Tag Archive: peace

New Year

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I’m sorry I’ve been so MIA on here… I thought I’d do some reflections from 2014 and wishes for 2015 to fill in the gap and kick off a new year.

For the past few years I’ve picked a word, or rather, a word has picked me, to describe the year. I don’t usually do anything with the word except notice and smile at how well it fits the people, situations, and feelings I’ve experienced. This year, I thought I’d share 2014’s theme word on the blog- Peace.

At first glance, peace is a strange pick for my 2014 because it was anything but peaceful from the outside. I moved, ended a relationship, and finished final edits on the book while battling a health issue. In the words of my counselor, “It’s too much.”

Yet in the midst of lots of crazy, peace forced it’s way in to my life in more ways than one.

The quickest version I can spit out of what happened is that I was feeling bad for a long time- extreme fatigue, confusion, hair loss and cold… always cold. In June, my blood doctor (that’s what I call her) checked my counts and immediately started me on iron infusions three times a week. These were rough in that they took three- four hours and the medicine knocked me out, sometimes for the rest of the day.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

My general doctor found a tumor and recommended surgery. The first two surgeons I met with didn’t think they could remove it without messing up things in my funhouse. (Meaning I wouldn’t be able to have children in the future). I met with several surgeons and finally found one that I trusted.

Which was good.

Because an MRI he ordered came back and the tumor looked odd and possibly like cancer. He decided to do a more invasive surgery right away. The next day my blood count had fallen all the way back down to my pre-infusion levels and I got a picc line put in that I wore for the next couple of months. I went in for surgery the following week and thankfully it all went well. They were able to remove everything, keep the funhouse in tact, and there is no cancer. I was off from work recovering for a month and continued iron treatments. I got my picc line out in December and have resumed a normalishhh, slower paced life.

2014 was definitely a strange year for me. I’m still discovering and piecing together it’s significance. I learned and grew in several new ways and in no particular order, I’d say the following:

  1. I learned was forced to have patience. I used to go to the doctors once every three years. Once I started going every day, sometimes twice a day, it took over my life. You sit and wait, freezing. Then they call you into another room. To wait. And freeze. In a paper gown. The doctor eventually comes and you are no longer the smartest person in the room, even when the topic is you. You try and remember half of what they say and focus on not crying. You wait again for results and an open appointment slot and move slowly forward on in your journey. I had to learn to trust others and get on their schedule. It felt unnatural…but once I gave in, it was sort of peaceful and I grew to enjoy my new pace.
  2. I learned to do less. My brain wouldn’t work most days, either because of low iron or medication. I had to be ok with simply doing less. It wasn’t easy at first but it was a good opportunity to let go. Since I didn’t really have a choice, this, too, eventually felt peaceful.
  3. I was reminded that my future is not up to me. It was rough thinking about the possibility of never having kids, wondering what surgery would be like, and envisioning battling cancer next year. It was over the top and I discovered there is actually a peace at work when you are in the midst of chaos. It turns out when there is nothing for you to control- no details you can handle, no idea what to even begin worrying over… you just let it all go. For the first time, I truly felt like everything was completely in God’s hands and it was oddly a nice release.
  4. I am extremely grateful and impressed by doctors and nurses. I am a floored by modern medicine and how freaking smart people are. With all its needles and surgery and pills and ways of healing- it’s like magic. I think there’s a time and place for natural remedies and I hate how it’s become an either or conversation…. Im glad we have access to both.
  5. I became thankful for my own health and healing. I made a lot of friends and have extended family members who are fighting far more serious health battles than my own. Their tests don’t come back with good news, their treatments don’t always work, and they haven’t yet recovered. It makes me very sad, and sometimes guilty. I don’t understand how God makes these choices. It’s a heavy, heavy burden and I have a newfound respect for people fighting for their lives. While feeling the effects of the actual illness, it’s exhausting scheduling appointments, filling out forms, paying bills. It’s a full-time job getting well.
  6. I let go of trying to be cool this year. Not that I really was ever under the impression I was succeeding at it before, I just learned there’s an identity shift that takes place when you are sick. You used to see yourself as healthy, active, and young, and then all the sudden you are no longer all those things. It’s humbling and often embarrassing owning your new limits. It was hard to admit to others and to myself that I was broken. You try impressing a first date wearing sterry strips and a picc line. You’ll feel positively geriatric when you have to ask them to walk slower, sit on a bench, and ignore the fact that you’re about to pop a narcotic. … I had to let a lot go.
  7. I learned I am more loved than I imagined. I love my friends and family, but still put the expectation on myself that I need to give back to them. I guess deep down, I viewed it as a conditional love. It’s a two-way street and I have to make an effort to earn and keep them in my life. This was a time in when I clearly had nothing to offer anyone and it was uncomfortable. I remember a moment in the hospital while three friends were visiting and I couldn’t stay awake. I fought hard to keep my eyes open, feeling terrible they’d come all the way to see me. Right before falling asleep, I saw their faces and I could tell- they didn’t care. They truly didn’t. They weren’t visiting me to get something from me. They weren’t expecting anything out of me at all. They came to give to me, plain and simple. That moment, and several like it after, gave me peace. I try to wrap my head around the idea that God loves me know matter what I do for him… but it still feels like I have to do a lot for him most days. My friends and family were a tangible picture of that perfect and unconditional love this year. There’s peace in knowing you are loved NO MATTER WHAT. You don’t always have to earn it. You don’t always have to be in a place where you can reciprocate it. This is wild to me! I don’t think I’ll ever get over the love I received during this time. The meals, visits, carried out trashcans, texts, phone calls, cards, flowers… I still can’t even believe it.

