Monday, November 26, 2012

On Thankfulness

Thanksgiving has expired and I failed to write a post as I desired.  But, it is better late than never.  I have been feeling so thankful since I received my cancer diagnosis.  I know that this sounds SO strange.  If you would have told me four months ago that I would be receiving an aggressive, advanced cancer diagnosis soon and would suddenly begin feeling even more thankful than ever in my life, I think I would have said you may be a little crazy in the head.  Here is why I believe I have been feeling more thankful than ever in my life.

First, receiving a cancer diagnosis as I did really changes your perspective on life. Things that mattered before do not matter any longer.  And, the things that you took for granted in your life become even more important.  It is the latter of the two that I believe has increased my thankfulness a hundred fold.  You see, it is this re-focus on my life and what truly matters that has put me in this extremely thankful state.

I don't want to spend a lot of time talking about the things that no longer matter---simply because they don't matter.  For example, this is a HUGE category, but material things don't matter to me any longer.   This is sort of a bad time of year for material things not to matter to me at all, since family members have asked me numerous times for gift ideas for myself for Christmas.  My list is empty.  All I want is to be cancer free so I can help my wonderful husband raise these precious kiddos with whom God has blessed us.

My thankfulness list is extremely long. The list below is not conclusive of all of the things for which I am thankful and that are important to me. But, here are some of them:
  • Our family.  This includes our immediate little family (each other and children), as well as our parents, siblings (and siblings-in law), aunts and uncles, cousins and other extended family.  I am thankful for them for so many reasons (as many blog posts have documented, so I won't go into it here--could write a book).  They also continually remind me of their constant prayers for me during this time, which is extremely encouraging to me.
My precious kiddos!  So thankful for them!
My precious son, Luke!  So thankful for him and the  sweet words God gives him to speak to me each day!
  • My friends and my church community group family.  My friends have been continually sending me messages about their prayers and thoughts for me, they have sent me special gifts (care packages, gift cards, food) and I know more than ever by going through this how many people truly care about me.  My church community group family is just amazing.  They love me, they take care of me (or our kiddos if we are in a bind and both Drew and I need to go somewhere), they pray constantly, send me words of encouragement, and bring us meals.  (In addition to the nursing mothers who gifted us with a one-time, generous donation of their breast milk in our time of need, our sweet friend, Sarah, even continually brought over extra pumped breast milk over the past couple of months while Abbey was weaning to formula.)  Our church community group shows us so much sacrificial love and how important it is to live in community with other believers.  
  • Health.  I don't think you ever appreciate health more than when you are ill.  My goal is to be healthier (even with cancer) than I was before.  I am more careful about what foods and beverages go into my body.  My focus is on eating and drinking things that actually nourish my body.  If it doesn't do the body good, then it really shouldn't be going in.  Sweets are my weakness, so I am trying to keep sweets only around for that occasional splurge that actually does a body good.  These include smoothies, and new recipes that are deceivingly healthy.  I found one for healthy brownies, which look and sound delicious, that I am really excited to try!  Again, as I get more and more into this, I plan on writing a blog post of the changes, nutritionally I have made.  I am not totally there yet, as it is a major learning process (and self-control lesson). 
  • Precious moments. They happen all day, every day.  The special things people (especially our children) do or say, have never meant so much as they do now.  I notice these special moments more often and don't take them for granted.  I live in the moment and smile and laugh often.  I give (and accept) lots of hugs (and kisses for my husband and children). 
  • The physical place God has placed us for the current time.  He has a reason for placing us here.  We are recently meeting more neighbors and building new relationships (even though we have lived here for several years).  We have many beautiful parks nearby that we can walk to and which we enjoy regularly.  
  • Drew's job.  I have said this in other posts as well, so I won't go into details.  But, basically, he loves what he does, has great co-workers and management team to work with, and they have been flexible to let him work at home when needed and around important appointments during my treatment.
  • Our church.  It is so strange (or as we believe, part of God's plan), but the sermons have specific messages that seem to speak directly to us each week.  We watch them on youtube each week since we have to avoid large crowds indoors (germ havens) during chemotherapy.
