Thursday, April 29, 2010

Living Life!

Apollo (our 10 1/ 2 month old grandson) found grandpa and grandma's toys!  Call me a proud grandma, but who wouldn't want to just kiss those cheeks all over?
Apollo and His Mommy (our lovely daughter, Kalina) dancing in the kitchen!
Grandpa and his little guy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stubborn, Me?

So, my last blog was on banging my heading and being reminded to I feel like I am like the animal in the above picture.  I have the possiblity of an uterly amazing opportunity, but my insecurity, pride, and fear have been assisting my mind in coming up with all types of possible excuses.  My heart, though, is so overfilled with humbleness, thankfullness and pure joy!  (It could be a tough night sleeping!)

There are times in our lives where God is prodding and we  need to take the next step. 
Here's a glimpse of the conversation's that have been taking place my very jumbled up mind.

"But Lord," I say, "I am unworthy."--God reply's "there is no one that is worthy, that is the beauty of grace."

"But Lord," I say, "I am broken."--God reply's "yup, don't you think that is how you understand my love, through your brokeness.  It is within this brokeness you are real."

"But Lord," I say, "This is so far out of my comfort zone."--God reply's "I will be there with you."

"But Lord," I say, "I had cancer, what if it returns?"--God reply's "Would you still honor me if your cancer returns?" To which I reply "of course." God than says "Than what is the issue?"

"But Lord," I say....God says..."Enough but Lords, enough excuses--it is time to trust and time to get to bed!"

So, you can see...utter chaos in the peace in the heart!  I am going to continue to pray about this fantastic opportunity and will share with you all when I can...

Edited to add clarification:  Please know that the above conversation are just my thoughts against the truth of the Word as I have come to know it. (No, I don't actually "hear" God, but if I was having an actual conversation, I imagine it would go like the above...only so much cooler!! No offense is intended...)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A God Moment

Don't you just love how God can use every day happenings to teach a lesson.  Such a lesson happened to me yesterday on the way to lunch with some girl friends.  I was sitting in the back seat, which unbeknownst to me, had safety locks on the doors.  When we stopped for lunch, I kept trying to open the door--it just wouldn't open.  My friend said, "Oh, I have to open the door for you."  After lunch we stopped for a few snacks at the gas station, I only tried the door once and I remembered, J has to open the door.  When we were back at our conference and ready to get out of J's car, I quickly asked "J can you please open my door."  BANG!!! BANG!!!!BANG!!! Hit me over the head!  You see, how many times in life am I like the incident with the door?  I keep trying to open the door by myself when it is locked, getting no where.  Haven't I learned by now, that God will open the door--I just have to ask! 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Please pray

My heart is heavy this morning as I read the latest caring bridge entry on a little girl who has touched my heart.  I actually came across Kate's caring bridge site from another blog asking for prayers.  Kate has ran into some challenges, so I am putting prayer requests here and a link to to her caring bridge Kate Mcrae Caring Bridge

Thanks for praying! 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Early morning thoughts

At 430 this morning I was awoken to the statement: How we handle the challenge of adversity displays our true character. Hmmmm. A defining moment. All day I found myself questioning "have I been handling adversity with the character of God?" With some of my recent challenges: cancer journey, surgery, etc...I have clung to the knowledge "Not by my strength, but by His"
Yesterday I shared with you about struggling with rejection. I hope I was able to convey that instead of accepting "no" as rejection, I am choosing to use "no" as a time of refinement. A chance to become more like Him. There will always be times in life of disappointments, sadness and heartache. What comfort to know that God meets me every time in these places, grabs my hands, and walks me through the challenges! I am so blessed!

