Nothing Is Impossible With God

Hi Beautiful Survivors!

Do you ever feel like your best days are over? Do you ever wonder if your prayers are falling on deaf ears? I know. We’ve all felt like that sometimes, but I have some good news for you! Nothing is impossible with God. That means No thing! That means that every thing is possible with God. With men, I’m not so sure, but we’re not talking about just anyone. We’re talking about the God Who flung the stars into space. He is a BIG GOD! He’s all powerful! He has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand. He created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. He made the stars and calls them each by name. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

So take heart, weary one. I know life can get hard sometimes, but no matter what you are going through, we have an all powerful God, Who not only made everything that exists, but He loves you so much! He is so concerned about every detail that concerns you. There is not one thing on your mind that He doesn’t already know about. There is no doctor report, no family problem, or even the world’s problems that He cannot solve. Nothing is impossible with our God! Every one of these problems has to bow at the the name of Jesus. Nothing can stand in His presence. But what really amazes me is how He did all of this and He still loves us! He stoops low to lift you up at your deepest needs. He says to you, ” I hear your cry and I will help you. Nothing is out of my reach. Nothing is impossible with Me. Do not be afraid.” He lifts you up, gathers you in His arms and holds you close to His heart. He is breathing hope back into your spirit, so rest well tonight, Beautiful Survivors, knowing that the King of the Universe is watching over you and He neither slumbers or sleeps. Nothing is impossible with our God!!

Luke 1:37
For nothing is impossible with God.

He Fills Our Hearts With Laughter

Good Afternoon Beautiful Survivors!

I have always said that God has a sense of humor and I truly believe that laughter is the best medicine. There is nothing quite as rejuvenating as a hearty laugh that makes you double over until your sides ache. It just seems to wash away all that ails us from the inside out.

I have three grown children and seven grandchildren with another one on the way. One child can keep you laughing, but multiply that times 8, and I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of laughing going on at our house for many years to come! What a blessing!

Yes, we are a typical family. It can get crazy. We don’t always have it as together as I would like sometimes, but it’s all good. It makes for another book one of these days. We have taken all of our grandchildren with us on two vacations this summer. As crazy as it was, it was the best time of my life. I had to speak several times, and I did make some serious threats for all concerned if they were caught being loud during my speeches. We made it up with ice cream later. A year earlier I took them with me to speak at a Luminaria Ceremony. I had speakers with headphones on, so I wouldn’t have dared to say one word to them, if they were caught acting up, because if I did, it would have been amplified out into the parking lot across the entire football field. God really does have a sense of humor! He had me right where he wanted me. I couldn’t have felt more helpless if I had been gagged and handcuffed!

We just watched some of our grandchildren a month ago while their parents went away for a much needed vacation. We never stopped for a moment. We had water fights with squirt guns and the kids won. We baked silly cupcakes, wore super-sized neon sunglasses, went to the park, played with play doh, blew bubbles, had a cookout, celebrated National Ice Cream Day, visited with Great Grandma and sang songs and danced like crazy. We had a blast, and I’ll admit, when their parents came back, I was tired, but I missed it. Kids just bring out the good in us. It was so much fun getting down to their level and being a kid again, even if it was just for a few days.

One thing I found difficult was the many fights I had to solve during the course of a day. Jackson and Jossalyn fought over the Lucky Charms cereal. It seems as though they both wanted the marshmallows. I bet all kids would rather have the marshmallows; after all, that’s the best part, isn’t it. It seems to me, that General Mills should just put in all marshmallows in the first place. Who needs the lucky? Just put in the charms for goodness sake! It would solve a lot of fights in the first place and prolong a grandparent’s sanity just a bit longer! Yes, there have been many times, too numerous to tell, of other weekends with the grandkids. Savannah was always doing something to kill herself when she was little, not on purpose. I’ll never forget the Easter that she was playing around with her Easter basket and put it on like a hat. She got it stuck on her head, or the time she inched her way in between the refrigerator and the wall and almost got stuck; or the time I stepped on one of Landon’s Lego’s and slid clear across the floor and ended up doing the splits. Who wants to survive cancer and end up stepping on a grape and breaking their neck?! Not me, that’s for sure! I think they need to make a new movie. Instead of Mom’s Night Out, they should call it,
“Grandparent’s Day IN!”

