Thursday, November 10, 2011

The paths of life

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Recently my husband and I took a trip to the Teton Mountains in Wyoming. After sitting in the car sightseeing for 6 hours, I suggested to my hubby that it would be fun to take a hike. I checked over the maps the forest ranger gave us, and picked out an easy-to-moderate trail to “Hidden Falls.” which would take about three hours round trip.

We started our hike around 1:30 pm and I warned my husband to walk at a brisk pace. Sunset was 6:30 pm and we weren’t prepared to hike a mountain trail in the dark. In fact, about a half hour into our hike, we discovered we hadn’t prepared for mountain hiking very well at all. First, we only had a half bottle of water. (Not smart, I know.) Second of all, we had no snacks for some extra energy. Most importantly, we had no emergency items with us. Can anyone say—beginners? Not to mention we are from eastern South Dakota where we don’t have things like grades and steep inclines.

Undaunted by our lack of supplies and smarts, we forged ahead. I guessed it would take 60-90 minutes to reach our destination. I think it was about the hour mark when I began to get tired. Ten minutes later, I started grumbling a little bit. I kept thinking, “Come on, it’s got to be here somewhere. How hidden is Hidden Falls?” We continued to hike another 15 minutes; the climb getting steeper and steeper. We kept meeting other hikers who were on their way back. They encouraged us, cheerfully saying things like, “Not too much further,” or “Just a bit down the path.” “Yeah, right” I thought.

A few minutes later we stopped to catch our breath. At this point we were on the side of the mountain, looking up a very narrow trail, I gave in to my fatigue and told my husband to continue to the top by himself. I knew my gelatin legs wouldn’t carry me one more step. (Plus my planter fasciitis was killing me and I am just a wee bit scared of heights.) Reluctantly my hubby resumed the climb without me. As I rested, I asked myself, “Are you going to go home disappointed in yourself that you just didn’t push through the pain? What about your promise to yourself that you are going to live a life of NO regrets?”

About that time, an elderly gentleman on his way down the mountain stopped to encourage me. “It’s just up about 50 feet and around the corner,” he said. Again, “Yeah, right” echoed in my mind.

But, I said a prayer, mustered up some strength and took the first step. I gingerly hiked to the top, snuggled as close to the side of the mountain as I could get. “My excitement to see the falls pushed past my anxiety, and I crept around the bend.”

As I turned the corner, I met my hubby. He was surprised that I followed him after all. At this point, I was so excited and giddy---I did it! That was until my husband pointed at the sign, which read “Inspiration Point.”

“What?” I moaned as my excitement turned to disappointment. We didn’t want to go to Inspiration Point, we wanted to go Hidden Falls. I read the descriptions of the different trails, Inspiration Point was a 4 to 5 hour hike—moderate to intense in difficulty. We weren’t prepared for a hike of that duration and intensity.

On our way back down the mountain, I pondered. How much of our life is like this hiking experience? We often start down a path, thinking we are headed in the right direction. However in our determination to reach our destination, we stop consulting the map and end up in the wrong location. Or we walk down the path of life, with others cheering us on, but ignore our inner voice and again, end up in the wrong location. Ending up in the wrong location isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be wasted time and effort, especially when God has something better planned for us!

So my hubby and I retraced our steps, and guess what we found?

Q. Have you ever been on an adventure and learned a "God lesson"?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

A few weeks ago, I had the delightful opportunity of attending a "Think Pink Tea Party".  This event was hosted by a special friend of mine.  A great big thank you to the hostess and the attendees who donated "blue bag items" for our Hope Lives Now! Blue Bags.  I posted some pictures of this event at Hope Lives Now!

Hope Lives Now! is an organization which offers support and encouragement to cancer survivors. Hope Lives Now! only exists through the generosity of others. 

We are planning something new and exciting at Hope Lives Now!  Through our own journey's we have found that there is power in sharing our stories.  We will be having a new weekly post on the Hope Lives Now! website.  This post will be called
If you are a cancer survivor please share your story with us! Everyone's story is unique!  Everyone's story is a miracle! Please share your miracle with us!  Together we can provide hope and encouragement to us all!

PS.  If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact  Hope Lives Now!

Friday, November 4, 2011

5 minute Friday: Remember

On Fridays Gypsy Mama reminds us to stop, drop, and write.

