Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Joy Dare ~ January 16 - 31

January 16 ~ 3 Witnessed Blessings
  • Last night I was able to start going to my support group again at Gilda's Club.  What a wonderful night it was! We had three more women join us who needed support as much as we did.  What a blessing from God to be able to connect with people face to face who are dealing with the same disease  I am.
  • Yesterday I also witnessed the blessing of my family once again as we sat around the dinner table.  I know I've been thankful for this before, but these times are so precious to me.  The laughter and conversation are things I will always treasure.
  • This last one is years in the making.  Facebook has been a wonderful blessing in my life because of all the people I have been able to reconnect with and also stay in touch with them.  Some of my greatest blessings on there are the students I taught and how so many of them have the Lord in their life. 
January 17~ A Gift Bringing Laughter, Prayer, Quiet
  • I just had a conversation with my oncology nurse.  Normally you wouldn't think that something like that would bring laughter, especially since it had nothing to do with my treatment.  But when you've had a relationship with someone for four years, even though it's on a clinical basis, they really do become your friend.  I laughed, really in awe, because I found out that I'm somewhat of a celebrity at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.  My oncologist has been using my story to show the success of what has been working so well for me.  I was in a newsletter, which I knew about, but I also found out that she's been sharing my story at different conferences.  My nurse jokingly said that I hope no one stops you on the street because I might feel like Kim Kardashian or something. Thank you God for the amazing staff you have provided for me!
  • Most mornings I get up at least an hour before my children do so I can spend some quiet time in devotion and Bible reading.  I treasure that time of quiet before the busy day starts.  It helps me keep my focus on God throughout the day.
  • My prayer life has definitely been leading me to keep trusting God.  Each oncology visit always brings some anxiety.  Is the treatment still working?  What if I have to go back on chemo?  Am I having a side effect from the drug or am I just getting older?  Learning to trust God once again is something I need to pray for every day.
 (I have gotten behind not because I have forgotten to do this, but because I haven't had the time to sit and blog.  The 18th through the 21 were written in one day.)

January 18 ~  Three Gifts from God's Word
Proverbs 3:5-6 

January 19 ~ Three Gifts that Might Never Have Been
  • My daughter might never have been born.  You see, we lost our first child to a miscarriage at 12 weeks.  We were devastated.  But one month after we lost our first daughter, God blessed us by letting us conceive another.  Now we have one daughter at home in Heaven, and one daughter here with us. 
  • When I look at my family, I realize they might never have been here.  I was not enthralled with my husband when I first met him.  I was dating someone else and he just kept hanging around.  We did have some of the same friends and we got together, but he was shorter than me and I just didn't want anything to do with him.  But God knew better.  There were some hard circumstances in my life and he was there when no one else could be.  4 months after we started dating we got engaged.  1 year and 8 days after we started dating we were married.  2 years to the day we started dating we had our first child.  Once again, God knew what He was doing.
  • When I look back to last year at this time, things were going down hill fast as far as my health went.  By this time last year I had already been admitted to the hospital once, and had no idea I would need an ambulance ride for another one.  Now, because of a small miracle, God made sure all the right things were in place for me to get a PARP inhibitor to give me and my family a more normal life again.  To God be the Glory!
  January 20 ~ Three Gifts Only Seen Close Up
  • Snowflakes amaze me because each one is different.  They also amaze me when I realize that they are created by a frozen microscopic droplet of water, and then because of weather conditions they make these amazing shapes as they fall through the atmosphere.  What beauty in such a small package.   
  • This is a magnified sample of sand from the Gobi Desert.  When you realize that soft, warm substance you love to walk in on the beach is actually crushed rocks, it's amazing to think how God works.  And when you have a chance to look at this closely, you see how beautiful it really is.
  • One of the most peaceful things I love to look at is a sleeping baby.  But I don't think you can truly realize how peaceful a sleeping baby can be until you look at one closely in your arms.  They are beyond content, trusting that they will wake and someone will be there to care for them.  The sleep is not restless or fitful, but truly renewing.  Sleep in Heavenly Peace!
January 21 ~ A Gift in Sky, in Water, in Memory

  • Being from the Pacific Northwest, we get to see quite a few rainbows, especially in the spring.  We regularly get them above our home.  They are always a wonderful reminder of how our God is watching over us and protecting us, and also it reminds us that He will never break a promise He has made.
  • My water gift is an odd one because it's our cat's paw.  We have a funny cat, Izzy.  He is truly a scaredy cat, jumping at the slightest noise.  One thing he does that always amuses our guests is to drink out of his water bowl with his paw.  He will only drink if he sticks his paw in the water and laps it off of his paw.  He will never put his face in the bowl.  Is he too scared to get his face wet?  Knowing this cat, he probably is.

  • My Mom, or Grandma Judy, died from ovarian cancer 10 years ago.  These were the only grandchildren she got to know -- 4 out of the 18 that are here.  She gets to be with two of them in Heaven.  When I think back to all the love she showed her grandchildren, it makes me smile.  It also makes me smile when I remember how she kept bugging us to get married so she could have grandchildren.  And then she got four in three years.  She could never get enough of her grandchildren, and I will be forever grateful that my daughter had a chance to know her.  We can't wait to see you again!

January 22 ~ A Gift Wrinkled, Smoothed, Unfolded

  •   When I think of something wrinkled, I think of my mom and grandmother's hands.  They were wrinkled but beautiful.  Their hands worked tirelessly in the kitchen, in mending and in cleaning.  But they were also great for hugs.  But I know the thing I loved most about those hands is that they turned the pages of their Bibles, and they folded them in prayer.  To their last hour they knew they were in God's hands.  Now their hands, whether they are wrinkled or smooth, are praising their Father in Heaven.

  • I remember taking out my wedding dress on the day of my wedding and smoothing the front before I saw my husband that day.  That was such an exciting day, seeing each other in our wedding attire for the first time.  We had no idea that our lives were going to be so bumpy, so wrinkled with trials.  But just like my dress, God has smoothed out our paths when we stumble.  He is just bringing us closer to Him.

  • Letters for the most part are a thing of the past.  We have gone to emails, instant messages, texts and video chat.  But there was always something about unfolding a letter or a note that brought excitement.  You never knew what was going to be said or what you were going to learn.  Most of the time the news was wonderful.  Last year during my hard months I received an actual letter, written over a week, from one of my daughter's grade school teachers.  I think I re-read that letter at least 10 times because it was such a foreign concept to receive one.  What a wonderful blessing from God!
January 19 ~ Three Gifts Found in Christ
How in the world could you only find three gifts today?  I could write an entire book on the gifts found in Christ, and I'm sure some people have.  My first thought went to one of my favorite songs that has become an Easter favorite, In Christ Alone.  If you've never heard this song before, please click on the link to listen to and see an amazing video based on the song.

So to complete my Joy Dare today, I'm going to use the first verse of the song and link them to Bible passages that show just how much Christ has given us.

  • In Christ alone my hope is found  ~ 1 Peter 1:3-4  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you

  • He is my light, ~ John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
  • my strength ~ Philippians 4:13 ~ I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

  • my song ~ Colossians 3:16 ~ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
  • This Cornerstone, this solid ground ~ Psalm 95:1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
        let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

  • Firm through the fiercest drought and storm ~ Psalm 46:1-3        
God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging
  • What heights of love, ~ John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  •  what depths of peace ~ Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
  • When fears are stilled, when strivings cease Isaiah 41:10   So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand                                                   

  • My Comforter, ~ John 14: 1-3 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
  •  my All in All ~ Ephesians 3: 20-21  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
  • Here in the love of Christ I stand ~ Ephesians 3: 17b - 19 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Oh boy, am I behind again.  But I think I have a better excuse this time : the icky norovirus.   Finally feeling somewhat normal after 3 days.  I did have things written down through the 27th.  So here goes my thankfulness....

