Friday, August 31, 2012

Church Poop

Today I write about church poop because that is the nicest way I can say what I am trying to say... Lately, people have shared with me some of the ungodly things that have happened to them in church. And... of course, I have my own sad memories too.

The list of nastiness ranges from people feeling excluded or judged to those who have had things said to them that should not be put into words anywhere. Part of the problem with being mistreated in church is that it violates our expectations. One would expect to encounter  L O V E  in a church. In the Bible, we are told... others will know us (Christ followers) by our love.

Sometimes, I am ashamed to call myself a Christian. I really don't want to be associated with the hypocrisy of Christians. Sadly, there is NO way around this because Christians are human before they are anything else. If they would just remember... It's not about me! I believe some of the hurtful issues that arise in church are because people have heart problems. Their heart is sick. It isn't that they don't know the Lord, it's that they lack self-control. If it's not right in their eyes, it's not right. People get bogged down in legalism, & I think even misread God.

We are commanded to love our fellow church family & care for one another. When someone shares their church poop with me, I want to cry. I usually apologize to them for what was done to them in the name of Christ. Really? Does Christ command us to hurt fellow church members in His Name so we can have our own way? So we can prove ourselves? Feel powerful?  So we can share our Godly wisdom because we have the right interpretation.

Are we really to shun others because they don't have the right clothes, they have a disability, they are poor, they are women, they're a little odd, they have addictions, perhaps a past they'd like to forget? Maybe a person doesn't smell right, doesn't sing in tune, is troubled, has some ugly habits. It's just my opinion, but I think if we loved these people the way Jesus loved the woman at the well & Zachaeus, I believe some of their issues would slowly melt away, & our Godly love would have a healing effect. If they were truly accepted into the family of God, their lives would be forever changed.

So... what happens to the people that are the victims of church poop? Some move on. Some hang in there, never really feeling as if they belong. The saddest thing is when they turn their back on church & never darken the door again. After all, if that's what Christian are really about, who needs church? It's sad when people are treated better by their unbelieving friends than so called Christians. It's like Ghandi said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians."

Again, it's just my opinion, but it is church poop which causes others to stumble. It isn't so much breaking a legalistic rule as much as it is mistreating another human being. Being treated in a condescending manner doesn't go unnoticed, & it has repercussions. "Jesus said to his disciples, 'Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a milestone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves.'" (Luke 17:1-3)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

70 X 7

Today I received a message from a dear friend which triggered some sad memories of a few years past. It was a time when I didn't see something coming, & I overestimated the power of friendship. I was the recipient of cruelty. As a result, many others were hurt too. I have spent many moments trying to make sense of this whole calamity. I don't believe I will ever understand it this side of Heaven.

I share this today because it is on my mind, & because I think there is a reason forgiveness is listed so many times in the Bible. It says we are to forgive 70 X 7. It doesn't say to forgive only if we receive an apology. The Bible says we will be forgiven as we forgive others. Jesus died on the cross so I might be forgiven.

What happens when we fail to forgive? Truth is... we remain tied to the offender through bitterness. We are commanded to forgive even when it is difficult. After all, if it were easy, it wouldn't be mentioned so many times in the Bible. Failing to forgive only eats us alive from the inside out.

So now... I must ask myself... Have I truly forgiven even though flashbacks still hurt? I have come to the conclusion over the years that only God can truly give us a clean slate. He sees us through His precious son, & in His eyes we can be free from blemish. As humans, we do not have the capability to forget. If we could forget, forgiveness would be so much easier.

I don't expect to forget traumatic experiences in my life. My hope is that through the healing hand of God, I can forgive, love, & take the next step. I don't want to be tied to anyone through bitterness. I already live with the gnawing feelings caused by anxiety. I don't want to acquire any more negative feelings that my mind & heart will have to process.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Recently, I made a statement in my blog  just. go. away.  I feel it could use a little explanation. I was talking about miracles and the fact that we don't always get the miracle for which we hope. I went on to say that God's presence is greater than any miracle. It trumps all to be loved by my Heavenly Father & to know His presence...

I was thinking about this & wondering what my blog followers felt or thought when they read it. A year ago, I don't believe I would have made such a statement. We all want a miracle. When I had my healing service last October, the Pastor asked me in front of my loved ones if I thought God would heal me. My answer was simple but truthful. I said I didn't know. I knew I would be healed; I just didn't know on which side of Heaven my healing would occur.

