30 Days of Thanks – Day 23 – Looking back 4 years… thanks for today!

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When I started this “30 Days of Thanks” annual tradition,, it had been inspired by my mother’s experience. In July 2011, mammogram displayed a lump, and the cancer diagnosis and treatment that followed was a journey I know Mom and Dad will not forget. And neither will I!

Today’s 5 Things of Thanks

  1. Good news – Happy about Mom’s recent visits to the surgeon and oncologist who led in the treatment of her disease. She is still cancer-free!!
  1. How far we’ve come – It was a blessing yesterday to spend the evening with a couple who had been friends of my parents when I was young (their son and my little brother were friends). When Joyce was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was in second grade, and remember how the year of treatment drained her so much… but the cancer did go away at that time. Though it has had recurrences, the fact that Joyce is now doing beautifully speaks volumes as to how far treatments have come!
  1. double delight roses
    These “double delight” roses are from Dad’s rose garden… I wish you could smell them!

    Dad’s roses – Mom’s favorite of my Dad’s rosebushes is “double delight,” one that not only boasts beauty of red-tinged petals, but boasts a beautiful aroma with intensity unlike any other.

  1. Phone calls with faraway friends – What a blessing it was today to enjoy a long conversation with a friend who lives far away – and find out I’ll get to see her soon!
  1. God’ love – …that is so evident in his creation, in ways he uses medical technology to heal, and how he works to show compassion and love for those who do not experience physical healing,

I know that every good and perfect gift comes from God above (see James 1:17), and I hope this “30 Day” adventure can help me remember to thank our Lord for these many gifts. And to notice them when they’re right here in front of my face.

Day 4 – 30 Days of Thanks – Proud to be an American!

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On July 4, it isn’t hard to see where my “thank you” list will come from. Our nation, like all others, is far from perfect, but living in America is a blessing in many ways!

5 Reasons I’m Thankful to Be an American

  • 1. Basic Freedoms – I am so thankful that the law of our land gives freedoms every day – where I can go, where I can live, where I can worship… these freedoms aren’t ones shared across the world, and I value the sacrifices that have made this freedom real.
  • 2. Curb cuts – Simply put, I am thankful that our country has accessibility laws about sidewalks and entrances. They help a person using a cane, walker, or wheelchair enter various locations. (More will come here later this month!) I know that America does a better job here than many other nations – so thank you, America!
  • 3. July 4 Fireworks – Celebrating together is fun – we aren’t personally thrilled with lighting our own pyrotechnics, but the celebration in the sky is beautiful and fun to see! lOur neighbors arrange a wonderful show on the night of the fourth, and we get to view this from our back yard. Lovely!
  • 4. Freedom of Religion – I know this country’s roots were planted during times of religious persecution, and I think of William Penn in the 1600’s, known supporting the concept of religious freedom. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion . I hear of conflicts oversees, and I am grateful that our struggles are not on that level.
  • 5, Wide Richness of Cultures in One Country – I love the fact that within our single nation, we house a beautiful quiltwork of culture. It is such a blessing to experience these pieces of our nation’s story as we travel or meet new friends all within our borders.

    So Happy Independence Day to my American friends, and Happy 40th birthday to my British friend Ruth. (I let her know that I can’t join her at their party at the park, but there will be celebration fireworks here “over the pond,” and I’ll try getting a photo of one in her honor. 🙂 )

They just nod their heads

Since that August diagnosis, friends have been asking how my mother is doing, with the understanding that cancer is not a minor journey. From August through January, I was privileged to share that Mom was facing her diagnosis quite courageously, but most overwhelmingly, with peace.

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This peace became evident to me several times. One special experience­­ was when I was blessed to accompany Mom and her friend Sue to a women’s retreat in northern Indiana. After we shared a weekend of “sweet” fellowship, teaching and encouragement, we went shopping for a bit, and Mom and I found a couple of winter-appropriate, sharp hats. They would be ready to keep Mom’s head warm as chemotherapy enthusiastically attacked her hair follicles (and I prayed this was indicative of the job it was doing on the tumor).

Another special time came in October, while Dad took part in a medical mission trip to Brazil, and Mom was dealing with a post-chemo week. These were weeks when she felt totally wiped out and didn’t really desire others’ company, so she had shared her desire to not have others come and spend time with her. When I assumed I was included here, my wise husband offered to let me spend the weekend away from our home, and he suggested that I offer this plan to Mom. He was right: knowing that I wouldn’t ask anything of her, and I’d allow her to have whatever odd sleeping and eating schedule she needed, Mom welcomed the chance for me to come and stay for the weekend. What did we do? Nothing, really, and that was the beauty of it. The “nothing” consisted of watching TV, viewing a chick flick on dvd, taking naps, reading email, taking the dog for a walk… did I mention napping? One thing that Mom did was write in her journal, where she intended to find five things to be thankful for each day. And what did I notice through my time there? One word: peace. We had fun chats, but we also reveled in the lack of sound and activity. It was lovely, in ways that cannot really be quantified.

When Mom found in September that the chemo-poison in her bloodstream made her traditionally-adored morning cup of coffee taste rather vile, she had decided to make a large batch of hot cocoa mix, a recipe she had used since I was quite young. So her morning coffee time became time for a hot and creamy cocoa beverage, as she greeted the day with a mug and a smile. And she shared a tub of mix with her daughter’s family, thrilled to experience the chocolaty goodness a county away.

There are numerous anecdotes I could share about our peaks into Mom’s cancer journey, but I think it was summed up best by mom’s friend Nancy, as she shared a comment on my mother’s Caringbridge blog on September 28:

Everywhere I go people ask me about my dear friend, Betty.  When I tell them how well she is doing, that her attitude is good and her courage is strong, they simply nod their heads.  EVERY one of them tells me that they don’t know anyone as strong in their faith and courage as Betty–what a tribute to a wonderful lady.

They just nod their heads… what a tribute, and what a goal. We love you, Mom, and we’re so happy that your treatment journey is almost completed!