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Monday, 29 July 2013

Counting our Blessings

During the past few weeks I have made a number of 'online friends'.... people who are going through a similar journey to us and have either read my blog or have made contact through one of the Facebook MSA support pages. It's so good getting to know other people who really understand what our life feels like, and extremely humbling to meet those who are further down this road and facing even tougher challenges than we are. The sense of shared love, support and unity is profound, and I am deeply moved as I pray for these friends. Throughout the various messages and comments that have been exchanged I've noticed that two particular themes seem to recur frequently.... They are 'Take one day at a time' and 'Don't lose sight of your blessings'. 

When you're living every moment of every day with a serious and life changing illness, whether as a patient or as a carer or loved one, it's so easy to become completely engulfed by the illness and its profound impact on your life. Inevitably everything Suzie and I ever do is always totally dominated by her illness, simply because it affects every aspect of our life. Because of this, and almost without realising it, we find we have slipped into the situation where virtually every thought and every conversation we have, whether with each other or with our friends and family, is centred on the MSA, or the cancer, or Suzie's symptoms, limitations, prognosis etc. It's so hard for us both, but especially for Suzie, to see our lives in any other context than the illness, and to see anything at all beyond the sadness of what we've lost and the fear of what we know we will have to face as the illness progresses. It takes a conscious decision and a huge amount of effort to stop this process in its tracks and to focus on the fact that, despite it all, there are still many good things in our life.

The advice St. Paul gave to the Philippians in his New Testament letter remains good advice for us today. "Always rejoice in the Lord!.. Don't be anxious about things; instead pray about everything.. Fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy." (Paraphrased from Philippians Ch.4 v.4-8 - Click on the link to read the full text.)

We may not be able to change what we have to face in life.... but we can change how we face it, and how we feel as we face it, by choosing to fill our minds with all that is good and lovely. We can choose to focus on all the good things that life still has to offer, and thank God for them, no matter how many 'bad' things threaten to overshadow them.

I want to make every day as special as I possibly can for Suzie. I want us to be able to look beyond this devastating illness and to see the beauty that can still be ours. I don't want us to be so crushed with grief and fear of what we will have to face tomorrow that we lose sight of what we still have today. I won't let the pain, sorrow and despair we feel rob us of the joys and pleasures that can still be ours if we look hard enough for them.

I'm always very conscious of the fact that the life we live today will become the memories we have tomorrow. Please join with me as I pray for God to help us make lots of good memories which we will be able to treasure in our hearts and minds forever. Meanwhile, some photos of "today's" blessings....

Our lovely garden
A beautiful view to wake up to........
.... with our Feathered Friends to greet us!

Days out enjoying the stunning scenery of Dartmoor........

....with the local residents.

Out and about again after 3 weeks at home.... Things are looking up.
Sunshine and fresh air.

Beautiful! Thank you God.