So what am I taking in to 2015? So far this:

It’s a wonderful thing to let go. It’s peaceful when you throw up your hands and realize you can’t do it all, and you don’t have to. Crap is going to happen, and when it does, you’ll get through it. God prepares you and gets you through. He uses loved ones, strangers, and experts. You learn, you grow, and you’ll be glad it happened at some point. I think I’m actually getting better at knowing this truth in the moment. I am excited for what’s coming in 2015, and I know there’s a lot of work ahead for me…but I want to somehow hold on to my newfound peaceful pace.

What about you? Any reflections or hopes? I’d love to hear.

 

 

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Dec 8-The last night I had to coordinate my outfit with an IV…. I don’t miss the challenge.

Photo by Etsy.com

 

 

 


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Good Morning

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I wish I could tell you I was one of those people who wakes up early, takes the proper vitamins, and does a few posture enhancing stretches before spending an hour reading my Bible and praying. Unfortunately, I’m more of a snooze twice, rush a shower, grab coffee as I rush into work five minutes late kind of girl. I do notice a big difference when I start my day with some type of Spiritual time, however short. Like many of you, I often turn to Jesus Calling for these times. I really loved today’s…

Come to Me for rest and refreshment. The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.

Remember that I can fit everything into a pattern for good, including the things you wish were different. Start with where you are at this point in time and space, accepting that this is where I intend you to be. You will get through today one step, one moment at a time. Your main responsibility is to remain attentive to Me, letting Me guide you through the many choices along your pathway.”

It’s funny how easy it is to forget that I need only focus on Him and where He is moving moment by moment. Without meaning to, I end up worrying, spending my best energy, and hustling to get the things I’m convinced A)Will make me happy and B) Clearly need me to take control in order to see happen. I have to constantly be reminded that the idea of me having the power is ridiculous and God is always holding things together. In essence, I waste a lot of time and anxiety while the choice to live into His peace is an available refuge. (And may or may not include refraining from pushing snooze and spending more time with Him)

“He (Jesus) is before ALL things, and in Him ALL things hold together.” Colossians 1:17 (Emphasis mine)

Photo by Alyssa Fioravanti. An incredibly talented and lovely girl you can spy on (here)

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Book Club: The Gifts of Imperfection

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2545 THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTIONI finished reading this a couple of weeks ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking and talking about it! My delay in posting has had more to do with figuring out how to curb myself from overwriting than anything else.

If you didn’t read this book, please, please do. You won’t regret it. The short recap is world renown researcher, Brene Brown spent 8 years studying shame and vulnerability.  During her more than 10,000 interviews, she realized there was a great divide between people who lived what she calls wholeheartedly (experience joy, peace, love) and those that don’t.  As she compiled lists of what made up wholehearted individuals, she realized she was in the “don’t” category.  This led to a personal breakdown and visit to a therapist. In the end, she believed so strongly in the accuracy of her own findings, she made huge changes to her own life as well as her family’s. The book is her story woven through her research.

