Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's Been One Year and I'm Going Strong

Disclaimer: This is a long one today. Please make sure you have plenty of time to read this all the way through before beginning. There's a lot of good stuff in here.

August 2009:
After coming home from a good but painful vacation, diving back into work was easy. Most people say that they have a hard time focusing the first few days after returning from a long vacation like I had (three weeks!). I had no problem getting into the swing of things.

See the ball to the left of the man. It looks like the ball
is sitting on the ground by his feet.
And, speaking of swinging...

The department I worked in had a summer picnic every couple of years or so. The basic idea was to get out of the office for a short time, usually on a Friday and either do some team building exercises, or just have some plain 'ol fun as a group. Our vice president usually agreed more for the team building exercises so it was still a productive working day.

On a Thursday at the end of August 2009, our 30+ person Marketing & Communications department had our picnic at a local park. We grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for the bunch with all the typical side dishes and picnic fare. Spouses and children were invited to join in the festivities. After "lunch" was over, the ladies gathered in lawn chairs and blankets cheering on the men as they played unorganized softball and frisbee. The men encouraged the older children to join in as they felt comfortable doing to keep everyone busy and not bored.

Since the children were getting to "play," some of the ladies decided it might be fun to "play" a little too. I, of course, couldn't let everyone else have all the fun! I waited a while and finally joined in by going up to bat. I had played some softball when I was in high school, a little after college in the adult leagues as a substitute player and at our church's annual summer picnic. I knew I wasn't very good, but I still loved to hit the ball around.

I took off my flip-flops so I wouldn't worry about getting tripped up with them on. I grabbed a bat and swung it around in circles to warm up my shoulders. I walked with my cane to what we were calling "home plate," tossed the cane aside and got in the best batting stance I could with my hip and all. The pitcher threw a couple of really bad pitches both wide and low. Finally, after several attempts a great pitch came in and I launched that ball between the third base man and the short stop. Neither of them could field that ball, so it was up to the center-fielder. My job here was done. I could still play ball and NOT lose my balance and fall flat on my face. Today was a good day. I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting with the ladies in the lawn chairs watching the guys and cheering on the kids that wanted to play.

The next day was another work day. But, this day also marked one year since I had my hip surgery. Since I was working, it didn't really hit me that it was my one year anniversary. When I did finally realize what the day marked, I talked with a couple of my co-worker friends about it. We talked about how well I was doing and getting along on my own. We talked about how my family felt about my living independently again; and how I felt on my own again.

It was great to look back on such a dire situation and see the hand of the Lord on me, my family and my doctors. From the anticipated 12 hour surgery only taking 6 1/2 hours, to the staph infection landing me back in the hospital for 5 weeks and being able to remove the body brace months earlier than expected.

I was talking with a co-worker the other day about answered prayers, faith and joy in the midst of trials. She had prayed for me in the morning devotions for cancer pain and I circled back with her later in the day to let her know that I didn't have any pain since she had prayed for the cancer in my chest. When people pray for us, it is a great boost to their faith when we let them know how the Lord answered their prayers. I'm sure there have been times where you had prayed for someone or something and wished you had known the outcome of that prayer. I have learned over and over again with the few friends and family I trust to take my requests to on a constant basis that letting them know their prayers are effective gives them great joy.

The scripture says, "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 20-21

I think that this verse helps me to KNOW that my friends and family are better off when I tell them their prayers are (and even sometimes are not) working.

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:6-7

I believe it is important to build not only your faith, but the faith of those around you. And most frequently our faith is built through adversity rather than through good times because we are refined in the process. Our faith is of greater importance to the Lord than the riches of the world (which He created anyhow).

And finally looking back at the year since surgery, I can tell you there could have been many times where I let bitterness take control of my life. This affliction of cancer is no picnic. Not for me. Not for my friend Valerie and her husband Mitch (who is going through major trials with his cancer right now). Not for my grandma who is a survivor since the '80s. And, not for my family losing my aunt Jane in the early '80s either. Years went by in my childhood and teen years feeling guilty that I had been too scared to see my aunt in her failing condition. And I never got closure on her death.  But, in my own affliction now, I can recall the grace and hope of the Lord and I have worked through those feelings.

"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." Lamentations 3:19-26

Focus on the good of the Lord. Every morning think of one good thing He has done for you specifically. Write it down if you have too. When you think about the good, it is hard to let the bad creep back in. Stay focused on the good of the Lord. It is the anchor of hope I have held on to through this affliction. People notice happy people. And being one of the Lord's is a happy place to be. People will take notice of it.

Here's to one year since surgery!!!

Have you been able to loo back at a time of adversity and see the hand of the Lord that brought you through? Share with us one of those times.

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