The Finish line

The diagnosis

The battle began late spring. The words stung as we heard her say them, “Breast cancer”.  Everything after that went very fast. The surgery, test results, chemo, side effects, more tests and then radiation. Her life was all mapped out for her, each day, each moment.   She took on the task of getting through these unbelievable hard days, with grace. She never complained. She always had a smile on her face and a hug to share when she saw you. She sent her daughter off to college in the midst of this journey, with a mamas heart of love and concern. She has loved her sons from afar as they are both out of town.  Her sweet Robert, a constant by her side, is there for her each day.

Happy Birthday  Emily 

She celebrated her birthday with friends on her front porch with the usual head dress that is so common after chemo. She looked beautiful.  Hymns were sung and prayers lifted up for her that day on her front porch, and He radiated through her.  She embodied what He tells us to do. Her trial and journey  has not been easy. She has been an inspiration to all who have had the privilege to walk with her during this season.  God has been her comfort, His words, her armor.

“So do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. Isaiah 41:10

“The sufferings of this present time are not worth to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us? Romans 8:18

God can take the worst life brings and turn it into something good if you put your trust in Him. He is in the business of turning chaos into a masterpiece when we turn our life over to Him.

The Finish Line

The finish line has always been a date in the future to strive to get to. Each battle, crossed off and another one started. But today is different. Today is the finish line she has been looking for. Surgery, done. Chemo, done……. and now…. radiation, done!!!  Today is the last day of her radiation. What celebration is in store for sweet Emily today.  A day of rejoicing indeed.

Today, I am thankful for our sweet friend. Thankful that He has been with her each step and has given her hope that through this journey, He is at the finish line. He has planned her life and she has done this season well.

Prayer for Emily

Lord, we thank you for Emily and her life. We thank you for how You have been there with her and have given her strength and courage to walk this path for you. We thank you for how she shines for You even on the darkest days of her journey. We boldly ask you to continue to protect her, heal her and give her new strength daily as she continues this life you have planned for her.

 

She learned to strive for Progress not Perfection

 

 

Progress not perfection

 

I wrote this a few weeks ago. I sat on it, deciding if I wanted to go public with my thoughts or not. But as I come across it this morning, I find my thoughts are still the same but circumstances have changed in the world for a brief moment of time. Harvey has devastated Texas and Louisiana. Many good people have come together to help each other, whatever their beliefs are. Now, Irma has pounded the south and is still on the direct path to many more. I see again, the good in people, as they offer help to those in need. That is what our country is all about. Where and when did it go in a different direction? When these storms are over, when lives are being put back together, I pray for these new opportunities to help and love our neighbors,  that they don`t get wasted. I pray that people will see others that are put on their hearts, and in their minds… and in their paths and that will become the new norm,  the new priority, to reach out to others in love.   I pray that these words that I wrote several weeks ago, become bad memories of the way it was….

 

I walk a very fine line these days. Be observant  and watch the news and get angry and stressed about it or just let it go and not worry about what is going on in the world. Sadly, I would much rather let it go, but it is reality, it is life, it is the life we are living and if we don`t pay attention, we have no idea how truly bad the world is getting. So, as I am waking up this morning, getting those last few moments of bed time before we actually get out of bed,  I turn the news on to get started for the day.

I watched a grown man weep openly because of something the president said or didn`t say, because of the amount of time it took him to say something or time it took him to say the words that this man had decided were the wrong words. I watched as young people with weapons rioted in the streets then climbed up on a public statue to tie a rope around it and pull it down. I listened as there was talk about doing this to all statues that represented the past in some way. I heard talk of changing names of parks and roads. I saw an article about a man that had turned himself into a woman and was “married” to a woman turned man, raising a child who is a boy by birth but they didn`t want to confine “HIM” to being a male, so they didn`t mention his gender and said that they would leave it to him, what he wanted to be. He was allowed and encouraged to wear girl clothes and play with dolls.

I watched as a young collage student told how she had interned for the summer in Washington and had the privilege to have her picture taken with the vice president and post it on her facebook page. I heard her speak of how she has been ridiculed  by friends and family who said hateful things to her about being in the picture with someone they did not approve of.

