Jenster's Musings

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Love You NED!!!

NED is No Evidence of Disease. He was mentioned in the report from yesterday's bone scan. I do still have arthritis between my sternum and left clavicle, but I don't have any pain from it.

Thanks again for all your prayers. God's peace is unfathomable and I'm so happy to know it. I feel such relief to know for certain that at this moment everything is good. At the same time, however, I also know He would have taken care of me regardless. I'm just glad I don't have to go down that path right now.

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Mused by Jenster :: 5:01 PM :: 34 People musing:

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Latest

Do you remember back in October when Todd fell in the Costco parking lot in the middle of a deluge and then later hurt his hand "helping Ben move"? That's what he tells everyone, but in reality he was trying to break a bed slat with his wily ninja karate skillz. In his defense he did have a concussion.

But I digress. His hand is still bothering him and not just a little. He saw an orthopedic surgeon in November who didn't see any broken bones on x-ray, so he gave him a splint to wear. Two weeks ago I went with Todd to see the doctor who is in a Beatles tribute band. Todd introduced him to me as Dr. Cash, a.k.a. George Harrison. He shook my hand while speaking Liverpoolian and I giggled like a school girl. One of my better "mature" moments. Anyhoo, George sent Todd for a thumb/wrist MRI last week and yesterday was the follow up appointment.

The MRI didn't show anything other than a bit of fluid in one of his thumb joints so the Fab One injected a corticosteroid laced with a bit of Novocaine into the joint. I gave Todd my sage advice for handling injections and then cringed as I watched the needle disappear in his knuckle. He did so good, though! I was rather impressed.

The relief was immediate and he was so happy. Then the mop top with the degree told Todd it was only temporary. Once the Novocaine wore off he'd be sore for a few days. Hopefully the corticosteroid will give him relief after the soreness from the injection is gone. Poor guy.

OH! And get this. I was so nice to him yesterday even though compassion is very low on my list of spiritual gifts. I think I scored a 5 out of 30 for compassion, only to be superseded by organization/administration which was a 2. It's nice to know I have it in me when it's needed, though.

***

So today was my bone scan. I had to be at the nuclear medicine department at 9:30 for my injection. After getting shot up with a radioactive dye which bonds to the bones I was free to do whatever I wanted to for the next three plus hours as long as my plans included drinking a lot of fluids. ANY fluids.

This time I knew right where the Starbuck's was so I hung out there for about an hour with my book, a cinnamon chip scone and... what did I get... let's see... oh yeah! A Venti White Chocolate Mocha with whip. Yeah, yeah. Not conducive to losing the weight that has taken up residence and really likes the neighborhood. And why shouldn't it like the neighborhood? There's always some type of a party going on!

After that was a trip to the biggest Bed, Bath and Beyond I've ever seen. Of course, I didn't see anything I needed or even wanted. Until I was about to leave, that is. I decided to make a quick perusal of the clearance section and I found a beautiful Gorham Lady Anne tall vase to go along with the rest of my Lady Anne pieces. It's a $60.00 vase and they had it on clearance for $20.00. Isn't it beautiful? How could I refuse??

My last stop on the way back to the hospital was Panera Bread Company for a delicious sandwich and a soda. And another 30 lovely minutes with my book. Of course, I had to wait about 30 minutes in the nuclear medicine waiting room so that was more time with my book. Do you see why I really don't mind these doctor's appointments and such?

The scan was no big deal at all. The technician straps you onto a very skinny, hard table with a wedge under your knees making you bow legged and a big rubber band around your toes making you pigeon toed. Quite the picture, isn't it? The whole thing took about 45 minutes and I was never so happy to get up from a nap as I was then. My entire body ached from staying perfectly still the whole time.

As I've said, I'm certain I'm still dancing with NED (No Evidence of Disease), but I can still feel the tension in my shoulders and it's not from laying on the table. It's not something I'm worrying about, but I know I'll be relieved to hear the doctor tell me tomorrow there was nothing more than a little degenerative bone disease. Funny how "degenerative bone disease" doesn't sound so bad in relation to cancer.

