Love Always Wins

18 Apr

I saw the first inkling something was wrong on Twitter. The news outlets were reporting two explosions near the finish line at the Boston Marathon with numerous people injured and possibly dead.

And I thought, not again, Lord. Please, not again.

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[Mumford & Sons, “After the Storm.” Image Source: Pinterest]

The tragedies seem to come in waves. We, as a country, are knocked down by the waves of shock, sadness and grief only to stand up, spit the water out of our mouths, and keep moving forward. Before we know it, another wave comes along and knocks us down again.

I’m at a loss for words today. Not because what happened in Boston on Monday was the greatest tragedy to every occur – although it was and is a horrendous act of violence. I’m at a loss for words because this “stuff” continues to happen, I don’t understand why, and I don’t know how to stop it.

I mean, I do understand why things like this happen. I know there is evil in the world and that, at times, the evil wins – even if only for a brief moment – before love rises high enough to heal the broken hearts. I also know that no matter how good God is that freewill can result in tragedy and devastation. And I do believe that God is good and that He will ultimately use these events for good.

So, I sit here thinking.

I think of all the runners who trained and worked and pushed themselves to get to the point of not only running in the Boston Marathon, but nearly completing it . . . but who didn’t get to. And without regard for their own feelings of disappointment, stepped up to help those who had been injured.

I think of the young boy, Martin Richard, who truly had his whole life ahead of him, but now that life is gone. And his family. A sister whose leg had to be amputated. A mother in critical condition. And a father, running in the race, who is most likely numb with shock.

I think of the others who were seriously injured and I see their pictures in my mind – pictures I wish I’d never actually seen.

And I think, not again, Lord. Please, never again.

Father, I pray that you will heal the bodies of those wounded in Monday’s explosion. I ask you to please heal the hearts of those grieving loss of life and loss of limb. Please comfort those families who are preparing to bury someone they love. Ease the emotional and physical pain being experienced by those recovering in hospitals and provide strength for their families as they support them through the challenging days ahead. Most of all, Lord, I pray that you would show us how to love each other in such a powerful way that it squashes the hate. Teach us how to care about and for those around us, compel us to be compassionate, and show us how to be sensitive to those you place in our paths. May your love, expressed through us, be so powerful, so big, so consuming that it swallows up all anger, bitterness, and hate in the world.

Because hate never wins. Love always does.

Blessings,
♥Rachel

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The Gardners of My Soul

15 Apr

charming-gardners

[This beautiful print is available in Katie Daisy’s Etsy store.]

I have numerous people in my life who bring me happiness – even joy – and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for their presence in my life. My husband is one of them. My parents are two others. I got to spend time this weekend with my husband and my parents and the garden in my soul is blooming with beautiful, vibrant flowers today!

There’s something about holding my husband’s hand, looking at my mother’s beautiful face and feeling my dad’s hug that just simply makes my heart smile. I realized how truly blessed I am and what a treasure it is to know I am loved.

If you are blessed to have people in your life who bring happiness and joy into your life, please do two things today: 1) say a prayer of thanks for them and 2) let them know how much they mean to you.

Hope you have a beautiful day!

Blessings,
♥Rachel

Sequestration and What it Means for Cancer Patients

11 Apr

My wise, knowledgeable, and kind-hearted friend, The Savvy Sister, posted this information earlier in the week and I think it is too important not to pass along. As a cancer patient, my perspective is different some – maybe even different than yours. If you do not have cancer, you may not feel as strongly about this issue as I do. However, if you know someone with cancer – especially an older adult – they will likely be affected.

cancer-clinic

[Photo by Christiana Care]

The effects of sequestration on Medicare are very serious for cancer patients. According to an article in the Washington Post, as of April 1, funding to cancer clinics has been significantly reduced forcing some clinics to turn away patients. This consequence of sequestration was unanticipated, but that does not diminish it’s negative impact. According to the article:

Medications for seniors are usually covered under the optional Medicare Part D, which includes private insurance. But because cancer drugs must be administered by a physician, they are among a handful of pharmaceuticals paid for by Part B, which covers doctor visits and is subject to the sequester cut.

It’s not a matter of these clinics fearing they won’t make any profit or being heartless by turning away patients. It’s a matter of these clinics not being able to administer some of these drugs because the amount of funding they get from Medicare for the drugs is less than what it costs to purchase them. It’s simple arithmetic.

Cancer medicines are incredibly expensive…and yet, the are extremely necessary. The Rituxan drug I receive every eight weeks costs more than $9,000 per treatment. My firstline treatment of Bendamustine + Rituxan ran more than $23,000 per treatment.

So, what are Medicare patients doing? If their clinic is not able to treat them anymore, they are now forced to go to hospitals to receive their treatment. This is not the worst thing in the world, however, there are problems with it:

  1. The hospitals are going to reach max capacity in treating patients.
  2. The cost of hospital cancer treatments can often exceed the cost of treatment in a private cancer clinic – and these extra costs will most certainly be felt by the Medicare patient.
  3. The hospitals may not be as convenient as the clinic where the patient currently goes. And let’s not forget the emotional toll of having to switch treatment centers mid-stream.

To someone who does not have cancer, switching treatment facilities might not seem like a big deal. But when you’ve developed relationships with the doctors and nurses who are treating you – when you’ve developed that trust relationship – leaving them would be hard. They are part of your survival support team. Leaving them and starting over with a new team can be traumatic – for patients who have already experienced enough emotional and physical trauma.

We have a lot of problems in this country when it comes to healthcare (we also have a lot of good things like great doctors and nurses and excellent medical facilities). Some of these issues will take time to fix well, but this is one issue that needs to be corrected now.