For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.
Here's the instructions:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!

Today's word:  Remember

It's ironic how today's word is remember, especially given the fact  I spent a few minutes this morning looking throught the review mirror of my life. 

In a few weeks it will be three three year anniversary of hearing the words, "You have an invasive breast cancer!"  We were celebrating the news that we were going to be grandparents the night I felt my lump.  I remember the knot in my stomach and the words I found myself whispering, "Really, God...breast cancer??"  Than I remembered where I was when I got the call of my biopsy results.  I remember my prayer: 

"Please God...I beg you....don't let me become bitter.  I don't think I am strong enough to walk this journey, but as you promised in Jeremiah 29:11--I know you have the plans for my life...and I trust you.  I do know from my experience in health care that it would be so easy to become bitter and angry...please protect my heart and give me the strength to do what needs to be done."

When looking in my review mirror this morning--I was giving praise and thanks...God honored my request and for the most part, I have been at peace through the cancer journey.  I don't blame.  I am not angry.  As they say, "It is what it is!"  When I hear of the anger other cancer survivors find themselves battling, which often continues years after their treatment. I feel blessed.  No, it doesnt' mean I like cancer or the horrific treatment.  No, it doesn't mean my heart doesn't cry for those who find themselves walking the cancer journey to their death.  It just means that I appreciate the blessing of God hearing my prayer and remembering my strength comes from someone greater than I. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who would have thought?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words...

This is what you look like when you let your 16 year old daughter do your hair and make up!

This is what you look like when your coworker convinces you to participate in the office costume contest.  It is hard to read the banners--we were "Toddlers and Tiaras" from the controversial show on TLC. 

This is what it looks like when your hubby gets in a fight with the drive shaft of his Kabota tractor! (Guess who lost?)

Before I left for work on Friday morning, my husband had asked if I would do an errand on my lunch hour.  I had politely asked him if I could do it some other time, as our work was having a costume party and I had agreed to dress as a toddler beauty princess.  (He, of course, didn't understand the costume as he hadn't heard of the show, Toddlers and Tiaras.)  I told him, "I am going directly to work and directly home from work.  I don't want anyone else to see me looking this ridiculous. When he saw me after my daughter did my hair and make up...he agreed...going out in public wasn't that smart of an idea.

I had only been to work for a little bit when I got a panic call from my husband.  He had inadvertently put his thumb where it didn't belong...and it was really mangled up. I instructed him to apply pressure and met him and my daughter at a half way point from my work and our home to take him to ER. 

(Visual here)...I am driving (yes, just a bit above speed limit...through red lights...) dressed as a beauty queen and my hubby has his hand in the air...all covered with blood...yeah..."Frankenstein and His Bride" did come to mind.

When we got to the ER...the staff breathed a sigh of relief when I told him I just came from a costume contest.  Seriously, they said...they see all kinds come through their doors.

For three hours, they examined my hubby's thumb--took a few xrays--did lots of stitches--gave him an appointment for an orthopedic doctor this next week as he has a few fractures--and sent us on our way.  (Of course, we had a steady parade of hospital staff come through the room to see my lovely costume.) 

Before I dropped my husband and daughter off, we went through drive thru to get some lunch and the pharmacy to pick up his pain meds and antibiotics. 

After I was back at work for a bit, my husband called and asked if I could stop and pick up some fertilizer he needed on Saturday before I came home.  "Sure, why not?  I have been to the hospital, Culver's and Walgreen's, what's one more embarrassment?"

The counter person where my husband buys his fertilizer admitted he really wondered what kind of afternoon he was going to have when he saw me get out of this big pick up truck.  I quickly explained who I was, what I needed, and why I was dressed this way.  He, of course, couldn't resist and had to introduce me to some of the other staff...asking them "Have you ever met Ferlin's wife?"  By this point I am beyond embarrassment.  (These guys will either think my husband is married to really wacko or that he is one lucky guy to have such a fun wife!)

As my husband owns his own landscaping and lawn maintenance company, we would appreciate prayers for quick healing, along with no infections or complications.

Before I go, I would like to share some wise words that my 16 year old daughter gave me when we were driving through Culver's.  After I had paid for our order, I stated "I sure look like a doufous!"  Kelsey quickly responded, "Mom, do you know that when you say negative things about yourself those words go deep into your heart?  Why don't you just embrace your costume and tell yourself--I'm rockin' in this outfit!"

