Perseverance – Part III

Perseverance and your Posse

What you talkin’ bout, Stef?  What do you mean posse?  Well, in sticking with words that start with the letter “P”, this fit.  What I mean is FRIENDS.

Hands down, there is no way to persevere unless you have a strong support of family and friends.  To me, it is an impossibility.  I am a strong guy, but my journey is bigger than me.  Trust me, God is always there, but here on earth, family and friends are a must for me to get by during this chapter in my life.  Friends are there and WANT to be there for you.  You don’t have to go it alone!

Let me give you some examples.  The first call I made to a friend when I found out I had cancer was to Aaron.  Since that phone call, Aaron has been there EVERY step of the way with me.  From checking in multiple times a week to see how I am doing to being there in the hospital for Sandi while I was undergoing my surgeries.  Aaron challenges me and prays for me daily.

Then there is Dino.  He is there for me with scripture and prayer.  He challenges me through God’s word to ensure I am digging into it and seeing what God may have for me in His book.  He and his family are probably some of my biggest prayer warriors as well. 

My great friend, Troy.  He is there with a timely text message, e-mail, or phone call.  Always checking up on me to make sure I am doing ok.  Even though he lives in Arizona, he is never far away for me.

Then there is my buddy, Jim.  He calls weekly and gets updates from me.  He then sends out an update to a whole host of people.  By doing this, Jim is helping people have specifics to pray for me and my family.

These are just a few examples.  I could list many, many more.  We have had friends come over and do yard work for us.  Fix our fence.  Seal our driveway.  Countless people have brought meals. 

All of this said, these friends help me persevere.  They seem to have the knack of calling at just the right time, when I am having a bad day.  My spirits are then lifted after the phone call or visit. 

Perseverance, you don’t have to go it alone.  Reach back to those who are reaching out to you.

Proverbs 17:17a         A friend loves at all times,

Proverbs 27:17           As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Perseverance – Part II

Perseverance and Patience

Who thinks that our time on earth is ours?  I don’t think so.  Every day is a gift and God is calling the shots.  Let’s face it.  At one time or another, we have all thought that we were/are invincible.  I know I did.  Up until about a year ago.  My life was good and I was rolling.  God throws curve balls into our lives.  When He does, he does not always tell us why.  This is where patience fits in.

My personality is one that likes to have things under control.  If things are not under control, then I like things to be over quickly.  Enter cancer.  Uh, let’s take a quick inventory.  I am not in control of this, for sure.  I am also thinking that this will not be over quickly.  I am about 14 months into my battle and we are not near done.  This could be years and possibly a lifetime battle.  I guess I should have not have expected this to be a short trip.  Most cancer journeys are not.  Patience.  Not my forte.  Still learning and learning and learning.

God’s timing is perfect and most of the time, it is not on our timeline.  God will do His will when He wants to.  He will let us know of why things happen when He wants to.  Fourteen months into my journey and I still do not know why.  Patience.  Not me.  Still learning.  It would be really nice to know why I have to go through this. 

I have friends looking for a job, for months.  I have friends in this blogsphere who are battling cancer.  There are people waiting to sell homes (good luck in this market).  Patience.  Perseverance.  They go hand in hand.  I don’t think you can even begin to persevere unless you have patience. 

I am waiting to be cured, patiently, while I persevere. 

Psalm 37:7a  Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him.

Romans 8:25  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 12:12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer

James 1:3,4   3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 5:10, 11  10Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  11As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Perseverance – Part I

Perseverance and Pain

In my world, there are three types of pain.  They are physical, mental, and financial.  Persevering through any one of these at a time is hard enough.  Try persevering through all three at once. 

As I have said before, cancer is a cruel disease.  It wrecks havoc on your life and family.  It is persistent and that is when you have to persevere like never before.  I have been through some VERY difficult physical days.  Chemo sessions are not fun.  They really affect you physically, but you must persevere.  Surgeries are the worst.  You must persevere.  Waking up in the morning and not having the energy to get out of bed.  Forcing yourself to get up out of a chair.  It all adds up and yet, you must persevere.

When I was diagnosed a year ago, I knew that I was in for the biggest physical battle of my life.  What I did not know was that I was also about to face the biggest mental battle of my life.  Gearing up for chemo sessions, knowing how you will feel for a few days.  Not knowing how the results of your latest CT scan will come out.  Is this disease continuing to spread or have we got it stable?  What is really going to happen to me?  Will my family be ok without me, if God chooses to take me?  Thoughts of life and death flood your mind.  Yet, you must persevere.  Never give up.  Refuse to lose.

