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You Are Beautiful Just the Way You Are

7 Jun

Do you compare yourselves to others?  Boy, I do.  I know I shouldn’t, but I have yet to master the art of not comparing myself to others.  Especially when it comes to physical traits.

source: pinterest

I’m a big girl.  At 5’9″, I’m taller than the average woman and this has always bothered me.  Not bothered me in the sense that it keeps me awake at night (because nothing does that!), but bothered still.  It was awkward to be tall growing up and, even though it’s not a huge deal at my current…ahem…more mature age, it still feels awkward at times.

What it comes down to is the fact that I’m jealous of women who are shorter than me.  There.  I said it.

They’re cuter, clothes fit them better, and they can wear heals and look great in them.  I wear heals and suddenly become six feet tall.  Waaahhh….can you hear me whining???  :)

“Comparison is the death of true self-contentment.” – John Powell

Ahh, comparison.  The little devil.

While I don’t sit and dwell on the fact that I’m tall, it does creep into my thoughts.  And usually, right after it does, a voice inside my head says, “Rachel, be glad that you have two legs and can walk. It doesn’t matter how tall you are.”  Ouch, right?

God made each of us unique AND wonderful.  God doesn’t make trash.  He doesn’t make ugly, stupid, or worthless people.  He makes us different AND beautiful with our own gifts and talents.

I bet most of you have some physical trait that bothers you – something that you wish were different.  Be honest.  Maybe your issue isn’t height.  Maybe it’s weight, or your nose, or the waddle under your chin (I think I see one developing under mine and it scares me!).  But I know you probably have an issue – some little sticking point that prevents you from being perfectly comfortable with the way you look.

So why do we think these thoughts?  I asked myself this question and thought about it for a few days.  I looked up some scripture to see if I could get to the root of why we aren’t happy with ourselves and the answer I kept coming back to stung a bit.

We aren’t satisfied with ourselves because we don’t believe what God says about us.

Think about it.  If we truly, way down in the deepest parts of our souls, believed what God said about us, we wouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others.

We would believe that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. – Psalm 139:14

We would believe that we are chosen by God. – Ephesians 1:4

We would believe that we are valuable. – Matthew 10:29-31

And that would be enough.

For me, being tall is actually a blessing in disguise and I should be grateful.  You see, my Grandma Johnnye passed on her love of sweets to me.  Yes, I do try to make healthy food choices, but not all of the time.  I love me some sugar!  :)  The blessing of being tall is that it helps me distribute my weight a little better.  If I were shorter, a couple of extra pounds would be much more noticeable.

Would you like to join me today in believing that we are beautiful just as we are?  It’s true.  Trust me on this.  :)

Have a beautiful day!
♥ Rachel

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Thank You Thursday

24 May

Jon Gordon is the author of such books as The Seed, Training Camp, and The No Complaining Rule.  If you want to make positive change in your life, Jon Gordon provides encouragement and suggestions to help you make that happen.

One way he believes we can make positive change in our own life and the lives of those around us is to express appreciation to those who have had a positive impact on us – those on your team at work, members of your family, people you encounter on a regular basis – so he came up with Thank You Thursday.  The idea behind Thank You Thursday is this:

Every Thursday, take an intentional moment to acknowledge those who you are thankful for.  Send an email, post a note on Facebook, send them a message on Twitter, give them a call, stop by their desk, etc.  Simply take the time to thank those who have impacted you in big or small ways. – Jon Gordon

So, because it’s Thursday and because I have A LOT to be thankful for, I thought I would use this space today to thank someone for their influence and impact in my life.

That someone would be YOU.  If you are reading this, THANK YOU!  You have blessed me in more ways than you know.

I started this blog as a way to chronicle my experience with cancer treatment and keep friends and family updated.  Since my first treatment on August 10, 2011 I’ve been posting something each weekday and you guys have been responding in such encouraging ways.  I can’t thank you enough!!

Through this little blog, I’ve been encouraged by friends, had funny little conversations with my sisters, reassured my parents that I am, in fact, ok (physically, if not mentally!  ha ha!!), made some wonderful new friends, and reconnected with old friends.  (Old as in we’ve-been-friends-for-a-long-time kind of friends, not that they are old people.  Well, many of them are my age, so I guess that does make them old people!  {grin} )

I never imagined that, through a simple blog, I would be spurred-on by other cancer patients living all over the world – in places like Canada, the UK, and even Australia, but it has happened.  I never imagined that something I would write might encourage someone else going through something similar, but that has happened, too.  I am so grateful!

Thank you for reading every day or every week or every now and then.  I cherish every single visit.

Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts with me and connecting me to your blogs.  I love getting to reconnect with friends or “meet” new ones and share in your life experiences.

