What We Bring to the Table

what-we-bring-to-the-tableRecently we had a couple of friends over for dinner. In the past, I might have made something special for their visit. Pecan Sandies or even homemade ice cream. But this time? I baked a pie fresh from the freezer.

The pie was good, if a little crumbly, but a part of me felt a bit bad about it. Sure, I’m going through cancer treatment, but still…

I suppose the question in the uppermost part of my life at the moment is what do I bring to the table?

Until recently, I could have answered that question easily. I worked and cleaned and blogged. I was a wife and mother of fur babies. I had a place and a purpose.

Now most of that part of my identity has fallen away. Cancer has taken my job and my sexuality. And even doing the most simple things, such as paying a bill or fixing dinner, can be quite an accomplishment. Blogging too has been more sporadic as the pain from the treatments has increased.

As the prognosis for my cancer has become worse and worse, I have struggled with my faith more and more. The comfort that is so often spoken about among Christians seemed far away. And with each loss, I wondered why all of this was happening.

Reading the upcoming book from Katie Ganshert, Life After, I could so relate to Autumn’s crisis of faith depicted in the book. Looking back on the traumatic event that had changed her life, she asked questions similar to mine. At one point, though, she thinks,

“Maybe comfort wasn’t to be found in the why.

Maybe comfort was to be found in the who.

A God who wept.”

I suppose I realized that night as we ate the crumbly pie that my life has changed dramatically and that I may never be able to do things I once accomplished with ease.

But perhaps I still have something to bring to the table, even if it’s a frozen pie. And blog posts that come less often but are maybe just a bit more meaningful. Days that aren’t centered around a work schedule, but about communicating with family.

In the novel, Autumn goes on to conclude,

“Maybe it was time to stop trying to make the puzzle pieces fit. Maybe it was time to let go of the why and remember the Who.”

I may never understand the why of all of this, but I’ve got to move on, keep trying to bring something to the table, even if it’s not what I would have wanted. Letting go of the why is what I need.

That and some time to remember the God who cares and comforts, the God who understands our struggles.

I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it!

Hey, y’all! I’m so excited! I found out recently that I was accepted as part of the launch team for Nicki Koziarz‘ upcoming book, 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.

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I don’t know about you, but I can always use the encouragement to persevere and keep on going. In the past, I’ve allowed discouragement to get the best of me. I admit that I’ve often quit when I should have kept going.

But I’m hopeful and determined! And I am so happy to not only be a part of this launch team but also learn from Nicki’s book.

I hope you are ready for some encouragement in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Spaghetti

Original Photo by MaxStraeten on Morguefile.com
Original Photo by MaxStraeten on Morguefile.com

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” –Dale Carnegie

Throwing spaghetti against a wall or cupboard is one way to see if the pasta is ready to eat. A little messy, but it apparently works. Lately I have been thinking of this technique in relation to my own life; it seems an apt metaphor for life and change. A time of uncertainty—such as unemployment or divorce—can often lead to desperation to produce any sort of positive results. Throwing our passions and talents against a wall, we hope that something sticks.

Admittedly, this sort of period in life won’t necessarily be fruitless. When faced with the loss of comfort, we often find our own creativity or latent talents. For example, a month ago I would not have considered manipulating photographs for a hobby. My husband was the one with visual talent, not me. Too without the immediate need for some sort of employment, I probably wouldn’t have written an article, much less a blog post. My focus was on my work and others’ writing, not my own expression. Both in the areas of writing and photos, I have discovered that I do still have something to share.

However, without an overall plan or vision, the efforts can lead to nothing. So far, mine have resulted in plenty of spam emails, but no real job or contract offers. Perhaps I need to redouble my efforts or refocus them. Or maybe the strands just need to “cook” a bit longer.

As with cooking pasta, continuing with the process is important. Even if work or applications don’t “stick” this time, the efforts may bear fruit at a later date. Unfortunately, as a middle-aged woman with a family, waiting for that future time is much more difficult than it might have been when I was younger. When I fail, I’m not the only one to suffer. My husband and his daughter have to do without, leading to their dissatisfaction and resentment. The desire to avoid this and a natural lack of patience lead to my desire for results now.

Perhaps, though, age and responsibility bring some benefit as well. Humility and wisdom—at least, hopefully—have been gained by this point, along with a greater focus on quality work. Having come through my 20’s and 30’s, I see with a different perspective and know just how much I still need to learn. Also there is the experience of past successes as well as failures. Yes, maybe age does bring something along with the wrinkles.

For my family and myself, I will keep trying. I’ll keep throwing spaghetti up against a wall until it sticks, and then we’ll all reap the benefits of my continuing to try.

Joy in Trials

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. –James 1:2

Perseverance

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” ― Randy PauschThe Last Lecture

It is sometimes a struggle for many of us to even step out of bed in the morning. Whether it is a period of unemployment that never ends, a new diagnosis of a terminal illness, or a chronic mental illness, life often brings us to the point of giving in to defeat. I’m not so sure about the saying that “God doesn’t give us anything that we can’t handle.” I’ve seen plenty of people bear more than they should have to handle, ultimately succumbing to addiction or suicide.

If you were to ask me today how I’m doing, I would probably say, “I’ve had better months.” The upcoming loss of my teaching position has me at a loose end. I seem to be scrambling at writing anything possible online in order to gain some attention for my efforts and hopefully some employment. As I watch for comments and increasing scores–and not seeing either–it seems a futile effort, one that will ultimately bring me nothing.

But I’ve had worse months as well. And on those days when everything seems hopeless, I try to remember that I’ve come through worse times, ones that were filled with illness for myself and family members, along with the deaths of several family members. I’ve survived. And that’s what I’m trying to hang onto right now when the outlook for our future seems so uncertain.