(Previously published November 15, 2010)
There is something that thrills me about the unexpected....little surprises.
Unexpected packages awaiting in the mailbox. A random hug. A soft word where a harsh one might have been warranted. A sweet note declaring love and encouragement. Flowers showing up at my doorstep. A meal on a day when none was suppose to be delivered. A friend offering a playdate. An unplanned day off of school.
As one who has struggled for many years about "being taken off guard" or placing expectations on those around me, it is refreshing to sometimes receive these little "surprises." Pure pleasure and excitement. Love exuding from the the hands delivering the kindness. A heart filled with joy. And smiles adorning the recipient.
I have been on this receiving line many times in the last 6 1/2 months. Pure joy.
This past week, I was able to give back while God filled my heart simultaneously. Isn't that what giving is all about? Stepping outside of ourselves and giving to others, pouring out love and gratitude, all the while your heart is blessed in the process.
While don't get me wrong, I have loved the unexpected gifts God has bestowed upon me through all of you these last months. This week, I was able to be the giver and do the unexpected.
Let me explain.
I am originally from upstate NY. My dad still has a home in Syracuse and my two precious Aunts and 91 year old grandmother live in Rochester. The rest of my family is scattered around the U.S. With a sister living in California, a brother and sister in Texas and my youngest sister outside NYC. We all don't have the opportunity to see each other often. How I wish we lived closer, as our times to see one another are few and far between.
Last year, my older sister, Heather, started selling CABI clothing (a home based party business). Her business venture brought her to Rochester and Syracuse in the Spring, as relatives hosted shows in their hometowns. Right before my breast cancer journey began, (actually a week after I found the lump in my breast), I was able to travel to Rochester, and be my sister's "model" as she put on a marvelous CABI show at my aunts house, at the senior living complex where my grandmother lives and then with old acquaintances from our childhood as they too, hosted a show. It was five days of pure bliss. Spending time with family. Being a part of my sister's new business and seeing her in action. And just pulling up a chair and nestling into the lives of loved ones. Those five days are pockets of treasures in my heart.
It is also a reminder of the beginning of my breast cancer journey. As Heather and I stood in the guest room at my aunt's house one morning, she putting her make-up on in the mirror, me getting dressed....standing side by side as I shared with her that I had found a lump in my breast. She was in one of the biggest trials of her life, as after 20 years of marriage, her husband was asking for a divorce. The thought of another "major" trial seemed unexpected and unimaginable, but the possibility quite real.
Here we are 6 1/2 months later, walking in that reality.
About a month ago, Heather, called to tell that she was planning her Fall NY state CABI tour/shows. Back to my aunt's she would go. Knowing the treatments I was undergoing, the tired state of my body, she hesitantly asked if there was any possibility I could once again, come along?
My heart was inclined to say, Yes, as that is where I wanted to be. But immediately, my mind knew better as it laid out the reality of my current life. I can't plan tomorrow too well, let alone a month away. We prayed and waited. If God so desired these moments of our lives to be weaved together once again, He'd make the way possible.
No one expected me to come.
And I got to do the surprising!!
On Wednesday, with a body that had rebounded from the previous week's chemo. A schedule that was open. A husband who was supportive and older children that could help to hold down the needs of the home.....I called my Aunt Pam that morning to share the news and ask if I could arrive Thursday evening and stay the night with her and her husband, surprising my grandma, my sister and my Aunt Kay the next day. (Although, I must admit, in my weakness, I let the cat out of the bag that evening to my sister Heather.)
I'm not usually a spontaneous kind of a girl. People close to me would call me the planner....cancer has certainly caused me to step outside that mold. Whereas I still like a plan, I have learned to be a bit more flexible. I have learned that the best plans I can put together pale in comparison to the plans that God has. Always a training ground....right?!
And so when Bible Study finished up Thursday, off to NY I went for two days of family-time, catching up and soaking in the love and beauty that these ladies bring to my life. And for many of those cheering me along from the sidelines, I was able to stand face to face, arms linked together, gaze into their eyes and say thank you....thank you for holding me up and walking beside me. Thank you for loving me from a distance.....thankful that I could love them for those two days face to face. And that cancer could take a backseat in my mind, while still being profoundly evident on the outside.
And my heart is thankful. Thankful for my sister. Thankful for the deep, Spirit filled conversations that took place in those two days. Thankful for my aunts, who in many ways occupy the place of a mother for me. Thankful for every opportunity and moment that I was able to spend with my 91 year old Grandmother. Thankful.
Saturday night, Heather and I laid in bed praying together. No sweeter time than that. Two hearts joined by blood, but much deeper by the life of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Praying like we've never had to pray before, for a healing.....that God in His mercy and love would take our lives and the lives of those around us and make all things new.
What abundant blessings are to be found in the unexpected. May you embrace the unexpected in your life today knowing God has big plans!!
Heather, Aunt Kay, Me, Aunt Pam
Me and Heather
Heather, Grandma (Can you believe she is 91??? A True beauty inside and out!), Me
Friday night Cabi show at Aunt Pams
"My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him." Psalm 62:5