My Breast Cancer Journey

Four years ago this week my life changed when breast cancer became a part of my vocabulary. 

It had been a part of my extended family’s vocabulary for some time because my aunt, my mom, and my grandmother had all received breast cancer diagnoses before I did. We don’t have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene but as my genetics counselor said, “You don’t have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer gene, but there’s no doubt in my mind that your family has a breast cancer gene…it just hasn’t been discovered yet.” This is such a reminder of the need for continued breast cancer research.

Because my diagnosis came before I was 50, the implications for my daughters and granddaughters are tangible.  Our family has to be vigilant about screening, eating well, exercising, and doing self-checks.

When I finished my treatment my oncologist told me I had three jobs:
1) Eat healthy.
2) Exercise daily.
3) Keep my weight and BMI in a healthy range.

My marching orders were clear and I do my best to stay on track. Our family has reduced portions, increased vegetables, learned to read labels (Do you know that most brands of canned tomatoes have sugar in them? Find options without added sugar!), removed refined sugar from our diet, changed from plastic to glass food storage containers, changed cleaning products to stay away from environmental toxins (my new favorite way to wash clothes is Crystal Wash. We’ve been using it for six months and love it!)

My breast cancer was found on a routine mammogram. I can’t impress it upon you enough to make sure that you get regular mammograms. (If you’re concerned about the radiation exposure from mammography, you need to know that, according to my breast surgeon, the radiation level in mammography is similar to the radiation exposure you experience flying in an airplane.)

My cancer was stage 1, triple-negative cancer. I felt no lump. My doctors couldn’t find a lump. But the mammogram detected a tumor and the follow up needle biopsy confirmed it was cancer.

Breast cancer is categorized by what fuels the cancer. It’s either HER2 positive, Estrogen positive, Progesterone positive or Triple-Negative. For instance, if it’s estrogen positive the cancer is being fueled by estrogen in the body. In my type of cancer–triple negative–it’s negative for HER2, negative for estrogen, and negative for progesterone. What that means is they actually don’t know what DOES fuel triple-negative breast cancer. Because of that, they throw everything they have at it–surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  It was a long six months of treatment for me, but I also have no follow up medication I have to take to reduce hormone levels in my body.

I still see my breast surgeon and oncologist every three months. They don’t consider you cancer-free until you’re 5 years out from treatment. I have one more year to go!

I blogged quite a bit through my journey. I now have all of those posts gathered into one place that can be accessed easily through this graphic on my Home Page:

If you or someone you love receives a cancer diagnosis, click on the graphic to find practical information and spiritual encouragement in the difficult journey of cancer. I even have a video of one of my radiation treatments so those going through it can know what to expect.

October was breast cancer month, but November is MY breast cancer month. It’s my opportunity to share my journey AND remind women to be vigilant about their healthcare and the screenings that are an important part of taking care of ourselves.

Taking care of yourself IS taking care of your family. If you need to get your pap smear, mammogram, or colonoscopy on the calendar, make the call as soon as you are finished reading this.

Early detection saves lives.  My story is a reminder of that!

 

 

 

I’m No Longer A Slave To My Schedule

And you can be free, too!

Today’s guest post is brought to us by Jerusha Clark. Jerusha is an author, speaker, wife, and mom.  Her newest book Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You (Baker, 2017) is a book that reminds us that God never meant for us to focus on whether we are “enough” or whether we measure up. He made us–every piece of us–to be just as He is.  She calls us to an identity fixed on Christ alone while leaving behind fear, bitterness, busyness, and toxic thoughts that steal our joy and limit our power.

I’m giving away one copy of her book today. To enter to win, leave a comment sharing one takeaway that you needed to read from today’s post.

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It would be hard to pinpoint exactly when it happened.  Maybe when my kids started school and an invisible hand seemed to press the fast forward button on my life.  But that was over a decade ago.  My kids are teens now.  Shouldn’t I have figured out how to answer the question, “How are you?” with something other than “Crazy!” “Busy!” or “You know…just tryin’ to keep up?!”

