Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Definitely not Twenty Years Old any More

                                      How much water passes with each year that goes by?

*Note to self* Self, you are not twenty years old any more, remember that please.
I say that because I still do, make that, attempt to do, things that I could do then. I recently celebrated my fifty-eighth birthday, the days of doing some of that twenty something stuff is gone. But I do tend to forget that, which is why I am currently in pain. We were given several loads of firewood recently. I had told my son that I would get the smaller pieces out of the back of the truck and leave the bigger ones for him. Me however, decided that I could handle some of the larger chunks and was lifting and tossing them out of the bed of the truck. I didn't have any problems until later when my arm and shoulder began complaining loudly. Now I'm doing my best to carefully ignore it and hoping it will heal quickly, as the pain is making parts of my job difficult to handle.
 I really don't mind getting older. I feel much more sure of myself and happy with who I am. I'm disappointed in the fact that I haven't realized my dreams and goals but that is my own fault. I'm still more comfortable than I ever was as a teen. There is also the fact that as long as I am breathing and above ground that there is always the chance to see things realized.
 I have gone through and survived bad relationship stuff that I never thought I would have to deal with, and hope to never have to deal with it again. I know that because of what I learned then, I am stronger now. I also know better how to recognize that hidden pain in others and let them know that there are those who have gone through their struggles and understand. That one does not have to stay in a bad/dangerous situation.
 I have dealt with health issues, such as the cancer, that I never paid a great deal of attention to until it was me that was facing it. With the grace of God I came through it all better than before because again, now I have walked that road and understand. After the fight was finished for me, I learned how to eat better and how to take care of myself better so as to try and prevent the return of cancer or any other health issues.
 I have dealt with issues from the schools over my son and we have both came out stronger and better.
There are things that I have not faced yet, but know are coming sooner or later, but I will cross those bridges when I get to them.
At one time, I wasn't sure that I would ever live to see this day, to reach the age I am now much less see that milestone ahead of me approaching at lightening speed. But thinking now, it really doesn't bother me. I'm living in a place I love, able to walk my past to a degree, remember the things that we did as kids and laugh a bit, wondering how we managed to do some of those things without serious injury. I can hike in the woods, play in the creek, sit on the hillside and watch the leaves sway in the breeze. I can chase butterfly, bees and dragonfly with my camera and take photos of the same flowers over and over from different angles in different light and feel like a true artist.
When I was twenty, I never thought of how I would feel at  thirty-eight much less fifty-eight. If I could look back at myself then I'd tell myself, take heart... the best is yet to come.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Time Stamp Reminders

I have a dear friend, who I have never met. I have not met them in person, face to face, but I have known them through social media for quite a while. She is a survivor, she is a fighter, she is wise, witty and wonderful. Through her friendship I have learned much and adapted something that she does to suit me.
Many times she would post a photo of the time where it was something like 1:11 or 2:22. These photos would have the tag line, "make a wish". That is the part I changed. I went from 'make a wish' to offer a prayer. If at any point in the day, no matter where I may be or what I may be doing, if I happen to look at my watch and see the time is such as the aforementioned, I whisper a quick prayer. Over half of the time,  it is for the safety of my husband or son, but often it is one of thanks.
Thanks for the blessings, thanks for the mercy, grace, love, salvation. Thanks for the gifts, the hope, the peace. Thanks for understanding of things going on around us, and compassion enough to care and the desire to do something about it.
 My thoughts, (and questions) are this, for those who believe, how often do you pray? How close is your relationship that you spend time in prayer? How often do you converse with the Lord? Do you pray only at certain times of day? Do you have an ongoing conversation thought out the day? Are there any certain triggers that cause you to pause in what you are doing and offer a quick prayer? Do you believe that you should close your eyes every time you pray? Or does that matter in the day to day activities? Do you receive feelings of peace from those prayers?
 For me, there is always something special and calming knowing that I can pray at any time. Knowing that I am being heard, knowing that I am not alone even during the worst of my storms brings peace.  For me, often prayer is a conversation, I can go to my Lord with my worries, fears, concerns and problems. I can give the storms to Him and allow Him to be my shelter.
All reminders thanks to a friend and time stamps.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Second Growth