I will, of course, post after I hear from the doctor's office - hopefully tomorrow, but maybe on Thursday. For now I'm going to bed so I'll have all the energy I need to catch up on laundry and ironing tomorrow.

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Mused by Jenster :: 8:54 PM :: 16 People musing:

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Everything's All White

Get it? "All White" as in "all right"? Clever, no??

Wednesday morning I rushed around to make sure I got out of the house and on the road in time to make it to my oncology appointment by 10:30. His office had moved since the last time I saw him so I wanted to make sure I had enough wiggle room to find the new one.

Two minutes down the road I glanced at my planner and I realized my appointment wasn't until 11:45. ** Which begs the question, what do I have scheduled for 10:30 and when? I have no idea. ** Instead of turning around and going back home, however, I decided to take the scenic trip through Valley Forge to look for a tree. Last winter I became enamoured with a huge tree of some sort with a big, blackish trunk and beautiful WHITE branches. I'm pleased to report it's still there. Now I need to go back with my camera so you can see it, too.

After finding my tree I got back on the road and located the new offices with nearly an hour to spare. What to do? What to do? I know! Track down the nearest Starbuck's - STAT! Less then a mile down the road I spotted the glorious round, green sign with the funky lady in the middle. I think those signs have some kind of hidden homing device or something because my car just seems to be drawn to them. Anyway, I spent a lovely 45 minutes in Starbuck's with a WHITE Chocolate Mocha and my current read (Bookends by Liz Curtis Higgs). So I had a pre-appointment coffee instead of my usual post-appointment drink.

The new offices are gorgeous and lucky for me the doctor had had an emergency, throwing him behind nearly an hour. I'm serious when I say "lucky" because that gave me even more time to read. When I was called back the nurse did all the preliminaries like weigh me (WAHHHH!!!), draw blood, check my vitals, etc., then showed me to a room where I got to read some more. It was shaping up to be a nice day. Except for the weighing part.

After a few minutes the WHITE Russian came in. He said, "It's such a pleasure to see you. You're the healthiest person I've seen all day." Makes you wonder what kind of day he'd had, doesn't it? I had three items to discuss with him:

1. Can I get off Tamoxifen and start on Arimidex or Femera?

Since I no longer have ovaries my estrogen levels are considered post-menopausal. Therefore, I can stop taking Tamoxifen and start on either one of those medications. He switched me to Arimidex, but the major side effect of that is arthritis. If I start suffering with joint pain and stiffness - more than I already do - then we'll try Femera. The major side effect of that drug is higher cholesterol, but I don't have any cholesterol problems so that might be okay. He then sent me next door to have a baseline bone density scan so we can watch how the Arimidex effects my bones.

I hate to sound vain, but I looked really good in my navy blue hospital gown, tan and brown striped socks and pink crocs with the oatmeal liner. I'm talking HAWT! And have any of you ever had a dexascan? You lie on this table and the technician lines up the machine to be centered on your abdomen below your navel. To line it up she kept pushing on my hip bones and my pelvic bone! She never told me she was going to do that and I just about jumped off the table because I was NOT expecting that! I am not that kind of girl! I may show my boobs to anyone who wants to see them, but that's where I draw the line!

2. Can I have the hair removed from my left underarm by laser?

It's not invasive and you don't run the risk of a cut so it doesn't threaten to cause lymphedema. I think I'll be a bit wild and have BOTH underarms laserly de-haired.

3. What about the pain in my right hip and left lower ribs?

This, of course, was my main concern and with good reason. As I stated before, bone metastasis is very common with breast cancer. The doctor is not worried at all. My cancer markers are very low, my blood test doesn't indicate anything going on with my bones, I'M NOT LOSING WEIGHT. ** When I complained about the not losing weight part even though I'm trying he said I have several factors working against me. My age, my total hysterectomy, my thyroid issues, the Tamoxifen, my love of Starbuck's and all things chocolate (Okay. I give. I threw the last two in there.) I think onocologists are the only doctors who like their patients overweight. ** But because bone metastasis is always a concern he scheduled me for a bone scan next Tuesday.

