Monday, December 30, 2013

I'm all confused about the days...

I missed Thankful Thursday last week. By the time I realized it, it was already the weekend. And now this week is all mixed up as well. One thing I am not confused about is that this year is almost over. This crazy, challenging, fearful, joyful, wonder-filled, terrible, horrible, beautiful, bountiful year is almost behind me.

I have spent many hours in the past couple of weeks looking back at this year,
looking forward to next year,
looking inward at my heart and soul,
looking outward at my family, friends, church, and world,
looking down at my much-altered body,
and looking up at my chopped hair.
There is a lot to look at, look over, and look through as the year ticks down to its end.
2013 has been the best and the worst year of my life.

I remain overwhelmed with gratitude for all that has been, even the bad stuff. When I think about how bad it could have been, how much worse, I am grateful for the journey I've been on, as terrible as it has been.

I am grateful for the friends who sat with me during chemo and herceptin treatments.
I am grateful for the friends who drove me back and forth to appointments.
I am grateful for the meals that were provided for us.
I am grateful for the cards and letters, the calls and texts.
I am grateful for the friends who flew here to visit me, who drove many hours to come visit.
I am grateful for the doctors and nurses, therapists and technicians who worked tirelessly to get me through this illness.
I am grateful for the poetry and blog posts and sketches that were composed and created on my behalf.
I am grateful for the friends who have laughed with me and cried with me.
I am grateful for those who have prayed for me and lit candles for me.
I am grateful for the neighbors who checked in with me regularly, brought me banana bread and cookies, and homegrown tomatoes and the biggest carrot cake I've ever seen.
I am grateful for the church family that welcomed me back with open arms when I was able to return after my treatments were finished.
I am grateful for the ways in which that same church family has supported my family through this year.
I am grateful that I haven't dealt with the worst side effects of chemo, herceptin, or tamoxifen.
I am grateful that I don't have an odd-shaped head, so my short hair doesn't look ridiculous.
I am grateful that I never had large breasts, so my flat chest doesn't look ridiculous either.
I am grateful for how great I feel these days, for the strength to exercise fully, for the desire to live fully, and for the expectation that this full life will continue for many years to come.
I am grateful for the love that continues to flow in my direction even now.
I am grateful for the many lessons I have learned through this terrible ordeal.
I am grateful that after only a few months, when I look back, the worst memories are already fading.
I am grateful that I kept a journal and a calendar this year.
I am grateful that one of the first things I realized at the beginning of this terrible year is that this experience was not just for me. This story was not for me alone.
I am grateful for every opportunity I have had and will have to talk about it, to share my experiences, to answer people's questions, to be able to encourage others who are walking through valleys and shadows of their own.

I am grateful too for what was lost.
I lost a few body parts.
I lost my hair.
I lost a few friends who didn't want to walk this journey with me.
I lost most of my vanity.
I lost my fear of death.
I lost most of my worries.
I lost my desire to please everybody else.
I lost my willingness to suffer in silence.
I lost a lot of my fear of speaking the truth about how I feel.
I lost my desire to live like other people live.
I lost much of my tendency to stand in judgment of others.
I lost a whole lot of doubt about the goodness of God.
I lost my desire to try to prove anything to anybody else - especially with regards to my faith.

I am grateful for what has been found too.
I found my way back and forth to Spain, to Wilmington, NC, to St Petersburg, Florida.
I found my way through chemo and surgery.
I found a new way to eat, drink, and take care of my health.
I found a church that welcomes the voices of women and men in equal measure.
I found a community of senior adults that welcomes me openly and wants me to visit them regularly.
I found a new level of awareness and alertness in my life.
I found a new appreciation for life and health.
I found out how much I am loved.
I found new ways to save money.
I found new ways to spend money.
I found new pens that I love.
I found new recipes that we all enjoy.
I found a vegan cooking service that delivers food locally.
I found out how strong I am.
I found out how weak I am.
I found out that it is possible to find a reason to be grateful in almost every situation.
I found out how good God is and also that God has a pretty amazing sense of timing and humor.

I am still confused about the days this week. Hence, even though today isn't Thursday, it is a day of gratitude, a day to give thanks, a day to look back, look forward, look in, look out, look down, and most of all, today is a day to look up and say, "Thanks be to God."

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