At some juncture, most of my mommy friends went from answering cordial, “How’s it going” queries with a polite form of “I’m fine, thank you,” to using the opportunity to bemoan how busy our lives had gotten.  No matter where I was—at the pick up line at school, waiting for gymnastics practice to end, checking out at Target—I couldn’t get away from one thing: the ever present, ever pressing weight of my own schedule.  Can I get an amen from any other mamas out there?!

For a while, I honestly believed it when I told friends and family, “Things will quiet down after ________” (insert here any number of possibilities, including “the holidays are over,” “competition season ends,” “I finish this book,” etc.)  But nothing ever changed.  And it finally occurred to me:  I’m supposedly the master of my own schedule, but I’m actually a slave.

This did not sit well with me.  And if you’re even the teensiest bit like me, it shouldn’t sit well with you, either.

Enter one amazing friend and one life-changing conversation. 

Michelle told me about a book she was reading.  At first I listened with mild interest.  A book on rest.  How nice.  Then the spinning world of my own scheduling came to a screeching halt with these words:  “Jerusha, I had the biggest ‘aha’ when I read this: ‘Slaves don’t rest. Slaves can’t rest. Slaves, by definition, have no freedom to rest. Rest, it turns out, is a condition of liberty.”

Uhhh…

Rest is a condition of liberty.  Rest and freedom are inseparable.  If you can’t rest, you’re a slave to something.  Christ died so that you and I don’t have to keep going, going, going until we keel over.  And long before that, our loving Heavenly Father perfectly modeled the balance of fulfilling work and embracing rest when he made the world and took a Sabbath to enjoy it: For in six days, the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in it, but He rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and He made it holy (Exodus 20:11).

 Bottom line, I had scheduled myself out of rest.  Sure, I knew how to binge watch Netflix to “detox” from a tough week.  But I never really felt rested after that.  Okay, so I knew how to plan an amazing getaway or vacation.  But I often returned home in need of a vacation from all the craziness of adventuring.  Essentially, even though I knew how to be entertained, I didn’t know how to rest.  Maybe, like me, you’re better at being entertained or zoning out than actually resting.

But that all changed for me after that conversation with Michelle.  I began studying the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus.  As a good Christian girl, these claims—e.g. “I am the Light of the World,” “I am the bread of Life,” “I am the Good Shepherd,”—were tucked away in my spiritual subconscious, but I’ll be honest: they weren’t really manifest in my daily life.  Looking intently at Jesus as the Good Shepherd helped me to break free of slavery to my schedule.  The girl who couldn’t stop began practicing Sabbath.

I know, I know.  That sounds so Old Testament.  But, sweet friend, I wish you could have journeyed with me as I learned to rest without simply looking to “escape,” as I discovered the joy of tech-free and noise-free moments, as I unwound the tension of my overscheduled mind and heart and found freedom to savor the world God created: good food made and eaten slowly, leisurely love-making, long, unhurried walks that weren’t about getting my sweat on, but just about enjoying.  Um, why had I waited so long to embrace this?

Because I didn’t believe that I could get everything done in six days.  Deep down, I worried that something would fall apart if I didn’t keep juggling seven days a week.  I fretted about saying no to people—including my kids—who didn’t really understand why mom I started saying strange and mysterious things like, “No, I’m not going to drive you to the mall today; that’s the opposite of rest for me.”  I even worried that I’d miss out on something really good because I was “resting” (which, back then, kinda sounded like a punishment).

Perhaps, in reading that last paragraph, you caught on quicker than I did; maybe you realized it was fear that kept me a slave to my schedule.  Fear of not getting enough done.  Fear of disappointing people.  Fear of missing out.  Fear, even, that rest (and especially Sabbath rest) would be boring.

But I don’t want to be a slave to my schedule.  And I most certainly don’t want to be a slave to fear.  So I started small, trying to take a couple hours to rest.

And it was challenging.  I felt so restless trying to rest.  I didn’t like saying no to things.   I’m one of those “activity makes me happy” kind of girls.  Slow is not my style.  But, interestingly enough, I learned rest didn’t have to be slow.  It was so full.  So freeing.  I felt expanded, not held back.