Thank you for inspiring me to live better, be positive, do more, try harder, and never, ever give up.

Thank you for surprising me.  On the days I think what I’ve written is boring or won’t have much meaning, someone always tells me how much it meant to them or that it was just what they needed to hear.

Thank you for encouraging me through your emails, phone calls, text messages, comments here on the blog, and face-to-face conversations.  I hope you get the occasional encouragement, maybe a little entertainment, and that I don’t bore you too often.

Just simply, thank you!

So….  Who are YOU going to thank today?

If there is someone (or maybe many someones) in your life who has impacted you in a positive way, feel free to use this platform to tell the world (ok, world is a wee bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean!) how much you appreciate him/her and why they mean so much to you.  Maybe it’s your mom or your husband or your best friend, but you know there is someone who needs to know how much they mean to you.  If you don’t want to share it here, be sure to tell them.  Your words might be exactly what they need to hear today.

Love you guys!
♥ Rachel

[Guest Post]: The Amazing Sarah Lawhorn

4 May

I am tickled, thrilled, excited, and overjoyed to bring you a guest post today by my good friend, Sarah Lawhorn.  Sarah writes about her life, her family (and her sweet baby, Jackson!), her faith, her job, and her Tennessee Vols (ick!) at The Blog Formerly Known as the OG Daily News.  That’s quite a title, huh?  Prior to yesterday, the title of her blog was The Oooey Gooey Daily News, but after being notified this week that she was infringing on someone’s copyright (who knew??), she had to change it.  She’s in the process of looking for a new title for her blog, so if you have any great suggestions, pass them along.  She’s having a contest to select the best name.

Jason, Sarah, and Jackson Lawhorn

Thanks Rachel for asking me to guest post today! Rachel and I work for the same company and have become wonderful friends during the 4 years I’ve been there. Although we have our differences (really just our choice of football teams), we are kindred spirits in so many ways! I am so thankful for her friendship and that I get to know her in REAL LIFE!

The story I wanted to share with you all today is about a big blessing in disguise that God used in my life at work.

A little over two years ago I was about to get married and had made the decision to go back to school to get my MBA. My company has a program where they will reimburse you for your tuition based on your grades, and then you have to commit to working for at least a full year after you complete your degree. Sweet deal, right?

My soon-to-be-hubby was also in MBA school and we would be able to take classes together! Perfect! I had already signed up for school and been accepted; the only thing standing in my way was approval from the “powers that be,” which would certainly be no big deal.

Welllllllll… the “powers that be” felt like getting married, moving to a new house, and starting grad school all at once while working full time would not be best for me, so they wouldn’t approve the reimbursement program. I was CRUSHED!! I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t able to do what I had planned, and was bitter about it for a quite a while.

In October of 2010 (a little over a year later), we found out that we were expecting our first child in July 2011! This was quite the surprise but such a HUGE BLESSING!! After being pregnant for a while, the hubs and I started conversations about whether I would go back to work full time after having the baby. We never seemed to be on the same page and I would ask God all the time “What do You have planned for us? I just want to KNOW!!” (Here’s the story with ALL the details, in case you are a details person.)

July 1st came rolling around and our sweet precious Jackson Dean (Jack) was born! He is truly the biggest BLESSING we have ever experienced. I could go on and on… (and I do on my blog!) but to get back to the original story – We never dreamed we would be starting a family so soon, it just wasn’t in “our plan.” But the Lord’s plans are so much better than anything we could put together.

And you know what? If I had gone back to school, I would have been right in the middle of the program when we had Jack. And I would have either had to pay back all my tuition OR continue to work full time and go to night classes and THEN work another year full time after graduating to have the company pay for it! What a MESS that would have been because – let’s face it – I couldn’t bear to be away from the little guy for 8 hours a day, much less 2-3 more for classes each night! Yikes!!

So even though I was heartbroken, bitter, confused, and even angry about the decision that the “powers that be” made 2+ years ago, it was a BLESSING IN DISGUISE because the Lord knew that He had bigger and better things for me coming sooner than I would have ever imagined!

***********

I just love Sarah to pieces. She has such a sweet spirit and I treasure our friendship. Thank you so much, Sarah, for sharing your heart with us today!  Be sure to hop over to Sarah’s blog and let her know how much we loved her post today!

Have a beautiful weekend, friends!
♥ Rachel

Celebrating A Giving Heart

28 Feb

The Jefferson Award honors “everyday citizens who do incredible things in a totally unselfish manner.”  Several winners are chosen at the local level and one finalist from each participating area will go to the National Jefferson Award celebration in Washington, D.C. in the Spring.

I was so excited to learn yesterday that one of my chemo nurses, Dorothy Williamson, is a 2012 Jefferson Award winner here locally – an honor given to exceptionally giving, caring individuals in our community who make a difference!  She is completely deserving of this award and I think they made an excellent choice in selecting her!!

Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press February 27, 2012

Click on the image above if you would like to see the full page article.  Email readers, you may need to click over to my blog to see it.

Dorothy is a riot and she never stops.  She is constantly moving, talking, doing something, thinking, and helping three people all at the same time.  She goes full speed ahead all day and almost always has a huge smile on her face and a big hug for everyone.  When she’s not smiling, it’s because she is concerned about one of the patients.

She and I got to be quite familiar with each other when my veins decided to become difficult to access.  I always knew when she was headed my way that my arms were going to get “spanked” because she would slap the veins trying to get them to puff up a bit.  I hated it, but she hated having to stick me so many times because she knew it was uncomfortable.  She truly cares about the patients.

We have a joke about some shoes that I wear to chemo sometimes.  They are black Mary Janes.  The first time Dorothy saw them, she mentioned that she liked my Mary Annes – so now, I always call them Mary Annes, just for her.  :)

Dorothy is an exceptional person.  Her attitude is incredibly positive and her laughter is the craziest cackle you’ve ever heard!  It makes you smile even when you don’t feel like smiling.  She likes to cut-up and laugh with the patients and helps to create an atmosphere of pleasure as much as possible in a room where you would not expect anything to be pleasurable.  No one wants to be there, but she certainly makes you feel welcomed and loved while you are in her care.

And it’s not just Dorothy who’s that way.  She has helped to create an environment where all of the nurses are, without question in my mind, some of the most gifted, caring, compassionate, fun people I’ve ever met. They all have very special places in my heart.

Dorothy is truly wonderful and makes going for a chemo treatment actually enjoyable.  I am so proud and happy for her to receive this honor!!

I can say with absolute certainly that Dorothy and ALL of the nurses at COHA are blessings in disguise for me.  I don’t want to be there, I certainly didn’t want to be diagnosed with cancer, but I have been given an incredible gift in having them for my treatment nurses.

Congratulations, Dorothy!  You’ve certainly made a positive impact in my life and I thank you for it!
♥ Rachel

A Painting in the Sky

20 Feb

I caught this amazing sunset last night.  The clouds were moving quickly so the colors were continually changing.  It was like a brilliant light show in the sky!

Tennessee Sunset

What was really amazing about this gorgeous display was that most of Sunday was rainy, cold, and dreary.  Then, after the rain had finished doing it’s work, the skies opened up to reveal a colorful design that only God could create.

My aunt is a talented artist and I think some of her paintings are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.  I know a tremendous amount of thought, technique, talent, and creativity go into each of her paintings.  To see a natural, living, moving, in-real-life canvas like this was breathtaking, especially following such a grey day.

This sunset seemed to be a visual representation of the promises that, no matter how rotten or ugly some things may be, God will make all things new (Rev. 21:5) and that He works everything for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).

This morning’s sky was yucky – grey, dingy, cold, and with a steady rain.  I didn’t want to be out in it, much less stand there and admire it’s beauty – because there was no beauty to be seen.  Yet, within a few hours, the sky literally transformed into an artist’s canvas full of vibrant blues and hot pinks.  It was gorgeous and the picture does not do the actual sunset justice.

Cancer is that way.  It’s grey, ugly, depressing, and not something I want to dwell on or think about.  It’s hard to find the beauty in it at all.  Yet, God has helped me see the situation with fresh eyes.  He has painted a portrait of a life worth living, of a life filled with beauty and blessings.

I dare say the sunset would not have been as beautiful without the rain earlier in the day.  The same is true with my cancer diagnosis, for without it, I would not be experiencing some of the most wonderful blessings of my life, not the least of which is a desire for a deeper relationship with God, Himself.

I hope on this busy Monday that you will be able to see some of the blessings and gifts placed before you today.  They are there, just waiting to be discovered.  Have a beautiful day!
♥ Rachel

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

15 Feb

No offense to Tina Turner, but love has everything to do with it.

With all the love floating in the air yesterday, I started thinking about that little four letter word.  Love is a simple, sometimes overused word, but it has some truly serious power behind it.  Have you stopped think about what it really means and how it impacts virtually every aspect of our lives?

Let’s start with the greatest example of love:

For God so loved the world (that would be us)
that he gave his one and only son (he gave up his only child)
that whoever (that would be us again)
believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16

We may think we love our spouse or our children, but it pales in comparison to the love God has for us.  A love so strong that he was willing to place His son on this earth knowing that He would eventually die for our sins.  That’s some kind of love.

