Monday, August 23, 2010

In My Weakness He is Strong

OK, so maybe I'm not a very good blogger. All day long I think of things I want to post, then time slips by and it's another day. I will try to do better, but I'm not making any promises!

I'm in New Orleans on a business trip. Business trips with this company are not your average business trips...they are more like reunions with old friends. I think there are over 150 folks at this meeting. Most of us greet each other with a hug and a "how are the kids?" I enjoy seeing these people. Some of them I have known for over 11 years.

Most know about my cancer diagnosis so there are questions about how things are going. I have always been open about my illness. I never thought about keeping it a secret. I know some people do keep their illness private and that is their decision. But I have never been good at hiding my feelings. I knew I would not be able to go about my daily life acting like nothing was out of the norm. I also decided early on that no matter what happens to me I want my life to be a testimony of God's love, strength and grace. How could those things be revealed if no one knew what I was going through? I wanted my family to be wrapped in prayers - how would people know to pray for them?

As humans we need each other. As Christians we need other Christians. To say we "need" someone shows a sign of weakness. That is not a bad thing! Only in our weakness is God's strength revealed. People tell me I'm handling this well, that I am so strong, etc. It is not my strength they see. It is God's strength in me. It is only through His love, His strength and His grace that I can wake up each morning and face the day. I am only able to do this because I have said, "GOD, I cannot do this without you!"

In my first battle the treatments were so rough that some nights I would say, "OK God, if you want me to make it through tonight I will know it if I wake up in the morning." That is not a testament to my faith or my "religiosity", it is knowing that each breath I take is ordained by God. I do not want to die and leave my family here, but even more strongly than that I do not want to take one breath on this earth that is outside the will of God.

When I was much younger I thought being a Christian would be boring. I wasn't really wild about the idea of having to give up all the "fun" things I was doing to be a Christian. Now that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, I realize how very wrong I was! If you want to feel the excitement of really living, just hand the reigns of your life over to God! Walk each day with Him completely opened to His will for your life! No rollercoaster or bungee jump could be more exciting than letting Him direct your step.

I'm turning in for the night. May the peace of God be with you through the night and may the excitement of His will be your driving force tomorrow.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"After all, tomorrow is another day"

I went for my umpteenth viewing of Gone with the Wind this weekend. I am a GWTW fanatic! I've read the very large book numerous times, I've read almost everything ever written about the author, Margaret Mitchell and multiple books about the making of the movie. I even won a contest on the radio once by answering GWTW trivia..I can't remember the prize, but I still remember the answer. I can say most of the lines right along with the movie - my favorite lines are the ones spoken by Mammy. What a wise woman she was and the thread that held that family together.

As it is with great characters in great movies, I can identify with a least a part of each of them (except Ashley Wilkes, he gives me heebeegeebees). When I was a young girl I didn't pretend to be Cinderella or a fairy princess, I was Scarlett O'Hara. As I became a teenager I liked that she always had beautiful clothes, an 18 1/2" waist, and all the boys in Georgia falling at her feet. She was flirtatious and when she didn't get her way she either pouted, cried or slapped the crap out of somebody!

In my twenties, I saw Scarlett as a strong woman. Strong-willed, refused to take no for an answer. She was a successful business woman. She was brave in the face of danger and just turned her perfect nose up at people that didn't like her too much. And when push came to shove, she took care of the folks around her.

Several years back I started detecting a transformation in myself. I no longer wanted to identify myself with Scarlett. Melanie Wilkes is the true hero of this film. She is the complete opposite of Scarlett. At first glance she seems weak and timid, but looking closer at her character you see the quiet strength of a woman that loves with her entire being. She could only see the good in those around her. She was "honored to be obliged" to the town harlot, Belle. She respected and got respect in return from the busy-body society ladies. She admired Rhett for his heart, but most of all, she loved Scarlett. I think she always knew that Scarlett was in love with her husband, but she loved both of them so completely that she could not have a bad thought against either one of them.

To love so completely, to open yourself to the harshness of the world around you, yet not be jaded by it, that is a beautiful picture of a wife, a sister, a friend. She gave every fiber of herself to others. Never expecting anything in return. The character of Melanie reminds me of the description in Proverbs of a Godly woman.

"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also he praises her." Proverbs 31:28

I can think of no better endorsement than to have my children call me blessed and to have my husband praise me. In no way am I even close to being the Godly woman described in Proverbs, but I do know that the sweetest words I have ever heard my husband say were words he said about me and not to me.

I have fallen short of being praiseworthy and there are many things I wish I could do over. I am thankful that God can take my screw-ups, my mistakes and use them for His glory. I am thankful that He doesn't require me to be perfect. I am glad that His strength can show through my weakness.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another Treatment Behind Me

Monday - hmm. I'm coming out of my chemo fog. This is a day when I get impatient with myself. I don't feel sick so I think I should get up and go to work, but I've learned from experience that I can't do that. I sleep as long as I can, then set up my at-home office - which is actually me laying in bed with my laptop. That probably sounds like heaven to folks, I know it would have sounded great to me a few years ago. Gracie cuddles with me for awhile but even she gets tired of laying around all day.

I will be ready to get back to a normal life tomorrow. Yeah! If everything goes well I will be able to get 7 good work days in before my next treatment.

This treatment weekend has not been as bad as the last one. I think there are a several reasons for the improvement. First of all, my markers went down! Good news always helps our attitude doesn't it? Also, I think the nurses may have mentioned to Doc how depressed I was after my last visit. He was a little more upbeat with me.

Secondly, I had planned a little better for this weekend. I asked my aunt to come stay with me for part of the weekend. Her visits always lift my spirits. Also, my goal was to get to church on Sunday. I was determined to get there and I knew my aunt wanted to go too, so I mentally prepared myself all weekend to get there. I am so glad I did! I love worshipping with fellow believers and I loved sharing that experience with my aunt. After church she said she could tell our church is a Spirit-filled church. I agree with her 100%.

Lastly, I know that I had many prayer warriors lifting me up this weekend. Everyone that asked me how they can help us were told PRAY, especially this weekend. I feel those prayers and they strengthen me.

In early 2009 Doc told me I had to go through the bad days to get to the good days. At that time we were thinking I would have 10 months of bad days to get to years of good days. With my new diagnosis my focus has changed. I go through about 5 bad days to get to 9 good days before I do it again. I still like the ratio. The good days are awesome and are worth the battle. I really enjoy the good days. I enjoy the sight of blue sky more than I thought I ever could. I enjoy laughing. I enjoy the love of friends and family. Yes, this is a good life.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"I wanna praise the Lord"

Sometimes we learn the best lessons by watching children. We worship at a church with three services on Sunday mornings. There are times when we have to wait a few minutes for one service to end so we can get into the sanctuary. It is a time when you can visit with others or get into a worshipful state of mind.

Today was the last worship service at this campus so it was really crowded. There were lots of folks standing in the hallway waiting to get in. A mom and her young son (maybe 3 years old) walked in the door. I've watched this family over the past year or so and delight in how they worship. The little boy came in - decked out in his three piece suit and tie - and was ready to walk right into the sanctuary. His mom told him he had to wait until the others came out and he said "I wanna praise the Lord!"

His words made me think of how we enter into worship. Sometimes we are hurried or worried. Maybe thinking of what needs to happen that afternoon or what has had happened that morning, when what we should be thinking is "I wanna praise the Lord!"

It was an awesome time of worship! I bet that little boy had a great time in worship this morning and so did I!