Saturday, July 27, 2013

what is the tutu walk charlotte nc

A real search term that led Google to lead someone to this blog and I have to simply laugh out loud! This is so cool and awesome! OK. The good folks at Aim at Melanoma may not find it too amusing, but not many of them saw Rich McDonald and Mark Williams last year. And many from Aim probably won't be seeing them this year either.

Following Bob Carey's example, they donned black tutus. Bob is the man in the pink tutu and head of The Tutu Project which raises awareness and funds centered around breast cancer. True, Rich and Mark won't quite go to the lengths of tutu-wearing that Bob does, but they still made, and will make, quite a fashion statement. And let's face it, Rich is a recovering lawyer. A black tutu over sweat pants is pretty daring for him. It was all in fun and they probably gained a new respect for Bob and for any man who wears a tutu out in public.

(Laugh, laugh, giggle) The Tutu Walk, aka "Aim at Melanoma Walk", will be at the Freedom Park in Charlotte, NC on Saturday November 16th. Here's where to find the official info and walkers to support and how to register to walk. A quick check, as of right now, reveals that neither Rich nor Mark have registered for this year's Tutu walk though they WILL be there in full regalia. Keep a check on Aim's page though and throw some support their way. Throw some my way...I've registered. Throw some on any of us as it all goes to the same place.

And come join us. Have a great laugh at Rich and Mark and laugh with the rest of us about any and every thing. Get your fair share of hugs and be greedy if you wish...get all the hugs you want!

It's not just about raising money for melanoma research. It's about meeting each other and reuniting with those we already have hugged. It's a weekend that begins on Friday, walks on Saturday, and says good bye on Sunday.

It's the Great Tutu Walk of Charlotte, NC and it's the place to be November 16th!

See ya then and there!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Time to Talk The Walk. The Charlotte, NC Aim Walk, That Is!

Can I just say "Ditto!" to all my posts last year about our Aim At Melanoma Walk in Charlotte, NC? Do a blog search and be astounded, amazed, and amused at my posts and song renditions. No barfing, please.

The only change, this year, is the date. November 16th. Still at Freedom Park. Still guys in tutus. Still people flying and driving in from all over...but only MORE people!

Here's the official link to all the info you need.

Here's the official link to my fundraising page on Aim's site. But you can also feel free to give to any of my fellow walkers. It all goes to the same place.

OK, here's the lowdown for all who follow our blogs. Chelsea Price, Adventures With My Enemy, Melanoma; Rich McDonald, Hotel Melanoma; Al Estep, Black Is The New Pink; Susan Visch Hayes, Jillian's Journey With Melanoma-A Mother's Story; Timna Understein, Respect The Rays; Anjannette Figueroa-Bess, Light Skinned Mother; Melissa Collins, Melissa-Melanoma Sucks!; Jennifer and Steven Martin, Just Another Bump in the Road; Donna Piunt, The Cancer Spot; Alicia Bowling, The Skin I'm In; Erin Youngerberger, Melanoma and the City...and I hope I haven't forgotten anybody. Let me know if I have! But all these wonderful people will be there! That's the plan as of RIGHT NOW! Jean Schlipmann, from Aim at Melanoma, will come up from Texas. Our favorite "Don't Stop Believin" stage 4 warrior, Mark Williams, will be flying in with his little buddy and three tutus. Anne Bowman is doing her fabulous job as Aim's Charlotte Chair in getting this all together. As you can tell, with us all traveling, we'll be getting there on the 15th and many will be staying through to the 17th.

So. Make your plans and mark your calendars and join us in Charlotte, NC on November 16th in Freedom Park! Let's come together and do our part to say "buh-bye" to this nasty disease.

Won't we ALL be grateful when that day comes?!


Friday, July 5, 2013

Psalm 6

From the New Living Translation

O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your rage.
Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak.
    Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
I am sick at heart.
    How long, O Lord, until you restore me?
Return, O Lord, and rescue me.
    Save me because of your unfailing love.
For the dead do not remember you.
    Who can praise you from the grave?