Here in this part of North Carolina it has been a hot and dry summer. My garden, as I'm sure the gardens of others were as well, was suffering because of it. I had gone down to check on it only to see a lot of yellowing, wilted plants that I worried were not going to last much longer. I had tried to keep it watered but with the garden being on my parent's property and having to use their well, I had to be careful. My aging dad was worried about his well going dry, so it was just the barest of watering. I tried giving it extra fertilizer but without water, it was not much, if any, help. I had planted green beans that never came up, and okra that only grew half a foot tall and stopped. All for the lack of what they needed.
 Then we received the answer to a prayer, it rained. The first day was a real gulley washer of a downpour. My front yard that slopes downhill looked like a lake because it was raining so hard the water couldn't run off fast enough. After the downpour ended we got some residual rain that helped. The next day we got a couple of really good showers, heavy, but not so heavy that top soil moved. I drove home during one, smiling the entire way. Getting caught in construction traffic didn't even bother me like it otherwise would have. It was raining.
 Once the rain ended I picked up my bucket and knife and walked down to check the garden. In just a short two days my garden had returned to life. What had been yellow and wilted was not standing tall and returning to green. Plants were covered in blossoms and the beginnings of more produce. My tomatoes were perkier and heavy with those beloved summer fruits..
As I began to see what was available for harvest my mother walked down to see for herself. Her first words were "second growth, its taken its second growth." I couldn't help but agree and I couldn't have been any happier. While I would have loved for the other things to have grown, what I was getting was the best ever and I was thankful.
 As my mother left to go back inside I considered her "second growth" comment. There was another way to see the results of second growth.
 Every one of us are born into a sinful nature and are sinners. No matter how good we try to be, we still sin. There are no minor sins or worse than that sins, sin is sin and its all bad.
 As sinners, we are like that garden without rain. We are planted (born) and we begin to grow. Life is a our garden, and it is up to us as to whether we will produce. When we hear the whispers of the Holy Spirit and give our life to Jesus, we begin a saved life. When this first happens we act in our joy, sharing, working, worshiping without hesitation. 
But if we neglect our calling, even though we never lose it, we suffer. We grow weak, weary and wilted. We produce very little in the way of glorifying God. Without the feeding of our faith through fellowship with other believers we grow weak. Without feeding our knowledge by reading the Word, we wilt. Without spending time in communion with God, we grow weary and are more susceptible to the ills of the world. 
We are tempted and lead away into the world, not hearing the voice of God speaking to us, His Spirit calling to us. The insects of sin bite at our produce, bruising and causing rot. The heat of sin bearing down on us, weakens us leaving us more available to worldly ways. While Christ our Savior never leaves us, while God never abandons us, because of the gift of free will, we are allowed to wander. We are allowed to make our own choices. We become a mere shell of what we were or what we could be..

 But let the rain of reasoning, the showers of His blessings fall upon us and we too have that 'second growth'. When we take those quiet moments to listen for His voice, we strengthen. When we join with others, when we sing songs of worship and praise, our lives change for the better. We stand strong in our faith, we share, we produce good things for the Kingdom of God. When we feed our soul with His Word, we learn, we grow, we better understand, and we celebrate. Our joy returns. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Variations of Giving

There are many ways of giving. There are the usual, such as birthdays, weddings, graduation, Christmas to name a few. Those ordinarily  are physical, material gifts. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But lets set that aside for the moment and talk about another form of giving. Lets discuss giving in a way that doesn't expect anything in return.

 There is an individual whose home is in need of repairs. Due to circumstances beyond their control they are unable to afford those repairs. Someone steps in and corrects everything that is in need of being repaired.

