The Good Fight: Preparing your heart for cancer from a wife’s perspective

The Good Fight: Preparing your heart for cancer from a wife’s perspective

Many of you may not know that my college major was Sport Management. Crazy huh? You should also know that I was NOT an athlete and a lukewarm sports fan. (Recently became a bandwagon fan for some NY teams because I love the game.)

WHY the major then? BECAUSE…

I love SPORT.

Sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

Sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

You see, I enjoy the sportsmanship which is an attitude that strives for fair play, courtesy toward teammates and opponents, ethical behavior and integrity, and grace in victory or defeat.

The game or sport (baseball, football, and rugby are a few that I enjoy watching) involves physical exertion and skill. It requires more than just walking onto a baseball field with a ball and bat. The player must learn how to hold the bat, swing the bat, and read the pitch. All of that is skill and it is learned through time and repetition. Along those same lines, you cannot just warm a bench or sit in the grass waiting just hoping that when the day comes for YOU to perform it will just magically happen. NO! There is a conscious effort that must be made to gain success. To lead you to victory.

My favorite verse – ok not really, I have several favorite verses – but one verse by the apostle Paul that has always stirred up my heart is:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:7 NIV

Immediately, I see a boxer in the ring. The desire and passion to win the fight. Another fun fact, my husband is a trained MMA fighter and we met training in a Muy Thai Kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu gym. So yeah, I get it to small extent. You have to TRAIN to WIN a fight that you earned with your own GRIT.

But what is a GOOD fight? I will get to that in a minute.

I am then attracted to the race. In this sentence Paul says that he has finished the race. Once again, it is easy to relate to a race. Running on the playground against your classmates or competing in track meets you have more than likely competed.

In middle school, I ran track (again not an athlete so enjoy the mental image of my goofy running gait and ALWAYS being one of the last people to cross the finish line).

However, I didn’t run because I thought I was fast and would win but because it was thrilling and worthwhile to put forth the effort into training for the race. The comradie with my trackmates and other teammates throughout the years bring back fond memories even in defeat.

“Not that you won or lost but how you played the game”

Yet, I know deep in my heart that I didn’t give it my all. It would be thrilling in the beginning but over time the luster would wear off and my discipline would as well.

But that is the sweetest part of Paul’s message. The GOOD fight isn’t about my skill or physical exertion but my faith in Jesus Christ.

Right now I am facing my biggest opponent ever. The biggest fight of my life thus far. It is watching my husband battle for his life against cancer.

But I have acquired the skill and physical traits needed to fight this by reading the Bible, praying incessantly, not giving up in meeting with others, and leaning into GOD and not my own understanding (in everything not just this situation). I have kept the faith. My foundation is built on rock. A solid ground that cannot be shaken. The wind and storms may try as they might but God has already overcome. He has won.

With that knowledge and promise in my corner I can face this fight with hope. With JOY. Even in defeat I can face the result of this physical trial with grace.

Carry the Load: Teaching our children about their father’s Large B Cell Lymphoma Diagnosis

Carry the Load: Teaching our children about their father’s Large B Cell Lymphoma Diagnosis

On Feb. 20, 2019, we found out what had been plaguing my husband for the last few months.

It was now time to share the news with our four children. I know sharing “the c word” with young children isn’t easy, and oftentimes, families are unsure if they should share such heavy information with wee little ones.

Here is why and how we shared with our children through simply teaching them about how to “carry the load” throughout my husband’s Large B Cell Lymphoma Treatment (a sub-type of Non-Hodgkin’s’ Lymphoma).

What is the role of a husband and father?

The bible mentions father 998 times and husband 120 times (and just for fun, wife is mentioned 397 times).

*Side note: Blue Letter Bible is a great bible study tool to help you dig deeper into God’s word that is available for your desktop, tablet or smartphone.

  1. Husbands are to love their wives-like Christ loved the church with a sacrificial love and not be harsh with them. Col 3:19 and Eph 5:25
  2. Provide for his family and head of the household. 1 Tim 5:8 and 1 cor 11:3
  3. Love his wife as himself. Eph 5:33
  4. Imitator of God that walks in love. Eph 5:1
  5. Instruct, teach and discipline his children. Pro 22:6; Deut 6:5-9; 1 Tim 4:10-11

Reasons to be transparent as a father

My husband has dutifully performed his role with love, compassion and a teachable spirit. Together we have created an environment of love, security and understanding. Our children understand that our counsel is wise and respect sound discipline.

