One Month To Live

The current series at our church is based on the book One Month to Live, Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life written by Kerry & Chris Shook of Fellowship of The Woodlands near Houston, Texas. I confess I haven’t kept up with my reading, but the title resonates with me because, well, I’ve kind of been there.

Okay. So that’s me being dramatic. I was never told my life was over because I had cancer. Life as I knew it is over – or drastically different – because of the cancer, but I’m among the healthy and living and plan to be for a very, very long time. I still have another 50+ years to hang out with Todd and future grandchildren and great grandchildren to spoil. So while I can’t imagine what it would be like to know I only have a set time left on this earth, I know first hand what it’s like to be faced with my own mortality.

I never thought of my breast cancer as a death sentence. My brain just doesn’t work that way. But it’s not because I’m afraid of dying. I know who I belong to and I know where I’m going when I do pass from this place and it’s better than anything I can imagine. And I’ve got a really good imagination!

In those low moments, however, when I stopped to really think about what I was dealing with and the realization that I had no guarantee, I was sad. Again, not sad to meet up with friends and family who had gone before me and see Jesus face to face – what an incredible thought! My sadness was at the thought of breaking the hearts of the people I love the most and how it would affect the lives of my children.

People talk a lot about how a brush with death changes their perspective and I can see how that’s so. I don’t think my perspective ever changed, though. I don’t love Todd and the kids any more than I did before my diagnosis. How could I when I’ve always thought them the most precious gifts I’ve ever been given? I don’t see any more beauty around me than I had before. My world has ever been full of the most incredible sights and sounds and tastes and smells and textures. Appreciation for God’s handiwork is nothing new to me and, in fact, is something I’ve had in me since I was very young.

There were times I would wonder, “if I don’t beat this thing will I have any regrets in my relationships?” I always came back to “no”. My family knows I love them, there are no unspoken words between us. I don’t have any broken relationships or anyone I feel the need to forgive (that’s a post for another day). Who knows, though. There may be someone reading this who thinks otherwise. But as far as I’m concerned that aspect of my life is okay.

Still, one can’t go through something like a life threatening disease and not change in some aspect. There are plenty of negative changes – physically, mentally, emotionally… I could probably write reams on the unpleasant changes. Oh wait! I think I pretty much have over the last year and a half. But there are usually positive changes, too.

I’ve narrowed my life goals and actually feel as though I maybe have a real purpose beyond raising my kids and providing comic relief when things get too somber. And I think that’s what the book and it’s companion study will be pointing to. Living your life for God and following His will for your life with passion.

That’s exactly what I want to do. Run down that path with reckless abandon. Except for the fact I can’t run. Just thinking about it makes me tired. Unless there’s a Venti White Chocolate Mocha with Whip at the end. Then I could probably at least skip.

Give me a year or so and we’ll see where I am then. Hopefully I won’t be sitting at the same place, still writing my list of goals. I want to be checking them off, baby!!

20 Comments

  1. Katybug on April 15, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    I love it when you’re funny, Jenster, and I love it when you’re introspective too. This was a great write…congrats on having no regrets. Thanks for sharing.

  2. His Girl on April 16, 2008 at 2:01 am

    Man, you are great. perfect example:That’s exactly what I want to do. Run down that path with reckless abandon. Except for the fact I can’t run. Just thinking about it makes me tired. Unless there’s a Venti White Chocolate Mocha with Whip at the end. Then I could probably at least skip.

  3. Victoria Bylin on April 16, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Hi Jenn, Ditto to everything you said! My dad had a saying, “The most important thing is to have no regrets.” Live big! It’s worth it.I hear you on the Venti White, etc.. My coffee of choice is a Venti Wet Cappaucino with skim, preferably with a double shot of espresso.

  4. Sherry/Cherie on April 16, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Jen, I couldn’t agree more. This post is brilliant and I couldn’t have said any of this better. You’ve captured it beautifully. And me? I’m not “afraid” of anything any more. I live each day — and make it my last. When the next day dawns? It’s a new gift.Love you much!!!

  5. The Daily "B" on April 16, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    I love how you can soften the seriousness of a topic with your humor. This past weekend I heard the simple truth of life and death. Life is never over, for anyone. We never die but continue living. We are an eternal being that continues, well, forever. God is an eternal being that always was and always will be…simply put. Kinda puts things in perspective. Great post!

  6. Lynilu on April 16, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    The true end of life is when a person gives up and ceases to l.i.v.e …. cancer or not. And a serious event of almost any kind makes a person consider things, I think, but if that person is l.i.v.i.n.g, it won’t make a lot of difference. Jen, you’re not l.i.v.i.n.g …. you’re L.I.V.I.N.G!!!! Good for you! One thing I differ on. That’s when you say “Give me a year or so and we’ll see where I am then. Hopefully I won’t be sitting at the same place, still writing my list of goals. I want to be checking them off, baby!!” Yes, I want you to be checking them off, also, but don’t quit making goals!! There is always something more to see, do, experience, love, hold, feel, breathe, read, smell, touch, taste, ….puff, puff, puff, wait I have to catch my breath!! You get the idea, and I know you will be doing that. You can’t help yourself!You make me think and laugh all at once! 🙂 A hug from me for this good post!