My challenge to you (and to myself)--Look in the mirror and say "I'm rockin' it today!!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Creating Memories...part 2

Now...for the long waited surprise that happened on the second half of our trip.
After we left Grand Junction, Colorado we headed north to Jackson Hole, Wy and the Grand Tetons.  We had reservations at the Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa....
Well, when we walked in the front door, (a bit road weary as we had been driving 8 hours) one of the gentleman behind the counter said, "Let me guess, are you the Vander Poel's from South Dakota?" I found myself thinking, "Is it that evident we are country hicks?" He than went on to explain that there was a surprise waiting for us in our room. So, are you ready for the surprise that waited for us at check in?

To help us celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, the lodge upgraded our room to a King Suite. Here are the pics:

My hubby and I have never stayed in such a beautiful and lavish place before...yes, I cried! 

This experience reminded me of 1 Corinthians 2:9
“What no eye has seen,

what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

Just as our lodging was so much grander than we ever are God's promises for our future life...

While staying in the Tetons we took a day hiking and a day exploring Yellowstone.  (I have a story about our hike that I will hopefully be sharing soon.)

When we went to Yellowstone we went in through the south entrance.  That morning it had started snowing just a bit--kind of pretty in a beauty sort of way.  Well, we stopped at many different spots in Yellowstone to take pictures and marvel at God's creation.At our last stop, I took this picture.  Notice the reflection of the Yellowstone map on the window.  Hmmmm...this should have maybe been a clue to what was coming up. 
Five minutes down the road we ran into this:  
Due to snow the road out was closed!  Us simple South Dakotan's thought, oh well, we will turn around and go out a different way, not too big of a deal...oh, is a big deal when you have to go around mountains and passes, etc...took us 3 1/2 hours longer than we planned to get back to our hotel.  Talk about an adventure!!


Oldest daughter and grandson
 The next morning, we packed up and headed to Montana to see some special people!  (The drive was breathtaking, but we were so excited to snuggle with our grandbaby we didn't stop to take any pics.)

Thanks for sharing the memories with us!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Metastatic Breast Cancer Day--October 13th

Today is National Metastatic Breast Cancer Day!
Today is a reminder that life's not all pink.
Every 14 minutes a woman dies from breast cancer. 
Every year 40,000 Americans will die from breast cancer.
These numbers haven't changed since 2000,
yet there is more and more pink!
Awareness is great--BUT it is NOT enough!! 
It is time for a cure!!

Faces of Breast Cancer Video

Throughout the day I have spent time pondering on if I was going to write a blog entry about today being National Metastatic Breast Cancer Day.  I find myself at a loss for words, so I will share what Dr Susan Love shared on Army of Women Blog.

A message from Dr. Susan Love for Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day

"By now you have noticed that it is October, and that a pink haze has settled on the land. The message of “early detection saves lives” has been broadcast on every form of media available. But there is a part of the breast cancer story that is less “feel good” and less frequently mentioned– woman living with metastatic breast cancer.

Have we gotten better at detecting breast cancer? Yes. Have we gotten better at treating this disease? Yes. But we haven’t gotten good enough. Despite doing everything that we now can, about 25 percent of the women who are diagnosed with and treated for early-stage breast cancer will later learn that they have metastatic disease. An additional 4 to 6 percent of all breast cancer cases will be in women whose initial diagnosis is stage IV, metastatic disease.

Right now, about 150,000 people in this country are living with metastatic breast cancer. At this stage, the cancer can be treated–and women can live for many years with stage IV disease– but it is not considered curable.
These women, as Roni Caryn Rabin wrote in the New York Times, “…are not [leading] pink-ribbon lives: They live from scan to scan, in three-month gulps, grappling with pain, fatigue, depression, crippling medical costs and debilitating side effects of treatment, hoping the current therapy will keep the disease at bay until the next breakthrough drug comes along, or at least until the family trip to Disney World.” Some will live for years; others won’t be so lucky. Elizabeth Edwards comes to mind.

