Saturday, August 19, 2017
Lately I have looked at the world around me and been overwhelmed by the erosion of the society around me. Hate, fear, anger, frustration, sadness, negativity and evil seem to whittle away at our country and world. Today I saw a video that touched my heart and spoke to my soul. The video is of a man named Jadev Payeng. He is from an island in India called Manjuli. This island has been impacted by flooding that has eroded much of the area and left a vast emptiness in its path. Man has cut down trees and brought destruction causing the erosion to be even worse. Man seems to have a way of doing that. Jadev Payeng saw the destruction and determined to make a difference. In 1979 he began to plant one tree a day in the middle of this desert like environment. Day after day, tree after tree, Jadev has grown a forest that is now larger than central park. Jadev's story reminds me of many lessons.
Good deeds produce fruit.
When Jadev began planting trees he shares that the work was very difficult, but over time the trees began to produce their own seeds making the process much easier. Can you imagine the overwhelming impossibility that must have confronted Jadev in the beginning as he walked to a barren area and planted seedlings? He planted one, and stood up to see the vast emptiness around him. He returned for a whole year and yet when he looked around the impact must have seemed minuscule. The thought of giving up had to have crossed his mind many times and yet over and over he returned. One small seedling at a time he began to make a difference. The seeds he planted began to bear fruit and multiply. A single seedling became a "dense forest in a barren wasteland".
You and I may be feel paralyzed by the barrenness around us. It may seem overwhelmingly impossible to change the chaotic world we live in, but if each day we will persistently plant one good seed then over time we begin to see those seeds produce their own fruit. If I plant my seeds in the vicinity of your seeds then the work progresses even more quickly. In the beginning the change may barely seem noticeable. Giving up will be tempting, but if we persist our good deeds WILL produce fruit. A treeline of good deeds will begin to form and even transform the community around us. More seeds will be planted, we will slow the erosion of the society around us, and the forest we create will begin to cast shadow on the desert around us. That shadow has the ability to bring a coolness to an otherwise hot "climate". Change begins.
Good deeds bring life.
As Jadev's forest continued to grow, birds and animals that had left the area began to return. Elephants, birds, tigers and deer now inhabit the trees and roam the area. Planting the trees brought back life.
Sometimes it seems as though the negativity that surrounds us is driving away the good. People retreat to their cellphones, computers, and social media. They post things online that they would never say face-to-face. We talk more and hear less. We seek to be understood and stop seeking to understand. Families break up, friendships are destroyed, erosion continues and the desert grows, but it doesn't have to be that way. If, like Jadev, we plant seeds of goodness in the world around us we begin to notice that life returns. Families gather at the dinner table, friends reconnect, people begin to listen. The phones and texts stop and conversations begin. Life returns. I want to see our children thrive. I want to see families rebuilt. I want to see people begin to turn towards one another and stop turning on each other. We can influence that. We must influence that.
Good deeds will be attacked.
As Jadev's forest grew and the animals returned so did a new threat. Man. Man poaches the animals. Man cuts down the trees. Man can destroy a forest much faster than one can be planted. Jadev has to be watchful and care for what has been planted. He needs others to help in that process.
There are those in our world, as sad as it is, who actively attack what is good and right. Their words kill as effectively as a poacher. They are destructive and consider the good of themselves over the good of the whole. The refuse to put down their weapons. You and I, the planters, have to protect what is planted. We must guard the precious life around us. We must speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, protect those who are defenseless and not be hampered when the task seems daunting. Good deeds will be attacked. DO THEM ANYWAY!!! There will always be opposition, but the benefits outweigh the cost of doing good.
I can't help but wonder if Jadev knew in 1979 that he was planting a forest. I have a feeling he thought he was just planting a tree. You and I have no idea the impact that will be made when we plant a seed. We can save a metaphorical environmental, change a society's climate, and bring life to a barren world. Let's plant a tree!
The Forest Man
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Yesterday Rodney and I were passing time after appointments at MD Anderson. If you have followed my story with The Nuisance (aka Thymoma) then you know I cannot stand to hole up in the hotel on these days. I need air! We decided to explore a part of Hermann Park (one of my favorite places) that we had not seen before. As we entered the McGovern Centennial Gardens we saw the beautiful fountain above. This fountain is unique. It was created on a mound with a spiraling walkway winding to the top of it. The walkway leads you past levels of the fountain which have their final resting place in a pool at the bottom. Each level of the fountain becomes a little more narrow than the last until finally you reach the top of the fountain. When you arrive at the top it is amazing to see what initiates this massive fountain.
That's it. Just a tiny little overflow of water, similar to something you might create in your own backyard. It was a surprise to see that a beautiful fountain came from something so small. It made me think about how small things truly can have a big impact. Sometimes we may underestimate the impact something small can make. We don't realize the value of a small gesture, a kind word, a brief encounter, or a single voice. A small thing makes a difference. You make a difference. I make a difference. It also reminded me of the calm days when life is easy and days are good. It just sort of flows and we may even take it for granted. We just bubble along in the fountain of life.