Looking through my chart, he saw that my last bone scan was two years ago. At that time it showed degenerative disease (dramatic way of saying arthritis) in my clavical. My clavical! How does that even work? It's not a joint, is it?? That makes no sense to me. Of course, this is me we're talking about. If it's weird and can happen..., well, you get the idea. He thinks the pain in my hip and my ribs may be arthritis.

All in all I'm feeling pretty good about everything. The appointment went very well and Dr. Mikhail eased whatever concern I had about the bone pain. And Katybug - it doesn't feel like normal muscle pain. It's hard to describe, but it does seem more "bony" than muscle.

OH! And get this. I had told the kids not to get on the bus, I would pick them up from school because we had to go buy a jacket for Taylor. I hadn't planned on a dexascan, but by the time I got out of there I knew there was no way I could get to them. So I called Todd and asked him to call Katie's school to let her know she had to take the bus home. I texted Taylor because I knew he'd check it as soon as school was out.

So I'm driving home, feeling good about things, listening to my favorite playlist on my iPod, when Katie calls me. "Mom! Where are you?" Long story short - the office called her last period teacher and told her, but the woman never told Katie. Todd was too far to get her, I was too far to get her, we tried calling a couple people about getting her but couldn't get a hold of them. So I told her to go wait for me in the office and I'd get there as soon as I could. But the secretary couldn't wait for me so she drove Katie home. The whole thing made me see WHITE! Like madder than seeing red! I'm still miffed about that.

**Deep Breath**

Tuesday I'll go get injected with radioactive dye that, unfortunately, will not make me glow. Then three hours later I'll go back and take a rest on a cold, hard table while the scanner runs over me like a car wash. Hopefully I'll be able to see my skeleton on the computer screen because it makes me look tall and skinny. Maybe a little too skinny.

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Mused by Jenster :: 6:23 PM :: 24 People musing:

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Fast Blurb

Just a quick note to let you all know my doctor's visit went well, he's not worried but has scheduled a bone scan for next Tuesday.

There is, as always, more to the day than this, but I just haven't had the time to post it. I promise to get to it soon!!

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Mused by Jenster :: 6:56 AM :: 6 People musing:

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Should I or Shouldn't I

I get to see the White Russian tomorrow. You know, my oncologist. It's just a routine checkup, but I expect a few things to happen.

First of all, since I had all my girly hormone factories removed last July I should have post menopausal estrogen levels. This means I can stop taking Tamoxifen and be switched to Arimadex which, from what research I've been able to do, is a better drug.

The other thing is I expect to be scheduled for a bone scan. I've been having some pain in my right hip and my lower left ribs. I'm guessing it's caused from working at the preschool - crawling around on the floor, picking up kids, throwing them around, duct taping them to the wall. But I can't ignore the fact that the most common place for a breast cancer metastasis is the bones, specifically the ribs.

I debated whether or not to even blog about this because at this very moment there's nothing to worry about. But I know first hand the power of prayer so I decided to throw it out there for all you pray-ers.

If I were to say I'm not concerned at all I would be lying. However, I'm not overly concerned at this point. I'll just be glad to know my aches and pains are nothing more than a pulled muscle or tweaked ligament.

So tomorrow afternoon I'll post another blog about my visit to the White Russian, my indignation at having to be weighed on a defective scale, the delicious White Chocolate Mocha I purchased as a way to soothe my fat and ruffled feathers, and when I'll be having my bones checked out.

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Mused by Jenster :: 9:39 PM :: 24 People musing:

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Last Year's Post

I have no idea why, but I wanted to see if I posted on January 21, 2007. I did and it made me smile. Dang, but it was good to be me back in the day!

So in case you missed Where I Grew Up last year, here you go.

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Mused by Jenster :: 2:34 PM :: 11 People musing:

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ho Hum

I don't know what my deal is, but I haven't been able to write a thing. I've been working on my Lake Perris post and my 2005 Race for the Cure post and neither one of them are fit for publication. I compose brilliant, award-winning narratives in the shower, in the car, while I'm washing dishes, as I'm getting ready in the morning, but when I sit down to actually write I draw a complete blank.