 There is a family who has fallen on hard times. They have children who will be starting school and are in need of supplies and clothing. Someone steps in and provides for this need. They also throw in a few groceries while they're at it.

 A shelter for battered women needs a helping hand. Donations need to be sorted and stored. Carpentry work is needed to optimize the space. Someone steps in and a need is met.

Residents of a homeless shelter are in need. Someone steps in. Food is provided, articles for hygiene are provided as well as some clothing.

Students are going to school hungry, with holes in their shoes, without a jacket. Students are homeless but still trying. Someone steps in and needs are met.

All of the above are examples of needs that can be met with physical actions of material things. There are other types..

A person is lonely and simply needs the company of a friend.
A person is asking for others to pray for them.
Someone is in danger and needs protection.
Someone is trapped and needs rescue.
A child is having trouble getting to sleep and would like to be read a story.
A country needs protecting or defending.

And then, there is the ultimate gift
  Someone knew, that only one thing could save humanity. One who loved and loves beyond all things. Who willingly died for all. Who forgives and forgets. Who accepts all who come to Him.

Gifts come in many forms. The most precious gifts, are the ones given in and with love.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Its what you put in that counts

At the time of this writing, 7:51 pm. it is still 93 degrees outside. In the kitchen, simmering on the stove is a huge pot of chili. This has always been my -when I don't feel like going to a lot of trouble or even really cooking- meal. Tonight though, even though I was tired when I began, I got into it. I think just about everything I had in the kitchen went into that pot of chili. After browning the ninety percent lean hamburger meat I began adding ingredients. I added chipotle seasoning, chopped onion, a can of seasoned beans, a huge bowl of white beans that my mother had prepared today ( from dried beans, not from a can), a can of black beans, drained, a can of fire roasted salsa style  tomatoes, canned mushrooms (because I had forgotten I had fresh in the fridge), various bell peppers from the garden, two small hot peppers from the garden cut up very small, and several  tomatoes from the garden, cut into chunks. Waiting off to the side is most of a cake of cornbread made by mom.
 When I'm into making chili.... I'm into making chili, usually when I go all out like this, the chili is especially good.
But when you think about it, isn't that the way it is, or at least should be, with everything we do? Is it not true, that we get out of something, what we put into it?
    Friendships..if we remember our friends, letting them know, even when there isn't a special reason that we're around and thinking of them, won't they appreciate that more? If we are there to lend a helping hand when needed or word of encouragement, a shoulder to cry on if needed, bring a special desert by for no reason other than to say, hello friend. There may even be a time when all you need do is sit there on the porch and watch the cars go by. Time and ingredients put in, that make a friendship stronger and better.           
      Work...When one shows up on time, every day and puts in their best effort, making as sure as possible that they have done their job correctly, creating the best quality possible, it creates the greater possibility that work will not only last but increase. When one does their best to get along with their coworkers and management, working as teams and not adversaries, the work day goes better, even when outside forces work against that happening.
         School.... for those who are in school, (no matter what level) when you put forth your best effort, listening to the instructor, taking notes and actually studying, your resulting grades reflect that. When you accept each other as is and don't waste time creating needless drama, more is accomplished and everyone is able to grown and learn without difficulties.
        Families...........no one knows you better than family. But even with family one has to make sure that they stay involved in the lives of loved ones. Whether they are across the street, across town or across country. Call them, wander over and pay a visit, spend time, even if its only a few moments here and there..just make sure they know you appreciate and love them. Older relatives or those with health issues may need assistance doing things, do them with gladness that you still have them in your life to assist. Talk to them, listen to their responses. It will make a big difference.

