I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessings. Ezekiel 34:26
I have an amazing life. I am married to a man I lovingly refer to as Superman. I have two wonderful children, a girl and a boy, who bring me such joy. I happen to have the best Mom in the whole world and a Dad who was my hero but who now watches over me from heaven. I have the best friends a girl could ever have. I have a God who loves me and gives me strength to get the through the hardest of days. Yes, I happen to have stage 4 cancer and a pretty dismal prognosis but still, I have a blessed life. Mother, Husband, Children, Friends — those are some big blessings! Those are the blessings that fill that proverbial cup.
Although we all have our most obvious blessings, many people have blessings that go unnoticed. There are the blessings that are so simple, so every day, so seemingly mundane, that they may be overlooked. There are blessings that take me by surprise, that come out of the blue – like the blessings that sprinkle around me in the middle of life's storms. There are blessings that are large and small, that slip in quietly and that come into my life like the blaring horns of a marching band. There are blessings that have the power to change my life and there are blessings that just make life a little easier.
When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is say a prayer of thanks for another day. I don't take one day for granted. There was a time when I would wake up sick, or in such pain, that I couldn't get out of bed without help. There were days I spent upstairs in bed, listening to my husband and kids carry on without me because I didn't want the kids to see me in such pain. There were days spent at the cancer center, sitting in a recliner having chemo pumped through my veins, and evenings spent in bed or on the couch, sleeping off the effects that came long after chemo was over. So, every day that I wake up in the morning, can get out of bed on my own, and feel well enough to carry on an often busy, but normal, day – I am beyond thankful.
When I get ready in the morning, I am grateful that I have hair on my head. I am grateful for my eyebrows and eyelashes. There was a time when I avoided looking in the mirror, when my morning routine consisted of putting on my crocheted hat, a gift from the cancer center, or putting on my wig. Either way, I felt like I was trapped inside the body of someone I didn't know. To be able to brush my real hair, to have eyebrows to shape, and eyelashes to coat in mascara – to look at a face that I recognized – that was something I would never take for granted, even on the worst of days. In my world, bad hair days don't exist.
When I wake up my children for school, I stare at their faces for a moment. I thank God that I am still here, that I am still their Mom here on earth. I thank God that I can look at their sleeping faces, more mature and more grown up than I like sometimes, but still my baby boy and baby girl. When they open their sleepy eyes and twist their faces in protest of waking up, I thank God that they are blessed with another day as well, that they are healthy and happy. I thank God that although my children may grow tired of me telling them to brush their teeth or to get their shoes on, my children who still have a mother. So even with the complaining and whining as they go about their morning routine, I will never forget that I am here to be a part of their mornings. I am here to be part of their lives. I am thankful that I am still here as they grow older so that I can continue to make an impact on their lives, hopefully one that will outlast my days here on earth.
When I get in the car to take the kids to school, to run errands, to go to appointments, I thank God that I am able to drive myself anywhere I want to go. For months, due to several surgeries, I was not permitted to drive. I felt like a burden to my loved ones who had to drive me to appointments. I felt trapped at home, isolated from the outside world sometimes. When I did go out, I had to dig deep to find the energy to step up into the car, to pull myself into the seat, and to turn my body so that I could fasten my seat belt. It was painful to ride in the car as every bump and turn brought pain and discomfort. So, the luxury of carelessly walking to the car, getting in, buckling up, and driving myself somewhere is a blessing all its own. It's a freedom that I was denied for a long time.
When I celebrate a special occasion – birthdays, holidays, anniversaries — it fills my heart with such joy and happiness. It doesn't have to be a major event. I can find something to celebrate just about every single day. Birthdays are milestones. I want to celebrate every birthday because it is a celebration of another year of life with family and friends and a celebration of the possibilities of the year ahead. I find it a privilege to be a part of someone's special day. Holidays are the best. Every year, when I open the boxes of Christmas decorations, I am so extremely grateful that I am here to hang ornaments on the tree, to adorn the railing with garland and ribbon, to set up the nativity scene that my Mom so lovingly painted years ago – to be able to make memories with my family for another Christmas, to make those holiday memories for my children that will live inside their hearts long after I am gone. Every cookie baked, every card sent, every ornament hung — each one a special blessing.
When someone does something unexpected, just to help out, just to do something for someone else. That is a true blessing and one that both surprises and humbles me. When I was diagnosed, I was overwhelmed by how many people were so willing to help. Family members, lifelong friends, neighbors, acquaintances, even strangers … so many people willing to do anything they could to help me through the bad times. I received hugs and words of support, phone calls and visits, meals and gifts – things I so appreciated and things I didn't even know I needed. The unexpected gifts, the genuine goodness, the kindness that lives within people's hearts, even those we don't know, is simply amazing. The outpouring of love and support was like nothing I had every experienced and the gift of that experience was so much more than the things I received — it opened my eyes to just how wonderful people are and restored my faith that the good in this world far outweighs the bad. The blessing of that knowledge has helped me through some dark times and is one of the greatest things I have learned along the way.
When I see the first flower of spring or the fall leaves cascading down from the trees, I notice and I take it all in. I remember sitting in a recliner in the cancer center, looking out the window at the blue sky and puffy clouds. Back then, it seemed like more than walls and windows kept me separated from the beauty around me. I remember watching the snow fall outside my window on a January day when I was in the hospital having surgery. It was a beautiful sight but I was in too much pain to enjoy it. That whole winter was brutal. Going out into the cold caused me to shiver which caused my body more pain. I was forced to sleep away gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, sunny days, and peaceful snowfalls. I missed so, so much. Now, I notice things others don't. I take pictures of everything – and those pictures I can't take on my phone, I take with my mind. There is so much beauty around us. It wasn't until I got sick that I truly appreciated it. God's masterpiece is a blessing every day, and one that I won't miss anymore.
When I hear people complain about trivial things or stress about things that don't matter, it makes me sad. When I see people being unkind to each other, it hurts my heart. When I hear people putting things off that they really want to do 'some day' or telling me that they are unhappy with their current situation, it makes me want to scream, “Don't wait. Do it now. Make some changes”. When I heard that I had cancer, my outlook on life instantly changed. Things that mattered the day before weren't as important. It was devastating to hear that news but at the same time, having heard that news made my heart grow bigger and my mind clear itself of life's clutter. No longer did I worry so much about career goals or about material things, silly arguments, things well into the future — my focus was on my family, my friends, and my 'right now'. Along with my diagnosis, I gained a filter that sorts out the extras so that I can focus on what really matters. That filter has been an unexpected blessing for sure.
So, I have learned to look for blessings in every situation and thank God for all the blessings He has given me, even the small ones. I adore my family and friends. I love being a Mom. I celebrate special occasions along with the wonderful things that happen every day. I notice the beauty around me and find joy in the simple things. Although I look forward to the future, I don't live my life worrying about what may come. I do my best to live in the present. It gets difficult at times, like when I wait for scan results or think about how long I have left to live; but, then I quickly refocus on the blessings right in front of me and give those worries to God. When I count my blessings one by one, I am in awe of how very long that list really is and how that list gets longer every day. Even during the times that I have to look hard to find them, I know that they are there.
I have an amazing life. I am blessed beyond words. I thank God for all I have. The best way to show my gratitude for those blessings is to live my life… I need to live it, right here, right now, no matter what may come.
Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her. Luke 1:45
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