Monthly Archives: January 2010

Modesty #1

I just got back from working out at a new fitness facility.  I can’t tolerate running in this cold.  Yesterday I got dressed to exercise and never did it.  I had good intentions but it was so cold and gray here in my parts of the world that I just couldn’t bring myself to be that motivated.  I really don’t know why I stay in Michigan.  I suppose for the three glorious months called June, July and August.  Maybe even September. 

So I dropped Melly Bell off at school and went home to start a bath.  My three-year old was busy at the computer and I was hopeful he would not hear my bath running.  I got in and sunk down in my steamy hot bath.  Aghhh…..some alone time. 

You know where this is going don’t you.  My dear son decided to look for me and…of course….he found me…..drats.  Whenever he finds me in the bathtub he thinks I want him to join the fun, so he immediately starts undressing.  What can I do?  I will either endure him crying at the door or let him get in.  So I let him get in. 

The water is hot.  I like to think I have a hot tub, which I do not.  Here is our conversation:

Elijah:  “Mommy, this is hot!”

Me:  “Is it too hot Elijah?”

Elijah (slowly climbing in) “no, I think it’s ok.”

Me:  “Are you sure Elijah?”

Elijah (now sitting in the tub) “Mommy, I’m pee-peeing!”

Lovely.  Needless to say it was a short bath.  I did not lay back.  I did not relax, and it quickly turned in to a shower.  So much for a few minutes of relaxation.

And on the topic of nakedness.  When I was nervously trying to find my way around this new fitness club, everywhere I looked I saw those young, perfectly fit 20-something girls.  So I go in to the locker rooms before my workout to pee.  There’s a woman, I’m not kidding you, totally naked doing her hair in front of the mirror.  She was there when I went in, and she was there when I came out 3 minutes later.  Must be nice to like your body so much that you think the rest of womanhood wants to see it as well, but quite frankly I did not.  I went to find a locker to hang my jacket in a locker and she was still there.  Now, I am completely comfortable with naked bodies.  I want to be a midwife as you know, I’ve been at several births, I’ve been up close and personal with many breasts as I coach women on breastfeeding, but it felt a bit obnoxious for her to be at the entry way to the locker room nakedly doing her hair and make-up.  Maybe I’m jealous.  I don’t know.  

Maybe it’s the attitude of nakedness?  Do you want to attract attention and why?  Maybe she is from a culture where that is totally and utterly fine?  Maybe her mom walked around the house naked all day?  I don’t mind nakedness with a purpose, but I don’t care for nakedness as a way to shock or draw attention. 

So if you’ve gotten to this point, you must play along.  Did I:

A.  Pull off my shirt and fiddle with my hair just to see her reaction to my nipple-less scarred breasts?  (You know you WANTED me to do this….you so did.  But DID I?)

B.  Tell her to get dressed?

C.  Walk passed with my hands covering my eyes, saying “eww, gross?”

D.  Walk passed quickly to the gym?

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Get Some Bliss

I started twittering a few months ago.  The more I twitter, the more I like it.  Facebook is an opportunity for me to catch up with old friends and stay connected with new friends, but twitter opens me up to a whole new world.  I like that I get to meet people and learn from them in a way that I never would have before.  A lot of them write blogs.  Some of them are witty (I so wish I was witty), some redundant, some are a little obnoxious, but all have something to say and I enjoy most of them.  (OK….I don’t really care for the ones that tweet like 15 comments in a row….I call this a blog, and I would elect to follow their blog if I really wanted to, but I follow tweets on twitter.  Tweets are supposed to be short!)

So a couple of weeks ago I started seeing some women I follow tweet about something called Blissdom.  After a few days I saw it come across my phone enough that I decided to take a look.  This is what I found:

http://blissdomconference.com/  ….very pretty site, huh.  

Here is the second thing I found out.  It’s a conference for women who blog….cool, I blog. 

The third thing I found out is that it is SOLD OUT…..what a bummer!

