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Love For All of Us

14 Feb

On this St. Valentine’s Day, we need to remember love means more than romance. And even though Valentine’s Day is all about sweeties, true love is not reserved only for couples. As Christians, we are called to love [everyone] as Christ loved us.

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[source]

Love is not just a word or an emotion. While we feel love from others and for others, love is not just a feeling. It’s a motive, a driver, a decision that propels us to take action and show others how much we love them.

Love is a verb.

Love requires action.

Love is not limited to our spouse or significant other.

Love is a choice.

Love is the greatest way to share Jesus with others.

Love heals.

Love soothes.

Love calms.

Love gives the benefit of the doubt.

Love understands.

Love lifts.

Love gives.

Love forgives.

Love accepts.

Love shares.

Love puts others first.

Love serves.

Love assumes the best.

Love tries.

Love appreciates.

Love dreams.

Love struggles.

Love doesn’t give up.

Love plans.

Love hopes.

If you are in a relationship, remember that love doesn’t just happen, it requires effort. While the roses, candy, gifts, and Valentine’s Day dinners are FANTASTIC, what you do the other 364 days of the year also matter. If you are not good at showing your husband or wife how much you love them on a regular basis, let today be the starting point for letting him or her know. :)

Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends!

Also, if you have any single friends, let them know how much you love them, too. I remember my single years and know how much Valentine’s Day can stink when you are single. A note, a call, an invitation to lunch  – anything to let them know they are special and LOVED would likely make their day.

Blessings!
♥Rachel

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On Birthdays and Aging

7 Feb

First, thanks for your feedback and encouragement on my decision to reduce my number of posts each week. It’s felt good to have a little breathing room in my schedule. :)

I want to wish one of my most faithful readers – my mom – a VERY happy birthday today! Love you so much and am blessed to be your daughter!

Speaking of birthdays, I turned 44 on Tuesday. Does that seem really old to anyone else? I feel like I should be so much smarter, wiser or more mature than I actually am if I’m going to be 44. Grown ups are 44 and I don’t feel grown up. {grin}

growing-older

Birthdays are different now (in a good way). Those of you with cancer know what I’m talking about. Milestones are no longer saved for turning 40, 50, etc. Each birthday is a milestone, a reason to celebrate. A gift. This is true always, but we become more aware of it after a cancer diagnosis (or some other serious health scare). Sad, but true.

It’s no longer about how many gifts I receive or what my family does for me to celebrate the occasion (although those things are wonderful and I don’t want want to give them up!). It’s not about me being the center of attention (although I am very comfortable being in that position – {grin}). It’s about breathing in the day and acknowledging what an accomplishment the previous year has been. It’s about making it through a year of maintenance treatments without a relapse or major issue. It’s about growing more into the person God created me to be. It’s about learning to thrive in the midst of challenges. It’s about living.

This past year has been calm in comparison to the previous one. I’m on cruise control right now, and that’s where I hope to stay for a looooonng time. But it’s still been a challenge. The emotional side of dealing with cancer has been harder this year than my first. In year one, I was busy “doing” cancer – going to appointments, getting tests and scans, receiving treatment, taking it one day at a time. Now, the reality of having a chronic cancer, while not immediately life threatening, can be tough to wrap my head around at times. I don’t want it. I want to stamp “return to sender” on this cancer and put it in the mail. Too bad that’s not an option,  huh?

In spite of being stuck with a package I didn’t want to receive, life is good. I have people to love and I am reminded often of how much I am loved. God gives me reasons to smile each day. Can I really ask for more than that? Nah.

Speaking of cancer, tomorrow is my 7th maintenance treatment! Only five to go after this one. Oh, yeah!!

So, what’s your perspective on birthdays? Love them? Hate them?

Blessings!
♥Rachel

I Like Yoga Pants

26 Nov

How was your Thanksgiving? Very good, I hope. Did you do anything fun, memorable, a little crazy?? What was the best thing you ate? Normally, I would have said the best thing on the menu would have been the cornbread dressing or sweet potato casserole, but not this year. I woke with a headache Thursday morning and by the time we arrived at Barry’s aunt & uncle’s house, it was a full-blown migraine.