What can you do about this? Sign this petition. We need 100,000 signatures by April 27. Will you be one?

And let me lastly say, I’m not here to debate or argue politics. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and, as a cancer patient, I have a strong one on this issue. :) But I think we can all agree that no matter what our views are, we all want the very best care for 1) all cancer patients and 2) our senior adults.

Thank you for reading and for signing the petition (if you choose to do so). :)

Blessings,
♥Rachel

Some Monday Cheer

8 Apr

Treatment #8 went very well on Friday. I had planned to ask Dr. D if he would re-do my CMP and CBC to check my kidney function again since it was abnormal when tested eight weeks ago, but then normal when tested five days later. The nervous side of me wanted to make sure the numbers truly were still fine. :) But I didn’t have to ask because he had already ordered they be re-done before I even saw him. (Smart guy that he is.) And I was thrilled to see they were all normal! 

The video, below, was all over the news this weekend. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, be sure to watch it here. You will be glad you did. I promise.

Jack Hoffman is a 7 year old cancer patient with a brain tumor. He is a huge Nebraska Cornhusker’s football fan. During Nebraska’s scrimmage on Saturday, Jack got to not only go on the field, but take the ball and run it 67 yards for a touchdown!

This first video is of the coach and quarterback going over the play with him.

This second video is where you might get a little choked up. I did.

Yes, friends. There is still good in this world. Even though we are surrounded by cynicism, pummeled with problems, and overwhelmed by ornery, cranky people (at times) – moments like this remind us that good people do still exist and things like this big-little act of making a dream come true are what truly matter.

Blessings,
♥Rachel

What Will You Choose Today?

4 Apr

I’m heading to treatment tomorrow. This is #8; only four more to go after this! My labs were out of whack last time, but after re-doing them and getting an early CT scan, everything looked fine. I’m not expecting anything unusual with this treatment – just the same ‘ole, same ‘ole. :)

Paper Coterie, the makers of some seriously adorable paper products, came up with three cheerful Spring printables that caught my eye. They are super cute and FREE. We love free, don’t we?

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[Click on the image above, or this link, to hop over to Paper Coterie where you can download any or all of these lovely printables.]

I’m not sure which is my favorite. It’s either Hello Sunshine or Choose Happy, but I love them all.

I’ve talked before about how there’s more to life than being happy – that happiness shouldn’t be our goal because it’s a fickle feeling that can often be hard to come by. Rather, we should strive for joy-filled hearts.

That being said, we shouldn’t overlook happiness and the role being happy can play. If you think about it for a minute, I bet you you can picture someone you know who is perpetually unhappy. Now think about the negative “cloud” that surrounds that person. Do you want to be around him or her often?

Now, envision someone you know who is generally happy and pleasant. They tend to be the type of people others want to be around because their happy attitude is contagious.

A happy attitude is a choice and can be a powerful force in our own life and in the lives of those around us. We are faced with countless opportunities to choose positive or negative behavior:

Will we start our mornings in a foul mood because we woke up late?

Will we react in anger when we don’t get our way?

Will we become frustrated when asked to do more than our share of the work?

Will we wear a scowl or frown on our face just because we can?

Or . . .

Will we shake off the late start and appreciate having a job to go to?

Will we graciously accept not getting our way as an opportunity to serve someone else?

Will we tackle each task with energy being grateful we are physically able to work?

Will we wear a smile on our face, just because we can?

I don’t know about you, but the latter sure sounds better to me. Not necessarily easier, because it’s easy to be grumpy, fowl, and self-centered. But it’s better to aim for happy. And I think if we “Choose Happy” today we will feel better, those around us will feel better, and we will lay our heads down to sleep tonight knowing that we tried our best to leave a positive mark in our little corner of the world.

Blessings,
♥Rachel

By His Great Mercy

28 Mar

I hope you enjoy this Easter weekend. May your heart be reminded of God’s great, big, ginormous love for you and the promise of eternal life given to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. – Romans 5:8

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All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. – 1 Peter 1:3-5

Blessings,
♥Rachel

Holy Week Readings

25 Mar

The week leading up to Easter Sunday is different than any other week of the year. It reminds us of heartache and physical suffering, yet culminates with the hope we know because of our Risen Lord.

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[ Free Printable from AKA Design. Click on image to download. ]

I think it’s so important during Holy Week to take a few minutes, set aside the chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps (no matter how much you love Peeps!) for just a moment, and reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made as well as the promise we have because of his resurrection. This week symbolizes sacrificial love and hope for all of us.

To help us focus our minds on the divine nature of this week, here are some brief scripture readings for each day.

Palm Sunday | Monday | Tuesday | Holy Wednesday | Maundy Thursday | Good Friday | Holy Saturday | Easter Sunday

Palm Sunday

Philippians 2:6-11

Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Monday

Isaiah 42:1-4

1 “Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
He is my chosen one, who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
He will not falter or lose heart
until justice prevails throughout the earth.
Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.”

Tuesday

Isaiah 49:1-4

Listen to me, all you in distant lands!
Pay attention, you who are far away!
The Lord called me before my birth;
from within the womb he called me by name.
He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword.
He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand.
I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.
He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel,
and you will bring me glory.”
I replied, “But my work seems so useless!
I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.
Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand;
I will trust God for my reward.”

Holy Wednesday

Matthew 26:14-16 – Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

14 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests 15 and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.16 From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

Maundy Thursday

John 13:12-16

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message.

Good Friday

Isaiah 53:1-5

Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.

Holy Saturday

Romans 6:3-11

Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

Easter Sunday

John 20:1-9 – The Resurrection

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.

May you have a blessed Holy Week!
♥Rachel