1) God has placed on my heart to explore some fundraising possibilities for support of cancer patients. This fundraising would help support a few ideas I have to show love and concern for those traveling the journey. I would love to be able to provide "chemo kits" and celebration day baskets. Chemo kits would include supplies that help with some of the side effects of chemo. The celebration bag would include gift cards/products for some "pampering" in celebration of being done with treatment. If you are a cancer survivor please share with me some ideas that would have made your chemo journey easier or how you celebrated or would have liked to celebrate the end of treatment. (Sorry lack of funds for traveling :)
2) Its launched. My husband owns Yesterday we launched the website. If you have some time check out our site GreenScapes Lawn & Landscaping, Inc. Although GreenScapes is just a small one man company--I am so proud of my man!
3) My daughter, son-in-law and grandson are coming for a visit this week. They will be traveling from Montana--thanks for joining me in prayer for a safe trip. We haven’t seen them for 6 months. I am so excited!
4) A fellow blogger and friend of mine, Luann has started the process to help me raise some support for me to attend the She Speaks Conference. Please join us in prayer that if this is God's timing for me to attend this year, the doors will open.
Thanks .....and I can't wait--next blog update will have pics of my grandson!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rejection or Refinement?

Well, I received noticed that sadly my article wasn’t chosen as a winner in the recent P31 scholarship contest. Now, in my mind I know that I really didn’t have a chance at winning…but, someone, please tell my heart to listen to my mind. As the tears slip down my cheeks and the doubts sneak in…I cry out to God. Why did I feel prompted to enter the contest? Was it your voice I heard to take a risk? Or was it just my own desire? Lord, how do I know you want me to pursue writing? God, why have you put it on my heart to attend the P31 conference, when You know that I don’t have the financial resources to attend this year? (Not to mention that I have never flown in an airplane, so getting to the conference would be an even greater challenge.)

In composing a thank you response to the editor of the P31 magazine, I was reminded of Psalm 56 where God puts my tears in a bottle. (God must be really, really strong as I am sure my bottle is very, very heavy, for I am a bit on the tender hearted-side.) I am happy to share that while I was searching the bible for this particular reference, my tears soon trickled to a complete stop and my heart was once again encouraged. I tell ya, if you ever find yourself down in the dumps…just get out the book of Psalms.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when life brings disappointments, it sure is easy for Satan to weasel his fingers into my mind. Everyone has their strongholds or weak points. Rejection is mine. Thankfully, through God’s grace, love and mercy, He has given me tools to combat this potentially devastating curse. Yes, to me, rejection is a curse. When I was a child, I perceived that I was rejected and unwanted by my parents (as repeatedly told to me by my grandma—ever since I was a young child, grandma told me that I ruined my mother’s life and even questioned if I shouldn’t have been aborted.) Some women put on jewelry every morning, I put on rejection! Unfortunately, I believed this lie for close to 40 years, even letting it affect my relationship with my husband and children. God has had lots of patience and helped me work through the lies of rejection and most days “rejection” is in the past. (ps. Last year, my mom shared with me a different story about my childhood, the truth through her eyes. The rejection of being unwanted was a big lie! What a big bummer that I wasted so many years!)

So, tonight when the ugly thoughts of rejection started creeping in “you thought you heard God prompting you, you’re not a writer, you’re wasting your time, your cancer is going coming back so quit wasting your energy, God is punishing you for being cranky yesterday….”

I shouted “No way!!” I have come too far in my walk with Christ to fall back in that ol’ pit. I am reminded of my blog from yesterday about living life! I do believe God has a plan and a purpose. I take comfort in knowing that:
  • In my heart, I did feel the prompting of God to enter the contest.  
  • In my heart, I still desire to go to the P31 conference.  
  • In my heart, I was obedient.  
  • In my heart, I am trusting.  
  • I am choosing to believe that this is a time of refinement, not rejection!

 A time to grow…A time to listen….A time to pray!

Regarding pursuing any more writing, I am still left with some questions…if you have any extra prayers, please pray that I hear God’s plan for me. Lord, I’m surrendering…

In writing this blog tonight, I am taking a risk. I am sharing a side of me that I like to keep hidden. My hope is that my words will be an encouragement to someone else that has faced the lie of rejection. God’s word promises His everlasting love for us and to Him we are #1. Thank you for hanging in there with me as I process this next step in the journey of life.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Living life's journey on autopilot?