But then, across my twitter this morning!  A small glimmer of hope!  A GIVEAWAY!  Yes!  I have a one-in-a-million chance of going, but, hey, I have played with odds before…lol.    I really shouldn’t link the giveaway site since that actually decreases my odds, but….well….I’m nice, what can I say.  I also love sharing excitement.  Fun is way better with friends. 

So here’s what I would say to the decision makers of the “Escape to Blissdom” conference if you’ve gotten to this part of my post.  My story is simple.  I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer in February of 2008.  I started a blog as a way to keep my friends and family informed and to write for my children because I was SURE they would be without a mom soon.  Whatever I read about IBC suggested it was not a survivor-friendly diagnosis (although chances are SO much better now!) and they had also found a grapefruit size tumor in the other breast.  I had no idea what a blog really was.  I suppose I had seen a few, but a friend of mine suggested I start one.  I had used clergygirl for my email address (I’m an ordained minister) since no one can spell my last name, so “clergygirl” fit for my cancer blog as well.

Much to my surprise I enjoyed writing.  I have thought repeatedly of quitting my blog, yet I feel compelled to write.  I look forward to writing.   In many ways it has been my creative outlet.  And going through cancer with people cheering me on and responding with love and compassion through comments always gave me a boost.  It was one of the things that emotionally got me through cancer.  When I couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night I would go to my computer to write and in the morning I usually had an encouraging comment and I knew someone had prayed for me.  

Oh….and I suppose now would be a good time to say I am cancer free!.  Now I write purely to give women hope in the journey and because it makes me happy. 

I can’t say that I’m a great writer…..I’m surely not an editor…lol!  But I enjoy it enough to continue to pursue this door that God has opened for me in writing, even if it had to be through stinky cancer!   I am working on a book and plan to do more blog writing in the future.  I’d love to attend the conference, but if not….I will certainly put it on my “to do” list for next year and I’ll certainly register early!

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30 Days of Girl Crush: Anna

Luke 2:36-38 (The Message) Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fasting and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.

Here’s what we know about Anna:

1.  She’s a widow.  She was married for only seven years before her hubby died, so she has lived as a widow for a quite sometime before she appears on scene in the Bible.

2.  She lives at the Temple.  I’m not sure if this is Luke’s cliché way of saying she loved to be at church 24/7, like when I was little and my parents volunteered with everything (seriously) including singing in the church choir.  I lived at church as a youth.  OK, I’m joking, but normal people have a second home like a beach house or cabin, mine was church.  (This is not all bad, I am a preacher girl now aren’t I!)  But maybe she really did actually “live” there.  It may be that because she was a widow and poor, it was a place to live, or because she was devout, she was granted a place to live and serve. 

3.  She wanted more of God in her life.  It says she committed her life to prayer and fasting. 

4.  She proselytized the coming Christ.  I know ((eyes rolling)), that word is dangerous.  But it’s what she did.  She wasn’t afraid of sharing Christ and she spoke openly about his coming and his arrival at the Temple.  She believed,and she wasn’t afraid to share it.

Besides these points that are worthwhile in themselves for us to know about Anna, two things grab me about her.  First is the part about her praying and fasting.   This is something Luke wants us to know about her.  What an honor to be remembered as someone who devoted their life to God’s Church and to prayer and fasting!  These are two things I don’t do very well at.  I like to eat.  I like to think about me.  I was telling Jeremy last night that my real desire is to live my life like a prayer.  That prayer would be woven in to all my thoughts and words and desires.  That I would look at a piece of fruit and be thankful to God for providing for me that day.  That I would slow down enough to see God’s children the way He see’s them.

This is kind of how I think Anna lived her life.  She was so in tune with God that no one could help but not notice.  If you asked about Anna….the first thing to come to mind was “Oh…Anna…she loved God….she devotes her whole life to him.”  And so it is….I am quite fond of Anna.

Oh….and the last thing.  Because she loved God, people listened and respected her.  It doesn’t say there was an uproar because she called this little baby the “redemption of Israel.”  They listened to her.  How she lived must have been worth listening to.  

Is your life worth listening to?  How do you live out your daily walk so that when it’s time to speak, people listen?

