Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Good-Bye Summer...

Well, there’s only one day separating summer vacation from back to school.  Oh, how the time flew.  Our first two months were consumed by softball and baseball tournaments.  However, the last month of summer found us on the couch and by the pool.  We often ate breakfast for lunch and popcorn for dinner.  And in case you’re wondering, my feet never touched the sand.  Apparently, we’re not a big beach family.   And that’s OK by me.
My kids are actually ready to return to school.  And to my surprise, I’m not ready.   Again, another sign that cancer was good for me.  The old me would have been counting the days until I packed up their lunches and walked them to school.  The hours between 9 am and 
2 pm were gold to me.   This summer, my kids were the gold.  I enjoyed the heck out of them.  OK, there was one day in June and one day last week that I actually didn’t feel that way, but come on, two days out of three months -- amazing!
Though I look forward to having the freedom of exercising a lot this fall (again, another perk of cancer) and getting a little creative without interruption, I actually tear up when I think of returning home -- alone -- on the first day of school.  I can remember skipping home after they were settled into their classrooms.  Now, I think I’ll be skipping to pick them up.  
I do know that this school year won’t be a repeat of the last school year.  A little change is in order.  My kids’ days were all about them.  Lessons, practices, classes, etc.  This season, I hope to change that by focusing on others.   When their homework is done, I look forward to volunteering at two local, amazing ministries we connected with this summer.   
Life Without Limbs is a ministry founded by Nick Vujicic who was born without arms and legs.  I'll repeat that -- born without arms and legs.  But you’d never know it.  He surfs, golfs and gives the best hugs around.  His motto?  No limbs, no limits.  He travels all over the world sharing his heart for the Lord and his love for his life.  I’ve never met anyone more amazing than Nick.  In fact, he’s just written a book and is scheduled to be on Oprah!  Can you imagine how busy his office will be after Oprah gets a hold of him?  Wow.  But each time I see him, I am reassured that God does not make mistakes.  
And when we’re not at Nick’s ministry, I hope to help out at Joni and Friends.  Do you remember Joni Eareckson?  She dove into a lake when she was 17 and broke her neck, becoming a quadriplegic.  Did that stop her?  Nope.  Now 43 years later, she’s written over 40 books, paints as if she has no limitations and is in charge of a multitude of world-wide ministries.   When we toured her office last week and had the privilege of meeting her, all that kept running through my mind was, “When her accident happened, she thought her life was over... it had only just begun.”   Again, I am reassured that God does not make mistakes.

So if you can squeeze in a little “them time” instead of “me time” between homework and practice, we’d love you to join us!  I’ve included Nick and Joni's websites so you can arrange a time to be a part of two amazing ministries.  And if you don’t live near us or you feel inspired to serve in other ways, please let me know.  Leave a comment beneath this post and share with others what organizations your family volunteers for.  You might just inspire others to do the same.
So good-bye summer.  Good-bye blueberries.  Good-bye breakfast at noon.  Good-bye Jake and Rachel.  May you enjoy a new school year filled with good friends, good teachers and “good times” as Jake likes to say.  And before we know it, Christmas vacation 
will be here.  
What fun!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gifts for Your Body

OK, everybody knows I ate sugar all day, all night every day of my life.  Until I got cancer.  Then I found the top 13 foods you should eat/drink to ward off cancer written by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD in his book "Anti Cancer, A New Way of Life."  Now I'm not saying my sugar diet "caused" my cancer.  But I absolutely believe it acted as a welcome mat and said, "Come right in.  Ruthie's not expecting you."

Broccoli - Every day!  
Salmon - 2 to 3 times a week.
Carrots - Munch on and put in salads.
Berries - All kinds!  Who doesn't love these?  
Oranges/lemons/tangerines - Yum.
Greens - All green veggies.  Be creative.
Garlic/onions - Great on your broccoli.
Soy - Steamed edamame is my favorite with kosher salt.
Ginger - put grated, fresh ginger on fruit salad.  
Haven't tried, but need to.
Turmeric - that really yellow spice that you probably 
don't use enough of.  
I put it on my salmon.

And now my favorites:

Green Tea -  I love Stash's Pomegranate Raspberry Green Tea, and add a 
tad of organic honey.  2-3 cups a day.  
Pomegranate Juice - I buy it at Costco and cut it with sparkling water.  
I take my vitamins with this every morning.