A few months ago, my children encouraged me to start a blog as I had discovered that I enjoyed sharing my thoughts while writing my caring bridge updates. “Mom, you no longer have cancer, it is time to move on….” Blog? What’s a blog? I don’t believe any of us were prepared for how God has used “bloggers world” to greatly enhance my healing journey. I would like to share a few blog’s that have touched my heart in the last few days.

This morning as I was reading Luann's blog at Running the Race and I was so encouraged by Luann’s strength in knowing not only her own body, but trusting in the Lord’s guidance for her. You go Girl!

In reading an entry on Rachael Gardner's blog Rants and Ramblings.  She had a guest blog by Anna M Clark this past Thursday. Anna so elegantly shared the road to getting her book published. “My marathon began in April 2008. It's been exactly two years since I first pitched this idea, 22 months since I found my literary agent Rachelle, 18 months since she found my publisher, 5 months since I finished final editing of my manuscript, and 3 weeks since the books hit the warehouse. Now that I'm here, I realize that there is no here at all. Publishing the book, it turns out, is not a destination but a milestone in the journey. Similar to running, becoming an author involves getting up early, fighting through pain, building endurance, buzzing with adrenaline, and enjoying the satisfaction of pushing oneself across the finish line. However, runners get to sit down when the race is over; authors do not.”

Like an author publishing a book, life for many of us breast cancer patients is also like a marathon and we, too, are waiting to sit down. We have completed our treatment and crossed the line, our crowd was cheering but now the stands are empty. It is just us and our Maker. We are learning how to embrace a “new life” after the wakeup call of cancer. When you hear the words “You have cancer,” it is hard not to also hear the voice that is shouting “Death.” Somewhere during the marathon we face the fear of death and replace it with the discovery of LIFE!!

In discovering this life, it has saddened me to realize how many people are sleepwalking through their days. They are so busy “doing life” they have forgotten how to live their life—dead on the inside.
Maybe it is the fear of knowing that I might have just a few blank pages left in my life story and little ink left in my pen that is fueling my desire for more than just a “good” life? Why do we tuck our dreams away into the attic of our brains or bury them so deep in the dark corners of the basements of our toes?
In Jeremiah 29:11, God declares “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Isn’t it time we ask God to help us reclaim our hearts; help us find our original hopes and dreams, the ones He desires us to carry into the future. I have learned without God’s help, it is impossible to discover His dreams for me. (It is too easy to pick up on other’s expectations and shape ourselves to fit their mold for us, especially since many of us are people pleasers.) I have to wonder if it doesn’t bring God great glory when we are living our life intentionally and with the passion He desired for us?

It has taken me time, but I am beginning to acknowledge that having breast cancer has made my life journey richer. That being said, please know, I will not build a monument to my cancer, instead I am planning to use it as a stepping stone to a bigger and greater life.

An encouraging post about exploring impossible things (dreams?) can be found at Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer.  Thanks Maria for always sharing such good stuff!

How about you? What makes you feel alive? Or what moments in your life did you really feel alive? (If you are struggling with an answer to the first two questions how about what made you feel alive as a child?)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Did it!!

Call me absolutely crazy, but I entered the She Speaks contest.  Except for a few blogging contests, I have never entered an article submission was much more challenging than I anticipated!

First of all to come up with a topic.  I so wanted to do something about trials, cancer, etc...but God kept putting it on my heart to write about teens and marriage.  So last night I wrote the first draft.  Today when I went to go do revisions, I couldn't find the file on my computer--Gone!  So, I was going to give up and not enter...but something kept nudging me to try again.  So, after arguing with God and asking Him if I was completely crazy, time was not on my side...I wrote an article titled...We Interrupt this Marriage for Teenagers.  Regardless if I win or not, writing this article has been an eye opening experience!
  • Thinking about the article and trying to be God honoring, etc helped me regain some of the distance I was starting to feel in my walk with God.
  • I didn't think about cancer for two days--too busy!
  • I learned that writing takes alot of hard work and rewrites.
  • I learned that writing brings an excitement and joy to my life!
  • I learned that I really want to and need to spend more time in God's word, it was a challenge for me to find the scripture referrences I would have liked to include in the article, but this is a weak area of mine.
  • I like to be "in tune" with God and practice obedience, even if I sometimes dig in my heals, kick and scream the whole way!
  • I am excited to have my focus back on what God has planned for me.  I tell ya, it is no fun to live in the fear!  And I am actually starting to feel more like my ol' self.  Regarding God's plan:  Maybe its writing, maybe its not, but regardless, I know what ever it is, it will be GOOD!
Question for all my writing friends, do you remember your first writting submission?  What was the topic?  Was it scarry for you too?  Were you excited?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

