Undone

Knitting

Courtesy of blog Little Bluebell

What do you do when life leaves you undone?

I recently found out I have cancer. Type: endometrial adenocarcinoma (uterine cancer). Stage: unknown at this point. Treatment plan: Surgery, followed by possible chemotherapy, depending on the lab results from the post-op analysis of what’s being removed.  Prognosis: optimistic but unknown.

So, what did I do?  Told my parents first, then people I trust to pray for me, then when I knew my surgery date, I made the news public.  I also made an iPod playlist full of uplifting music and found some free ebooks that will nourish my spirit as I deal with this illness.

There’s so much I could say about all of this, about the timing of it, the type of cancer, the prognosis, etc.  But for now, I just want to say this:

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
(Psalm 139:13-16, New International Version, emphasis mine)

I know my life, all of it, is in God’s hands.  So when I come undone, I can count on Him to knit the raveled places back together.

 

Reboot

I’m going through a reboot at the moment, so I thought the blog could use a fresh face too. Like?  It’s “Suits”, a new free theme from WP.  I’m pleased with its clean-cut, minimalist look.

Five days ago, my short-lived career in insurance ended (at least for now).  I’m not sure if that industry is where I want to spend the majority of my waking hours.file3851238794251

I’m thinking about where I want to go from here.  I know this much: I need more than a paycheck and benefits;  I need satisfaction.  I want to be creative, to solve problems in a way that uses my intuitive nature, to do work that I feel matters.  I need to feel like an artist, not a piece of plug-and-play technology.

If I can find a “regular” job that allows me to use my desire to play with photo software and graphics, to write and do page layout (like a newsletter, brochure or web page), and to maybe even take a photo or two occasionally, that would be wonderful.  At the moment, I’m not seeing ads for such jobs online or in the paper.

It may be time to start writing the code for my own programming rather than using the out-of-the-box software required by corporate America.  Maybe, just maybe, I need to do a little life hacking…

Holiday perspective

DSCN0038Merry Christmas!

Yesterday, to get out for a few minutes and do a little walking, I visited some local stores.  Not for Christmas shopping – I had that done and under the tree, except for the impulse purchase gift for my great niece Ashtyn Nicole Reno, who was born two days before my birthday and is just 9 days old today.

No, I was out buying laundry detergent and trying to find Dad a red shirt so he’d have a couple of options for his Christmas wardrobe.

After hitting three stores, I had detergent and a poem-reciting teddy bear tucked away in the Cavalier, but no shirt.  So, I decided to give the local Walmart a look in case Mom overlooked a men’s red shirt in medium when she was there earlier that morning.  Turns out she didn’t; the only ones left were performance fabric shirts that Dad hates.

That’s not the point of this story, though.  I got to Walmart, which was crowded with last-minute shoppers, and parked near a cart return. Locked the car, started strolling up to the store.  On the way I passed a car with an open door.  The people inside were having an argument, and a shrill young female voice was dropping F-bombs every few words.  I shook my head and muttered a sarcastic “Merry Christmas” as I kept walking.

A couple hundred feet away, at the doors, the atmosphere changed completely.  The Salvation Army bell ringer was having church with a man who had just exited the store.  It was like a lighthouse beacon on a stormy night, these two brothers in the Lord talking openly about Jesus, his atoning death on the cross and the grace and mercy of God. People flowed by with lists and purchases and important things to do, ignoring the conversation, and I was struck by the object lesson in it all.

How often do we rush right past the true meaning of Christmas on our way to the under-tree floor fillers?  Maybe it’s time to stop and talk about the Good News of Christmas.  Even if the conversation happens in the Walmart parking lot.

May you all have a safe, blessed and merry Christ-mas Day, and a blessed 2014!

 

Giving thanks

give thanksNOTE: If this seems familiar, it’s because I posted something similar in 2010.  Funny – circumstances changed between posts, but what I wrote then still applies to my life now, three years later (even the part about the Saints!). Thank You, Lord, for bringing me back to this place.

In the United States, today is Thanksgiving, a day to celebrate our blessings and tell God thanks for giving them to us.

This year, even though part of the family is on the road, we’re keeping the tradition of having our biggest meal of the year.  In our house that means the kitchen becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet with two meats and far too many side dishes for five people.  It’s the only time of year we fix enough food at one time to eat the leftovers for a whole week.

This year when I bow my head over the family banquet, I’ll be giving thanks for many things: a steady paycheck and a decent car to transport me there; an intact family whose members actually like each other; good friends and a loving church family; a roof over my head, stable health,  having a winning football team to cheer for (Geaux Saints!); and most of all, my life in Christ which, even after 25 years, is filled with peace and joy in the midst of life’s trials.

In 1996, my Thanksgiving was very different.  I was far from family and home, having gone to South America with my employer, his wife and their granddaughter only 16 days before the holiday.  We were without a turkey or cranberry sauce, and I was living somewhere other than Mississippi for the first time in conscious memory.  I was homesick for my family and feeling lost in a new culture.  My faith that God knew what He was doing in moving me there kept me going, but fighting off self-pity was a daily struggle.