Yeah, this has been quite a busy summer. Amidst all of the traveling, speaking, and writing, Mark decided to have our giant tree cut down in front of our house. Our kids have grown up with this tree. The stump hasn’t been removed, so I have spent any extra time that I have trying to disguise the stump, which is really quite impossible. I’ve mulched it, and put flowers on it, so now, it looks like a grave. Oh well, you can’t win them all. I have to laugh at the differences between Mark and I. As for me, I could have used my money on much better things, but Mark said, “This tree has to come down.” So it did. And now we have a stump that looks worse than the tree. I’ll never forget the summer, many years ago when we were first married, he was busy planting everything he could get his hands on, until one of the things he planted was poison oak. All I can say is that the rest of that summer was pretty itchy. Not pretty at all!

Mark loves to read, so I solved that one. What do you do when you marry someone who likes to read? You write a book!

Oh well, keep your sense of humor. There is always something to laugh about every day! We can’t always choose the path that life takes us on, but we can change our attitudes and how we react to them. Make it a fun day. Find laughter. Some days, you may have to look a bit harder to find it, but it is out there.

I love you guys!

Brenda

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with joyful shouting.

Job 8:21

New Beginnings

Good Morning Beautiful Survivors!!

It’s a brand new day! A fresh clean slate; another chance to get it right. We might refer to it as a do over! Yesterday might not have been so great, but I love how God wipes the slate clean and gives another chance with each new day! What a gift! There are just some days that we can’t seem to get it right, no matter how hard we try. We make mistakes. Angry words can be spoken. Feelings may get hurt. Yes, let’s just face it. There are some days that we just plain fail miserably, but yes, thank God, that there is His promise of this brand new day, so untouched. It’s like God just rains down manna from heaven. He blankets all that concerns us with a fresh supply of mercy and grace. He showers us with forgiveness, strength and the purest form of love coming from the very heart of God. He says, “It”s a brand new day. Another chance at life. I’m breathing restoration into this new day. Be refreshed My Child. With me, you can face this new day. I am breathing life back into everything that concerns you.”

May we never lose our wonder of the beauty that each new day brings.

There are so many scriptures in the bible that refer to new beginnings. After all, isn’t that the theme of our Christian life? Jesus is the author of new beginnings. He makes it clear in His word; He has great plans for us; far greater plans than we could ever comprehend. His plans are for us to have a bright future full of hope, to the full and running over. He says that if we are His child that we are a new creation. He is doing something new; A new thing, He calls it. He will make a way where there is no way. It’s a new way like never before. He tells us to forget the former things, and look to the new start that He wants to give us. His awesome love never ceases. He is all we need to start afresh. His mercies are new every morning. He is faithful and He will attend to His word without fail.

Yesterday may have been full of tears and sorrow, but today is a new day. Let Him take that brokenness away and replace it with a new fresh start. Come to the end of yourself and turn to the God of new beginnings. Leave behind your regrets and mistakes. Trade in your sorrows for joy! Let Him give you a new heart. He makes all things beautiful in its time.

Enjoy this beautiful new day and take it all in. Enjoy the sunrise. Watch it as it appears on the horizon. Listen to the voice of God as He speaks freedom, love and peace into this brand new day. He calls you Beautiful. He delights in you and He rejoices over you with singing!

I love you guys!
Brenda

Isaiah 43:19
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Midnight Praise

This is for that one who is still awake in the late watches of the night. No matter how hard you try, you can’t find sleep. You can’t turn all of the thoughts and worries off that keep bombarding your mind over and over again. You toss and turn to no avail. There seems to be no relief. Your heart is heavy. You have so many questions that don’t have answers. You have never felt so alone in your life. You clutch your pillow tight and the tears start to roll down your cheek. You call out to God in desperation. He whispers to you out of your desperation, “I am here. I will never leave you. I know all about the aching deep in your heart and I care. I know your every concern. I know the heaviness of your heart. It was I that formed your heart before you were ever born. I will comfort you. I love you. Come to me. Lay your cares at my feet. I will carry you when you don’t have the strength to stand on your own and I will give you the strength to stand again. I hold your life and those you love in the hollow of my hand.”

