grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

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

It’s sobering and enlightening to sit with words written almost five full years ago in my CaringBridge journal.

It reminds me that words are powerful.
That words have lasting effect.
That words hold memories.
(Or maybe words encase the emotions memories are made of?)

I’m proud of these words.
Their honesty.
Their transparency.
Their vulnerability.
(Even if my Perfectionist Self shudders and winces at the reading of them.)

Maybe you’re like me and you tend to make sure that the face you turn towards the world is always happy, positive, making-no-waves, stirring-no-pots?
Maybe you’re like me and you try so hard, so all the time, to keep it together, to not be a bother, to bravely lug your own heavy burden?
Maybe you’re like me and you have moments that you desperately want to let someone in on the grit, the mess, the not-so-shiny?
I get it.
Really I do.
But here’s one thing I’ve learned these last (almost) 60 months…
Living that way – that silent, plastic, protected way – is not all it’s cracked up to be.
It’s not conducive to completeness, to connection, to community.
And, friend, we’re made for all three.
So here’s what you do:
Find someone you can trust.
Someone who will gently help you gather the broken pieces, the sharp shards, the dusty dreams and then share.
Share your words…your mess and muck and invite that trusted someone to share theirs.

That’s the real brave.
The real true.
And the real way to healing.

October 31, 2010
Today was not a such good day…

I woke up so ANGRY that I was actually shaking. Tears threatened to fall without provocation. And as I tried to figure out exactly what it was I was so ANGRY about, it came to me that I was ANGRY about EVERYTHING: this cancer, the interruption in my life, the surgeries, the losses, the time away from work, the seemingly long time of limbo between Surgery #2 and chemo, the fact that I have to define a New Normal for myself and my family…I really could go on and on and on. But I won’t. (You can thank me later!) I know there are things to be thankful for in the previous list – more positive ways of looking at each of those things. Believe me, I know. I just didn’t have the strength today. And that sucked. And surprised me. And then I got to thinking…

There are Stages of Grief. Some lists are comprised of Five Stages, some Seven. One of the Stages that is included in both the Five and the Seven is…you guessed it…ANGER. Big shocker, huh? So, I guess I really am grieving. I’ve talked about it in relation to this cancer, identified certain behaviors of mine falling under the Umbrella of Grieving; but, for whatever reason, the ANGER took me completely by surprise. Actually, not the ANGER itself, really. More like the intensity of the ANGER.

I just looked up some Stages of Grief stuff online and found this:

‘When ANGER occurs in the grieving process we know that the person is starting to come out of it. All the stages up to this one (Shock, Denial, Bargaining, Guilt) have been very inward responses whereas ANGER is more of an outreach.’


‘This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.’

Both of those bits of info are helpful to me in putting the feelings of today into perspective. I feel like I did a positive thing when I realized what I was feeling – I told Stan right away that I was ANGRY (as I was shaking and barely able to hold it together) and then informed the girls that I was ANGRY so they’d do themselves a favor by keeping that in mind.

So, I acknowledged the ANGER. Shared that info with those whom I live. Both good things.

Then I made a mistake. I didn’t intentionally sit down with that ANGER and allow myself to process it and pray about it. Some things happened that exacerbated the ANGER. And then I ended up feeling totally alone. Which added to the ANGER. It was not good.

I’ve always told the girls that it’s ok to be ANGRY. It’s what you do, or don’t do, with your ANGER that can be right or wrong. I am proud of myself for not lashing out in ANGER today. Years ago, that would have been my wont. Thank you, God, for showing me a better way and giving me what I need to walk in that way. But I am not-so-proud of the fact that I wasn’t intentional in dealing with my ANGER. I want to get better at that. And not just in dealing with things like feeling ANGRY…I want to be intentional in the way I live my entire life.

I have more work to do on the ANGER that I’ve been feeling today, to be sure. But I believe that recording it here is a brave, positive, helpful step in that work. Thank you for supporting me in that (IF you’re still reading, that is *wink*). And I didn’t want to go to bed as angry as I was…writing here has taken a lot of the sting out of it. Thank you, again, for the support.

Tomorrow is my appointment with Dr Reynolds. Please pray that there is a Chemo Start Date decided upon. I think maybe some of my anger is actually a depleted store of patience. And I’m sure the sleep deprivation isn’t helping much, either. 😛

Thanks, all, for your love, care, concern and prayers! I’ll work on this ANGER thing and get back to my Fighting Stance asap!!

In your ANGER do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. ~Psalm 4:4

Or as The Message puts it:

Complain if you must, but don’t lash out.
Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking.
Build your case before God and wait for his verdict. Psalm 4:4



‘But when women are moved and lend help,
when women, who are by nature calm and controlled, give ENCOURAGEMENT and applause,
when virtuous and knowledgeable women grace the endeavor with their sweet love,
then it is invincible.’ ~
Jose Marti

Before we go any further, reread that quote.
Go ahead.
I’ll wait here.

Did you read it?
REALLY read it?
Let those words so beautifully strung together sink in?
REALLY sink in?

When I found this amazing collection of letters woven into such sweet but powerful truth, I got chills.
I read it again.
I sat with it for a little.
Then I reread it.

If you want to go back up there and give it another read, please do.
If you want to sit with the remarkable, poignant images it paints, take your time.
The rest of this post can wait.

What’s your favorite part of the quote?
Is there a part that quickens some desire deep inside your soul?
For me, it’s the mystery that rests in the genteel, almost delicate description of female help combined with that ridiculously awesome word INVINCIBLE.

I mean, is that a word, or what?
Words that mean the same thing?
Powerful stuff, right?

The way I read it, when we, as women, are moved to help, and when we encourage and love, the things we do cannot be shot to smithereens, cannot be damaged, cannot be attacked, questioned, or defeated.

