The Look in Her Eyes

I recognized the look in my friend’s eyes. I could see beyond her smile and her hugs. Deep inside, I saw fear. Fear of the unknown she is facing, and the new path she’s now walking. You see, my friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
I could see beyond her brave face, because I’ve been down that road myself…twice.

Our small group gathered around her and her family the night before her first chemo treatment, to pray for her. She was strong, and her faith was evident, but I think only someone who’s walked in similar shoes could see that particular look in her eyes – overwhelmed, fearful, but trusting, because it’s times like these where you need to trust God more than ever.

When you’re told you have cancer, before you can even comprehend those words, you’re suddenly whisked off for a battery of consultations, tests and scheduling.

Cancer barely penetrates your mind, yet it’s looming over everything you do from that moment forward. Your world has shifted upside down, and you’ve stepped on the roller coaster. And it can be quite the ride.
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Here is a picture of my husband and me where I can see “that look” in my own eyes. This was taken on a Sunday, on my birthday. We were having a great day, enjoy the celebration with friends. But the Friday before, I had been diagnosed with my second bout of cancer, and the next day, a new round of tests, doctors, and mapping out treatment plans was beginning. So, as I turned another year older, I knew that year was going to be challenging, and scary, yet I had my husband right by my side and my faith to guide me. But I still had that fearful look of not knowing quite what to expect, trying to hang on to faith, while facing an unknown, frightening path.

It’s the look I saw in my friend’s eyes the night we prayed for her.

While I’ve walked in similar shoes as my friend, her journey will be different. Everyone’s is. But I will walk beside her, and pray for her and her husband and family.

That’s all I can do, and trust that God will hold her like He’s held me.

Smacked!

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A couple of weeks ago, I was smacked in the face. Not literally. Despite my recent stings and falls, this was figurative smack in the face.

Have you ever been droning along with life and something just wakes you up and causes you to rethink nearly everything? Or at least inspires you to move forward? That’s what happened with me.

I heard two words that are so simple yet have impacted me deeply. They are: Take Action.

Pretty basic words, but when you think about them, they can inspire your entire life. These two words are my new mantra. Take Action.

Regardless of your dreams, goals, calling, diet plans, whatever, the only way to achieve any of them is to Take Action. Otherwise, you’re dreaming and planning, but not DOING. If you don’t take action, you’re not doing anything to accomplish your goals.

I have several things I want to accomplish including writing and finishing my novel, writing devotional pieces, and managing my health better. You know the old stand-bys of eat better, exercise, lose weight. I also want to grow deeper in my faith and have a stronger prayer life.

None of these can be accomplished unless I take action. Otherwise, I’m only complaining that I need to lose weight or bemoaning that I don’t have time to write or pray or whatever.

The solution is simple: Take Action.

Those two words resonate in my life all the way to my core.

What about you? Do you have something you in which you need to take action? Do you have a mantra that smacked you in the face and encouraged you? Please share.

In other words: Take Action.

The Next Phase of Life

It’s back to school time. You’ve seen the pictures flooding the internet of kids on their first day of school for this year. For some parents, it’s seeing their kids start high school or middle school, for others, it’s the start of Kindergarten, and finally there are those who are sending their youngest to college and are now facing the empty nest. There’s a new normal happening in many households.

Sandwich Generation

For my husband and I, well, we’ve been empty nesters for several years. Both kids are grown and married. We’ve been in this blissful phase of life, with the kids grown, but before grandchildren, and our own parents still healthy and active.

But as we all know, life can change on a dime and sometimes it’s an avalanche of change.

That avalanche has come roaring at us this year. And not with just one new phase of life, but with several phases bombarding us all at once. We’re entering a new season, and the quiet before these new storms are now past.

I’m mourning that quiet time before this change, but there are good things coming in this new season.

This is what I’m calling my “sandwich” year. I’m sure you’ve heard the term before – the sandwich generation. I don’t quite fit into that definition, but I’m feeling sandwiched enough.

