Friday, February 20, 2015
Ever heard the old saying something wicked this way comes? Ominous sounding isn’t it? Cancer can be summed up in those five words. It’s a nasty, harsh, foul, troublesome, wicked and very formidable enemy. The big C is an uncertain opponent, not only fighting but destroying our bodies from within. She’s not always selective in her process; still she seems to target those she chooses with precision. Cancer is downright irksome and annoying as much as she’s devastating, calamitous and catastrophic in her nature. Cancer comes in many forms, with different names, faces and countless masks yet despite her disguises; she is a dishonorable, malicious and completely disagreeable adversary.
My life has been more than just touched by cancer, it’s been clawed at, torn completely open, eaten from the inside out and slashed casually leaving scars all over my chest. What cancer has not done is take away my joy, my hope, my faith and my spirit for living. I am not cancer’s victim, I am her equal. She may try to strong-arm me, hit me with a left hook, enforce power, influence and even dominance over my life but the truth is cancer has no control over me. Why, well that’s because my Maker has designed my life according to His plans. Cancer with all her wickedness is only part of me, not all of me. She has no control over me. I am resilient, and my backbone can’t be broken because she tries to muscle her way back into the picture.
Life Lesson #22, Cancer is a pain in the butt! She’s evil, a blight, nothing if not persistent and a poisonous scourge but she doesn’t and will never define me.
The true reality of who cancer is and all her ploys to lead us down a dark and messy road can be overwhelming. Cancer comes to steal and destroy, but the truth is she only has the power we give her. The facts can’t be denied she certainly directs our bodies physically, but she can only take from us emotionally, mentally and spiritually what we hand over to her on the battlefield. What I know about myself is cancer does not define me; I am only defined by the choices I make. Who I am is not what cancer has done to me but what I have chosen to become in spite of her death wish on my life. This is who I am: A sinner saved by grace, a woman who’s madly in love with her husband, a mom to two amazing , crazy and funny young men, the daughter of truly loving and wonderful parents, a published author, a blogger, a Disney enthusiast, a fly by the seat of my pants cook and yes a breast cancer survivor. I am more than the cancer inside of me; I am a daughter of a King!
Cancer and all her fear mongering is once again dancing around trying to lure me into defeat and worry. I spoke about the unexpected in my last post. Today I’m going to share a little of what’s been going on behind the scenes of my very dull and boring life. First I want to say this; God is good all the time. I believe this with all my heart and soul because it is in those parts of me I hold steadfast to courage. The truth is February hasn’t been a good month for me in years. In February 2006 she took my breast and was the barer of the news cancer had spread into my lymph nodes meaning six months of chemo. Yay me! The following February I learned I needed a complete hysterectomy, even more fun right. Life settled down for a bit even though a few February's have been chaotic in the in-between years since those particular back to back February wins. That is until last year when 2014 rang in with a few more blows only this time it was not medical, it was emotional. I guess February wasn’t finished with me just yet anyway because with 2015, the pattern is definitely back on track again. February is just NOT my month! Is anyone up for boycotting February 2016 with me?
So in with keeping with February and her distinct pattern, this year proved to be just as unsettling. Just two weeks ago, in this very lovable month I went in for a very routine doctor’s visit and came out in shock. There I was staring cancer in the face yet again. Not the same cancer, a blessing in itself. but a new beast with a different head. Can you say I was not thrilled, nor did I expect this news all these years later? I had done my tour into the darkness of cancers sadism already, why did she feel the need to double back my direction? Since then I have been sent down a few rabbit holes which includes very diverse opinions but all coming to one conclusion: my lymph nodes need to be biopsied. What is clear is this: I do not have thyroid cancer which is absolutely good news. The second part of the good news is one of the three doctors feels the findings will be benign. The uncertainty lies in the fact there is something sitting in my lymph nodes which has alarmed two of the three doctors. I kind of thought after my doctor’s visit last week I was sitting pretty, clear of any worry. I even thought about sitting the biopsy out BUT then I received another call from another doctor this week. I knew there was no hiding at that point nor could I evade the issue at hand. So I am going in for an ultrasound guided biopsy of the lymph nodes in my neck. What will be, will be. I have no control over the findings. I do however have control of my perspective, the stance I take and the attitude and tone I allow myself to align with if everything goes sideways.
What I know above everything else is cancer is not my story; it’s just a byline in my overall narrative. If she comes back for more of me, I’ll simply keep fighting. I trust the process, I have faith in the One who created my life, and even in suffering He is faithful. I am nothing without my belief in God. This too shall pass. If it’s a fight the Big C wants, I’ll be ready. Life is more than the battles or the hardships we incur. Life is about living in the moment’s which surround us. Living, especially out loud, is exactly what I plan to do! Besides, I’ve learned to just yell “ plot twist” when life hands out unexpected detours. After all, we're all diamonds, cancer can't break us!
Friday, February 6, 2015
Ever wonder why? Just sit down, scratch your head and say out loud “why, just why”? Many times if we wait long enough or hold on for one more minute, maybe two, we can figure out what’s going on and why. Unless of course it’s going to be one of “those” kinds of days, the wait a minute vine days, the grab you by the neck, you have ring around the collar days. You know the kind of days I’m talking about, those throw your hands up in the air, palm to the face type of days? Ya, those unexpected moments when the unknown fills the room and completely suffocates you? There’s literally no explanation available. Nada, zip, negative, nope, no go amigo! So there we are, just a big huh. It’s about then it sinks in, the reality there’s suddenly an elephant in the room and it’s your job to find a way to move this 15,000 pound hot mess along. Can I tell you I’m there right now?
Life lesson #21, always expect the unexpected!