I don’t know about you, but that sends shivers down my spine and makes me want to slip on a superhero cape and rush to save the world.

God has equipped us…each of us…to be superheros, my friends.
Maybe not in an epic, big-screen, Iron Man way, but in all kinds of little ways that make all the difference in the lives of those around us.

Here’s what it takes:
(go ahead and cue The Avengers theme, if that helps you grab on to who you can be…who you ARE…)

#1 – Allow yourself to be moved. Do your best to let yourself come out from behind whatever walls you may have needed till now to feel safe. Listen for what makes your heart beat and then find it. It may not be as far away as you think.

#2 – Lend help. To whomever God puts on the path next to you. Ask Him for the clarity to see needs that others’ eyes may be missing. Don’t listen to the voices that tell you it is ‘someone else’s’ problem, whatever it is.

#3 – Live out your female nature. Be honest – that ‘calm and controlled’ part made you look twice, right? It’s easy to buy into the ‘hormone-crazed, PMS-ing woman’ images that bombard us and make us question our sanity some days, but we CAN live calm and controlled…and WE NEED TO so that our uplifting advice can have its full effect.

#4 – Be a cheerleader. Maybe you never made the squad in junior high or high school, but that is NOT an indicator of your natural ability to lift others with your words and applaud them with your strong, gentle hands. You can add pom poms and a kick or two if you want, just for good measure…just remember that what’s important here is the encouragement. Apply it genuinely and liberally.

#5 – Let honesty and grace rule your actions. When the two are paired (honesty + grace), your words and deeds will match up and the world – your world – will see you as supremely trustworthy and seek you out for your gentle and truthful input. To be trusted is no small thing.

#6 – Learn stuff. Once you learn stuff, you’ll begin to understand there’s always so much more to learn. Keep learning. Maintain a teachable heart through all you face in life. It will ensure the lessons and seeds of truth typically hidden in the hard times will make their way into that place inside you where experiences are magically mixed with awareness and understanding, enabling you to use what you’ve learned. That’s all knowledge is, you know…using, not just talking about, the things you’ve learned.

#7 – Love. Simple. Yet complex. Easy. Yet arduous. Try to remember Love in all things. Also remember that Love doesn’t always look like hearts and flowers and frilly things…sometimes it can look an awful lot like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – a half-eaten mess because you never know what you’re going to get. No matter, though. Love anyway. Love all ways.

Oh, friend!
How this list excites my heart!
For you…and for me…and for them!

So grab a cape.
Be a superhero.
Go on.
You can do it!
You were MADE to do it!

(in)couragement: a superpower


{It’s a link-up over at (in)courage today! Click thru to find so much more encouragement!}


How To Be A Groupie


It’s what we were created for, you and I.

It’s what our hearts yearn for, even when something has happened to you in community that colors that yearning gray – or even black – with fear.


Does the word itself awaken a song in your heart?
A song of hope, a song of joy, a song of wonder?

Can you hear it?
You may have to get quiet in order to hear the melody, to pick out the words.
It may be playing soft.
And that part inside your heart that wants to ‘protect’ you may be trying to drown it out.

But, sister, today, do whatever you have to turn up the volume on that song.
Slap in some earbuds so you can catch the lyrics.

Because TODAY is the day that Community – the very thing God wants to use to nurture us, feed us, grow us, mature us, make us more like His Son – is yours for the making.

From right there.
From right where you are sitting, reading these words.

TODAY is the day the fabulous team at (in) opens Registration to their amazing (in)courager Community Groups!

And while there are many, many different groups you can choose to be a part of ~ over 70, to be exact! ~ , the universal focus of each is Community!

{If the very thought of that feels risky…makes your knees shake with the weight of ‘I want to belong, but what if I don’t Do It Right?’…makes you want to hit Enter on the Registration form before the fear of reaching out chases you from the room…please, dear one, take a big, deep breath, steady those shaky knees and go for it. Hit Enter. You can do it! And, I promise you, you’ll be so glad you did.}

Here are some sparkly words from just-like-you beauties who took the risk, filled out the Registration form, and hit Enter during previous (in)courager Community Group sessions:

**In the Fall of 2013, I was embarking on the next season of my life: marriage. I was nervous, excited, and not sure of what to expect. Thankfully my (in)courage community group was full of prayers, words of wisdom, and a place to express myself during the adjustment. God brought lots of ladies in my life who had been there, done that when it came to being a newlywed, and I was (in)couraged.** ~Alicia Turner Beard,

**Since I’m in a new town and slowly making friends, my (in)courage community group has helped me stay connected with people who care about me and what’s going on in my life. These online friends have become real-life friends!** ~Holly Solomon Barrett,

**For the past two semesters I was blessed to be a part of the Work at Home Moms group. It was a breath of fresh air. A place to go for encouragement and prayer. A place to connect and belong. We walked alongside each other, brainstormed together, and created community. It was a place of beauty in the mess of life.** ~Whitney Cornelison,

This session, I have the high privilege and incredibly humbling honor to be co-leading a Community Group called (in)Bracing God’s Light: Comfort in the Midst of Cancer with my dear new friend, Lynn Severance. We are both so looking forward to our time together, blessing and learning from each precious gal that comes to our little community!

Our group is one of many (over 70, remember?!) – I just know there is one that can be a perfect fit for YOU and exactly where you are RIGHT NOW…Empty Nester? New Mom? Mom of Teens? Working Mom? At-Home Mom? Writer? Blogger? Honestly, the types of groups available this session run the gamut!

The deets about all the phenomenal groups, and what you can expect when you become part of one of them, can be found at

Let this Spring be one of reaching out, opening up, connecting, and belonging by registering, friend.

Because it’s what you were made for.
It’s what your heart needs.