Chapel of Hope Stories. Com
I stopped and pinched myself before I started typing this particular post for today’s benchmark celebration…Ten years ago, on Saturday August 7, 2010, I wrote my first blog post. Little did I know my life was about to change with that initial writing!
Family Prologue: 2010
The immediate family, at the time of the first post consisted of…John, Mandy and three month old Eva Cate (they had married in 2008 and Eva Cate arrived in April 2010, Walsh…single but seriously dating Mollie Temple, and Tommy who was still “Single Dingle” at the time- had finished Clemson but not started Charleston Law School…(therefore he had not met Kaitlyn Swicegood yet…a law student colleague and soon the love of his life.)
*First photos of me and Eva Cate in 2010…as well as her with Mandy and Poppy (Mr. Dingle) her adored great-grandfather. (* I was two years into chemo fighting breast cancer with an initial prognosis of an approximate three-year-life span.
And now? 🙂 August 2019
Let’s just say this has been a productive and ‘reproductive‘ decade for the family! 🙂 From left to right…Mollie, Eloise, Walsh, Tommy, Kaitlyn, Jake, me, Eva Cate, John, Mandy with Rutledge and Lachlan in front. Five grandchildren and six adorable grand-dogs… the family is complete (…as of this writing?)! Isn’t life full of wonderful surprises? *I’m eternally grateful to God that I didn’t miss out on this incredible future that lay ahead of “little c.”
Ten Lessons I Have Learned This Past Decade
- Gratitude and Appreciation:
Special thanks to Mike Burwell …who first discovered St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope on his motorbike, Honey for physically taking me to Trust, NC to see St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope, Mandy for explaining a blog to me, John for setting up the original post template…plus fixing every technical “oops” I made those first few months…until present 🙂 Anne for always bouncing ideas off with me and so graciously giving of her artistic talents for the post…including the one today…(title painting) with one day’s notice.
*A special ‘thank you’ to Bill and Beverly Barutio...creators of St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope. The little chapel in the woods that has helped so many people find their way home again.
2. Taking Risks:
I was absolutely terrified ten years ago to the day…’What had I gotten myself into…what was I going to write about?’ And then I felt a sense of peace engulf me.. I knew, intuitively, that no matter how this new episode turned out…I was meant to do it. It has been the greatest adventure of my life.
3. Recognizing God’s Winks:
The initial blog emphasized God’s Winks in our daily lives. Even though I don’t use the term as much as I initially did…I am still a true believer. In fact yesterday I was driving on I-526 and suddenly realized that a transport truck in front of me had some writing on the back of the cab. When I got close enough to read what it said…I smiled. God is still holding my hand and reminding me that He is never far from me…no matter where I am.
He has changed my life for the better…sometimes pulling me kicking and screaming…but always ending up in a better place from where I started.
4. Keeping the Faith
With now twelve years of on-going treatments for breast cancer “above my belt” 🙂 I am one of countless numbers of people living with cancer today…thanks to modern medicine. Every time my cancer has come rushing back…a new treatment/medication has appeared (eerily) on the market… without fail. When I think about what I would have missed…if three years had been my check-out time…I shake my head in disbelief…never to have met each new, amazing member of the family, including all the precious dogs…God has given me the greatest gift of time to be a presence in my grandchildren’s lives…in the future! What joy!
5. Giving and Receiving
I, sometimes feel like a ‘pretender,’ when friends and blog readers thank me for this daily post…because it is me who benefits so much from this on-going creative outlet. I need to thank all of you!
I need this blog as much as any human being needs air…to live and soar. It has kept my mind occupied while going through more treatments and surgeries…and as of March 2020 and the arrival of Covid19…it has kept me intact thinking out loud about all the craziness in the world now and gives each day “substance.”
It has also kept me on a schedule which is important in my life. No matter what else happens daily…I write the blog. (Unless the computer gremlins come during the night 🙂
6. New Perspectives
Chapel of Hope Stories has made me research topics for a better understanding of both sides of conflicts and the truth behind idle rhetoric. God challenges us to quit worrying about the ‘world turned upside down’ …instead to return to basic morality lessons we all learned as children. When things get more than we can handle we must remember Mr. Rogers’ mother had it right all along….
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Today with COVID19 it is the front-liners who are making all the difference in putting our lives back together again, by putting their lives on the line for us daily….doctors, nurses, food distributors, service people/maids/street cleaners, transportation drivers, meals on wheels, nursing home caregivers and soon…teachers…plus so many more… too numerous to list.
God is showing us whom we should follow …the ones who drive the buses..not the ones throwing people under them.
Patience is not my best suit, but then it isn’t most other people’s either. With the majority of people still “in house” quarantined in whatever limited capacity we find ourselves in … the delayed virus re-bound is preying on many people’s nerves. Every time I get to this point…I make myself get in the car and drive around. My objective: Looking for positives in these difficult times.
The first thing I notice is the huge difference in the number of cars at any given time…compared to what it once was. Summerville is a rapidly growing town with some definite ‘growing pains’…congested traffic being number one. Now I can get in and out of my neighborhood, as well as, drive through town, without putting the pedal to the metal pulling out of each street . Driving is less stressful…businesses are so friendly and happy to see you if you call and go in to pick up something. They are lonely too.
***Special times with family (masks and all) a sign of the times… are bright spots in my life these days…
8. Beauty is Free and All Around Us
My garden looks better this year than it has since 2013 when it was first designed. I am taking advantage of this abundance of Coronavirus time to pull weeds, pick up tree debris (pine cones, sprays, broken branches and stems) cut back excess growth, spray for bugs, etc. It really is the little things that make such a difference.
I start my day in the garden and end it there too…As you know I constantly take photos and share my garden’s beauty with all of you because we understand God wants us to live in the most beautiful surroundings we can find while along our journey on earth.
9. Loyalty and Friendship
You readers have taught me more about loyalty and continued support than anyone else. You have been there for me through good times and bad….some of you I know personally from my youth and young adulthood, but most of you I don’t-you are a number that shows up each day with no name but a blessing still for me …and then there are the other ones of you who started corresponding through the blog and today I feel like you are part of my extended family.
We have texted, emailed and even snail-mailed back and forth…over months and years…until we now care about each others lives…no matter if they are on the other side of the world. We are connected.
It is this connection that draws me to the computer each day as I share a thought, an observation, or simply a passing moment. Thanks for listening…none of us are alone as long as we share our thoughts together. It’s a small world, after all.
In reading the third and fourth stanzas of “Amazing Grace”…I have come to realize that hope, faith and grace are all interchangeable since they are all connected together.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come,
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
I could just as easily say….“Tis hope has brought me safe thus far…and hope will lead me home”…because the “Lord has promised good to me” and most certainly ” His word my hope secures.”
How could I end here without bringing in “Big Red” ….my amazing geranium that appeared as a gift the day I left the hospital after my first breast cancer surgery. The special gift who stayed with me for over a decade before passing on… but not before sample root cuttings from the plant were saved and replanted by my neighbors…Vickie and Chelsey. Now cloned “Big Red” II has climbed to the highest elevation of all…hoping its tip-top bud will open soon for all to see.
So until tomorrow…Let us always remind ourselves that God doesn’t promise we’ll never fail, just that our strength and hope will be renewed.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh