Sunday, October 26, 2014


Today is bittersweet. I'll start with the sweet. Worship in church this morning really touched my heart. It's quite simple; I love my church. I don't love it because it's home to me now. I don't love it because people have cared for me & nurtured me. I don't love it because the sermons are meaningful. I never leave untouched. I love my church because it doesn't judge people. It doesn't condemn. You don't have to follow rules to belong. You belong first.

Today our church honored volunteers with a pig roast. We were invited for a few small things that we do. The weather was surreal. I got to visit with people I rarely have a chance to get to know. The sun warmed the earth as we sat there enjoying fellowship. The food was delicious. We even had s'mores.

It was kind of an old fashioned picnic. Sometimes I think going back to the simple things in life are the best. I couldn't help but remember the church picnics I attended as a child. Deja vu. There were hula hoops & gunny sack races, a hayride, & bright colored leaves laced the ground. The sky was radiant. The people were genuine. The pastors were servants.

As we drove away, my spirit felt refreshed. The more I know my church, the more I love it. My husband & I closed down the Ice-Cream Shack with one last visit since it closes today for the season. Again, it felt surreal. We were engulfed with color. The smell in the air was comforting. The sunset was vibrant. I just wanted to soak it all in…

Interwoven into this day of beauty was sadness. My dear friend is in the hospital. She has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She is very sick. Her pain is out of control. Her last hope of chemo has pushed her over her edge. She has endured so much. My heart is heavy for her. In fact, I think it is broken. It's sad to journey through almost 11 years of life  (your children's' childhood) & then continue to suffer so immensely.

Emotional pain & physical pain are a part of the breast cancer journey. I don't know anyone who has suffered as much as this dear friend. I don't know anyone who has remained more faithful. I don't know anyone who has done more to prepare her own heart & mind & the hearts & minds of her children for this suffering. None the less, she suffers. Her loved ones suffer in anguish too. No matter how much preparation you do, you still suffer.

The author of a book that has taught me much says that we would be foolish not to prepare for suffering. I believe he is right, but I also believe that preparation does nothing to diminish ones suffering. It anchors you through the storm. It maintains your dignity. It's all about how you walk this journey. But… even someone who has given it all to her Lord & Savior continues to suffer beyond what we know. I have come to a new realization today. I finally get it. We must let go of all of our fears because only the grace of God can get us through the unbearable. Please pray for her.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Rotten Truth

As October transitions into November, we end the month with Halloween (a day that always tickles my fancy). I love to see kids all dressed up in their costumes. It's that look in their eye that gets me every time. It says something words cannot say. It's a feeling only a child can feel. It's as if they are hiding a great big wonderful secret…

This week is a busy week. The day before Halloween is our Pink Promise Celebration. It's a day to honor breast cancer survivors. I have worn a lot of pink this month. I've painted my nails pink. I've bought a few things in the name of breast cancer. I've celebrated my own pinkness in my own way.

But… here's the truth (the rotten truth). As I write this blog, I have 3 dear friends suffering with stage 4 cancer. Today I watched some testimonials on The Breast Cancer Awareness web sight. They brought tears to my eyes. Yesterday, someone I didn't know died from breast cancer. We had many mutual friends. My heart grieves even though I didn't know her.

I work very hard at not allowing this terrible disease to bring me down. But, some days, try as I might, it hits me square in the face. The severity of it overwhelms me, & knowing my own reality sends a jolt right through my heart. As I see my own dear friends suffer, I cry inside. As I see their strength, their beauty, I can only admire them. I learn from them.

I converse with myself. I imagine their pain. I find it unbearable. They have school age children. There is no sense of fairness here. They have endured much, yet their suffering continues. It's truly an act of surrender. Each of them has an incredible faith. It is their faith that sustains them. I believe it's what makes each of them so beautiful. It preserves their dignity.

Their faith gives them grace. This grace allows them to be a light house to others who can only wonder how they cope with the severity & reality of their health. Having young children changes the whole picture. Each of them longs for one more day to spend with their children. Nothing is taken for granted. As this month of pink draws to a close, the horrors of this disease never ends for these courageous women. Just one more day, that's all they ask...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What does that even mean?

It's been a long time since I have blogged. The Spirit has to move me, & It hasn't lately. I love to blog, & I miss it when I don't, but truly, I hope that my blog is a vehicle in which others can be reached for Christ. I have stuff in my life just like every body else. My stuff isn't tidy & nice, & sometimes, it takes a lot of strength to live my life. However, it could always be worse. That's for sure.

The truth is… we live in a cursed world. We will never be whole until we are fully healed in Heaven if we know Christ. Until then, we suffer. Some say, we should embrace suffering. What does that even mean? How do you embrace something awful? I have learned to embrace my own suffering, but I fully realize there are limits to what I can embrace. I've yet to reach those limits, & selfishly, I hope I never do. They are things that are too sacred, too precious to my soul, to even mention.

My take on what it means is this… As we go through life, we will be dealt some blows. Those blows can come in many forms: emotional wounds, physical wounds, job loss, health issues, & the list is never ending. Some of these blows turn our world inside out & upside down. They may even cause us to lose our ability to cope or to function.

I've had a few of those blows in my life. I've sunk into my couch & cried big tears. The stress has made me physically ill at times. The worry has stripped me of my ability to live. Truly, I've been paralyzed with anxiety at times. I can feel it when it blows in. My body goes into this overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I feel nauseated. My shoulders ache. My heart beats rapidly. Really, all I can do at this point is cry.

