Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thursday's Thoughts - What's Your Mission?


Lately I've had some good days! They're unpredictable, but that's okay! On those days, I feel like I have a virus instead of the full-blown flu! It's a big difference! It appears the latest changes in those cancer treatments gave me two giant leaps forward! 


I always thought I'd recover from this cancer journey and jump back into my old life. But it's not like that. Time didn't stand still while I was huddled under the covers. Things have changed. I've changed. My priorities have changed. 

And while we naturally resist change, change is good.

For instance, now I have a laser focus. One thing this cancer has taught me is that here's nothing more important than following the will of God...which can mean stretching out of our comfort zones...or lying in a bed suffering.

The other obvious lesson? Time is limited.

So with that thought in mind, please allow me to share the following excerpt from Henri J Nouwen's book, Bread for the Journey:

Fulfilling a Mission by Henri J Nouwen:
"When we live our lives as missions, we become aware that there is a home from which we are sent and to which we have to return. We start thinking about ourselves as people who are in a faraway country to bring a message or work on a project, but only for a certain amount of time. When the message has been delivered and the project is finished, we want to return home to give an account of our mission and to rest from our labors.

One of the most important spiritual disciplines is to develop the knowledge that the years of our lives are years 'on a mission'. "

Now, with the help of God, let's get on with our day, right? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sharing the Art of a Message

I'm sure God puts us in the shoes we are in for a reason, and that reason is to help others who are walking that same path, right?  So, with that thought in mind, I've attended a few cancer group support meetings at Florida Hospital. 

The poster pictured above, dated December 2016, is something I made at one of those meetings. 

While most meetings feature guest speakers or open discussions, this one was different. We were invited to choose images from magazines, glue them to poster board, and, if we wanted to, share its meaning. (I wanted to...Of course.) 

Here's what I said:

"I chose "Make a Difference" because that's what we are here to do in life...Make a Positive Difference in the lives entrusted to our care and all those we encounter in the course of our days; family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, store clerks, strangers.

I added flowers because they represent there's so much beauty in life. 

I added the girl climbing a rock wall and the boy flying in his superhero costume because in order to make a difference...we must  take risks...take a leap in faith...we must talk to the stranger, welcome the lost, give just a little bit more...we must get our of our comfort zones.

The clock represents that time is limited. We must do it - and do it now! We don't have forever.

And the girl on the horse at the beach? Again, there's such beauty in nature.  I find beauty and regrowth in solitude. 

Feed your spirit."

Here's a song that'll feed your here for Steve Angrisano's Go, Make a Difference! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Observing Memorial Day...with growing appreciation for the mission...

We attended Memorial Day ceremony at a local cemetery yesterday, where we saluted each branch of our armed forces, prayed for fallen comrades, and sang patriotic songs. 

The ceremonies, led by a beloved local television commentator, included ROTC members from local high schools, Boy Scouts directing traffic, and honorary members from a Civil War reenactment group. 

Spectators, young and old alike, resembled a sea of red, white and blue. A preschool girl, blonde curls bouncing in the breeze, stood tiptoe on a folding chair while watching the activities. One Marine got up and told his story. Nearby, an elderly woman, accompanied by her daughter, wiped tears while listening to the presentation. When the event dispersed, we took little American flags and placed them on nearby grave sites.

The gun salute triggered the memory of when my older brother was drafted to Viet Nam. I remembered how sad my mom was, how he hated to go, and how that changed his life. I remembered how young and clueless I was, and still am (well, clueless, anyway), and I fought tears. 

I thought about our friends and family that make/made their lives in the Armed Forces. I thought about how they proudly and bravely guard over our nation's well-being...I thought about how their families are just as involved in the sacrifices made for our freedoms...Today, maybe more than ever, my appreciation rises to the sky...thank you.

You are the Archangels of our great Nation, the keepers of our peace, the soldiers of our freedom, the protectors of our safety. 

Thank you for your *mission. Thank you for your service. 

May we always keep the faith, and may we always be, as our founding fathers nation under God. 

May God bless America!

Want a song? Here's God Bless the USA  by Lee Greenwood. 