I had hoped to be able to help in the kitchen getting everything ready, but as soon as I walked into the kitchen and smelled the food I realized that would not be happening. I could hardly stand to be near the food most of the day. :( I nibbled on a piece of turkey, some mashed potatoes, and a roll, but not much else. It wasn’t until we were in the car on our way home that my headache started to go away and I my appetite began to return. Fortunately, I had grabbed a sweet potato biscuit before we left so I scarfed it down and it was good!

In another anticipated Thanksgiving twist, Barry’s (almost 94-year old) grandmother fell Wednesday night and broke her arm. She and some of the family were at the Emergency Room until nearly 2:00 am. Not quite what any of them had planned, but they made the best of it. She is seeing an orthopedic doctor today for a consultation about what to do with her arm (possible surgery?). If you wouldn’t mind saying a prayer for her today, we would appreciate it.

What does all of that have to do with yoga pants? Nothing and everything. :)

{I really do like yoga pants. Have you ever worn them?? Oh my stars, they are comfortable!}

We don’t venture too far from home on Thanksgiving. Barry manages eight mall retail cookie stores so getting ready for the Black Friday chaos begins on Thanksgiving Day – especially now that stores are opening earlier and earlier.

We were at our local mall Saturday night getting ready for Black Friday. Customers had been lining up for several hours prior to the mall’s opening hoping to be the first to get to some great deal. When the doors opened at midnight, you could hear the screaming as frenzied customers ran to their store of choice. It was IN-SANITY.

Within a couple of minutes, we noticed everyone running in the direction of Victoria’s Secret, pointing their fingers and screaming. I honestly thought there was a celebrity or something of that nature because they were acting so crazy. When we looked over the railing, we saw the store packed with so many bodies you couldn’t even move inside. Another hundred people (at least) waited impatiently outside trying to get in.

Now. I’m ALL for getting a bargain on something you need or want. And I LOVE saving lots of money on something I’ve been looking for, but people. Really?

Apparently, this scene played out at Victoria’s Secrets across the country. Why? $12.95 yoga pants. I’m not kidding. These women were screaming, pushing, punching (yes, punching), shoving, climbing on the counters, and walking on top of people – to get to yoga pants.

What in the world???

All of this retail/shopping/spending/gotta-have-it-now chaos makes me think about the children we sponsor through Compassion International. The children who are overjoyed to be able to buy a pair of jeans, a shirt, and a toy with the birthday money we send them. What would they think of the people who are willing to beat someone up in order to buy a pair of $12.95 yoga pants. I bet they would think it was silly.

They would be right.

It seems interesting to me that on the fourth Thursday of every November we gather with friends and family to give thanks for all of God’s blessings throughout the year. Then, on the fourth Friday of every November we elbow, push, and shove our fellow customers in order to get our hands on a pair of $12.95 yoga pants from Victoria’s Secret. Call me crazy, but I don’t get it.

What do you think? Do you like the crazy shopping frenzy or do you prefer to avoid it at all costs?

Enjoy this last week of November! Hope it is a blessed one for you!!
Rachel

It’s Not About the Turkey

20 Nov

If you’re anything like me, you may not have been all that interested in history classes. And as much as I loved my 9th Grade World History teacher, Mrs. Thomas, she didn’t convert me to a history lover.

As I’ve gotten older, though, my interest in history has increased significantly. (I guess that’s a sign that I’m really getting OLD because I thought my parents were really OLD when they would talk about historical or political events or watch documentaries on TV! {grin}) So much of who we are, what we do, what we believe, and how we think stems from what our ancestors did, said, believed, and thought.

Take, for example, Thanksgiving Day. While the origin of our holiday originated with the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians celebrating the first harvest in the Fall of 1621, President George Washington gave the day its first official stamp with his Thanksgiving Proclamation issued in 1789. If you haven’t read it before, it’s word a quick read – I promise it’s not that long. :)

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
New York, 3 October 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

[Source: Library of Congress]

It’s clear the intent of Thanksgiving celebrations was to thank God for the many blessings he has given us throughout the year. But we like to add so much more to the holiday, don’t we? Almost to the point where we forget all about being thankful, right?

