Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankfulness in Times of Trial

When I started thinking about what I'm thankful for this year, I realize that going through the trial of my medical issues has actually made me more thankful than ever.  It seems like it would be the opposite, and while at the time of diagnosis a couple of months ago thankfulness was the furthest thing from my mind, now that I've had a little bit of time to reflect I can say that I am thankful for so many more things now than I was before this all started.  I think that's because I've been forced to see things in a new light, a more focused one, that illuminates the little things, which turns out is where thankfulness lies.  It's like when we were in the mountains a couple weeks ago and it was pitch black out and we needed to walk across to a neighbors house and all I had was my flashlight on my phone.  I was really concentrating on the area right in front of me, the next steps I needed to take.  I didn't have any distractions around me because I literally could barely see where I was going.  But I was focused.  I could see every pebble, rock, twig and rut in the road where the flashlight beam illuminated them.  When I walk that same road in the daytime I'm distracted by the view around me and I'm not concentrating on my steps.  And I miss the little things to be thankful for.  It's okay to be thankful for the normal stuff, like family and friends, but now that I have so many details to be thankful for it really adds up to an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness for it all.   You can really start to see God's mighty hand at work and for that I am thankful.  

In our weekly Bible study we've been going through the book of James and these verses have really stuck out to me for obvious reasons.  I can't say that most of going through cancer is a joy, but it most definitely can cause me to find reason for joy.  And I want this experience to cause me to grow in my faith and produce steadfastness.  So, I've been meditating on this: 

James 1:2-4  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Funny thing about cancer is how much lack of control you have over how it plays out.  I can't tell you how many times the doctors have made appointments for me and I'm just expected to show up.  They don't call me first to see if it works for my schedule...and that was really starting to make me annoyed!  Like my other plans aren't important.  Well, I guess when you think about it, they really aren't.  And I've come to realize that I've been wanting to control things with God too.  I used to try to plan out my life.  Where we would live, what we would do, things I wanted to do.  If I heard some nudging from God about something He wanted me to do, I'd check my calendar to see if it fit in my schedule.  How ridiculous of my plans are more important than His.  

What I really want to remember is to be thankful for the little things.  I think that thankfulness is what produces joy.  And the small moments added up is what produces true thankfulness.  So I'm going to make a list of some of the things I'm thankful for since starting this journey so that you can see that God is always there.  He's there in every detail and He cares so much.  If I learn nothing but that from this it will be enough. 
  1. That I was at my weekly Bible study surrounded by people who love me when I first received the phone call with my diagnosis.  
  2. They immediately prayed for me.
  3. That I have been able to get in quickly for almost every appointment.
  4. For modern medical technology
  5. That my mom just so happened to buy a house here close to me just months before my diagnosis and was able to be here for my surgeries and treatments.
  6. That one of my best friends from Ohio also just so happened to move here months before my diagnosis and is now able to help out and be a comfort to me.
  7. That I was starting to stress about how we were going to pay for all of the medical bills when a dear friend texted me and offered to research and set up a funding website for people to donate to without me even telling her of my worries.
  8. The fact that countless people have donated to our fund and we know that God always provides.  If I ever doubted that before, I don't now.
  9. My best friend from Ohio's husband received a bonus from work right as I was going through the most scary waiting for results part of this journey and he suggested she make a trip to Florida for the weekend to see me.
  10. That my cancer is treatable.
  11. That of the 6 page list of chemo side effects, I've only experienced 3 and they've been mild.
  12. My church family has set up countless meals for me so I don't have to cook when I'm not feeling well.
  13. I have friends who are willing to watch my children at a moments notice and I know they are loved and cared for.
  14. I met 2 new friends since I've been diagnosed and both have daughters my girl's age and they have offered and already helped out when I needed them.  And to think I thought it was an inconvenient time to meet new friends. :) Silly me.
  15. My mom's neighbors have become friends with us and their children are friends with mine.  So it takes some of the burden off of my mom since my kids can play with friends when they go to Grandmama's house.  
  16. That my Grandpa is here in Florida with my mom and my kids adore him and he can babysit them (or they can babysit him as he teases) when I need him to.
  17. My friends even made shopping for a wig fun by helping me turn it into a girl's night out.
  18. When I realized how expensive those hats people wear for chemo are, I remembered I have an aunt who is an amazing seamstress and she sewed me a whole assortment. 
  19. I've received a card or note of encouragement almost every single day since learning of this.  I have a stack almost 6 inches high that I'm saving.  
  20. My oncologist is caring and set up my treatments so I could have the week of Thanksgiving and the week of Christmas off.
  21. Hundreds of people are praying for me.  This almost brings me to tears.  I'm so grateful for all my brothers and sisters in Christ who care for me.
  22. My treatments fell in a way that I was able to take a trip to see my brother and his family in the midst of all this and I didn't feel sick at all.
  23. My surgeon who I picked from a recommendation of a friend turns out is a world class surgeon who helped invent one of the procedures that he performed on me.
  24. That I was able to get physical therapy for a side effect from surgery and it has improved so quickly I only have to go once more.
  25. The hospital where I've had my surgeries is less than 5 minutes from one of my friend's houses where she has been able to watch my kids for me each time, even keeping them overnight once when my daughter was sick with a virus.  
  26. My kids are old enough to do a lot of their homeschooling on their own and they have not fallen behind at all.  
  27. The flexibility of homeschooling has made things easier for us and I don't have to deal with school pick ups and drop offs or homework.
  28. My children are learning compassion and to trust God through all of this.
  29. My husband is amazing and we are learning what our wedding vows really meant when we said, 'in sickness and in health'.  
  30. I've learned that God never leaves us and His plans are always perfect even when I think they are crazy and don't like them.
I feel like I could go on forever, but I'm going to stop there.  If you think any part of this list is just a coincidence or just me being one of the lucky ones, I assure that couldn't be further from the truth.  Take a look at your life and you will start to see the blessings being illuminated and you will know there is no way that all of the intricacies of how things have gone for you could ever be chance.  I challenge you to look for thankfulness throughout whatever trials you are facing.  Then the joy will come.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Weekend of Fall

We don't really get fall here in Florida and I really miss it sometimes.  Not as much this year as I did last year.  I've really become quite the wimp when it comes to cold weather since moving here.  This year we were determined to go to the Smokies to experience fall and when my brother and his family decided to meet us there we knew we had to make it happen.  We were blessed to have all of my treatments scheduled around it and while we weren't quite ready for the level of cold we experienced (it snowed!), it was still tons of fun.  It was Halloween while we were there and we ended up trick or treating twice and visited a pumpkin farm.  I still have to go through the Halloween photos...I hate that it's Thanksgiving next week and I'm still talking about Halloween, but what can I say, I have a crazy life right now.  So, I'm going to share some of our other photos.  Here you go!

The cousins!  Back together again.  Can't wait til they move to Florida. :)  I've been on a mission to make that happen for over a year and it's still a work in progress.

Loved these flowers at the pumpkin farm we visited.

We did a corn maze.  It was fun...when I wasn't sneezing.

These are the colors I miss here.  Just minus the cold!

Glad they got so much cousin time in.  They have so much fun together.

Gorgeous tree!

Gorgeous kids! :)

A new family pic.  Not the best, but it's us. It was like 25 degrees out when we took this so I'm actually pretty happy with how it turned out!  Thanks to my sis-in-law for taking it.  We were freezing!

I'm going to try to be back tomorrow with some Halloween pics!


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