Blessed with More Life

Happy Anniversary to me!

It was eight years ago today—April 11, 2011—when my life’s journey took a turn. This was the day when I had brain surgery to remove a ginormous tumor from the front-top quadrant of my brain.

That’s when God blessed me with more life.

Everything changed after that surgery. Days of running up and down steps with ease were gone forever. Forgetting how to say words became commonplace. Putting together jigsaw puzzles with my husband—now a thing of the past. A faint weakness on my right side still remains … reminding me … the outcome could have been different.

Because of that surgery, I know … without a doubt … each moment is a gift.

The doctors made it clear—they could not give me any guarantees that I’d survive the delicate and lengthy operation. They needed to cut my skull open and remove the tumor, then figure out if they could put me back together again.

Then there was the therapy: physical, occupational, and speech. I worked diligently for months trying to relearn the simplest of tasks: walking without assistance, standing and not losing my balance, learning to pick up coins one at a time, and repeating words and phrases after they were said to me.

But I celebrated because God was with me every step of the way.

And I’ve tried to never take life for granted again.

“ …‘you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:13-14 NIV

Thump-thump.

Feel that? It’s your heart beating. It could stop at any time, but instead, it keeps on going. Not because of anything you’re doing, but because it’s God’s gift to you. With each beat, you’re blessed with more life.

Come, celebrate with me. I’ve had eight years of appreciating and trusting God’s gift of a day—one at a time.

How can we celebrate your blessings?.

Robin speaks to women’s groups on trusting God through adversity. As a writer, she’s a finalist for the 2019 Selah Writing Award. Soon she’s releasing the third edition of, “Learning to Bloom Again: walking through forgiveness after divorce” and is looking for a publisher for, “God’s Best During Your Worst,” a manual on how to deal with life’s darkness and yet see God’s loving and guiding hand. Watch for it!

Finding New Purpose From My Pain

powerfuluI enjoy blogs by people who have dealt with difficult times; times where they were stretched and learned a bit more about who they were. I’m happy to share a new one I’ve found.

http://www.powerfulu.net/ is by Latoya Saddler. This blog is a culmination of a process of seeking to find and fulfill God’s purpose for her life and in the process inspire and motivate others to do the same.

I hope you are encouraged by her love of God and willingness to look for blessings in the darkest of places.
http://www.powerfulu.net/2017/01/31/purpose-from-pain/

Waiting for Tomorrow

SunriseWe pace. We fret. We stare at our watch. What are we so anxious about?

Time.

Many who have dealt with serious physical challenges like cancer, tumors, or an assortment of medical ailments tend to hold time dear and look at life differently.

Had that pillow been so cozy before? It feels wonderful to wake up with it against my face.

The rays from the sun shine warm my insides as well as my outside.

This morning’s sunrise was spectacular. Had it ever been so beautiful before?

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Welcome 2015 in a Healthy Way

Daniel Fast picWe’re standing on the threshold of a new year … 2015. What will it hold for us? What purposes are waiting for us?

I will be participating in the 21-Day Daniel Fast starting January 1. This is something I have been doing in one form or another for the past six years. If you have ever thought about fasting but never understood its power or significance, here are a few reasons why people fast.

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A Dealing-with-Brokenness Fast for 2013

2013Every January I start the new year with a food fast. Trying to accept my brokenness may have contributed to my attitude, but I find something exciting about the experience of a fast. I start the fast for two reasons. First, my weight has been a challenge because I’m still dealing with the ramifications of brain surgery as well as thyroid issues (both benign, I am happy to say). I also tend to partake in richer foods than I should and have not had as much time on the bike as I’d like. It’s good to have a time set aside for the cleansing that comes from a fast.

But committing to a fast is more than just changing my diet. It’s more than the physical experience for me. It’s also a spiritual one. It’s about remembering who I am; remembering what’s important to me. It’s about setting time apart to think on what’s essential in life. When I have participated in a fast in the past, I would get hungry or have a graving for a favorite food. But those were the moments that I remembered, Father I am hungry for food, but I’m more hungry for you than food.

When I fast, promises abound.  It’s about leaving the old behind and starting anew. It’s a perfect time for self-examination. Have I been leaning on delusional thinking? Have I been self-absorbed?  Have I put myself before others? Boy, I would like a latte, but Father, I need to feel your presence more.

Prayers seem more finely tuned and personal. I truly cherish the experience. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you see me in January and I seem lost in thought,  be kind to me. It’s probably a good guess that I’m processing lessons learned while craving a Snicker’s bar.

Broken Again … Or Is That Still?

What’s that lump on your neck?

Those were the words that started a new journey of questioning … searching … confirming God’s place in my life. I thought I had dealt with my share of brokenness. Not just with my early years of emotional brokenness due to living in a dysfunctional family followed by years of bad decisions, but the physical brokenness that I experienced just last year, going through brain surgery to remove a tumor the size of my fist.  I thought I had figured life out. I knew that God was with me in April 2011. I knew he loved me and had a plan for my life. I thought life from here on would be smooth sailing.

How pathetic! What arrogance filled my heart!

Here I was facing a physical crisis again. A nodule was discovered on my thyroid. I realized I needed to go through the process again; the process of accepting God’s purpose for my life. I had to once again embrace—with humility—the fact that I did not know what tomorrow held for me. I had to revisit prayers that I offered to God earlier; prayers of complete acceptance and thankfulness.  I read scripture with a new hunger. I knew Truth was the only thing that could carry me through this valley. And the most wonderful thing happened. The scriptures that I always loved took on new life; a brilliance that filled my soul. I was reminded of an important lesson: I need Christ not because I’m broken again, but because I’m broken still.