I’ve discovered that living beyond my limits leads to perpetual exhaustion, not a better life.  Living with limits—the limits of rest that I chose (and keep choosing!) to embrace leads to what Jesus described in various renderings of John 10:10 as “abundant life,” a “rich and satisfying life,” “more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

More and better life than you’ve ever dreamed of.  If you’re ready, join me in embracing rest.  Don’t be afraid.  If God can literally create the entire world in six days, don’t you think he can manage your stuff in six days?    

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Jill’s note:

This has been a place God has really been growing me. If you follow me on social media like Instagram or Facebook, you’ve seen more sunsets, pics on the beach, and time with friends and family. That’s because I’m intentionally balancing out my work with rest. I’m slowing down and savoring, refusing to be a slave to my “to do” list.

You can find practical ways to start embracing rest in “The Unforced Rhythms of Grace,” Chapter Seven of Jerusha’s new book, Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You (Baker, 2017).

For a chance to win a copy of Every Piece of Me, leave a comment sharing one takeaway that you needed to read from today’s post.

Why Every Mother of the Bride Needs a P.A.

Better Together

One of the ways we took care of our speakers at our Hearts at Home conferences was to provide them with their own PA—Personal Assistant.  This person helped them get to where they needed to be, always made sure they got their meals, kept them hydrated with water, ran back to the hotel room to grab a powerpoint remote left in a suitcase, and anything else the speaker needed. This freed up the speaker to be fully able to love on the moms they came to encourage.

My friend Bonnie has been my PA at Hearts at Home many times over the years. Even though we no longer live in the same city, sometimes she’d travel to help manage my book table and sometimes she was my personal assistant, making sure I got where I needed to go and had what I needed to have.

This past Sunday Bonnie’s daughter, Bekah, was married. Mark officiated the beautiful ceremony in Lake Mary, Florida and I got to be Bonnie’s P.A.!

As I served Bonnie on Sunday—helping with her hair and makeup, safety pinning her dress so undergarments didn’t show, helping decorate the facility, snapping pictures throughout the day so she’d have some on her phone, and helping to clean up and load the cars—I got to thinking about how important it is for the Mother of the Groom or the Mother of the Bride to have a personal assistant.

There are so many details when it comes to weddings and without someone to help, you can miss out on ENJOYING such a special day!

Your kids may be years from getting married. If so, just tuck this little piece of wisdom away for when you need it someday. Or maybe you’re like me and you have a wedding right around the corner! Just like the Bride has a Maid or Matron of Honor, you need the same. Who could you ask to be your helper for the day?

Bonnie and I have been “momming together” for 30 years! This past weekend was no different. We “mommed together” on Sunday as her youngest stepped into married life.

What a tangible reminder that we’re better together for sure!

Better Together For Over 35 Years

Last week was a first for me. At age 53, this was my first-ever, week-long girlfriend trip.

If you’ve read my Better Together book you know that finding my mom tribe has not been easy for me. Growing up I had far more guy friends than girlfriends. I just found guy friendships to be a bit less….complicated, you might say.

My sophomore year of high school I decided to try out for the school musical, Fiddler on the Roof. I ended up getting the role of Hodel…one of the daughters. That was when I met Jody, Lora, and Julie. Jody and Lora were my “sisters” in the musical, Chava and Tzeitel. Julie played our “mother,” Golde. Those three girls were seniors…two years older than me, but we became fast friends. When they graduated several months later, I was left behind to navigate two more years of school without my newfound friends.

circa 1979 L-R: Jill, Julie, Jody

We stayed in touch over the years, Jody serving as the maid of honor in all of our weddings! To celebrate their 55th birthdays we started planning a girls trip last year (this is where being two years younger is a benefit–my 55th birthday is still two years away!). We set our sights on a week on Okaloosa Island (near Ft. Walton Beach, FL) in my parent’s beautiful condo that they rent out.

Two weeks ago, we drove down to Florida…a 14-hour one-day drive. We discovered, by the way, that when you’re traveling with four mid-life mamas, a longer rest area stop may result in at least one of you needing to go to the bathroom once again (like 10 minutes later!) before piling back in the car!

