! I didn't know that was possible. I welcome my flashbacks because they keep me in touch with the new me.

I love to embrace this journey. God has given me an opportunity to see life from a new perspective with   a keener eyesight. I don't wish it away. Going forward takes facing my fears. Looking back gives me strength. It melts my fears & renews my faith. I love my life, & I am grateful for each day. When  fears creeps up on me, when anxiety blows in like the wind, I must consciously put myself back in the arms of my loving Father. After all, only He knows the number of my days. The rest really doesn't matter.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I'd like to change a few things about myself.

What Christmas memory will stick in your mind the most this year? Will it be a gift you gave away, or perhaps a gift you received? It might be the little program at church, or perhaps the Christmas concert at school. Maybe you'll go Christmas caroling or bake a batch of cut outs. You might get to spend much needed time with loved ones or quietly celebrate without much ado. Whatever your circumstances, a few memories will be made. Christmas tends to be a mile marker.

As I flash back through my own Christmas memoirs, I always begin on Christmas Eve with the anticipation of Santa Claus. We went to a candle light service & gathered with cousins for a fancy dinner. I never could completely enjoy myself because I was worried I wouldn't fall asleep. Santa would pass me by.

Somehow, I always fell asleep & awoke to some delightful little Christmas gifts. It was almost always a doll... Baby First Step, Mrs. Beasely, Chrissy, to name a few. I always got a new nightgown. My stocking was filled with apples & oranges, a few candy canes, & some chocolate covered cherries. I could count on that.

Christmas was magical for me. It was a time to enjoy friends & family, go Christmas caroling, maybe sledding, & ring in the New Year. I loved being free from school for a few weeks. I loved having my cousin spend the night. Playing with my new doll kept me busy for hours. Life was simple. Little things meant a lot.

Every year as Christmas passed, I was sad. I still feel that way. I want to savor every moment. Before I know it, the music will stop, the bell ringers will be gone, Santa won't be in the mall, & all that will remain of the gifts that were opened will be balled up wrapping paper & empty boxes. The weather will be chilly. The kids will go back to school. My heart will feel bare.

As we ring in the New Year, resolutions will be made. Some will be meaningless. Some foolish. A few will be sincere, but most will go by the wayside. I like to write mine down & see how I did the following year. Sometimes I don't even remember what it was. This year my goal is to reach out more to other people. I want my resolution to be of eternal significance. Yes... I'd like to lose a few pounds & change a few things about myself, but more than anything, I'd like to do something that will allow God to use me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Just. being. honest.

Just. being. honest. There are so many things in the Bible I don't understand. Truth is, I probably never will this side of Heaven. Try as I might, it's hard to sort through much of what is written. Some of it seems so confusing, but I am sure it's just my inabilty to understand, my own shortcomings.

Just when I think I have something figured out, a curve comes my way. What seemed black & white suddenly becomes gray, & I have to question my own thinking. I try to take things in the Bible in context. I try to look at the Bible as a whole. I try to understand the stories & apply them to my life.

I try to see who the passage was written for or why it was written. What issues were being addressed? Were the words written to last through eternity or were specific problems of the time period the reason for the divine words breathed by God? How am I to know? How can I, a mere reader of the word, discern what the Bible is saying to me?

How is it that people who read the same words can have different interpretations? Why does one person discern one thing while another discerns something else? How is it that the Holy Spirit directs one person one way & the other person another way? People come to odds over these differences. People stop going to church because of these disagreements. People hurt because others see things from different points of view.

Sometimes it doesn't matter. As with most things in life, we can agree to disagree. Other times, it matters. It divides. It hurts. Sometimes we cannot overlook our different interpretations. I think the best we can do is realize that we are called to love one another. The Bible says we will be known by our love. Clearly love is the best testimony we have.

Friday, November 30, 2012


I've been thinking so much lately about the cruelty of aging. Just as there is really no easy way for a child to be born, I don't believe there is an easy way to age gracefully unto death. Watching a loved one's mind &/or body wear out is sad. Seeing a once spunky person struggle just to take a step or 2 makes me hurt. Fingers that once played the piano now struggle to find the right note.

Conversation is sometimes difficult. Just processing a simple question & responding with a simple answer is taxing. Getting up off the couch can be so trying. A body that used to be flexible is now stiff & uncooperative. Just getting 2 arms in a warm jacket causes distress. Getting out the door & into the car takes incredible perseverance.

The eyes which once sparkled have become dim. The smile & laughter that frequently came forth is now only an occasional visitor. Skin is thin. Sleep comes & goes as it pleases. Favorite food doesn't always taste so good. Staying focused isn't possible. Aches & pains are ever present. Short term memory comes & goes. Long term memory is quite intact.

Loneliness has become a frequent companion. Staring into space is now a past time. The days are long. Dawn & dusk blend together. It's hard to hear. It's hard to see. It's hard to understand. Staying balanced is difficult. Sensory feelings have diminished. The 5 senses are less impressive, & so, simple tasks have become complex.

As the body slows & a life ticks slowly away, loved ones helplessly observe the fading of a beautiful life. Memories come & go. A need to be close, to comfort, to ease ones pain tugs relentlessly at the heart. Peace comes just from being near. Lending a helping hand, providing a listening ear, explaining something simple, a warm touch, a gentle caress of the head, a little laughter, a glimpse of the past... all of these bring a sweet calm.

Life is precious. Yes... every stage is precious. As each day passes, life slowly slips away. Memories live in our hearts. They have a part in who we are. Love has a deeper meaning. Sadness resides in the heart. A beautiful life touches one's soul. The impact cannot be calculated. The softness of my heart cannot be changed. My life has been forever touched by this beautiful life. I can only be thankful.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

each moment of every day, forever.

Sometimes, it's hard not to be sad. The heartache that surrounds me makes me sad. Someone newly diagnosed with breast cancer, a young couple getting a divorce, friends struggling with family issues, loved ones aging, a world full of fear, & the list goes on... and on... Yet, on the flip side, there is so much to be thankful for, it's hard to stay sad. I think life is strange in that respect.

I have always believed in counting my blessings. I don't really like to use cliches, but I think this one best conveys my heart. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the uncertainties of life, the sorrows lurking about, the fears eating at peoples' peace, the sad choices friends make, the effects of those sad choices on loved ones, broken relationships, etc.

I am in the midst of a Bible Study called The Story. It is making a tremendous impact on my life. As it says in Ecclesiastes, "There is nothing new under the sun." As humans, I think we try to invent new ideas, but really... in terms of heartache & joys, fears & prayers answered as we hoped, suffering & health, death & new life, sin & obedience, & the like... Life seems to cycle through different versions of these paradoxes. All of which happen simultaneously.

The stories of the Old Testament have come to life for me. I have been reading them, studying them, pondering them, & totally amazed by them. They bear a few common threads: God's grace, the frailty of the human heart, & enough lessons to set us straight for a lifetime. All the heartaches that surround me existed BC. However, things were different for one reason. And for another reason, things have not changed.

Back then, God very much wanted a relationship with his creation. He still does. That hasn't changed. He loved King David. In spite of David's human frailties, he was called a man after God's own heart. David committed adultery, tried to cover up his sin, had his mistress' husband (an honorable man) killed, & didn't come clean until he was confronted. David paid a price for his sins. They were publicly exposed in broad daylight. He lost a child, his daughter was raped, his son turned against him.... The punishment certainly fit the crime. Yet, he still went down in history as a man after God's own heart.

I am in awe of God's grace. In time, David forgave himself & found peace with God. David praised God all the days of his life. So how have things changed? What makes life different AD? Simply said, a Savior. No more sacrificing. God no longer dwells in a tent as he did with the Israelites. His presence was made known in a cloud of smoke by day & a ball of fire by night. Now... we all have access to Him. Because of that first Christmas, we can have an ongoing relationship with God. We just have to trust. Christ can dwell in our heart (daily, hourly, each moment of every day, forever).