        Fellowship............Many have said that they do not need to attend a church service to believe or worship. One of the purposes of church services is so that like minded people with the same purpose of heart can gather and spend time with one another, strengthening and building up, encouraging each other as they face the day to day.  If one is a member of a church but never attends, all they have is their name on a roll book somewhere. There is more to fellowship than sitting in a pew listening to a sermon and singing a few songs. There's more to it than tossing a few dollars into a collection plate, even though that is a part, it isn't the main part.
       Fellowship  with like minded people, helps one grow stronger in their walk, because they know they are not alone. It helps them to learn as each shares their thoughts. It helps when you know that others  are thinking of and praying for you in times of stress or distress. They know when another is in need and go out of their way to fill that need. Yes, songs are sung, but while one voice sounds sweet,  a room full of voices joined together sounds so much sweeter.
      Mission Field...that wide open place where so many don't know or don't understand your beliefs and usually if they have any ideas, get it wrong. It is saying, I believe in the Virgin birth, I believe in His ministry, I believe He died for me, but rose again, is alive and is coming back one day. it is where one or a group goes out and helps to build a handicap ramp, repair a roof, rake a yard, feed the hungry or offer to pray for another. It is saying, this is what I believe, I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in a certain way to act, but I won't judge you if you chose to believe otherwise, I will love you anyway. It is saying, I believe in the power of faith, in the healing properties of trust, faith and hope, I believe in taking care of others.
  If you put in love, compassion, honesty, encouragement, a ready helping hand, kindness, if you put in the good ingredients, the results will be so much better. No matter what it is you are doing.
 And by the way..... the chili is delicious.    

Monday, August 3, 2015

Just a Building

Alexis Baptist
Its a beautiful building, sitting there sheltered and shaded among the big Oaks. They frame the entrance way, a down home welcome. Still, it is only a building they guard.
It is only a building, made of brick and mortar. Built just a ways off the main route between Stanley and Lincolnton North Carolina. There are two ways in to the parking area. One off the main road and one that was once a dirt road now paved that connects the parking area to yet another roadway.
It is a building, well maintained and cared for. Everything has a place, and there are places for everything. The staff takes their responsibilities seriously. It is requested that there be no food or drinks in the sanctuary, and anyone in the classrooms to make sure they clean up behind themselves should they have food in the room.
The pews are comfortable, and the carpeting a soothing shade. The stained glass windows creating the perfect moments of reverence and color.
It is still, just a building.
There are classrooms for every age. The ages and their needs are taken into consideration as to where their classrooms are. Some of the members have problems with stairs, others need windows, most just need somewhere to sit and a good teacher to lead them.
The grounds are well kept, no fallen limbs or other debris litter the area. Hand rails are everywhere that they may be needed to prevent falls. Still, it is only a building.
Even as this building has special extra buildings around it. The hut directly behind it, another space for classes or small events. The family life center up on the hill where the youth meet as well as special events are held.
Still...... this is not the church.
The church, is the members, the people, young, not quite as young and no longer young who gather there.
The church, are those who open their heart to those in need. Who give what they can or seek out what is needed if they don't have it. They take care of others, they build or clean, clothe, or feed those in need. Who go out on missions across town, across the state, across the country or across the world.  They build homes, clean yards or dig potatoes.
The church, are those who follow their faith, follow the teaching, follow their heart to do what faith instructs. To live in the right manner, to speak, to listen, to love as Jesus instructed. As Jesus did.
 The church are those who love, but do not judge. Knowing that loving the sinner  is not accepting the sin. Knowing, that others will not listen to one who is too busy casting judgement and hate, instead of acting in compassion and love.
 The church, are those who live, act, speak in faith every day. Who are not afraid to speak of their belief, without arrogance but in humility. They know where they were, they know how far they have come, they know Whose grace it is that has saved and forgiven them. They know, that they still struggle and stumble, and yet they know they are forgiven, when they ask and turn away from the sins they have committed.
The church, is not a building. A building, no matter how nice and well maintained, cannot bring one to salvation and a relationship with the Lord. A building is just that, a building. It is the people, the heart, the hope, the faith and the love they share. Those are the church.
Those are the church, that I have found, within the walls of a building. Those are the church who have accepted me, befriended me, taken care of me and my family and who have loved me, for who I am.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Wishes, Dreams and Resignation of the heart

