Life Not Empty

More peoplemore-1

More giving of love

More taking of love

More conversations, less silence

More smiles

More contentment

More relaxation

More peacemore-1

More purpose

More warm, less cold

More companionship

More plans

More dreams

More fun

More life

More joy

More hands to holdmore-1

More fulfillment

More serving

More sacrifices

More laughter

 

More God

Psalm 90:12 – Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

I Am Thankful For…..


wind-3I am thankful for the feeling of wind blowing through my hair.

Last winter, I went through some heavy-duty chemo treatments. There was a chance I would lose my hair. This news was bothersome. I’ve always had long hair, I mean always. Long hair was my thing. Hair dressers always complimented it. Friends envied it. I loved it and I definitely did not want to lose it. It seemed like a cruel joke, as if feeling bad wasn’t enough.

It’s hard to prepare for losing your hair. I’d like to say I was brave and stoic about it, but there were times I was not. About two months into the chemo treatments, it began to fall out. When I looked in the mirror, I started to see more and more of my scalp. When I washed it, long strands stuck to my hands in big clumps. It was difficult to remember that it was only hair and that it would grow back as I watched it going down the drain.

After finishing the chemo treatments, it did start to grow back. There was a problem, though, with that post-chemo hair style. I did not lose all of it. I had new hair growing in amongst the long hair I did not lose. Try to picture it, a buzz cut with random sections of long hair all over my head. Not pretty. It was time to get it all one length.

When I had it cut, I didn’t get upset. I had grown a little less vain and was comfortable with the idea that long hair wasn’t going to be my thing anymore.  After the cutting, I looked in the mirror. I saw someone who looked completely different. I saw someone who was completely different.  Since losing my hair, I’ve allowed God to shine through me. I’ve allowed myself to trust Him and He gives me joy in return. I have gone through a transformation on the inside and it was showing on the outside.

Now that my hair is growing longer, I can feel it on my neck. It’s naturally wavy and I have to admit that it’s kind of cute. One day I was walking my dog and we turned a corner and headed straight into the wind. The feeling of the wind in my hair was odd, foreign and wonderful.  It felt like a victory. The past year has been rough with the surgeries and chemo. But, here I am, rebounding and stronger than I could have imagined.

One more thing to add to the list of things that God and I conquered together.

Jesus, teach me that anything can be taken away except for You. My life can change, my body can change, the people around me can change. But the one constant is You and Your love for me.

Fifty-Five Gifts

girl braveI haven’t had a chemo treatment since August 16th. Earlier this week, I found out that a few of my lymph nodes have started to increase in size again. I will start back with chemo next week. During my chemo vacation, my blood counts have been great and my CEA number has dropped. I was growing more and more optimistic and hoped for a longer break. I am disappointed.

Since my last chemo treatment, God gave me 55 gifts. Fifty-five days of feeling free. I let myself imagine life without cancer and I truly lived. I felt the sun on my face and I walked in the rain. I watched beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I stopped and looked people in the eye and really listened to them. I spent time with friends and family. I laughed, a lot.

The status of my physical health moved to the back burner. People around me stopped asking how I felt or telling me not to overdo it. I enjoyed not thinking about how I was going to feel the next day because I knew I would feel good. I grew stronger, my brain was quicker and I began to feel like me again. The old Julie with the dry, sarcastic sense of humor was welcomed back.

The news of more chemo has made me sad. I want to be free from the chains that come with cancer treatment.  I feel like I was let out to play, but now I have to go back inside. I’m a little shaken and I have cried a few times these past few days. But, I feel God all around me. He whispers to me that He is near and will never leave me.  

I’m thankful for the 55 gifts. I lovingly embraced each one. There are no promises that life will be easy and I accept that this is the path I’m on. There is no point in asking why because God is in control. He knows I can handle it. And, He’s given me another opportunity to share my faith. I will let His light shine through me and I will continue to tell my story

I will take up this battle again. He will give me the strength, tenacity, courage or whatever I need. God is bigger than cancer and I have Him on my side. I win regardless of what happens. 

I am not afraid, I have nothing to be afraid of.

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Charles, The Contractor

charles-paintFor the past few months my husband and I have worked (and worked and worked) to get our house ready to sell. We were getting to the bottom of the list of things to do. The grand finale was getting the master bath redone and completing paint projects around the house.

After getting quotes and talking with contractors, we had a plan and were ready to get going. The first day of work began with excitement. We’re getting started! Everything is going to be beautiful! Home remodeling is fun! The day ended with plastic covering everything, brown paper on all the floors and my bathroom inoperative. My excitement had turned into dread. As I brushed my teeth in the kitchen sink, I had a hard time envisioning how my house could ever be beautiful.

At the beginning of the project, our contractor Charles, dealt mostly with my husband. I suppose he could sense I was not enjoying myself so he kept his distance. Two weeks have passed, the work is nearly complete and I’m so close to having my bathroom back. I decided that being a contractor doesn’t mean you’re a bad person and I’ve started to talk to Charles more. Yesterday, as I was cleaning the kitchen and he was painting the ceiling, we somehow got on the topic of God.

Charles started to talk about his life. He was a long time abuser of drugs and alcohol. He had stints in rehab, but he came out the same way he went in. Unless he was drinking, he was a mean and angry person. He was one of those people who if you brought up God or church, he wanted no part of it and he ran the other way. One morning, he woke up lying on the kitchen floor after a night of drinking. He heard his daughter come into the kitchen. She leaned over him and asked, “What is wrong with Daddy?” As he lay there listening to his daughter, he thought he could get no lower.

He soon found himself in jail after his fourth DWI. In the past he had prayed and tried to make deals with God like, “God, if you get me out of jail, I’ll stop drinking.” None of those prayers were heartfelt and none were answered. Soon, the visits from his father, his daughter and all other family members and friends ended.  After years of trying to get him to change, they all gave up on him.

He felt broken, alone and deserted. With a humble and sincere heart, he turned to God and asked Him to change him. And just like that, God did. Charles began to read the bible. He continued to pray and ask for God’s guidance. He began to live his life the way God would want him to.

He immediately quit the drugs and alcohol cold turkey. He had no withdrawals and he hasn’t had a craving since. He finally found the best place for rehab and it stuck. He is living proof of God’s handiwork to his family and friends.They cannot believe what a completely different person he is. They call him a miracle.

I’m glad Charles had the courage to speak to me about his life. While I’m brave when it comes to writing, I’m not so brave in person. He showed me how easy it is to speak about our Father and what He has done for us.

And, once again when I least expect it, there is God. I love it when God takes me by surprise like this. It gives me chills. He is real. He is with us.