Yes... we will still be overcome with fear, our troubles will eat at us from time to time.We will even be sad. People will continue to suffer & make heart wrenching decisions. Our human hearts will fail both physically & morally. But, we are forgiven if we have created a dwelling place in our hearts for our Savior. Our sins will still have consequences, but we can still find peace with God. He can even use our sin to fulfill His purpose.

Best of all, if we take time to have a relationship for Christ, to create a dwelling place in our heart for Him, we will dwell with Him throughout eternity in our Heavenly home. And there, we will find peace that will never end. Our fears will no longer exist. We won't cry tears of sadness. Evil will not exist. Suffering & anguish will be no more. That first Christmas offers us so much for just one reason, the birth of our Savior, the only one who can save us from ourselves. Please, if you haven't taken time to make your heart His dwelling place, this Christmas would be the perfect time.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Memory Lane

This afternoon, we returned from a little Thanksgiving vacay. My youngest daughter was skeptical from the start. She didn't understand traveling on Thanksgiving Day (not celebrating the special day in our own home with Dad's delicious deep fried turkey). She agreed to go along & be a good sport, but it certainly went against her idea of Thanksgiving.

Our middle daughter was unable to go due to work. We missed her & her hubby terribly but figured we wouldn't see her over Thanksgiving whether we stayed home or not. Our oldest daughter & her husband were ready for a getaway. So off we went.

Okay, the Thanksgiving Day turkey really didn't measure up to Dad's deep fried turkey. Nobody could disagree with that! We missed out on some of our favorite dishes but figured we would survive. It rained in the evening, so the arrival of Santa had to be indoors for the first time in 28 years. Such a disappointment as we had come back to relive some of our early family memories. No bonfire. No hot chocolate outside. No carols. No Santa arriving on a cherry picker.

However, a complimentary show (a hypnotist) took place after Santa pics. We sat with excitement waiting for the show to begin. Should we raise our hands & be participants, or should we just watch?Honestly, I tried to do it from my seat but was too distracted. I gave it up after a few minutes & decided to enjoy just watching the show. I'd never seen anything like it. Quite amazing how the human mind operates!

Black Friday, we spent at an outlet mall. Not too crowded & some really good finds. We bowled & went to a movie. We ate custard & enjoyed a restaurant called Wobbly Boots. It really didn't matter what we did. We just had fun being together. We sat up late talking, played a few silly games, & even ordered late night pizza. We laughed a lot (at ourselves & each other).

We enjoyed our walk down Memory Lane. We relived a few memories but mainly made new ones. We talked about our future & how we'd like to spend it sharing times together. As we loaded up the truck to head for home, I never felt more thankful. To have children that want to travel with us & spend time with us is the greatest gift they could give me. I haven't seen my youngest smile & laugh so much in a long time. I said a little prayer of Thanksgiving as my husband started the engine. I couldn't ask for more.

Monday, November 19, 2012

a trade off

Sometimes holidays come & go. We get through them. We survive them. We regret what we did or didn't do. Sometimes we are sad to see them go. Other times, there is a sense of relief. The mayhem is over, let's just get back to our so called normal. Or... perhaps we've endured a loss or a sad memory, & Christmas is too painful this year. Holiday stress added to our everyday stress is sometimes more than we can bear.

I love the holiday season that is about to kick off with Thanksgiving & last through the first of the year. I think it's important we savor the meaning of each special day & attempt to live it throughout the whole year. We decorated our house a little early this year, cause I don't want to miss out on one day of celebration.

I love Thanksgiving because I believe gratitude is something we should practice everyday. When you live your life with gratitude, it makes for a glass-half-full attitude. When you seriously set out to appreciate all of the good in your life, it changes your outlook. It also helps you turn negatives into positives. It helps you notice the good in spite of the bad.

I have to agree with Rick Warren, a well known pastor of Saddle Back Church in California. Life isn't the ups & downs I used to think it was. Rather, it's 2 roads. One is filled with joy. The other is the more difficult journey. We travel both of these roads simultaneously throughout life. We can have joy in our life even as we struggle, face hardships, live with unknowns, & grieve for others facing sadness.

As a young person, I didn't really "get" it. I thought life was either happy or sad. I didn't understand that  one can experience an up & a down at the same time. As humans, I think we tend to let our sorrow rob us of our joy. I think instead we should grieve our sorrows & celebrate our joys. I have also learned that joy can come from both the good times & the bad.

Being stretched is hard work, but the growth that results is a trade off. Life is full of sadness, brokenness, tragedy, & hardships. These things are inevitable, & no one is immune. However, it is through these times that we deepen as human beings. These things serve to make us better people in a strange sort of way. They make us thankful for the good times. They keep us from taking our loved ones for granted.

As we enter this joyous season, I want to share God's love with others in every way possible. I want to love like I've never loved before. I want to serve with a passion so deep, others see Christ & sense God's love. I'm not all caught up in shopping & wrapping like I usually am; I just want to savor each day. I don't want it to go too fast. I want to see the lights. I want to hear the music. I want to taste the Christmas cookies & see the sparkle in the eyes of little children. I want to love the poor & brighten their day. I want time to think of that first Christmas. I want to imagine myself as a mouse in the corner of that stable, seeing the bright star in the East & hearing my Lord's first cry. I want to smell the hay & see the love in Mary & Joseph's eyes. I want to savor every moment.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I've even been feeling guilty for this feeling.

This morning I got together with 2 friends that have come into my life because of this journey. We had breakfast for 3 hours. It was so nice to visit. Out of the blue, one of the girls (who's journey has timed out very closely with mine) shared a thought that has so been on my mind lately. She had no idea I was feeling the same thing. I've even been feeling guilty for this feeling. A rush of relief came over me. I realized it must be a normal feeling for what we've been through.

We chatted & laughed, ate our breakfast, shared, giggled like school girls, & sort of solved the world's problems. Not really, but we did have a nice time. It did my heart good. It's moments like this that I see how enriched my life is because of this journey God has allowed (if not caused) me to travel. I'm not exactly the same person I was prior to all of this, & I don't want to be. If I went through all of this & didn't deepen as a human being, I think it would be in vain.

It's amazing the silliness that occurs because of what we've experienced. If you didn't have a sense of humor, the journey would be much more painful. Laughing at our circumstances brings such relief. Joking about our surgeries is so ridiculous yet so healing. Bonding with such beautiful women makes it all so special. Sharing our trials brings comfort. Knowing someone else has the same feelings strangely brings relief.

In the last year, God has impressed upon my heart the importance of friendship. He created us with a need for each other. We are not made to walk our journeys alone. Whatever our journey, we need to let friends in on our struggles. It makes the load so much lighter & maybe even enjoyable. It doesn't make our troubles go away, but it makes them bearable. Two are better than one. A chord of three is not easily broken. Pity the one who falls & has no one to pick him up (Ecclesiastes).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The full whammy!

This evening I went to a meeting at Susan G. Komen. The Pink Promise Models are writing a book. Of course, the proceeds will go to Susan G. Komen. I have grown to love my Survivor friends. They are funny & quite witty. The book is going to be a collection of our stories & the stories of other breast cancer survivors. We all agree that each of us has such a unique journey (even tho' there are many  common threads).

My hope is that this book will be a comfort to other newly diagnosed survivors. The ladies also hope it will help others to understand the journey of the breast cancer survivor. It's so weird how just by walking this journey, you are given a platform which you can use to share your story & so much more. I always find comfort in being with other survivors, but sometimes, I get a bit shook up. When I leave with the realization that my case seems to be the most severe of those who gathered, I get a bit freaked out.