She Speaks Contest

As some of you know, I recently entered a contest for a scholorship to the P31 She Speaks Conference.  Although I wasn't chosen as a winner, it was exciting to practice my writing and have a glimmer of "hope."  Well, I am excited to share with everyone that Cec from Cec Murphys Writer to Writer is offering another scholorship for writers.  For any of my writer friends who might be interested you can get the details at She Speaks Writer Conference Scholorship Give Away.  Hurry though, deadline is April 15th at midnight.  Good luck to anyone who enters!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday Thoughts

Just a few things on my mind tonight...

Last evening I was reading a post from Marie @ Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer  Marie posed an interesting question on joy.  Have you ever had an "ah ha" moment?  As I was typing a comment to Marie...I had a BIG "AH HA" moment.  The thought occured to me, that in order to have joy in my heart, I was going to have to get rid of the fear.  It is at that moment that I realized  fear of reoccurance occupy's a bigger part of my heart than I really want to give it.  I think I read some where that God knew we would struggle with fear as I believe that word is mentioned in every chapter of the bible. (I haven't researched this, so please don't quote me.)  My fear is health related, but I know there are so many struggling with other fears.  I believe God wants us to experience joy in Him and to do that we must address our fears, wrap them in a pretty box with a great big bow and hand them over to Him.  Lord, hear our my fears--thank you for replacing them with your joy!
Thank you to Mary from Play off the Page for this award.  What a surprise!  Mary is from my home state of Minnesota and can be found hanging out at a local coffee shop!  I have so appreciated Mary's thoughtful insights and encouragement. 
I would like to pass this award on to Luann at Running the Race.  Luann is a sister in Christ who came along in my life at just the right time!  Luann is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and I know she would appreciate your prayers as she completes this stage of the journey!

A friend and co-survivor and I were discussing tonight how there are so many sad cancer stories shared with us and how it would be great if we could hear more of the positive stories.  So, Kerri, dear friend I am posted part of an article from our local paper as an encouragement to us all!
That's why I admire people such as Judy Davis, who both does and teaches.

Judy will retire at the end of the school year after doing and teaching for 40 years.
After one year in Arizona, she spent the next 39 years at Patrick Henry Middle School. Judy estimates she's had more than 5,000 students in her classroom - and she's had only four of those - in that time.
Colleagues call her "the queen of Patrick Henry."
Former students, even those who never learned world geography from her, call her an inspiration.
Justin Beckman, now 29, describes Judy as one of the top five memorable teachers he has encountered. Because of Judy, he follows the Olympics with enthusiasm.
"She was able to take lessons and relate them to the real world," Justin says. "I walked away with a different understanding and appreciation."
As word of her upcoming retirement has filtered out, Judy has started to receive comments on a Facebook fan page set up in her honor.
The only retirement gift Judy wants is to hear from her former students on that fan page, to find out what they remember from her classes.
Oh, there is one other thing she would like: People to walk with her in the Avera Race Against Breast Cancer.

Judy was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 1986 and was told she had only a few months to live.  Aggressive treatment, the best available almost 25 years ago, left her with a few lingering health issues. But it saved her life.
It allowed her to continue teaching at the school that, when she was a little girl living a block away, was only a cornfield and the neighborhood playground.

