Sunday, November 24, 2013

Out Of The Ashes

We sang a great song in church today which contained the lyric "out of the ashes we rise".  There is something intriguing about fire.  As the weather is turning colder, I imagine many will turn to the warmth of a fireplace or a campfire for comfort. Yet, when something burns, it leaves very little remnant of its former self.  A log placed on the fire, when consumed completely, is no longer recognizable.  All that remains is some charred dust, or ashes if you may.  The fire causes total and absolute destruction.  It is no wonder that ashes are a symbol of repentance and humility...there is nothing illustrious about ashes.

I guess that is what captured my attention when we sang a song about rising from the ashes.  There are times in our lives that we are totally devastated.  Sickness, financial ruin, shattered relationships, to name a few, cause us to hit rock bottom.  Just like the ashes from a fire, the remnants from these horrific situations are ugly, dirty and filthy, nothing with which to be proud.

Yet, a remarkable thing sometimes happens on occasion.  Just like the mythological bird, the phoenix, somehow something arises from the ashes.  A new entity, a vibrant creature of some sort evolves.  The ugly ashes become a glorious creation.

I am so grateful God caused me to rise from the ashes of cancer.  Although there are still challenges ahead, the ugliness of the fire pit in some ways has been transformed into some true beauty.  As a matter of fact, some of the joy I feel today is because of the devastation of my previous self.  I can't help but remember how things used to be, e.g. multiple hospitalizations, chemotherapy, blood transfusions and desperation.  That was then.  This is now.

So, out of the ashes we rise.  We most certainly do, if we allow God to devastate us and bring forth a new creation.

You can read more about my devastation and ultimate victory in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer", which is available on Amazon and Kindle at the following link:


Friday, November 8, 2013

Tasting Success

"You scream.  I scream.  We all scream for ice cream". 

I don't know where I first heard that statement but I still remember it many years later.   Maybe it is because I love sweets so much, especially chocolate.  As a matter of fact, I could eat chocolate practically every day.  I saw a T-shirt that said, "Save the earth.  It's the only planet that has chocolate!"  I heartily agree.  Brownies, chocolate chip cookies, peanut M & M's, etc. have always been a regular part of my diet.  Of course, having an occasional doughnut with chocolate frosting (what else?) is also a special treat.

Based on my dietary habits, you must imagine that I am extremely overweight.  Not so.  I try to run several times a week, not particularly to lose weight but to keep from gaining too many pounds.  Also, I weigh myself periodically at work wearing the same type of clothes to keep track of my tonnage.  So, for the most part, I stay around the same weight.  Sometimes I'm up a few pounds around the holidays or when I'm prevented from exercising (like when I am sick or extremely busy at work). Sometimes I am down a few pounds (which is a great joy).

Nevertheless, I occasionally indulge in some ice cream, especially convenient since an ice cream eatery is not too far from my house.  Also, the stores which I frequent have multitudes of ice cream flavors from a variety of manufacturers.

The other day I discovered some interesting facts about Ben Cohen, one of the founder's of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.  First of all, I found out that Mr. Cohen and I share the same birthday, although he was born several years before me. I also discovered that he suffers from a condition called "anosmia" or loss of smell.  He also has diminished taste sensations.  After he worked odd jobs in his lifetime such as driving a cab or working at McDonald's, he ventured into the ice cream business.  Due to his loss of smell and inadequate taste sensations, it propelled him and his partner Jerry Greenfield to make extraordinary ice cream with exquisite tastes and large pieces of fruit, chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, etc., perhaps to compensate for his sensory deficits.

As a result, I went out and bought some Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream the other night to find out if this was true.  Sure enough, the taste was wonderful (although the price was somewhat high for just a pint).  Yet, amazingly, the great taste was developed in part from Ben Cohen's handicap.

So, Ben Cohen's story is yet another wonderful example of how adversity can lead to success.  If he hadn't lost his sense of smell, perhaps Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream would not be quite as popular or flavorful as it is today.

Cancer or major illness can also open up hidden talents.  As you may be aware, it propelled me to be a writer, something perhaps which will stay with me the rest of my life, even when I am old and feeble.  When I am unable to work physically, Lord willing, I will still be able to write.  Many more books and blogs may be forthcoming in the future, all because I went through cancer treatment and felt compelled to write about my journey.

What talents are waiting to be discovered in you because you have had cancer or are going through cancer?  Just like Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, the sweet taste of success may be imminent as you use your undiscovered talents.