Some people might think I lack faith for not believing God would heal me of cancer. Truth is... I don't know if He would be more glorified in my living or dying. I had not received any message from Him. I had not heard His still small voice. I hadn't found such an answer in scripture or through prayer or from a loved one. Honestly, it hadn't occurred to me to ask God if He would heal me.

Now... 1 year later, I still have not asked God that question. My husband lays his hand on me & prays for my healing every night. I hope God heals me, so... together, my husband & I can grow old & love our grandchildren. I would love to be there for my daughters. Daily, I have to remind myself that nothing will come my way that hasn't been allowed by my Heavenly Father.

Back to the statement I made at the beginning of this blog. I want my readers to understand why God's presence is greater than any miracle. What I've been thinking lately is that there could be people reading my blog, truly beautiful people, that do not know God's presence.  How do I explain God's presence?

When I am at my lowest, in my darkest moments, I cry out to God. I know He hears my cry because through His grace, through His Holy Spirit, He never fails to comfort me. I usually hear His still small voice, & it's usually just a few words of comfort. Early on in this journey, I could not sleep at all. I had that climb the wall feeling. I was tormented. God revealed to me that His grace was sufficient. He would get me through each moment.

When desperation took over during radiation, again I felt tormented, I turned to Him, & He stayed with me through each treatment. I prayed constantly, & He comforted me. By the end of 6 weeks of radiation, 5 days a week, 30 minutes a day, I was miserable. I was in pain just lying in the proper position. My skin oozed, & I cried a lot. BUT... I still looked forward to my guaranteed 30 minutes with God. He showed up for every treatment & gave me the grace to Be still (literally) & know that He is God.

So... if God wills for me to be healed, I trust that He will heal me. However, being healed is not a license for a carefree life free from suffering. Heaven is. I know that whether I am healed or not, I will have hardships in my life. My hardships will be painful, & without God, I won't make it through them. However, if I know God's presence... If I am able to recognize His still small voice, I will always have Him to sustain me through whatever comes my way.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's just us again.

Well... it's just us again. Our youngest drove herself & all her stuff back to school yesterday. Tomorrow, my husband will take our adopted boy. It's always sad to say good-bye. It's hard to wake up each morning & know she's not in her bed. I especially miss our boy on Sunday because that is always our special day with him. 

However, it's just us isn't so bad. Yes... the house is kind of quiet. All are accounted for by early evening (1 cat, 1 dog, my husband, myself). Cooking is simple (only 2 people to please). Making decisions is a piece of cake. Basically, we already know each other's choice. Going out to eat is easy. Doing our own thing isn't bad either. After all, no 2 people want to do the same stuff all the time. 

The cycle of life continues. A new year begins. The kids get one step closer to graduation, to adulthood. Transitioning is never easy. They have adjustments to make, & so do we. Sometimes we feel as if our house has a spinning door. Our children come & go as we sit on our couch catching a glimpse as the door revolves. 

As they go in & out, their lives evolve, & when they return, they are always a little bit older. It's neat to see what they have learned, how they've matured, what's on their hearts... It's like catching a sneak peek. As our daughter weaves in & out of our life, it's fun to see who accompanies her. I love to hear her stories, who she's hanging with, & what's up her sleeve. 

Then there's our 2 married daughters. Watching them take on life never ceases to amuse, I mean, amaze me. I love to hear their stories too. Knowing that they are happily married is sweetness to my soul. Seeing their husbands care for them makes me grateful. Having 2 son-in-laws that treat me as if I were their mom, is one of my greatest blessings in life.

So as we return to it's just us, I'm anticipating sweet times. Our animals keep us entertained & make our house a home. We love our church. We love that our door revolves, & our children come & go. Most of all, we love each other & love to laugh at our silly jokes. Being married to your best friend , having your soul mate as your spouse, working through life together isn't so bad.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


This morning was filled with a few chuckles. I went to see one of my favorite people in his first 5K, running, of course. Because I am as clueless as my husband says I am ... I didn't realize you could participate as a walker. So, at the very last minute, I decided to walk. I met up with a friend (a dear friend who has baked the most delicious cakes ever for me & taken time to love me on my journey).

