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Monday, May 3, 2010

Day 123 - Courage

I stole this from a far superior blog. If you have limited time, stop reading mine and go read hers)

"I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit." ~Dawna Markova~

I will admit, for the record, that what I have accomplished over the last 3 years took courage. It took courage for me to see where my life was, to admit that it was all my doing, and to actively partake in my recovery. However, my courage is dwarfed by the courage of those around me. My courage is courage only in the face of my own fears.

The woman I lifted the above quote from is a woman a true courage. My cousin who said "I have a brain tumor, but it's not growing or anything. It's just there" and she shrugs like it's nothing and beams that 100 Watt smile at me as she buzzes around the kitchen preparing for our day at the beach. My courage is dwarfed still by my cousin Georgia's courage to face her fears and from the pit of darkness, climb her way back to the sunshine by her own will and determination.

My cousin Judy though, has to be THE most courageous woman I have ever had the privilege to know. (the sad fact is, I don't know her well enough) A petite brunette, teacher of young minds in a local Christian school, has never had a drink, never smoked a cigarette, and one of those rare people who are just good to their core. She, has been battling double lung cancer for more than 3 years now. I received her most recent update today and each time I receive one from her, I am again moved by the beauty of her courage. When I want to let the bi-polar/menopausal mood waves crash down on me, SHE springs to mind. She has become my guardrail against my own weaknesses. When I wander to close to the edge of disaster, I hear her words soothing and sweet saying "stop, breathe, it could be worse". I share with you her latest update:

Good Saturday morning everybody!

I just wanted to let you all know what has been happening with me lately and ask for your continued prayers as I process things and wait on the Lord for wisdom and strength. First, the good news! Since the end of October when I stopped taking chemo treatments, my CEA number, that the doctor looks at as one of the indicators of what the cancer is doing, rose from a 4 to a 7 in February (my range is 0 – 10). That would indicate that the cancer is still active and has progressed slightly. However, since February the number has held at 7! That means that the cancer is stable and not progressing significantly beyond what it already has.

Is this making sense to anyone?! In other words, we don’t have to panic! We can continue watching things for the time being and not start any treatments until the cancer shows more progression. My prayer is that I can enjoy the summer and continue to regain my strength so that I’ll be in good health when the time comes to begin treatment again. The plan is to still do a less aggressive type of chemo over a longer period of time so that I’ll be able to function pretty normally with fewer side effects.

Now for the disappointing news – the surgery that I recently had to repair the hole in my intestine so that we could reverse the colostomy was not successful enough. This was the third attempt at fixing this hole and the most extreme procedure that I’ve had. Unfortunately, there are no more options right now for me. My doctor tried to encourage me by saying that he would continue working on a solution for me. He has colleagues in Cleveland, Ohio, who are the experts when it comes to this type of repair. He will be conferring with them to see if they have any suggestions.

My initial reaction, of course, was extreme frustration and disappointment; especially since recovering from that surgery was very difficult and now I have visible scarring that is not at all attractive! Yet, I am always reminded, once I settle down, that this is not only about me. It’s about what God is doing despite what I may think and feel.

I’ve said many times before that I have been conducting a study of the 23rd Psalm for the ladies that I work with. We meet every Friday morning and are just about to finish the study. Yesterday’s lesson was about contentment! Great day! I find out that the surgery didn’t work on Thursday and have to talk about contentment on Friday! That didn’t give me much time to get over myself! Psalm 23:5 says at the end, “…my cup runneth over.” We have seen how the good shepherd has taken great care of his sheep over a year’s time through good times and bad. Now we can say with certainty that our cup runneth over with great blessing because of his care. He has never left our side, he has removed distractions and dangers, he has led us to the tablelands where the best grazing is, and he has done this out of his great love for us. How can we be fearful or angry or confused when His plan has always been to bring us benefit? His goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life! What am I leaving behind for others to see?

I love you all and hope that this is as encouraging to you as it has been to me.

Love, Judy

These are women of courage and I am extraordinarily blesses to call them family. I will follow their example and be grateful. My cup runneth over.

Today I'm grateful for:

women of courage. They show me how beautiful it can be and give me an example to strive for.

my courage. I am doing things today that I never thought were possible. I was afraid. With each new challenge I knew if I failed, my recovery could collapse. I tried anyway. I will not diminish my own courage in the face of others more courageous. I will own my share while being humbled by theirs.

God inspired emails. I am afraid but I await the reply. It's not life or death and it's in God's hands now.

a cashed check. Little Red Tree cashed my check. I guess that means my book is in the review process. I have not yet received a rejection. Do I have enough courage to hope?

Georgia's letter to herself. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever read and she says "I" inspired her. I am humbled and honored. Oh, and the way she hocks my book I'm so going to make her my publicist when Oprah calls!

no piles on Wilson. I thought the man's head was going to explode with yesterday's pile. *sighs* Way to go Roy.

Monday. I enjoyed my weekend adventure to the max, but now I'm glad to be back in my routine.

working out. I had not worked out since Friday Morning. I actually missed it. OH Snap, I'm a freak! Wait....I already know that...Never mind.

my husband. I know he doesn’t want me to but he's letting me anyway. I sure hope I give him as much as he gives me but I doubt I ever will. I hope he's content with me trying very hard.

jobs. So many friends and family are currently unemployed that to forget to be grateful would be an insult to those suffering. I am doubly blessed. I have a job I LOVE. I promise, I won't ever take it for granted.

God's grace. There is no other way to explain it. How the magnificent life I have now could possibly be the very same life I hated so much a short time ago.

my life. My messy slice of paradise. Inhabited by garden pixies, alien hamsters and custom made princes. Punctuated by red mustangs and big pink bikes. Colored by yellow sharpies. Orchestrated by God. I do not deserve a life such as this but I will never fail to be grateful for it.

home. Road trips are fun but the best part is always coming home.

Courage is...

1 comment:

  1. Awesome as always Beth! I will be adding your cousin to my prayer list! Sometimes those that are going through what others see as the hardest/worse times is what creates those to be courageous! We never know our strength that abides within us! I'm glad you have found yours and have let it empower you instead of take you down! Keep standing strong!