Today, like for so many others, was my first day back at work after the Independence Day holiday. We had a week off. I'll be honest, I am glad to have a job, but there are times, I wish things were different.
When the alarm went off this morning I hit the snooze button, three times. I got away with that because I set the alarm to get me up two hours before I need to be up. I finally forced myself from the bed and into get ready mode. I went ahead this morning and got ready even down to packing my lunch rather than wait to the last minute which is my usual habit. I left the house early enough that I could take my time. I was in no hurry to go back.

 When I finally walked in the door of the plant it was almost a complete sensory overload. The smells were suffocating. I could smell the oils and other lubricants that are meant to keep the machines running smoothly. I smelled the different raw materials located around the area I walked. The smells of wool, cotton, acrylics and plastics all mingling together to the point of being over powering. The myriad of colors staged along the way should have been beautiful in my eyes like they usually are, but they weren't, not today.

 As I crossed the building to the department I work in my desires were to be anywhere but there. I did not want to be trapped inside those brick walls. I wanted to be outside, I wanted to be walking the trails around the lake, up and around Spencer Mountain or following a green way somewhere. I wanted the smells that I was experiencing to be the fresh earth, the vegetables from my garden, the flowers in my front yard, the woods behind my house.. anything but this.

I knew soon the machines would be started back up and the building would be filled with the sounds of many motors and other working parts. As one who works there, I know that is supposed to be a good sound. As someone who was wanting to be elsewhere, what I wanted to hear was not n the building but outside. I wanted to hear the bull frogs, the tree frogs and the crickets. I wanted to hear the various birds calling through the trees. I wanted to hear and to feel the wind blowing. I wanted to hear the water in the creek splashing over the rocks.

 I saw the colors of the materials, glow in the dark bright, but not what I wanted to see today. I wanted to see the green of my garden, spotted with the colors of vegetables ripening. I wanted to see the many flowers, planted and wild growing in my yard and surrounding area. I wanted to see the blue sky and the yellow of the flowers blooming where the pond water should be.
When the machines start I'll be helping get everything running as it should be. After a week down there will be machines that want to be cantankerous and not start easily. How I wished that I had other talents, that my photography was better and not so amateurish. That it was worthy of being published and that an agent would discover my abilities. In the photography or writing. How much desire is within my heart that my words were better, that they stirred more to action, to think, to feel. That some how I could find the strength, the belief, the way to make dreams happen.

Instead, responsible employee that I am, I took a deep breath, put away the wishes that things were different and went to work. The machines started, all but the two that decided that eight in the morning was too early to begin. Everyone went back to work, few complaints were made, resignation, its a sad state to be..

Monday, June 8, 2015

This could just be the year

                                           tilled and waiting.............from this.............
    I've been trying for years to plant a garden and have it actually produce a decent harvest. Two years ago I had James till up the area over beside the house and I planted a garden. I had cucumbers out the ears.. but that was one vegetable and one year. I had a few squash and a few cherry tomato but nothing to write home about. Last year- my folks invited and I accepted and I got James to till up a garden down at their place. didn't even come close in cucumbers, but I did get a few squash, bell pepper and okra. I was still so very disappointed. In my mind, I was remembering my grandparent's gardens and the abundance of produce that would be harvested every summer. I knew I'd never come close to that, but I still wanted to produce enough that I thought Grandpa would be proud of me. That I had finally reached gardener status. that I had earned my green thumb.
                                           to this.. yes, I put plastic down to keep weeds down

    My husband is a pessimist. Even though the plants had grown ginormous ( the squash plants are waist high) he didn't believe I would harvest much. I told him that the plants were covered in flowers but his response was that he didn't see anything. I got in trouble when I told him that the veggies weren't going to jump out from under the leaves and holler "BOO!!!! Here we are!" I don't know why he gets upset with me.
                                                       a treasure waits beneath those leaves