I listened to people blast whatever, whenever and however the president breathes.  He must be so weary of fighting each day against people who have declared war on him.  There is no light shining for people to see what good things are being done, because the war of evil and entitlement and free speech is so loud and dark.

I weeped silently in my heart for things of the past. The carefree youthfulness that is no longer for our children and grandchildren. The long summer days of playing in the yard and walking around the block, leaving doors unlocked for neighbors to come in.. Political correctness has replaced it all. Silence is not always GOLDEN.  Now is the time to boldly speak up and speak out. When did wrong become right? Seems it just happened over night but if we do not speak out, it will continue and slowly become the norm. If you are surprised or dont know what I am talking about, then you must be the one who decided to just let it go, and dont watch the news.. which is not a bad thing altogether…. just dont see the bigger picture of what is really happening, slowly, day by day.

What if people destroyed public property and there were consequences and the police took them to jail and they were held responsible for what they had done and possibly were arrested for destruction of public property?

What if freedom of speech was taken to the next level and people were hurt and properties set on fire, and police stepped in without being afraid of  being shot and being called names and started arresting people?

What if you threatened the President of the United States by mocking a beheading of him or assassination of him, or threatened to blow up the white house, you got arrested and charged? and it was a bad thing instead of people cheering and paying money to see it?

What if these people who are so unhappy living here in the US , go to any other country and disrespect it, wonder what would happen to them,? In some countries, I wonder if they would even live?

What if high paid athletes that use their platform to protest and disrespect our country by sitting down during the national anthem , what if they got  warned and then if they continued to be disrespected, they got  fired? If they were at a corporate company and just sat down when the CEO was talking to them because they did not like what he was saying, wonder what would happen.?  And what are they complaining and protesting for in this public manner after all, they are living the American dream, making tons of  money for doing what they love to do, because they were gifted with the ability to play sports. Looks like they might be a little humble and grateful for their life.?

What if movie stars and tv stars, would get paid according to who liked their way of thinking or their beliefs? Just be quiet already and act. we are tired of hearing your voice being so disrespectful and hateful of all who do not believe as you do. We are tired of having the next generation being exposed to the filth that comes out of your mouths if you encounter a person who doesnt think as you do.

What if history was just that and was taught as history. Parts of it were horrible. War is horrible, slavery was horrible, and thank goodness we have grown and changed but it is how our nation started. We cannot take it back. It cannot be changed but we can Learn from it, never go back there. You cannot tear everything down that reminds you of our history. All of us came from some kind of past years ago, good or bad, but we are not who we came from. We have a choice to be better and an opportunity to change the world for the better.

What is we strive for just plain progress… one day at a time and not for perfection. We will never be perfect. The world will never be perfect, but we have the ability to choose to be better . The president is not perfect nor have any before him been perfect. Good is happening in the background. Change is happening, slowly, but not being reported. Report it all… Good and bad and let people choose what they want to support.

I read a quote someone posted yesterday, “You have your way, I have my way, as for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist”  Friedrich Nietzsche     REALLY?!!!  maybe that is what is wrong with the world.  I believe there is one way. I believe that there is only one way. I believe the word of the Bible   John 14:6 says, “Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  So Mr. Friedrich, I beg to differ from you.

Quotes can be said by anyone. Quotes can be passed around as truth. Words can be typed in on social media to be spread by thousands in just a blink of an eye. Untruths, hate sentiments, vile language….. anyone can post and share…

What if we woke up and thought about what we could do to make someones day better instead of waking up with an agenda to be ugly and rude to anyone who doesnt believe as you do, and encourage others to do the same.

I saw where two collage groups with different beliefs had come together to protest the removing of the flags in memory of 911 on their campus where they had been for so many years. Why? because it might offend some poor soul who didnt agree with them.  They came together to do something for good with no violence, no riots… they were able to keep the memorial. A lesson for adults who have been elected to do a job, to at least strive for progress together. It takes courage to stand up and speak and sometimes it takes courage to just sit down and listen…..