Now you realize that you are never alone. He has been there all the time. Lift your tired arm up to him in praise. When you take that first step and praise him, even when you don’t feel like it, all of heaven comes down. God inhabits the praises of his people. Praise and worship even in the trials, even in this! Praise and worship in every season of your life. It is your greatest weapon to defeat any problem that you have and to see the victory. There is just something extra special about that “Midnight Praise!” It ignites your faith and gets God’s attention. The harder your cry, the louder your praise! Get your shout back! The sun will shine again. Weeping may endure for a night, but you can be sure that joy comes in the morning!!!!

I love you guys!
Brenda

Psalm 119:62
At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.

Small Miracles

Do you know that there are so many miracles all around you every day? Some of them are big answers to many prayers said in the late watches of the night, but so many of them greet us with each new morning. Many of them may seem small, but in reality, they are a reason to celebrate every day. At first, they might seem trivial, but if they weren’t there, there would be a great void. I never want to get so busy that I don’t see the wonder in every day. God blesses us with so many miracles each day. Most of them are completely free. In fact, I’ve realized the things that I treasure the most, I already have and you could never put a price tag on.

There are so many beautiful moments in this life that make my heart sing every day! I love the smell of a fresh bouquet of flowers; The sweet voices of my grandchildren and their giggles that splash joy into the very core of my spirit! I love to pet my furry Maggie, my Old English Sheepdog, and laugh at the silly things she does; I love the wisdom of my sweet mama, and the love she has always shown me all the days of my life! I love the warm feel of family, the smell of coffee brewing in the mornings, and the sense of love and belonging as I worship with my wonderful church family, and the sound of God’s voice in the mighty echoes of thunder that lets us know that someone bigger than you and I is still in control! I am so thankful for all of these blessings and so much more! God knows our heart and He loves to lavish us with so much beauty. He really loves to bless us!!!! What a good God that he is!

Every day is a precious gift from God! I want to drink it all in to the full; every last drop! I never want to take a single day for granted, or any one that I meet along life’s journey. I want to see, hear, smell, taste and touch everything that I can in this beautiful life! I want to treasure all of these small miracles, because, to me, they are huge. I want to thank God from the very depths of my soul for all the beauty that He surrounds me with each and every day; And for the very gift of life, itself! His mercies are new every morning. Let us all learn to count no day as ordinary!!!

I love you guys!
Brenda

There are countless miracles all around us every day!

Just One Touch

What do you need today? Are you afraid? Are you lonely? Are you sick? Do you need help in your marriage? How about with your children? Maybe it’s your aging parents. Maybe it’s more than one of these.

Do you know that there is hope for any of these problems? I know it may seem impossible, but with God, nothing is impossible! All it takes is just one touch from his nail-scarred hands to change everything.

It is impossible to come into his presence without it changing your life for the better. When he walks into the room, everything changes. Burdens are lifted, darkness flees and light appears. Healing is evident. Marriages are restored; broken hearts are mended, and joy is full! He is light, life and love. He is a drink to the thirsty, food for the hungry, strength to the weary, a friend to the lonely, and so much more!

What do you need today? He promises to meet you at the very point of your deepest need. He sees those silent tears that roll down your cheeks in the darkest hours of the night. He knows the cry of your heart. He loves you with the deepest love that can never be extinguished. He longs to lift you up and hold you close to his heart until you feel the chains fall off. He is beauty, peace, freedom and restoration. He is refreshment to your dry and weary soul. He wants to give you beauty for ashes. He wants to lead you beside still waters even though storms are approaching you from all sides. He is able to keep you safe.

