I have no idea who these perfect looking people are. They certainly don’t look like they are a family whose lives have been touched by cancer. Could these be the same girls? Or maybe that’s just it. These are the confident smiles belonging to those who know that we somehow pulled together, juggled the difficulties, and glory to God, emerged victoriously. That unexpected cancerous curve ball thrown at us has officially been squashed like the bug that it is! All agreed, it doesn’t ever need to show it’s ugly face again! Cue a weekend of celebrations. So we all had a party which I’m so glad that many of you were able to attend. You might recognize some of these highlights…
Some KCC School friends who mean so much to me. These beauties are just a part of an incredible community that helped by organizing meals, driving my kids around, praying faithfully. Nothing short of being priceless gifts from heaven.
I haven’t received all of the photos from the party yet. But this one is me and two of my daycare princesses and their gorgeous Mama’s (Lord bless these sweet ladies whose understanding and graciousness has been crucial throughout this past year!)
Pinata monster! My son wearing the busted pinata on his head. Probably one of my favorite pictures from the night. It reminds me of God’s grace upon my children that they still have their sense of humor despite life sending this unfortunate situation. With the weekend of celebrating cancer being gone, came some time of reflection from my children as they looked back over the past year. My son told me he remembered the exact moment when we told him I had cancer and how he cried. And how he went to his room and cried some more. Oh my child, I so dearly wish that bad news never infringed upon your sweet innocent life. But you and your sisters were brave through it all and in the end got to see God’s healing power. What a happy story. I am so glad you can run around today with joy on your face, especially when it’s underneath a pink pinata. You get extra style points for that one bud.
Being silly and celebrating with so many amazing people was the best night of my life! The party was beyond words. Boy am I loved. What a testimony of God’s grace to me. Through this party, He once again showed me that I have never stood alone throughout this battle.
I had planned a speech for everyone and wrote out some bullet points on a few note cards. But microphone in hand, adrenaline pumping and all eyes on me, I can’t even remember how much or how little I was able to get out (and don’t ask me if it was coherent!) Therefore I have decided to share what I had planned on saying with you, my faithful and captive audience (hiding behind the pen is more comfortable anyway!)
So with no further adieu, Bren’s big long sappy speech, minus the nerves of public speaking getting the best of her:
“Most of you know me as a crazy triathlete. Or at least have heard the rumors as such. I’ll admit they are true. Humor me as I walk you through some of the things I think about when I’m racing.
When the gun goes off it becomes “go time.” I am focused. I mentally escape all of life’s duties and nothing else matters except the finish line in front of me. My training has been specifically geared towards this day. I am confident. When my muscles start to ache and it gets harder, I turn my mind to God. I pray. I connect to my Creator. I repeat verses that give me strength like Isaiah 40: 31- “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.” And when I’m feeling faint, I count down the minutes or the miles until I see the next aid station which will provide nourishment and relief. When going the distance in a long race, you sometimes start out with well meaning intentions. And then the day doesn’t always go your way. Often times you have to adapt. But through it all, if you stay determined to keep making forward progress, eventually you will get there. No matter the race, I’m constantly thinking about that finish line. And wanting to finish well.
Let me introduce to you my always faithful, prayerful mother and mother in law who have been so incredible. I would say they’ve both been in the trenches with me, by my side every step of the way. They first introduced the idea of this party. But I felt a little embarrassed to have it be all about me. I felt nervous about being in the spotlight.
After reflecting upon this past year and everything that has happened, I decided this is an appropriate cause for an after party for us all. It’s not all about me. First of all- Let’s celebrate the amazing work that God has done.I believe that Jesus is alive, he has power over death, the power to heal! Many years ago I accepted that truth that I was a sinner in need of Jesus who had to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins so that I could be right before God (see Romans 3:23), and I received the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ my Lord (John 3:16). This gave me a security and a peace that nothing could ever take away. I have definitely been a Christian for years but now I know a richer life in Christ. Despite being fit and healthy, I was hit with stage 3 breast cancer. Immediately after receiving that diagnosis, you all surrounded me, lifted me up, carried me. Look around you and realize each of you have been an integral part of my team. You have been my teammates. That means hard work on your part. I’m proud to call you my friends. You all stepped up. I did not go through this alone. The biggest lesson to me throughout this year was how gracious you were to me. You were the practical hands of Jesus Christ’s- serving tirelessly, finding your own individual ways of getting me and my family through the cruddiest thing I’ve ever gone through. How can I describe it? You could say something tried to eat me alive! It was really hard. My life was turned upside down- it effected everything from an emotional stand point as well as a physical one. My hair, skin, nails, basically everything that made me feel feminine, my energy, my appetite, the list goes on. I went through pain…long achy bouts of it and shorter intense fiery spurts of it. I rode the worst roller coaster I’ve ever ridden. Cancer robs you of time and all preconceived plans.
However, God prepared me to endure this race through already being a disciplined athlete.
My Dad challenged his kids at an early age to race laps around the perimeter of the house. My sister Catherine always had the speed, beating me easily in a few short laps. I never was the sprinter in the family. I found that my strength was in going the distance, long after others were ready to quit, I was still going strong. Amazed that I didn’t seem to tire out when I just paced myself, this taught me a lot. I was an endurance athlete at heart. This year tested my endurance more than any Marathon or Ironman. Of course those races change you by giving you experience, wisdom, patience. These things served me well over the last year.
So, throughout this year’s race, I reminded myself many times that a race is won at the end- not the beginning. I had to really dig in to find my spiritual strength, muster up all my grit, grind it out, and pace myself in order to have the energy and stamina to get to this point today. So as you came alongside me, you all were my aid stations. I wouldn’t have made it without you. At times I would think, this is too much, I’m too consumed and overwhelmed. But then I would receive one of your timely visits bringing me encouragement, a card in the mail, a phone call, a text, or someone reaching out. Such selfless generosity still reminds me that I am not alone.
Racing has taught me not only how to endure through pain but also to look forward to the finish where I know I’ll find relief and reward. It’s given me perspective on the eternal finish line. And how there is an eternity and a reward waiting for me there. In 2 Tim 4:7 it says, ‘I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that day and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.’
Yes I have scars. And of course this year has been hard. But it is all temporary. And I look forward to a new heavenly body when I join the Father for eternity in the joy of His presence. His wonderful presence that I have only just begun to plumb the depths of.
I’m so grateful for you all, my teammates. So with hearts raised heavenward, let’s celebrate, be merry, and bask in the joy of being alive TODAY!”
How did I ever think that I would get through such a long speech? Phew! Sorry not sorry. It was a long year to recap.
I have a few more special pictures from the party to share. You probably noticed my new blonde locks, spiked into a mohawk for this party. I’m having fun with what I’ve got. Because the rules are there are no rules. It’s all fun and games right now.