I had mentioned financial pain in my first paragraph.  This would be the least of the three pains, but it is a reality.  The chemo sessions cost as much as a car.  So I “buy a car” every two weeks.  Surgeries are not cheap.  Endless doctor fees and lab fees.  It all adds up.  However, God is watching over Sandi and me in this area as well.  Every time we needed funds, they have been provided for us.  It is amazing how God provides. 

Let me put this all in perspective.  Look at Job, in the Bible.  He went through hell and back.  I am not going through ANYTHING like Job did.  He persevered like no other.  There are others that are carrying much heavier burdens than I am.  I know that they are persevering as well. 

Pain and perseverance go hand in hand.  Trusting in God and relying on Him will get you through.

I leave you today with this verse that was provided to me by one of my commenters (Thanks Carmen):

“We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” Romans5:2-4

Perseverance – Introduction…

Not sure why this has been tugging at me for a few days now, but I feel compelled to share my thoughts on persevering.  Let’s face it, persevering is a way of life for me now.  So what is perseverance?  Here are a few tidbits to get our heads around this.

  • Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. ~Newt Gingrich

 

  • When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
    ~Author Unknown

 

  • There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream. ~Author Unknown

 

  • I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday. ~Author Unknown

 

  • Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

  • Getting knocked down seven times and getting up eight.

 

  • Perseverance is commitment to hard work, patience and endurance.

 

  • Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint.

 Let me tell you a story about Sandi and me.  It was 1998 and one morning, after a night of very terrible storms, we woke up to five feet of water in the lower level of our bi-level house. We lost everything on that level, plus both of our cars, that were completely submerged.  That was our first test.  We started the process of rebuilding our home.  A few months after the flood, we found out that we were expecting our first child.  Very exciting, but very nerve wracking for me.  About six months after that, I decided to change jobs, a stressor in itself.  Then we decided to buy a new home.  Yep, that’s easy.  NOT.  Oh, by the way, this all happened while I was getting my MBA.  Yep, learning about perseverance the hard way.  Going back to the thoughts on giving up, bearing difficulties, etc.

 

Well, we thought that we had been through enough, but God wasn’t finished with us yet.  Nine years go by and life was good.  Family was growing, job was good, and church was fantastic.  Then July 23, 2007 comes around.  My diagnosis date.  Stage IV colon cancer at the age of 37.  Not just colon cancer, but the worst type that you could get.  Great just what I needed in my life.  How would this affect my family?  What is my true prognosis?  How would my golf game turn out? 

 

It has been a little over a year now.  Everyday is a battle.  Everyday, I thank God for one more day.  Everyday I persevere.  Over the next week or so, I will be blogging on various aspects of this topic.  I hope you enjoy it.

If you had the chance…

question.jpg…to ask how you would die, would you ask that question? Tough one, huh. Disclaimer: this is not meant to be a morbid post. I am in a very good mental state right now. Just sharing my curiosity and thoughts.

I asked that question yesterday at my oncology appointment. It was a question out of curiosity as I cannot wrap my head around how this cancer can get me. In my small, finite mind, I had an answer for everything. If it gets to the liver, either do a radiofrequency ablation procedure or surgically remove some of the liver, it will grow back. If it gets to the lungs, take out a lobe of the lung. If it gets to the lymph system, hhmmnnn, not sure about that one.

So, here is the answer my oncologist gave me. First, he corrected me on my two year prognosis. For the second time in eight months, he has told me that these are just averages and that he has many patients out five and seven years. Then he went on to say that there is not a real defining moment in the process. Basically, he said that cancer takes its toll on the body and the body begins to shut down. It can really no longer fight and so it starts the process of shutting down. He went on to say that many of his patients know it is their time before he does.

So, if we keep fighting and keep the cancer at bay, and I continue to keep the positive attitude, maybe I can keep my body from shutting down for a few more decades. Gonna be a battle, but I don’t lose very many things!! Watch out cancer, here I come! Are you ready to RUMBLE!!!!!!!!!

Also, a small bit of good news yesterday. I gained three more pounds the last two weeks. I am now out of my old high school weight and getting back into my college weight. I have gained back a total of 10 pounds and only have 28 more pounds to gain to get back to my fighting weight!

It’s all in the attitude…

Thanks to our good friend Kelly for this one…

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. “Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today!” So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “H-M-M,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today!” So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said, “today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail!” So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “YEA!” she exclaimed, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

Attitude is everything. Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly… and Leave the rest to God!

Carrots, Eggs or Coffee Beans??

cofee-beans.jpgJust got this from a friend of mine, and thought I would share it. I would hope that, in my current situation, I am a coffee bean. At least I will try to be more like the coffee bean. Enjoy the read…

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’ ‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted
its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, mother?’

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain & adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

So what are you???