This happened to me at a yoga class in the early stages of my journey. I remember leaving that night in tears, so hopeless. Now 9 months farther down the road, I left with a similar realization. Wow! These beautiful women faced so much; many had surgery, but few had chemo & radiation. Most of them had clean lymph nodes. I said good-bye to one of my new survivor friends. She's a doll. She's 79 & a 32 year survivor. Yes... truly, remarkable!

As I got in my car, that realization hit me again. Wow! I really got the full whammy, the whole deal. Truth is, I don't really even know my prognosis. I was denied a PET scan. My life rests totally in God's hands. No tears tonight. Just that gnawing realization of the severity of my case. Peace reigns. I didn't even feel a need to share my thoughts with my husband when I got home.

The last time this happened, I never went back. I left in tears, & I sobbed all the way home. I made a quick stop at Starbucks, & in between tears, I ordered a Passion Tea. My sweet friend took my order. He recognized my voice. When I got to the window, he told me I would be okay because I rested in
God's hand. I don't believe his words were happenstance or that he was coincidentally working that night. No... God knew just what I needed, & I heard the truth.

So tonight as I drove my similar route home, I didn't stop at Starbuck's. I didn't even shed one tear. Yes... I shook my head somewhat in disbelief. But then my mind did its usual ADD thing & pondered many other things as I headed for home. As I stepped through my front door & greeted my boys (my husband & my sweet dog), I just felt happy. So happy to be home to my boys. Happy to be a part of this book. Happy for this journey of amazing new friends. Happy for emotional healing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Excitement is in the air...

This morning I asked my husband to cheerfully help me decorate for Christmas. Last year my daughter & her husband did it for me. I was too weak from chemo & couldn't imagine how I would ever be ready for Christmas. This year, I feel so much better, but due to my recent surgery, I'm  limited. As always, I am so excited about Christmas. I feel like a child, & I don't know exactly what it is about Christmas that makes me so giddy.

I love Christmas music. Caroling is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Hearing the songs play throughout the stores & on the radio brightens my spirits too. Buying gifts is fun to a point but wrapping them is not my thing. Baking Christmas cookies is so much work, but definitely something I love to do. Saying Merry Christmas is special too because it helps one remember why we celebrate this beautiful time of year.

A famous Christmas carol refers to Christmas as the most wonderful time of year. Sadly, Christmas is a painful time of year for so many. Sometimes it's associated with a loss or a sad memory. There are those who can't afford to buy gifts or fix a holiday meal. Some people are lonely, & others are suffering a hardship of some kind. Christmas causes depression for some & the stress of all of the above mentioned traditions can be too much. It's truly one of the busiest times of year.

I'd like to offer a way out from the hustle & bustle of Christmas, a way to simplify & truly enjoy this meaningful season as it's meant to be. Less is more. Buy less, wrap less. Bake less, eat fewer calories (less depression after Christmas). Focus on the needy & not yourself. Ask what you can do to brighten somebody else's Christmas. Commit to fewer Christmas activities so you can actually enjoy the ones you choose to attend. Think about what's important to your family, & prioritize. Don't be afraid to let things go.

Lastly, remember the reason for this beautiful many faceted celebration. If what you do,  helps you enjoy the birth of Christ, than enjoy. If it causes stress & detracts from having a peaceful Christmas, let it go. Know that if you don't bake one batch of cookies, it's okay. If you don't send one card, it's fine. If you only put up a few decorations, you'll actually enjoy them more. It's the meaning of your gifts, not the cost. Strive to enjoy what you do & not overdo. For me, there's a few necessities. The rest is optional...

Watching It's a Wonderful Life is essential. Enjoying the lights on my Christmas tree is my nightly ritual. Attending our Christmas Eve service is special. The music of the season makes it for me. Spending time with my family is the best. Taking time to think about my Jesus, the greatest gift of all, is one of my past times. I picture Mary & Joseph traveling (so young & so alone). I see the wise men following the star in the East. I hear the baby's cry on that first Christmas night in a manger. Shepherds & animals gather around the babe. He is wrapped in swaddling clothes. His parents don't really understand, but they trust.

Jesus did not look like the king that people expected. If they knew the prophesies, then they knew Jesus fulfilled them word for word. God has a pattern of using the simplest of all (a tiny baby) to accomplish His purpose. On that first Christmas night, our Savior was born into a poor family. His parents were young, probably scared too. There wasn't even a safe, warm place for Him to lie His little head. Yet there was excitement in the air for those who knew... The star shown brightly, the Angel appeared, the baby was born, & our lives were forever changed.

Monday, November 12, 2012

not quite so bad...

Some of you may know that recently, I have been working on a surprise scrapbook for my husband's 50th birthday. Many of you may have contributed a letter. I was up all kinds of crazy hours working on this scrapbook. It turned out to be quite the project. Too bad he had an inkling as he saw one of the email headings on my laptop (unbeknownst to me). For 2 weeks, I have been consumed by this scrapbook, racing against the clock, breaking the printer, losing 2 of the emails, hiding the evidence, telling numerous lies, & the list goes on...

When I began this project, I didn't really like scrapbooking. I found it tedious & somewhat senseless. I couldn't see the value in putting a boarder around each piece of writing & each photo. Something changed about 1/2 way through this project. I began to love it, & to piece it together with intense passion. After all, it was for my beloved.

As I carefully glued each picture, my heart remembered the story behind the photo. As I wrote his life story, I loved thinking back through the years & remembering so many sweet memories. As I read the 67 letters sent by family & friends, I actually teared up over & over. I knew that he had no idea how much his friends & family valued him. I wish every one could receive a scrapbook of this magnitude for their 50th birthday.

Please don't think I am bragging. I am not. The meaningfulness was not my doing; it came from the beautiful letters. Bosses from the early years of his career wrote letters. Pastors from way back to the present sent messages. Friends & family near & far contributed. Childhood friends even participated. Some were funny. Some shared memories. Some wrote of things they admired about him or a way in which he touched their life. Others simply sent a loving birthday message.

As I crafted this project, I couldn't help but see some parallels in life. I loved being creative. I think I've actually found a new hobby. I loved piecing together seemingly useless scraps to make a page. It so reminded me of life, of how God takes our seemingly useless traits & makes something special from them. He takes the ordinary & does extraordinary things. What began as painstaking became delightful.

When it was all said & done, I don't think I've ever given him a more meaningful gift. I didn't know I had it in me, & I didn't know how it would touch him. When the party was over, he sat down on the  couch & read each word. Sometimes he laughed his belly laugh, & sometimes he cried. He was in awe that so many people took time to send him such beautiful messages. This past year has made life more meaningful in every way. Being blessed by so many people made turning 50 not quite so bad.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

easy tears

Yesterday morning I visited with other breast cancer survivors as I waited for my turn to be interviewed at Susan G. Komen. As we chatted, I couldn't help but stroll down memory lane. I couldn't help but note their facial expressions as they remembered details from their own cases. It's amazing how retelling our stories so easily brings tears to our eyes. Sometimes, I think we'd all like to minimize it, to pretend it never happened (or at least forget it). We can't. The reason being (I think) is because of the fear. We forever live with the fear of the return of our nightmare.

Daily, I must remind myself who's hand holds me. I actually put out the palm of my hand & picture myself sitting right smack dab in the middle of God's mighty hand. The Bible tells me that nothing can snatch me out of the palm of God's hand. I know this. I live this. I wish it could be second nature. I wish I didn't have to remind myself. I've taken to wearing a bracelet lately with the words from Psalm 23 written on it.