October 13 is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, and I can’t tell you how important it is that there is at least one day in October that is dedicated to acknowledging that not everyone is cured and not every cancer is found early. We need to stop congratulating ourselves on our progress and start focusing on figuring out why these women have not benefited from all the money we have raised. Reach out today to someone you know that represents the other side of breast cancer, the one that is not so pink. We will not have accomplished this goal as long as one woman dies of this disease!"

My heart grieves for all who find themselves on this journey. 
May God's love bring you some comfort and peace. 
May God allow a cure to be found!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Creating Memories....part 1

Creating memories…

The past week found my hubby and I on our first ever week long vacation by ourselves. For the next few days I will be sharing our adventures…some great places to stay…and some little “God” lessons I learned on our trip.

The first day found us with lots of road time as we journeyed through South Dakota, Nebraska, and Colorado. About 6 hours into our trip, my hubby decided he would like to check out a camera store to look for a tripod. Let the adventure begin…to downtown Denver. Mr. GPS didn’t let us down. We traveled to the camera store downtown and back to the interstate like we were local residents.

Our next experience was going through Eisenhower Tunnel. We both shared in amazement the amount of man hours and engineering to build this structure.

When planning our trip, we had reservations every night except for our first night. My hubby is okay with just “winging” it…it didn’t bother him at all to drive around for an hour checking at hotels for the best price, not to mention any vacancy. Yup, I was biting my tongue, while trying to control my anxiety. I don’t know why…but not having a reservation, brings out the worse in my personality.

We finally found a Holiday Inn at Fresco, Colorado. As it was 9pm, we ate supper at the restaurant connected to the hotel. Have you ever seen the evacuation plans on the back of the hotel room doors? Well, believe it or not, they are posted for a reason! At 2:30 am we were awakened to a very loud alarm with a voice stating, “We are experiencing an emergency, it is very important for you to find the nearest exit and evacuate the building!” Good thing we had left our jackets in our car, as we needed them for it was a bit chilly outside. As we stood outside waiting for 45 minutes for the “all clear”, we met a really nice couple from Texas who were celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary.

The next morning we took a few pics of the beautiful scenery and proceeded down the road to Palisades, Colorado. We had reservations at the Wine Country Inn for the next two days. Since we arrived before check in time, we checked out a few of the local wineries. When we returned back to our hotel, we were very impressed with the friendliness of the staff and the beautiful accommodations. They also offered the most delicious continental breakfast, with pancakes that melted in your mouth. A beautiful place to stay!

The next morning we received a wake up call at 330 a.m., as one of our children forgot there was a time zone difference. Yup, lovely. We needed to be up early anyways as we needed to find an auto repair shop to look at our car. We discovered that our car was very shaky on the steep grades. Thankfully, we found Simpson Brothers Garage in Grand Junction, Colorado. These guys were awesome and an answer to prayer! They werealso  very friendly, courteous, and professional.   We were back on the road within a few hours.

Our next stop is Teton Village in Wyoming…and I can’t wait to share the surprise that waited for us there!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Today is 5 minute Fridays

Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

Today’s word is friend


"At some point, we'll need a little push. At another, we'll be the one who lends a hand."

The above line was from a recent blog post from my friend Mary at Play off the Page. Thank you Mary for writing the perfect definition of friendship!

I consider myself so richly blessed by my many and varied friendships. It wasn't too many years ago when I begged God for a woman to come into my life so I could have a girlfriend. I was so lonely. Oh, how lucky I am—He answered that prayer 100-fold! In the last minute of my time, here is a list of my friends:

Boy friend (my husband)
Mom friend (my mother)
Sister friend (my sisters and sisters in law)
Dearest friends (you gals know who you are)
Ladies Lunch friends (Tuesdays)
Old friends (like the song…you are gold)
Sisterhood friends (who would have thought something like cancer could connect a gal with so many instant friends.)
Chatty friends
Work friends
Shopping friends
Coffee friends
Walking friends
Blogging friends
Praying friends
Writing friends
Puppy friends
New friends(can’t wait to meet you!!)

Hmmm…I am thinking just like there is never enough chocolate…one can never have too many friends!


Make today a day sprinkled with a little extra joy and contact a friend to say "hello!"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Unexpected Blessings!

It wasn't my birthday!  It wasn't a holiday! But it was a blessings day! More like blessings weekend!

My hubby and I started our weekend off with a date of wine and munchies on the deck of some very dear friends home. 