Prayer:  Lord, let my life be constant communion with you.

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Pray With Me For Haiti!

I’ve been thinking about the best way I can help Haiti heal and I decided prayer is the best way. Join me with a comment prayer and let’s see how many prayers can go up from one little blog for Haiti! Pray along as you scroll through them! I’m starting with a few examples. Short or long prayers are all good!

I’ll make sure our bishop in Haiti sees these to share with the Haitians!

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Haiti

Like you, I’ve been following Haiti in the aftermath of so much devastation and destruction.  I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful for current technology that brings us information in seconds.  I check twitter every morning, hoping and praying that our Bishops will report that our missionaries will all be accounted for.  I also get updates from our media relations guy Andy as he flew in to the Dominican Republic and crossed the border in to Haiti. 

But at the same time, in the same way I can instantly see and get information, I can’t respond in that same way.  I can’t zap medical supplies and blankets to Haiti, as quickly as I can receive information.  I wish we had technology like that don’t you?  Sometimes it feels like our prayers aren’t really doing anything.  But they are!  I know they are, because I felt your prayers a few years ago when I was sitting in the chemo room, or when I lay in pain under the radiation machine.  I felt them, and they comforted me.  Feeling that someone cared for me and was petitioning God on behalf for me was incredibly comforting.  I reported a study a while back that showed that people who were ill fared better if they knew they were being prayed for, more so than those who did not know they were being prayed for.

So I urge you to pray.  Hopefully down the road we can help in more tangible ways.  But right now, the best thing we can do is pray and send money to responsible charities.

I want to share a few people and organizations I’m connected with that need our prayers.  Maybe you’ll want to follow them with me.

Here is a friend from my days at seminary in Kentucky who teaches in Haiti at a Christian School down there.  Her family is fine, although her facebook reports sound like she is very tired and afraid.  There continue to be tremors in the night and she hasn’t gotten much sleep.  The last report is that she flew with her children back to the states but her husband is staying to help.  I will look forward to reading reports of how she is doing and her husband is doing in Haiti.

Here is the site for the Free Methodist Church and another site for video updates  from our Bishop, David Roller.  I’m looking forward to watching these regular updates to learn how to pray.

There are lots of great places to give, but this site through the Free Methodist Church gives 100% of the donations towards work in Haiti.  We had a new hospital that is gone now.  Lots of rebuilding for good works going on in Haiti.

As for comments made in the days following the earthquake by people who have a platform for good and who are abusing it, who shall remain nameless, but I’ll give you a hint….his initials are P.R.  Just so we’re all on the same page.  I refuse to give him any more publicity, because my feeling is, this is what he wants.  He’s like a 2 year old wanting attention.  When my two year old whines to get attention, I usually ignore him.  I don’t respond till he can talk to me in a normal voice.  And so, my thoughts are the same with PR.  Let’s ignore him and maybe he’ll grow up.  He doesn’t deserve our attention.

The Haitians were already a country with extremely low literacy rates, more than half did not have fresh water before this.  So if there is any goodness to come from this, my sincere prayer is simply that we might give Haiti the attention and help that they desperately needed before this earthquake but are virtually hopeless without at this point.  They need to know we are praying, they need to know we will help and they need to know Jesus is weeping with them.

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30 Days of Girl Crush: Sarah

Hebrews 11:11 (The Message) By faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what he said. That’s how it happened that from one man’s dead and shriveled loins there are now people numbering into the millions.

Sarai becomes Sarah when God makes a covenant with Abraham and calls him the father of many nations.  How can we not be completely in love with a woman who God renames “princess.”  This is like, every girls dream….to be a “princess” to their daddy.  And to top it all off, when Abraham shows up in Egypt during a famine with his 65 year old bride Sarah…the Pharaoh wants to take her to be his wife (along with a hundred or other so wives).  So here we are admiring a woman that God has renamed princess and she is beautiful to boot.   Yes, you do detect a bit of resentment in my redundency here.  I will admit, I do have a crush on this woman.