We’re grumpy because we’re running late to catch our flight, mad because we forgot an ingredient at the grocery store, frustrated because the children won’t stop climbing all over the furniture, and annoyed because we’re having to listen to Uncle Jim Bob tell that story about wrestling the alligator AGAIN. Oh, but aren’t all those things blessings in and of themselves? The ability to fly, the money for groceries, the children to play, and the precious {if not a little cooky} family members . . . all blessings.

Just remember this week as you are frantically preparing a meal or quickly packing a suitcase to go out of town that it’s not about the turkey & dressing, the cranberry sauce, the pumpkin pie, or even the football games {What? Says who??}. And it’s not even about Black Friday and shopping ’til you drop.

It’s about remembering in our hearts how good God has been to us – yes, even in the midst of difficulty and struggles He has blessed us tremendously – and taking time to stop from our busy lives to say . . . thank you, Lord, we are grateful for everything.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!
Rachel

An Anniversary, a Thank You, and a Smile {Video}

9 Nov

Today’s post is a hodge-podge of items. :)

First, today is my 10th wedding anniversary!! I can hardly believe it’s been ten years since we said our vows and jumped into this crazy life together. Ten years since my very dear friend, Craig Kendall, joined us in holy matrimony in a small country inn outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Ten years since my dad prayed over us with a choked up voice full of emotion as he gave me to my husband-to-be. Ten years since we stood in between two precious little girls (now my beautiful stepdaughters) and pledged to love, honor, and cherish each other for better or worse, in sickness and health, til death do us part. We had no idea how soon or in what way the sickness and health part would be tested, but the man I married has lived that pledge to me for ten years, and most especially during these days with cancer.

I love you, Barry. I am grateful for you and blessed to be your wife and I can’t wait to see what the next ten years have in store for us!

Second, thank you for your comments here and on Facebook & Twitter about yesterday’s post. I didn’t anticipate it would strike such a chord, but I’m glad you found my words to be encouraging. Uncertainty will always be our companion. We can be crippled by it or we can carry on. Whatever we do, I hope we can do it with love in our hearts and kindness toward everyone. The Presidential campaign had more than enough mud-slinging – no need for us to continue it with those around us. A friend posted this on Facebook last night and I loved it:

source: calej d’art

I thought it was a good reminder that it’s ok to be different and disagree with each other, but still do it in a kind, respectful way. If we can only be friends with people who agree with us, our list of friends is going to get smaller and smaller and smaller . . . :)

And lastly, to put a smile on your face and maybe even a little tear in your eye, here is a great video of a military family being reunited with their husband and dad at the South Carolina-Georgia football game several weeks ago. The tears, the love, the JOY – gets me every single time! As a military kiddo who remembers what it was like when dad came home, I looooovvvvvveeeeee these welcome home videos.

{If you are reading this in email,
you may need to click over to the blog to watch the video.}


Have a beautiful weekend! I appreciate you all so much and am grateful that you allow me to have a few minutes of your day. Thank you!
Rachel

The Certainty of Uncertainty

8 Nov

There was a lot of freaking out on Facebook and Twitter yesterday. :) More angry comments than I cared to see followed by Bible verses about God’s sovereignty,  opinions about how and why the election turned out the way it did, and questions about the future. I’ll admit, I’m disappointed in the outcome of the election. It’s not what I had hoped, or voted, for.

But . . . it is what it is.

We knew going into Election Day that lots of people were going to be disappointed. That was certain. There could only be one winner. We also knew that neither candidate was going to solve all of our problems because that’s not humanly possible. Another certainty. What we didn’t know was who would be hired to head our country for the next four years. And what we don’t know now is what’s going to happen next year, the year after that, or the year after that. Uncertainty.

I heard a lot of talk about uncertainty and all of the worries about what will happen in the future now that President Obama has been re-elected. Some of that talk has been taking place inside my own head. I’ve got my concerns and fears and doubts.

But I’ve got a news flash for you and me – our future on Earth has always been, and will always be, uncertain. If Mitt Romney had been elected, our future would be uncertain. Sure, my personal values and ideas align more with his policies and opinions, but there’s no guarantee that what he hoped to accomplish would have been done. Just as there’s no guarantee that what President Obama hopes to accomplish will be done.

