* Just Go

My husband and I had been talking about going to Alaska since I retired four years ago. Every summer we’d find some reason not to go. So in January of 2020 I finally told him, “let’s just go” and I paid the deposit. Of course, we all know what happened; COVID hit and again our trip was postponed. Just last month in August 2021, we were finally able to take that trip. All I can say is that it was truly amazing and more beautiful than pictures can ever show. It made us realize that now is the time to travel and go to all the places we’ve talked about. We both are currently healthy enough to do things and walk with relative ease. There’s no reason to put it off any longer. Several times during our trip my husband said, “I’m so glad you talked me into this.”

We convince ourselves that we’ll go see that friend or family member we’ve wanted to visit another day or we’ll wait until things slow down before we take time off for a vacation. My advice to you is go ahead and do it! Not one of us knows what the future holds but I live with the possibility that one day my cancer may return. It truly makes me cherish the here and now. I want to spend as much time as I can with the people I love. I want to visit more of the beautiful cities in the USA and when it’s safe, I still want to go to Italy and Greece with my girlfriends.

Today I leave you with a simple question…what’s stopping you? Just go!

Blessings, Cindy J

* Look Around

For all you fans of theater and the show Hamilton, no this is not a tribute to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s song but he does bring up a good point.  Even Dr. Seuss said you need to see sights and pay attention. To do that you have to do more than just look straight ahead; you must look around. If we always look straight ahead, we miss so many things.

When I’m at the beach, if I don’t look up, I miss the beautiful clouds and the bluest sky; not to mention the sunrise and sunsets. If I don’t look down, I’ll miss all the intricacies of the seashells at my feet. Not looking to the side would cause me to miss the waves as they break on the beach or a pod of dolphins swimming by. And what about the people? Families having fun, friends sharing conversations and people like me just taking some time to relax and read a good book. They always bring a smile to my face.

As we go through life, so much of the time we have on blinders and only see the things in front of us that pertain to our world. Guess what? Other people and things are out there and they have a lot to offer you. So my friends, LOOK AROUND! This world really is a beautiful place.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Passwords

These days in our computer driven world, we need passwords for everything we do. There’s a password to sign into the computer. Then there’s one for every place you shop online. Of course, your email has a password and if you work from home, your work database has a password. There are generally rules about passwords like it has to be so many characters, include numbers and symbols, etc. Then just when you think you’ve got it all written down and figured out, somebody asks you to change your password. Oh, and it can’t be anything you’ve used before. Yikes!

If you’ve had any medical issues and you need to contact your doctor or look up test results, most physicians now have online portals where all your information is stored. It can be very helpful at times but frustrating at others when you just need to ask one simple question. It’s also a little unnerving to think that so many people have access to my personal health information in those databases.

What a blessing that there is one “safe and secure” place that will only require one password; ever. It’s God’s kingdom with the promise of eternal life in heaven. The password…JESUS. Always has been, always will be.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Ocean Therapy

Truth be told, everyone could benefit from a little therapy every now and then. Just sitting down with someone who doesn’t know you to talk through difficult issues can be very freeing. If you’ve never done that, I encourage you to share your hurts with a professional who can help you work through those feelings. As a cancer survivor, I found it helpful to talk with someone about my fears. There are also support groups for many different types of situations and tragedies people face. It’s comforting to be around people who won’t judge.

That being said, there are other forms of therapy as well. For me, it is spending time at the ocean. I’m not sure if this is a poem or just a collection of thoughts but either way it does help explain why I believe so strongly in the healing power of the ocean. My prayer is that you will find some place or something that works for you.

The Ocean

by Cindy Jennings

Waves breaking on the shore like the sound of thunder

Foamy white caps spreading out into sheets of glass on the beach

Footprints being washed away with each ebb and flow

Water and sky that has no end

Peace and turmoil mingled together

Warmth and strength from the heat of the sun

Teeming with unseen life

Peaceful treasure for my soul

The ocean.

* The Bottom of the Well

Let’s face it; we’ve all been there at the bottom of the well. Something or someone in our life has pushed us down. We’re broken and in despair. As we sit there, many times the only thing we can see is what’s at the bottom and we focus on the circumstance that put us there. We fail to notice that people are at the top, looking down and trying to figure out how to get us out. We don’t see the footholds placed along the side of the well that would give us a way to climb out. All we want to do is sit and muddle in our dilemma.

Many people facing a cancer diagnosis feel like they’ve been pushed down a well. There just seem to be an endless amount of negatives all pounding down on you at one time. It’s easy to sit there huddled up, thinking there is no way out.  I imagine that people who have faced COVID-19 felt this same way.

When we finally do look up, we can see the light. We see the people; we hear them talking. We notice they’ve thrown us a rope ladder to hang on to and all we have to do is climb. The next step is ours and ours alone. Stay at the bottom as long as you need to, then look up and start the process of climbing. Better yet, reach upward and hang onto someone’s hand for support.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Use Your Gift

God has given different gifts to each of us and He desires for us to use them for good. Our challenge is to accept the gift, use it wisely and show God’s love as we share that gift. I think my gift is words. I’ve written before about how much I love words but viewing that love for words as a gift gives me a greater sense of responsibility.  Somehow when I put words down on paper, they all just seem to come together. I can use those words to uplift others or I can ignore my gift and keep my words to myself.

