Adventure 2017- Part 5

The Gift of Preparation

Webster defines preparation as: "the action or process of making something ready for use or service or of getting ready for some occasion, test, or duty."

In life, we have many opportunities to prepare.  Yet, we sometimes refer to preparation as a duty or chore.   Consider the difference- "I have to study for a test."  VS.  "I have time to study so I can do great on this test."  Or,  "I've got to prepare the agenda for the meeting."  VS.  "How can I craft an agenda that leads to engagement and great meeting outcomes?" 

Then, there are major areas of preparation.  We prepare our children for life by modeling healthy habits and teaching them daily.  We prepare for a new career by going back to school or improving our skills. We prepare for death by creating a will or an estate.  

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, I am more aware of the gift of preparation. I've had a month to prepare mentally for my major surgery. I've had a month to prepare at work for tasks in my absence.  I've had a month to prepare my home for the recuperation process.  

English Writer Harriet Martineau once said "You had better live your best and act your best and think your best today; for today is the sure preparation for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows that follow."

This time has made me think about what we do with the time we're given. May the questions I'm processing below help you as you think about what you're preparing for.......because we're all preparing for something.

1.  What am I doing with the time I have?   Do I spend my time on things that are helpful, useful and will improve life for others or myself? 

2.  What is "mission critical" that must be prepared?   And, what can wait?  
          a.  If it can wait,  what process can I put in place to ensure it ends up in the work cue?

3.   In light of eternity, what truly matters?   This question came from a dear friend, Chuck Shaughnessy whose days were filled making major decisions as an executive at an international company but yet had an eternal perspective on everything.   When he first asked me this over three years ago, it stopped me in my tracks.  I thank him for this question and reminding me of what really matters.   At the end of the day, is what I'm working on going to matter in 1,000 years?  Have I made peace with God?  Myself?  My impact on the world?    

I've processed these questions over the past month. I've thought about death and life after death.  A little over a week ago, an acquaintance an member of our Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance died tragically in a car accident. She didn't get the time to prepare. She was on her way to work for what was going to be a normal day.   She didn't know she would step into eternity before lunch.  Someone else would have to clean out her desk.  Her family would have to pack up her clothes and treasured possessions.   She would have no time to say goodbye. 

I've thought about what will happen if I don't wake up from anesthesia this week.  I'm as prepared as I can be. And, I am ready for eternity.  My heartfelt prayer is that everyone reading this post will think, not of the day to day stressors that make up life, but rather, living a life that prepares you for eternity.  

1. Have you discovered who the God of the Universe really is?  I have experienced the depth of God's love for me and how very personal He speaks to those that call on His name.   Have you?

"God’s there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it." 
Psalm 145:18 The Message

2.  Have you lived the life you were called to live?  I have tried to live my mission of "speaking to inspire" each day.   I try to leave everyone I come in contact with better than they were before.  What about you?   Are you living your purpose?

“Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope.”   Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

3.  What is left undone that you need to do?   Are there things I'd still like to accomplish, yes.  Am I totally ready to be out of work for an extended period of time, no.  However, I've had the gift of time to prepare.   What is undone in your life that you have the gift of time to get done? 

Here's to making the most of the gift of preparation! 
Looking forward to sharing more on the other side of my surgery! 



Adventure 2017- Part 4

Navigating Decisions

decisions maze.jpg

Life presents you with numerous opportunities to make decisions.  Most days, our hardest decisions involve what to wear to work and what to have for dinner.  However, there comes a time when life begs you to make major decisions. Life altering decisions.  A college application.  A marriage proposal.  A real estate sign.  A job offer.  And for me, a cancer diagnosis. 

Since the diagnosis of breast cancer on January 9, I have navigated through numerous decisions that not only involve treatments but also, my work schedule and prioritizing just what really matters during this Adventure.

So, how does one go about making wise decisions in the midst of "heavy" life circumstances?   Here was my process.  May you find it helpful the next time you are faced with tough decisions.

1.  Journal the process:  Grab a notebook, your laptop, etc. and begin to write down all the thoughts running through your mind.  Clearing out your "headspace" is not only cathartic but actually can reduce stress and allow for restful nights. 

2.  Ask questions:

  •   What assumptions do you need to vet?  Your mind and even other people will tell you things that you are tempted just assume are for you. Rather than "go with it", test those assumptions against facts, research and God's word.
  •   What choices do you have?   Explore all options. 
  •   What are the pro's and con's (both short term and long term) of each choice you are     exploring? 
  •   What decision brings you God's peace?  God's word promises that He will give you wisdom if you ask. 
              If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:5

3.  Think & Process:  Once you've gathered all the options before you, it's important not to jump into a decision. Take a day or two.  Think through all the questions you've gotten answers to.  Go back to all the things you journaled.  Pray.  

4.   Act:   Once you make a decision, you must then act upon it.  The application of resolve and courage must be applied once you have a course of action.  

  •    What preparations need to be made given the decision you made?
  •    How will life be different because you made this decision?
  •    What will this mean for you, your family, your work, your calling/destiny?

At some point in life, you'll have to make a tough, perhaps even a life altering decision, as I have had to do this week.   May you find God's peace as you seek his wisdom.

hard things.jpg

Many have asked what's next for me and my treatment.   After applying the steps above, what decision did I make regarding my breast cancer treatment?

After consultations with both my oncologist and then my surgeon and plastic surgeon,  I am proceeding with a bi-lateral mastectomy (double mastectomy) which will occur on February 15. 