My husband claims this verse as his favorite. Funny how you can hear a verse over & over for years, & suddenly, it's like hearing it for the first time. Verse 4 is the part that I find especially comforting. I will fear no evil; for thou art with me. Thy rod & thy staff, they comfort me. Jesus is referred to in scripture as The Great Shepherd. I believe this verse is saying that He is my shepherd, watching after me, guarding me with His staff & His rod. He is always with me.

It also says in the Bible that the sheep learn to recognize their Master's voice. I take this literally, & I thank God for each time I hear His still small voice, for each time He refreshes my soul, for each time He takes away my burdens. I think I keep God pretty busy because I am needy. I need Him more than I need air or water. I need Him to feel whole. I need Him to live fully. I need Him to calm my fears.

As I've said before, knowing His presence is better than any miracle, better than any earthly treasure. His presence comforts me in a way in which only His presence can. His still small voice is the most comforting of all. When I hear His voice, I rest easily no matter what burden I carry.

I must admit there is another reason that we cannot (must not)  forget our journey. This reason is much more positive. It also causes one's eyes to tear up. Our journey has changed us. It has given us a new perspective. It has brought people into our lives who are beautiful. It has caused us to dig deep into our own souls & find someone we might not have known prior to our diagnosis.

This person is a new person. I feel so vulnerable, yet so loved. I feel so weak, yet so strong. I feel so scared, yet so courageous. I don't know how a person can have such opposing feelings all at the same time, but I do. I don't know how one's life can be so unsettled, yet so peaceful. I like living this way. It's not something I fully understand, but it's refreshing. It gives me opportunity to share God's presence in my life. It forces me to live His love.  It keeps me in the right place. I think that's why I like it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


This journey of mine certainly has it's highlights and its lowlights. I feel as though the meaningfulness of every aspect of my life has been enhanced, & I think that is the sweetest gift of all. Some moments are especially tender & heart wrenching while others are exceedingly joyful. It's mind boggling how such deep emotions can occur almost simultaneously & even be connected.  It seems to me that in the most tender moments come the most touching acts of kindness from my loved ones.

These acts of kindness may not be earth shaking to others, but to me, they are breathtaking & truly lift my spirits. Never underestimate the power of a kind word or deed. In the last few days (since my latest surgery), I have been the recipient of some sweet deeds. First of all, I wasn't really dreading this surgery because my doctor is kind. He is skilled, but equally important to me, he is kind. There is no question I cannot ask him. His kindness removes my fear.

Secondly, when I go off to surgery, I alway have my husband with me. His teddy bear like quality comforts me, & he makes it a point to be extra sweet during these times. I know walking this road with me, is not an easy journey for him or one he would have chosen. However, I know I need him, & I wouldn't want to walk it with any one else. There is nothing I cannot tell him & pretty much nothing I haven't told him. I know he's got my back, & I rest with that peace.

My youngest daughter came home from college for my surgery (without being asked). She has spent the last 2 days doting on me & looking after my needs. I love our conversations & just seeing her do her thing. Last night her dear friend came over, & we visited for an hour or two. I haven't laughed that hard or that much in so long. I'm still smiling this morning. Laughter really is good for the soul.

My husband's work sent me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers, all in pinks with a cute teddy bear wearing a pink ribbon shirt. I answered the door, & the florist was so happy to deliver these pretties. The meaning expressed in these flowers touched right to my heart. The prayers said on my behalf truly have carried me. FB is a wonderful tool for prayer & for the expression of kindness. It also adds meaning to my life.

People have delivered goodies & even made a few meals. Again, I feel pampered & loved. I've also had a few visitors that have come to check on me. My oldest daughter & her hubby came the night of my surgery, & a dear friend who is like a son to me stopped by yesterday. Phone calls & text messages have abounded. My middle daughter always brightens my day on her way to & from work calling to check on me & let me know I'm gonna make it. God made my daughter a nurse. I don't deserve such love.

I share all of this to say... if you have a loved one on a similar journey, please take time to be sweet to them. A little TLC goes a long way. As I sit this morning on my couch sipping a warm cup of tea, wrapped in a soft  pink blanket delivered to my doorstep by a caring friend the morning of my surgery, I know that as I look back on this surgery, my memories will be sweet. Instead of envisioning bruises & aches & pain, I will see the faces of the people I love. Their caring words & their kindness covers a multitude of anxiety & pain. It makes all the difference in how you face your trials. It makes sweet memories.

PS  Thanks to all who have doted on me. I love you.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


When something powerful happens in my life, I have to share it. To others, it may not seem like much, but to me, it's a celebration of God's hand in my life. Today finally came, the day of my surgery. It entailed some reconstruction, some repairs, & a few other unmentionables. Unlike my past surgeries, I really wasn't dreading this one. I can't say I was looking forward to it, but my mind was at peace.

When I awoke from my double mastectomy last February, I experienced peace from God unlike any I'd ever known. I was very overwhelmed with so many things about this surgery. Fear reigned throughout my body, mind, & soul. I didn't want to awake to hearing my lymph node count. I knew I'd be alone in recovery, & I didn't know if I was capable of processing such information emotionally on my own. Also, I was expecting to be in great pain. I wasn't. Lastly, I'd just experienced a frightening surgery with the installation of my port, & the memory was still fresh.

As I awoke, I felt the presence of God. I immediately wanted to know how many of my lymph nodes were cancerous. When I asked the nurse, she told me I would have to ask the doctor. She didn't know. Knowing myself like I do, if I could have been looking in from the outside, I would have expected to see a woman stricken with fear, a woman choked up with a throat so tight, she couldn't swallow. In short, I would have expected her to be paralyzed with fear.

My expectations were not met. Instead the woman lying in the hospital bed, recovering from a major surgery, a difficult surgery, was just plain thankful. When the nurse told her she didn't know the lymph node count, this woman saw that as a negative, but still, she did not fear. She lay in that recovery bed feeling the presence of her Heavenly Father. She knew that whatever came her way, He held her in the palm of His hand. This was a new feeling for her. She was not accustomed to such peace in the midst of such deep fear.

So this morning, I awoke with peace. I even said aloud, "I don't know what's wrong with me, but I'm not even scared." I was tempted to be concerned for my lack of fear. How unnatural for me, a woman who has fought fear & anxiety her whole life. This peace remained with me until an hour before my surgery. Suddenly, my old familiar anxiety blew in (just like the wind). Fear overtook my whole body, & I couldn't stop shaking. Of course, I began telling myself I had nothing to fear. After all, no lymph nodes were involved today.

As we were about to head out the door, I took a quick moment to post something on Facebook. I posted that I was scared & shaken on the inside. Immediately, dear FB friends began lifting me up in prayer. I could actually feel it. Ten minutes later, just as quickly as my anxiety blew in, it left. My blood pressure was only 117/55. My husband & I visited & chuckled as we waited for the doctor. Of course, it didn't hurt that this particular doctor is one of my favorites.

I am home now, relaxing on my couch. Even my husband noted a difference in my nerves. Between the blood pressure reading, & his observations, I know I'm not making this up. Based on my history with anxiety, I know some serious healing has taken place. I hadn't even taken my anxiety medication. When the peace that surpasses all understanding takes hold of your mind & soul, in spite of how you are knit together, the credit can only be given to the Lord. Yes, I have a few stinging pains that come & go, but surgery has never been so peaceful. Firsthand, I believe I am experiencing God's loving arms wrapped around me. He's hugging me. Wow! I'm in awe. I'm not used to feeling like this.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Recently, we were eating in one of my favorite restaurants. The cook/owner came out to say hi to us. She is such a sweet & joyful person, even when her heart is broken. Her husband has cancer. It has returned. Nothing they can do.

Still... she smiled. Still... she counted her blessings. She thanked God for any good she could find in her sorrow. She took time to tell us how God had recently blessed them with a sweet vacation, just the 2 of them. She took time to tell us that her boy was home from being stationed in a dangerous country in the Middle East. She took time to tell us that her husband was proud of her.