The first thing we learn about Sarah is that she’s barren.  In today’s world, even the most beautiful of woman would trade a few zits and an uneven nose for a sweet little baby to hold to her breast, but back then it was everything to a woman.  Everything.

But Sarah had faith.  I wonder though, if Sarah had more faith in the idea of eventually having a child, or faith that when she did have the baby at 90, that everything would be alright?  The Bible does say she got a real kick out of hearing she was pregnant.  In fact, God wasn’t all too pleased she was laughing so cynically about the plan.  But can we blame her for being just a little bit sarcastic?  Whatever God’s frustration with her then, she’s certainly counted as having genuine faith for years to come, as we see in the New Testament passage above in Hebrews.

So what are you waiting for in your life?  Maybe it’s a baby like Sarah.  Maybe all the beauty in the world won’t remedy the ache in your heart for something that’s missing.  Or maybe that ache is a detour in your life that is totally unexpected and unwelcome.  I had a detour like that once, it was called cancer.  That ache, I would imagine, is how Sarah felt.  I don’t know if God’s going to answer your prayers like he did Sarah’s, or if he’ll reveal himself in other ways to you.  But wait with expectation, and wait with faith.  And don’t feel bad if sometimes you have cynical little chuckle now and again.  Sarah did, and she did just fine.

Prayer: Lord help me to have faith in your unseen ways today.

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30 Days of Girl Crush: Eve

Genesis 3:20 (The Message)  The Man, known as Adam, named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living.

Besides having a really cool name, there’s lot’s to love about Eve.  For one she is the first woman and the first mother.  My 5 year old daughter loves to throw out theological questions at me.  The other day she asked me “how did the first girl get born?”  My husband always just looks at me and says… “you’re the one that went to seminary!”  But it got me thinking about what it was like being the first woman.  Given that as a woman, I like nurturing and I like being nurtured, I like counting on other women and find value in friendships with other women.  So what was it like for Eve to be alone in her womanhood?  To be the mother of all humanity, but yet have no sisterhood?  What was it like giving birth all alone?  Who helped her learn to swaddle a baby or breastfeed?  When I look at Eve I see strength and determination.  Strong enough to be the first and determined enough to keep things together even out of the garden in a harsh and cruel world.

So how did Eve stay so strong.  I can picture myself standing at the gates of the Garden of Eden looking ahead at unknown territory and yet slowly looking back at what I’d lost.  It was like the ultimate game of survivor.  But she took a step, and a few more, away from the garden.  Maybe because she knew she was judged and not cursed forever like the serpent (Genesis 3:15).   She was banished from the garden, but not from God.  She was simply, or not so simply, living with consequences as hard as they were.

What consequences are you living with today?  Maybe they’re big, maybe they’re small?  Maybe they’re self induced or maybe they are completely out of your control.  Eve’s indiscretion was pretty major if you can find any comfort in that knowledge.  But how are you dealing with the consequences of your behavior?  Remember that you aren’t alone, you probably have a sisterhood of women who are there for friendship, comfort and accountability.  We have to face our choices, but unlike Eve, we don’t have to go it alone.

Prayer:  God, allow me to be a friend and receive friendship today.

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30 Days of Girl Crush

In recent days I’ve decided to be more purposeful about writing thoughts from my own study of the Bible.  I’ve had a sort of hap-hazard way of writing my spiritual thoughts, but I’m going to try to get more organized.  So I’m going to attempt to write devotionals with specific topics for 30 days.  This will not mean I write every day on this topic, although I hope it doesn’t take me a whole week to write one.  I’m hoping to have one up every few days.  But, I plan to write 30 posts on a given subject. 

So I’ve always wanted to look deeper at some of the women of the Bible.  There are so many to study, and so often their participation is overshadowed by the men in their lives.  Their contribution to the Bible is often times amazing and mind-boggling, and I for one am far too often willing to skim right over and not really take note of how they felt, and what they did.  Their trust and faith in a God they had never seen, only experienced….it’s amazing!  Valuable lessons and information for me to grab hold of in my own life.

