Saturday, September 17, 2016

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life

I didn't plan to write this particular post. In fact, I was only planning to let a few close friends know my innermost difficulties. Thank goodness, things didn't turn out that way.

The Sunday before surgery to remove a malignant tumor, aka breast cancer, I requested prayer at church. Maybe a few people knowing wouldn't hurt, I reasoned. Then came facebook and my husband. First he posted for everyone to pray for successful surgery and once that was accomplished, he posted a "My wife is cancer free" praise. It's hard for me to "Praise God!" on the one hand and fuss at the husband on the other. So instead, I embraced it. I began posting updates on my own facebook page.

At the time I didn't realize my faith in a higher power's ability to heal had long ago prepared me for this journey. All I had to do was turn to that and let God take over. That happened, for sure. I guess God really took over by sending me all kinds of love from all different directions. I began receiving phone calls from concerned friends, cards from people reassuring me that they were with me in thoughts and prayers, emails, and private online messages, visits from neighbors, flowers, food so I wouldn't have to expend energy cooking, more cards, and numerous get well likes on my facebook postings.

I developed an extensive kit of tools to help me fight this battle, all from the kindness of others.

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Look closely and you'll get an idea of the embodiment of kindness. It's a "Smile, Happy is Beautiful" box stuffed with get well cards from friends and strangers. It's a pink journal with colorful gel pens where I take notes on my daily radiation treatments. It's a "Purpose of Pink" drawstring bag from the Cancer Support Center. It's an armpit sized teddy bear that gives my lymph node stitches relief at night. It's a tie-around-the-neck, heart-shaped armpit pillow that helps me get through the day. 

And behind everything is a prayer quilt made by the Hartland Quilters from my church and community. If you look carefully in the lower center of the photograph, you'll see yellow threads sewn into the fabric. That's the prayer part of the quilt. The Sunday morning that the quilters presented it to me during worship service, they invited others to come forward and tie a knot with the threads to represent a prayer said for me. I was humbled watching the pews empty and people coming forward to pray for me. On the flip side of the quilt they attached a cloth note, dated August 7, 2016, with the inscription, "This quilt was made with love ~ Each knot represents a prayer that was said for you." I felt the love.

My immediate thought was to put this treasure up where nothing would mar its beauty, especially the cat with the fur flying, and the dribbles of food and drink I might drop. Instead I wrap myself in the comfort of a comforter (quilts are called that for some reason, right?) that reminds me of the power of prayer. The cat sits on my lap, snuggling its body into the prayers, adding yet another layer of comfort for me.

So these are the tools I'm using now to get through the days. I'm over half way finished with radiation treatments and will not, make that a capital NOT, have to undergo chemotherapy. I've been cancer free since July's operation, so every procedure I'm enduring now is for prevention of recurrence. The doctors have been beyond miraculous. The nurses outstanding. I can handle this. My daughter is home for a month. My son's family sends good vibes. My patient husband has held me up through all this. 

Scriptures come to me often. Thank goodness I'm from the generation that was required to memorize passages of scripture, because now they dredge up from the far recesses of my mind when I most need them. For these gifts I've received from people in my life, I can affirm from the twenty-third psalm, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."

Catch of the day,


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Fiddlers Convention

I'm heading to a convention this weekend, a fiddlers convention. What a concept!

Fiddlers haven't exactly received the best press throughout history. Hillbilly and fiddle seem to go together, while mountain man and violin conjure up an entirely different vision. And how about Nero, the one who fiddled while Rome burned? Or Ole King Cole, that merry old soul, called for his fiddlers three - as he lived the life of luxury?

My mother often wondered what happened to her father's fiddle. He was a coal miner in western Pennsylvania who picked up his fiddle whenever he had a chance, rarely, according to her descriptions of their rough life.

Fiddles have always been mainstream here in the Appalachians. In fact I read in a book (as I was researching a completely different topic) that fiddles were essential to pioneer living and campfires and settling down with horses roped for the night. Not for the joy of music to sleep in a comfy lullaby sense, no, fiddles were needed for defense from things that go bump in the night, or woof, or grrr.

A screeching draw of the bow across the fiddle strings was enough to send the predators running for the hills. Maybe they used sticks instead of the bow, or anything else handy to screech a high note on the strings and frighten the coyotes or wolves or bears or ... you name it. Well, fiddlesticks! I can only imagine.

This picture I took last night is a little blurry,
but clear enough to see what goes on at the fiddlers convention
Now the descendants of those early fiddle guards are convening in a modern day Eden named Happy Valley here in Caldwell County, North Carolina. They'll compete against each other and yes there are plenty entered every year in the youth classification. Thankfully, the tradition continues. All these fiddlers, youngest to most ancient, will compare notes about instruments and songs and techniques. They'll tell tall tales about their experiences and laugh when their names come up in other fiddler's stories. If they screech, no one in the audience will run for the hills. It's all a part of the show.

The only predators threatening them are fans seeking autographs.

A must at a fiddlers convention -
Wooden board for clogging
Sounds like a wonderful way to spend Labor Day weekend! Check it out, the Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention. I hope to see you there.

Catch of the day,