Monday, January 26, 2015

cold truth

When you are a cancer survivor, your world changes in so many facets. I have had people tell me not to let cancer define me. It doesn't, but I cannot deny how it has changed every fiber of my being. I really don't mind if it defines me as long as that definition gives me the opportunity to help others. One of the few goods that can possibly come from cancer is giving it back to God. To me… that means letting Him use my sorrows to comfort others.

I have a multitude of friends who are my fellow survivors. Some of them are battling the vicious relentless disease even as I write this blog. I am overwhelmed with grief on their behalf. I went to lunch with 2 beautiful new friends today (both survivors). When I left, I felt like I didn't have a problem in the world. My dear friend had surgery today. She suffers, & she suffers. I cry for her. It makes me hate cancer.

I can embrace cancer on my own behalf. The changes it has wreaked on my life have not been easy, but they have made me a stronger person, a better person, & a deeper person. Never the less, when I see my friends suffer, I am angry. When I worry about it attacking my loved ones, I hate it. When I consider the fact that it could come back to haunt me, I simply give my own fears to God. But… the fear I have for others is harder to give to God. Why? I don't know.

Today has been a hard day (emotionally).  So many of my friends suffer. Some with cancer. Some with other unspeakable hardships. I am helpless to help them. I can only cover them with prayer. My sweet survivor friend gave me a very special gift last week. It was a canvas with a painting of a candle on it. When you turn on the switch, the candle flickers. I hung the canvas in my bedroom. I light the candle each night.

When I wake through the night, I see the flicker. It burns for my friends. I look at it, & I pray for each one of them throughout the night. I love my canvas. I adore the friend who gave it to me. I was with her when she bought it. She gave it to me. I will treasure it all of my days as I treasure her. I do understand suffering. I have suffered. I understand dying. I am not afraid. It just breaks my heart for the one who suffers & for those who bear it with her.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Sunday morning, our under the weather pastor delivered one of his best messages. Even tho' he wasn't feeling well, he got the job done. His message was about having space in your life. Space to have intimacy in relationships, space to have a little financial cushion for emergencies, & lastly, space in managing time.

When our space decreases, out stress increases. Our intimacy in relationships decreases. He said that the underlying reason that people over schedule their lives, overspend their money… is due to one 4 letter word, FEAR. Wow! I wasn't expecting that. When he counsels people, & he asks them why they have so much going on in their lives, they alway begin their answer with…"I'm afraid..."

What are we afraid of? Missing out on something in life. That's why we spend money we don't have & over schedule our calendars. As I look back on life, I have no regret for spending time at home with my children. I found that when their lives got too busy, it was reflected in a frantic frenzy. They just liked being home.

There were times when I had to put blinders on my eyes to prevent myself from seeing what was going on in the lives of their peers. If I took too much note, I got nervous. I felt pressured to pack more into their little lives. I spent my evenings chauffeuring them around instead of creating a peaceful family life at home. If I had a do over, we'd do less, have a daily evening meal together, & I would put greater emphasis on just being a family.

It takes everything to raise a child. It takes focus. It takes money. It takes time (both quality & quantity). I believe that many children are hurting in this world because their parents are not focused on them. Busyness, technology, work, keeping up with our culture, not missing out on anything, working out & staying fit, & the list goes on...

STOP & FOCUS. Enjoy what you have. If you always want something else, you are not enjoying what you have. Stop the treadmill & just spend time with your kids. I mean focused time. Play games, listen to music, dance, watch movies together & talk about them. Do crafts, eat together, make the moments count. They are fleeting. You cannot get them back. Nurture your children. It leads to  healthy minded adults.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


What does friendship mean? A sweet young friend of mine recently asked me how to comfort another person when you've not experienced his/her tragedy. As I looked into her concerned eyes, I searched my heart & my mind for the right answer… The best I could come up with at that moment was, "Just be there."

