Counting my blessings.

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The 4th of July, is a time for us to count our blessings, celebrate our independence and thank all those who fought for our independence.

I was thinking this weekend about something Sara wrote about the American Dream…”When we think of the American Dream we typically think about how we can better our circumstances. Our paychecks. Our house. Our car. Our status. Our appearance. And we think those things will bring happiness because we assume that the neighbor down the street who has all of these things, and appears to be happy, really is.

What we can’t see is behind their closed doors. And we certainly can’t see into their hearts.”

My sister Janette came to visit this weekend. It had been quite a while since I had seen her and I wanted so badly to be able to show her around, go out to lunch and shopping. Create memories of fun and laughter. There were 4th of July celebrations and ball games to attend.

And all I could do was rest.

I had my fifth of twelve weekly chemo treatments right before she came, and now that the treatments are weekly, I find that I am able to do less and less. My body is week, it hurts, my stomach is nauseous and I’m tired.

I thought a lot about Sara…If I was feeling this way, she had to feel so much worse on a daily basis and especially during Holidays.

“We are not put on earth merely to satisfy our desires, to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with him.”  ~Philip Yancey

My perspective shifted when I remembered the above quote that Sara talked about from Philip Yancey. Whether we like it or not, sometimes being changed means living through painful circumstances.

On the surface, I wanted so badly to partake in all the events that came along with the Holiday because in my mind, it would create the memories that I envisioned for my sister and I. Sara is gone and I want to create all of what I am missing out with Sara, with my sister Janette. I have learned through losing dad and Sara so quickly, that life can be short.

Sara once again spoke to me when I was feeling down and frustrated. She reminded me of all the “I” statements in what “I” was wanting. What I need to do, is  look beyond the surface of my own life and see how I can be shaped and formed and changed into images of Him.

Instead of fighting my body and lamenting on the fact that I couldn’t create the fun and laughter of a 4th of July Holiday, God made us both slow down so we could just be together. We don’t get to see each other very often because of our busy lives, so maybe it was more important for us to btogether instead do together. After all, God did make us human beings, not human doings.

Sara reminded me that “through the hardest times in life, I need to stay open enough to learn that Control is an illusion. Life will do with me what it pleases, my circumstances will change, my pain will fluctuate, my health will alter at will, and the only thing I can do is stay open to letting God change me in those circumstances.

God used the circumstance of Sara’s life to help her grow and change her heart. He is doing the same for me. And more often than not, being changed hurts.

We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with him.

Sara taught us that the only thing we can control is whether or not we open our heart. Open it to embrace our circumstances. Open it to be who He needs us to be in the here and now rather than assume happiness can come from the “if only…” and “when we get…” Open it enough to let Him in and change us here so we can be with Him there.”

When it comes down to it, I want what He wants. So, I am counting my blessings even when Life Hurts.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. You are so right. Sometimes doing nothing is more than doing something. Rest. Your body is telling you to rest. Don’t fight it. In the end it makes you stronger. Never give up. Ever. I am at treatment 8 of 16. Stay focused, be strong. It could always be worse. I thank God every night for another day.

  2. Sharon Eagle says:

    I’ve read something like 75 or more books since taking early “retirement” due to stage 4 cancer a few years back. “Choose Joy” easily falls into my top ten favorites. I was in awe of Sara’s ability to find joy in her life every day in spite of and sometimes even because of the challenges she faced. Since my diagnosis I felt I had heard God telling me to “be grateful” and “trust him”. Some days it was easy and others it has been difficult. But I have learned how having a grateful heart keeps away the fear, depression and other negative emotions. So when I read Sara’s words, it all made complete sense. I felt the lessons she was learning and the message she was sharing was somewhat similar to my own journey. And as I read her words I felt comforted, less alone and inspired to continue my own journey with gratitude and even joy. I’m sure I’m not the only person she touched. And as I finished the book I found myself saddened at the thought that I would never get to meet her. But then my next thought was “Oh yes I will” because I believe we will have that chance to meet and I also can totally relate to your comments about fatigue and the frustration you feel when you are unable to do the things you want to do. I get it. I have experienced profound fatigue for years now. Initially it was caused by the cancer treatment and now I think it is just from the cancer itself, since I’m no longer in treatment. I used to be an over-achieving workaholic. I loved my work, but even so, my life was out of balance. With my diagnosis that life came to a screeching halt and I’ve had countless opportunities to learn how to do “nothing” and to just “be”. It got easier with time. I have a sister who lives in another state and comes to see me as often as possible, which is never often enough to suit either of us. But every minute with her is precious and she has reassured me repeatedly that she doesn’t care about what we “do” or if we do anything at all. She just wants to be with me every minute she can and I feel the same. I suspect your sis feels the same about you.

    Warmly, Sharon

    1. gitznjo says:

      Thank you for sharing, Sharon! Yes, you will meet our sweet Sara someday and I believe she and our heavenly father continue to love us and guide us through our journeys. Praying God’s blessings of peace and joy as we continue to walk our journey and stay open to what He needs from us. God bless. Laura

  3. gitznjo says:

    Sending you blessing and love as you walk your journey! Peace.

  4. Rachel Lundy says:

    I am praying for you as you continue to persevere and count your blessings. Thank you for your encouragement this week! Love and hugs. <3

    1. gitznjo says:

      Thank you, Rachel…and for your beautiful cards that continue to encourage me. You are such a blessing!

  5. Barb Baker says:

    Laura, Thanks so much for your encouragement. I pray peace and healing for you! Sara and Jesus are with you each and every day!

    1. gitznjo says:

      Thank you, Barb! Your prayers, friendship and love mean the world to me. Blessings.

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