October 16, 2011

This has been a couple of the more interesting weeks I’ve had in a very long time. Last week, Fall Break for Warren Co. and Bowling Green Schools, was Siesta Key time. It’s the 6th time Mike and I have visited the little island off the coast of Sarasota. It’s quiet, peaceful, and beautiful. It’s what my Mom used to call a family beach. You see families with small children, a few school agers, and then the empty-nesters (that means the old folks like us, lol). I love watching toddlers play at the beach, running on tip toe up to the water’s edge and then giggle with glee. I remember all the good times at Myrtle Beach with the Prices, Mom, Dad, and yes, the dogs. Fun times!

Anyhow, this year we were blessed to have Melody and Keith Ossello join us for a few days. It was homecoming for Melody, who spent a lot of her childhood there. Her Grandma and Grandpa had one of the precious little hotels we love so much. It was so much fun to share that time with them. And another couple from Warren County. We all enjoyed the island so much. I told Mike: it feels like home there, we’ve been so often. It’s a comfortable feeling.

OK, back to reality. It is an 800 mile trip. We take two days driving it, but it’s still taxing on ye old back and hips. I spent the time taking pictures ot the windows of the car, to document the trip. Eventualy I’ll get them posted on Facebook. One neat thing: the motel in McDonough, GA, where we stay has furnishings made by American of Martinsville. Yes, I still check motel furniture to see where it’s made. It’s an old habit, but one I’ll never give up. It’s fun to see that piece of home. And yes I did take a picture of the name staped in the drawer. Stay tuned for the details.

OK, now on to the week back home. There was a lot scheduled at work, so I knew it would be somewhat intense. I had a big week in Kiwanis–my first meeting as President. That means making a speech. Yikes! I have had it in my mind for a while. But it was time to get it down on paper. OK, Monday night I got my act together and got most of it done; just the refining touches. Meanwhile Tuesday night was the night we had to make our United Way pitch to employees. Lucky me I got to talk after watching the DVD of clients (success stories). Well, if you know me you know I’m a crier. And the new medicine intensifies it. You got it: I cried. Wednesday I did my speech at Kiwanis: I cried again. For heaven’s sake!

Thursday I had a computer problem: files were lost to a series of unfortunate events (to quote Lemony Snicket). They’re pretty much gone, no hope of recovery. sigh…………….OK, I held it together. Then had my mammogram–whoo hoo. Then went to the announcement of this year’s Athena winner. You got it: when they called Tamara Vogler’s name and she cried, I had to help her. sigh……………….again.

Friday, we had a class at the office. Another series of unfortunate events. Another sigh………….BUT, it was also my birthday. So I had a wonderful birthday lunch with dear friends. Know what? The day took a beautiful turn. In fact, the week took a turn. Nothing like the comfort of friends. And for dinner, we went out with more friends. More comfort. It ended up being a beautiful birthday.

NOW, to wrap up the week. Several weeks ago a friend at church asked if I would do a stewardship moment. I wasn’t certain of the week, since we were to be gone two Sundays. Of course, didn’t think of it again while gone. Thankfully Elizabeth mentioned it Friday at lunch. With guidance from Lee on the topic, it came back to me and I got my act togetr,researched it a little and then did my thing at church this morning. It’s a three week series on Crossing Your Jordan.Mine was Crossing Jordan in the present. I’m going to include it today as part of this post. Let me warn you: yes, I did cry AGAIN. What a week, tee hee. And apparentl I set off a chain reaction. Ah, me, as was said in Steel Magnolias: I can’t let anyone cry alone. And apparently I’m taking people with me as I go.

Blessings to all. And pray for friends with unspoken needs. God is good. All the time. Love to all


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2011, State Street United Methodist Church

Crossing My Jordan. It’s an interesting turn of phrase. Everyone faces those crossings in their lives. How we face it, or the support we have to help us over it, is what makes each of us unique and blessed. I’ve come to realize one thing: it is not something anyone should attempt alone. Crossing Jordan is definitely a group effort.

I found a blog on the internet that sums up my feelings in many ways. Forgive me if I don’t give proper credit to the author: I did not save the link, and I can’t get back to it. (says a lot about my computer skills, huh?) The author of the blog stated: I cannot say that cancer was a totally negative experience. It served as a teacher, and I have been its student not once, but twice. This personal wake-up call from God is the greatest learning experience of my life.

The Crossing that I face now seems obvious. Most of you know that I have breast cancer. It is something I wake up with every morning, carry with me throughout the day (as those of you who see me with my pillows and/or heating pads can attest to), and go to bed with at night (again with heating pad and BIG pillows). But you know what: this not my first River Jordan, and I don’t expect it to be my last. The obvious thing is that it forces a reckoning with faith. And being at State Street is the group effort that makes that reckoning possible.

I read an article by Cheryl Truman, in the Lexington Herald Leader, that gave particular insight. In her words, what is it about this journey?

For some, it’s a simple question: What kind of God gives such suffering to his servants? For others, it’s another kind of quandary: How can I come to terms with the beauty and generosity of others in this awful experience?

I have never thought “Why me?” When asked about that my answer has always been, “Why not me?” That sounds odd to many, but what I mean is, I’m no more special to God than any of you in this room. He did not look down from Heaven and say “I don’t like the way she’s acting today. I think I’ll punish her.” The prophet Isaiah said God will be with you when you walk through the waters and the fire. He did NOT qualify it by saying “if” hard times come, because they assuredly will, whether by cancer, ms, having to make changes to your lifestyle to help someone in need, or the loss of a loved one or economic hard times. We must all make changes; we must all face our Jordan. How we do and who we do it with it is what counts.

I feel I am taking a journey, and that journey has led me through some interesting places, with so many wonderful and kind people. I have found a support group in the church that goes beyond words. I know that any time I need something, all I have to do is pick up the phone or send a text. I carry with me every day a prayer sent to my phone. It’s a great source of comfort. I know I can trust in God, and trust in the family of State Street to surround both Mike and me in times of need. We have had to learn to give ourselves up to the will of God, and we know that we will be OK in that. And the reason we are OK is because of the comfort of the church family and friends around us.

To paraphrase Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, former head of the Kentucky Council of Churches, “In the midst of your struggle, there’s a power that can sustain you, if you just open yourself to it.” Kemper has a favorite quotation from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Prayer is arrival at the border. The dominion is thine.”

It sounds odd to say, but if I had never had breast cancer, I never would have experienced all the great revelations in faith I have, nor would I have met the heroes that work with patients every day. I am proud to say that I call many of them friends. Facing these struggles is not just about survival, but about how you choose to spend your days, however many those days are, and possibly how you will cope with a body that you feel has betrayed you and let you down.

Let me close by asking you: As you sit out there today, what is your Jordan? I joked and told Lee that this week cancer wasn’t my Jordan: a failed computer, a class that went wrong, a situation over which I have no control; those were my Jordans this week. For a while, those things seemed insurmountable and almost got the best of me. We all face things that make us step back. But then I remembered, the important things were at home waiting for me. And at church waiting for me. And then, I had a birthday, and the overwhelming good wishes and friendships that came with that day made me realize, facing Jordan is doable, when you have the right people beside you and you keep the right attitude. Put your trust in God. Love your friends. Support your church family.

Crossing Jordan is a group effort, and we will all do it together.

Thank you to all the people who helped me find the right words, with their posts online. And to all the people who guide me and give me my faith.