I have been the comforter & the comforted. Truth is, there is no right or wrong. There is no "pat" answer. As a Breast Cancer Survivor & a Tornado Survivor, I realize that how the Survivor handles the situation varies greatly from person to person. Some of us are just thankful to be alive. We try to minimize our disaster. Others are angry. Some are in denial. Some are just heart broken. All of us are in post traumatic shock.

So how do you comfort another person? How do you reach out to someone when there is such an array of different responses to tragedy? Sometimes you send a card. Other times you hold a hand. You might cry real tears with your friend. You may need to give them distance. You may need to just be there. You can send flowers. You can accompany them to an appointment. You can fix a meal. You can say, "I am so sorry." You can just listen. You can pray.

Sometimes you can say or do the wrong thing. You can tell someone you fear that she won't make it. You can minimize her pain. You can ignore the elephant in the room. You can do nothing. You can deny her feelings. You can be jealous of the attention she is getting. You can fix a meal to make yourself look good. You can forget about her pain. You can make insensitive comments. You can tell her about your friend or relative that died from the same illness. You can ask too many questions. You can stay too long.

As I said, I've been on both sides. I haven't always said or done the right thing. I haven't always had words of comfort said to me. In fact, sometimes things were said that were quite disturbing. They sent my mind into overload, & it took hours or even days to get the hurt out of my head. These words sound harsh, but someone I deeply respect said them to me. "Your friend's burden doesn't need to become your burden".

I pondered her words for a long time, & then I felt released. As a Survivor, I don't want to over burden my friends. I need them desperately, but I don't want to become their burden. I don't want their lives to stop for me. No… I just need to know they care. If I have something they can help me with, I ask them. I covet their prayers.

As a friend to many Survivors, I cannot function if my friends' burdens become my own. No… I need to love them, to care for them. I need to walk with them, to hold their hand, to pray for them. I don't need to become so burdened that I cannot function. When a crisis occurs, an adjustment period takes place. Life does come to a screeching halt. But.. as the aftermath of the tragedy continues, we need to provide comfort. We need to care. But… we also need to be their for our own family.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

taking it all down...

What a mixture of emotions hit people throughout the Christmas season. For some, there is much anticipation followed by disappointment. For others, little expectation & little celebration. Then there are those who are coerced into celebrating even tho' they'd rather keep it low key. There are those who suffered through terrible tragedy during the "happiest time of year." Some were grieving the loss of a loved one. A few are just thankful the season is over. And… some are sad because it is over.

Whatever your situation, just remember there is really no wrong or right. "It is what it is." It's time (for most) to take the decorations down & prepare for the cold winter (if you live in my area). I have to admit, as I took my "Christmas" down yesterday, I felt a sense of relief. My house seemed a little bigger (a little cleaner too). Knowing that rain & possible ice & snow are in the near future gave me a good feeling to get the outdoor decor inside.

My emotions are a mixture. Overall, I anticipate good. Deep in my soul, I know I really don't know what will befall my family & loved ones in 2015. I am thankful I do not have a crystal ball & no psychic powers. I am thankful it is my job to "take one day at a time." Thinking too far ahead & imagining the worst, is too much to bear. Knowing "it is what it is" & "we will deal with whatever comes our way" gives me a small bit of comfort.

I like the thoughts of moving forward, leaving behind the baggage of 2014 & years past. If you only knew, there's some heavy duty stuff. I have learned to cherish my joyful moments. I define them as the moments where sheer joy bubbles up through my soul. They are the moments that I cannot contain my smile. They are the moments where I feel so happy, & I just don't really know why. Here's the truth. They don't last.

No… something else comes along to steel my joy. It could be personal or could be the struggle of a loved one. It could be anticipated, or it could be a huge "slap in the face." I've endured a few "slaps in the face" in 2014, & I've felt unspeakable joy. So… whatever you are feeling at this moment, know that it, too, will pass. If it's sadness, please know it doesn't have to last. If it's joy, please savor it.