As I sit and think about, I recognize that history has been filled with uncertainty. We make plans, we can often figure out what is going to happen in the future, but truthfully – we just don’t know because much of it is just uncertain – no matter who the President of the United States is.

The only certainty we have, as Christians, is that Jesus is Lord, God is still on His throne, and one day we will meet them face to face. There’s your hope. There’s your future. There’s your certainty.

We shouldn’t look to a man or a political party or our spouse or our parents or our employer to offer us security and peace of mind. They can’t do it. They may try, but we will never find lasting security in people.

When you have cancer, you know what uncertainty is. You wake up with it, you think about it, you confront it – you eat, sleep, and breathe uncertainty. It becomes uncomfortably familiar. This is how I feel about our country right – we are in an uncomfortably familiar place. Not because President Obama has been re-elected, but because we are all (politicians and us citizens, alike) just as stubborn as we were on Monday. Nothing has changed in our hearts. And until it does, we will only see superficial changes that won’t last.

So, my recommendation for us this Thursday following the election? Shake it off. We need to pick ourselves up by your bootstraps, put our big girl pants on, and with a smiles on your faces go out and make this the best day possible not only for ourselves – but for all those we encounter during the day. We can focus on the uncertainty or we can focus on what we know: that God is still God, we live in a wonderful country, and life is still good.

 Rachel

It’s Gonna Be a Long Day

6 Nov

Election Day is here and we can almost put the campaign negativity and biting political ads behind us {at least for three more years}. Whew, right?

Yesterday’s political headlines provided a variety of statements and opinions:

  • It’s a dead heat
  • Poor’s fate rests with winner
  • We need a new beginning
  • Obama, Romney turn to star power to win swing states (and let me just say this – if you are allowing your vote for President to be influenced one way or the other by a celebrity, please don’t vote)
  • Don’t give up on change
  • Myths of Obama campaign

The truth has been in short supply lately. At least, the whole truth. Sure, we get bits and pieces of truth edited by production personnel working for news outlets across the country, but rarely do we get the full story. And let’s not forget the poll numbers that change every.single.minute. (By the way, I’m not sure who they are polling because I’ve never been called or asked a poll question. Have you?)

There are as many opinions about this election and these candidates as there are people in this country. The back and forth just wears me out. While I don’t like the pettiness, name-calling, and mud-slinging that seems to rise to the surface during election season, I do love the whole process of electing a new President because I am reminded that – as flawed and terrible as it can be – it still matters.

Who thinks that we’ll know who the next President of the United States will be by the end of today? Tomorrow? Yeah, me either. I hope we don’t have to wait too long, but with this election being as close as they say it is, the issues with absentee and provisional ballets, and the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy – who knows what will happen.

I do know this, though:

And that gives me peace because my hope is in Him.

If you didn’t vote early, here are a few things to keep in mind as you head to the polls today:

  • Neither candidate is perfect.
  • Neither candidate can or will do everything he has promised.
  • Be nice today – not arrogant, condescending, or offensively opinionated. You are entitled to your opinions, but so is the next guy – even if his/her differ from yours.
  • Be patient. God willing, you will have to stand in a very long line to vote, meaning that more people actually care about who our next President will be and are voting, too.
  • Pray for both candidates.

That last item is critical. If you are a Christian, it is your responsibility to pray for the President . . . no matter who he is. Even, and especially, if the President elected is not the one you voted for – you must pray for him. The President has enormous influence and responsibility. To allow him to govern the country without our prayers is selfish and reckless.

IF YOU BELIEVE IN PRAYER, pray now. Pray for those voting, for those working at the polling centers, for the results to be accurate, for their to be no serious complications in the voting process, for the candidates and their families, and for our country as a whole. Then keep praying. Your responsibility to pray doesn’t end when you cast your vote – like the next President’s, it’s just beginning.

And remember, no matter who wins the election today, we can rest in the knowledge that God is ultimately in control.

Happy Election Day! Go vote!!
 Rachel