Do you feel him tugging at your heart strings today? Lift your eyes towards heaven and know that God is closer than your next breath. Sit at his feet and gaze into his beautiful eyes. Every problem pales in comparison to his warm smile. Feel his love wrap around you. He is restoring joy and giving you beauty for ashes. He is bringing you streams in the desert. He is the one who can make roses bloom in the wilderness. Look to him today. He can make you bloom in your desert situation. Give him all your worries today. He cares for you with the deepest love. He promises to hold you close and never let you go. He is reaching out for you today. He is breathing life back into your spirit with just one touch!!! He says to you, today,” Come to me, Beautiful One. I am the glory and lifter of your head. I am lifting you out of the pit of despair that you have been in, and I am drawing you out of deep waters and breathing life back into you this very day.” Heed his voice today. He is waiting for you. Run to him with open arms and he can do it with just one touch!

I love you guys!
Brenda

Finding your Hiding Place

Good Morning Beautiful Survivors!

Did you ever just want to run away for a day? I think running away from the cares of this life crosses all of our minds once in a while, or we wouldn’t be human. I don’t know about you, but I go along pretty good most of the time at an even keel; working, enjoying my family and just loving life, but every once in awhile, I just feel the need to get away for a bit to refresh and renew my mind and my body. Sometimes, I just can’t stand to hear one more bad news report. These are the times that I love to just unplug the computer, log off, turn off my cell phone and just simply sit at Jesus’s feet, basking in His love. These quiet times of reflection usher in His healing balm of Gilead.

Even Jesus needed this time with His Father. He rose early to pray. If He needed to do this, then certainly we do as well. It’s during these times when we shut everything else out that He speaks the loudest in His still small voice. He breaks through the barriers and can really get into the core of our deepest thoughts and prayers. It’s during these times that we grow the most when He has our full attention.

There is a place that we can go to get away from it all, without even going anywhere too far. It is the secret place of the Most High God. It’s a secret place reserved for all who call upon His name. He is our Refuge and our Strength and He is available anytime that you need Him. He will give you a peace that passes all understanding right smack in the middle of chaos. Now, that’s a miracle in itself! He invites you in to find rest. He says to come to Him and He will renew your strength. He says to come to Him if you are thirsty and hungry, and He will fill you up to overflowing. He says that you don’t even need money. He will satisfy that longing in your soul and meet every one of your deepest needs.

Even amidst life’s greatest losses, you will find rest in this secret place. I don’t know what you are going through today. Maybe you are just tired and need a day to regroup and regain your footing to get back in the race again tomorrow, or maybe you’ve suffered a great loss and you don’t know how you can face one more day. Wherever this finds you, know that you are not alone. God has your life in full view and nothing will take place that He doesn’t already know about. He has already gone before you and made a way where there seems to be no way. He is the Glory and Lifter of your head. All of His promises are Yes and Amen. Even if you bathe His feet in your tears, He promises to be there for you and dry your tears. Lift your head, weary one. In His presence is fullness of joy!!!

I love you guys!
Brenda

I love this old hymn!

When peace like a river attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot,
Thou has taught me to say:
IT IS WELL, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!

