Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Four Ventricles Of My Heart

Every once in a while I like to tell folks on Melanoma Prayer Center about me. If they are going to "like" that community page and trust me with their stories and hearts, they should know who they are trusting. And it does me good, too, to remember how far God has brought me and since God's not through with me, how far He is still bringing me. My story is scattered throughout this blog but my melanoma journey is mainly in these four: http://letsgivethanks.blogspot.com/2010/12/big-c-is-not-candy.html and http://letsgivethanks.blogspot.com/2012/01/i-love-to-tell-story.html
and http://letsgivethanks.blogspot.com/2012/04/great-melanoma-crack-showdown-of-2008.html
and http://letsgivethanks.blogspot.com/2012/10/back-in-time-to-2008-surgeries-no.html

Lately I've been thinking about my heart. Life doesn't revolve around melanoma for me. I know there will be melahomies who won't believe that, but it's true. Hearts are big places that hold lots of people and loads of interests. For me, four ventricles work pretty well.

My first heart-place is for my family. I've been blessed. There is MUCH I do not share on Facebook or anywhere else. We are private people and the world doesn't deserve, or want, to know every breath we take and every move we make. One child is on FB and she shares what she wants to. She's adult and I'm proud of her and her family. One child is not on FB so I choose to honor him by keeping him (largely) out of my posts and out of this blog. He's adult and I'm proud of him also. Hubby has a FB page that he doesn't keep up with so I don't bring him into my online world either. We are who we are and those that know us know. I share about me and I only go so far. Maybe being 52 has something to do with that. I just don't understand the need to let every thought, impulse, and move be made common knowledge. There are some things I don't even discuss with my family because there are topics people really cannot discuss civilly, especially if there are opinions that run contrary to theirs.

My second heart-place is for my church. I've loved all my appointments. I love my home church where I spent the first 40 years of my life before being called into pulpit ministry. I've served as Interim on a two-point charge with a retired elder who was and still is a wonderful mentor. I've served two churches that were simultaneous appointments but not a charge. Now I'm at Warren Plains. I live in Northampton County and my church is two counties over and a drive that is an hour and ten minutes each way and I absolutely love them. We've come through a fire already and been found faithful. Fires come to all churches. We are now embracing a local Warren County school and will be supplying school supplies and uniforms AND what I'm really excited about, is we'll be volunteering to help students with their literacy. I've already filled out the form for my background check. This is an opportunity to make a difference in one of North Carolina's poorest counties and maybe be a stepping stone for some children out of poverty. In church literature, we're considered "micro-small," with under 20 in attendance (usually) and several of those are elderly widows, but we've got strong faith and beautiful hearts. We've got what we need.

(This, in red, was added October 4, 2012. I turned 53 in September and my church is now in active ministry to this elementary school. We've bought uniforms for students in TWO schools, bought school supplies, and we are actively volunteering. I'm working with a 3rd grade class helping with their phonics and reading. I go two mornings each week and have 4 students I call my own for the time I'm there. They actually seem to look forward to working with me and are VERY curious about my compression sleeve and glove).

My third ventricle is definitely for my melanoma family. Just like my family and church have my heart, so do the people who travel Melanoma Road with me. I stand in awe of the men and women of all ages and races who battle the beast. I stand in awe of their families. I stand in awe of their courage and strength and faith. I stand in awe of their willingness to share their stories and their vulnerability. It never ceases to amaze me when I'm allowed into a life and I get to walk with someone on their path. I stand in awe of how God takes my own melanoma and has blessed it, broken its hold over me, and used it. Me. Miss Private Who Likes Her Own Little World And Her Comfort Zone. Me. I no longer have a private little world when it comes to melanoma, nor do I have any comfort zones left. While I protect my family's privacy, I don't let melanoma have any privacy. I want it out there. As a person of faith and of the church, God already had "Truth" occupying a prime place in my life. I can deal with "truth" even when I don't like it; it's lies and deceit that are dangerous and deadly. We've GOT to have truth in melaworld. It's an absolute necessity and people's very lives depend on it. So, I do my best and use any forum available to speak truth. But also Hope. And Faith. And Trust. And anything else I feel God wants me to speak. Many share their stories and I encourage everyone to check out the growing list of blogs by fellow warriors.

My fourth ventricle is reserved for other ministries the Lord leads me to and I've been amazed at them and how they all fit together. It began with being the volunteer co-Chaplain to the women in the county jail for a few years. That segued into being a volunteer at the Edgecombe Youth Development Center. Interspersed with those I've also been a volunteer Hospice Chaplain and served in a rotation of volunteer Chaplains at a local hospital under the staff Chaplain. Now that Edgecombe is closing and that is drawing to an end, the opportunity to help students at an elementary school is opening. I'm excited at the possibilities. Melanoma Prayer Center, on Facebook, has been an unexpected ministry and I'm always stunned when someone else decides to "like" it, but more than that, I'm constantly astounded by the other numbers that people don't see.

God truly takes what we offer and blesses even something as hideous as melanoma. I'm seeing that over and over in the lives of others and not just my own.

God, prayer, faith, hope, love...blood that flows through my ventricles, brings everything together, and is my heart's food. There is life, and life in abundance in and beyond cancer. I'm a firm believer that we need to focus on more than cancer. Cancer would try and have us believe otherwise. It wants to suck us in and drain us of everything we need to hold onto. I know battles go through seasons of intensity. I know the fight can become the focus. And while that's natural and understandable, I also don't think that's wise. We all need outlets. Even if it's walking in the yard five minutes a day and praying. Even if it's picking up a book and getting lost in another world for a few minutes a day. Even if it's exercising as best as one can, be it in bed or wheelchair or able-bodied. We all need outlets for emotions. We all need to stay sane in a world of insanity.

We all have hearts and they all have four ventricles.

May God fill and use them ALL!

Charis