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The News! Page, located just under the blog header, was updated this evening, Sunday May 24, 2009.

November 21, 2010 – The Comfort Of A Loving Hand On Your Shoulder

November 21, 2010

This morning I felt crummy. Big surprise, right?  Not that I intend to be negative or anything, but it’s just a fact that some mornings are particularly tough for me.  Chemo drugs, taken twice daily, on top of all the other drugs in the arsenal just leave me feeling Blech! most mornings.  Fortunately, it often gets better from there.  I generally have pretty decent afternoons.  Woo Hoo! (yes, that was sarcasm you detected.  Sorry ’bout that.)

This morning was no different, as evidenced by how little effort I put into preparing a “look” for myself.  No, there was no primping and planning – it was actually more like,”What’s clean and doesn’t need to be ironed,” as I stood in my closet.  Slipping on a tunic and pair of pants, the “look” was done.  I think the “look” could be defined as “simple, yet unwrinkled.”  There.  Done.  Slap on a little makeup, brush my teeth, run a brush through my hair and pile into the car before my mind and body has a chance to say, “Whoa there, little missy, where do you think you’re going?  You’re in no condition to be out in the world.  You’re not ready for it, and they’re not ready for you (at least not in that outfit!)  Really, what you need is a few more hours of sleep and more anti-nausea drugs.

Church is a priority for John and me, though.  It takes a lot for us to hit the snooze button and admit that the day has conquered us so early.  It was important to me that I be in the Lord’s house today so, ready or not, there we went.  We sat at the back of the church, thinking we may need to make an quick escape if things turned worse, and I didn’t even notice who was sitting around us.  Terrible how we can become so self-focused that we miss such important details.

Then I felt this hand on my shoulder and Renesa, a beautiful, strong woman of faith in our church leaned across the row of chairs to give me a hug.  It meant so much.  It felt so good.  Then, during worship, when I could no longer stand, I sat down and soon felt her hand again on my shoulder and, though I couldn’t see her or hear her, I literally felt her prayers for me.  The comfort and peace of that selfless act moved through me, starting in my heart and moving  to my soul where God dwells and speaks to me.  He whispered, “Comfort.  Peace.  Love.  Take it in.”  And, like life-giving breath, I did take it in.

We never really know the impact we have on another’s day or life by our simple acts of love and kindness, but Renesa’s hand on my shoulder this morning moved me closer to my blessed Redeemer’s loving nature. 

I may not have been able to pull off a great “look” for church this morning, but I left with more of the love of Christ because of one person’s loving, ministering hand on my shoulder.

Who have you touched today with love, kindness, comfort or encouragement?  Listen to the voice of the Father when He asks you to be His hands extended to someone in need.  It’s a blessing that you can give away over and over again and never ever lose your resource for giving away more!

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November 19, 2010 – So Precious, So Charming, And So True

November 19, 2010

 

The truth – from the mouth of an expressive, charming, beautiful little girl who is clearly a natural story teller!

The Story of Jonah, courtesy of YouTube:

November 5, 2010 ~ Giggle Time!

November 5, 2010

Have you had one of those weeks?  Well, aren’t you glad it’s Friday?  Giggle on!

“Short Songs,” by Tim Hawkins, courtesy of YouTube:

October 30, 2010 ~ An Irish Blessing For You

October 30, 2010

This touched my heart deeply.  I pray it will touch your heart too.

“Irish Blessing” with music by Joanie Madden, courtesy of YouTube:

October 29, 2010 ~ Giggle Time!!!

October 29, 2010

Here’s one from Tim Hawkins that I hadn’t seen.  It’s good for a little giggle at the end of the week!

Giggle On!

“Hedge of Protection” by Tim Hawkins, courtesy of YouTube.com:

October 27, 2010 ~ The Fellowship of Cheesy Paninis

October 27, 2010

Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart.  ~ Proverbs 27:9

I think I’m part mouse.  I love cheese!  Any kind of cheese, from the most mild to the absolute stinkiest, strongest flavored variety.  And, yes, I’d scurry across the kitchen floor to snag a chunk of that yellow-gold salty goodness.

The only thing better than cheese is sharing cheese with someone I love. Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to do just that when I met with my Sister-2-Sister prayer partner Lisa.  Sister-2-Sister is the women’s small-group bible study at our church, and each week we are assigned a different prayer partner from among the women of our specific group.  Each prayer partner is uniquely special in her own right, and it is always a privilege and honor to share heart-to-heart with such dear friends and sisters in the Lord.