With my introvert personality, I was a little worried about being in a group setting all week, but we talked about those kinds of needs right up front so nobody would misread any of our needs for space.

We laughed, talked, cried, and caught up with each other’s lives.  Relaxed conversations with no time limitations were plentiful, opening the door for a depth of conversation you just can’t have when you meet occasionally for coffee.

Personally, the theme for the week was rest and I read three books along that theme. Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton, An Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling, and Come Closer by Jane Rubietta.  The Ruth Haley Barton book is one I’ve read several times. It always reminds me to stop doing for God and focus on being with God. Such a good reminder for my high-capacity-achievement-oriented personality!

This was a first read of An Unhurried Life and wow, I love this book! Such a powerful reminder of the need to put “hurry” to rest for good.  Jane Rubietta’s books are always favorites of mine! She takes you by the hand to sit at Jesus’ feet.

I’m a huge advocate for getaways. I believe it’s valuable to do a personal getaway every once in a while. (My friend Julie told her husband she wanted 24 hours alone in a hotel for her birthday–Go Julie!) I think it’s incredibly valuable to do marriage getaways. But my recent week in Florida really helped me to see the value of getting away with girlfriends in some way. Maybe it’s attending a conference together (ask a friend to join you at one of the upcoming events I’m speaking at in Springfield, IL, Atlanta, GA, or Chicago, IL!). Maybe it’s just hosting an overnight with a girlfriend while your hubby is out of town. Maybe it’s a long-planned girlfriend week away.

Taking care of yourself is never convenient. It takes effort, sacrifice, and planning to make it happen, but it’s definitely worth it!

 

 

Lessons from a Day of Travel

This guy.

Last night he was a champ. When my flight was delayed leaving Florida and I texted him that I worried about making my connecting flight in Atlanta, he immediately pointed me to Christ with a simple text that said, “God’s got this. I am praying.”  I needed that reminder in that stressful moment!

Then when I got to Atlanta and found I did indeed miss my flight, he stuck by me. Delta gave me a hotel voucher and I asked about getting my checked luggage. They said I could request it and get it in 35-40 minutes. It was already 10:30 pm but I decided to go ahead and request it. It actually took a little over an hour to get it but I was never alone in the waiting. Mark stayed connected the whole time.

When I got my luggage and went out to catch the hotel shuttle, I watched it drive off before I could get there. When I went to the pick up area, I learned that after 11pm, the shuttles no longer came every 15 minutes but now every 30 minutes!  A kind driver from another hotel asked me who I was waiting for. I told him and he confirmed it would be another 30 minutes. He said, “I can drop you in the gas station right by the Crowne Plaza Hotel if you want to hop on my shuttle because I’m driving right by there.” He explained that they would frown on a Candlewood Suites shuttle pulling into the Crown Plaza Hotel, but dropping me off right next door would work and it was just a walk across the parking lot to the hotel. I was so grateful for his kindness and I could tell Mark was praying!

Sure enough, he dropped me off right next to the hotel and I just had to walk across the parking lot, arriving 30 minutes earlier than I would have if I’d had to wait for the other shuttle to pick me up and drop me off. Considering it was nearly midnight, I was grateful for this man’s generosity to add me to his shuttle when he had no other reason to do so but just caring for another person.

Just knowing I wasn’t navigating all of this alone really made a difference for me! Mark is usually asleep by 10pm so I knew this was a sacrifice for him staying up with me, supporting me with his “presence,” encouragement, and prayers.

When I arrived home today, he met me with flowers….my favorite, roses! I nearly cried!