We decided to walk my first 5K together. I truly wouldn't have made it very far on my own. I would have focused on being hot & how behind I was. Instead... we talked about life & its many aspects. She is such a beautiful person, I was so thankful to spend this hour with her. It even made up for my embarrassment of being last (by a long shot)!

As we walked this race, we had the joy of telling each station that we were the last. They could put the cones away. One of the men manning a post, encouragingly said... It's important to do a good job whatever you do. I couldn't help but laugh. Another kind soul even said...Good job. At this point, I almost wet my pants from laughing so hard (sorry if that's TMI).

The highlights were the 2 pretty kitties that took up residence at one of the posts. They were big & looked like they belonged. The smell of the pine trees reminded me of my camping days. My husband accused me of participating just to get the tee shirt. He may have a point. I love the tee! The money went to fight hunger. Always a worthy cause! Time spent with a cherished friend, priceless!

Seeing one of my favorite people come in 2nd overall on his first 5K was such a happy ending. It also helped me forget about my embarrassment. He won a gift certificate, & his name was drawn to win a pie. He chose one I had baked. I hope he likes it! All in all, a lovely morn!

Dedicated to: Chelsea Corwin

Friday, August 24, 2012

just. go. away.

Today I am sad. I am surrounded by hurting people. The pain these friends must endure is real & not likely to just. go. away. Some of them have cancer. One of them is waiting on a diagnosis. Some are adults, & some are children. Some of their cancers have metastasized, while others have continued to grow larger in their original place (in spite of treatment).

The only thing I can say is that which I repeat at least daily to myself...Nothing is going to come my way that hasn't been first sifted through God's mighty hand. I am comforted by these words because they remind me that God is in control. I know I might not get the answer I desire, but as long as I am wrapped in my Heavenly Father's loving arms, all will be well.

Sometimes we don't get the miracle we hoped for, but we do get a miracle. It's just not as easily recognized. Remember the beautiful hymn "It is Well with My Soul." The author of that song wrote it just after his children drowned. To think that such a meaningful song could follow such tragedy is mind boggling. It is a miracle. I see it as such because only a miracle (God) could give a person the healing grace to write such an insightful song, especially after receiving devastating news.

It is in the lowest times, I believe that God meets us in His most meaningful way. In despair, we find God. Why? Because He is our comforter. He is compassionate, & He doesn't forsake us. I have been touched by His loving hand many times & found comfort & peace. As I lift my dear friends up in prayer, I ask my heavenly Father that he will do for them as He did for me. His presence is truly greater than any miracle. It trumps all to be loved by God & know His presence.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Relief ran through my body.

As I was running errands this morning, driving here & there, my mind began to wander as it often does. However, I soon found myself fixated on a particular thought. I couldn't stop thinking this thought, so I decided it was blog worthy...

This week I made an unexpected trip to my GP because my neck was bothering me. Once you've had a cancer diagnosis, try as you might, it's hard to ignore anything new or unusual. So when I awakened yesterday with stinging eyes, I decided they might just be a catalyst to get my neck examined.

I called & tried to explain to the nurse what was troubling me. My eyes were easy to describe. My neck was not. She took notes & said she'd call me back. The doctor made room in his schedule for me, & in I went (afraid of being treated for hypochondria).

After a little friendly banter, he looked at my eyes & suggested some medicine. Next, he examined my neck & assured me it would be okay (nothing that wouldn't go away on its own). Relief ran through my body for 2 reasons. #1 I would be okay.  #2  I wasn't a hypochondriac.

So... as I was driving this morning, I was thinking about how thankful I am for my GP. He has witnessed me at my worst. He always has compassion, & my melt downs don't seem to scare him. He hasn't always been able to cure my illnesses; after all, some things are treatable but not curable. However, he has always taken time to address my many issues & help me understand them.

Yesterday, once my sense of relief came, I had questions for him about other things, not life or death things, just things I'm trying to grasp. There's so much I don't understand about the human body, cancer, diet, inflammatory illnesses, & the like. At the end of his long day, he again took time to answer  my questions & address my concerns.

As he walked out of the exam room, he told me I was in good health, & he wanted me to leave his office knowing that... As I pulled in my driveway (with a grateful heart), I sought out my youngest daughter & told her I was being treated for hypochondria. Sometimes it doesn't pay to play pranks. She believed me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

... the hope of a new tomorrow

Each day of my life is simply a new day. It doesn't matter so much what I do. It just feels good to do the mundane. I never knew run of the mill could be refreshing. A few days ago, I went to a meeting at my church. It was the first meeting I've been to in a very long time. I don't even like meetings, but I was so excited to be invited to a meeting.

