This is apparently a 'thing' I do. I wait and wait, write nothing, then feel so overwhelmed with all there is to update on, it paralyzes me, and I continue putting off writing! Seriously, when will I learn?
Like you, the list of all I'm thankful for is never ending and ever growing. I am continually humbled by how blessed I am. This year particularly.
November 13th, 2015 marked one year since finding out I had cancer. I now have this huge event on my timeline that I will constantly be comparing every day to. For example, on this day last year, I was finishing my 5th bag of 24 hour chemo, really feeling the sickening and wearing effects of that life saving poison, with my mind on one thing, getting home to kiss and hold my children.
*These pictures are my treasures. Thank you Mikki Platt!
I feel like I can relate to a return missionary now, and am always having to catch myself when I tell stories or share thoughts. Return Missionary: "When I was on my mission..." Me: "When I had cancer..." haha. I'm sure other people are thinking, 'Okay, okay, we get it, you had cancer!' ;) I feel that way myself, but it's hard not to always talk about moments in your life that have totally helped mold and refine you.
I have had quite a few opportunities to speak to groups of people and share my journey with them. The themes of those evenings have all been pretty similar, 'When Life Gives You Lemons,' 'Finding Joy In Every Season,' 'Gratitude Through Trails,' etc. As I prepared my talks, I had to ask myself..."What do I know, and what did I do, that made them think of me for this theme?"
The very first post I wrote, I said,
You can never know how you will feel or react when something life changing comes your way. I can tell you, that I would never guess that this is how I would be feeling after hearing I have cancer.
Well, I don't agree with my statement anymore.
My family was gathered at my house, the day after I found out my big news. They had all been fasting for me and we were going to break our fast together. I was able to bear my testimony to them that night. I told them, "I have never been closer to my Savior as I am right now."
Months before, I had started new routines. I was strong physically, mentally, and most of all, spiritually. I know it was no coincidence. I had been acting upon inspiration I was receiving from my Heavenly Father. He knew what was coming, and He was there, preparing me for what was to come next.
So when this big wild card came along, it didn't matter. I was built on a sure foundation. I DID know how I would react. I would keep trusting, following, and letting the Lord refine me.
I wasn't mad, sad, or think 'why me?' I was glad it was me. I knew who I was, where my testimony was, and how strong my relationship with the Savior was. Because I was studying my scriptures, speaking to Him through daily prayer, and trying to walk a straight path, there was no need to fear, doubt, or question. Because I knew Him. I knew how He worked. I knew He knew me. I knew He loved me. And I knew that He knew where this would lead me. All I had to do now was cling to Him even more. I needed to exercise my faith and allow Him to change me.
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
I remember running into a friend up at Huntsman. I was hanging out with her for a bit and following her around to each stop she had to make. She had found her seat, and finally, after laughing, saying hi, and catching up with every nurse and employee along the way, I finally took my seat next to her. She looked at me with her sad, and confused eyes and asked, "How do you do it? How can you be so happy right now and I so miserable?"
I just stared at her for what felt like minutes, but after one second, with tears in my eyes and a big knot forming in my throat, I looked at her and said, "Because if I didn't choose to be happy and grateful, I would miss out on all of the blessings."
Elder Uchtdorf said,
Happiness doesn't come as a result of luck or accident. It most certainly doesn't come from having all of our wishes come true. Happiness doesn't come from external circumstances. It comes from the inside-regardless of what is happening around us.
Trust me, there was a lot I could have been bitter about and seen as unfair, but oh how sad that would have been.
I was so blessed by my Heavenly Father, family, friends, Dr's, Nurses, my community, and strangers. Because of that, I am able to say with every part of me, that my journey with cancer, has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. When I think back on that time, the good things are what stick out to me. It's like pregnancy and child birth, we're blessed to forget all of the hard, yucky, and uncomfortable parts about it, and only remember the overwhelming love and joy that comes as a result. That's how I feel about cancer.
I witnessed miracles every single day. I felt the power of prayer and fasting. I was overwhelmed with the goodness of everyone around me. I was loved and cared for by men and women who spend time away from their families, work long hours, and put my well being, as their patient, above everything else. My ability to mourn with those who mourn has grown. I have more compassion for others. I feel strong and powerful. I appreciate every day more than I did. I have a deeper desire to do more and be more. Great opportunities to share my testimony and develop talents have come. I can acknowledge the tiniest acts of service and the impact they can have on someone's life. I came to know, even clearer, that I am a daughter of God, who is known and who is so loved.
Like I said in the beginning. The list of my gratitude is never ending, and ever growing. I know this can be all of our experiences through life and our trials, if we but choose to let it be.
But more than anything, my love and appreciation for my family is so deep and eternal, that there are no words to sufficiently express how I feel about them. Jake and I are two of the luckiest people I know. We have been raised by generations of goodly parents, and I have everything I'll ever need, as long as I have all of them.
Now that this cancer stuff is in the past, I joke, "whelp, bring on the next trial!" People don't always like when I say that, but it's the truth. And It's okay. The happiest and most rewarding times in my life have come from those very trials. Not because they were fun or easy, but because they were hard and I learned to rely on my Heavenly Father. When we do that, I know we will always come out on top. We will be better, stronger, more grateful, and prepared for the blessing that our Heavenly Father is waiting to pour out upon us.
Elder Wirthlin said it best,
Adversity, if handled correctly, can be a blessing in our lives...As we look for humor, seek for the eternal perspective, understand the principle of compensation and draw near to our Heavenly Father, we can endure hardship and trial. We can say, as did my Mother, 'Come what may and love it.'