Our children look to us for comfort and security not fear or judgement.

Our instruction errs on the side of grace and mercy.

It is our duty to love and share truth with them. Even if the truth isn’t pleasant because life isn’t always going to give them roses and sunshine. Life is difficult to navigate and throws you a curve ball.

As parents we are to train them up. Training them up includes preparing their hearts for the hard times.

Additionally, children are much more aware and observant than they get credit for therefore we would be doing a disservice by NOT trusting them with the knowledge of their father’s diagnosis. However, it does not warrant us to paint a picture of gloom and doom.

It gives us an opportunity to share the gospel! Hallelujah!

We are able to share that this is all part of HIS plan [Rom 8:28]. To surrender our lives to HIM. To trust HIM. Our children see our faith in action as we practice it through this dark valley. As the Lord lights the path at our feet our children will be intently watching as we navigate these new circumstances – failures, successes, despair, and joy.

What a blessing! Yes, I said blessing, because it is an opportunity to share Christ with our children at a delicate phase in their lives that will train them up in the truth.

How we conveyed the truth to children

Our marriage and family has been built on a rock [Matt 7:25]. A cornerstone of faith and trust. We shared the bare bones.

“Daddy is sick. He needs medicine that will take a long time to take and will probably make things worse before it gets better.”

They listened attentively and understood better than we did.

Practical application:

The first task was to gather wood as we normally do in these upstate NY winters.

As we approached the wood, my oldest daughter asked why Daddy didn’t join us.

I held up a piece of our firewood and explained that Daddy could no longer carry a load over 10 lbs. I asked her if she would be willing to carry his load.
She looked right into my eyes and held out her arms. “Mom is that piece of wood ten lbs?”

She looked right into my eyes and held out her arms. “Mom is that piece of wood ten lbs?”

Knitting Our Story

In weather below freezing she went out again and again gathering firewood asking “is this ten lbs?”

How my heart and eyes filled with awe! In the Bible, Jesus says in Luke 18:17, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” She demonstrated faith and understanding beyond our reasoning and with JOY!

Sharing is Caring

We trust, obey and love our heavenly Father.

We trust His plan through this new circumstance of cancer.

We instruct our children through sharing truth, even hard truths, because it is our job to teach them. To train them up.

Take it’s Heart: How to fight cancer

Take it’s Heart: How to fight cancer

 On Feb 20th, 2019, my husband started his fight his against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Try as I might to express how we are enduring this battle there is nothing like getting it straight from the mouth of the one who is fighting. My beloved took his time to sit down and write down his own perspective on “how he is running into the fight”. Enjoy this guest post from Peter.

Taking on Giants: “1 Samuel 17″

It has been some time since I’ve had a free moment to share any updates since my original one a few weeks ago. But I’m reminded and inspired as I read one of my all time favorite stories in the Bible. If you would like, please turn to and read with me 1 Samuel 17.

The story of David and Goliath. Many know the premise of the story, but few have taken the time to actually read it from God’s word itself. If you would join me in reading this tonight, I can promise that you will not be disappointed and that you may be inspired to try and take on a giant in your life as you read through this story that is so applicable to us all.

Taking your opponents “heart”

Those who have been involved in sports, especially combat sports, can probably relate to me when I refer to a time in a game or a fight, where a turning point takes place. Many times in a fight it’s when you’re opponent has given you all he has and he realizes that you have an answer for it all and that he cannot beat you. You can feel his hope slip away as he mentally has been defeated and is basically just waiting for you to finish him. I’ve always referred to this point in a fight as taking your opponents “heart”.

How to face your opponent

Most of the time, this happens during the fight. Sometimes, if you’re facing a weak minded opponent, it can happen before the fight even starts. And as you move up the ladder and fight more difficult opponents, you’ll find that some people have no quit in them and will fight you with all they have until the bitter end.