Today I rolled out 3 pie crusts & made pecan pies for a big church event coming up this weekend. It's a Community Bash, & I get to help with a booth. It's been a long time since I've baked a pie. In fact, I've never baked a pecan pie. And... it's probably been 3 years since I've served in any capacity in a church setting. I am overwhelmed with joy to have a loving church home & to be healthy enough to serve. I didn't realized how much I missed being a part of something so vital to my being.

My life is not without worries, but overall, it's beginning to pick up speed, & I feel so alive. Running into people again brings me joy. I have made a few new friends, & I care deeply about them. My old friends are pretty special too. They feel kind of like new friends since our time together has been limited. Getting together & sharing life always brightens my spirit.

Driving 45 minutes to see my oldest daughter is liberating. For a year, she has come to see me on a weekly basis & helped me with my errands. Today, I went to see her & take her out to lunch. We shopped a little, ate a little, & laughed a lot. My youngest & I pulled into the driveway, fed the dog, & off we went to get her ready for apartment life. To think that I had enough stamina to pull this off made me chuckle.

I can honestly say... the warmth of the sunshine has never felt so comforting. The sky has never looked so brilliant. The breeze has never felt so gentle & peaceful. People have never meant so much to me. Spending time with them has never brought such joy. I've even begun to love to cook. Clearly, something must be wrong with me. Meetings & cooking were never part of my DNA. I'm shaking my own head & rolling my eyes in wonder.

The best part... my husband has new hours. We go to bed together & wake up at the same time. He doesn't need an afternoon nap. He comes home to dinner, & we take a walk. My hair is curling up like never before, & we just watch in amazement. It makes us laugh. Life has new meaning. It is precious. It is refreshing. Together we take each step with the hope of a new tomorrow.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My eyes welled with tears.

Today, I received a very unexpected surprise. A family made a significant donation to a ministry that is  dear to my heart  in my honor.  What I'm about to say might sound braggadocios, but truly, that is not my intent. I am blogging about it because I know what was written about me can only be attributed to God & not to me. That is why I feel compelled to share it. So... I risk my readers thinking ill of me for writing this. Please forgive me if that is how you take this blog.

The givers of this meaningful donation said that my honesty, strength, & wisdom are inspiring. Sometimes when I write these blogs, I feel rather lame. As I've said before, I pretty much live my life as an open book. Some would say... TMI. Others would say... Get a life. AND I'm sure other things have been thought too if not said aloud. I can't be anything but honest, but I'm sure that my frequent blogging about my life wears on my family & even bores some.

As for strength, I am not strong in any sense of the word. Physically, I have trouble opening jars, carrying a load of clothes, & the list continues. My physical weakness is due to a problem with the lining of my nerves plus the after effects of chemo therapy & surgery. Emotionally, I am a basket case. I have lived my life (as long as I can remember) with anxiety. It is my constant companion, & I see it as a mixed blessing. It makes me so fearful, but at the same time, it glues me to God. Because I live with anxiety, not a day goes by that I don't cry out to God with my burdens. He never fails me.

Lastly, wisdom. I almost chuckle at the thought of this one. I am in no way intellectual. I'm all heart, & sometimes kind of on the slow side when it comes to catching on to things  (physically, technically, &  abstractly). Because I have ADD, reading takes great concentration. Since chemo, I have to search for the right words, & sometimes they never come to me.  Having a conversation is sometimes hard because my brain is so random. I can't remember #'s & frequently mix up my check book. Again, the list goes on.

So... as I received word this morning of this beautiful donation made in my honor, I felt so incredibly honored. My heart started palpitating, & my eyes welled with tears. I am not worthy of such descriptive words for which this honor was given in my name. Yes... I'm honest (to a fault). No... I'm not strong, & those closest to me would probably NOT say I am wise. I must say... To the dear friends that made this donation, I am awestruck by both your kind donation & your words. I give the glory to God, because without Him, I am nothing.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It doesn't matter.