I love this woman, & her sorrow breaks my heart. She & her beloved husband have gone from fight to surrender. Strange how a prognosis can immediately alter your plans. One day you are waiting. Then, with one phone call, your waiting ends. Your question has been answered. As you hang up, without even a moment's processing, you begin planning your remaining days. Whew... It's both mind boggling & heart shattering. It's the moment you've dreamed about, so why is it so surreal? Why is your heart palpitating? You've role played this scenario in your mind 100's of times, yet you feel stunned.

There's perhaps a slight relief that occurs in knowing. Living with such emotional toil is hard. You wonder how your demise will come. How will you suffer? How will your family hold you? What effect  will your decline have on them? Will they continue to stand by you? Is that fair to them?

Reality:  There's nothing fair about cancer. It seems to come out of nowhere & haphazardly chooses its journey. Once you join this club, you see life differently. Even though you might be thankful for the treasures found on this journey, you still could never wish it on anyone. You might be thankful for how you've weathered this storm, & even have confidence that God has you in the palm of His hand. But... you still wouldn't wish this journey on another soul.

Today, my dear friend said she just couldn't buy being thankful for this journey. It seems crazy, doesn't it? It's unheard of  to think that the treasures found along the way could outweigh the suffering. It just doesn't make sense. And... if that's true, then why does it seem like you would die if you ever have to see your loved ones walk this same journey?

I asked my cancer counselor about this. She said that it's another part of you dying to yourself. I heard her words, & I cringed. Sometimes the truth hurts. It's unbearable. Today, a friend escaped the "c" word. A month ago, another friend escaped the little "c." Tomorrow, a friend awaits her phone call. The cycle is seemingly endless. I modeled in a fashion show last Friday where many of the women were on their second or third round of this dreadful disease. Many of them had daughters, sisters, mothers who fought the fight. It's unthinkable!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I would never have applied for membership.

It's been a whirlwind around here. People & events are coming & going so fast, I can't catch my breath. There's so much I could blog about, but I think I will stick to one subject, The Pink Promise Celebration. Last Friday, I took part in this event as a model. I was stepping way out of my box in modeling an outfit, but felt I should do it for the cause. Honestly, I'm still befuddled as to why I was asked.

I picked up my beautiful friend, Elizabeth, & we headed for the hotel to get all dolled up & dressed. This event was a fund raiser for Susan G. Komen. I've never participated in anything like this, but it was so meaningful. As each model hit the runway, her survivor story was read. As the emcee finished the model's story, she walked the runway. During her strut, the emcee described her outfit. Upbeat music was playing, & we were instructed to "do our thing."

The problem for me was... I have no thing. I have no rhythm & very little coordination. Walking that runway in front of 400 people took some courage for me. Other models made it look easy. For me, it was anything but easy. However, I have spent this past year repeatedly stepping out of my box, & this was another opportunity to do just that. I managed not to focus on my shortcomings too much until it was time for me to step up to the runway. Thank Goodness the volunteer gave me a few pointers just before my name was called.

I don't quite know how to describe what I was feeling as I stood before 400 people while my story was read. I remember the best part was seeing my family & friends just off to the side of the runway. Their faces comforted me. Many of them were teary eyed as Elizabeth's story preceded mine. She received a well deserved standing ovation. I even had tears in my eyes as I approached the runway, so honored to follow her. I treasured each moment I spent with her that day.

As I listened to my fellow survivors' stories & spent time with them in the dressing room, I received many small treasures (as I always do on this journey). The most frequently occurring common thread I noticed was that cancer never comes at a good time.  Their stories had similarities, but each had it's own unique twist. Each survivor (without a doubt) remembers the day her lump was discovered. She remembers where she was, how it was found, & the horror that followed. All of these women had lives that were put on hold for a year while they received surgery, treatment, & possibly radiation.

It seems to me that the surgeries & treatments varied as much as the discoveries of our lumps. As we connected with each other & shared our stories, I realized that we had a few other common threads. Loved ones got us through our journey. Friends & family were essential. Faith is a stronghold which enabled us to walk this walk & remain whole. These women were kind & caring. It was uplifting to spend the morning with them. I felt so honored to walk the same runway & follow in their footsteps. As the event ended, my husband & I headed for the car, I felt so happy. My family & friends were so good to me. Their presence made me feel honored.

I've made new friends on this journey... They are my beloved treasures. When a friend (new or old) walks alongside you & holds your hand, it makes all the difference in the world. Whether that friend is your husband, your daughter, your best friend, or your new friend... the difference they make in your life is indescribable. I feel as though I've joined a new club. I can't say I would ever have applied for membership, but I am truly happy to be initiated. My survivor friends have become a precious part of my life. At The Pink Promise Celebration, I felt such a strong connection to so many people, both new friends & old. My blessings overflow.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Why not today?

This morning my day began with fear. I was on my way to The Cancer Center to have lab work. My liver enzymes are monitored on a monthly basis because they are elevated. As I buckled up, I knew I had to face my latest fear. I had discovered a new lump. Of course, this caused me to think about the fact that I could be sent for a scan. As my fears began to mount, I realized that the only answer was to put myself back in the palm of God's hand. My only choice is trusting Him that "all things will work for good" because I love Him.

Just before I backed out of my driveway, I ran across a card in my purse that I had picked up about a month ago at The Cancer Center. When I stuck it in my purse, I figured I would bless someone with it at just the right moment. Little did I know, the blessing was for me. It said...Do not be afraid for I am with you. It was adorned with pretty pink roses (my favorite).

I meditated on those words as I drove to The Cancer Center. My Oncologist was so nice to work me in right away. She examined me & assured me it was just part of my reconstruction. She was so kind & confident. I breathed my sigh of relief & thanked God. I thanked her for her kindness & headed for the lobby to wait out the rain storm.

Several hours later, I received a phone call from The Cancer Center telling me my labs were okay (the same, but stable). I don't have to have them taken again for 3 months. Wow! I wasn't expecting that. I am thankful. Sometimes, I don't understand why things are okay, & other times, things are not okay.

Why was my lump cancerous a year ago, & today, no worries? It all seems so random. Why me? Why not me? Why today? Why not today? I thank God for good news. I am grateful. I hate more than anything to put my family through any more agony. However, I still thank God for that awful day a year ago because it's brought so much depth to my life.

This journey is hard. It seems my life can unravel almost instantaneously. Sometimes, I feel as though I am tip toeing on a high rope. I feel so vulnerable. Sometimes, I don't feel so good. 2 doctors & my beloved counselor at The Cancer Center have told me that's normal. It could take a year after treatment to fully recover.

I have trouble gaging my activity level. I love picking up the pace, but it seems I have new limits. My counselor pointed out to me that "full throttle" is probably too much at this point. My personal goal has been to return to the pace I used to keep. Now I'm second guessing the worthiness of that goal. I'm slowing my pace & trying to find a sweet spot.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's all of 3 words...

It seems like a long time since I've blogged. Life has picked up its pace a little too much lately. Lots of meaningful things have been happening in my life, & it's hard work to sort through all of it (at least some of it). As most of my fb friends know, I went to a benefit yesterday for my hero, Elizabeth. I knew it would be touching, & it was. I believe it turned out to be just what she hoped it would be... children having fun!

As I watch Elizabeth on her journey, walk my own journey, & watch others suffer disease & hardship, I have come to realize that really only 2 things matter in life: faith & relationship. Recently, I was convicted about the fact that God never intended us to walk life on our own or with Him alone. He very much yearns for a relationship with us. His presence in our lives is the greatest need we have. Second to that is our relationship with people.