On Saturday, we meandered to Luverne as my husband was going to help my dad install some landscape lighting. While my dad and hubby worked,

I was able to spend some time planning and designing for some changes I am making with my blog, etc.  I had moved my chair to the shade...but soon had to put a chair on each side of mine as my twin 3yr old niece and nephew wanted to sit by me while I worked.   I had my lap top, Caleb had my Nook, and Allie had my IPod....memories. 

That wasn't the only memory of the day.  Through out the day, I was able to visit and share some time with 5 of my six siblings, I had a nice walk with my mom, reconnected with my mom's closest friend, and chatted on the phone with all three of my children.  Great day of connection! (Oh, and not to be forgotten--lots of entertainment from the nieces and nephews.)

Something that touched my heart the most,though, was watching my dad and husband work together...generation teaching generation. Love shared through labor.

We topped the day off by sitting on my parents new patio, listening to the waterfall and enjoying the beautiful new lighting!

Now, Sunday morning, I was a bit tired...but so glad I didn't give in to the fatigue and miss church.  Our pastor's sermon gave me some much needed affirmation.  He was talking about a person's "calling." Pastor A explained how some people know they are "called" to do something. While others of us  just take small steps of obedience and when we look back, our "calling" becomes more defined.  Sometimes I struggle as I don't have a clear vision or direction for my life.  His words reaffirmed me as I am in the second group, taking the steps...pondering the results...listening for His guidance!

Did you have any unexpected blessings this weekend?

PS. A special thanks to my family and friends for taking the extra time to share and care!

Friday, September 9, 2011

5 minute Fridays...In Real Life

This weeks 5 minute Friday's topic is in real life...

Ready. Set. Go!

In real life...

This week has been a tough week for me in real life.  It has been a sad week....a week when fears are more real than not.  This past Saturday morning a young mother (37yrs old) in our community passed away from breast cancer.  She leaves a husband, a young daughter, many family and friends.  On Sunday I watched this video of her:

I believe I only met Darla one time. It was the first night I went to the young survivor's breast cancer support group.  She had just shared with the group of her recurrence.  She was very upbeat and so encouraging at a time when I was very frightened.  Besides Darla beautiful smile and spirit, there were two other things that touched my heart from the video I watched of her.

The part where her mother stated that cancer drew their family closer.  It made me wonder, for how many people is this statement true? How many is this statement false?  Or true for a bit through the crisis, and than after goes back to normal.  Normal that is for everyone but the cancer survivor.  It left me questioning how can I help my family keep the closeness now that cancer is in our past? 

The other part, I will admit, was a bit of a struggle for me.  Most days, cancer is but just a part of my life story.  It doesn't control my thoughts, feelings or is what it is...tucked in a nice little corner. This week was a bit more challenging.  Darla mentioned in her video that statistically she only had a 6% chance of recurrence...urghhh...statistically, I have a 30% chance of recurrence.  I am human, yes, my mind went there...So, this week found me seeking, searching, and spending more time in prayer.  I am not strong enough to carry the fear of recurrence, so instead I give it to my Lord to carry.  I trust in His plan for my, today finds me filled with joy and delight for the opportunity to spend 5 minutes with you this Friday!

Thank you Darla for your life have forever touched my life!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 2, 2011

5 Minute Fridays...Rest!

Friday's five minutes of editing...

This week's word is Rest.


One of the blessings I took out of the cancer journey is the delight in the word rest.  Before cancer...I was a doer...the more I could fit in my schedule, the happier I would be.  It's funny when all your get up and go, has got up and gone, there is nothing left but rest.  When I first started my journey, I would curse the very frustrated that I couldn't be out doing.  At some point in the journey, I stopped wrestling with God...and rested...and rested...and rested....I didn't think I would ever get off the couch! 

2 1/2 years into the journey, I no longer fight the rest, but delight in the rest...for it is within the rest that I can hear the whispers of God...and learned the art of just "being!"
I have looked so forward to this weekend, as we have worked and/or had obligations every weekend this summer...but not this weekend!  I declared it is to be a weekend of rest!  (Ok, I know we will do some work, but I am hoping for a few hours of rest anyways...(smile)
Hope you have a restful weekend too!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sink or Swim, I'm In!