Last night was a special night, a perfect night from my point of view. We had the whole family together. I treasure these moments for a few reasons. #1  It's hard to get everyone together. #2  We have so much fun. My husband has said for years that I have "Norman Rockwell" expectations. I have to say he's right. I like my stars aligned when it comes to my family. I love being together, & when we are together, I hope we get along.

Sometimes family stuff can be rough. Sometimes we like to put our 2 cents in when it isn't necessary. Human nature seems to mean we cut our family members less slack then we do the rest of the world. We tend to think our boundaries are endless, & we can say whatever we want. I used to think that was the case. I used to think it was okay to be brutally honest in the name of family. I'm all about the truth but only in a loving manner.

I believe we should treat our family members with the same respect we give our best friends. It's not okay to verbalize whatever thought comes into our brain at the risk of hurting someone else. This "no offense, but" attitude just doesn't work. If something is offensive, think of a better way to say it, or perhaps don't say it at all.

This last year has made me realize (with new depth) what it means to be a family. I have treasured my family every day of my life (even the not so pretty days). The less than pretty moments have taught me so much. I've learned through them that I want better, & we are capable of better. It takes some self control, but mostly love, the kind of love that puts the other person first. It's love that says... "it's not about me."

When family members begin to love each other with a love that puts others first, things begin to change. Maybe it's just maturity, maybe it takes losing your sense of security. I don't really know what it takes, but I do know this kind of love is priceless. When we find this love, it strips away all the things that don't matter. It no longer matters what we do when we are together, what we wear, or what we have. It no longer matters if we get to put our 2 cents into words. It doesn't matter what we've said or done in the past.  It becomes just about being together. It's the best!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I didn't want that beautiful moment to end.

I don't write about my youth leader days as often as I think about them. I was a youth leader for 8 years, & it was one of the most fulfilling times of my life. I believe I grew as much spiritually as I hoped the kids did. I was always searching for meaningful lessons to share with them. Teens from many avenues of life came through my door. My goal was to love each of them. I know I sometimes failed, but it wasn't because I didn't try. The reason I grew so much spiritually during this time is because I was frequently placed in situations where I had to ask my Heavenly Father to guide me. Of course, He always did. Sometimes words came out of my mouth that I knew could only be of Him.

I learned to rely on God during this time. After all, I was qualified to be a school teacher, not a youth leader. I wanted the kids in my youth group to always have something to look forward to. Every time we met, I tried to include as many of the following elements as was appropriate for the gathering: worship, Bible, prayer, food, fellowship, & a good dose of fun. I took the top 6 impacts on a teens life & tried to thread them regularly through my lessons. I wanted them to learn to apply the Bible to their lives. I wanted it to have meaning. I wanted them to grow in their faith. Most of all, I just wanted them to feel loved.

I am blogging about my youth leader days today because something happened which gave me a big flashback. I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to reflect... A few days ago, one of my former youth, a young lady, sought me out through FB & said she missed me & wanted to get together before school started. I was honored & promptly found a date. Today was that day.

I picked her up (much as I used to when I was her leader). She came into my life as a 6th grader. Now she is about to embark on her Junior year of high school. The minute I met her, my heart melted for her. Little did I know, what a special little girl she would become in my life or the time I would spend with her. Sadly, this past year of my journey separated us. So... catching up with her was a dream come true.

The minute she got in my car, we hugged. Our smiles were radiant, pure joy to see each other. My joy only increased as we visited. Her faith was bubbling out of her. Her eyes sparkled. Her hair was fixed with a little twist & looked so pretty. Her smile was contagious. We reminisced. I told her I always "cut to the chase with her," & based on today, that is always how it will be.

This young lady has spent a lot of time evaluating her youth days (both the happy & the sad times). She has learned from them, & I believe through them, she has decided what kind of person she wants to be. She has good goals (realistic & wonderful), & she has made good decisions & friends. We both admired God's mighty hand in her life. As our time came to a close, we hugged, & I wanted to hang on for dear life. I didn't want that beautiful moment to end. We both kept shouting, "I love you."

Dedicated to:  Meagan Higgins

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

one. memorable. day.

Yesterday was the one year marker of the discovery of my cancer. It marked the day fear overtook my whole being like an unending electrical charge. From the second my lump was discovered, life changed. The days that followed have NOT blurred into one. I distinctly remember the progression of the next 5 days as if it were yesterday. The past year has been a roller coaster of emotions, many of which I have shared with those who follow my blog.

