I saw this and had to share!  I think Tania's words say it all!  Take a moment and be grateful today! Enjoy, Susan



Embracing Imperfection!

We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right. That might just be the central message of how spiritual growth happens; yet nothing in us wants to believe it, and those who deem themselves “morally successful” are often the last to learn it.
If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially our own. What a clever place for God to hide holiness, so that only the humble and earnest will find it! A “perfect” person ends up being one who can consciously forgive and include imperfection (like God does), rather than one who thinks he or she is totally above and beyond any imperfection.    - Richard Rohr in "Falling Upward"

As I read the words above from Franciscan Priest, Richard Rohr, I think "Oh, thank God! There's hope for me yet!"  I am trying to embrace my imperfections and look at them as a "clever place for God to hide holiness!"  

I wish there was an easy way to do that, but unfortunately our own humanness seems to be a "fastpass" to imperfection.  I just found myself in the midst of such a human moment as I ran through all of the things I need to do before the school year begins. As a teacher and mother of three young children, there's a lot on my "to do" list for August.  In fact, there is so much to do, that I found myself overcome as I washed dishes the other night.  

I could feel the emotions coming as I washed another glass (wondering why 5 people needed to use 12 classes in one day!)  As I washed the multitude of glassware, I felt myself feeling resentful that I needed to wash the dishes in the first place.  The broken dishwasher sits there on vacation while I wash and wash and wash. So, as I let the feelings of resentment enter into my moment, I began to let those feelings invite guests.  All of a sudden, it wasn't about washing dishes at all, it was about the laundry I had to do and the lesson plans I had write; it was the school supplies to buy and the paperwork to fill out; it was the house to clean; It was....................................................

Well, it was everything! And then they came...the tears.  What I initially started feeling (resentment over washing dishes) couldn't even be recognized.  To quote country singer Miranda Lambert (I know from Richard Rohr to Miranda Lambert!)  I had let the "crazy" in and allowed it to grow a life of it's own.

I know the emotion that makes me feel compassion for others and joy for life, is also the emotion that can take me down a very dark road.  I beat cancer for heaven's sake, am I really crying over washing dishes?  So, I have to STOP!  Stop for a minute and get back to the dishes!  In other words, remember what it was that first sparked the emotion and reclaim the path of imperfection.

I can't change my emotional make-up, nor would I!  It's what makes me who I am (who God created me to be!)  But, I can try to create balance in an otherwise unbalanced day!  When I feel myself feeling overwhelmed, I know that I need to STOP and reassess where that emotion is coming from.  Is it something I can do something about or do I need to accept the thing that makes me crazy and find peace with it.

Back to the other night.  So, on the 8th glass, my husband came up and said "would you like me to jump in here and finish?"  I guess watching his wife cry while washing dishes was too much for him to take.  Letting him help (and then of course the trip for ice cream with the kids after) was the STOP I needed.  I moment to step back and recognize that one of my imperfection is that I think I can do it all - and in that moment of imperfection - holiness stepped right in and took me for ice cream!

Stay Sane!


I'm Back!

Wow! It didn't take me too long, right?  

For those of you who are still here - it's like coming home!  I hope to keep writing and finding new ways to celebrate each and every day!

I am Cancer Free and the sky is the limit(actually there are no limits)!  I just had my four year check-up and things are awesome. Better yet, I feel awesome!  I

t's taken some time to find my way back to this blog, but for anyone still out there - I am still living my joyful journey!

Stay Posted!  The words are coming....

My love to all of you - Susan


Stepping Forward in Trust

It's been awhile, I know...But, I'm thrilled to step forward once again, in trust! thank you all for your support, prayers and love - We did it!

“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever." - Isak Dinesen

The Celtic saints had a practice of setting out in coracles, small boats without oars, in complete trust. The idea is that God's will, in the form of water currents and wind, would lead them to the "place of their resurrection." In other words, they would be led to the place God needed them to rise up and serve those who needed them most.

Can you imagine stepping in a boat without oars and settling wherever the wind and currents lead you? On top of that, can you see yourself then getting out of the boat on new shores ready to serve in God's name?

We are all faced with moments that bring us face to face with the opportunity to "get in the boat." Sometimes we feel rooted in a strength that allows us to step in without question. More often we've got one foot in and one foot out! This is a more familiar image for me. We want to get in and move forward in trust, however... WOW, that is hard!

We want to see those shores that we will land on. We want to know how long we will be in this boat. We want to be assured that the sailing will be easy. These are our human demands, and we can't help but be governed by them. Or, can we?