I believe we are created with a need for both faith & relationship. Occasionally, someone will ask me what they can do for a friend who is newly diagnosed with a serious illness. My reply is simple. It's all of 3 words: Just be there. It's okay if you don't know what to say or do. Just be there. Just hold your loved one up & walk hand in hand.

As I've said before, God's presence is greater than any miracle. It sustains & gets us through the impossible. I believe people are the hands & feet of Jesus. They serve as our tangible hug from God. People are limited in what they can do. They may not be able to change a thing, but just in walking our walk with us, they are doing something more impactful than they may ever know.

As I hugged Elizabeth yesterday, she said she felt loved. Her face was glowing, & she looked loved (both by her Heavenly Father & her loved ones). Yesterday, she was surrounded with tangible love, enough love to last through eternity. Even on her journey, she loves her life. Even in her suffering, she musters up the strength to let her light shine.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I must blog about my friend, my hero, Elizabeth Grant. Her benefit is only 5 days away. It's called Hope Skip & Jump. She named it herself because she wishes for all children to have happy childhood memories. She has "a deep passion to see to it that children can keep their innocence -- especially when one of their parents or caregivers is suffering or has passed on from cancer."

You see... I met Elizabeth during one of my early treatments. We have a mutual friend, & I was familiar with her story. However, meeting her changed my life. I know without a doubt that God put her in my life to teach me how to walk this Journey Nobody Would Choose. All my life I have feared breast cancer. It ranked 4th on my list of greatest fears, only to be topped by such atrocities as having your child kidnapped or become terminally ill.

When I received my diagnosis a little over a year ago, I had so much to process. One thought that continually haunted me was whether or not I would learn to live life joyfully (even with my uncertainties). I worried that if I survived my treatments, I would not regain my joy. I felt as if I had a new dark cloud residing over my head that would never lift.

I will always remember the day I met Elizabeth, truly beautiful inside & out. She hugged me & told me that my cancer would likely be just a chapter in my life even though her's was so. much. more. She didn't want me to be afraid. Jesus had sustained her, & He would surely sustain me. As she walked away, my husband & I were blown away by her faith.

My conclusion:  A faith so deep can only come from such a difficult journey. Her faith, her Jesus, was getting her through her heart wrenching story. You see, she has Stage IV Cancer. What began as breast cancer has metastasized to her bones, her brain, & recently her liver. She has 2 young children and a husband (not to mention her parents, her 3 sisters, & a multitude of friends).

Elizabeth faces everyday with joy & a mission to prepare her children for when she is no longer physically present in their sweet lives. I am in awe of her. I don't think she feels sorry for herself. She has embraced her journey, & she wants others to see her Jesus, to know Him. She has taught me to embrace my journey, even not knowing my outcome.

She has firsthand shown me what a life focused on Jesus looks like. She has taught me not to fear, but to live. She has shown me what it looks like to daily put yourself in the palm of God's hand, the safest place to be. I have learned not to be haunted by my uncertainties but to claim my eternal security in Christ. I love Elizabeth Grant for so many reasons. She will forever be my hero.

I wish I was still there with him.

Everyone needs a get away now & then. We headed to Galena, Il over the weekend to spend a little time together, just the 2 of us. The forecast was frightening, & we considered canceling. However, I'll be having surgery in a few weeks, & we thought we better take advantage of our opportunity. So glad we did!

It was a warm misty rain as we walked the quaint streets of Galena (a first for both of us). So many shops, so many choices, what to do, what to do... We settled on "Fried Green Tomatoes," which offered the most picturesque setting of all. And, we ate fried green tomatoes, a delicacy to be sure.

We walked the streets & ducked in & out of the many little shops. Of course, my husband did a bit of people watching while I checked out the goods. However, he did enjoy the Gourmet Shops & a few fancy samples along the way. My cheat of the day was double fudge ice-cream, a good cheat, no regrets.

After checking in at our hotel & catching our breath, we headed back to the streets to find some dinner. I picked the spot, "Durty Gurts." We were lured in by her sign which said we couldn't use her stoolah if we didn't pay any moolah. I'm not quite sure why that amused us, but it did.

We slept in this morning. My husband ordered the sweetheart package which allowed us to take our time. Back to the streets of Galena we went to say good-bye. But, before we headed home, we ate a little brunch, bought a few goodies, & sipped some hot cocoa. The temp was dropping, & it hit the spot.

Highlight: one on one time with each other. I'll be honest. I love to be doted on by my husband, & I felt doted on the whole get away. This was our private celebration of my end of treatment. I felt very loved. We stretched out our magical weekend when we got home by sharing our Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Caramel Apples we bought just before we left. Mine was Peanut Butter. His was English Toffee. Delicious doesn't even begin to describe such delectables.

It's good to be loved, & it's good to spend time with the one you love. Having a little get away allows you to focus on each other, to see if you've been missing anything in the business of life. Our get away was spent in a leisurely fashion. We spent a lot of time looking into each other's eyes & hearing what the other one had to say. My only regret... I wish I was still there with him.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Irony

Recently, I had the honor of helping with a special event. Early on... I was greeted by someone I hadn't seen in a long time with probably the most heartfelt hug I've ever had. It made me so happy, I could have cried. This young person has a disability which makes it difficult to interact socially with others. As this person helped me with my tasks, I began thinking about one of my earliest callings in life, helping those with disabilities.

I had so many thoughts bombarding my head, I could barely keep up with them. I started having flashbacks about people I have known through the years who were born with disabilities. I was thinking of this young person who was so lovingly & willingly helping me. This person was totally tuned into my needs, instinctively knowing that I wasn't quite up to my duties.

I think God was trying to tell me something, & I didn't want to miss it. I knew I was onto something profound, I just couldn't quite put it all together. As I was driving home, my mind kept gravitating towards this helping heart. This person who prayed for me through my illness. He rejoiced in seeing me back on my feet. He looked out for me & lifted heavy things for me.

I was thinking... How is it that this person (with his disabilities) tuned into me & cared for me? Others were there checking in on me, but he was serving me. Others asked me if I needed anything, but he didn't ask, he just did. I was marveling at the irony in all of this.

As human beings, we are so judgmental. We constantly label people & treat them accordingly. We make it our business to know what label explains their quirks. Our expectations are even gaged by the labels we give them. I believe God was trying to pound into my head & my heart the wrongness of such judgements & treatments. 

I heard His still small voice saying... Look at people with disabilities first as people. The label is secondary, & it doesn't define them. Hmmnnn.... am I guilty? I feel as though I've spent a good portion of my life caring for people with disabilities. I've advocated for them, & I've included them. Is it possible that I didn't see them as people first? Is it possible that I saw their disability before their person?

As I admit this, I feel so ashamed. How could I not see the person first? I don't even have an answer for this. I'm thankful that God is cleaning my heart and helping me see the wretchedness in my own life. I want my heart to be refined. I want to see people as people. I don't want to label anyone. I want to see them through the eyes of Jesus, in the same way He sees them. Now I must ask... What else am I unaware of in my own heart? Please God... break my heart for what breaks yours. Create in me a clean heart.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sometimes I feel guilty...

For 25 years, my family attended a church in which we were very active. We loved our little church & gave our hearts, our souls, & our lives in service. Sundays were anything but restful, but what we did, we did in the name of the Lord. Sunday was the most important day of my week (as a youth leader). I spent my whole week planning for Sunday evening. I figured the kids who came were giving me an opportunity to impact their lives. It wasn't about me. It was about God. It was about teenagers.

As I've said before, this 8 year period of my life (next to raising 3 daughters), was the most fulfilling time of my life. It was exhausting. I was always on call, & I never knew what was coming my way. Prior to this calling, I didn't even know that I liked teens or that I could speak into a microphone. God truly calls the unqualified & qualifies the called. That's the beauty of it all, & the way in which His glory shines fully.

