April 2011


Review: Now that we’ve all had a few days to think about wearing LOVE as the most important part of our outfit, let’s take a look at how we’ve done. I can look back and recognize that there have been times over the last few days when I have “put on love” in the morning, praying that my actions, thoughts, speech and behaviours would be covered in love. And I know that there are examples throughout those days when wearing LOVE made everything else easier.  Patience came when I felt unpatient, forgiveness came when I wanted to hold a grudge, kind words (or holding my  tongue…) when I wanted to speak out. I’m not saying that I’ve arrived and I’ve got this whole “dress yourself in love” thing down pat, but on reflection, I am able to see the difference that it is making.  How about you?  Has dressing in love made a difference?  I also know that there have been times that I have forgotten to put on love first, or maybe I’ve just taken it off for a while because it’s too hard to wear… This is an ongoing lesson for me. I’m learning that LOVE is bigger than feelings and the things that I like to do.  It can be hard work, involve sacrifice, and surrender.  It is tied into obedience.  The more I understand and practice love the more I realize that I’ve got a lot to learn.

Favourite Outfits:

I want to take a moment to look at some of the types of outfits that we keep in our closets and how we can relate these to our spiritual closets, our attitudes, behaviours, language and character.

Let’s start off with our favourite outfits. If you think for just a moment, I’m sure that you’ll be able to think of one or two things that you just can’t do without.  My favourite, comfy, cozy go-to outfits include a good pair of jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt and a pair of crazy hand knit socks. It’s nothing fancy but I’m comfortable, confident and feel ready to face the day.  Perhaps for you it’s a favourite skirt, a great pair of black pants or a fitted jacket.  Whatever it is, I’m sure that it is an item that fits you well, is comfortable, makes you looks great and feel confident.

I think that if we take a look at the clothes in our spiritual closet, we will also find some favourite outfits that are equally comfortable and are centered around areas of strength.  These qualities, attitudes and behaviours will be different for everyone based on our God-given giftings and talents.  These “clothes” are a natural extension of who we are based on who God has designed us to be.

If I look into my closet, one of the clothes that I wear well is that of hospitality.  I was raised in a home where my parents practiced hospitality by inviting others into our home for meals, we had people live in our home for extended periods of time and we often made meals for others who were in need. In fact, if I look back further into my family history, my parents were also both raised in this way.  For me, hospitality is both a learned gift passed down through my family heritage and a spiritual act of obedience.  My husband and I often look around to see how we can show hospitality to those around us, opening our home to friends and family, to those who need a place to stay or an invitation to dinner for those who may feel left out or forgotten. Hospitality is one of my favourite outfits to wear because it fits well, it’s comfortable, and it’s familiar.

Other God-given gifts that fit well and I enjoy wearing include encouragement, faith and prayer.  These are a part of who God has designed and created me to be.

So what about you? What are your favourite outfits to wear?  What are those characteristics, behaviours actions and thoughts that are characterize who you are?  Your favourite outfits? How do these “clothes” tie in with the idea of dressing yourself in LOVE?

Health Update: I am scheduled to go down to PMH on Thursday this week to have a follow up regarding my bronchoscopy test. I am eager to meet with my team of doctors and to hear the results of what is going on with this chest infection.  I am also scheduled to meet with one of the specialists next Tuesday for more clarity on what the tests have revealed and how to best move forward. While I’m tired of being sick, coughing and being short of breath I am at peace with the process and filled with thankfulness to God for his Healing and for my team of doctors who care for me not just as a number or disease but as a person, an individual with hopes, plans and dreams.

Love to you all,

Heather

***next up: Clothes that Need to be Thrown Away

Update:  I had the bronchoscopy on Tuesday and the procedure went well and I was at peace the whole time. I was much more relaxed and the doctor was able to get the samples that he needed in order to find some results. I go back to see the doctor next week and hopefully we’ll be on the right track to some good answers. I’m still coughing a lot and I’m out of breath pretty quickly (like just climbing the stairs) but I know that I am in good hands.

I will be following up this weekend with more of my “Clothe Yourself” thoughts.

Free Wool: On another note, some of you have been following my knitting adventures so I’m posting this link here in an effort to get another entry. I’m not sure I’ll do this often… but I do love this product, it’s Canadian and well, if I win… it’s free.

http://tanisfiberarts.blogspot.com/2011/04/happy-spring-giveaway.html

This post has been a long time in coming but for good reason.  Yesterday I was speaking at Forward Baptist Church in Scarborough for a Ladies Breakfast and I knew that some of these “What’s in your Closet” thoughts were going to end up in my message.  I will be posting parts of my message here over the next few weeks.  If you haven’t already read What’s in your Closet: Part One you should take a minute to start there.

Love: Bra, Underwear and a pair of  Spanx

Paul says that love is the most important piece of clothing we can wear.  That love itself binds everything else together in perfect harmony.  If that’s the case, then I’d like for us to consider love as the first clothes that we put on in the morning, the foundation of our outfit, our bra and underwear, perhaps a pair of spanx to smooth out some of our lumps and bumps.  These articles of clothing help make everything else fit well.