So in my ever so un-conventional way, I will be starting “30 Days of Girl Crush” starting tomorrow.  Yes, it will be Biblical, and no, it is completely non-sexual….lol.  If you’ve never heard of a “girl crush” before….here’s a good definition:  “a girl crush is when a girl admires another girl in a way that is not sexual. This ‘crush’ is usually very-short lived and it could be due to a number of reasons including the physical appearance of the girl, talents, personality etc.”

So you’ll never guess who I’m going to start with?  Here’s a hint:  She gets blamed for everything.  Poor woman, one little bite and she’s gone down in history as nothing but a trouble maker. 

So join me tomorrow, and you just might have a “girl crush” too =)

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Water Park Adventure

Jeremy keeps bugging me about going to visit a fitness center outside of town. It seems they keep luring him to come visit with tickets for our family to the new water park adjacent to the club. This is a good way to entice my husband because if it involves amusement + rides + water, then he will figure out a way to get me there. I would be all about this equation if it weren’t for the fact that it was only 24 degrees outside and I’m cold all the time. I won’t thaw out till mid-April. Until then I prefer doing nothing with anything that will make me wet. I also refuse to shave my legs unless absolutely necessary, and, well, this would be one of those times.

But we have three children who will complain if we don’t go do something and it is January and more often than not, we have nothing to do, so when Jeremy got another call offering a tour and free water park passes, I knew I wasn’t going to get out of it.

So off to Pirates Island at S.W.A.T Fitness we went. We had a nice tour. Very low pressure. They even allowed us to leave without a committment. Here’s the plus for me: they have trainers on duty at all times, no extra charge and they don’t charge extra for classes. Which is nice since our old fitness center charged extra for classes. That and the cost is the same as what we were paying with free childcare. So I’m thinking about it. I’m trying very hard to be committed to exercise since this is my only weapon against cancer returning.

And I managed to make it through my water park experience. It was actually fun…and I did get wet. They kept the air at a balmy, comfortable temp. And whenever I got too cold I jumped in one of the hot tubs. It wasn’t overly crowded and there were plenty of slides for the little ones. 

In the Kalamazoo area, where there is virtually nothing to do from December to March other than go sledding, I was impressed. I think we’ll be back before the end of winter. And who knows, we just might join for the fitness center too.

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Do I Really Need to Come Up With a Title…..

There’s something nostalgic about going back to the cancer center.  Some people probably run and never turn back.  That isn’t me.  I think God has sort of carved out a little niche for me with cancer and I think I need to be ok with that. 

Last week, when Jeremy was home and could watch the kids I went back to the chemo room in hopes of locating some ladies who always had herceptin infusions on the same day as me.  The difference for them was that they were on herceptin for life because they were metestatic, whereas I was only on it for a year.  And last December, my oncologist decided I was done.  That was that.  I never went back to the chemo room.  So I wanted to go back and say hi to Kim and Ardeth.  Unfortunately, they had changed the days they get infusions.  I know….I worried you when I said “unfortunately,” didn’t I.  I was worried a bit too.  I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to go back a year later to check on someone who is having chemo for life.  But I did it anyway, in hopes they were still doing well.  I did find out they ARE doing well.  But I also got to see two special people who I hadn’t seen in a while as well.  The massage therapist, Karen, who always gave me foot massages (sometimes 2) when I was getting infusions and my favorite nurse Stephanie.  I could tell they were really happy to see me.  They oohed and aahed about my hair and how great I looked and it felt really good.  I bet it feels really good to see someone come back recovered after cancer.

So then today I had my 6 month appointment.  Which went fabulous.  I am doing great.  Not one itty bitty concern.  I’m so thankful. 

So I had a good talk with my oncologist about helping out at the cancer center, and I was excited because she seemed really positive about it.  So I’m hoping to dig in to that a bit more.

And my dear friend Kim, who does web design, has agreed to help me improve on my little wordpress blog.  So I’ll be excited to see that evolve in to a little bit more of a resource for young women going through cancer with a spiritual emphasis.  So watch out for her artistic touch!  She’s very good at what she does!

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