January 24 ~ Three things blue
  • My daughter's eyes.  From the moment she was born she had her eyes wide open ( no that is not an exaggeration) and they were very blue.  She could not stop looking around.  Today I love looking in her eyes and seeing those beautiful blues filled with compassion for others and full of God's love.
  • When my boys were young they used to love yogurt.  We would set them up in their highchairs and they would devour their yogurt.  Many people have pictures of that first birthday cake, well we have pictures of yogurt boys.  Blue yogurt was their favorite, and they have it all over their faces and in their hair to prove it.
  • We had blue sky today, just a peek, after being in an inversion that left our area very cold and foggy.  It was so strange to have the mountains and the coast with warmer temperatures that we had.  But with that peek of blue sky today, it was a reminder of God's unending love. 
 January 25 ~ A Grace Borrowed, Found, Inherited
  • We have been the fortunate recipients of musical instruments.  Between my three children we have piano, flute, trumpet and trombone playing in our house.  Some days it's crazy, but most days it's wonderful, especially as they are all starting to play for chapel.  We couldn't have afforded these instruments outright.  But we were able to borrow all of them.  Some have turned into permanent fixtures in our home, and we are grateful for all of them.
  • I think some of my best graces that I have found have been in my friends.  Many have been found "by accident."  I think back to the time I met my closest friend in college.  I had locked myself out of my room and that was the first time we really met.  I'm so glad she looked over my not so wonderful language at the time and looked at what I was really like.  Not a day goes by that I don't wish we lived closer, and I also know she will be there whenever I need her.
  • My favorite inherited gift has to be my love for music.  I know I've mentioned it before, but I can look back at all the times we sang as a family, practiced our many instruments(which we often hated) and the times we made beautiful music together and be thankful.  I'm so glad I get to pass that on to my children who each in their own way have a love for some type of music.  May they use that love to serve God in some way.
January 26 ~ A Gift Before Dawn, At Noon, After Dark
  • I was actually up early this morning, which I wasn't happy about at the time.  But then I had the quiet time I needed to get ready for my day.  I had a chance to sit and study God's Word, have some prayer time and a little quiet time before the chaos of the day started.  We might not always agree with what God gives us, but we can always see that what He gives is what is best for us.
  • At noon I was actually together with my family.  Considering we are in the midst of basketball season and we had to get to a game that evening, I treasured that time.  Yes it was a little stressful because we were working on some big school projects that were coming up, but we were together.
  • I know I don't always show my husband how much I appreciate all he does.  But he was a wonderful support today.  Once we got home after a long day of projects and basketball games, he jumped right in to help get the kids focused for bed, and then he rubbed my aching legs.  He was also very patient with me because I was having a few anxious moments due to some medication I was on.  I love you, Paul!  I'm sorry I never show you enough.
January 27 ~ Three Gifts in the Kitchen
  • About three years ago I got my first Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  We never had one growing up so I never understood it's usefulness. Since I have been feeling better we actually put it out on the counter so I could have it more easily accessible.  It was one of the best moves and purchases we made.  I love using it at least once a week to make things for my family.   
  • I love my kitchen table.  We looked for one for three years before we were able to find one we liked.  It is an old country style table and chairs that is solid and won't fall apart.  It can expand when we have guests over.  This year we hosted Thanksgiving at our house.  It was one of the best dinners we have ever had because of the people that surrounded our table.  I can also think back to the many times we've played games with friends and family, had meals, or just sat around and talked.  I remember the times that friends came over and brought meals during my early years with the twins and then while I was on chemo.  If that table could talk, it would have so many ways to shout out the praises of what God is doing through His people.
  • We have a full pantry.  Sometimes it's a bit overflowing because I can be a coupon nut and stockpile some things when I can, but it's always full with foods we can eat.  May we never take for granted the food God has given us, and may we never have to go without.
January 28 ~ Three Graces Found in Friends
I've learned over the last three years how important friends can be.  Yes they are the ones who make you laugh and listen to your complaints, but they are so much more.  Here are just a few things friends have done for me over the past three years.
  • Become an amazing group of prayer warriors
  • Brought meals
  • Called
  • Texted
  • Sent cards
  • Sent gifts
  • Sent flowers
  • Cleaned my house
  • Taken me to chemo appointments
  • Watched my children when I was in the hospital
  • Taken my children to and from sporting events
  • Fixed our window screens
  • Weeded our yard
  • Mowed our lawn
  • Sent us on amazing trips 
  • Gave my children extreme room makeovers
  I look at these things and it brings me to tears.  These people did this not for anything in return, but because of their love for their Savior.  