    So far I've carried my little blue bucket down to the garden three times, and I've come back with vegetables every time. Tonight was the biggest harvest yet. I have enough squash to freeze or cook or can or take photos of. I've shared with mom and I shared some with a neighbor who was right here to help dad when he brought James back from having his wisdom teeth extracted and still drugged up he fell out of dad's truck. She helped dad get James safely into the house.
    I'm looking at that bucket full of squash, zucchini and bell peppers and thinking "thank you Lord" and believing, that my Grandparents are looking down with a smile, a nod and a green thumbs up.

                                           the can of tomato paste is for scale..

Friday, June 5, 2015


Some know, that I grew up on this dirt road, in this very house. My memories of my youth are as close as right outside my door. While we were not among those that are called privileged, as far as material things, I believe that we were and are privileged in better ways. One of which was and is the freedom to roam the woods on our property and as youth exercise vivid imaginations or as adults find a wonderful stress relief.

 As a youth, I was always too busy playing to notice the flora and fauna of the woods. As an adult who returned to my home, I found myself more home bound and less into the woods. It was a bout with cancer that changed that. And even though that battle was seven years ago, and I am healthy now, the changes in my life that it brought about are still ongoing. I returned to the place of my youth, I returned to the woods and the discoveries there.
 The day the diagnoses was official, the first thing I did after breaking it to family, was to hit my beloved but long neglected, woods. I had walked as dad had built a small pond at the base of the hill, but the walks were mainly to the pond, a few laps around and back to the house.

 The walks now were a bit slower and more attuned to what was around me. I was looking for things that would take my focus off the health issues and onto something better, something beautiful. I was not disappointed as every day there was something new and different to be discovered. One of the amazing things was that, some of the plant life that I found, are only found in one or maybe two areas of the dirt road.

Every day I made different discoveries that brought that needed distraction and smile. Today, years down the road I still walk. Not every day as I did then, the distraction is not as badly needed, but life does tend to get stressful and the woods are the perfect place to find balance and peace. And there are still those things that I find in their one place, that reminds me that we each and all have a place, we each and all have a purpose, Our challenge is to find that place and take root and grow strong.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Have Mercy... Now I Understand

I can't, I simply can not get that sound out of my head.

I have a two year old German Shepherd Dog named Bella. I bring her in at night but she spends the day outside in our fenced yard. We live on a dirt road  in a rural area, our house sits literally in the woods. It is not unusual for us to have visitors in the back yard as it isn't fenced and I do have a tendency to toss leftovers down the hill. Many times I've heard the dogs barking at the sounds they hear telling them the raccoon or opossum have arrived in search of a free meal. Deer have a trail that runs just inside the wood line and goes from the main road all the way down to where it meets the dirt road a good half mile away. We've had visitors come around and sit on the outside of the fence teasing the dogs, knowing they were safe. Today, was a different story.

Around five this morning I fought with my alarm clock trying to get the thing to shut up. Dragging myself out of bed I grabbed my housecoat and made my way around the bed. Bella waited patiently for me to move the gate that insures she will stay in the room and not go into the kitchen and steal the cat's food,again. She beat me to the front door as usual and waited none too patiently for me to open the door. When I finally pushed the storm door open she shot out and into the yard, ready to seize the day. I on the other hand sleepily made my way to the coffee pot. I no sooner had cup in hand when I heard the strangest sound. To the best of my memory I had never heard a sound quite like that before so I moved to investigate.