What if elected officials actually did what they were elected for? and were held accountable if they didnt. What if they couldnt go on vacation until they did. What if they had to have the same health insurance as the rest of us do,? What is they had a set number of years in office? what if they had to retire at a certain age and leave office?

What if we realized we do not live in a perfect world and we should all work together to keep this great country of ours great….. what if we put our differences aside and worked for progress?

I can`t change others but I can choose how I react to the world…

Lord, help me to make a difference today, in someones life… help me not to judge others who think different from me, and help me to shine for you in my actions and to make a bit of progress in working towards my purpose in life.

Happy Wednesday,

Love, Jane

 

 

My seasons and roles on this journey of mine called LIFE

I have just shared my testimony recently at my Bible Study during the opening, and several of my friends were not there and asked if I could share online, so here it goes, as I am reading from the notes I made to help me that morning.
 I will start by telling about an out of body experience I had not too long ago. I was talking with a friend at Community Bible Study, Brenda,
about a conflict with the opening we have before class today. I could hear the words but it was like  I was out of my body, 
somewhere, not able to control what was being said. I heard my voice saying  if she needed a plan B
I would be glad to help her with the opening since I was preparing for the devotion at Leadership
this week. Then I reconnected with my body and walked away, glad I had offered to help but
feeling that my Plan B would not be needed since surely God had something else planned for today.
 She called later to confirm that indeed I would be sharing before our classes started at
Bible Study. After I realized this was going to happen,  I could clearly remember my friend, Greta,  saying last week in her devotion opening, that if you feel the Holy Spirit nudging you to tell your story, you need to do it.
So here I am,  feeling that nudge and trusting that what he wants me to say will be spoken and shared today
 As I was working on what I was going to share today, I pulled out my folder from a drawer I don`t often open
It had special papers and notes from 5 years ago when
I was doing the caringbridge updates with Mother.. When I opened it up, two things fell out.
A big purple heart was the first thing I picked up.
Several years ago when I  gave the opening another time  about our faith journey with Mother,
my friends wore purple to encourage me. Purple was the pancreatic cancer color,. This particular friend gave me this paper purple heart so I could have it that morning and  keep it with me. I had tucked it in with the other notes and put them away.
This week , as found it, it was not only a memory of encouragement during
that  season we are walking but a special new  encouragement from God  this week
that He allowed me to have it once again, as I share the continuation of my faith journey.
The other thing that dropped out was a name and phone number. It was one of Mother`s dear friends who I had not talked to  in over 4 years.
I  immediately dialed the number, hoping she was still there. Her voice as she said hello,
was the sweetest sound to hear. I told her about finding her number as I was preparing to do the devotion and we caught up with life. 45 minutes later as we were saying goodbye,
she told me again, how much it had meant to her to have Mother as her special friend.
and how she wished she had known her her whole life.
When I hung up the phone., I cried . tears that I thought were long gone. because  I so  wanted it to be mother that I I was talking to, telling her everything.
Then God brought me back to the moment as He showed me the importance of our seasons in life.  He shared with me how Mother had lived her seasons well, and now the  memories she left would continue to tell  her story
In order to take you to this new season of mine which is what my devotion is about., I will go back to the beginning
I grew up in a Christian home. My Daddy was a deacon in the church, and sang in the choir
He and Mother both taught Sunday School classes. for as long as I can remember. We were there whenever the doors were opened This was our life and we didn`t know any different.
We never got to watch Wizard of Oz because The Wonderful World of Disney
came on Sunday night at 6:00. We were always at Training Union and  we couldn`t skip church to stay home to watch television.!!
I became a Christian when I was 7 years old during a revival at our church.
Went  to Sunday School, Training Union,  Wednesday night supper at church then
to GA s  before worship , we had choir on Sunday afternoons. We had choir retreats, church
camps, nursing home visits…. All the busy activities as
you would do growing up in church.  Life was good and pretty ordinary, I thought.
We were a family of 4, Mother , Daddy and my older sister, Anne.  I wanted a baby brother