So yesterday afternoon Lisa and I met for sharing at a little local cafe that serves up yummy comfort food along with a beautiful assortment of cakes, pies, and cookies temptingly encased in a pretty glass display.  Every morsel offered there is hard to resist, especially the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting that’s the best in town.  Lisa and I agreed to share a four-cheese panini because neither of us was terribly hungry.(FOUR cheeses!!!!  My heart beat a little faster just at the thought of it!)

But I digress.  It’s really not about the food.

What it is about is the love in sharing from the heart, whether over a cup of coffee, at the side of a hospital bed, at the funeral of a dear friend or family member, or at a charming cafe sharing an oooey- gooey toasted sandwich.  It’s about having someone there who cares and will pray with you and help you carry a burden or share the great joys of life.  As we shared that delicious sandwich, we each shared our hearts.  It wasn’t heavy or burdensome.  In fact, we traded stories about our dogs – both named Charlie – and the special tricks we’ve taught them to do.  Lisa’s taught her Charlie to “say,” “I love you, mama,” and I’ve taught my Charlie to say, “Thank you.”  Yes, I know it’s not possible for our dogs to  talk (although her Charlie and my Charlie do seem particularly bright.  Just saying.) but that’s not the point.  The point is, we shared time with each other, laughed together, and grew closer.  Before we left the cafe, we each shared the ways that we needed each other to pray for us and for those we love throughout the week.  It was a very special time with a very special friend and sister.

You may not be in a group that assigns a prayer partner to you each week, but I encourage you to open your heart and your life to others who can share, and be witness to your life.  You’ll be so happy with how rich your life becomes, because of the new joys and friendships you’ve welcomed into your heart.  So call someone and start the adventure.

. . . and may I recommend you share a cheesy panini?

October 26, 2010 ~ Whatever!

October 26, 2010

 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

~Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Ever had one of those “Whatever!” days – days when life throws all kinds of kitchen sinks at you and you feel completely underequipped to bat them away?  You know, when you finally throw up your hands, sigh a big sigh, and say, “WHATEVER!  I just don’t care anymore!!  IT’S TOO MUCH!”

I had one of those “Whatever!” days on Wednesday. It started out innocently enough, but must’ve been waiting in ambush behind the big ol’ oak tree in my front yard, because it started showing up about the time I left the house for a long day of appointments at MDAnderson.

Once again, we were chasing down the same rabbit trail as before – exploring the possibility that some of the complications I was dealing with might have their origins in a blood disorder.  I’d been tested, retested and re-retested before, all to no avail, but now I was faced with the fact that my red blood cells and platelets were being destroyed, and my oncologist needed to find new answers.  So Wednesday I had a double-appointment with the head of the hemotology dept., and my oncologist.  It really was a follow-up visit with my hemotology doctor, to discuss test results from the week before.

I knew right away that something was different about this appointment.  Typically, the hemotologist is followed around by a congregation of residents trying to capture his every word.  Each appointment with him starts out with a meeting with a resident who conducts the examination, asks all the questions, reads charts and past test results, and then leaves the exam room only to return with the doctor.  I’m fortunate to have the head of hemotology on my side, and working on my case.  Even if he weren’t incredibly brilliant (which he is,) I’d still want him on my side because he exudes knowledge, care, humor, compassion, and empathy for his patients.  He’s humble, when he tells me I’m a puzzle (…if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that!) and that he’s sorry he’s been unable to unlock the mystery of my situation.  I admire that kind of humility and honesty, even when it’s not the news I want to hear.  And I think, each time I meet with him, that it’s no wonder young doctors hang on his every word.

This appointment was different.  For the first time, there was no resident in the room to conduct the mundane question-and-answer session, or to examine my mouth, glands, heartbeat, lungs, etc.  No, this time when he came into the room, he was alone.  And somber.  He had some answers to the puzzle.  One more little piece.

The reason my red blood cells and platelets were being destroyed was because my spleen had failed.  It was enlarged, and to his best guess, the cancer had invaded it, and it had stopped functioning properly and was now literally chewing up the cells that I so badly need.  At some point, when you get news like that, the doctor’s voice begins to sound like the parents in a Charlie Brown movie.  “Whaaa, whaaa, whaa, whaa-whaa, whaa, whaa.  Any questions, Mrs. Moon?”

I think this wonderful doctor realized that I was on information overload, so I soon heard him say, “Would you like to actually see what I’m talking about?”  I heard myself say something brilliant like, “Show and tell?”  He giggled uncomfortably, left the room and returned with a big microscope, some empty glass slides and vials of my blood.  As he was still getting the smears on the slides just-so, I looked into the microscope and saw cells that looked more like chopped-up confetti than healthy, fat, round cells.  There it was – the problem we’d only been talking about, right before my eyes in living color. The reason I felt out of breath all the time – the reason I could barely make it from the parking lot to the front door of Wal-Mart without stopping to rest.  Destroyed red blood cells that carry oxygen to the blood.