It was still dark outside and with Bella being black she is almost impossible to see until she starts moving. Which is exactly what she was doing, and she was ever in a hurry. When she suddenly stopped I heard that sound again. It sounded exactly like something screaming. Not caring that I was barefoot and still in my nightgown I shoved the door open and went out onto the porch. Shouting at Bella she looked up which gave the victim a chance to make a run for it. Bella immediately again took chase. I quickly set my coffee cup down on the first flat surface and ran to see exactly what Bella was after. It was a young rabbit. Every time Bella caught up with the rabbit it screamed and I shouted. I knew the neighbors had to be hearing me but I didn't care. I grabbed for Bella, but I missed the first time and she kept after the rabbit. Several times I heard the poor thing scream, in fear, in pain, both probably. It was a horrible sound. I finally managed to grab Bella by her by the collar and get her inside the house. By this time the young rabbit was on the front porch and under a chair. As I went to catch it, the rabbit had moved behind a doghouse that sits on the porch. I pushed the dog house out of the way and gently put my hand on the rabbit. It flinched but didn't move away, it had nowhere to go anyway.

Lifting the rabbit I ever so gently stroked its back. It didn't fight with me, it didn't try to get away. That in itself was not a good sign but I carefully carried it across the yard and over to the edge of the woods. I was still in my night clothes but I didn't care. It was still dark, but even if it wasn't. I had just witnessed something I didn't want to see. I don't care if its nature's order of things. To me, my dog had just been a horrible bully to an innocent creature. I could only hope the rabbit would be okay but I doubted it.

I kept Bella in the house for almost an hour. When I finally let her back outside she went straight to where she last saw the rabbit. When I left for work, I glanced over to where I had placed the rabbit earlier. It had died as I feared it would. There were no external injuries so I don't know if it was due to internal injuries, fear or a little of both. I knew that I would bury it when I got home, because I couldn't do otherwise.

All day long, I heard that rabbit's screams. They can not be described any other way but screams. They were nothing less than the sounds of terror. Real terror, not the overly exaggerated sounds that you hear in the movies or the pseudo fear screams coming from those on some thrill ride at an amusement park. Those were the real thing, that were coming from a being who knew their very life was in danger, who felt the physical pain of being attacked. I heard it repeatedly as my dog chased it, I heard it over and over again during the day, knowing I was hearing the sounds of death. And there was nothing I could do. All day I hoped that those last few minutes were comforting as I gently stroked its back as I carried it from the yard. But I do now understand better, to a very tiny degree, how members of the military can be affected by their service. I can better understand the post traumatic stress brought on by hearing the screams of those who are hurt or dying. Brought on by witnessing the death of others, or causing it. Yes, I watched a rabbit, and those are people, I know there is a big difference. But just as the screams from a rabbit echoed in my head, how much more so most the screams of people echo in theirs.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Changes brought about by cancer