I still have the nodule on my thyroid. I am scheduled to have a fine-needle biopsy and have penciled a date for surgery … just in case I need it. But Truth is still the same; God is always there, and he has a plan just for me.

I’m totally on board for that!

I Have It … All?

Ever find yourself in a space in time when nothing seems to be going wrong and your life is just perfect? Hair looks good … clothes fit great … car’s just right. Everything you do is as you always hoped it would be and you can’t think of one change to make, right?

No? Well me neither … or have I?

When I see or hear of celebrities shopping the boutiques of Rodeo Drive in Hollywood, it seems natural for society to think of them as the “Perfect, Beautiful People”. They appear to have all the lovely things a person could want. They have money; possessions, perfect bodies, and are loved and adored by many. It seems dreamy to think of a life like that. Watch television or read the magazine articles reported on them, and this life is promoted as the brass ring we all need to reach for. Total perfection; hard work rewarded by the trinkets and baubles offered by society.

Then I look at my life.

When I walk down any street where I live I am rarely noticed by those around me. I wear fashion that does not set me apart. At any time you can find someone driving a newer car than mine, wearing nicer clothes or jewelry, or living in a bigger or nicer house than I live in. And trust me, “perfect body” is not the first thought that comes to the person who first meets me.

Far from the perfect life … or is it?

Webster’s Dictionary defines perfection as freedom from fault or defect. Hmmm, that’s a pretty awesome picture.

It’s true that I don’t need security guards for protection because of all my money or fine possessions. And it’s also true that I have never had a celebrity news team show up at my door to do a story on my life.

I have made some pretty bad mistakes in my life … in fact, some very similar to the mistakes reportedly made by Hollywood’s beautiful celebrities. But my saving grace was that I chose … saving grace. I assure you that if I could have fixed it all by myself, I wouldn’t have needed God’s grace. But that was just not possible. And as soon as I realized my limitations, I also realized that there was another who was Limitless. With the peace I gained from letting go of the illusion of control over the broken areas in my life, I learned that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I may not be loved and adorned by the millions of people around me, but I am loved by the ones that count.

And that is total perfection.

I think I’ll pass on the trinkets and baubles for now … I’ll save mine for later.

I Did Not Blink

Converting my closets recently from Winter to Summer clothes, I came across some summertime pajamas I purchased last Spring. They weren’t flashy, but the sweet kind of PJ’s you buy with comfort in mind. Pretty, yet functional. Finding them brought a smile to my face.

They were a pair of PJ’s I bought for my hospital stay when I had brain surgery, April 2011.

I can hardly believe it’s been a year since that incredible Friday evening when everything around me took on a new life of its own. If you care to reflect back, visit an earlier post.

This past year has been filled with wonderful gifts and blessings. I don’t know if I would have recognized them as such if it had not been for that fateful night in April. For example, I’ve always known that I have an awesome husband. But Lew was there for me in ways that I could not have anticipated … it had to be experienced. He was tested right along with me, and I will forever be grateful to him and his dedication to me and our marriage. My children really stepped up to the plate of responsibility and attentiveness. There’s nothing as wonderful as seeing your grown children react as the loving and caring people you always knew they’d turn into being. And I can’t forget my friends. I received so many cards, calls, and e-mails of best wishes and support. I just recently re-read all my notes and once again felt the surge of love from all my well-wishers.

It’s been said that beliefs and sponges are alike in that they need to be squeezed to see what they hold inside. Truly my beliefs were squeezed—or challenged—last Spring. I had to evaluate if what I believed would be enough to carry me through to whatever happened during the surgery as well as beyond. I had to look dead-on into the eyes of my mortality … I needed to see if I felt the need to turn away from what I saw or if I would be the first to blink.

No blinking for me!

I won’t say that it’s been easy, because this past year has brought challenges. Even after physical, speech, and occupational therapy, I have needed to find a new normal that works for me. I will probably always have some weakness and loss of dexterity in my right side. Running up or down stairs is just a memory now. The area on my head where my hair was shaved has filled in a bit and there aren’t as many renegade wisps as there were only a few months ago.

But I clearly know what I have gained. I can tell you—without a doubt in my mind—that I know Who holds my tomorrows. I can also tell you that I have peace knowing that the Creator of the Universe also planned the existence of Robin Gilbert Luftig. After I was created I truly believe that he stood back, looked at his creation, and smiled.

He watches my back just as he watches my tomorrows.

Life is sweet, don’t think it isn’t. There may be trials in your world today, but they are temporary. Time—along with trials—will pass. Don’t waste time fretting about what could have been. We should always hook our wagons to the “what-is”, remembering who it is that’s holding all of our tomorrows; because honestly … it isn’t us.

“… in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 NIV

Déjà vu all over again

Living in Central PA, life is spectacular. Beauty is all around and easy to take for granted.

It wasn’t all that long ago birds were waking me in the morning with incredible harmonies. When I went outside today I realized that the robins are no longer here; they’ve left Summer ’11 behind.

It is now mid September and the grass is still a gorgeous shade of green. Without a word of warning it will soon change to a dull, drab hue of goodnight-for-the-winter yellowish brown.

The sun has begun to replace the warming direct overhead sunshine with the blessings of beautiful slanted rays, filling our senses with awe at the incredible spectrum of color.

The smells of grilling burgers and chicken once filled the neighborhoods … now there are whiffs of smoke from burning fire pits that linger in the evening sky.

Yes, the days are getting shorter, with the sun joining me later than it use to and leaving me earlier than I’d like.

I’ve been here before … it’s the end of another summer. I took it for granted, acting as if it would be here forever. I should have known that Summer ’11 would need to go; yet somehow I never thought it would.

Next year I’ll plan my summer days better … or maybe I’ll just lean back and appreciate the beauty like I’ve always done in years gone past.