In other words, this is the year where everything changed forever. My parents’ lives turned upside down with the advent of a couple of serious health issues. I spent a lot of time traveling back and forth to be with them, and will do so a few more times this year. For the first time, I see my parents as “older.” If you knew my folks, you know they have never been elderly or even come close to acting their ages. But unfortunately, I see that age now as one faces difficult health challenges and the other has gone into a caregiving role.

As I come to terms with the changes for my parents, we have the other end of the spectrum… and that’s the arrival of our first grandchild! It was so nice to have such joyous news in the midst of the trauma with my parents. As my husband and I anticipate this precious gift of a new baby, we know that nothing in our lives will be the same again. We’re very excited and while we remain empty nesters, we are already looking around our home, thinking about when the baby will be here, when we’ll play and entertain our grandchild…thinking about the “toy room.” (Okay, so we’re planning far ahead!)

This is definitely the year of change. My child and spouse will have a new normal in their lives as they become parents.

My parents have a new normal as they deal with health challenges and the long-term after effects.

As for my husband and I, these events in the lives of our children and parents have impacted us in numerous ways, that we too are finding our new normal. In the future, I know I will always reflect upon this year as our year of major change – some tough changes and joyous changes.

But I look forward to next year with such hope – the hope that comes from our new grandchild, and the hope that my parents will be healthy and strong from this point forward.

While I know I’ll have my sandwich moments yet to come, if we can balance that with a future and a hope (read Jeremiah 29:11), then we’ll make it through and continue to our next phase of life.

Fighting Back from Discouragement

We’re several weeks into the New Year… and this is traditionally the time when we’re already failing in our resolutions that we made three weeks ago.

How are you doing with your goals for the year?

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of tennis. The first Grand Slam of the year is going on now with the Australian Open. And a major upset of the tournament just happened — Roger Federer lost his match. The first time since 2003 that he won’t be in the second week of the Aussie Open. (This is one of the reasons I feel like he’s the greatest of all time… his consistency in the sport to reach semi-finals and finals of the tournaments…but that’s another discussion for another day.)
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Last time Federer was upset this early in a slam, everyone was talking that his career was over. It must have been a discouraging time for Roger. His desire to play the game is still so strong, yet, these defeats will happen. So, now, at the ripe old (in tennis years) age of 33, is this his swan song?

I can’t wait to see. After the last time he was defeated early in a grand slam in 2013, he played inspired tennis for 2014, and was so close to reclaiming his #1 ranking. He started out this year with his 1000th career win (see why I believe he’s the greatest of all time?). I believe that Roger will take this defeat and turn it into an even stronger, burning desire to compete and win. I don’t think he’s giving up yet. Wimbledon will definitely be the tournament to watch for him.

Watching tennis inspires me again and again to fight my discouragement. I fought for years with my weight. About 2 1/2 years ago, I started to win the battle and lost 85 pounds! It felt so good. Now, the pounds are creeping back and discouragement is settling in. It would be so easy to have the attitude of giving up and belief that I will never beat this.

That may be true. I’ll be fighting my weight for the rest of my life. However, knowing I have achieved success makes me hungry to achieve that success again. And that takes hard work. Roger Federer is the great tennis player he is from hard work. And like Roger, I need to go back to the “practice court.” Sometimes you have to start with the basics and build back up again.

I need to start with what’s in my diet that’s sabotaging me. I need to get back to my strong exercise routine. We’ll see if I ever equal that 85 pound weight loss again. But I know I need to fight back. I feel stronger, more energized when I know I’m doing the right things. Whether I lose another pound or not, I’m going to fight this discouragement, one day at a time.

Roger will fight his discouragement one practice, one tournament at a time.

So, if you’ve fallen away from the goals you set for the new year, today’s the day to take a step, pick up your racquet and step back on the practice court.

Fight against the discouragement. You might be surprised how far you’ll go.