In time, through some sad events & life changes, God saw fit to call me out of this ministry & even to a new church home. One of the hardest things we ever did was leave this church. After all, we'd raised our children there & attended for 25 years. It seemed unbelievable to me that this was happening. Even now, it baffles me.

Fast forward 4 years... it took us a year to find a church. Once we attended our new church home, we never felt a need to look any farther. Just as we planted ourselves there & began to make a few friends, I was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly, our church life, along with every part of our lives, came to a screeching halt. We had hopes to serve, but they would be put on hold.

So... finally, we are ready to serve again. It doesn't seem like we are doing much compared to the first 25 years of our marriage. Sundays are different now. They are peaceful, nourishing, & loving. We feel uplifted when we leave church. We never leave without a treasure, a thought to ponder, to make us deeper, more thoughtful human beings. Sometimes I even feel guilty for the joy I find in this church.

People are not judged in this church. In fact, they belong even before they become a member. This church reaches beyond its walls into the community, but at the same time, it loves on its congregation. The Bible stresses that the way we treat each other is significant because others notice. I marvel at the truth in this reality. We have 4 pastors from 4 different backgrounds that truly love each other.

Over the past year, even through irregular attendance due to illness, this church somehow found a way to minister to me. It might have been in simple ways, but I felt so prayed for & loved. My service seems so small, none the less, it feels beautiful. To be able to greet people, help a friend, lead a small group... It's a privilege & an honor.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Simple things mean the most. This week I got to be "Grandma" to a little third grade girl who's Grandma lives out of town. Wow! What an honor! I had big shoes to fill. It was Grandparents Day at her school. I arrived a little early in case the parking lot was full. It was. I waited in the foyer with all of the other Grandparents, allowing the classroom teachers time to take attendance & such.

After a few moments, we were permitted to find our Grandchild's classroom. I found mine with ease & was greeted by the sweetest, cutest face in the whole school. She was so happy to see her "fill-in Grandma." I couldn't have been more excited myself. She gives the best hugs in the school too!

I sat by her desk, & we enjoyed a big, fat cinnamon roll & some slushy apple juice. Delish! First, she interviewed me about my life. I loved the questions about how things have evolved over the years. She seemed genuinely shocked when I told her my generation didn't have computers or cell phones. I loved the look of surprise on her face.

We played a few games, just the 2 of us. She showed me around her classroom & introduced me to her beloved teacher. We went to the gym for pictures. My favorite part was the picture we drew together. She loved my artwork; I could only laugh. She didn't understand that my art skills stopped right about 3rd grade. I guess that's how she could honestly think I had any talent. She drew herself & me. I drew the dog & the cat. She colored in the sky with a pretty sunshine. I got the grass & the rainbow. Teamwork at its best!

The time passed quickly, & soon it was time for me to go. I hugged my little sweetie good-bye. It truly was the highlight of my week. I saw a few friends from the past. They were shocked I was a grandparent. I explained that I was just filling in, but that I could easily be a Grandma. I loved the simplicity of the morning. It was just a meaningful time spent together doing simple things. I think I've found my calling.

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's too much!

Today begins Breast Cancer Awareness month. In recognition, I've had my nails painted a bright pink, displaying a sparkly ribbon on each thumbnail. This morning I met with 2 survivor friends for breakfast. We were caught totally off guard when a woman anonymously payed our bill & even left money for the tip. I felt so honored. She told the hostess she just wanted to do it because we are survivors.

I'm sure some people get tired of hearing about breast cancer. It sure does get a lot of hype. In the beginning of my journey, I felt guilty because breast cancer receives more attention than any other cancer. However, after walking this journey now just a little over a year, I sense an urgency to find a cure for this dreaded disease. It catches you by surprise & overtakes your life. 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer.

No one is immune to this terrible disease. It has a foreign language all its own. It's a mixed bag of treatments & side effects. Will it come back with a vengeance, or will it be just a chapter in your life? Everything about it seems so random to the patient. Yes...  statistics seem to be available for every possible scenario, but the bottom line is There are no guarantees.

You have choices, & you have to choose what brings you the most peace. Never mind if your doctor tells you No one else would do what you have decided to do. You must educate yourself, learn the foreign language, & become your own advocate. Depending on your diagnosis, you may be seeing 4 or 5 different doctors. If you don't keep everything coordinated, important decisions will slip through the cracks.

In 19 days, I will be attending a benefit for a dear friend. She is fighting for her life. She has 2 young children. Her cancer came back with a vengeance & now resides in her bones, her brain, & her liver. In spite of her almost constant pain, she chooses joy. She wants her children to have a childhood with memories apart from their mama suffering from cancer. My heart breaks for them. Seeing their mama suffer is unbearable. It's too much! She is my hero.  When I was newly diagnosed, she wanted me to know that it would likely just be a chapter in my life (unlike her own).

So... for her... I will recognize this month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness month. I will do all I can for this cause. 1 in 8 is too many effected lives. I've sat in small crowds many times this past year, knowing there were at least 3 survivors present. Seeing all the pink at Race for The Cure is sobering. It's heart wrenching. It's overwhelming. It's too much!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cast aside...

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending one of the most precious birthday parties I've ever experienced. My little Godson is turning 3. His party was at one of my favorite locations, Chuck E. Cheese. At 3, he's just catching on to what birthday parties are all about. He didn't quite understand waiting to open his presents. His cake was set in front of him, but he had to wait to blow his 3 candles out. He blew them out 1 at a time. The kind hostess relit them, & again, he blew them out 1 at a time.

He preferred not to wear his birthday crown. In fact, he refused. He didn't think being adorned with a birthday medal was a necessity either. Being the good sport that his mom is, she let him open a few presents early, wore the birthday crown herself, & even sported the cute Chuck E. Cheese birthday medal around her neck.

The funniest part had to be the Ticket Blast. It's like a simulated hurricane. You put on safety glasses & step in the space shuttle (so to speak). Air starts blowing all around you while you try to grab tickets. What a blast! The birthday boy held on for dear life. He kept screaming "All done.... all done!"  Thankfully, it only took a few minutes, & the wind stopped. He & his momma stepped out with wind blown hair, a few tickets, & 2 great big smiles. We had to applaud them!

Aside from all the fun, & just being in the presence of my adorable Godson, this party had an extra sweet element. 3 of the little boys (my Godson included) are all adopted from Russia. Their lives have been redeemed. From orphans to dearly loved little boys with the hope of a bright future. As much as their lives have changed, they have changed the lives of their parents.

I was honored to witness such a precious birthday party. I am in awe of these parents who have gone to the ends of the earth for these little boys. Their story is redemption. Out of hurt, sadness, desperation, or for whatever reason, these 3 little boys were cast aside, left as orphans. For other unknown reasons, these parents found a way to find these beautiful little boys. Yes... what a precious gathering!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Unspeakable

Yesterday, the unspeakable happened. A young mother left her sweet 3 week old defenseless baby on the side of the road. To make matters worse, she notified the police that her baby had been abducted. The Amber Alert was put into action, endless prayers were offered up to God, & roughly 12 hours later, 2 volunteers heard the baby cry, & delivered her to safety. This little sweetie was actually found during a prayer vigil. I believe God answered our prayers.

So... we have a choice. We can lash out on FB, share our disgust, & make this family feel even smaller than they do, or we can pray for them. If I were in their shoes, it would be the greatest nightmare of my life. Yes... even bigger than my dad falling off a roof & dying from cancer. It beats my own cancer. It beats all of my heartaches in life put together.