for years and years and faithfully prayed for one. Now, I am not sure if Mother and Daddy
shared my prayer all of those years but eventually God answered
and I took full credit for the birth of our little brother, Billy, in 1966 when we girls were 12
and 15. Once again, life was good.   I not only had the role of little sister but now, I was big
sister to this little brother of mine.
Life happened, we grew up….
Fast forward 8 years later,
I met my husband to be, Tom, the next year we became engaged and the next year in March, 1974, we married.
Enter this season for me, and a new role…I was now a wife..
This is the part  in my story when God turned it from “Ordinary to extrordinary”
Extrordinary meaning that He was showing me and I was beginning to get it, that He had these seasons of my life planned.
My roles were already defined by Him, but I had to walk through each one to get to
the next and to BECOME who He had created me to be.
My season of youth, and carefree days , was behind me, so to speak. I was entering into a new season, as I became a wife. and a young adult.  Soon, very soon, I was about to find out about the trials he speaks of
James 1:2 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know
that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.””
Romans 5:3-4  but we also rejoice in sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance character and character hope.”
My sweet Daddy, whom I adored and loved deeply and thought could do no wrong, found out within weeks after my wedding that he had cancer.  He died a short three months later.
Our world as we knew it, had just turned upside down. .How would we go on without him?
 God  had given him to us for a season.  We were not ready for him to leave us, he was only 45 years old, but in that short season, God packed it full of lessons for us.
God showed me that those things I took for ordinary were treasures He was storing in my heart.
God used my Daddy to shine His love… Love for our Mother, love for us, love for family, friends, church but most of all His love for God. he used our Daddy to teach us respect,
 He did not tolerate disrespect toward our Mother. Or being disrespecful at church and talking. LOL…
 I remember getting into trouble for doing both of those.
 I know it is hard to believe but as a young girl, my tongue DID indeed get me in trouble..sometimes
God used our Daddy to teach us how to perservere during the hard times,
How to be kind, thoughtful and how to serve others. He used my Daddy to teach us how to pray.
 I remember going down the hall  one day to their room, looking for him,  the door half shut,  but half open, as I peeked  in to see my big, strong  Daddy, down on
his knees at the foot of their bed, in prayer.
Now, my role as Daddy`s little girl had changed but it left the most beautiful memories, as we were  saying Goodbye to him. Through the hope we had in our God,
 we knew  it was only going to be for a season, and we would see our Daddy again one day.
Three short years later, a new happy  season… new role….
Our first son was born, Thomas William… This was for sure one of the most important seasons of my life. God was trusting us big time and I felt the pressure.
I remember thinking one day when we brought him home from the hospital and Tom was at work….  as I glanced at this little newborn, and was in awe of
how God created this child of mine, I was overcome with a feeling that he was totally dependant on  us. Every single need he had, we were responsible for.
I knew that we were not capable of the task alone, only with God`s help and his promise that He would take care of all of our needs.
Four years later our second son was born. Christopher Brent.
A red head this time!! If you have a red head,  you will understand
that they are special and loving  and they are usually blessed with their own personalality
The year Brent was born, 2 families became one as my mother and Tom`s Daddy married. That is a whole other story and I don`t really even go to what  new roles happened then when my FIL became my Step father?  But another God thing to show how He provided
that season for us at just he right time as Billy was almost a teenager,
to help raise him and to be there with Mother when he left for
college and left home for good. It was a good season for 29 years.
This season of raisng two boys  continued and was full of carpools, arguments, backyard baseball games,  organized sports, ball practices, arguments,  church, adventures and lots of God`s grace, and almost forgot, did I mention… arguments?!!!
My next season was a time of hurt and disappointments as I suffered through 3 miscarriages. Now , looking back, I can see that even through that hard season,
God was molding me and using that time to prepare my heart to be sensitive
to others going through the same thing. down the road.
2 Cor. 1:4  “Who comforts us in all of our trouble so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing  any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
