“It’s stage-four cancer.” Those were the words my oncologist shared with me on February 16, 2011.
Learning you have cancer is a life-altering experience. Hearing your cancer has returned is unimaginably disheartening. But when you find out your cancer has returned for a third time with a stage-four diagnosis, it is devastating….especially if you’re going to propose the next week.
Ironically cancer brought us together in the first place. Shari and I knew each other casually, but when my Merkel cell cancer returned for a second time she was one of the first people to reach out to me. As a breast cancer survivor she knew all too well the road I traveled and suggested we get together when I was feeling up to it. So while recovering from surgery and between radiation treatments, we found time to meet for coffee a few times then eventually dinner. We quickly discovered we had a lot more in common than cancer, and before long our romance blossomed into love and we were talking about a future together.
Photo credit iStockphotos © 36clicks
While change can be immediate, growth is gradual. Experience has taught me this principle must be understood to build momentum and it must be embraced for personal growth to take place.
Far too often in my life, and maybe yours, this principle was overlooked. You start with a plan, put your head down and focus on taking steps in the direction of your goal. Early success creates momentum, but as the path becomes familiar and progress slows, there is a tendency to question the pace.
The world we live in makes it tough for us to have long periods of sustained growth. Culture conditions us to expect quick fixes and overnight success. “Why expend the energy and effort when pills are available and cosmetic options exist to deliver results now!”
I have had March 3, 2015 circled on my calendar for almost four years. The date represents a cancer milestone for me and an anniversary of a conversation which provided wisdom in navigating life challenges, trials, and adversity.
Photo credit: Victor Correia©
4 Months, 4 Years, or 40 Years
1. A stone functioning as a milespost.
2. A significant event or stage in the life, progress, development, or the like of a person, nation, etc.
Actually the significance of March 3, 2015 points back to a pivotal conversation which occurred four years earlier on March 3, 2011. On that day my fiancé and I were meeting with the Pastor who would marry us. Mike Teston asked us to share our stories and why we wanted to be married now as opposed to in the fall which was our original plan. We shared how my merkel cancer had returned for a third time and had spread to the point where a stage-four diagnosis now required radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. In the two hours we were together, questions were asked and answers given, tears were shed, and prayers were prayed. As we were saying goodbye Mike said,
If we take time to examine our hearts we will find moments in our lives which define us. Typically these defining moments are found at the end of a long road of pivotal circumstances, either positive or negative, which result in our lives being forever changed.
Several years ago author Jeff Goins was promoting the release his book, Wrecked – when a broken world slams into your comfortable life, and he asked people to share stories of when their lives had been “wrecked.” Jeff published the story I submitted on the Wrecked website in 2012 and today I share an excerpt of Damage Goods with you today.
Early on we both knew where we were tracking as a couple. Our relationship was so rich, the conversations were so natural, and our values and beliefs were totally in sync. We were confident the path we were on would lead to marriage some time in the fall of 2011. Our plan was for an extended courtship, not because we were not ready to wed, rather because we wanted to do everything we could to protect and ensure Shari’s teenage sons had time to adjust to a new man being in their lives.
The year began with the pastor of my church asking a simple question, what breaks your heart?
iStockphoto credit © Jeffrey Smith
An easy question to dismiss by some who already had more pressing questions awaiting answers. A difficult question for those who had an answer, but who knew if they acted upon their answer they would find themselves outside of their comfort zone.
What Breaks Your Heart?
What breaks your heart was certainly not a of question I wanted to be asked right now. I thought to myself,
of all times for Andy to ask this question, why did it have to be now?
In my eyes the timing of this question could not have come at a worse time for me. I was in the midst of starting a new company while working through the course work and mentor training to obtain my PCC accreditation. Yet in all my busyness, Andy’s question traveled from my mind to my heart and there was an answer which had to be addressed.
The will of God will never take you,
Where the grace of God cannot keep you.
Where the arms of God cannot support you,
Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs,
Where the power of God cannot endow you.
The will of God will never take you,
Where the spirit of God cannot work through you,
Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,
Where the army of God cannot protect you,
Where the hands of God cannot mold you.
iStockphoto © pixhook
This is the time of year where our thoughts tend drift and we think of times gone by. For some Christmas reflections stir up the best of memories and for others those Christmas reflections conjure up pain and sorrow. It is especially important this time of year to be aware of those around us who may be burdened while most of us embrace a season of Christmas joy and cheer.
Who in your life do you know who is enduring a “first-Christmas” experience this year?
- Someone who lost a loved during the year.
- Someone who is no longer married.
- Someone who is experiencing a role-reversal and now is caring for a parent.
- Someone who is looking for a job and is worried how they can navigate Christmas this year.
- Someone whose child can not be home with them this year.
That Day is a play about Daniel Scott Mathewson who has been pursuing the American Dream since graduating from college. His lifelong focus centered on the next deal, the next promotion, the next bonus, and how far and fast he could climb the corporate ladder.
Today Daniel is on the cusp of achieving everything he’s ever dreamed of…right up until the plans he had for his life comes to a screeching halt as he suddenly faces the reality of eternity.
Our endless pursuit of aspirations, goals and dreams come with a price, one which is paid by our family, friends, and co-workers if we are not careful.
One Thing Men’s Ministries is excited present a performance of That Day at Independence High School theater in Alpharetta, Georgia on Saturday November 8th at 7:00 pm.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
Life Lessons In Servant Leadership
Few if any of us live a life we navigate alone. Most of us gravitate to a life where we interact with others on a regular basis. This is the place where we experience connection, embrace community, and find encouragement. These places of connection and community can consist of family members, co-workers, teammates, classmates, and or neighbors with the common denominator of coming together for a common purpose or a common goal.
For those who find themselves in a leadership role there is an implied responsibility to add value, cast vision, and create momentum to achieve success as it pertains to the organization’s mission. As a servant leader a key priority which should be illustrated in our leadership is a desire to “raise up” those who serve with us. Sadly leaders whose focus is on self-promotion and a personal agenda tend create an “Us vs Them” atmosphere which gravitates to discontent and disconnect throughout the organization.
Do whatever you can do to help others be their best, not for where it takes you, rather for where it takes the organization. ~ Servant leadership as defined by Baltimore Raven’s Head Coach John Harbaugh
Our life decisions influence the trajectory of our lives right up until the moment we take our last breath. Obviously our passing will have an impact those closest to us, but will the impact and the influence we had on others leave them wanting to celebrate our life when we gone?
I find it ironic how much time is invested by me trying to become “known,” as compared to how little time is spent doing things for which they will be “remembered” after they’re gone.
Most of us have very little recognition of those who were in our family two or three generations prior to us. So if we desire to have a legacy worth remembering our focus should be on the things we are doing now which lends itself to be remembered.
- Is my life and what I prioritize reflective of how I would like to be remembered?
- Do my actions and how I investment of my time lay the foundation for the legacy I want to leave?
The quote is from Paul Cole, president of the Christian Men’s Network, and when combined with the picture selected illustrates how our motion cascades from us to the environment around us. I created this poster to serve as a visual reminder to evaluate what I have in motion through the lens of the legacy I want to leave. Ironically the timing of this post ties directly into the message our One Thing Men’s Ministry is sharing today at our weekly gathering concerning What Matters Most to Men.
- What we believe and Who we believe in is indicative in the way we live our lives.
- Where we invest our time reflects what and who has priority in our lives.
- When we serve our humility is illustrated which also illuminates to those being served their value to us and to the world.
trusting God period!
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