Taylor and his girlfriend, Kristen, attended the Winter Ball last night. He was handsome and she was, as usual, beautiful. As we drove to her house before the dance I asked him if he was excited. His answer was such a Todd answer I had to laugh. I'm looking forward to it okay, but it's really about Kristen. I just want her to have as good a time as she's hoping for. That was a proud mama moment to be sure. Turns out she did have as good a time as she was hoping for and Taylor had as much fun as she did.

We bought Katie the complete series of the Gilmore Girls. She's been going through it at an incredible pace. Todd has caught a couple episodes and he has fallen under the spell. So last night he and I watched the first three episodes of season one.

He is officially a fan of a girly show. In his defense, though, it is just so darned funny! He tried to swear me to secrecy, but I told him I couldn't keep this to myself. It begged to be blogged about. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't stop from telling everyone. So now you know.

After running all over the place yesterday and our typically busy Sunday schedule, I'm looking forward to a day of doing nothing much tomorrow. Both Todd and the kids will be home and about the only thing we have planned is an early dinner at the new Ruby Tuesday by us. That and sleeping in late.

Until next time...

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Mused by Jenster :: 4:18 PM :: 17 People musing:

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Catching Up and Upcoming Posts

I started my training in earnest this morning. I finally feel well enough to do something more strenuous than blowing my nose and throwing away the Kleenex. Though I did lose two pounds last week. I was going to ask my scientist friend, Kris, what the molecular make up of snot is and how to determine the density in direct proportion to mass quantity which resulted in reducing my overall weight by two pounds, but I thought she'd enjoy it just a little too much so I changed my mind.

Today I walked 2.5 miles on the treadmill in just under 50 minutes. Not a great time or distance, but I'm happy with it. Especially because I think I should be able to call it an even 3 miles as the last half a mile I walked with my legs crossed. No easy feat, that. Note to self. Remember to go potty before you start your training.

Not only am I in training now, but I'm also making better food choices. Don't you dare say I'm on a diet. I am NOT on a diet. Like New Year's Resolutions, diets are another set up for failure. I consider the "D" word as bad as the "E" word. I am simply choosing to eat healthier foods as advised to me by the powers that be at Weight Watchers.

Tonight I'm getting together with three other neighbors - Kris, Sherri and Laura - for our first weekly... something or other. I don't think we've actually named it. But we're going to meet, weigh ourselves (with no one else seeing), drink water or maybe even tea, hold each other accountable and be encouraging. I so want to take a cheese ball or dip as bad as Kris wants to serve wine or martinis. But that would defeat our purpose. We're setting aside 30 minutes once a week. Our "business" should take about 10, leaving another 20 to just shoot the breeze.

***

After walking this morning, I started going through some of our boxes in the basement. I'm happy to say there are now four less boxes. Never mind two of the boxes were already empty. They are now in the designated empty boxes section, making the boxes-full-of-who-knows-what section looking a little better.

***

Tomorrow is PJ day at the preschool. I love the thought of wearing my jammies to work. I just have to remember to take a change of clothing so I don't have to wear my jammies into the restaurant when I meet Todd for lunch afterwards.

***

There are those among you who continue to plague me about a story I mentioned in passing on another blog. The Lake Perris story. You know who you are. And while I'd rather not dredge up something I thought I had laid to rest, I'm finding it's a bit like a decaying tooth. I can try to ignore it, but it just keeps getting worse. So I will start working on the retelling of that fateful day. Mom - consider this your warning.

***

One more post you can look forward to is the Little Rock Race for the Cure in October of 2005. Now THAT'S a good story!

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Mused by Jenster :: 1:06 PM :: 23 People musing:

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

No More Exercise

I've decided I'm not going to exercise ever again. I've never been good at keeping up with it so why even try?

Instead I'm going to be in training. Building muscle and endurance so I can walk in a few 5Ks and even the Susan G. Komen 3 day walk in October.

So please, do not use the "E" word in front of me.

Thank you for your cooperation.

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Mused by Jenster :: 10:01 PM :: 26 People musing:

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Most Humble Apologies

I have not been a very good bloghopper. My laptop is having connectivity issues so I'm relegated to the basement desktop. It does not have my favorites so my whole bloghopping system is nonfunctional.