I can't imagine the sickness they must have all felt when the baby's mommy went from being the victim to the criminal. In the blink of an eye, their worst nightmare (an abducted baby) became even worse (the mommy abandoned her). The day was long. It was beyond draining. It was excruciating. They were so grateful the baby was found before dark. She was alive. There was hope. She would likely recover. She's a fighter!

On the flip side... their world was turned upside down & inside out. If that isn't enough, all eyes are on them. People sit in judgement sickened by this mother's unconscionable act. They simply can't wait to voice their 2 cents.... I would never do that. Of course, they are freely giving their opinion on what kind of sentence the mother deserves. They are disturbed, disgusted. You name it, they are feeling it, & voicing it.

I'd like to challenge the people who have made cruel statements via FB to reconsider & delete their cruel comments. This family is sick. Obviously, the mother is not well. There aren't even words to describe this act. Their main concern is the care of this little baby & her infant sister. These 2 little treasures mean the world to them. We don't always get what we deserve in life, & sometimes we do. Some tragedies elicit sympathy. Others elicit cruelty. Either way, it's tragic.

We are not better because we have avoided such an atrocity in our own family. Let's face it... we all need to clean up our own hearts & stop throwing stones. There by the grace of God go I. What's the next tragedy my family will face? Will it elicit comfort or cruelty from my fellow human beings? Either way, I will be at my lowest. Will you lift me up or pound me further into the ground?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

That was the best part of all!

If you are my FB friend, then you know I just had the celebration of a lifetime at Disney World. My husband is my personal "make-a-wish" foundation. As you know, he went to China on a mission trip. Originally, I was going with him. Then... my diagnosis came, & our plans changed. So... while he was in China, a long time friend & I went to Disney World. This trip was my end of treatment celebration.

I've never seen Disney World as I did on this trip. There are probably no 2 travelers on this earth who are more compatible than my friend & me. We really didn't do rides (unless you consider It's a Small World a ride). We browsed & shopped a lot. We saw fireworks almost every night. We dined with characters & even ate in the castle. The last night we splurged & went to the Halloween Party. Oh what a party!

Halfway through our stay, we swam with a dolphin named Lester. What a hoot! We had the most beautiful day of the week & enjoyed every minute. The lazy river was amazing. We attempted to snorkel & even swam with spotted sea rays. We visited a bird aviary, & I stepped out of my box & fed a bird while he sat on my wrist.

As we boarded our plane to come home, my friend asked me what my favorite part of the trip was. Truthfully, I had so much fun, it's hard to say... But, as I've pondered this question over the last few days, I can honestly say, the time spent with my friend was definitely the best part. We laughed so hard we cried a few times.

I became very sick half way through the trip. My friend took care of me & hiked miles to get me something to soothe my stomach. I felt so bad putting a damper on our trip, however she never batted an eye. I had a few limitations. She acted as if they were not limits at all. She carried my bags when my shoulder hurt. She waited on me time & again, as I became queasy. She checked on me in the night when I was feverish. She ate when I was hungary (even if she wasn't). And... she made sure I had plenty of water.

My friend defines what it means to have a servant heart. She's been my friend for 25 years, so this fact is not new to me. However, being the recipient of her servant heart for 7 straight days was something I'd not yet experienced. She serves with such grace, you could almost take her for granted (as I'm sure many people do). I know I'm a grown woman, but after this past year, I'm not quite as resilient, sharp, & confident as I once was. Having a friend like this is nothing to take for granted.

At the end of the trip, I asked her if she learned anything new about me. She said no. I questioned her thoroughly. I asked her if she had realized the extent of some of my quirks before this trip. Apparently she had, because she said no. As for me, I don't know why I'm surprised, but the depth of her goodness left me in awe. I've always known her to be kind, but somehow it had new meaning after this trip. I felt like God took me & put me in the best possible hands (as if she were family), & gave me a week full of treasured memories. That was the best part of all!


Yesterday was bittersweet. I had my last treatment. Wow! To think how far I've come in a year! When I think back, I am so thankful to be in the place I am now. I still have a few surgeries left, but nothing major. A year ago, we were planning a wedding, looking forward to Christmas, having chemo, trying to make an overwhelming decision about surgery, & awaiting many unanswered questions.

I felt like a ballon without any air. I tolerated chemo very well for the most part, just got a bit weak. It was about this time, we shaved my head. I remember it distinctly & always will. I remember the relief that followed when my family told me I had a pretty head. We didn't really shed any tears. We just got the job done.

I think I lived in shock for most of the year. I just couldn't believe what had happened to me, kind of an outer body experience. In a strange sense, I feel very honored to have walked this walk. As I said, it's a journey no one would chose, not me, not even now. But... God has given me depth through it all, & for that, I am thankful. Now... I have to remind myself to pick up the pace. I am well & striving for a full recovery.

Today is bittersweet because as I finish my treatments, one of my heroes has been admitted to the hospital. Her cancer has spread, & she is in pain. She is young & beautiful. She is faithful. She has a husband & 2 young children. It just doesn't seem fair. I know she has pondered such news for years, but still, I think she must be in shock.

I have never taken news like this well, & I've only found it harder as I've survived this past year. It weighs heavily on my heart, & I dwell on it. I pray for her constantly. I pray for a miracle. I pray that she will know God's presence. That's the only thing I am sure of. I pray that she will be relieved of her suffering. I pray for her beloved husband & her 2 sweet children. It isn't fair. I pray for her parents & her sisters. They are all on this journey together. It isn't fair.

There are no earthly answers to my questions. I've only known her a short time. Yet, she stole my heart from the start. She came to minister to me, to tell me that this would just be a chapter in my life (even though she knew her's was more). It isn't fair.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I've sunk to a new low...

Today, I sunk to a new low. I was in a dressing room when I couldn't help but overhear a conversation between a mother & her teen daughter. The only way I could not have heard this conversation would have been if I had earplugs (which I do not carry in my purse). The daughter wanted her mother to buy her an item of clothing that the mother did not find appropriate.

The teen started berating her mother by using a substitute cuss word in every sentence. She was angry with her mother for refusing to buy her this much needed item that her best friend already owned. Her mother calmly told her that it must fit her best friend differently, but it wasn't right for her. The daughter insisted that she & her friend were the same size. She then told her mother that she was only hurting her  (that is the daughter) by not buying her what she wanted.

The mother sweetly responded that she was not hurting her. She then told her daughter that when they had time, they could go to another store to look for a more suitable fit. At this, the daughter went on a tirade about if her mother hadn't insisted on going to the department store first, they would have had time to go today.

I don't know if it was the substitute "F" word that got to me or just the downright lack of gratefulness in this teenager's heart. But... as the conversation continued, my blood began to boil. Maybe it was the fact that my oldest daughter & I had just been discussing the toll my cancer had taken on her & her sisters. I've raised 3 daughters to young adulthood, & we've had some ugly moments. I don't think it's possible to survive the teen years without manipulation & at least a few hurtful words now & then.

The mother finally left the fitting room & went to look at clothing. The daughter took her time & finished putting herself back together. I ran into the mother outside the fitting room. She was calm & smiling. I, on the other hand, was visibly shaken. The mother asked me if her daughter was still talking. I quietly said no.

Then... I crossed the line. I asked her if she'd like me to speak to her daughter. This sweet woman shook her head no. I told her that I'd spent this past year fighting cancer, & that her daughter's ungratefulness really bothered me. I told her she was being so kind, & her daughter needed to appreciate her. I looked her in the eye & told her she could share whatever part of our conversation she wanted to with her daughter. The woman reached out, patted my shoulder, & thanked me.

I'm sure she was thinking... That poor soul. I'm sorry she's suffered this past year, but she really needs to mind her own business. She's right. I believe I was out of line. I shook inside for the next 20 minutes. I wish I could apologize to this woman for sticking my 2 cents in her business. That wasn't my place.