So today, I am blogging about yesterday. I feel it is important that as a family, we (my husband & daughters) had to acknowledge the one year marker of such a life changing day. However, since I've not walked through these waters before, I really didn't know what kind of emotions to expect. So... I decided that thankfulness & closeness would be a good approach.

I rounded up my three daughters who mean more to me than life itself, & we headed for Chicago. I created our first annual Mother/Daughter Day. Hopefully, there will be lots more to come! God seemed to be smiling on us as He gave us a beautiful day. The weather was perfect. Lake Michigan never looked prettier. It resembled the ocean with a blue/green cast that met with a vibrant blue sky. We felt refreshed by an ever-present breeze.

We parked underground which was an adventure in itself. We hailed a taxi & headed for Navy Pier. We dined at Bubba Gump's & then explored Navy Pier. Yes, we rode the big ferris wheel & even the carousel. We laugh & joked & listened to each other's woes. We reminisced about childhood & the silly things I did as a mother. I could only laugh sheepishly as they remembered my antics.

Yes, I did sneak into their closets while they said their nightly prayers & munch on their Halloween candy. Snickers Bites were my favorite. I did threaten my middle daughter with my Diet Pepsi when she refused to get out of bed for school every morning. I began by sipping it in her ear followed by spilling a few drops on her face. I was not exactly conventional & probably shouldn't admit to such quirkiness.

The highlight of our day (other than just being with my support team) was our segway tour of Chicago. I was the first of us to receive training. I was so nervous, my whole body tensed up. Middle daughter began her training like she was on a bucking bronco. The oldest thought it was much more difficult than expected. The youngest caught on quickly but was terrified by the rest of us. We felt like we were the problem family in our tour group.

As the tour progressed, thankfully so did our skills. By the halfway mark, we were all pros. We saw Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute, & many noteworthy landmarks. The best part for me, was riding the segway down Lakeshore Drive & enjoying the beautiful lake. In single file order, we crossed busy streets while traffic seemed to yield to us. People seemed to be laughing at us as we dorkily went on our way with  our bright orange helmets. Our tour guide commented that he had never before had such a giggly group as my family. I took that as quite a compliment.

My expectations of our first annual Mother/Daughter Celebration far exceeded my hopes. My daughters caught on early that this was an important day for me. They humored me in every way, even allowing excessive picture taking. They humbled themselves, put on the stunning orange helmets, & smiled all along the way. They looked out for me & never let me out of their sight. By the end of the day, we were discussing our plans for next year. We made a pact to keep this day as our special day. They even posted on their FB walls about how much the day meant to them.

These girls (along with their husbands & their Dad) have walked me through this year in ways I never dreamed possible. They have shed many tears for me. They have questioned God & asked the questions I could never bring myself to ask. They have accompanied me to many appointments, sat through scans, life changing surgery, radiation, & other unspeakable tests. They have tearfully waited for results. They have lifted me up in prayer daily. They have changed my drains, shaved my head, helped me get my head on straight, watched me suffer, suffered with me, & wiped my tears. They have each in their own special way tended to my needs & made me feel whole.

Yesterday was a day of celebration. We celebrated relationship. We celebrated life. We celebrated the most tender year of our lives & yet probably the most meaningful. They are three of my greatest blessings. They are the most enduring & endearing thing I've ever done. Together & individually, they have picked me up & carried me with their beloved father through this year. Looking back... I can only be thankful!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

One year approaches...

August 14th is almost here, the first year anniversary of the day my life changed. I just clicked on my first blog & walked down memory lane. Actually, I've walked down this lane in my mind so many times in the last year, I'm quite comfortable reading about it. I just thought I would check in to see if my head was in a different place (now, a year later)...

I thought I would be very emotional as I approached my first anniversary of my journey with cancer. Truth is... I've been so happy lately, I don't feel sad (at least not yet). The past few weeks have been fun. I've gotten to visit with my mom & even made the trip on my own. I've started swimming & feel as though I am strengthening my weak arm. I finally cleaned my front porch & got my garage cleaned. That's always invigorating, & I did it all on my own. I've begun a new diet, & I like it. Lastly, my daughter came home from 2 months in South Africa, & I am so happy to see her so happy.