Five Loaves and Two Fish

Have you ever had one of those days that you would have been better off to have just stayed in bed? If we will admit it, most of us have those days more frequently than we would like. It’s hard enough for some of us to just swing our legs over the side of the bed in the mornings and get our eyes open enough to shake off that sluggish feeling. It’s on these days that I love to envision a waiter, clad in a white meticulous uniform bringing me breakfast in bed with a smile and a huge pot of steaming hot coffee to help me get the creative juices flowing again in my brain. Hey, I can dream, can’t I? I’ve never been one of those people who jump right up and run out the door. No, for me, it’s the other way around. I like to ease into my day. I love to read my bible and pray in the mornings. Everything just seems to flow right when I put first things first and give God His rightful place in my day. As much as I would like to think that I have it all together, I have to fight it like everyone else for that special place of peace and sanity in this crazy chaotic world we are living in. Life just doesn’t always go the way we would like. There are just those days that nothing seems to go right. The baby cries. The preschoolers fight. The teenager’s music blares. The telephone rings. The dog barks and it’s raining outside. It’s enough to shake a house off of its foundation. And this is your day off. Your “To Do” list has more things to do in one day than a 40 hour work week. Since it’s your day off, you must get it all done so that you can scratch it all off of your list. There are bills to pay, school conferences to go to, the house needs cleaned, and so does the car. Then, there’s the grocery shopping, the yard work, your elderly parents, your church group, your husband, and then there’s you. By this time, all you can think of is a hot bubble bath that screams, “Calgon, take me away!!!” Your daily devotions can become a chore, just another obligation to cross off of your “To do” list, instead of a time of refreshment and restoration like God planned for you from the very beginning. As your day comes to an end, and you realize you didn’t make a dent in all that you had planned, you fall into bed, with feelings of disappointment and frustration, too tired to care. You might think that I’m reading your mind. No, quite the contrary. I’ve been there. I still have to fight it to find that quiet place; that place of serenity that says, “It’s okay. I’ll try it again tomorrow.” I can truly understand how the disciples must have felt when they had to feed the multitude on five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus taught them that it could be done. But, first things first. He took the bread and the fish and looked up to heaven and gave thanks and they all ate and had leftovers. I’ve learned to cast my cares at His feet, to take my fragments and broken pieces, and all of the unanswered questions and lift them up before Him and give thanks. He will make a way where there is no way. He will give me the strength I need with leftovers besides!!! I can never weary His love for me. He came to give life to the full, pressed down and shaken together!!!

Luke 9: 13-17
He replied, ” You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish-unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

It Takes A Village

I am so honored to be a Voice of Hope for The American Cancer Society. I have had the privilege to meet some of the most wonderful people, and to share laughter and tears, and give lots of hugs. It is so much fun to travel around and talk to other cancer survivors and to share my story with them. If I can walk away knowing I have inspired even one person, then, my cancer journey has been worth it all. I love to encourage and inspire others, but most of the time, it is turned around, and they are the ones who inspire me. I have met so many people from all walks of life, young and old, rich and poor. We all know that cancer is no respecter of persons. Last summer, I spoke at many Relay for Life events, and recently, I was honored to speak at the Making Strides For Breast Cancer walk in down-town Columbus, Ohio in October. My daughter, Bethany, and granddaughter, Savannah, walked the 5K walk with me. I am also a member of The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. We get to talk to lawmakers about many different cancer related issues. It is so important to speak up for all of those who have no voice.

Last summer was such a busy summer. I spoke at many Relay for Life ceremonies, Opening ceremonies, Survivor dinners, and Luminary ceremonies. What an honor to share my story with so many others. Some of them were just starting their journey, and many others have been survivors for many years, while many others have lost loved ones, due to this devastating disease. Each year commemorates one more year of surviving cancer. Each survivor lap I am moved to tears, not only for myself, but for all of the other people who have fought so hard. Each one of them has their own unique story to tell, of a time when cancer rudely invaded their life, or that of a loved one.

At the Hilliard, Ohio Relay for Life, one of the most touching memories that I will always treasure was that of a woman in her late nineties walking the survivor lap with her walker. It was a very hot day. She got half way around the track, and it was then, she lost her strength. The other survivors pushed her on around on her walker. As they all finished that lap, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. What a shout of victory it was! That picture will be forever etched in my mind. Later, when I thought about that day, I thought to myself, “Isn’t that what we all do for one another?” When one of us loses our strength, someone else comes along at just the right time to help us regain our strength so that we can get back in the game again? We pass the baton to someone else. With all of our combined efforts, we will stay strong as individuals, and communities as well. By helping others along the way, our own light will not go out, but will be burning brightly for all of the other people just beginning a cancer journey of their own.

I spoke at the Knox County luminary ceremony where we honored countless lives lost to cancer. It was a beautiful heart wrenching ceremony. A peaceful hush fell over the crowd as there were no adequate words to describe the great losses each family felt as they remembered that special loved one. It was a very powerful ceremony. That particular relay raised about $260,000.00. They really know how to relay! It took a huge group effort to rally around and pull together. They brought some amazing results when their teams united, and as a whole, combined their efforts in their fight.

