Friday, August 29, 2014

High heels and running shoes...

Y'all I'm stubborn.  Did you know that about me?  I am stubborn as a stone!  If someone tells me I can't do something I'll kill myself proving them wrong.  I've always been that way, guess I always will.

You know, almost everyone I know was very supportive of me when I was first diagnosed with cancer.  But there were a few who automatically treated me as if I were going to die.  Actually, even after my surgery and the results that I was cancer free there were a couple who would warn me, 'It'll come back," or "Don't believe the doctors when they tell you it's all gone, it's not."  But that didn't phase me, I just stood my ground, braced against the wind and thought, "Bet me!"

There's a quote from one of our favorite movies hanging on my bathroom mirror.  It says, "Never give up!  Never surrender!"  I decided that if I had to fight until my dying breath I was not going down without a fight!  Because I'm stubborn!

When I came home from the hospital with my back out of whack and my leg muscles in atrophy because of nerve damage, it was all I could do to walk across the floor.  The pain was so great that I literally (and I do mean literally) begged God to let me die!  

One day I asked my physical therapist (and dear friend) how long it would be until I would wear my high heels.  She told me it would be at least a year.  I didn't tell her this, but I thought, "Oh no it won't be a year!  Maybe six months, but there's no way it's going to be a year!"  Because I'm stubborn!  I am happy to report that I went back to work two weeks ago and every day I've worn my high heels to work.  

As I've worked diligently to rebuild the muscles in my leg I've often tested their limits on my treadmill.  Walking has been all I could do, until now.  Last night, as I stretched my muscles and did my leg lifts and hip exercises, I decided to test myself on my treadmill again.  For fifteen minutes I walked faster than I've walked in four months and I jogged at 3mp in 30-45 second increments.  No, it's not a 7 minute mile and it's not the 9 miles I was running last October...but it's a start.  Because I'm stubborn.

I guess being stubborn can be a bad thing.  But I like to think of it as a gift.  If God hadn't created me this way I could have easily sat down and gave up.  I think the cancer would have gotten me.  I could have walked with my cane and hung up my fancy shoes.  But I didn't.  And I won't.  I'll keep wearing my heels and my running shoes. And as always it is...

Only By His Grace,


Thursday, August 28, 2014

How quickly time flies...

I was just standing in my dining room looking out the window, or rather, looking at the window.  It's dirty.  Inside and out, it's a dirty mess.  I stood there trying to remember when I cleaned them last.  I honestly can't remember.

It has been almost a year, I know that.  It was the end of September when I last cleaned the windows in our great room.  I remember the day specifically because it was the day I realized something was dreadfully wrong.

I'll spare you the details, but I knew that morning that something wasn't right.  After I dropped off the kids at school I came home and called the doctor.  While I waited for the appointment time, I busied myself by cleaning windows.  

Nearly a year has passed, and although cleaning my windows every couple of weeks was once a priority, somehow the task seems insignificant.  This is the case with many things in our lives.  Housework, yard work, busy work... We're finding ourselves watching more Disney movies with the kids, playing more games of Sequence and Uno, and laughing around the dinner table.  

I guess what seemed important before has faded to the background.  If you're our neighbor, I'm sorry...the weeds in the back yard look like a jungle.  We'll get around to it.  Right after we do the really important stuff, like have a picnic or take a hike or spend the day wandering around together.  If you see us out and about, please be sure to wave.

Only By His Grace,


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Thankful for the everyday moments...

This time last year I was frustrated, tired, aggravated and to be honest, my attitude needed an adjustment.

I got up, dropped the kids off at school, went to work, picked the kids up from school, rushed home, made dinner, threw in some laundry, cleaned the house, took the kids to practice, picked the kids up from practice, got home around 8:30 or 9:00, fell into bed and did it all again the next day.  I was exhausted! 

From August to November I was a hot mess.  I was tired and grumpy.  I hated that we were involved in anything - and everything from cross country practices to cross country meets.  I hated school functions.  I hated requests from people at church. I resented the fact that I didn't have a spare minute to sit down, much less rest.  I hated how tired I was All. The. Time.

November changed all of that.  In one small moment my life changed.  Suddenly I wasn't promised another tomorrow.  I wasn't given hope for another year.  I honestly thought I was watching the last few episodes of this saga that is my life.

Yesterday I took my daughter to her first cross country meet of this season, and as I watched her run through the shoots I nearly broke into tears because I realized how very blessed that moment was.  I thought I wouldn't be here to see her run this year.  I wondered if she would even run this year at all - if I passed.

I went to Elementary Open House.  As I sat in my fourth-grader's tiny desk I remembered the fear and worry I felt last year, wondering if he would remember me as he grew older or if my memory would be like a passing vapor in the back of his mind. 

Yet there I was...cheering at a relay and listening to the download of information from the teacher.  It was quite overwhelming.

This year isn't any less hectic than last.  In fact, our fourth grader has added after school activities, and our schedules are full. 

When I tell people that my cancer was the biggest blessing of my life they have no idea what I mean.  They can't comprehend it.  You can't comprehend it.  But it changed me...for the better.

