Take Time

It’s that time of year again.

Daylight Savings.

For some it’s just a nuisance to change all the clocks in the house. Springing forward, we say so we can remember to set the clocks one hour ahead rather than back an hour as we do in the fall. Some communities in Canada have kiboshed the whole idea and refuse to touch their clocks. Me? I don’t mind the task at all, in fact I welcome it. I putter around the house two times a year setting the clocks forward or back praising God for the change in seasons. Time change in Spring signals longer days of sunshine to enjoy evening barbecues with family, campfire talks, the look ahead to warmer days and summer fun. In the fall, it’s all about hibernating, luxuriating in shorter days, cozy nights and winter solace.

Last year, I did not get a chance to really enjoy the Spring or Summer, being in the heat of my cancer battle. I was still in the throes of the battle leading up to Christmas, but this year I am celebrating living cancer free once again, and participating whole heartedly in the change of seasons.

My husband and I have spent a week in beautiful Victoria on Vancouver Island. The cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom and daffodils, crocuses and snow drops were everywhere. It was mainly a visiting trip, connecting with family there. We are planning a more extended time on the island in September, but for me this trip was one glorious week of celebrating LIFE!

I watched with fascination a bald eagle soaring high over Langford Lake, and felt such a sense of gratitude that I was there, experiencing the beauty, the life, the love of family surrounding me, I nearly wept with joy. In the heat of my cancer battle, I wasn’t sure I’d experience Spring in Victoria again. Yet, here I was mesmerized by the flight and magnificence of an eagle overhead. I felt like breaking out in song, “How Great Thou Art!”

Coming back to snowy Alberta, unlike previous times when I lamented leaving the temperate weather on the island to returning to winter weather, I fully embraced the homecoming. It is the return to routine, to normalcy, to everyday life, enjoying each day, fully in the moment.

If I lament anything, it is the fact I had to experience cancer AGAIN to enjoy living life to the fullest. Embracing the “one day at a time” mentality, I see the world through different eyes. It’s important for me to take time to smell the roses or cherry blossoms, as the case may be, as well as catch snowflakes on my tongue as I’m doing today! It’s taking time each day to praise God for giving me life through Jesus Christ His Son. It is being mindful to walk humbly in His Creation, and continuously thanking Him for each new day and not taking it all for granted.

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A Season of Refreshment

My oncology visit in January was one I had dreaded. Why do I always get nervous? I chided myself before my meeting with my doctor. I was cancer-free,… or was I? I don’t know how many more times I needed to be encouraged by the doctors, but one more time couldn’t hurt…could it?

My oncologist tried to reassure me, “It is not unusual for cancer survivors to be nervous about cancer returning.” She was right about that. I thought I had beaten cancer in 2001 once and for all, but with the diagnosis last year, I wasn’t sure anymore.

“It’s not metastatic.” she said. Meaning that my endometrial cancer was not a result of a spread of cancer to other organs in my body from my battle with breast cancer, it was an entirely new fight.

“What does that even mean?” I asked.

“It’s just dumb luck you got cancer twice,” she said. Funny. I had heard the same phrase from my surgical oncologist in 2001 when I asked how I could have gotten breast cancer. “Dumb luck,” he had said.

I don’t believe in luck. I whispered to myself. “I don’t need any more of that kind of “luck”.” I said aloud.

“No kidding, right?” she grinned and patted my knee.

Still, it’s like an icy presence looking over my shoulder playing peek-a-boo with my emotions. Would I feel it at every doctor’s visit from now on? The fear, along with the half expected words, “It’s back.”

She patted my knee again. “You’re doing great! I also think you can come off the blood thinner injections AND I don’t need to see you for another four months.”

My husband smiled. He has been with me to every treatment, every appointment, and I could see the relief in his eyes. He has never been a fan of hospitals and knowing we don’t have to be near one for four months (God willing) was a huge relief. I thought about the fact I don’t have to give myself needles anymore. A huge weight lifted off of me. I mentally pushed those icy fingers off of my shoulders and felt lighter in mind, body and spirit. Throughout those challenging months of treatments, I had longed and prayed for the recovery phase. Now it seemed I finally had the confidence to move past recovery to another level of wellness: refreshment. I praised God as we left the cancer clinic and the words to one of my favourite hymns immediately came to mind:

“Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, they compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided–
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”

The mountains beckoned to us a couple days later. The normalcy of taking a scenic drive, having lunch with my husband, planning future excursions together, dreaming, drinking in all the sights and sounds around us, we both felt invigorated. I felt refreshed. I praised God for the day, for the week, for allowing me to experience this new season of refreshment. The warm, Chinook wind lifted my wig nearly off my head, so I discarded it and have not worn it since. It is like shedding another layer, discarding another reminder, another symbol of what I have battled and beaten again. My newly sprouted, extremely short, dark hair is a “fashion statement”, as my husband calls it. “Show it off!” he said.