I spoke at the Westerville, Ohio relay for life. Another survivor also spoke that day. She spoke how her local Kroger store where she was employed, raised a lot of money, and how her community stood with her in her fight with breast cancer, alongside her husband and sons. We were both asked to carry the banner for the survivor lap that day. What an honor to lead the way for so many other survivors following behind us.

In my own home town of Marysville, Ohio, I spoke at the survivor dinner. It held a special place in my heart, as I remember facing my own diagnosis. I spent many Friday nights at local football games watching my son on the football field as he was in the high school marching band. I remember many fearful thoughts regarding my own future, and that of my family. As the years have passed, I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to come back on a more joyous occasion, and to bring hope and encouragement to so many others in my own home town.

I also spoke at the Upper Arlington Relay. Although, it was a bit small, the people attending were big on enthusiasm. They were every bit as passionate as all of the other relays that I have attended.

These were just a few memories that I am sharing with you, among so many others, too numerous to recount, but the main focal point is that it really does take a village, and we are all that village. It’s people like so many of you and thousands of countless others who are not afraid to be that village. The word, hope, rings true in all of our lives. Whether I am speaking to one person, or one million, hope is a spark to all of us to light the flame that will ignite and affect everyone we come into contact with. It does take a village and many villages all over this great land of ours. With everyone’s help, we will win the war on cancer once and for all!

Our 2015 season is nearing an end and it won’t be long until we will be ready to kick off our 2016 season.  Get your families involved. Get the school aged students and college students involved. My little twelve year old, granddaughter, Savannah even got in the act. She goes with me everywhere I go to all of my speaking events. I am so proud of her. It’s so good to teach the younger generations to help others, because as we all know, cancer is a family affair. With this kind of support how could we not find a cure?!!