Not only that, my head is still stuffed with cotton and my thinking skills are a little iffy on good days.

I am sleeping with the computer guy, but it doesn't seem to give me preferential treatment. Hopefully I'll be able to access the internet on my laptop by the weekend. (Huh, computer guy??)

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Mused by Jenster :: 10:52 AM :: 24 People musing:

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Latest Installment of the Reconstruction Chronicles

My drive into Philadelphia today served as evidence that I'm still a long way away from my New Year's Resolution. Here's an example (singing in italics):

Indescribable, uncontainable, you placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name, you are amaz...

Buddy! This is a freeway, not a country road!!

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden...


Whoa, Lady! Sorry I called you Buddy. What's with the hair??

And I'll sing glory, hallelujah, I lift Your name on...

Dude!! Move over!!
Obviously Christian music does not a good Christian make. Although I did get a prime parking spot in the impossible parking garage at the hospital. Luck? Or something else??

The nurse ushered me back to the little room and I changed into my lovely gown while she took down my vitals. Then she left me alone with my book. I was happy. Hey, I'll take quiet reading without guilt any time I can get it.

After a nice little while the doctor came in. He was not, of course, alone. He introduced me to Dr. Morelli and we shook hands as if we were getting ready to have a business lunch, the difference being I bared my boobage after the hand shake. The tasteless jokes running through my mind right now simply boggle.

The incision revisions look great. Still not perfect, but good enough that I'm happy with them. The nipple, not so much. He told me I had two choices. He could try one more time to build it up or I could just leave it like it is and schedule the tattooing and that the tattooing would probably even things out. So I opted for the tattooing. It was all I could do not to laugh when he said, with a perfectly straight face, that's what he would do if it were him.




I'm still thinking of something with a Celtic flair. (JUST KIDDING!)




Well, Ladies and Gents. I'm off for a nap. I ran a fever all day yesterday - at one point over 102 - and I'm starting to run a low grade fever now. So I'm going to try to nip it, nip it in the bud!

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Mused by Jenster :: 1:59 PM :: 18 People musing:

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Monday, January 07, 2008

A Little Wisdom

Just because you can pull your pants up over your hips, button and zip them does NOT mean they fit.

Just sayin'.

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Mused by Jenster :: 4:07 PM :: 21 People musing:

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Desperate Housewives Tonight

WHEW!!!

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Mused by Jenster :: 10:11 PM :: 5 People musing:

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A Passing Blurb

Oy! I have so many things to blog about, not the least of which is a visit with our very good friends from Missouri. But it will have to wait a little bit longer.

Before I go on to my riviting post I have to say a thank you to all of you who left me such nice, encouraging comments on my last post.

SmileyCentral.com

I'm rejoining the YMCA tomorrow so I can start swimming again. Swimming without the fear of certain fake parts floating to places they shouldn't be.

Last week we were lucky if our highs made it into the 30's. Now they're telling us it's going to get up into the 50's, even 60's for a few days this week. People are all excited about the warmer temperatures and some of them (like my son) are even wearing shorts.

I'm so tired of hot flashes. Tired, I tell you. The other night I was working in the kitchen and I took off my sweatshirt. Then I put it back on. Then I took it off. Then back on. This went on and on all evening. Right now I'm sitting in a freezing house and I want to turn up the heater, but I know if I just hang out here for a few minutes I'll be sweltering in no time at all. How long do these things last??

Desperate Housewives is on tonight. So nobody call the house at 9:00 Eastern Standard Time because I won't answer.

Wednesday I have a follow up appointment with the plastic surgeon to check on the revisions he did back in December. My opinion of the revisions? Meh. Things still look funky to me, but whatever.

Speaking of whatever, I leave you with this YouTube video in honor of our Missouri friends:

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Mused by Jenster :: 4:18 PM :: 15 People musing:

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Life Resolution

It's that time again. A new year, a new beginning, a chance to do all those things I planned on doing last year but never quite managed. I don't make resolutions. I make goals. Because I know me, I see resolutions as a set up for failure. I realize making a goal is the same thing, but I'm big into semantics and goals sounds better to me than resolutions.