Faith in the journey is fostered by first taking a step forward in trust. When we imagine ourselves getting in that boat and allowing God to lead us, it doesn't mean that we always feel completely confident and assured in our decision. Rather, we step in and trust that wherever we are led, God will provide us with what we need to handle those shores. The more we practice, "getting in the boat" the more we will experience God's presence on our journey.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I felt that I had been led to some rocky shores. I would have preferred a nice, white sandy beach aside calm waters. But, there is something along the rocky shores that needs me. This is my statement of trust. This is the belief that helps me get in this boat and be led...not easy, I know. The impossible is possible!

Probably the most difficult part of this journey is the fear that accompanies new terrain. The most repeated phrase in all of scripture is “be not afraid.” I don’t think this is a coincidence. God knows that our human nature is to fear. In one of my darkest moments along my journey with cancer, I could taste fear. I remember a night when I was up unable to sleep. I stared at a picture of my husband and three children. I thought about what my doctors had told me: 4 surgeries, 16 rounds of chemo, 28 days of radiation therapy and ten years of daily medications – and that was if everything went smoothly. The fear that ran through my body paralyzed me in that moment.

I went to the computer and read messages left for me on a Caringbridge website that a friend had created for me. With each message, I felt a bit of strength piercing through the fear. Next, I went to my email to respond to some messages. As I looked through my mail, a new message showed up in my inbox. It was 2am and my friend was emailing me. I emailed her back and said, “are you really up and emailing me or is this a delayed message?” I received a message back that said, “Call me on my cell phone.” That began an hour-long conversation that lessened the fear enough for me to get some sleep.

Sometimes fear is only relieved by the presence of others. There is a reason why community is so important in this life. When we can’t find the words or the strength to help ourselves, others can hold us up until we can. My fear didn’t completely go away. In fact, living with cancer means that fear will always poke its’ head in every now and then. I can move forward in trust because I can look back and know that in previous moments when I felt fear, I was ok. In these moments, I can open myself to those around me and say, “Will you walk with me in this moment?”

Are you being asked to climb aboard today? Can you trust that God will lead you to the shores that are meant for you? Can you put both feet in the boat?

Until next time, we take a sacred pause...


Diving Into our Day!

(image from Ms Ladyred's flickr site}

A couple of years ago, we took the kids for their first visit to one of my greatest inspirations: the ocean! As our friends drove us from the airport to their home, they stopped by a beach area to show the kids the massive body of water that just instantly captures your heart. The children were in awe! They left the car, ran to the ocean's edge and ran right in, clothes and all! This is one of the most vivid and joyful memories I have with my children.

As a parent, it is a great privilege to "experience" life with my children. Their total abandonment in that moment at the ocean was something I envied. As a child, I too use to run to the ocean or our hometown lake and just jump in without giving it a second thought. But, now as an adult (a reasoning adult) I feel compelled to "test" the water before entering into it. I'm not sure when this change took place, but I know that it is a part of what happens to us as we approach events in our lives as adults.

We think everything through, weigh the advantages and disadvantages, consider all the options and then (if you're like me) you make a list of possible actions. Sounds so boring and just what I thought adults were like when I was a kid. But, now I'm an adult and I'm doing these exact same things.

I'm not saying that there aren't moments that require thought and prayer before making a decision, but I think there has to be some middle place where we still allow ourselves the ability to "abandon ourselves to experiences" - "reclaim our childhood enthusiasm for life". Granted our children don't have mortgages to worry about, cars to be repaired or christmas preparations to make amidst all the other responsibilities of life. But, thank God they don't. Because their joy and openness to all that is glorious in life is more abundant with the absence of distraction. Their ability to love life is a constant reminder to me that I still have that in me too - it just takes a certain level of awareness to bring it to the surface.

During that initial trip to the ocean, I stood in the water (testing the temperature and considering whether or not to fully immerse myself) when a young woman of 20 appeared beside me. She said hello and we struck up a conversation. She asked if she could stand with me... she loved the ocean, but was nervous to go in by herself. I assured her that I would be happy to stand with her (it would give me another excuse to just stand in the water awhile longer).

As she spoke, I learned that she was working through an addiction to alcohol and came to the ocean's edge as part of her journey toward health. She said, "I don't know why, but being here makes me feel connected to something bigger than myself." That's the gift and inspiration born out of standing amidst the water!

She was learning to step back into the water, little by little, asking for help along the way. I was glad to be her support in that moment (a moment that I do not believe was coincidental, for she was support to me too!). After she said, "thank you" and walked back out of the water, I first realized that for the past 30 minutes I had stood next to this very attractive 20 year-old in a bikini, while I stood in my 38 year-old body which now required a swim dress. I giggled at the wonderful reality of myself and then dove into the water.