The Empty Room

She sat alone in her chair. Her white hair encircled her frail bony face. She didn’t hear the knock on her door, so I walked over to her and gently touched her shoulder. Ellie looked up and smiled sweetly. Although, her body showed signs of aging since her stroke, her eyes still radiated that same warmth from a heart full of love that she once knew.
There was a time, many years ago, that in her day, she was quite a business woman. She would rise early, briefcase in hand, and golf clubs in the other, to play her early morning golf game on the way to the office. Once home, she worked on the book she was in the process of writing. With papers strewn in a disorderly fashion, she would get right to work, typing her manuscript for the editor’s deadline. She was quite the professional.
Several years after her husband died, she suffered a minor stroke, which seemed to slow her down a bit. Not long after that, she started showing signs of early Dementia. Because she realized she needed some additional help, she moved to an assisted living facility.
From the moment I met her, we had a kindred spirit. We struck up a bond right off. She was the Life of the Party; Always laughing, smiling, praying and loving everyone who stepped a foot in her room. She had a large family. Someone was always there to see her, and Oh, how she loved those grand-babies. Her room was always so cheerful, so light and open. She loved good music. Her furniture was adorned with the many pictures of her wedding, her 50th anniversary, family albums of her kids in their childhood days, and their weddings, and now, her many grandchildren. What a heritage. If only she could remember. Somehow, she had lost her identity. There were so many missing pieces.
Isn’t it funny how for a brief moment, all time seems to stand still? And when you least expect it, the winds of change begin to blow in. The days turned into months and the months turned into years.
I’ll never forget the day I noticed the change in her. It was as if something shifted and the same old Ellie that I had grown to know and love wasn’t the same person any longer. She was walking down the hall with her walker, shoes on the wrong feet, and her blouse on backwards. Her appearance changed from that pristine look to a, somewhat, unkempt appearance. The independence that had always been a special charm to Ellie had been replaced by confusion and fatigue. It was difficult for her to realize what was taking place and how Dementia had impacted her life. For her, the smallest task would become complicated. Just a few days before, she loved to roam the halls and visit with all of her friends, but this particular day, Ellie seemed lost. For the first time, she had forgotten how to get back to her room. After that day, she would sit in the lobby, just waiting; Waiting for me to walk through that door and tell her what day it was, and what time it was. Was it time to get up? Or time to go to bed? Her family didn’t seem to visit anymore. Or did they? Maybe she just couldn’t remember. The highlight of her day had become snack time when they brought her some warm chocolate chip cookies. Because her eyesight and hearing were getting worse, they tried to make her room easier for her to get around in and to find her belongings. Her furniture was reduced to a small chest with five drawers, where her entire life’s belongings were kept. As time went on, Ellie became weaker. The slightest bit of exertion had become a huge effort on her part. She had become so weak that she had to be fed, and carried to the bathroom, and from the chair to her bed. Everyone knew that the end of her life was fast approaching and her days were numbered. I’ll never forget the last time I saw Ellie, she had a special glow on her face. It was as if she could see something that I couldn’t. I gently touched her hand and I whispered a prayer. When praying, I was reminded of a special passage I remembered reading in my bible. It is Isaiah, 46: 4. “ Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he. I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” It was as if she was being carried into the presence of God and there was a peace that filled the room. No matter how badly she felt, her gentle, but strong spirit exuded a magnetic sense of warmth and kindness. For so many, including her family and friends, she was their strength, heart and soul.
I wasn’t there the night Ellie was called home to heaven. A few days later, I returned to work. I was saddened at her death and I was feeling a great loss. That old wheelchair and walker had been flung aside, because she didn’t need them anymore. Heavens gates swung open wide as Heaven’s welcoming committee embraced her. As I reflected on this, I couldn’t help but be happy for her, and almost feel a bit jealous, knowing that she was happier than she had ever been in her life. I couldn’t help but smile, amidst the tear that ran down my cheek. I would see Ellie again one day.
I always thought that I was helping her, but I realized that she had inspired me far more than mere words could ever tell. She touched everyone she met with her love.
A few days later, I opened the door to her room. Everything had already been moved out. The room was completely empty. All that was left were some pieces of broken paint chips on the floor. It seemed so strange. How could this room be so empty and bare? What was once a room full of love, laughter, and memories became a dark empty place that only held meaning to those who could still remember the wonderful exchanges of family, friends, love and laughter that were so much a part of that room. It was all so real and not so long ago. Now all it was to everyone who entered was an empty room.
But to others, especially me, it was so much more. Each one of my residents has a story to tell, of a full life, a loving family and so many wonderful days. If only they could just remember. What was once a full life and a heart full of love and laughter, has been replaced by an emptiness from the fragments of brief memories that seem to fit together like the missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. It has taught me to never take a single day for granted, but to live each day to the fullest and love all that I can, FOR ONE DAY THIS COULD BE ME.
I have learned so much from these residents and I love them all so much! Their families have entrusted them into my care. These are their last days of their lives. What an honor and a privilege to have been given this awesome opportunity to be a part of it. I want to make it as good as I possibly can. Even though, they can’t remember, I know one of these days in heaven, when I see them again, they will look me in the eye and thank me.
I have gained a vast measure of wealth from them. The pay is measured by smiles and hugs and the warm satisfaction I get when I walk out of those doors when my shift has ended. They have taught me so much about life and love. I have gained a lifetime of wisdom from them. I have touched so many lives, but, most of all, they have touched mine for all of eternity and inspired me to be a better person!
As we all know, Mother’s Day was a few days ago. I was in the grocery store and I saw Ellie’s son. His face mirrored the sadness he was feeling at the loss of his beautiful mother on this first Mother’s Day without her. I told him I had been thinking of his family and we exchanged kind gestures. Before I left the store, I picked up the biggest bouquet of colorful flowers I could find and I took them to my Mom’s house. I told her how thankful and blessed I am because of her and how her deep faith in a God she has always known and loved has touched my life and so many others. I don’t know what tomorrow will hold, so I will enjoy this day and be thankful; so thinking of Ellie, I grabbed my Mom and we danced around her kitchen and I gave her the biggest hug ever!