*Remember the reference to mission. I'll post a prayer by Henri J. Nouwen later this week regarding mission...our missions...all of us. It's powerful. It'll sharpen your focus. I promise.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Ding! Ding! Time for Another Round (of cancer treatments)!

I started another round of cancer treatments last week. Gosh, six months seem to fly by.

The good news is that I went into these rounds stronger than ever before. It feels like my
system has finally, nearly, rebuilt itself from the destruction delivered from the original rounds of chemo in 2015.  But the ongoing treatments are throwing their own punches, so the regime remains hard.

In recognition of that, my oncologist and I made changes to the ongoing treatments. (The treatments are working on the cancer so now we're trying to improve my quality of life. I'm struggling with side effects.) I thought we'd finally found the right mix last week when no brain scramble happened during the infusion.  That was a huge difference. 

In fact, I felt pretty good. For a few days.

Then came Monday night...this past Monday night...when that mean monster inside me flipped the agony...and...

I've been struggling again...big-time...

Bone pain. Brain pain. Nausea. Muscle aches. Intestinal issues. It feels like I have the flu...the kind that keeps you wrapped in bed covers...but it's not the flu.

To quote my new oncologist..."That's good!" 

He says the treatment is supposed to trigger my immune system to fight the (constantly populating) cancer cells...and, just like when you feel bad because your system is fighting a makes you not feel too good.

That comment, which was made at a recent office visit, provided little consolation yesterday while I was struggling. I was overwhelmed with agony. Thankfully, today's better. I'm still in pajamas, but I was able to get out of bed to write this update.

Tomorrow I return to the infusion center for more.  I'm in the  jaws of an unpredictable monster. Sometimes, like yesterday, I'm tired of very tired.

But today, I read this prayer. It realigns everything. This prayer lifts my spirit right out of this aching body.  It sets me free. It gives me strength. 

Maybe you'll find it helpful too. 

Receive, O Lord, all my liberty.

Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.
Whatever I have or possess You have bestowed upon me; I give it all back to you and surrender it wholly to be governed by Your will.
Give me love for You alone along with Your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more. 

--St. Ignatius of Loyola

Friday, May 11, 2018

I'll take a sip of this wisdom today...

Trust in the Lord? I'll take that reminder, please.

After all, life can be like a magic carpet ride, delivering crazy, unexpected turns. Sometimes  the way is rough and bumpy. There may be sudden turns and quick drops. 

Hang on. 

Sometimes we don't know where we're going or where we'll end up. There's an awkward step here and a graceful leap there. Sometimes, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other.

Sometimes things go our way; sometimes not.

But I know  this: Either way, it's okay.  

Look up! Because, no matter what happens, it'll be alright.  

You can trust in the Lord.

Remember, this life isn't our end goal. There's so much more to come, and it's heavenly stuff.  

Want to hear a song? Click here for Trust in You by Lauren Daigle. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Are you thinking no one's paying attention? Think again.

"You haven't written in awhile, have you?" my friend says. Another writes, "Hey Deb- haven't heard anything from you. Everything okay?" Then there's this voicemail..."It's been a little quiet from over there...checking in on you..."

Yes, I admit, it has been quiet. It has been awhile.

I could make excuses. I could say I've been working on marketing my column to other states (I have!)...or that I wasn't sure what to blog about anymore (also true)...and that I decided it's time to quit talking about my health (seriously!)...

Yes, I could say all that...but, honestly, the reason I haven't written goes deeper.

As I crawl out from under this blanket of illness, my mind is racing. Even though I can't do most of what I envision, I'm restless.

So my prayer life dwindles. I lose focus. Distractions derail my thoughts. God is expelled. Worry wins.  

Indeed, why write? I couldn't possibly have anything worthwhile to say. 

Then, recently, while visiting our daughter, we attended her downtown church. The message pictured above can be found on the wall across the street from St. Ann's parking lot.

Those big, bright, startling words were the first thing I saw when we arrived. They were the last thing I saw when we left. In fact, that's when I snapped this picture. I wanted to both keep these words and share them.

Because I just needed to hear it.

And maybe you do too.

For everything created by God is good...  1 Timothy 4:4

I'll be back!  Meanwhile, click here for 'More' - an amazing song by Matthew West.

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that he had to go to Jerusalem , and he told them what would happen to him there. He ...