One of the things I always enjoyed most about combat sports was the mental aspect of it. Few things in this world are still as pure as one person facing another in hand to hand combat. There is often a mutual respect that’s gained among martial artists that win or lose, you faced a challenge, you gave it your all, and you either succeeded or you failed in doing so. And through that, respect is gained on the behalf of both opponents.

The fight I’m in now is a new type of fight for me. But in many ways, some similar goals still apply. One goal in particular that will remain the same is to take my opponent’s “heart”.

Just as David did in 1 Samuel 17:51, when he stood over the giant Goliath, drew his sword from it’s sheath, and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw this, they turned and they ran. Then, the Israelites surged after them with a shout and ravaged them all the way back to their homeland.

Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David.

 

He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 

 

He said to David,

“Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?”

 

And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

 

David said to the Philistine,

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

 

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.

 

Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath.

 

After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

 

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines!

One of my favorite parts of this story that is often never spoken about or even noticed if you don’t read it for yourself straight from God’s word is how David approached Goliath. It’s described in 1 Samuel 17:48 when it says, “As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.” I like this because it shows David was not afraid, there was no chance that his “heart” was going to be taken, he approached the giant with confidence and boldness that God was going to deliver him. There was only one outcome that he was going to accept. He didn’t tiptoe his way towards the giant cautiously, he ran towards him as fast as he could and in doing so took the “heart” of all of the Philistines on the battlefield on that day.

The humility, faith, and courage that David displayed on the battlefield on that day is something that we can all learn from and incorporate into our own lives. How will you face the giants in your life? Will you be like the Israelites who for 40 days stood there shaking in their armor at the momentous challenge that had been placed before them? Or will you sprint towards it as David did, boldly in your faith, knowing that any man with God in his corner IS the majority.

Sprinting toward the battle line EVERY DAY

As this fight has begun and chemotherapy has started, I can feel the progress in my chest as the primary mass that was roughly 10cm in the center of my chest is shrinking. Pressure in my head, neck, and chest is being relieved; and I’m able to lay down flat and breath again. Veins that were constricted in my head and neck are subsiding. And I can feel the grip of this disease starting to weaken. The fight is now underway, and I’m pleased with the quick and apparent progress with how I feel. However, I cannot underestimate my opponent. I must continue to sprint toward that battle line every day just as David did, until the giant falls and I can cut off it’s head, thus ending this fight once and for all.

I need to take it’s “heart”. But most of all I need to trust in God…

Thank you for joining me in this Bible study. God bless!

FOUR Reasons to Capture Your Story NOW

FOUR Reasons to Capture Your Story NOW

Four Reasons to Capture Your Story

 

This video passion project has been a work in progress since I first picked up a camera as a high school yearbook photographer.  Then (and still now), I knew that capturing a story was something worthwhile. There was something about being behind the lens of a camera that opened my eyes to the beauty around me while making my heart flutter with excitement. On Friday evenings during football games, I would run around the stadium capturing the intensity of football players, the joyfulness of the band and the school rallying around our school. It was exhilarating and my movements flowed effortlessly  maneuvering into crazy positions always trying to capture the perfect shot!

Over ten years later I am still trying to capture “the shot”! Though the players and settings have changed the desire to capture the moments has not! The passion has transcended from photo to video since it also flows vs freezes the moment. I enjoy how it gives life and movement to an event and evokes emotion.

Reason No. 1: Legacy

For my wedding day, we purchased a budget friendly handheld camcorder.

WHY? Because there is this deep desire in us to preserve our story, our history so that we may pass it on to others. We used that camcorder to capture our ceremony, dances and special messages from our guests. It also captured the moment we found out we were expecting our first child!

One day, our children will be able to look back on our younger days to reconnect to our youth to better understand their own unique history.

So now that we have several children, the following passage is constantly tugging at my heartstrings because the old adage is true… “the days are long but the years are short”.

“For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together

in my mother’s womb.”

Psalm 139:13

God knitted together each of my babies in the womb and their story was already written before they arrived. I can’t help but capture each and every delicate moment of their first years with us.