Now 62, she takes part in the annual Avera Race Against Breast Cancer. This year Judy hopes to walk May 8 with 300 current and former students.  "It intertwines both of them in my love for community service and teaching social studies and a sense of responsibility and citizenship," she says.
To read the complete article here is the link:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Breast Cancer Recovery

Lately I have been surprised at my feelings and thoughts about cancer. After getting through the shock of hearing “I am sorry to inform you, but you have invasive breast cancer”, the second shock “your cancer is triple negative (who would have thought negative isn’t a positive thing?” and coming to the realization that death wasn’t immediate, my thought was “okay, let’s do this so I can get on with life.” Definitely thinking, when I am done with treatment…I will NO longer have anything to do with the cancer world. Well, the joke was on me and I am once again reminded that God has an awesome sense of humor. As much as I try to distant myself from the world of cancer…it ain’t happening! Not to mention, the getting on with life is proving to be much harder than I anticipated. In sharing my thoughts with other survivors, I find that I am not alone. The lack of supportive services for cancer patients after completion of active treatment is frustrating. Being more passive in nature, I am surprised to find myself really getting irate at the misinformation about causes of cancer, scare tactics some face regarding their choices of treatment, and the unnecessary guilt that some cancer patients carry with them. Isn’t it enough that some of us have to experience the grueling side effects of cancer treatment? Now, we are challenged with the long term physical, emotional and financially aspects of treatment? Yes, I know, life is a gift—the greatest blessing we are each given…but I do believe that there are things we can do to educate and assist cancer patients and their caregivers. So, this week, I will be sharing with you different web resources, etc that I have come across in my search on survivorship.

In researching survivorship, I came across a blog entry that I wanted to share by Dana Jennings. (I highlighted the words that really touched my heart.) Dana Jennings is a reporter at The New York Times. His postings on coping with prostate cancer are at
Healing Physically, Yet Still Not Whole
Published: January 18, 2010
Still haunted and chastened by the Puritan work ethic, our culture doesn’t much believe in convalescing, in full recovery. No matter what happens in our lives — a grave illness, a wrenching divorce, a death in the family — the unspoken understanding is that we should want to rush back into the game. Like an old-time quarterback who has had one concussion too many, we are expected to stagger back onto the field no matter what.
I found out that I had prostate cancer nearly two years ago — it ended up being an unexpectedly aggressive Stage 3 cancer — and in the time since then I’ve learned that there is a big difference between recuperation and recovery.
Recuperation is just physical. The claw of the surgical incision relaxes its grip on your gut. You graduate from catheter to man-diapers to man-pads to, finally, your very own comfy boxers. Energy seeps back into your body after the radiation and the hormone therapy cease.
But recovery means wholeness: mind, body and spirit. And I reached a point last summer and fall when I realized that even though I was back at work, once again juking and stutter-stepping my way through the streets of Manhattan, I hadn’t recovered at all.
I thought I had weathered the trauma of diagnosis and treatment, thought I was ready to focus on the future. But my body disagreed.
Physically, I was game, but I soon realized I was going through the motions as I became more and more tired. I felt like a spinning quarter about to nod to gravity and wobble to the tabletop. Mentally, I couldn’t focus: I became shawled in the monochromes of depression. And spiritually, I wasn’t angry — I did want to know what this cancer could teach me — but just right then I couldn’t make sense of my cancer-blasted interior landscape.
I hated to admit it, but I had to excuse myself from the day-in and the day-out if I wanted to fully heal, if I wanted to recover.
It was hard to do. I grew up in a hard-nosed rural culture that valued willpower and raw muscle above anything else. You never admitted weakness. You could have blood pumping from your left hand and be holding a couple of severed fingers in your right, but still you tell the boss: “I’m O.K. I’ll be back to work right after lunch.”
Just one small example: My old man was igniting a huge outdoor furnace one subzero morning at Kingston Steel Drum — a factory in my hometown that cleaned 55-gallon drums — and it blew up on him. The explosion knocked him a good 30 feet. All Dad did was stand up and swear, shrug, laugh and get back to work.
But after my treatment for cancer, as much as I wanted to shrug, laugh and resume my life, I found that I couldn’t. The world seemed to accelerate as I slowed down. I was standing still, and daily life was a blur that I couldn’t hope to touch, never mind grasp.
I needed to take a deep, painful breath, lower my eyes as the manager trudged from the dugout, hand him the ball and slouch to the showers. I couldn’t go anymore.
When I was hospitalized in the early 1980s with an acute case of ulcerative colitis, the doctors tried to save my inflamed colon by throttling my diet down to ice chips and sourballs. They reasoned that the colon might respond better to treatment if it didn’t have the pressure of doing its job.
In the same way, I had to remove daily pressures from my psyche; my body wasn’t the only thing that the cancer had feasted on. I couldn’t bear the thought of commuting to New York City, or even answering the phone. I didn’t want to hear my own voice. I wanted to sleep, wanted to be in the wind.
I retreated into a chrysalis of healing: quiet but intense talk with family and friends, savoring N.F.L. games, taking long walks, losing myself in Ennio Morricone’s soundtracks to spaghetti westerns.
Each day I looked forward to dusk, craved the architecture of bare black branches stark against the gray winter sky. Some days I was a branch, some days the sky.
As our current e-hive expands exponentially, as we splinter our lives and time into nano units of interconnectivity, we are losing sight of primal time, the slow moments that make us human. Postcancer, I worry that we are becoming too fast for this world — or, maybe, that this world has become too fast for me.
After surgery and treatment, my 21st-century synapses and neurons wanted to believe that the cancer had been no more than a bump in the road toward a bright future — just a particularly nasty frost heave.
But the deepest analog part of me understood that having cancer was a life-changing event. As much as I thought I wanted to forge ahead, surge into the whirlwind of dailiness, I needed to slow way down.
The scar on my gut might have faded a bit — I had indeed recuperated — but I still needed to recover.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Odds and Ends