I am worn out from sobbing.
    All night I flood my bed with weeping,
    drenching it with my tears.
My vision is blurred by grief;
    my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.

Go away, all you who do evil,
    for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord will answer my prayer.
May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified.
    May they suddenly turn back in shame.

As I continue my look back at how the Psalms spoke to my heart after my melanoma stage 3b diagnosis and apply them to all of life's calamities, I am reminded, by this one, of something I felt at the time.

I never felt like God was angry at me and that melanoma was a divine punishment for some grave sin. Some people do and I realize that. I didn't and never have. I did, however, feel like God was disappointed in me. Again, this is me. He had nagged me for decades to get my mole removed and I refused. I didn't like needles or medical procedures and I sure didn't go around volunteering for any. Especially since I didn't have 20/20 foresight. My mama's idea that my mole would, one day, give me trouble was asinine to me. It was a mole for crying out loud. She just liked to see me at the doctor's office and was using that mole as an excuse to get me there (that was in the back of my rebellious mind). I couldn't remember ever not having that mole and it was going to be on me when I died. I tell ya, that sure sounded good and feasible to my teenage mind and to my twenty-something mind. Shoot. Even my thirty-something mind liked it. That thought pleased me until I was almost 49!

It never, ever, never crossed my mind that that thing could literally be the death of me. It made me weak-kneed and it hurt all over when I received my diagnosis. Catastrophes can make us ache all over. They just can. And we cry out to God for compassion and restoration.

And we know we'll never be restored to where we were before. We'll never be the same and our lives are forever altered. That's the nature of calamity. It just is. And that sucks, doesn't it? So we cry and we cry out. Loud. That's our nature.

And God hears and answers. That's God's nature. We know God is at work in our troubles and He will rescue us from our storms. We may not know when. We may not know how. But we know He will. Our diseases can, and do, do much damage and bring death. Our other types of catastrophes can also. But at some point they will go away. That is the hope and the promise. 

We may experience relief in this lifetime. That happens. While life and health are never what they were, they can actually be better as we re-prioritize and learn to savor life and treasure the gift that it is and the people who are in it in a whole new way. 

We can know seasons of NED (no evidence of disease). Finances can straighten out. Jobs can be gotten. Pain can eventually subside to a degree, or at least become manageable. We may even smile again. We can know relief from pain.

All relief, in this lifetime, will be temporary. Even if it lasts until the end of my life, that relief will end when I do.  

BUT, God's rescue is eternal. My enemies will be dealt with. For good. It will happen.

That is the hope. That is the promise.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Psalm 5

From the New Living Translation

O Lord, hear me as I pray;
    pay attention to my groaning.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
    for I pray to no one but you.
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
    Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness;
    you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.
Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence,
    for you hate all who do evil.
You will destroy those who tell lies.
    The Lord detests murderers and deceivers.

 Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
    I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
    or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.
My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
    Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
    Their tongues are filled with flattery.
O God, declare them guilty.
    Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.

 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
    that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
For you bless the godly, O Lord;
    you surround them with your shield of love.

What a way to start the day! In prayer! That's something we all need to do, as it gets our day off on the right foot, but how much more so do we need to get in this habit if we deal with some sort of catastrophe. Dire things, like disease, that we must cope with can often direct our days. There are appointments to keep, meds to take, day-to-day duties that must be attended to, people we must take care of, naps we need to take, dealing with any side-effects, all sorts of things will be part of our "normal" routine.

Starting our day off by talking with the LORD, our King and God, and just going through, with Him, what our day looks like and our own perspective of what we'll need can help us prepare to look to God as our day progresses. It also helps us weed out those things that really aren't as important as we first thought. As we grow in this discipline, it can also help us see our catastrophe more from God's perspective. 