A few weeks ago, I was invited to go to a swim program called Bosom Buddies for breast cancer survivors. Well, today was it...Now, before, I share my experience, I need to explain something. I don’t do swim suits. I don’t do exercise classes. And I don’t particularly like to go to new places by myself. Give me a friend, no problem…by myself, the gremlins in my head start to party! I kept telling myself…you need to do this. Physical activity is good for you and you really need to get back into shape.

4:35 PM I leave work and drive to the fitness center where Bosom Buddies takes place.

4:40 PM I call a friend, hoping her voice will give me encouragement to walk through the fitness center door. You, see, if it was just an average exercise class, it probable wouldn't bother me...but you have to wear a swim suit to participate in a swim class. I didn't own a swim suit. Graciously, my coworker borrowed me one of her old swim suits. (I wasn't sure I would actually go through with this swimming idea, so why waste money buying a new swim suit?) Well, my friend didn’t answer the phone. So, I said a prayer, grabbed my gym bag and began the the center's door. What am I doing?

4:45 PM I checked in at the front desk...and apparently the gal I called to register for the program, forgot to leave my name at the desk. I don't have a pass. Could this be a sign? Maybe, I'm not supposed to go swimming....whew, now no one can see my pudge hanging out of this little bit of material called a swim suit. A phone call is placed. Urggh, I guess they received the okay, as the gal behind the counter hands me a health form to fill out.

4:50 PM I quickly fill out the form and hand it to an older gentleman working behind the counter. He said, "Okay your clear to go." To which I reply, "Clear to go where?" He gave me this quizzical look, "To go to the swim class." Well, kind sir, I am thinking, isn't it clearly evident that I have no idea what to do or where to go? By this time, I am feeling like there is a neon sign above my head that is blinking, "Ding Dong here!!” At the same time the gremlins in my head are saying, "It's not too late, no one has seen you yet, quick run for the door..."

4:52 PM The kind gentleman told me the women's changing room is down the hall to the left. I asked him, "And where do I go from there?" He replied, "Go through the locker room and there's the pool." He then asks, "Do you have a key?" I say, "Yes, to my car." I can see he is trying to not be frustrated with me at this point and he says, "No, for a locker." Come on dude, I obviously look clueless, so how I would possible have a locker key?? He gave me a card and said “Here use this.”

4:55 PM I find the locker room...which has lots of lockers. I quickly find a locker with the number 43 on it. I always try to use my age as a number when there is a potential I may get confused and not find the original locker I chose. Now, my hands are trembling and the gremlins are saying, "RUN! No one has seen you can escape!" I open the locker and changed to the swim suit.

4:57 PM A bit too early to go to the class, what should I do? Well, I do what everyone does when they are scared and insecure...I hid out in the bathroom stall. Mumbled some prayers...and bravely went off to find the swimming pool. Did I mention I am wearing a swim suit, like, in public?? Oh, goodness!

4:58 PM Ummm....I can't find the pool. The door I went through had big plastic sheets and loud noises everywhere...we are in trouble if our class is in here. I went back to the locker room...asking myself, "Now what to do?" I guess I will stand by the door and wait to see if I can catch someone else going to the Bosom Buddy class. There are many women in the locker room. So, I stand there wishing someone would bare their chest or wear a lymphedema sleeve so I could know they were part of the sisterhood. This didn't happen. Finally, I got my courage up and asked a gal to please show me where the warm water pool was located.

5:00 PM I walk in the door to the pool. Now what? There are all ready some women in the pool and it looks like there is an instructor against the back wall. Why or why did I think I can do this? I have never taken an exercise class. I am klutzy and out of shape. So, now I am standing there feeling half naked...note to self, this is one class you come to early--you can get in the water before anyone can see things that are meant to be hidden! Thankfully, this sweet, elderly lady comes up to me and introduces herself. I quickly follow her to the pool...and class begins!

Trying something new all by yourself can be hard! But YOU can do it! Believe in yourself and don't be afraid to ask for directions! (And leave your gremlins home!)

PS. If you struggle with ongoing pain secondary to cancer treatment, I strongly recommend you check out warm water swimming...the water felt wonderful and I had a good workout!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Survivor's Guilt

This summer I found myself struggling for time and the right words for blogging…but today found me with a bit of extra time and a topic on my heart, that is seldom spoke of: Survivor’s guilt.