  7. Becky on April 16, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Great post, Jenster!I predict you’ll have an agent shopping your book around about that time…so HOP TO IT, WOMAN~like there’s a Venti White Chocolate Mocha with Whip waiting at the end!

  8. Karol Lynn on April 16, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    I once said that when I go…that my life wouldn’t be carved out on a cold slab of stone, but my story and who I am will be written on the hearts and souls of those whom I loved and who loved me.You my dear, have been running inside of your heart through life with abandon…even when you were laid low…And if you change the white chocolate to regular chocolate, that Vente Mocha sounds like a reason to skip in my opinion too…that’s all I am good for these days…even though I can run…lol

  9. PJ on April 16, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    I’ve been there too! And I’m with His GIrl…I love the “Run down that path” line. It is amazing what a year of fighting a deadly disease does for one’s perspective on life. Although, never doubt the value of providing comic relief…somebody’s got to do it! Thanks for a great post.

  10. Anonymous on April 16, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    You go, Jen!! As you know, I’ve been thinking about this topic quite a bit lately as Pilot Man and I attend Fellowship of The Woodlands (along with thousands of other people!). I have to confess I haven’t read the book yet. But I will. Soon. Really. 🙂 So far, though, I don’t think I’ve got very many regrets . . . or at least, not as many as I once had. Keep ambling down that path, Jen — there’s a White chocolate mocha waiting for you and I’ll be there, too, with a stack of books. Big Hugs,Jennifer

  11. Gretchen on April 17, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    When we meet, i picture us just laughing and enjoying our Venti White Chocolate Mochas with whip. I heart you Jen. I really, really do.xxxooogretchen

  12. Barrie on April 17, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I think you’re in a much healthier space than most.And I giggled out loud at you at least skipping if there’s a Venti White Chocolate Mocha with Whip in sight. 🙂

  13. radioactive girl on April 17, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Yes! I swear you must be the sister I always wanted. I know exactly how you feel about all of this because I seem to feel the same way.Will you believe my doctor told me to cut back on caffeine just to see if it would help? You should have a mocha for me next time you are out because it is breaking my heart that I can’t have one.

  14. PJ on April 18, 2008 at 8:25 am

    I should have offered a prize for the first one!!! I didn’t know Pennsylvania was in the south.

  15. beans on April 18, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Hmm . . .thanks for the thoughtful post. I, too, have been following along with this book series-and for once and actually keeping up.I appreciate your thoughts-I especially liked the part about knowing that there are no unspoken words. I feel like a lot right now is unsaid between my loved ones and I, and it makes me uncomfortable. How do you do it when it is hard? Maybe that’s a conversation better had over some ‘bucks.Thanks for sharing-as always, you make me smile.

  16. SeaSpray on April 18, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Jen…you sound like you are describing me except we part ways at the regrets because i do have regrets. This book is something I should read. It’s not that I don’t have the head knowledge and inner nudges to act on certain things but my body doesn’t follow. I will admit that there is something in me that automatically takes on guilt and really I am a good person who makes mistakes and I know sometimes I am too hard on myself. Then again sometimes …I am spot on. I will look up the book.Great post!I just always feel I can do things better or could have. The could haves are worse.Like you though…no matter how difficult things have been I could always smile at the beauty surrounding me…whether in the belly laugh of a young child or God’s handiwork surrounding us. It’s all good. Even if a butterfly flutters by or lands near me…I see it as a God wink that everything is going to be o.k. and I always say”thank you forr that butterfly” 🙂

  17. mel on April 19, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Hey there. Thanks for your encouragement. My mom’s third chemo was last week — just one more. She’s doing great; thanks for your prayers.

  18. Sing4joy on April 20, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    I’m with Gretchen. I heart you.

  19. SweetAnnee on April 21, 2008 at 7:08 am

    oh Jenlet me know about the book..If I should put it my “read”list..and you can write about puppy poopif you want!!lol

  20. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    I saw Kerry Shook on TV, teach on this subject just before the book came out. The question (What if you only had a month to live?) and the myriad of implications, profoundly touched me and changed the way I think and continues to do so. Maintaining this mind set would help us ALL put things into proper perspective-GOD’S! YOUR personal witness and journey just sets it in cement for me!! What better example than someone who is actually LIVING it and with GUSTO! I love you! I see why my Daughtie does too! Thanx for your visit and sweet words 🙂 HisGirl’s MoomisPS How is the book and study?

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