Happy Sunday!  It has been a busy week at the Vander Poel's.  I was able to work in the office full time this week--yippee!!  On Saturday, I was blessed to be able to attend a SCBWI conference in Sioux Falls.  The conference was very educational and inspirational.  On my way to the conference, I was so nervous: the butterflies were fluttering in my tummy... I was praying that God would direct my day and help me find some writer friends.  God amazes me in how He really cares about the little details in our life.  After I parked my car, I walked in with another we were standing in line waiting at the registration table, I found out that Emily and I live within just a few miles of each other.  It was fun to be able to share this conference with someone so sweet and I look forward to watching her journey as an author.  Another big highlight of my day was meeting Roxanne Salone.  Roxanne is a mom of five kids, a published children's author and an inspiration.  To learn more about Roxanne check out her blog  One of the speakers of the conference was a local author, Rebecca Johnson.  She has written many non fiction books and made science sound like so much fun.  Here is her web page:  In addition to learning more about writing and publishing, it was exciting to see so many taking steps towards their dreams!

This morning I found myself thinking about the conference and what role is writing going to have in my life.  Since it was such a beautiful and peaceful morning, my hubby set up this little retreat on my deck (along with a heater as it was a bit chilly)...I grabbed my bible, journal and cup of chia and spent the morning in prayer asking God for some direction.  Psalm 32:8-9 says "The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.  Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control."  Unfortunately, I wonder if I have been a bit like the senseless horse and trying to run ahead of God.  I, once again, am reminded to wait and TRUST!

CHEMO BLUE BAG.  When I was going through chemo a friend of me blessed me with a "blue bag".  She wrapped up little gifts and whenever I was sad, discouraged or a bit "blue", I was to open up a gift out of my blue bag.  These little gifts provided me encouragement.  Since I am in the process of making a bag for a freind who is going to be starting chemo, I thought I would share the idea with you.   
Planned area for new herb garden. (right)
Planned are for vegetable garden.
Herbs that were rescued from last years herb garden. (bottom)
Ever since we have been married (24yrs this summer) my husband and I have had a vegetable garden (along with our many flower gardens.)  A few years ago, I began to be interested in herbs, so I started a herb garden.  Since I was actively going through chemo last year, the herb garden got a little bit out of control.  My hubby says "NO MORE!" This year our project is to plant a useable and contained herb garden.  When I first started getting interested in herbs, I just thought they were fun.  Now, since doing research on health and nutrition, I have discovered how beneficial herbs are to our health.  As I learn more about the herbs, I will share with you all the health benefits.