Basically, I want to be her. My copy is so underlined, highlighted and covered in notes I can’t even tell you. I wish I could hit on every point…but no one, not even my mom would read that.

So, I’ll tell you about the guidepost I’ve spent the most time thinking about since closing the book. I’d love for you to share your favorite.


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O Holy Night

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Today begins a short series of blogs on Christmas carols. Short, since as you can see, I’m only just beginning now. I LOVE carols (I am the obnoxious co-worker that doesn’t mind playing them eight hours a day beginning in late November) but my reason for these posts is that I’ve found, often hidden beneath the jolly arrangements and melodies, are some of the most powerful statements about Christ and His love for mankind. My hope is that what we often miss while singing, will be noticed in reading.

Oh Holy Night

O holy night,

the stars are brightly shining;

It is the night of

our dear Savior’s birth!

Long lay the world

in sin and error pining,

Till He appeared

and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope,

the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks

a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees,

O hear the angel voices!

O night divine,

O night when Christ was born!

O night divine, O night,

O night divine!

Led by the light of Faith

serenely beaming,

With glowing hearts

by His cradle we stand.

So led by light of a star

sweetly gleaming,

Here came the wise men

from Orient land.

The King of Kings lay thus

in lowly manger,

In all our trials

born to be our Friend!

He knows our need,

To our weakness no stranger;

Behold your King!

Before the lowly bend!

Behold your King! your King!

before Him bend.

Truly He taught us

to love one another;

His law is love and

His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break

for the slave is our brother

And in His name

all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in

grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us

praise His holy name!

Christ is the Lord,

Oh praise His name forever,

His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim

His pow’r and glory

evermore proclaim.

Isn’t it incredible? In addition to beautiful lyrics, the song has an inspiring story of its own. “Oh Holy Night” or “Cantique de Noel” was a french poem written by a man named Placide Cappeau in 1847. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau sought to capture what it would’ve been like to be at the birth of Christ. He wasn’t a man of faith, so to speak, but when he was only eight, he and a friend were playing with a gun when it went off, shooting him in the hand. The doctors were unable to save Placide’s hand and he lived his childhood and adult life as an amputee. I can’t help but read the lines, “He knows our need, to our weakness no stranger” and wonder what it meant to him, personally.

The song was later translated into English in 1855 by John Sullivan Dwight, a pastor from Massachusetts. He was an abolitionist and loved the lines, “Truly He taught us to love one another; his law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother and in His name all oppression shall cease.” The song spread like wildfire in the North during the Civil War.

91127592431626594_ENz6JM6v_c[1]On Christmas Eve 1906, using a new type of generator, a young Canadian professor named Reginald Fessenden spoke into a microphone and a man’s voice was broadcast over the airwaves for the first time in history. The very first words ever heard were from the gospel of Luke, “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus…” Men and women as far South as Norfolk, Virginia were in shock, having never heard anything like it before. When he finished reading the Christmas story, Reginald picked up his violin and played, “O Holy Night” making it the first song to ever be played on the radio. The program was transmitted using naval ships on New Year’s Eve and heard as far away as the Caribbean.

As exciting and fun as the holidays can be, I’ve noticed the season has a way of heightening our awareness over the things we have, or things we lack. Depending on our circumstances, it can be a joyus time of gratitude, or a time of sadness for what is missing. Some smile as they look around a table full of loved ones, while others can’t help but notice the empty chairs left by those who are absent. None of us can read the news without seeing how this Christmas will be painful for so many all over the world. I imagine it’s hard to see the lights and hear the music without feeling a bit resentful over the call to “be of good cheer.”

I love “O Holy Night” because it reminds me that Christmas isn’t first and foremost a festive party; it’s the moment God came to earth because we needed Him. Christmas is a holiday for the needy. It’s for the desperate, the lonely, the lost. As the song says, the earth was dark, pining, and weary until Jesus came. For the first time, in what are some of the most compelling and meaningful words ever written, “the soul felt it’s worth.”

Whether you are celebrating the end of a wonderful year, and I hope you are, or a particularly difficult one, I pray the message of this carol fills you with hope and peace.


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