Saturday, November 19, 2016

"Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard the sound of my pleading; the Lord is my strength and my shield. In him my heart trusts, and I find help; then my heart exults, and with my song I give him thanks." Psalm 28:6-9

A dear friend referred me to this Psalm the other day when I was having a rough emotional day. Yes, those days come and thankfully go. I am realizing now that even though I am physically healed from cancer I must still work on the emotional healing. Every day I must trust that God is still taking care of the details of life within me and my family. Some days are easier than others. With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays coming up I am excited and anxious at the same time about what I will experience emotionally. But, I know it is all in God's hands and thankfully the people/angels he sent me to support us while I was physically ill are still around us reminding us of his everlasting love.

It's funny, I remember when Peter and I were first married that he used to refer to times in life as being "BC" and "AC", "Before Cristina" and "After Cristina." Our relationship marked a monumental time in our lives through which we could identify time before and after. The same has happened with remembering life Before Children (BC) and After Children (AC). Well, now we have another time marker, "Before Cancer-BC" and "After Cancer-AC." I am super grateful that we even get to label present time as "AFTER Cancer."

Having completed my last Herceptin treatment and having had the port removed on Oct. 20th, we have already begun to refer to events in our life as BC or AC. It is amazing how one year of life can so clearly define what we were before and after. We are still the same people but we view life differently. We have been greatly impacted by the effects of deep faith and the effects of being loved so strongly and abundantly. We have a greater appreciation for the little things in life and for each relationship God has so graciously blessed us with. We are more sensitive in how we react to each other and to events. This can be challenging at times, but in the end it is better.

Here we are, Peter and I, about to enter building 631 at Gwinnett Medical for the last treatment. I remember vividly stopping to take the same picture on the day of my first treatment. I was wanting to mark time and have a way of looking back at that time BC. I think I was also afraid of how treatments would change me. Now, we have these pictures to help us mark the beginning of the AC time and a way to celebrate who we are now!

I have learned to stop and BREATHE in the midst of being busy, whether at work, at home or while working my business.  I am continuing to learn that I need to rely on others when I can't see clear or can't seem to catch my breath. I do not have to be the strong one all of the time. I can ask for help in all areas of life.

We were given the opportunity to stop and breathe and reflect and celebrate when we traveled to St. Simon's Island the very day I had my last treatment and had the port removed. My parents had been vacationing there, staying in a cousin's house, and invited us to join them for a long weekend to celebrate my birthday and the end of treatment. It was a beautiful way to celebrate and mark the beginning of the next phase of life. We had so much fun and were able to experience some firsts as a family. Here we are at our first lighthouse tour and enjoying a fun meal with mom and dad on our last day on the island.

We also enjoyed the splendor of the beach with its shells, sand bars and tide pools. So amazing!

I must admit, last year at this time I had a sense of surrender about me. I knew that I wouldn't be able to physically engage in "making the holidays perfect." We didn't even put out all of our Christmas decorations. I think we were even given a pass on preparing any food for Thanksgiving at my sister's house. I was given time to simply be and enjoy each gathering for its simplest purpose, to experience the love of those around me.  It was time to put all of the energy I had into supporting my body through the healing journey. How beautiful that those around me gave me that gift!

This year, I am having to really focus on keeping my new found anxiety under control as I already begin to think about the many ways I would love to experience this holiday season with my family. I have found that prayer coupled with using the essential oils very purposefully, help my body and mind to slow down and re-focus. However, since I experienced such a simple holiday season last year, I know that simple works and is actually more meaningful! There is no way I can possibly re-create the amazing sense of love we felt last year as people all around us showered us with love in so many ways. But, when I think about it, that is what we do each year as we go about putting pieces in place and making plans to celebrate Christmas. We are trying to re-create the feeling of love that Baby Jesus felt when he was born. And the beauty lies in realizing how simple it is to re-create that feeling. And the challenge lies in making that reality come true. So, I am challenging myself and challenging each of you to make this holiday season simple. In making it simple, focus on being and giving love to others. Let's focus on being kind, offering forgiveness, extending grace, truly being the hands of Christ so that others may feel His love. All of that can be done with a messy house and not so perfect gifts, but we must have a heart of love and gratitude. Preparing for Christmas is truly more of a spiritual exercise than a physical one. Do you have the support in place to spiritually focus on preparing for the celebration of Jesus' birthday? I can thankfully say that I do. This time "AC" is a blessing of being able to recognize the support that is all around me and being able to rely on you. It has become a time a of surrendering my plans to be open to God's plan in daily life.

Thank you for your continued prayers as we go through this time of healing emotionally! You are such a blessing to us and truly the best gift we could have ever received! On this Thanksgiving, we give thanks for each of you and the role you played in supporting us through my healing journey. I pray that each of you will realize the blessing of being loved and supported by those around you.

Much love to all of you! May this season of preparing and celebrating be a journey filled with love and peace!

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