Well, I have a mountain of paper work to try and conquer today, so I better get going. 
Remember:  Every step you take, you are once step closer to your DREAM!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring is here....feeling free!

Before I begin, let me clarify...and repeat....I AM NOT A CAR PERSON!!  I am clueless regarding make and model, most of the times I am lucky if I can remember a car's color--much to my family's dismay--I just really don't long as it can get me from point A to point B--fine by me!  Two years ago my husband surprised me for my 40th birthday with this sweet little Mustang (yup, you guessed it, before I received my gift, I thought Mustangs were just horses.) Anyways, I just wanted to share with you all that this car just tickles me so...we were able to take it out of storage yesterday and I feel like a kid in a candy store!  Totally surprises me as I am, let me repeat, NOT a car person!  When I drive this car, it is like the cares of the world are gone...

I am free! 

Hoping this weekend to be able to take the top down!

How about you, is there something in your life that gives you the feeling of freedom? 

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Healing Journey

Recently I came across this statement in the book called, The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster: “Arrival is less important than the journey. This is because if the journey is a walk with Yahweh-man, there is an important sense in which you have arrived already. Yes, intimacy develops, but do you ever say of a relationship, “I’ve arrived”? Along the road there may be moments of epiphany but if not, that’s fine. Ecstasy isn’t of the essence of relationship. But expect things to happen. Your incremental shuffle along the road is an incremental edging forward of kingdom borders—it’s a restoration of broken things and a making of new things.”

After cancer treatment—I thought I had arrived at the other side, only to find that I am continuing on a journey, where there is no written plan. I am hoping that by sharing some of my experiences with the “restoration of broken things being made into new” it might be encouraging to others who find themselves, too, on this portion of the journey.

This past Friday morning started off with anticipation as I read the list of the winners for the She Speaks scholarship conference, knowing in my heart that my name probable wasn’t on the list, I still had a glimmer of hope. What a tough choice those judges had to make…over 300 entries and only 4 winners. Knowing this reality, why did I experience disappointment at not seeing my name on the list of winners? Maybe, because I was looking at the contest as a validation…that if I was a scholarship winner, I knew I am going down the path God wants for me. I mean if He opened the door for me to go to this conference, surely writing and women’s ministry is something He wants me to pursue….after reading the winning entries, offering congratulations and thanks to P31, I tucked away my tears and proceeded to get ready for work.

A common saying among oncology patients, “chemo is a gift with side effects that keep on giving”…. In January, when I had the laparoscopy for endometriosis, my gynecologist said my labs showed I was in menopause (a common side effect of chemo and which at the age of 41, I wasn’t too excited about as I do believe that there are many protective benefits of the menstrual cycle, etc.) So, to my surprise, a few weeks back my body gave me a gift (yup, Aunt Flo came a visiting). I thought I was back to “normal”. Who am I kidding? Nothing about this recovery journey has been normal. On Thursday evening, my body decided to let me know it was a bit angry about the torture I have put it through these past months and Aunt Flo kicked into overdrive…I have never experienced this before, even after having my babies. So, I spent Friday and Saturday talking with my gynecologist several times by phone, getting labs drawn a few times and many hours in the restroom. Thankfully my lab work stayed stable so I avoided an emergency D & C—Praise God!! Now, we just wait and see what next month brings. If the experience is like this time, recommendation is a hysterectomy, as it is too risky for me to take hormones. My body is tired and I really cringe at the thought of another surgery, so I am praying for no surprises.