I hope it's safe to say that most of you who read my blabbering know I'm a Christian. Jenster's Musings, however, is not a Christian blog. Some of my favorite blogs are the ones which encourage me in my walk with Christ; teach me something new about the Bible; show me a side of God I hadn't seen before; convict me with a truth I'd maybe been ignoring – that sort of thing. Those blogs have a specific purpose and I'm very blessed by them. The intent of this blog is very different.

You don't have to be a Christian to read my blog. I don't keep my faith on the down low so as not to offend, nor is it because I'm embarrassed. I have several cyber-friends who are agnostic, atheist, Jewish, and I'm sure a few other things. No doubt we would disagree on a lot of issues, religion most of all. But they feel the same way about so many other things as I do such as family, friends, health, etc., and I value their friendship.

The original purpose of this blog was to keep friends and family apprised of what was going on with us after our move to Pennsylvania. That's still the main reason I do this, but it's grown into so much more. It has become my means of talking about breast cancer, what I've been through and what my family has been through. Sometimes it's my own little bit of therapy. But I can't talk about my battle without talking about my gracious and loving God. It's not preaching - it's just that He is such a part of me and my trials. Trying to separate my faith from what I've dealt with for the last two-and-a-half years would be like trying to take the eggs out of the cake batter after you've mixed it all together. Impossible.

Not for a nano-second will I apologize for "offending" a non-Christian with my God talk. Nor do I usually put a "Warning: Spiritual Discussion" at the beginning of my more personal faith posts. But I wonder if my content is misleading. Do you know I am passionate about God? That I love to worship Him? That I pray about everything and earnestly try to follow His leading? That my relationship with Christ is even more important to me than my family? (I hesitated in writing the last comment because it can be taken the wrong way. I love my husband, my children, and my extended family more than my own life and would gladly do just about anything for them. But I won't give up my faith for any of them.) Do you know that sometimes when I'm listening to worship music I have to put my hands in the air while I praise God? And that I've literally been flat on the floor in prayer, full of despair, my heart in pieces, sobbing with emotional pain only to feel the presence of God and be filled with a joy and gladness that goes beyond explanation? If you only know me through my blog I'm guessing you didn't know these things.

Sometimes I think I'm less of a Christian for NOT writing about these things on a regular basis if at all. But how many of you would read this blog if that's all I talked about? The "important" posts I write are not about things of a spiritual nature. Like I said, that's just a part of my experience and one that cannot be detached from the rest, but breast cancer and everything that goes with it affects people regardless of their religious beliefs.

I don't want to be mistaken for either a religious zealot or a lukewarm Christian. I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this anymore. I suppose just that the original point of this writing was of a spiritual nature regarding my one New Year's Resolution. I wanted to convey that, although I don't talk about my faith on a regular basis, it is my life. And though it is my life and I will not be swayed, I find friendship with and respect for all kinds of people – Christian or not.

There are a lot of things I would like to accomplish in 2008. They all sound suspiciously like resolutions: exercise more; eat healthy; get organized; finish my book; increase my reading; keep my house clean; budget better; pay off bills; save money; up my giving; be more hospitable - **deep breath** - just reading the list is exhausting.

But the one thing I want to be resolute about is getting to know Christ better. I know from personal experience that particular discipline seeps into every aspect of my life. And at the end of the year if I can say I didn't accomplish anything other than getting to know Christ better, then it was an awesome year.

This was the subject of Sunday's message and one that continues to be pounded into my head and my heart. Just this morning I was reading through my scripture journal (a notebook full of scripture my friend, Beth, and I used to email to each other when we came across something that spoke to us) and I came across this:

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God.
2 Peter 1:3 (The Message)

It's no coincidence I happened to read this scripture today. God does this all the time. He tells me something, then He tells me again, and then usually one more time just to be sure I got it. I think it means I'm a bit dense.

***

Just so you don't think I've lost my touch for the irreverent, I'm thinking of asking Jesus for a smaller butt.

***

I apologize for the disjointed and convoluted nature of this post. Welcome to my mind. :o)

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Mused by Jenster :: 2:15 PM :: 43 People musing:

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