True story. Just this morning I was talking with a woman. I had told her about why I wear my compression sleeve and glove. She told me about her own health issue involving some of her lymph nodes and her decisions. As our conversation moved along, and we agreed that we do what we have to do, I made the comment that my compression is temporary. I may wear it another 50 years, but it's still's not going with me. She laughed and agreed.

For me, that's from a more God-like perspective than from my usual "human" perspective. And it has come over time and after much prayer and introspection. The more time we spend in prayer, the more apt that is to happen. Be warned!

And be warned that David gets it right when he says we "wait expectantly." That's something else a growing prayer life teaches us. God is not on our timetable to answer our prayers and He is not obligated to answer them like we pray them either. I have found, for myself, that He takes His own sweet time. And wait, I must. After 53 years of living and I don't know how many of praying, I find that's actually best. It teaches me patience. It teaches me God really does have perfect timing for doing what He wants to do. It teaches me that what He wants to do is far better than what I wanted Him to do. It teaches me that God is in control and not me or melanoma. It teaches me that God has my best interests at heart and I have my selfish interests at heart...AND my selfish interests are not usually my best interests! How about THAT! AND, it teaches me not just to wait, but to wait expectantly because God will answer my prayers. In His way and in His timing, but I can expect an answer. Often when I least expect it!

You know, God takes no more pleasure in my melanoma, or any catastrophe, than I do. He hates it. He hates it more than I ever will (and I hate it with every fiber of my being). He doesn't just see what it does to me. Oh no. God gets to multiply me by millions around His world. He sees things I will never see, nor can I imagine. Multiply that by all the kinds of catastrophes there are and the people who are in pain, and well, that's just about everyone on this planet to some degree or other. At some time or another. All of us.

The day is coming when all that will come to an end. In the meantime, we can know God's unfailing love in the midst of everything else on this earth that does fail. We can know His perfect love and power that will sustain us and see us through the tough times and rejoice with us in the good and help us rejoice even in the worst. There's not a force anywhere that can prevent us from worshiping God and praying to Him, and as we do, we are opened and exposed to His joy no matter what is going around and within us. We learn the difference between joy and happiness.

The more time we spend with God, the more we learn how He leads us and we can trust His leading even when it's contrary to what some people may tell us. For example, I have this "feeling" that comes over me when I know God is leading me in a particular direction. I never experience it any other time. I don't always get this feeling every time I want or need direction, but when I do get it I better pay attention and follow it, or the consequences will be all mine. It's not smart to ignore God's leading and do things your own way.

When we take refuge in the LORD, we find shelter from the storm and His protection. We experience His love and we are blessed. 

It doesn't stop life's falls from happening any more than our parental love stops our children from falling. My two have experienced their share of spills and tumbles. Me loving them didn't catch them and prevent knots on their heads. Part of loving our children means letting them grow; and in our imperfect world, that means helping them learn how to fall, regroup and recover, and get back up and keep going...even if they keep going on a different path...they keep going and living and learning. We teach them how to hold an umbrella, how to stay out of a bad storm, and how to splash in mud puddles. And sometimes we teach them when to enjoy a rain and play in it. Even when they get drenched. There is still joy in the rain. And we teach them to look for the rainbows.

Rainbows don't follow every storm. But, man, they sure help make the storm worthwhile.

Sing joyful praises forever, knowing God's eternal love, and the temporariness of your enemy/storm/catastrophe.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Psalm 4

From the New Living Translation

Answer me when I call to you,
    O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
    Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people ruin my reputation?
    How long will you make groundless accusations?
    How long will you continue your lies?
You can be sure of this:
    The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
    The Lord will answer when I call to him.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
    Think about it overnight and remain silent.
Offer sacrifices in the right spirit,
    and trust the Lord.

Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”
    Let your face smile on us, Lord.
You have given me greater joy
    than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

As I continue my look at the Psalms in the face of catastrophe, we come to this one. Remember that I'm taking them in order, so go back if you want to and read the previous three Psalms.