I have to be honest; I’m a little scared, somewhat afraid, just a tad nervous, an itty-bitty, teeny, tiny, wee bit, OK maybe more like closer to downright lost my mind already and just plain out, all around frightened at the moment. Think that about sums it up nicely for me! OK, OK, what I do know is life is nothing if but unexpected. A simple routine doctor’s visit can hand over a tittle and license of one brand new, unexpected, 15,000 pound elephant you didn’t see coming. Yep, yada, yada ,yada, it all becomes your monkeys and your circus in one unexpected sweep.
If I said I am holding myself together by a thread it would be beyond truthful. On my own I am falling apart, completely and utterly inside. Life isn’t supposed to hand you this many lemons at one time! Who has enough sugar to sweeten this deal I’d like to know? That’s my story at least and I’m sticking to it. Unfortunately, my story isn’t cooperating with me right now. What I can tell you is this, life is unfair, it throws curve balls every chance it gets but God is bigger than any obstacle life has to offer. God’s grace is mightier than any hurt, pain, fear and known or unknown illness imaginable. The reality is I have been hit hard with a curve ball, unexpected, out of the blue, out of nowhere to be exact, a definite left field throw if I do say so myself and sadly from a place I never expected. I’m scared, really scared. Believe me my humanness has asked why, why me, so many times in the last couple days I’m tired of hearing myself think already. My faith on the flip side, my belief in my Lord and Savior knows He is bigger; He’s greater than anything this world can roll me over with. Jesus will not fail me, no matter what new path this lemonade stand takes us down. As unimaginable as it sounds, I have peace inside. I know no matter what, despite the enemies’ plans, God’s got my back. He’s taken the wheel and He will not only guide my life, but my family’s lives as well through any and all gathering storms.
In a week or two I will know more of what’s going on and what we are looking at. I’ll share details once we have reached either a “detour” or “merge with oncoming traffic” sign. Until then I can’t explain anything mostly because there isn’t really much to explain without more information. What I can do and most importantly is to ask of those of you who believe in the power of prayer is begin lifting us up before Him. God is not only great; He is good all the time. I hold to this promise, now and for the rest of my life, “For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
My parents love story started some 46 years ago. Two people, two families, two different paths, crossed and entwined into one story. Both knew pain, hurt and were wounded early in life. Their stories are not that different from yours or mine, they met, fell in love, were married and four years later I was born, their only child. Life was good; we traveled, shared family dinners, laughed, and suffered loss, moved from place to place with each of dad’s new orders and then later when his civilian jobs called. Close really doesn’t begin to cover the bond our family has always shared. Growing up I saw my parents love story unfold, sitting in awe of the love they shared.
When my dad first met my mom, she was a Philly beauty, just 19 and still recovering from a deep personal loss. My dad was a southern gentleman, 23, home from Vietnam, just out of the army deciding on what to do and where to go next. Their meeting to any stranger would seem like chance, but to those who know them; their love story is anything but. My parents love is nothing if but by design. Just nine months after their first encounter, my parents were married and their love story began to root itself deep and fierce. I grew up in a strong, loving and very close home. My parents not only loved one another, they loved me and gave of themselves selflessly to others more than anyone I know. It is by their example of sacrifice, strength and unconditional love I was made aware of how true love actually operates and because of my parent’s relentless love for one another and the Lord, I was crafted into the woman I am today.
I learned from my parents, no one is perfect and neither is anyone’s love story. True love endures many things including difficulties, hardships, hurt, pain, betrayal, desire, affection and emotion but most importantly compromise and communication. Despite what the media rams down our throats true love is not all roses, chocolates and knights on steads. Genuine love takes time, a grafting of souls and a blending of two hearts in order to become one life force. So Life Lesson #20 is this: Love is not a fairytale, it’s a diamond in the rough, transforming us into precious gems, beautiful in all our flaws and imperfections.
I could tell you each and every story, each hurt, joy and moment along the way but we’d be here for a very long time indeed. What I will share with you is this: My parents have given me a strong foundation on which I have built my own marriage as well as the ground work Johnny and I have laid together in the raising of our children. What I know is love’s not perfect; it’s hard and at times harsh. Yet as difficult as loving someone can be, love is rewarding in its perfect design. Loves greatest gift is that of forgiveness. After all, as 1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “loves bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.” Love can overcome any and all adversity if we’d only learn to forgive and let go. In a perfect world love would flood us with butterflies all the time; we’d ride off into the sunset, living perfect, beautiful little lives never knowing the sting of pain, but that’s not reality. Love in its truest form is made up of many layers, chapters penned from comedy, tragedy and triumphs. A true love story is weaved together amongst fallen rose peddles, taken from the ashes of our pain and forged together to form our own unique and individual stories.
So this week as my parents begin celebrating 46 years of marriage I’m thankful to them for this understanding of love and how it shapes us as imperfect as we are. My parents are far from saints. The truth is they are in no way perfect without failures and neither is their story. In fact if you sat down and read through their story you would find just as many messy pages alongside glorious tales of romance and intrigue. In conclusion, what is painfully and still beautifully recorded is grace. Looking back on the past 41 years my life has been a part of my parents story I see in their imperfections the inspiration, the strength and the grace to allow love to shape my own story. Is my marriage perfect? Absolutely not, nor is it a replica of my own parents love story BUT because of their great example I know this love I share with my own husband will last. After all, all great love stories have to overcome tragedy in order to become timeless tales of true love which inspire us all.
By God’s hand, my parents have provided the greatest testament of true love in my life anyone could ask for. Happy 46th anniversary Mom and Dad, I am blessed to be called your daughter. I love you both so much!