He took a little pointer and showed me the chewed-up red blood cells.  He showed me some very oversized platelets that he said proved that my marrow was working overtime to try to give me what I needed.  It was just, simply, insufficient.  Then he pointed at these other cells. He said they were very special – most doctors never see them in a lifetime of practice. (I didn’t really feel so special about it, to tell you the truth.)  They were little fat, round cells that had a blue dot in them.  Actually, they were kinda cute, and he said they tell the tale.  Aside from their cute appearance, their presence proved that the spleen had essentially died.

Their name?  Howell-Jolly bodies.  I mean, really???  That sounds like something you’d pick up at the snack counter of the movie theater.  “Um, yes, I’d like a large popcorn with extra butter, and a medium Coke.  Oh, and I’ll also take a box of those howell-jolly bodies too!” 

Here’s some Howell-Jolly bodies so you get a better idea of what I saw in that microscope: 

See what I mean?  They’re kinda cute, and don’t look like they’d represent something so wrong.  But they do, and that concluded my hemotology lesson for the day.  The rest of the appointment was spent with very sweet, encouraging words from the doctor telling me that he wished he had better news, that I had overcome so much and should keep fighting, and more “Whaa, whaa, whaa, whaa…,” with all due respect. 

I left the appointment feeling rather happy with the fact that I had concluded the appointment with a chipper, “Thanks for the show-and-tell!” and that I didn’t cry or fall apart.  In fact, I managed to keep a great attitude until my appointment with my oncologist, about two hours later. 

Then I hit the wall.

I have grown to love the people on my cancer team, and my oncologist’s nurse, Carol, is wonderfully special.  We connected right away, with similar humor, so we typically share and laugh all through the initial stages of the appointment before the doctor arrives and the serious stuff starts.  As we sat together in the exam room, I told Carol that my dad had passed away, and then began to tell her about the news I’d just received of the death of my spleen.  “There’s just been so much loss!” I said, as tears filled my eyes.  That was the first time that I’ve ever had a meltdown at any of my doctor appointments, and it seemed to have as much to do with the loss of my dad as it did with the bad news I’d just received from the hemotologist. It actually surprised me because my brain had connected them somehow.  Carol gave me a much-needed hug, told me how sorry she was for the loss of my dad, and said that she hadn’t yet known about my spleen, but that she was sure my oncologist could answer all my questions.

As Carol left the room and closed the door behind her, that’s when I realized I was having a Whatever! day.  I should have recognized it earlier, but I didn’t.  I had long-ago discovered that Philippians 4:8 was the key to mental health for me.  Even before this battle with Stage IV Breast Cancer, I’d used it to get me through some rough sledding.  Count the blessings, remember God’s benefits and goodness, recapture the memories of answered prayers – it has never failed to help me pull it together.  So there I sat, with a lapfull of wet tissues, and I began to breathe deeper, recall God’s love and mercy, fill my mind with images of His creation, and memories of His never-ending trustworthiness to me.  It worked, of course.  Always does.

Then the door opened, and my oncologist appeared with her arms opened as wide as they could open, and I heard her say, “I just heard about your dad.  I’m so, so sorry.”  She wrapped me in her arms and asked whether dad was a man of faith, and when she learned that he was, she said, “Then you know you will see your mother and father again.”  So true.  Another whatever! to contemplate.  The tears flowed again, though, and I poured out my heart’s cry for all the losses I’d seen over the past 2-1/2 years. And she consoled me.  I needed that.

Then she put on her doctor’s hat, and told me that the loss of my spleen meant nothing to the treatment of my breast cancer.  I could live without my spleen (which I’m certain was among the “Whaa, whaa, whaa . . .” my hemotologist was trying to convey too) and yes, I may continue to have serious blood-related issues, but virtually the same as the ones we’ve already encountered and been dealing with.  They continued to see no cancer in the liver (which is what they’d suspected) and my treatment would continue as before. It may not sound like it to you, but it was blessed reassurance to me.

The remainder of the day was filled with other tests and the filling of prescriptions, but all through the rest of the day, until my head hit the pillow, it was a Whatever! day. 

If you are troubled, weary of loss, or worried for the future, make room in your schedule for some Whatever! time.  Concentrate of His goodness to you.  Fill your thoughts with memories of answered prayers and His blessings in your life.  Take a walk outside and observe, afresh, the beauty of His creation that He made for our pleasure.  Think of all the people who love you and whom you share laughter and joy with.  Dwell on things that are bigger, and better, than the losses.  He gave us that scripture to help us through those Whatever! days, and it works.  It’s gotten me through some tough times, and I know that God is faithful and will see you through too.

Whatever!