I enjoy this gift and it makes me feel useful when I’m able to share the right words with someone just at the time they need them. I wish I could remember some of the words I hear in my head when I’m doing other things. Then I’d really be in business! For now, I’ll keep writing my blog and sending out my cards all the while being thankful for the gift God has given me. What’s your gift? Today I encourage you to use that gift for good. Someone is waiting for YOU and the encouragement only YOU can bring.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Goodbye My Friend

I recently lost a very dear friend to this wretched disease called cancer. She fought so hard with such grace and dignity that it’s hard to comprehend she’s gone. I just believed that if anyone was going to beat this thing, it would be Lynn. She was so determined to stay upbeat and positive throughout her fight and she did. But, that’s how Lynn lived her life.

As a teacher, she was a champion for students. Lynn truly had a gift for teaching. If there was something her students needed, watch out! Lynn would find a way to make it happen and she didn’t back down. Tenacious, in a good way, would be the word I would use to describe her. Whatever it took to make sure a student grasped the concept of what was being taught, she just kept trying until something worked. Math was her passion but my favorite memories are of the year we spent team- teaching writing skills to students. One year when she was asked to teach reading, I was honored when she reached out to me for ideas to help some of her struggling readers. She just wanted to be the very best teacher for her students.

Lynn was my friend, my neighbor, a teaching colleague, a fellow cancer thriver and a Christ follower. I will miss her terribly but I know I will see her again one day. No, she wasn’t healed here on Earth like we all wanted but now she has a heavenly body that is perfect and pain free.  Goodbye my dear friend.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Sea Turtles

Sea turtles are amazing creatures. They spend most of their life at sea but when the female is ready to lay her eggs, she comes ashore on the very same beach where she was born! That fact in and of itself is just a wonder of nature. Up to the shore she comes where she digs a very deep hole with her hind flippers and then lays from 100 to 200 eggs depending on the species. It takes anywhere from 40 to 60 days for the baby turtles to hatch.  These hatchlings struggle to get out of their nest in what is called a “boil”. Then they have to cross the beach to get to the ocean. That’s a lot of work for such a little turtle!

The hatchlings are at great risk from predators when they make their way to the ocean. Some get lost and go the wrong way. Others are eaten before they ever make it to the ocean. But once the ones who make it are there, they know exactly what to do and they are at home. Instinct kicks in and they swim out to sea.

Okay, great story and incredible feat of nature but what’s the point? The point is that they, like us, have to overcome many things before they are able to lead a productive life in the sea. We, too, have many struggles in life but it’s the struggles that make us stronger and define who we are as individuals. Don’t get so caught up in the struggle that you miss the blessing that comes at the end from knowing you have made it to the other side. As the lyrics from a song by the Christian group Mercy Me says, “Take joy in the journey”. You’ve made it. You’re finally in the ocean and you’re swimming for home!

Blessings, Cindy J

* Pumpkin – Love and Defiance

Pumpkin is a big ball of fluffy, yellow and white fur. She’s my cat. Not just any cat but a beautiful Maine Coon. Just the fact that she is not grey as most Maine Coon’s are is an anomaly in itself. But I must warn you, don’t let her beauty fool you. She can be loving and gracious one minute and then she can turn on you with the swipe of a paw or a nip with her very sharp teeth. She knows I love her yet she still defies me when I try to show her that love. In fact, one of her favorite things to do is sit behind me on the top of my chair while I read. She wants to be near me but not touching. A lap kitty she is not!

My girl is not one to trust a stranger. When someone other than my husband or I comes into the house, she immediately goes into hiding. Our guest may get a glimpse of her during their stay but you better believe she gives them a wide berth. We rescued Pumpkin from an animal shelter as a kitten so I sometimes wonder if that’s why she has such a hard time trusting people.

Do you know people who are like my Pumpkin? Ones who have a hard time trusting others or letting people love and take care of them? It’s not easy to be around them but guess what? They’re the ones who need you the most. Sometimes when people are hurting or scared, they close themselves off and try to shut everyone out. They may be so overwhelmed that they don’t know how to let others help them. What can you do? Love them and take care of them anyway. Many times defiance deserves our love, just like my Pumpkin.

Blessings, Cindy J

* Bumps in the Road

Normally when I write a blog post, I share things about my cancer story but it is intended to speak to anyone who may be facing adversity. This post is directed to those who are staring down a cancer diagnosis and are not sure where to turn.

A cancer diagnosis is like being on a journey except you don’t have a map and you’re not sure where you are going to end up.  Each journey takes a different road and there are many bumps in that road. Every person has distinctive bumps with their diagnosis but the important thing to remember is that we are all on this road together. You are not alone.

You might be tempted at times to trudge along in the muck and the mire on your own because you think that surely no one else can understand what you are going through. Please don’t. They DO understand and they want to be there to lend you a hand and make your journey easier. There are many professional organizations who have valuable information to share about your medical issues. Then there are survivors who are there to let you know the real-life things to expect.

There may be a time when you are completely stuck on one of those bumps. The wheels fall off and you can’t move. All you can do is rest, be patient and wait for help to come along. Those are the hardest and loneliest times. Sometimes the help is not what we want or need and that’s another challenge we have to face.

I always have a saying I send to people who have recently received a cancer diagnosis…

“While traveling along this cancer road, it is important to take others along for the journey. “Please, don’t be afraid to find someone who can help you navigate this difficult journey.

Blessings, Cindy J