My particular "catastrophe" that caused me to delve into the Psalms in a way I had never done before was a stage 3b melanoma diagnosis in July 2008. Just because I use the "m" word often doesn't mean that you can't substitute your own catastrophe. I simply share principles I gleaned from this wonderful Book that helped me.

David sure starts this off kinda bossy doesn't he?  Demanding that God answer him! Rather impudent I'd say. And so totally me. I get this attitude. We aren't told the particular circumstance that warranted this, but a quick read and we can see that David was having troubles: people were falsely accusing him of something and telling lies about him that were ruining his reputation. He wasn't getting mercy from people, but he knew he could count on God for mercy. And he was very sure that he was godly and that his accusers were not, and because of that, he knew who God would rescue. Himself.

Catastrophes will set people to talking, won't they?! Tongues can start wagging about how someone brought it on themselves, they deserve what's happening. Gossip can turn mean and ugly. Lies can spring up and run rampant. Hard times don't always bring out the best in everyone to be sure. 

And we can pray this kind of prayer and have this attitude with God when illness strikes. We can get demanding of God and insist on an answer to our prayers. We can want to "shut up" our disease and want to watch God drive it from us. Illness can bring ruin and troubles and we shout out to God to free us from all that. I know I sure have done my fair share of this kind of crying out to the LORD. 

I'm godly. I'm different than everyone else. I'm a preacher for crying out loud! If God will rescue anyone from melanoma, surely it will be me!  Do those thoughts sounds even remotely familiar? Be honest. God knows the truth.

And I'm still here to tell and write about them. And you are still hear to read and maybe nod in agreement. God didn't strike us dead for lashing out in our pain and questioning. God was big enough to handle us then and He's big enough to handle us now. Not only that, but God is able to handle the people and circumstances that come against us. Melanoma is no match for God.

David starts this Psalm off clearly angry but as he works through his feelings, he realizes that he must work through his anger or it will lead him to sin. Anger can control us before we know it and lead us down a dangerous path and away from God. David was wise to that and kindly reminds us readers of it. It's an age-old problem. 

Getting a diagnosis of a deadly disease, or having another type of catastrophe strike, can make us angry. We can get angry at ourselves, at the people around us, at the people who have done the same things we did but they're fine, at the world in general, and at God specifically for letting this happen to us. It's normal. It's human. It's part of the process of dealing with what has landed on our plate like a bad piece of chopped liver. It stinks and it ain't pretty, but it ain't going anywhere and must be faced. Rats. 

So David gives us some great advice and it's free! We don't need to pay a therapist to tell us to: control ourselves. Don't say anything, in anger, that you'll regret later and can't take back and will only make matters worse. Just stay quiet. Think about your situation. Pray. Get a grip. Junk happens to everyone and lashing out will not help at all. Think about it overnight...get some rest and maybe things will look different in the morning. At least you should be able to separate what you're really angry about (the circumstance) from the people you really aren't angry at. And you can go from there a bit more clear-headed.

And remember God. Go to worship. Stay in connection with the family of faith. Give Him your tithes and offerings. Make a sacrifice of your anger and give it to the LORD and trust Him with what's happening in you life. Remember: we aren't called to like or understand everything that happens to us, but we are called to trust God through it, with it, and in it.

There are those who look to other people for better times, to make them happy, to bring them joy. The person of faith looks to God. The harvests that others enjoy are nothing compared to God's blessings, PLUS, those harvests...well, they come from God's hands anyway. So let's skip the middleman.

In the face of catastrophe, we, YOU, can know God's peace. That perfect peace that passes all understanding. Not only that, but where there is God's peace, we can be assured of God's perfect presence watching over us, keeping us safe from the worst that catastrophe can bring. 

There is no disease, or other catastrophe, that can separate us from God.