I have decided to live my life as if my cancer is not going to return. If it does, we will deal with it. In the meantime, I am going to live life. Yes, live life. I am going to enjoy my relationships & pour as much into them as I can. AS I've said before, I am not afraid of my eternity, just sad about leaving my loved ones behind. However, I have an ever-present knowing (as I wrote in my first blog) that I rest in the palm of God's hand. Truly, the safest place to be.

I have learned many things about myself this past year. I am always thankful for the truth (even if it's not pretty). I live my life a bit differently, but that is by choice. When someone calls me, I do all I can to converse (even if it isn't at a time I would choose to chat). When I run into someone, I try to take  time to visit, rather than constantly rushing on to the next activity. I think that is one of my biggest changes.

My pace has slowed immensely. I plan much less in my day, & I try to savor each moment (whether I am swimming, cooking, or running into someone). I try not to always be in a hurry, but to live in the moment (not in anticipation of the next moment). I try to focus on today & enjoy what lies before me. If I have a dreaded test or treatment ahead of me, I try not to think too much about it until the night before.

As I look back over the past year, I am aware of good that has come from my journey. I am thankful for any positives that have resulted from this journey, because that is what makes it all worth while. I have experienced a vast array of emotions over the past year. At one point, I thought I might be better off dead. My friend recently reminded me of that. It was definitely one of the lowest most painful times in my life. I never imagined myself in that spot.

What breaks my heart the most?  When I hear that someone else has received a terrible diagnosis. It might be an original diagnosis or their cancer has metastasized or gotten worse. I find this so hard to bear. If someone loses their fight to this disease, I take it really hard. I have cried many tears this past year for my fellow fighters.

Lastly, I have planned a very special day for August 14th this year. I am going to spend the day with my 3 daughters doing something fun. I hope to make this a mother/daughter tradition every year on this day. I cannot think of 3 ladies I'd rather be with on this special day.

Cancer has become a part of my life. I do not feel it is my identity, but I do feel it is my journey, & a new avenue in which I can share my love for my Savior. God has opened new doors for me this past year. These doors, I would NEVER have opened on my own. BUT as I peek around the corner to see what is on the other side, I always know that He is holding my hand.

Friday, August 10, 2012

a once in a lifetime day...

Today was a once in a life time kind of day. The 3 of us met. We were house mates 32 years ago in college. Lots has happened since then, & it was fun to look back. We had to laugh at our immaturity. We reminisced. We remembered. We picked up right where we left off. It took all of 2 seconds to get beneath the surface. It honestly felt as though we were back in college.

In the last 28 years, each of us has married. We have all had children. We have all taught school. 2 of us have married off some of our children, & one of us is even a grandma. We each have a faith that has only deepened since our young college days. Hearing each other's heartaches & joys was beyond what  words can say...

Yes... life has taken it's toll on each of us (not exactly in the same way), but we are not the young teens we were when we met. We have practically raised our children, & we are no longer the young moms we were when we met in our early married years. Our children have melted our hearts, & we savored every moment of their childhood. We miss those early years, but seeing them as young adults is beyond anything we could ever have imagined.

As we sat at our restaurant table, we had no little ones to interrupt us. We didn't have to excuse ourselves to take them to the restroom. No one had to be shushed. We had 3 hours to ourselves. How could it be we felt shortchanged? We could easily have talked for 3 more hours. When we parted, I felt so refreshed. I was so excited to see these 2 ladies, but my expectations were exceeded.

Why am I so refreshed by the time we spent together? I don't know if it's our level of trust, or our bond in Christ. Perhaps, we are just 3 people that love & respect each other. It could be the fun times we shared in our younger years. Maybe it's because our lives intersected at such a tender time, a time when we were transitioning into adulthood. We have beautiful memories, but today was equally beautiful. Talking to these 2 women is so easy. Spending time with them is more than words can say...

Dedicated to:  Judy & Virginia

Sunday, August 5, 2012

my beautiful story...

Today has been a day unlike any I've had in a long time. We went to church & loved the sermon, worshiping, & seeing our friends. I am so thankful to have found a church that I love. Our boy, Eddie, is home from Wisconsin, & having him in church with us is always special. I love to worship with him. After lunch, we went on a little shopping spree at Walgreen's. Looking for greeting cards with Eddie is always fun.

On the way home, we discussed how we would spend our afternoon. I've had a few goals lately that I've been unable to accomplish due to the heat wave that has lasted all summer. Today was beautiful, & I decided to take advantage of the cooler temperature. My front porch has not been cleaned in forever, & it looked dirty! Today, I finally cleaned the whole front porch from top to bottom. I haven't been able to use my arms since my surgery nor had the energy. It felt so good to be able to do this (mostly on my own).

I have spent this past year depending on others or just letting things go. As the 1st anniversary of my diagnosis approaches, I'm beginning to realize how much of this past year I have spent disconnected from the world. As I get together with friends, it seems to me that their kids should be in the same place they were a year ago when my life changed. I feel as though I fell off the face of the earth, & of course, life went on...

My friends' children continued to grow & seem so much older than they did a year ago. Junk has managed to accumulate in my home, & it's time for sorting, pitching, & cleaning. We've made a few trips to the Goodwill lately. Many things have not been given needed attention, & it shows. So... to begin to make a dent feels really good.

Tomorrow, I have labs & a treatment. I feel as though we will be once again rolling the dice, waiting on results, very much out of our control. I know there is really nothing random about this, & that God goes before me & already knows my results. I know nothing will come my way that He hasn't allowed. Reminding myself of this always brings me comfort & strength to face each obstacle.

After labs & treatment, we will head to the airport to pick up our daughter. She has been gone for 2 months in a far away place, South Africa. That's how long I have been waiting for this day. I've been anticipating it for a long time, imagining her coming out of the terminal, seeing those pretty eyes & that gorgeous smile, & hugging her like I never have before.

This morning in church, a sweet lady I've never met, came up & introduced herself to me. She told me I have a beautiful story. I was touched. Having cancer has changed so much about me, yet it hasn't stolen my faith or my joy. I guess that is the beautiful part. It's taken almost a year, but I don't awake each morning anymore thinking about cancer. I don't feel sad. I'm just enjoying each day.

So what will tomorrow bring? I don't expect better results because my medication hasn't changed. Our plan is just to monitor things for awhile, & that is my hope. I want to head to the airport without worrying about my labs. However, I will head to the airport with great anticipation regardless of my results. I have dreamed about this moment for 2 months, & I am going to grab it & savor it. After all, it's part of my beautiful story.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hard days are best.

Have you ever known someone who seems gifted in every way? Everything comes easy for him. He's good looking, does well in school, athletic, good with people, & the list continues. Nothing is hard for this individual. He's genuinely nice & well liked, maybe even popular. From the outside at least, it looks like he has everything together.

Contrast this gifted individual with the person who seems to have a few strikes against her from the start. She wishes she had a best friend or even just a friend. Her self-esteem is low. There's many things about her appearance she wishes she could change. School is hard, & her grades are not good. She has no extracurricular life because her family cannot afford it. From the outside, her life looks pitiful, & it is.

Maybe you've met the person who has gifts but doesn't recognize them. This person drifts along in life, putting very little into it, & getting nothing in return. When this individual sings a song, it has no meaning. Dances have no soul. Friendships are stagnant. Gratefulness does not exist. Life is just plain dull.

As I've watched the Olympics this year, I have enjoyed the different personalities. These young athletes have sacrificed so much of their teenage life for their sport. Of course, there are no guarantees. No body can foresee what toll their nerves will take on them, especially if it is their first Olympics. Some  of the athletes sustain injuries that interfere with their best performance. Some suffer illnesses at seemingly the worst possible time. All of these athletes probably have struggles going on in their lives unrelated to their sport. Who knows what difficulties they face as they step up to compete.

It caught my ear when Gabby Douglas received her final score in the overall competition. This beautiful spirited lil athlete caught my eye from the start. She's paid a dear price to be where she is today, not knowing if there would be a pay off. When her good news came, she responded saying, "All the glory goes up to God, & the blessings fall down on me." Then she added... "Hard days are best, because that's when champions are made."

I was as flabbergasted by her words as I was her talent. Such wisdom for a sixteen year old! It's taken me a life time to learn these lessons, & these words spewed from her mouth as if they were second nature. She's only seventeen. How can she have such wisdom? She knows what some people fail to grasp their whole life. I don't know if her wisdom comes from the price she's paid to win her gold, or if she is as gifted spiritually as she is athletically. Whatever the case, it's clear that her head & her heart agree. I'm in awe of this young athlete for so many reasons.