January 29 ~ A Song Heard, A Soft Word, Light Seen
  • One of the songs that still reaches me today is called Finally Home by Mercy Me.  I heard this a few years after my mom went home to Heaven.  It reminded me once again of what I have to look forward to when I get Home.
  • I was sicker than a dog today with the flu.  My daughter was home with me because she had it as well.  My poor boys had to stay away from me and constantly wash their hands in hopes that they wouldn't get it.  (So far, so good.)  But when one spoke softly that he just wanted to give me a hug, it broke my heart.  I promised him he could hug me all he wanted when I got better.
  • The light at the end of the tunnel was seen for my daughter when she was able to eat dinner.  That showed me that my light would be coming soon since I was a day behind her in my sickness.  And it also reminded me that even with my cancer, I can get through a flu bug without having to go to the hospital.  God is so good!
January 30 ~ Three Old Things Seen New
  • Every day the Scripture brings something new.  Every time you read it something will speak to you.  Some days things will jump out at you.  The one I remember most recently at really jumping out at me was this verse from John 21:25. " Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written"  I had never thought about that before.  We hear of so many miracles he did that I never thought about the ones He did that we didn't know about.  It's just another reason I can't wait to finally meet Him face to face.
  • I have some old pictures that were in my grandparents house.  I remember them on the dining room wall.  They bring such good memories because we would sit around that table for meal but also for playing many games.  Now they are in my house, in my kitchen.  While the new place makes them look a little different, I hope the memories that my children have of those pictures will be just as lovely. 

  • I also have an old cabbage cutting board that once belonged to my great grandmother.  It was in my parents home, and now it is in mine.  Once again it brings up memories of loving, fun times.  What was once used as a tool for dinner is now one that creates memories of times around the dinner table. 
January 31 ~ A Gift on Paper, in a Person, in a Picture
  • My mom went home to Heaven over 10 years ago.  It has gotten harder to remember her voice, her laugh and her touch.  But one thing I will be forever grateful for is having a few things that she wrote.  One is a letter she wrote to my daughter when she was not even three.  My daughter still treasures that letter.  Another thing I have is the Bible passages she wrote down on note cards when  she was battling ovarian cancer.  There have been so many times where I have looked at them and gotten strength in their words.  She used those for comfort, and I am now able to use them as well.  One day they will get passed down to my daughter as another tangible way of how much God loves us.
  • How can I just pick one person that has shown me so much love?  I have too many friends who have helped me in person, through prayer, or online that I can't pick just one.  Just know that you are always going to be lifted up in prayers of thankfulness for the things you have done.  Even if you think it was just small, it was big.
  • When we found out the cancer came back after only three months of remission, people rallied around us with help and with gifts.  Some of those were pictures.  Once again when I was struggling last year more gifts came.  One that has become a focal point of our home is this picture based on Isaiah 49:15-16
         Knowing that God has us engraved on the palms of His hand reminds us every day that He is 
          really looking out for our best interests.  He will never, ever forget us or the promises He made
         to us.  That is the best comfort anyone can have in any circumstance.

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