Many times in life when we are faced with challenges beyond our control, we often can be heard saying “Why me?” When I was diagnosed with cancer, I don’t believe I said, “Why me?” But I did say, “It doesn’t make sense.” You, see, I was doing the things all the magazines say to prevent cancer. Exercise—check! Nutritious eating—check! Healthy lifestyle—check! Nonsmoker—check! No family history of cancer—check! Nursed my babies—check! Good Christian girl—check! Oh—did I just say that last one? Yup, I did…you see, I, like many, thought that I could follow the check list, I would prevent cancer. The funny thing is…cancer doesn’t obey the check lists, nor does being a “Good Christian girl” protect you from bad things happening. (I have never believed that being a christian would protect me from bad things--however, when I was first diagnosed there was some hurtful things said to me in regards to my diagnosis was a punishment because I wasn't following God correctly--to be discussed in a future blog post.)
2 ½ yrs later…

Interestingly enough...survivorship doesn't follow a check list either.  Most days, cancer is tucked away in a nice little corner of my mind.  That is until I hear of someone having a recurrence, admitted to hospice, or passed away.  Along with grieving for the individuals, those days I find myself asking, “Why Me?” Why am I the lucky one? Sure, I still struggle with some painful side effects from the grueling treatment, but how come I am so blessed to not have cancer return, at least not yet?

Unfortunately, there are no answers to these questions, but I do believe there are things we can do to help us with any “survivor guilt” feelings we may experience. First, we can give ourselves permission to ask the questions, process the questions and live with our answers. For me, during these times I need more white space on my calendar, a bible on my lap, and a coffee cup in my hand. Second, we, because of our journeys, have been given the unique opportunity of a “new life perspective.” I, personally, am more courageous and confident. I often find myself willing to take more risks—after, all, I endured surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. (Before cancer, I didn't even know what a blog was, nor would have I attempted to write one.) Along, with more risk taking, I find myself loving more deeply and living more authentically. I want to experience life’s tears and the laughter—for these are gifts of life! Last, I believe that as I try to live a “Life of No Regrets,” I am honoring the blessing of today.

Some things still don’t make sense, but one thing that does make sense is that I can say with confidence, “Thank you God for walking with me through cancer, because without You, I would have never discovered some very beautiful truths.”

Question of the day: If you are a survivor, have you ever experienced survivor’s guilt? If so, do you have any tips to share?

Friday, August 26, 2011

This Friday's word is Older

Friday's five minutes of editing...

This week's word is Older.


Before cancer, I never really thought of getting older.  After all, I was only 40.  Getting older, is after all, for old people.  It's amazing how perspective changes.  Now, for me getting older, even one day older is a gift.  A very, very precious gift. 

I do think it is sad that our society focuses so much on youth, that we miss the blessing of the older generation.  Since most of my nursing career I have worked with an older population, I have great respect for their wisdom and knowledge.

Today I was at a conference and one of the physicians who was speaking stated that many of us think our bodies don't move as well because we are older, in truth it is because we are less physical active than when we were younger.  Lesson learned--MOVE IT or LOSE IT!!  (Hmmm....good thing I purchased some new running shoes and inserts last night--I have been struggling with a bad case of planter going to see if this remedy will help.  I have the greatest desire to start running...)

Five minutes up...

Have a great weekend getting older!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Five Minute Friday

A few of the blogs I love to read have been participating in the 5 minute Fridays.  At first  I was intrigued, now I am challenged. We will see how this goes, no promises, no guarantees, but it is a start...

From The Gypsy Mama:  "So, here’s the skinny: I keep thinking about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. And so a while back I figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing.
No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Just painting with words. Finger-painting even.
For only five minutes.
I love that so many of you loved that idea too. So we gather here every Friday to compare our five minute masterpieces, in all their messy beauty. We just write, without worrying if it’s just right or not."

This weeks word is New....ready, set, go....

When I first heard the word New...I couldn't help but think that is a perfect word to describe life after cancer.  Okay, not a perfect word, but possible a good word--if you are having a good day, that is...

Cancer survivors realize that every day is a new day with new possibilities.  The challenge is our old ways can trip us up.  The courage and strength we leaned on going through our treatment journey, often gets buried with day to day busyness of life.