  • Our Salvation.  Drew and I are thankful that God has chosen to save us through his son, Jesus Christ.  Having a relationship with Jesus Christ as our personal savior has been SO important during this time.  He continues to give me peace, shows me what is important, has orchestrated EVERYTHING through this treatment, and shows us how much He loves us.   Honestly, without my relationship with Him, I would be in a completely different place right now.  It is Christ who lives in me who is giving me strength, peace, hope, love, joy, self control and all of the other fruits of the spirit.  I have several Bible reading plans through my Bible app on my phone that I read each day.  God gives me the exact words I need to read that day. And, the funny thing is, even though the different plans give me three completely different Bible passages, they are each exactly what I need to read for that particular day based on what I go through that day.  It is just yet another reminder of His presence.  Click here to read my new "What I Believe" page for my life testimony and information on why I believe what I believe (or click the "What I Believe" tab at the top the blog page). 
  • Our Freedom:  We have so many freedoms in this country.  We have the freedom to worship God how we choose.  We have the freedom to talk about it.  Many countries don't have this freedom.  Honestly, I would probably be imprisoned for documenting my thoughts, beliefs and feelings on this blog if I were in one of these countries that don't allow this freedom.  
  • Friends and family of friends, new friends, and strangers who constantly pray for me, send me gifts of encouragement, and provide to me words of encouragement.  I believe each of these folks were sent directly by God.  I have a couple of examples to share, but I am telling you, there are MANY examples.  Drew, Luke, Abbey and I were taking a walk one night and, at the end of our street, were approached by an adorable little boy who reminded me of Luke.  He came over and the sweet, outgoing little boy began talking to us.  We walked to his driveway, where his mom and baby brother were.  Long story short-we have new friends, who also happen to be from Oklahoma, live extremely close to us and have kids who are each a month apart from Luke and Abbey.  Audra, the sweet boys' momma, also has been so sweet in praying for me, giving me some extra formula she had, sending me encouraging emails and checked on soccer for us (we are thinking of putting Luke in soccer for the Spring).  Luke and her oldest son could be on the same team since they are the same age.  I call them friends already even though we have only spoken on their driveway twice and emailed back and forth a few times.  But, I am already calling them friends, because that is the way I already feel about them.  We haven't gotten to schedule a play date yet, since my white blood count has been too low, but we are really looking forward to it!  Audra told me that she believed God put me in her life for a very specific reason.  I also feel God brought us together in His perfect timing for a reason.   Another example to share: the day before my first round of Taxol, Drew and I stopped in for a quick trip to Lowes to pick up some needed items.  I had just run inside with Abbey and grabbed some hand sanitizer wipes (as I always do when I go out).  A sweet, pregnant lady, who had a son that appeared to be around Luke's age was looking at me and smiling.  I didn't think I knew her, but for some reason, something seemed nice and familiar about her.  Erica introduced herself to me as someone who has been reading my blog.  We have never met, but she was sent the link from someone else who goes to our church (our church is very large---about 8,000 people attending at all of the campuses and services (4 at each campus)). She spoke to me some wonderful, kind, encouraging words about my blog and my experiences and told me that she was praying for me.  This brought tears to my eyes! A complete stranger felt she knew me through my blog and was praying for me and I didn't know it.  She is also expecting a girl, so has a family that is similar in composition to ours and thus could relate on several levels.  Another meeting that was designed by God to provide me encouragement!   I am also receiving anonymous, encouraging little gifts and cards at my doorstep periodically.  Thank you Lord for sending me words or encouragement from all of these folks--friends, new friends and strangers!  I have many other examples as well, but this blog post is getting long!
  • Honestly, this list could just go on and on and on.  I am thankful for even the smaller things in life that we, Americans, often take for granted.  I go through my day thinking, "wow--I am so thankful for this...I am so thankful for that."   For example, in the morning, I think, "wow--I have so many clothes to pick from.  I am so blessed that I can actually donate tons of clothes to those in need and still have enough for myself."  And I haven't even bought clothes for myself in forever. Or, sometimes, I have to drive Drew's car (since our car seats are in our other car and he may need them while I am away).  I have to bring along a pillow to allow me to sit closer to the steering wheel and make lots of adjustments since his seat motor is broken and won't move from his seat setting and he's a foot taller than me.  But, I always think, "I am so thankful that we have two cars to drive--many folks don't even have one!"  
Thank you Lord for all of the many blessings you continually bestow upon us!  Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone!

We enjoyed an absolutely delicious early-Thanksgiving meal (prepared by Drew's mom, Kathleen) with Drew's parents when they were in town last week to help during my chemo.  All of Luke's favorites were on one plate!  He said it was his favorite meal ever.

1 comment:

  1. We already consider your family friends too and we look forward to lots of fun play dates! Your thoughts on thankfulness really helped me gain perspective this week. Blessings!