Think about it.  If the first clothes you put on in the morning are rooted in anger, rage, unforgiveness, hatred and selfishness then everything else, your behaviour, thoughts, actions and speech will all follow in that manner as well.

In the same way, when we first clothe ourselves in love, everything else fits better.  It’s hard to lash out in anger, to spread lies or speak unkind words when your foundation is love.  It’s hard to cheat on your spouse, have greedy thoughts or use filthy language when your foundation is love.  When your motives, behaviours, thoughts, speech and actions are rooted in love everything else falls nicely into place.  When we dress ourselves first with love it is easier to be kind, to show forgiveness, to have patience, to serve others, to be humble and to practice peace.  These characteristics become a natural extension of who we are.  In fact, I believe that even if wearing kindness, forgiveness, patience and humility are difficult or uncomfortable, if they are not a part of those characteristics and behaviours that come naturally to you, that if they are worn over the foundation of love, that over time, they will become easier to wear and will become our first natural response.

Let me give you two examples from my own life.  A few years ago Jeff and I had spent the day downtown in some pretty difficult meetings with the doctors at PMH talking about the upcoming realities of the treatment leading up to the bone marrow transplant.  It was determined that I would be starting chemotherapy in the next week in preparation for the transplant.  This reality weighed heavily on me.  We returned home from a long day and I was tired, both emotionally and physically.  While I was preparing dinner the doorbell rang and when I opened it there was a salesman offering us a new hot water tank.  I politely answered that this was not a good time and that no we weren’t interested.  The salesman persisted in his presentation, I listened and then referred back to Jeff to make sure that we didn’t need a new water tank and assured the salesman a second time that, no, we didn’t need a new water tank.  I began to close the door when he launched into his presentation a third time.  By that time I had had enough.  I had been polite.  I had been patient.  I had been kind, but I was going to lose it.  Without thinking much of the outcome I interrupted his presentation and I spoke these words, “to be honest, I’m more concerned about my upcoming chemotherapy treatments and bone marrow transplant than I am about a new hot water tank.”  The salesman was surprised to say the least, embarrassed, apologetic and walked away.

Now understand, in my head I had rehearsed this type of response many times, but I had always had the self control to keep those words leashed, knowing that they were unkind, ungracious and hurtful, never to be spoken out loud.  As I spoke those words that night, they were the taste of poison on my lips.  I have never forgotten the taste of those words.  I wonder though, if I had been wearing love that day, if love had been the most important part of my outfit, would it not have been easier to be self controlled, kind and patient, even in the face of his rude persistence.  Would there not have been a different outcome to that story? I’d like to think yes.

Another example:  Just over four years ago my mom died from a short, but terrible battle with cancer.  I remember one day a conversation that I had with my sister regarding our Dad.  She told me that she had decided that if Dad was to ever meet another woman that she was going to welcome that woman with open arms into our family.  I agreed with her and we decided that there would be no room for the drama that can accompany blending two families together.  I mean really, how would it be helpful in our relationship to our father, and what type of example would we be setting for our children if we were to say “if she’s going to be there, then we’re not coming…” I’ll never forget the day that Dad called to let me know that he had been spending a bit of time with a woman that he had met at his church.  You could tell from his voice that he was a bit nervous, understandably, about sharing this news and how my sister and I would react.  It was with joy that I was able to tell him about the decision that Pam and I had made, that we were happy for him and that we would do all that we could to welcome her into our lives, not as our mother, but as a friend.  I am happy to say that Dad and Maggie were married just over two years ago and that myself, my sister and our families are thrilled that she has joined our family.  This is an example of how choosing to wear love as a foundation has paved the way for great relationships.  I believe that things would be much different today if my sister and I had instead chosen to be angry, bitter or unloving.

***

Health Update:  The past few weeks have been pretty busy with appointments at PMH.  I have had a lingering chest infection and we are working hard together to get to the bottom of it.  I am thankful that my health team was able to see me on Friday and I was quickly scheduled for a CT scan of my lungs and a Pulmonary Functions Test (breathing test).  I was also given some medication to fight the lung infection and a bronchoscopy has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 19th.  The bronchoscopy will determine the type of infection and then lead to a better way to treat it.  Over the last few weeks I’ve been coughing a lot and very short of breath.  I am thankful (continually) for the care that I receive at PMH, for returned phone calls, for sending prescriptions to my local pharmacy and for how quickly they are able to care for my needs.

On a celebratory note: Tomorrow I celebrate 17 months post transplant.  I couldn’t be more thrilled. I am very thankful to have had a stranger donate his/her bone marrow for my transplant.  That being said, I am very aware that there are other patients who are in desperate need for a donor but that there is no match for them.  I meet these people all the time at the hospital. I am very aware that this could have been me… in need of a transplant, but no donor.  For many of these patients this means that they will continue to fight cancer but die because there is not a donor available for a transplant.  I know that I’ve asked before and I will ask it again today… Would you consider adding your name to the Bone Marrow Registry?  Doing this could save a life. Literally.

Thank you for considering this.

Heather