Until we got the office set up I was tutoring the boss’s granddaughter, so to teach her  and remind myself about gratitude, I asked her to tell me the things she was thankful to have.  I took her thoughts and a few of my own, blended them into a poem, and read it as a prayer when we gathered for our Thanksgiving Day dinner.  The main dish wasn’t turkey, and my parents were several thousand miles away, but that poem-prayer helped me have a good holiday with my surrogate family.

Here’s what I wrote – feel free to use or adapt it for your family gathering if you like it:

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

  Oh dear Lord, now we pray
as we gather round today.
We want to say our thanks to You
for all You are and all You do –
for friends and family far and near,
for ones who’ve gone and those still here;
for pets and toys and reading books,
for homes and clothes and food to cook;
for minds to learn what we should know,
for hands to work and feet to go,
for eyes to see and ears to hear,
and voices to sing loud and clear;
for the hearts Your Spirit calls His home
and the Son who died for everyone –
for all You are and all You do,
Oh Lord, we give our thanks to You.
© 1996 Traci Bonney
November 28, 1996

It’s that time of year again…

2013-Participant-Facebook-ProfileNaNoWriMo has begun. And once again, a story showed up on the doorstep of my imagination.  There’s nothing like flying (or in this case, writing) by the seat of one’s pants to fuel the creative spirit.

For the next month, I’ll be alternating between the daytime world of an insurance agency and the evening epiphanies of unfettered imagination.  What comes of it, if all goes well, will be the first draft of a novel I’ve been wanting to write for a couple of years now.  It’s all about a lady named after a burger joint. Here’s an excerpt:

Ever fall in love with the idea of being in love?  Worst cliché of all time, I know.  Didn’t stop it from happening to me, though.

I’m a child of the 1970s – the era of women’s liberation, equal pay for equal work, the “you can have it all” superwoman mentality.  And still, somewhere inside of me lives this hyperimaginative little girl who wants to be Cinderella at the ball, sweeping Prince Charming off his feet and into a stroll down a rose petal strewn aisle. 

I can see it now: he’s all dapper in a formal tux, crown just slightly askew, nervous and excited and grinning like he inhaled a whole tank of nitrous oxide.  Me? I’m in the most amazing blinged out bridal gown any Swarovski crystal obsessed designer could possibly imagine.  I’m wearing a crown of my own, with a beautiful long white veil attached, and in my hands is an enormous bouquet of white roses and some as yet undetermined purple flower.  I’m trying to steady my nerves with the slow walk of the bridal march, but what I really want to do is toss the bouquet into the nearest pew of single women and dash down the aisle, fling my arms around his neck and kiss the daylights out of those gorgeous lips…

Stay tuned for more about Krystal and her misadventures on the road to love.

Ch-ch-changes

Lots going on in the coming weeks:

  1. Annual family yard sale – most of my stuff is tagged and boxed, so not much to do there
  2. My niece’s baby shower the day after the yard sale – I’m one of the hostesses, and this is my first time doing this, so I’m in the throes of planning, purchasing and printing things for the big day.
  3. My first 5k as a paying participant – sure, I did a 3.6-mile walk after work today, but that was by myself and without all the fun and craziness promised by the sponsors of the Color Vibe 5k I’ll be doing in a couple of weeks.
  4. If I can quit procrastinating, the launch of Helene’s Hope, Book 3 in my Women of Atherton contemporary Christian fiction series.  Of course, this means I need to finish writing, editing, uploading, cover creating, etc., within the time frame I’ve given myself.
  5. The office Halloween costume contest – there will be a hoop involved…
  6. The November 1 launch of my fourth year participating in NaNoWriMo. I have no idea what I’ll be writing this year – but there’s nothing different about that.  I drafted an entire comic fantasy trilogy during the last three years of NaNosanity, and as soon as I figure out how to get the cover art I want, I’ll be editing and launching that set of books.  So what’s another month of pantsing?  Been there, done that, made the t-shirt…
  7. The next luncheon for the women in my family, at which I hope to have a few copies of Helene’s Hope available – hence the aforementioned time frame.  Since said luncheon is in November, it will probably mean a marathon writing session that afternoon.
  8. Thanksgiving – a whole day of food, football, and not getting any NaNo writing done.  Hope to have whatever novel I decide to write drafted by then.  I’m glad the holiday falls late in the month this year.
  9. December – office Christmas party, 48th birthday, niece’s first child being born, Christmas, another family birthday, beginning work on Sue’s Salvation, the last Atherton novel (if I don’t draft it during NaNo), and New Year’s Eve.

All this while trying to make changes in my eating and exercise habits to manage my diabetes and improve my cholesterol levels. Whew!  I’m getting tired just typing about it.

How about you?  What do you have coming up as 2013 nears its end?