Yesterday, in church we were blessed by a couple sharing how God met them at the empty tomb after experiencing the death of their baby. The wife shared how her childhood was filled with rejection, during her talk she made a statement that pierced my heart. You see, she found her baby dead in his crib and her thought was “God, have you rejected me too?”…for me it was an instant flashback…Remember those tears I tucked away on Friday? Well, the tear gates opened yesterday afternoon. With all the recent bumps in the road lately I had been wondering God what am I doing wrong? What am I “not getting”? When in reality, my sweet friend from church voiced my deepest fear; with these latest setbacks on my road to recovery did I think God was rejecting me? After all, I felt I had turned my life over to Him and all I seem to be doing is slipping and falling, sitting and recovering? In my tears, I cried out “Lord, please don’t reject me! Please help me understand… I just want some direction.” In my heart, I know that God didn’t and hasn’t rejected me…but by allowing my mind to go there…I was giving into the enemy, Satan knows what will trigger us into a tail spin. He picks our most vulnerable moments and can’t wait to pierce them with half truths. Thankfully, God allowed me to process all the happenings and thoughts pretty quickly, so I didn’t stay in the “ugly” place for long. Through my past experiences, I know that God is my Redeemer!

I would like to share personal thoughts on my experiences of the last few days. There are many times in this recovery phase that I have found that I want to get ahead of God. In my mind, I keep thinking what if my cancer comes back and I only have two years left…how will I get everything done? How silly? As it so clearly states in Jeremiah, God knows what are in my plans. He is the keeper of the days. How many bumps will it take before I understand that God is in control? I know, I know, I need to slow down and trust! As this part of the journey is taking much longer and emotionally much harder than I anticipated, I am praying that God helps me to stop fighting the healing process. Many people believe when someone is done with active cancer treatment—you are done—go on your merry way! However the mind, body and spirit are still so confused…they have been fighting for your life and yet, you keep changing the rules. There is no clear path, but as I have once again been reminded…there is a very real God directing the way!

I still don’t have the answers on what the finish project of my life will look like, but I do have a few ideas and what shape it might take:

Encouragement of others: women’s ministry, health ministry, general ministry. There are so many hurting women with whom I want to share how God met me in the “hurts” of my life… He filled me up with His love so that His love can pour out of me.

Writing: still unsure how this one will play out, there’s a dream there and I am aware of the hard work, but without the education and unsure if there is natural skill/talent—should I be spending time pursuing this dream or not??

Cancer Recovery: This is an area where the medical field definitely can use some improvement…I feel a passion for this area, along with combining integrative medicine in the healing (and preventative) process.

Wellness Coaching: I want to share the information that I have learned through my research to help encourage others to make healthy choices for their life.

Self: I believe that I am like so many women of today—we are so busy taking care of others: our spouses, children, parents, coworkers, friends, etc…that we forget the basics of taking care of ourselves. We forget that our bodies are temples. I am working really hard at putting boundaries in my life, so that I can practice good “self care”; knowing that this will help me take better care of others.

Well, that is what has been going on in my mind this Easter season. Once again, I have been humbly reminded that Jesus made a choice to be a sacrifice for us…part of the resurrection plan. A plan to give us hope and a future! How blessed are WE!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Into His Marvelous Light

I had another post ready for today, but we sang this song at church this morning and just had to share the lyrics.  Hope it touches you as it did me!

Sin has lost it's power,

Death has lost it's sting.

From the grave you've risen


Into marvelous light I'm running,

Out of darkness, out of shame.

By the cross you are the truth,

You are the life, you are the way

My dead heart now is beating,

My deepest stains now clean.

Your breath fills up my lungs.

Now I'm free. now I'm free!

Lift my hands and spin around,

See the light that i have found.

Oh the marvelous light

Marvelous light

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday ponderings....

This morning as I think about the significance of today--Good Friday--my heart just aches, my soul weeps tears of anguish with the thought of the pain and suffering Christ went through on our behalf. I wonder when someone has wronged us, how do I act? I typically will act upset, feel betrayed, complain...

Lord, I am so sorry you had to go to the cross for me and I thank you...

Last year at this time I was actively going through chemotherapy. I remember reading an article on how for some of us it takes living a Good Friday experience to truly appreciate and understand the true celebration of Easter morning.

Now a year later I would have to say that I don’t know if we as humans will ever truly understand the sacrifice of Christ--but I do know that personally my depth of caring has deepened.

For any of you currently going through the challenges of a Good Friday experience in your life--may the promise of Christ’s resurrection bring hope and encouragement to you!