While this little portion of the fountain was pretty, what truly makes this feature dynamic are the larger portions of the fountain below.
As you look closer at these sections it becomes evident that what creates their beauty is the water coming in contact with an obstacle. Without the obstacles the water would smoothly guide over the surface. while calming it would not create the same effect. Life is like that. Sometimes the obstacles we encounter are the very things that ultimately bring about beauty and add dimension.
It may seem sometimes that the rough patches outnumber the easy calm days, but in reality that is an illusion. The fountain has the same amount of water flowing through all the sections. The surface area is what changes creating a different effect. It is an illusion. Life's obstacles can easily overshadow the calm flow of life, we have to remember it is only a segment of a greater picture. When you combine the small fountain (us and daily life) with the obstacles (life's hiccups) it ultimately leads to a pool at the base (a full life). It is wonderful to have those moments of still calmness and we should never EVER take those for granted. We should also strive to see the value of obstacles when they come. They can be totally irritating, frustrating, scary, and often overwhelming. They may seem unfair, undeserved, and undesirable. But here is the thing, if we (I) can learn to see beyond the obstacle to the pool then we (I) can learn to appreciate the beauty of the obstacle and life, in spite of obstacles, can be full.
It all comes together to make something beautiful!
Life is a fountain of blessings!!
MD Anderson update:
We leave with more questions than answers today. The doctor ordered some additional tests that were not on our original plan so we will leave town not knowing much more than we did when we came. They will review the results and then get back with us. What we know is that it is just another little obstacle in our fountain. We are going to go with the flow!
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Today I am at MD Anderson. Oh, that I would always be as in-tune to the lessons going on around me as I am on these days. Unfortunately life gets busy, I become distracted, and I unknowingly miss opportunities to grow. I continue to work on that! I want to get to a place in my life that the ground doesn't have to be shaking in order for me to be aware and listen! I have a ways to go. In the meantime I cherish the things I am reminded of on my journey. I wanted to share today's lesson with you. Maybe you have been too busy and distracted to listen and be aware today also. How about I share my lesson with you so your ground doesn't have to get shaky in order to grow?
Today was test day. That always starts with a bloodwork followed by scans. Today I had nuclear scans followed by a CT scan. These scans require various stages of prep. I was led back to a preparation room and a technician was called back to get me ready. She began by locating a vein in my arm and guiding a needle to place an IV (not an easy task on my little veins). As she placed the needle she said, "Thank you". She flushed the line with saline and asked me if it felt okay. I said it did and again she said, "Thank you". The process continued as she placed tape, drew blood, injected various fluids. Throughout the process she frequently said thank you. Initially I thought she was saying thank you to me, but after a few moments I realized her thanks was not directed towards me at all. She uttered it every time that things worked as they should. It was almost as natural to her as breathing air. It made me think of a typical day in my life. Do I say thanks enough? When it works as it should, am I grateful? When the milk doesn't spill, the car starts, the printer works, the bills get paid, do I recognize the blessing? Shamefully the answer is often no. I want my thanks to be as natural as breathing. In and out. In and out. In and out. On my worst day there is so much to be thankful for. We all do. I have decided to work on that. When people think of their time with me I hope they can say, "She said thank you!"
"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever." Psalm 107:1
Today I say thank you for your prayers. I say thank you for people who love on my boys in our absence. I say thank you for a beautiful walk in the park after a day of appointments. I say thank you for insurance, doctors, and an employer who supports my health. I say thank you for my husband. I say thank you for all the bad things that could have happened and didn't and for all the good things that did. I say thank you to God, for he is good!
Monday, January 2, 2017
Life is full of landmarks, those moments that forever change our perspectives of God, ourselves, and the world around us. January 2 is a monumental landmark for me. It was on this day in 2013 that an event (surgery) led to a discovery (stage 4 Thymoma) that marked an important stage (surgeries, chemo, healing) and a turning point in something (my life). Today I have been thinking about the changes The Nuisance (Thymoma) brought in my life. I have been thinking about the things I feared on this day four years ago and the lessons I have learned since. These are some of the greatest lessons:
God is faithful and trustworthy.
Pain is a relative thing.
Peace that passes understanding is an amazing reality.
Scars are beautiful.
Baldness isn't the worse thing that can happen to you.
Angels are everywhere.
Family, friends and even strangers are gifts of the journey.
The battle for your mind and spirit is much more serious than the battle for your body.
You find a new normal.
Prayer truly does change things.
The stories to support these statements would take a lifetime to tell. Many are captured in my blog, many more are deep in my heart. (Maybe in the days to come I will circle back to this post when I am not typing in my phone!) They are reminders of victory,of healing, of landmarks. Another definition of a landmark is something that "enables someone to establish their location". Interestingly enough I am heading back to MD Anderson today for some tests. I have some blood levels that are elevated. I don't know yet exactly what that means, but I do know my location.I am firmly in the hand of God. I have a landmark and God is as faithful and trustworthy on January 3, 2017 as he was four years ago.
Thank you for being a part of my story. I am grateful for your prayers, your love and your encouragement!