Every moment is a blessing - even the frustrating ones.  Every day I have to spend with my children, every hug I give them, every movie I watch with my husband, every crazy antic from the people at the office, all of them are blessings.  Every single one.

I'm glad my life is hectic.  I'm glad I am busy beyond what any sane person should be. I'm glad because that means I'm still here.

Only By His Grace,


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Of weeds and wishes...

How we get through circumstances in our lives often depends on our perspective.  We all know this, it's just we often forget to remind ourselves of this fact.

When my son was a little guy, about four years old or so, we were visiting my dad's house.  They had a great wrap around porch with wicker seats and a swing, flowers, bird houses.  It was a peaceful place.  The long driveway was lined with beautiful Bradford Pear trees.  The five acres of land was always mowed and cared for.  

But this one dad was talking about the dandelions that were overtaking the front yard. If my memory serves me correctly, dad had sprayed for weeds, but the dandelions remained.  He was a bit perturbed by this.  

And then, my innocent son, standing and running through the seeded dandelions said with great enthusiasm, "Grandpa!  Look at all these wishes!!!"  My dad looked at me and said something to the effect of, "I may never spray those weeds again."  I don't know if he did or didn't, but for a brief moment, his perspective was changed.

The point is, we can look at our life circumstances as weeds or wishes.  We can see our trials as another burden, another attack, or we can accept that the trials by fire are purposed to refine us.  

Weeds or Wishes?  Which will you choose to see today?

Only By His Grace,


Friday, August 22, 2014

Reminded of the blessing...

This week has been eventful, I must say.  It was the kids' first full week back to school, back to after-school practices, parent nights, homework routines and on top of it all, I went back to work after four months.  Yesterday was my four month anniversary of being cancer free.

As I sat at my desk I was overwhelmed by the grace that enveloped me simply because I was sitting there.  As I reflected on the grace that got me through it and the grace that brought me out of it I was simply amazed by His Amazing Grace.  There is a sign in a local home store that says, "God's grace will not bring you to something His grace will not lead you through."  Every time I see that print I have to hold back the tears because I know all too well this to be truth.  

A lot has changed in our lives since last November; although from an outside perspective some may say I've lost so much, but that would be a faulty perspective.  The things that have slipped away, habits, attitudes, relationships, routines, those things that misdirected my sight from a loving Heavenly father, they have been lost for a greater purpose.  And I finally know what Paul meant when he said, "for me to live is Christ, and for me to die is Christ." (paraphrase)

I would be untruthful if I said that my outlook on life has gone unchanged.  I am thankful that my body is healed and free from cancer.  I cannot express how grateful I am to be allowed another day, week, month, year or decade with my husband and children.  I am thankful for every laugh and tear we share, every memory we make, ever family photo that I get to be in.  I am so very grateful.
However, there are also days when I think of my heavenly home and there is a longing inside to be where my heavenly father is.   In the meantime, though, I will continue in this life he has so graciously allowed me to continue.

I am reminded daily of the blessing of this life.  Life is still hectic, still stressful, still aggravating, but each moment, if we choose to see it, is touched by an amazing grace that we simply cannot contain.  

I am thankful this week that I'm tired!  Because this week I'm tired from working, from sports practices, from grocery shopping, from house work, and from special activities.  This week I am not bone tired from my body being invaded with cancer, I am not utterly exhausted from the effects of chemotherapy, I am not uncertain of my days.  I know who holds my today and all of my tomorrows - and no matter what comes my way, I am blessed!

Only By His Grace,


Monday, August 18, 2014

Beginning again...

I've taken the past month off from blogging, first, to spend the most amount of time with my children, and second, to refocus my thoughts.  We took a family vacation, we prepared for and started a new school year.  After five months, we finally returned to Bible Fellowship and church, where as before I only had enough energy to attend one or the other... 

Today I go back to work.  I am both excited and trepidatious.  I am excited to be back with my friends and co-workers.  I am excited for the routine and the schedule.  I love the interaction and shenanigans these folks bring to my life.  They are, by far, the best group of people I could have ever hoped to work with.

However, I have realized, of late, that there is no going back, there is no returning to what was, there is no real recurrence of normal.  I have spent the last few weeks thinking of and waiting to feel normal again.  But nothing feels normal.  Going to the grocery, pumping gas, taxiing my children to school and sports practices, going to church, cooking dinner, cleaning house...none of it feels normal any more.

I feel as if I'm in the Matrix.  I see things differently now.  I see the beauty in things I didn't see before.  I see the benefit in activities I didn't know before.  The difference is, I feel as if I'm seeing it all again for the first if I'm beginning again.

I look forward to new beginnings - I love New Year's and Mondays because they symbolize a new start to the year, or the week.  It's as if we are handed a whole list of possibilities.

I think back to my life before and I realize how much I missed.  I realize, normal was boring, normal was mundane, normal was taken for granted.  I can see clearly how blessed I am, how important every moment is, and how a smile can change the course of someone's day and I understand, I don't really want to go back to normal, after all.  

Only By His Grace,