My reasons are as follows:
1. First and foremost, this will give me peace of mind and limit the amount of worry I’ll experience regarding the re-occurrence of breast cancer.
2. The fact that radiation has some pretty significant side effects and can’t be delivered again to the same area.
3. The potential risks and side effects of the hormone blocker I'd need to take for five years if I just had a lumpectomy.
4. Conversations with patients (both ones that have had lumpectomies, radiation and hormone blocking treatment as well as those who have had double mastectomy’s.) And even some that had lumpectomies and then had to have mastectomy due to re-occurrence.

Now, you need to know that the recommended treatment for my Stage 0 DCIS breast cancer was lumpectomy, followed by radiation and the hormone blocking drug called Tamoxifen.  (Remember, test the assumptions and explore all options.) 

I am choosing a more invasive process that will require multiple surgeries and reconstruction.  I am choosing what is best for me and the decision that brought me God's peace.  
I may need other precautionary/preventive treatment depending on how my genetic testing comes back and I'll face those decisions as they come.  But this is what I know, God will be with me each step of the way. 
And, He'll be with you if you seek Him in your decision making. 

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

Wherever you are on your journey, I'll adventure with you!   Lets journey through the decision making process together!  I'm here if you need me. 

Adventure 2017 Part 3

What to Do While You're Waiting

For me, the waiting was for test results........waiting for mammogram results.   Waiting for ultrasound results.  Waiting for biopsy results.  Waiting for MRI results.   And now, waiting on genetic testing results.  Many who have received a medical diagnosis know this process and the emotions that go along with it. 

But some are waiting for other things.   Waiting for a wayward child to come home.  Waiting for a loved one to get sober.  Waiting for that new job opportunity that makes getting up every day more meaningful.  Waiting for those who are chronically ill and suffering to be called home to heaven.  Waiting to be free from the pain of depression or anxiety.  Waiting for life to just plain get better.

For some, waiting is for a short season.  For others, it’s years.  I don’t know why God allows some to wait longer,  to endure longer, but I know He has a good plan no matter the wait.  Jeremiah 29:11-13 promises us so.

Feelings and emotions can come in like a flood, drowning out any trust or hope you had that circumstances will change.  Worse, dreams invade your subconscious or you wake in the middle of night only to lay there and worry.  

This isn’t the first experience I’ve had with waiting.  I’ve waited (and still waiting) for family members to know God.  I’ve waited for life to get better. I’ve waited for circumstances to change.   But, my Adventure 2017 involving cancer has made me much more attune to the importance of HOW to wait.     

So, if you’re waiting, I hope what I share here gives you peace and a new way to wait.  A new way to endure. 

1.   Allow yourself time to process the emotions, feelings, pain and grief of what you’re waiting for.   But don’t stay there.   Have I cried? Of course.  Have I been scared out of my mind? Yes.  Have I allowed the “what if’s” to carry me to a not so good place?  Absolutely. 

King David was known for “letting it all out”  and lamenting at times. 

Hear my prayer, O LORD! And let my cry for help come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress; Incline Your ear to me; In the day when I call answer me quickly.  Psalm 102:1-2


When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly. And remember Job?   Esther 4:1

And what about Job?

“My spirit is broken ... the grave is ready for me” Job 17:1
“My eye has also grown dim because of grief” Job 17:7

2.   Redirect:  There’s a saying……”what you focus on expands.”   While I allow myself to process and feel what I’m feeling, I don’t stay there.   I make conscious choices to redirect my thinking to thoughts that will be helpful, positive and focused on God’s truth rather than my irrational and unreliable emotions and feelings.   I also worship as I wait.  Nothing can pull me out of paralyzing fear, hopelessness and worry like praise and worship. workout playlist!

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

a.   What does God’s word say about you?  Your life? 
b.   What does God’s word say about His love for that person you're grieving for?
c.   What does God’ word promise you?
d.   What is God’s truth?
e.   What music fuels your hope and encourages me to keep going?

3.    Surround yourself with positive messaging.    What are you watching/ reading?  Who are you talking to/ listening to?  There’s no shortage of negative messaging.  TV, Social media, a toxic work environment.  However, with every spare minute, any down time, you get to choose how you spend this time and with whom you spent it with.  Make choices that lift you. Make choices that give you hope, make you laugh.

a.     What will you watch when you’re down and worried?
b.     What can you read that will lift your spirits and give you reason to hope?
c.     Who can you talk to that will encourage and speak life into your weary soul?

4.   Maintain your health:  Bad circumstances, stress, worry and medical concerns are easy excuses to give in to emotional eating or vegging on the couch for hours...... or days.  But these actions won’t help you. A healthy diet, exercise and getting plenty of rest are crucial to mental and physical stamina.   There are numerous studies linking health, diet and exercise to positive outcomes.  

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 

Yes, I have breast cancer.  Yes,  I will be facing surgery.   Yes, I’m still waiting on genetic testing results to determine just how evasive the surgery will be.   And yes, I am still trusting, clinging to God’s promises in His word, as I wait. 

If you’re waiting for something, I’ll wait with you.  I ‘ll pray with you.  I’ll speak truth to you.    I’ll workout with you.   I’ll cook a healthy meal for you.  I’ll adventure with you just like God is adventuring with me. 

As far as my Adventure 2017, here’s the update:

  •      I had my MRI on Saturday and the results indicated that I only have the one spot of breast cancer.   We are praising God for this news!
  •      I am waiting to have my genetic testing done next week, and then waiting a few more weeks for the results.  
  •      If I am predisposed on other cancers, I will have a double mastectomy and possible a hysterectomy.  If I’m not, I’ll have a lumpectomy, radiation therapy and take a hormone inhibitor for five years.  
  •     I am waiting on surgery consults, surgery dates and a schedule so I can plan for being out of work. 
  •    And, I am trusting God for every step of the way on my Adventure 2017!