But what is love, really?  Is it a feeling?  Well, yeah.  We feel love for people and we feel loved by people – our spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends, even pets.  I definitely love my little cat, Pumpkin, and I am certain he loves me back.  Can’t you just see the love in his eyes?  (That’s also the same look he has when he’s annoyed with me so sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.)  :)

Ok, back to the subject at hand.

Is love more than a feeling?  Absolutely.  Love is an action.  It’s a motivator.  It’s a choice.  It’s a healing balm.

Since being diagnosed with cancer, I’ve realized two things about love:

  1. I took for granted just how much I was loved, not only by my family, but also by God.
  2. Love kept me going, held me up, and made me stronger.

I took for granted how much I was loved because I was loved so much.  Growing up, I never doubted for one second that I was loved and loved deeply.  I was taught about God and I learned of His love for us through my parent’s example.  After getting married, I was even more sure of the fact that I was loved, now not only by my birth family, but by my husband, my stepdaughters, and my husband’s family.  But I took it for granted.  I never stopped to think about what a priceless gift that love is.

To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.
David Viscott

Once the “word” was out about my cancer, I was flooded with cards, calls, emails, gifts, and text messages from people who love me and were praying for me and, to my amazement, this has continued throughout the entire journey.  The rock solid love of my husband kept me sane and grounded.  The love of my family literally held me up for most of the past year.  The love of God, my Father, has given me the most surreal peace from the very beginning as I trusted that he is in control of everything.

We cannot all do great things,
but we can do small things with great love.

Mother Teresa

Love is so incredibly powerful and one of the greatest gifts we can give and be given by any other person.  So, see, Tina?  Love has everything to do with it.  :)

If you didn’t get a chance to take yesterday’s poll on Valentine’s Day, hop over there and let me know where you stand.

♥ Rachel

Blessings in Disguise. Really??

27 Jan

UsingEnglish.com offers this definition: If some bad luck or misfortune ultimately results in something positive, it’s a blessing in disguise.

A fellow cancer patient and new friend wrote a blog post last week stating that she didn’t quite get the whole blessings in disguise thing.  She’s heard it mentioned in various places, but just didn’t quite understand if they were blessings, why do they have to be disguised.  Good question, no?  Why can’t we just receive blessings, no strings attached or trials involved?

She certainly doesn’t feel like her cancer is a blessing at all and who can blame her!  Fearing for your life, chemo that makes you very sick, losing your hair – none of those things remotely resemble what any of us would consider blessings at all.

Source: ThinkStockPhotos.com

This was my response to her:

I don’t think the cancer, itself, is a blessing, but my experience has been that I have received many blessings because of having cancer. Many of these blessings are things I would have never experienced were it not for having cancer such as the love and care of friends, the fresh eyes that I am now seeing my life through, and the way the diagnosis has created an even stronger bond between my husband and myself. The cancer is mean, harsh, and destructive, but I am determined that it will not drag me down to its level. I’m trying hard to focus on the best parts of it and think as little as possible about the negative side. I think the blessings aspect of having cancer is easier to accept the farther away we get from diagnosis. On day one, there was too much shock, too much fear and too many tears to even think about blessings. Nine months into this, I’m able to have a better perspective on the whole thing. Hope you are doing well today and feeling strong!

I can see where she’s coming from because we tend to think (and would LOVE for) blessings to be awesome, wonderful, and all full of happiness and light.  But that’s not necessarily going to the be the case all the time.  We may receive straight out blessings in our lives that did not require us to go through a any sort of trial before hand, but there are definitely going to be trials, struggles, hardships, and turmoil that may ultimately result in blessings.

Whether we have cancer or not, I think it has a lot to do with perspective because God is placing blessings in our path – we just have to recognize them for what they are.  And sometimes – often in fact – they are not always recognizable as such until after the fact.

Cancer itself is not a blessing, it’s a nasty disease that robs people of everything from their hair to their dignity and sometimes, ultimately, their life on earth.  So, no, cancer is not a blessing.  But because of cancer, I have been blessed in more ways than I can count, but here are some of the biggies:

  1. My love and respect for my husband has been multiplied by 1,000 as I watch him love and care for me through this.
  2. I see life through different eyes.  Not bitter eyes, but grateful eyes.  Every moment with family, every sunrise, even every tiny daily annoyance is a gift to be appreciated.
  3. Cancer is a motivator.  It is propelling me to do and try some things I would have never done or tried before (like blogging for one).
  4. People have reached out to me, shared their hearts with me, and shown me how much they love me because of cancer.  WHAT a gift – and a blessing – that has been.

Whether your trial is cancer or illness, a job loss, a house that won’t sell, a rebellious child, or an annoying co-worker, I hope that you will take some time to step back and look for some of the blessings that may be hidden in these difficulties.  Be open to receiving them.  You may be surprised what you find!

Love you all.  Have a wonderful weekend!!
♥ Rachel