When our boys were 8 and 12, God blessed us with our baby girl. I now, was a mother to a little girl, not to be confused  with the role of a mother to little boys.!  They are very different, So I consider this two different roles.Now, I had some lace and ribbons thrown into my life with dolls and fancy dresses and still many many ballgames.
I was kind of getting used to these roles. Life was moving along at a very fast pace.
We were enjoying this season of raising our children. It was filled with challenges, sometimes was tiring, but lots of joy and love as we were growing  and learning life together.
Soon, I blinked and that season was changing as one by one, the kids left for school and then to start their own lives. and moved out of our home. My mothering skills  t
hat I had tried so hard to learn, were not needed near as much as they once were.
Today we are so blessed to have them all here in Birmingham,
and we talk often,, but my 24/7 rold as mother as drastically changed.
One of the greatest gifts, I truly believe at this season  in my life was born May 29, 2008. Our first grandson.  Words could never explain the love you have for this little one
as you see your child holding his newborn baby. Now… I was a grandmother. Icing on the cake!!
All to soon, another trial was starting., another season…this is where the purple heart comes in. once again……
Summer 2010. An ordinary day, my sister and I were spending the morning with our mother. It was a Friday,
and we were waiting to hear the results from tests she had earlier in the week. When we did not hear, I called to  try to find out what the delay was before the weekend settled in.
 Later the Doctor called me back. I remember him saying, he had tracked down the results himself
 and it wasn`t good. He asked if we wanted him to meet us at  Mothers house to tell her with us. I immediatly said, yes, please.
. Kind of a blur now, in looking back but as he told her it was pancreatic cancer.
 Our sweet mothers only comment was, “Oh, I don`t want you all to go through this.”
After the doctor left, we girls hugged, we cried, and we prayed for God to make her well . We tried to make a game plan to
move forward.  We had 5 months with her on this journey of hers, her last season. Our prayer was always the same. But as the months
went by, and the treatments stopped working, and the pain increased,
that first week of December rolled around, God changed my heart. I was able to still pray
for His will but different this time. I prayed for His will and please take her home to be with Him.
He did answer both prayers, to make her well. December 13, 2010, when she took her last breath
she was instantly made well and whole with God.
This season, the hardest yet, life without our Mother. Thankful that He had given her to our family
all of those years ago. The lessons that God taught us through her are too many to mention  but she lived for Him well and she loved all of us well.
My role, had once again been changed. I no longer had my early morning phone calls to check on her
each day or to go eat lunch with her, or talk to . She was always my encourager, my go to for anything,
my personal cheerleader and she always shared that unconditional love and beautiful smile just when I needed it. But as I was missing her, God was reminding me that
He was all of that and so much more.
He is waiting for me to come to Him each morning to talk
He is my encourager when times are hard.
He is with me through life`s trials and he promises that He will never leave me. Deut. 31:6
That was 5 years ago, which brings me to the current season of my life….
This “slightly over mid life” season, and wondering what does God want me to do with my life?
How can I be productive for Him with my roles changing so much?
Many roles have come and gone. Many seasons, and now what is my role?
When I turned 60 last year, these were my thoughts and questions. I took lots of online classes,
mostly art which I love, trying to figure it all out. Here it is over a year later and I am still trying to
figure it all out. The one thing I do know is that He isn`t finished with me yet.
Any of these seasons by themselves, I could write a book about but as I list them here, briefly,  I can see how He is intricately weaving them all together for my story.
I am still BECOMING
He is still taking my ordinary life and making it extraordinary
He can make the broken beautiful
He can raise the dead
He can heal the sick and lame
He can calm the seas
He can walk with you through the trials and make them for good
He can walk on water
He can save the lost sinner and give him eternity through salvation
Our God is BIG. If He can do all of these miracles and so much more, He can certainly make this season of mine into something to count for HIM    it is up to me to be still and listen and wait for His timing, not mine.
Whatever season you are in, whatever roles you have, I encourage you to enter it with joy, not mourning the seaons before but looking forward to what God has planned for you. Remember He is not finished with you yet. You are still BECOMING.
Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
My favorite verse is Esther 4:14 “Who knows if you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

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