Why am I sharing this? Because it's more common than people realize. I want people to know that there is help available if they are willing to receive. It takes humility & losing your sense of pride to admit you have reached the bottom of your barrel. It also takes that feeling of being in over your head to realize you need help. It's a sick place to be, but it doesn't have to be forever. Seeing it as temporary helps. Maybe it's a cycle; hard to break on our own. However, I believe in second chances. I believe in change.

So here's how I embrace my suffering. I go to my Lord & Savior & cry. I ask Him to help me see straight. I seek the council of friends & professionals. I take medicine for my anxiety. I ask God to use my suffering to help another person. I try to live transparently. Sometimes things are too painful to reveal. Forgive me when I haven't been 100% real or have lead you to believe I have it all together. I don't.

In embracing my suffering, I give it ALL to God. I trust that he has my ultimate good at heart (even if it doesn't feel that way). I know that because I love Him, others will be helped through my sorrow. I believe life is simply about refining our hearts, fitting us for Heaven. In my view, each of my heartaches allows God to do just that. I wouldn't choose my troubles, but if God has allowed them, I trust Him. He knows better than I do. He knows the future. He has the whole picture.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Yes, it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My guess is that some people are sick of hearing about it. There's a lot of hype & a lot of pink. Stores are filled with pink… pink socks, pink shoes, pink purses, pink jammies, swimsuits, lipstick, jewelry, clothing, & the list goes on. What isn't pink? What can I say? Pink is dear to my heart. It's my favorite color. It cheers me up. It's part of my identity. I even have a pink ribbon tattoo. Yay me!

Pink is in the news. It's on the Today Show. It's on the front of magazine covers. It's posted all over Facebook. Pink celebrations are taking place. The Sisterhood of Pink Survivors unites. It's like being a part of a club. Our bonds are lasting. We are each others' cheer leaders. We are prayer warriors. We are Survivors. We are strong. We are not who we were prior to our diagnosis (nor do we want to be). Our faiths have taken on new meaning. Our perspectives are different. Our purposes have changed. We don't take one day, not even one moment for granted. Nope, every day is a gift (even the sad ones).

Pink so much more than the undiagnosed might understand. It's a cheerful way to acknowledge a cause that keeps haunting our world. It's sobering. It's heartbreaking. It represents strength & support, but at the same time, it represents pain, a pain so deep that only a Survivor can understand. That's not to say other causes don't have the same effect. They do.

The pain of Breast Cancer (depending on its staging) never really goes away. At least not in my 3 years as a Survivor. The pain is present on so many levels. It effects our self image, our relationships, our outlook. Its treatments have lasting side effects. These side effects serve as constant reminders of our journey. Some of us have gained weight. Some of us have become disfigured through surgeries & radiation. We have scars. Scars from reconstruction, scars from skin grafts, scars from our ports, scars on our hearts. We have been liposuctioned on more than one occasion, had our precious parts rebuilt & then tweaked numerous times (never to be the same).

Some of us have lost parts of our ability to remember. We've had increased neuropathy. Our security has been completely ripped out from beneath us. And… if that isn't enough, life just keeps happening. We are not exempt from other tragedies. Our loved ones still pass away. We do not escape tornados. We suffer with our friends who now have Metastatic Breast Cancer. We ask, "Why Lord?" We ask, "Why not?" We live with Survivors guilt. We are pained for our sisters who suffer & don't seem to get better. Selfishly, we never forget that it could be us.

So… if a little bit of Pink (or sometimes a lot) brings awareness to our cause, we apologize if others are sick o f hearing about it. However, if you or your loved one should ever receive this diagnosis, it goes unsaid, we are here for you. We will rally around you, share our stories, love you, encourage you, & hold your hand. We will have a bond before we ever meet. All the research that Pink has cultivated will be a part of your future & may just be what saves your life. It did mine.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I am intricate.

The more I walk this journey called Life, the more I realize how complex our world is, the more I realize what an intricate masterpiece I am. I've been pondering much lately & noticing God at work in so many facets of my life. Recently, I realized that He will close a door if I cannot see clearly to make the right decision. I am so thankful for a God who overrides me. I've also become keenly aware of His provision for me. I am convinced He cares about each tear I cry.

The benefits of being one of His sheep can never be matched by living a life without Him. When my world is shaken, He is there. When I can't see straight, He leads me. If I seek, I find Him. It's as simple as that. A few days ago, I was having a rough moment, & He placed just the right person in my path at just the right time. No…I don't believe in coincidence. Last week, I had an appointment, & the words of my friend echoed through my head & kept me in the right place at the right time.

So as I think through these past 3 or 4 years of my life, I see myself as an intricate masterpiece. I am a masterpiece created by God & a culmination of all of the people who have poured into me. I sat in awe today as I began to recount all of the people who have been a part of my life. I have had so many people paint a little piece of their artwork on my heart. My body has been reconstructed. I am no more perfect than the sum of those who have helped me.

I haven't always heard the words I wanted to hear. I haven't always been treated how I wanted to be treated. My body is scarred. My heart is scarred. BUT the amazing part of all of this is that in spite of all of my imperfections & the imperfections of those around me, I do not feel abandoned. No, I feel just the opposite. I feel empowered & ready to face a new tomorrow. I feel loved. I feel convicted. I feel whole. I feel thankful.

I am overwhelmed by God. I do not know what tomorrow holds, but I do know He holds me. I know He's got me, & I got Him. Whatever comes my way, He walks with me. He carries me, & nothing will come my way unless He allows it. If He allows it, He will give me what I need to get through it. I don't know why I am the recipient of a God whose peace truly  surpasses all understanding. I don't know why I hear His voice or see His provision. I just know I do.