To be honest this is something that has frustrated me, especially of late.  I don't want to run the rat race of life.  I want to live a joyous new life.  I want to inspire and be inspired.  I want to share and encourage.  I want to share with others the promise of Hope Lives Now! 

Hmmm, thinking of my time since diagnosis, I have had many new experiences:  my first plane ride, my first trip alone, two out of town writer's conference, speaking with an editor, blogging, meeting awesome new people, and coordinating a support group.

Well, after trying this new experience of writing for five minutes, I am once again, refocused...ready and waiting for some new experiences!

If your interested in joining the 5 minute Fridays, please check out The Gypsy Mama!

Monday, August 15, 2011

As you may have guessed by my lack of blog entries, something is up.  For some reason, time has been in short supply and my days seem to be flying.  Mostly I have been doing good things, but I sure miss writing and connecting with my bloggersville friends. 

I sit here and think about what to write, what to share...
The words which were once so easy, are hiding...
It reminds me of the awkward silence often experienced when we allow too much time and distance in relationships.

So, today I'll start with "HI!"
And we will see what tomorrow shall bring...

Monday, August 1, 2011

To Pink Or Not??

On my desk I keep a sticky note with possible blog titles and/or topics.  One of the titles I had listed for a future topic was "to pink or not?"  Today, in my inbox was  a blog piece by fellow blogger Brenda and I thought...hmmmm....I could write a piece with my thoughts on pink awareness/breast cancer/etc but why would I want to reinvent the wheel, especially when Brenda did such a great job?  So, if you have time, check out Brenda's excellent blog piece  at Breast Cancer Sisterhood.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tender Times

This morning as I was checking my email, the tears started coming when I saw there was an update from CaringBridge.  I just knew...and it is with a sad heart that I share my thoughts with you. 

Although I have never met this man or his family in person, the grief of his death is very real.   I was first introduced to Rodney and his family through an episode on the River of Hope.  I continued to follow his cancer journey through his CaringBridge entries.  My words are inadequate to share of the love and inspiration this family shared with others.  (If you would like to meet Rodney and his family click here to watch the River of Hope episode.)

Today, as I grieve for the Lamfer family, I find myself also grieving for all who have faced this ugly beast: Cancer.  Why can't life be like Beauty and the Beast, when once we have kissed the hideous 'Beast' called cancer, our lives are transformed to a "happy ever after?" Why do some of our journey's end in death, while others of us are healed? Why do some go on as if cancer was but a winters cold, yet others of us continue with long term side effects?  Unfortunately, these questions have no answers. Thankfully, like Rodney and has family believed, God's word and love brings us comfort and truth.

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
My hope comes from him. 
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress."
Psalm 62:5-6

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Someday is Today!

Do you ever find yourself saying, someday I will do this or that? 
Today is our someday!!

Here are a few blogs that helped me pause this week with a "stop and think!"

Last week I had my 3 month oncology follow up...and I am excited to share that I am still dancing with Mr NED!  Thanks for your continued prayers and support!

Please  pray for my blogger friend Elayne, as she recently heard those dreaded words "Your biopsy is positive."  You can read more about Elayne on her blog at Running to Recovery

Friday, June 24, 2011

I am an "ex!"

Just for the record--I so miss connecting with you all!  For those who don't know, my hubby owns a lawn and landscaping business.  (If you want to check out some of his projects here is his website:  GreenScapes Lawn & Landscaping, Inc.) This is a busy time of year for the company and I find myself frustrated with the lack of time to keep up with this blog and my blogger friends.  (I do try and read most of your updates, time just limits my ability to leave comments.)

Due to cancer treatment, I haven't been doing any of the manual labor for two years.  Prior to cancer, I would work my day job and mow lawns/landscape in the evenings and weekends.  Well....I am so excited to share....I'm are a few pics of a recent project I was able to help with:

My hubby in thought!

Tonight as we were making preparations for a landscaping project that we will be doing tomorrow, I had shared with my husband my frustration as I am still not at full functioning for these hard work projects.  My husband stated, "I don't know many ex-cancer patients who ...."  I don't believe I have ever heard that phrase "ex-cancer."  This phrase so tickled me, as "ex" sounds so final.  Cancer is done!  Definitely something to ponder on a bit more...

Although I do love assisting and supporting my husband, I am so homesick for writing.  I continue to pray that God helps me find the time and assistance to pursue the writing dream!