I am enjoying this Season of Refreshment by doing some early spring cleaning, embracing the days with renewed energy. God continues to comfort me through His people, and His Word. Worshiping God through song, I am ever mindful that He is faithful. Once again, I have experienced His compassions and I am now renewed.

“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided–
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”

Source: Trinity Psalter Hymnal #245
Thomas O. Chisholm (1923) Public Domain
Lamentations 3:22-23

*Originally published on InScribe Writers Online – Feb. 17, 2020

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He Loved Us First

I was never a real fan of Valentine’s Day growing up. In junior high, with uncontrollable acne, and nails I bit to the quick, I was the “ugly duckling” compared to the other girls who garnered most of the boys’ attention. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in on Valentine’s Day. One year, the student council thought it would be a great fundraising idea to have students pay twenty-five cents to buy a rose to give to their “Valentine”. All day long, roses were given to, you guessed it, the most popular girls and guys in the school, and all the ugly ducklings, myself included, went home empty-handed and heart broken.

When I became a mom, I was determined my kids felt loved and honoured not just on Valentine’s Day but everyday. I made a point of telling them how much they were loved, and that God loved them. When those challenging teen years came along and they faced those disappointing Valentine’s Days with no cards from any admirers at school, my husband, Charles, bless his heart, always came home with bouquets of flowers for his girls. He presented with great fan fare, a larger one for me, and two smaller ones for his daughters. For years he was their one and only Valentine! I too, always made sure my husband, son, and my girls got a chocolate heart-shaped treat from me.

This past week, we picked up my daughter’s wedding gown. The wedding invitations will likely go out in the next few weeks. Slowly, but surely, the wedding plans are coming together. A year ago, on February 1st, Carmen’s handsome “Prince Charming” asked her to marry him. On July 18, they will be wed. I remember seven years ago, they had only been dating a short while, when he surprised her with a huge bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day. It was the first time we met Jack and to say he left quite an impression on all of us would be an understatement. I snapped a picture of the happy, young couple just before my sweet husband came home with his usual Valentine’s flowers for his girls. Up until that day, he had always been her Valentine. When he saw Carmen holding Jack’s bouquet, he looked slightly embarrassed and stoically shook hands with Jack. Almost as an afterthought, my husband then shyly presented Carmen with his small bouquet of daisies. Although she appreciated his gesture, she only had eyes for Jack. Charles’ mannerism showed me that his Father’s heart was just a little broken. It was obvious another one of his girls had found their forever Valentine, and he was no longer the most important man in her life. It’s a tough realization for any good father.

As we have been planning her wedding, there’s a poignant song that my husband thought might be a fitting one for their father-daughter dance: “ I Loved Her First”. I well up with tears every time I listen to it. The love a father has for his precious child, all the memories he’s made with her, goes hand in hand with the knowledge that one day he will trust another man to hold her heart from that day forward. I know my husband’s tender heart, and it will be an emotional day when he walks his “Baby Girl” up to the altar on her wedding day.

I don’t know if it was intentional when the lyrics were written, but when I hear that song I can’t help thinking about how our Heavenly Father loved our daughter even before Charles did! It puts a whole new spin on the song! God loved us all first!

Valentine’s Day is a perfect day to remember the heights and depths of our Father’s Love for His children. My children are blessed to have a wonderful, Godly father, who always places their needs ahead of his own. They benefit from his wisdom, his practical advice, and his persistent prayers. They know their father has experienced God’s Love, and that Love influences everything Charles does.

As we celebrate this special day that celebrates LOVE, I wish all the young couples who will be wed in 2020 a happy day today and a blessed wedding day. I also wish the very best to all those dads who will dance with their daughters on their wedding day. I understand your pain and your joy. I especially wish MY Valentine of 42 years a wonderful day! Happy Valentine’s Day, Charles!

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