Changes faced..battles fought..battles won

The one thing that I never, ever expected that I would say, is that I am a cancer survivor.  I do not expect special treatment because of having gone through cancer. I do not want, or accept pity as there is no cause or call for it. Each day that passes I see people whose fight is much worse than mine was. I see, I read of or hear about their struggles and I know that I had it easy. But I had it. And because of that, I will never be the same.
   Before cancer, there was an innocence. You know you will have colds, even the flu and in a few days all goes back to normal. You know that you can stump your toe, bump and bruise, or get a splinter and when it is healed, all is normal again. That isn't exactly true with cancer. Not for me anyway. While I don't obsess over cancer, every year when it comes time for that annual mammogram I wonder. That small shiver of 'what if' crawls along my back and settles in that little spot in the back of my mind. You know its there, you know the possibility is there, but you can't let it get a hold and grow.
   Before cancer, I never thought too much about what I was eating. I had cut back on sodium intake - I thought. As far as anything else, there were no restrictions. I love junk food, I crave junk food in ways similar to an addict, because I am addicted to sugar. Guess what I discovered after cancer? That cancer feeds on sugar in all of its forms. My diet went from junk to healthier. No, I don't always eat healthy, but I try to maintain a more healthy diet than I did.  My diet is filled with more fruits and vegetables. I do cook more from scratch than I did before. I have discovered that it really does make a difference.
 Before cancer, my exercise was limited to walking from the chair to the bedroom. I did the household chores and my work is somewhat physical, but it wasn't enough of the right stuff. I will be honest n that I need to work more on this aspect of the changes, but I'm trying. I do, weather and time permitting, walk for an hour. Once the weather gets better I'm taking the dog and doing more hiking on some local trails. I may even actually try to get in the habit of running. I do need to incorporate strength training into the routine.
  Before cancer, I didn't think much about stress levels or how to lower them. Stress was and is, simply a fact of and a part of life. But the truth is, it doesn't have to be. I'm continually learning more and better ways to handle stress. Through the music I listen to, through the hobbies I enjoy, through the hikes behind the house, the list is endless in how one can ease the tension and stress in their life.
  Before cancer, my knowledge was very limited. I knew it was a disease. I knew that people suffered and died from it. But it was, other people, and not me. Since my personal battle with cancer I've learned a great deal. I have learned and I continue to learn.  I have learned I am stronger than I thought. I have learned the pain of losing loved ones to cancer. I have learned that cancer is non-discriminatory and doesn't care about age, race, sex, what you do for a living, whether you are a mother, father, sister, aunt.. I have learned that cancer is a cruel enemy and one that must be fought. It is the only way that we will stop losing people we love. It is the only way that we can put a real end to the suffering that people going through cancer endure.  I have learned how to eat better, exercise better, calm the stress. I have learned, but there are others who have yet to gain a better understanding. We need more and better ways to educate people so they too can be healthier. Without forcing them to change but giving them the understanding that would bring about a desire to change.
 It is my belief that the American Cancer Society is trying to do just that, but they do need funding. That is one of the reasons why I participate in Relay for Life. That is why I invite others to join us. That is why I ask for donations of time, talent, materials and yes, money. To help bring about changes that will in time, find a cure, better preventative measures, and better ways to fight, endure and win the battle.

You can join my team, make a donation or place an order for a luminaria here:  http://main.acsevents.org/goto/rebeccarevels
 Our Relay is May 9th at Common Grounds of Stanley. I hope to see you there..

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

We're off and running

So here we go.
 It is already the middle of January, usually by now we are well into our Relay for Life season. This year due to a variety of reasons we are off to a late start. That does not mean we are starting off slow. Once that gate lifted, we took off and there's no stopping us now.
 We had a 'town hall' type meeting which get us started. This was a meeting of the great and passionate minds that helped to lay the beginning of the foundation for this year. Those who were there were asked to consider being a part of the committee or to approach those they knew who might be interested.
 Changes to the way a Relay committee is structured, possible changes to the event itself, were discussed.
 Each of us also discussed our personal involvement with Relay for Life, how long we had been a part, why and what it was that we liked the most. There were so many passionate people at the meeting. Each had their favorite part of Relay, with their reasons being valid and strong.
 One of the main reasons for participating, we are all tired of losing people important to us, to this disease.  We've all been touched in some way, shape or form. We've lost family or watched family members fight. We've lost friends, neighbors, coworkers to cancer. We've watched their fight, we've been there for them when they needed us. We've offered support, cooked meals, given rides, sat with them so they wouldn't be alone. We've cried with them, held them, encouraged them.
  All the while we've cursed this disease and privately vowed to do everything with in our power to fight for those who can't, to work toward a funding for a cure, to remember those who have  gone on before us.
  We work because we believe. We believe that it is possible to find ways to prevent and to cure. We believe that we can help those who are fighting so to make their battle easier.
  Relay for Life is not just something we do to fill the time, for us, it is a lifestyle. One that will be a part of our lives until we are needed no more. We will fight until there is a cure.
  The gate has opened, we are on our way. There's plenty of room for more who share  this same passion. Together, we can do this. Together, we can make great strides to finding a cure...