Reason No. 2: Connection

As the years started to roll by and the miles between my family grew I knew that sending photos sporadically wasn’t enough to convey the full sense of our growing family. AND when my 80 year old grandmother said that she felt like she didn’t know her great-grandchildren it started a fire within me. I created a 15 minute slideshow for each of my three young children just for her and burned them onto DVDs to send through snail mail!

Nowadays, the ever innovating technology field is changing the game on how to share our memories with family. Are you familiar with FaceTime? Google Photos? Facebook? Snapfish? Bound photobooks printed and delivered to your door? Giant canvas prints at reasonable prices?

You see? There is a gap in digital literacy and our children and grandchildren only know screens! Not print. So we need to catch up to stay connected BUT I also feel that there is something to the tangible and want to teach people the new techniques on how to get photos back in your hands and on your walls.

Reason No. 3: Life is Short

I am not done yet. This is the most sobering reason and the hardest to discuss.

Tragedy can strike anyone at anytime. We are no exception. [Read about our very personal battle with cancer here.]

First it was my Uncle.

He had a stomach ache and begrudgingly went into the hospital. He came out with a diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer. The next two years flew by as the cancer did what it is so infamous for…. It slowly took away another loved one from the embrace of a family – a wife and daughter.

During this same time period, my teenage cousin also went to the doctor complaining of a “pain” in his leg. Once again, a loved one walked out with the diagnosis of cancer – Osteosarcoma.

 “Nick Widner fought a courageous battle with osteosarcoma.

Cancer didn’t define him. He lived free & easy.

His spirit will live forever in our hearts.”

Things moved so rapidly after these initial diagnoses.

Within a year, I received a call (about my Uncle) that hospice was on the premises. I desperately placed an order for a digital voice recorder for him to record a few conversations for his precious daughter (i.e. words for right before she graduated, first dance, first boyfriend, first breakup, marriage, etc). My heart ached at the realization that he would no longer be here but I clung to the fact that technology could somewhat ease the pain.

If she couldn’t have him there physically then maybe having his voice would bring some solace during those pivotal moments in a young girl’s life. He fought a good fight and went peacefully to the Lord.

Within the year, my 17 year old cousin lost his battle with Osteosarcoma.

His family continues to fight the battle against childhood cancer through fundraisers for other families still in the fight. His legacy will live on through the heartwork and hard work that his mother does in his honor.

I have learned that cancer does not discriminate; young, old, married, single, rich, or poor it is not prejudiced with its victims nor does it relent. We must be the ones preserving our memories and proactively capturing them to share with others.

But to fully grasp the gravity of this “life is short” I have to share the next story. It also happened during this timeframe and rocked a small town and countless families with aftershocks still being felt today. Here it is from one of the victim’s mother:

“On Wednesday, December 7, 2016, exactly 4 years after Jody and Nick graduated from the police academy, they responded to a domestic disturbance call, and were murdered by a career criminal with a 32-page rap sheet.”

The Jody and Nick from the above statement were my brother’s dearest friends. The day this all happened, our wedding anniversary, is still burnt into my memory.

You can read more about both young men and how the community continues to love and support the thin blue line through the The Smarr and Smith Foundation.

[Yes, I bleed black and blue for ALL our law enforcement, first responders and military personnel who put their lives on the line every day to serve US. I recommend following Kyle Reyes and his new venture Whiskey Patriots.]

 Life is short.

I don’t want it to pass me by. SO, I pick up my phone, camera, or recorder to capture, document, and treasure each fleeting moment we have here, just in case…

How about you?

 Reason No. 4: To Glorify the Lord

To Glorify God and love others sacrificially.

The Lord has equipped us all with talents, gifts and passions.

Mine happens to be creating heartfelt films, photography, constantly exploring user-friendly technology and teaching. All of these talents allow me to find joy in the number one role of my life which is being a dutiful wife and mom. By no means am I perfect. The dishes and laundry constantly gets overlooked plus my organizational style isn’t the best – just being real [ask my hubby].

Now how does this serve the Lord and you?

By creating this blog and using my talents, I am pleasing my Lord and Savior with the talents He blessed me with by being fruitful while giving HIM the glory. At no point, now or even later, will I take up the boasting in my own strength. Dear Reader, Let me serve you. I want to share all the tips and tricks I have learned and much much more as I continue to learn myself.

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