Monday, July 28, 2014

Daniel & Ashleigh

Yesterday moved me. My nephew got married. I love watching people grow up & become kind hearted adults. When  you get to be my middle age, that is one of the joys in life… watching people grow up. One of the heartaches in life is watching the people who don't grow up. Some people stay put & refuse to grow up. I suspect it's due to some unresolved hurt. It's sad. It takes its toll on the others who go down with them. Sometimes they are innocent family members.

True love puts the other person first. It's simple, but it goes against human nature. Consistently putting the other person first (whether it's a girlfriend, a spouse, a child, or a friend)  is sacrificial. Christ sacrificed for us, & I believe that is why we are drawn to sacrifice for each other. It's unselfish. We are selfish. It involves denying our instant gratification & holding out for a long term goal. It's Christlike.

Yesterday, my nephew confidently married the young woman of his dreams. Their vows were heartfelt & beautiful. Their joy was inexplicable. Such a happy wedding day. The siblings of the bride & groom only added to the joy. The toast form the Matron of Honor was sweet. She said always have fun because fun memories are easy to make. Simple but true. The Best Man (my nephew) gave a meaningful tribute to his brother. As I listened to his words, I could picture the brothers growing up. It was precious. I only wish my mom could have witnessed this day by my side. She would have cried sweet tears.

As I watch people around me self destruct, my heart weeps. I want to help them, but I am so limited. After all, it is their life to live, not mine. Yesterday brought me as much joy as the opposite end of the spectrum brings me sadness. This world is full of uncertainties; it's cursed with heartache. To witness love in its pure form, simple & beautiful, was a bright spot for me. To hear their vows, to know that even though they cannot fathom what those vows will mean 30 years from now, did my heart good. After all, that is why we take our vows.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

the song & the lanterns

Sleepless… but for good reason. I can't go back to sleep because I cannot stop thinking about the precious ceremony I attended last night. My youngest daughter (Kristen) felt burdened to help her community. Step by step, she has spent her days this summer with an ever evolving project. It's called Emotion in Motion. She & her friends have constructed a wall from the debris of the tornado. One side is a chalk board, the other is a work of art.

This wall will travel around the community in hopes of helping people heal from the effects of the November 17th tornado which took our home & the homes of countless others. 3 lives were taken which were recognized last night, each with a beautiful lantern sent off in his/her honor. The evening was meaningful, a song was sung, tears were shed. I even saw clouds with silver linings.

At each stop, Kristen will invite people to share their stories. She will have a different question on the chalk board at each location. She wants to acknowledge that people are still hurting. She began the ceremony last night sharing her own story. She & her sister & brother in law wrote a song to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Her former worship leader from her youth group days lead the song. It was quite beautiful. I was touched.

This is the first gathering I've attended since the awful storm. I just wasn't up to seeing a whole crowd of hurting neighbors all at once. I don't really understand, but it was too much for me. My husband & I relocated in a neighboring community. I miss my old neighborhood. I feel guilt almost daily for leaving. I love my new home, & it is a better fit for this stage of my life. I just feel I left a hurting community.

Seeing my old neighbors last night was bittersweet. Some of them are still so sad, & I hurt for them. Hugging them was the best part for me. They were good neighbors, the best neighbors, & in a sense, they watched my children grow up. They are a significant part of the Brown family, & nothing will ever change that.

As I watched my young adult daughter do her thing, I could only be thankful for the burden she felt. I am thankful for the conviction in her heart to be interviewed on TV. She is stepping way out of her box. She stood before a microphone & shared her story. The money she received for her losses from the tornado is what is funding this project. She has a multitude of kind friends who have helped. I was overwhelmed with kindness last night. The most meaningful parts for me: the song & the lanterns, and of course... the sunset.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It just doesn't make sense.

Sometimes things just don't make sense. Why would a man receive a medal of valor for serving his community only to be let go just one month later? No disciplinary action is needed. The reason cited for not renewing his contract is a difference in philosophies. From what I know, this man is a good man. He is well loved by his children, his grand children, paramedics, firefighters, friends, a community, & countless others. The town is recovering from an F4 tornado, & now their beloved fire chief who says he would give his right arm to stay is being let go.

A petition is circulating online. I want to encourage people to sign it. Why? Because when people stand up for another person, it can make a difference. On a much smaller scale, I was mistreated for reasons I will never fully understand. People were not made aware of the truth because my goal was to leave with grace. I did not want to cause dissension so I left this particular community quietly. Looking back, I believe if people had known the truth, the outcome would have been different. I don't regret my decision; I felt strongly that it was not my place to stir up trouble.

Being a victim of people in powerful positions who may be overstepping their bounds is painful for both the suffering community & for the man of valor. It creates a lose/lose situation. The community loses their man of valor, & the man of valor loses that for which he gave his life. People never really know what went on behind the scene. It just doesn't make sense.

I only have my gut feeling to go by. It is not always right. But for now, it smells a rat. I am willing to risk being wrong to support this kind man who invested himself fully in a suffering community. Tornado victims are still struggling. Delays are a daily part of life. Depression is real. Children cannot safely  play in their own yards. People are hurting, and now this community has one more reason to hurt. Go figure.

a club I never wanted to join...

Life has been a bit painful lately, emotionally speaking (not so much for myself but for people who are dear to my heart). Like I've said before, once you become a Cancer Survivor, you have more Survivor friends than friends who are not. This blog goes out to my fellow Survivors…

Saturday, I had one of the most meaningful afternoons of my life. My Pink Survivor Sisters (we wrote a book together) gave a baby shower for a young woman who miraculously is about to have a baby girl. We are so happy & excited for her. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. Her cancer even had the nerve to come back! Well… against all odds, her due date is nearing the final stretch.

So… Saturday, we gathered in her honor, to celebrate life. We all agreed. We just couldn't really come up with the right words to describe the meaningfulness behind all of this. No, words just don't do this situation justice. As we visited, God began to open my eyes (yes right before my very eyes) to see the strength, the grace, the courage we all share. He opened my eyes to realize no matter how bleak our circumstances become, there's always Hope because He is present. He affirmed my beliefs. His grace really is sufficient.

One person in particular impacted me greatly Saturday. As I imagined her journey through this life, I suddenly knew that she was just what I needed. I needed a good dose of seeing God's grace in action. Walking life through her shoes is more than anyone could bear alone. But…through her faith, she still radiates the most kind, loving, & gentle Spirit. I am in awe! She is twice a cancer survivor. She lost her daughter to cancer. That to me is unbearable. She has other hardships too, but I will just leave it here for now.

This role model has the key to life. The only way to come through such deep wounds is to hold on tight to Christ. He has never forsaken me. It's all about surrender too.What a paradox. Hold on tight & yet surrender. How does one even begin to explain what that means? With breast cancer, I was indoctrinated into a club I never wanted to join. It's a club that doesn't take life lightly.

It's a club that understands when one doesn't have the words. It's a club that pulls for you, encourages you, & gives you Hope. This particular group of Survivors also shares the bond of faith in Christ. My friend, Elizabeth, messaged  me early on in my journey. She said that Breast Cancer is a strong bond but not as strong as the bond we share in Christ. Thank you to all my fellow Survivors who are teaching me by example how to walk this walk. Words are not enough! I thank God for being a part of this precious club!