Sometimes we need to just dive into the water, Or, better yet, dive into our lives...giving moments thought when they really need them and then abandoning ourselves to the experiences, whether they show up on our lists or not. I didn't have that encounter with that young woman in the water on my list that day, but I gathered such inspiration and grace from that moment; in fact, I think about her quite often. I guess sometimes, the things that are not on our list are the most important events of our day!

Until next time, we take a sacred pause...


The Morning of...

(photo compliments of Matt Major)

I sit here on the morning of my last chemotherapy treatment, with my coffee in hand (something I enjoy that has not been off limits during my treatment - little blessings!) It's early and everyone else is asleep. But, I sit here amazed that this day has arrived.

Six months ago, arriving at this day seemed like an insurmountable peak (but, I knew I would do it!)

When they told me that I had a blood clot in my lung, this day seemed quite possibly unreachable (but I knew I could do it!)

When they told me that the results of my blood work would prevent me from receiving treatment one week, this day seemed to get further away (but, I knew I would eventually reach it!)

When they told me that they thought the cancer has already spread and I waited to hear results, I forgot about this day altogether (but, I knew I would get here!)

And, although I still wait for more test results and phone calls from doctors to tell me bits and pieces of what my future may hold, I know how special this day truly is!

You see, through all of the uncertainty, there has been one constant - community! We never travel these rocky paths alone. Although I have been removed from most of my normal community throughout my treatment, I have still felt the strength of many. Through cards, messages on my caring bridge site and phone calls, the spirit of community has thrived in this time of isolation.

And at the center of my experience of community have been a group of nurses, doctors and technicians who have lined my path with hope, compassion and humor. For those who know me best, you know I spent yesterday writing more than a dozen letters to all those in the infusion room. As much as I never want to walk into that infusion room again, I will miss these "angels" that have been such a significant part of my journey to this day.

It makes me think of all those who have traveled throughout salvation history...although at times people step apart for reflection and prayer (sometimes by choice and sometimes not), they always return to community. For it is in community, that we see most clearly the manifestation of God's grace in so many varied ways.

Who in your "community" is a reflection of God's grace? Who reminds you of the importance of humor in this life? Who, with just a moment in their presence, gives you the gift of joy? Perhaps that person in your life needs to know this!

Now, for whom are YOU these things? We all have a purpose in our "community" - someone depends on YOU for a reminder of the goodness in this life! Perhaps You need to know this!

Yes, this day seemed so far away back in May. Yet, here it is and I will celebrate its' arrival; that is until I am knocked out by the chemo drugs later on this morning. But, when I come to again, I will give thanks for seeing this day arrive.

I know I will then need to look ahead to the next phase of treatment, but I will look down that road and know that I can do it!

Have a blessed day and until next time, we take a sacred pause...


I Don't Know My Own Strength!

(image compliments of Matt Major)

On Sunday, I sat down with my calendar to compile a list of appointment dates since my diagnosis - I wasn't doing this just for fun,but rather as a precursor to our 2009 taxes, which will apparently also reflect my journey with cancer.

As I started to tally dr. appts, lab work, scans, testing, infusions, I realized that later today when I enter the infusion room, I will complete my 80th appt. I had to stop for a minute and take a deep breath. Unlike a supermarket contest, I don't think I will be winning a free cart of groceries when I reach 100 visits. But, I believe today I am winning a greater understanding of my own strength.

If back in May, the doctors had said, "you have breast cancer and over the next 6 months you will be going to 80 appts, scans, tests, infusions..." I could never have done it. The mountain would have seemed insurmountable. But, here I am about to walk into my 80th appointment.

I think this is the reason that our lives are not shown in fulfillment to us at the beginning; it might seem like too much to journey through. However, over the course of our lives, as we look back we see strength in ourselves that surprises us. Then, as we face new challenges we have the gift of our experiences to draw on for strength.

Whether we feel that the day with our kids has been too much; our jobs are too overwhelming or an illness is beating us down, we only have to look at all we have come through and where we have been to see that we are stronger than we think we are. We have to remind ourselves of this daily.

I have a bookmark that says, "the will of God will not lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you." I have certainly found this to be true. We have remarkable strength within us, that I think is placed in us at the time of our birth - we only to remind ourselves of this when we feel the climb of our present moment is too daunting.

You can do it! I can do it! And we know this because of where we have been and because the strength we need is resting within us. We only need to summon it to the surface of our present challenge.

Summon up your strength and believe that you are stronger than that which you face!

Until next time, we take a sacred pause...