grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

July 2010 – July 2015 :: A Cancer Survivor’s Retrospective :: Day Eight

on July 8, 2015

Who doesn’t love a good Before and After?
Those magical-seeming transformations of bedrooms, kitchens, or people that leave us all slack-jawed and emotional…wishing that it was our house or our hair or our bodies on the receiving end of the talented hands of a team of professionals.

When I got to this post on my CaringBridge journal, the words Before and After came to mind and promptly camped out there.
I am, frankly, overwhelmed by all the changes in my life (and body) over the past five years.
I’ve been remodeled.
Inside and out.

Out of curiosity, I googled ‘steps of remodeling’ and found a great article on Better Homes and Gardens website.
It lists the steps in order.
And it struck me that just like a home, we can each be remodeled, too.
If we’ll trust the Master Builder, even when things get hard and don’t make sense, He’ll take us through the following steps…and we’ll come out changed.
For the better.

Step #1 – Design
Thankfully, the Builder had a brilliant plan when He designed you and me. He poured His time, energy, creativity, passion, and even His image into our design. (Genesis 1:27, Jeremiah 29:11)

Step #2 – Implement
The Builder then placed each of us in exactly the time and place and family and sphere of influence necessary to carry out the individual, important, incredible purpose He has for us, for His glory. (Esther 4:14, Hebrews 13:21)

Step #3 – Confer
Isn’t wonderful that this Builder doesn’t just bulldoze through our lives without inviting us to talk with Him? We can reach out to Him with questions, concerns, hurts, joys, victories. (Deuteronomy 4:7, Job 33:26)

Step #4 – Set Up
Honestly, this is precisely how life feels at times, isn’t it? Set. Up. Despite how it seems, though, our Builder sets things up for our good. There is peace in that. (Psalm 20:4, Proverbs 19:21)

Step #5 – Demolish
We know this one all too well, don’t we? And, let’s face it – it sucks. But without the demolition, The New cannot take the place of The Old, The Broken, The Spent. Understanding that can help us with perspective the next time we feel like we’ve just taken a sledgehammer upside the head, right? (Ezekiel 6:6, John 2:19)

Step #6 – Rebuild
This, as I can attest, is not ever the most fun, least painful part of the remodeling process. I’m just so grateful that even in the rebuilding, there is rest to be found when we trust the Builder to restore and rebuild us into who He intends us to become. (Ezra 9:9, Isaiah 54:11)

Step #7 – Follow Through
This final step finds us cooperating fully with the Builder as we walk a new path, in a new way, with a new purpose. He has promised His faithfulness and steadfastness. Finding comfort and courage in that will help us to be bold in following through with the new purpose He’s placed in our hearts. We do not walk alone. (Matthew 16:24, Ephesians 5:1)

I hope the remodeling that’s in my future isn’t quite so Whole House as these last five years have been, but I do trust the One who has built and rebuilt me my entire life.
He designed the blueprints and He knows what He’s doing.
For the record, I wouldn’t trade the After I’m living now for the Before.
How about you?


Mar 1, 2011
Thought today I would do something a little different and share a couple lists – Things I Miss and Things I Am Happy About. Also, the picture I am adding today is me, without the hats, makeup, wig…I call it the Real Face of Cancer. I want to be brave enough to remember even this side of things and to share it with you….it’s all part of redefining ‘beautiful’ for myself. Thanks for indulging me 😉

Things I Miss

I miss my hair.

I miss having energy to do the dishes. (I don’t miss the actual doing of the dishes…just the energy to do them!)

I miss my co-workers.

I miss my job.

I miss the kiddos at BECEP.

I miss my hair.

I miss doing normal things, like parent-teacher conferences, chauffeuring the girls, attending committee meetings.

I miss running errands.

I miss shopping.

I miss my hair.

I miss the normal shape of my face, sans steroid-induced swelling.

I miss having eyes that don’t twitch, run and feel like dry, powdery ping-pong balls.

I miss my eyebrows.

I miss my eyelashes.

Did I mention I miss my hair?

I miss the days I’ve lost during those Treatment Weeks.

Yes, I miss my breast – even though it was trying to kill me.

I miss the normal taste of food.

I miss regular get-togethers with friends.

Oh, and I miss my hair.


Things I Am Happy About

I am happy to have lost my hair fighting to heal and cure myself.

I am happy to not have to let the dog out (when other peeps are home…I have to let him out when it’s just the two of us and those steps about kill me!)

I am happy to let Stan and Sammi do the driving. (And will be happy to add Dina to the Driving List when she passes her Driver’s Test in 20 days! J )

I am happy to not have to shave…anywhere!

I am happy to have learned how to make up my eyebrows. (A skill I’m pretty sure I never would have learned had I not been forced to!)

I am happy to be saving money on the expensive shampoo and conditioner I was using prior to The Fall.

I am happy to be way more mindful of the joyful, laughter-filled life I have been given. (Seriously, we laugh SO MUCH in our family – it’s awesome!!)

I am happy to get out of doing the dishes. (But I still miss having the energy to do them.)

I am happy to have been given the opportunity to meet some awfully neat people on 7th floor at MedCenter – the nurses, docs, fellow patients.

I am happy to experience the blessing of the goodness of God’s people – who’ve cooked, cleaned, prayed, encouraged, visited and found other myriad ways of reaching out to me and my family.

I am happy to have qualified to be on the clinical study and hope that my being on it brings research and info important in the fight against this dread disease.

I am happy to have God’s presence so very close every day. (Something I already had – something we all have every day – but, unfortunately, I wasn’t as aware of before.)

I am happy to have a cute selection of hats to slap on at a moment’s notice. (It’s much less time-intensive than doing my hair….but I still miss my hair.)

I am happy to be writing on a more frequent basis.

I am happy to be forced to slow down.

I am happy to be learning how to effectively prioritize.

I am happy to be redefining for myself the words ‘beautiful’, ‘strong’, ‘important’ among others.

I am happy to be using our DVR to record Jimmy Fallon to watch – and laugh with – during the day. (Ooooo, he’s too cute! Oh, and funny, too!)

I am happy to have a fairly decent excuse NOT to use my treadmill…at least for now. 😉

I am happy to say I SURVIVED SIX ROUNDS OF CHEMO! What, what?!!!!

I am happy to know that, even though the road is long, healing has begun and I am going come out the other side of this a better person.

The Happy List goes on and gets added to each time I stop to think about the Secret Blessings that have come with this new chapter….I think I’ll make keeping a record of it a habit.

Thanks for reading along today…may the Secret Blessings that are a part of your life be not-so-secret to you today! Love you!!

Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play and you will finally be able to move toward the life God intended for you with grace, strength, courage and confidence. ~Og Mandino


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