And drum roll please:

Dark Chocolate (72%).  OK, thank God that dark chocolate (1 to 2 squares a day) is just what the oncologist ordered!  I will admit, at first, I couldn't stand it.  Way too bitter.  But I bought EVERY bar out there and found I love Godiva the best.  At first, it tasted "medicinal" to me.  If it weren't chocolate, I wouldn't have wanted to eat it.  But now, after eliminating 99% of sugar out of my diet, I crave it.  I break up a square into 6 little pieces and pair it with almonds.  
My saving grace!

As Dr. Servan-Schreiber says, "All of us have cancer cells in our bodies.  But not all of us will develop cancer."   Change your diet, to the best of your ability (I know it's hard!)  But I'll tell you what I do when my kids want to go to 31 Flavors.  My weakness.  I say in my head, "Ice cream cone?  Or life?"  I choose life.  OK, I'll be honest.  I've had two chocolate almond ice cream cones in nine months.  Two!  Where's my gold star?

You can do it.  If this sugar ADDICT did it, I promise you can too.  If you need help, 
you know where to find me.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Same Couch...Nine Months Later

Today was a special day for me.  It was a day I never saw coming nine months ago...
I  agreed to be interviewed about my cancer experience.  So lights were set up in my family room and my blouse was rigged with a microphone.  Right when I was about to answer the first question, my doorbell rang.  It was my girlfriend.  She was returning some books she had borrowed.  She saw that my family room looked like a tv studio, so she quickly left and I told her I’d call her when I was finished.  When I did, I told her I was being interviewed.  By Oprah.  There was silence on the phone.  If she could have seen me, she would have seen that my nose was growing.  A lot.  I was lying.  But it was fun.  I was actually being interviewed by Cedar’s cancer center.  
I was asked about a dozen questions.  "Were you surprised at the strength you found to get through cancer?" "What has been the single most powerful moment during your treatment?" 
"What made you laugh out loud during your journey?"
I thought once the camera’s little red light went on, I would be like Cindy Brady and freeze.  But I was actually able to speak in complete sentences.  Who knew? 
The most pivotal moment of the interview was when I reflected back on how we told the kids I had cancer.  I remember sitting on the couch and telling them that I was sick.  It then dawned on me as I was answering the question that I was sitting in the exact same place on the couch nine months later -- now free of ovarian cancer.  With lights in my eyes.  Talking into a microphone.  Telling my story as a survivor.  Helping others to navigate this thing called cancer. 

I find I try to teach little life lessons to my kids any chance I get.  
Cancer will do that to you, I guess.  

So I want our couch to serve as a reminder that "this too shall pass"  and "all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them."

God can change any and every aspect of your life.  He's the ultimate lemonade maker.  And He asks that we are sensitive to others and helpful to those who are weak.
Is there anything in your life that you can share that would help others?  
Do you share your faith?  Your heart?  Your past? 
Extend your hand and share your heart.  
Who knows whose lives you can change on your couch 
in the next nine months.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thankful with a Capital "T"

This was a special weekend for us.  Friends of ours invited us to their vacation home in Lake Arrowhead.  They've asked us for years to join them.  Each time, we've had to say no.  This weekend, however, we had no softball, baseball or soccer games.  A first!  So we drove up Saturday morning and came home Sunday night.  A very quick trip, but a wonderful one.  Truly relaxing.  This was the view that greeted us from their balcony.  Absolutely beautiful!  

I found myself so very thankful.  Thankful for a healthy body.  Thankful the four of us were together.  Thankful for good friends.  Thankful for God's beauty that surrounded us.  If God could get bored listening to "thank you for...", then He had his fill with me.   I'm sure He was saying, "I get it already -- you're thankful!"  I'm kidding.  I'm sure it was music to His ears.

Do you thank God enough?  Do you take for granted that you woke up this morning?  Do you thank Him for another day just like yesterday?  

I can remember (before cancer) waking up and saying to myself, "Another day. Another day of making sandwiches and doing laundry. Yay.  What fun."  But, wow, now I see I was missing the beauty of that day.  My body wasn't frail.  My kids weren't sick.  My husband came home.  

Simple things.  No longer mundane things, but precious things.  Things that now mean the world to me, and I thank God every chance I get.

Take a minute and thank Him.  Thank Him for His love for you.  Thank Him for your faith.  Thank Him for another day with your family.  Go on and on and on.  Knock yourself out.  Lose track of time.  He won't be bored to tears.  I bet you'll fill His eyes with tears...