This whole situation was a reminder to me of several things:

  1. Sometimes we can’t be physically present with a loved one, but our “virtual” presence can still be powerful. Just knowing someone is praying and staying engaged through a challenging situation can make a huge difference. I certainly felt that with Mark last night!
  2. Prayer is a powerful tool. I truly believe that kind shuttle driver was moved to generosity by the power of prayer.
  3. Flexibility is an important trait in this journey of life. All around me folks were getting so angry at the situation. However, we were delayed because of a tire with a cut in it! I certainly don’t want to land in a plane with a bum tire!  While I was disappointed in my delay arriving home, I found it much less stressful to be flexible than angry.
  4. Kindness can be key to getting good customer service. When I interacted with the gate agent today in a very kind manner she told me to call and ask Delta for a travel voucher for the inconvenience. I honestly would have never thought to do that since they put me up for the night in a hotel and rebooked me on the next flight out. Today when I kindly called the airline to ask about a travel voucher or they’re willingness to replace the award miles I had been traveling on, they very generously offered to put 9500 miles back on my account. I was very pleased with that!
  5. We need to keep an eye open for ways to serve. As we share in Better Together, “God will use you to help, encourage, and care for others if you’ll keep your eyes open to see the need and your heart available to meet the need.” I believe that shuttle driver did just that!

What about you? What “life lessons” have you experienced in a challenging situation?

YOU Make a Difference!

This summer has been a summer of grief for me with the Hearts at Home organization bringing their season of ministry to a close. I never thought that would happen.

A few weeks ago I heard the news that Women of Faith had cancelled all of their Fall conferences in order to regroup. It honestly didn’t surprise me at all. In the 24 years that Hearts at Home existed, we watched event attendance and registration responses change greatly over the years.

Many have asked what could have been done to change things. It’s not easy being an event planner these days…in fact it’s downright scary at times.

Because I’ve been asked several times this summer, here are a few ways you can support the organizations and events you value:

With your EARLY registration. When Hearts at Home started 24 years ago, we filled up fast. Today’s audiences tend to wait to see if some better opportunity might come along. They resist commitment and tend to register late. They’d rather pay the $20-$30 higher late registration fee and keep their options open than to save $20-$30 with the early registration fee and commit themselves.  This alone gives event planners major stress.  Often thousands of dollars have been committed for speaker fees, event liability insurance, facility rental, minimum food requirements, and hotel blocks. When registration lags, it causes great stress for everyone on the event-planning side of things. Your early registration not only prioritizes self-care or marriage-care, it also helps event planners rest well and know that the financial obligations they’ve committed to will be covered.

With your ATTENDANCE.  It’s tough to make a decision to attend an event, but your attendance is a vote of confidence in the value of learning, growing, and stepping away from the everyday to find refreshment for yourself or for your marriage. Conflicts will always arise and you will likely miss out on something when you decide to commit to a valuable growth opportunity. Ask yourself, “Is this conflicting event repeatable?” If the answer is yes, then it’s okay to miss it on the rare occasion. One of ten soccer games might be an example. However, if it’s not repeatable, like your son receiving an award at an awards ceremony, then you’ll likely want to attend the “not repeatable” event.  We also often tell ourselves, “I’ll attend that event next year.” There’s no assurance, however, the event will be available next year…especially if the organizers run into the challenges mentioned above in #1.

With your FINANCIAL SUPPORT. Many organizations that plan events are non-profit ministries. These organizations depend on the financial support of those who value the ministry. Sure, you pay to attend the event, but often that only covers a portion of what it takes to run the organization year-round. If you love what an organization brings to your life, support them financially to help them keep the encouragement coming your way. Don’t tell yourself others who have more resources will do that. Even small monthly amounts can make a huge difference when they’re paired with other small monthly amounts from other ministry partners.

With your PRAYERS. Folks in the public eye and event planners with vision endure a lot of criticism and often take some pretty big financial risks. Support your favorite organizations, authors, and speakers with your prayers. When we’re stepping out in faith, it makes a difference knowing that people are praying!

With your ENCOURAGING WORDS. There’s nothing better than knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. If a book, an event, or a speaker’s message made a difference in your life, let them know!  Hearing the God stories is the fuel that keeps their servant heart full!

When Mark and were deciding whether to bring a No More Perfect Marriages Couples Retreat to Rochester, Minnesota the November 10-11 weekend that Hearts at Home was supposed to be there, we  prayed long and hard.  Knowing everything we know about folks not committing these days and last minute registrations balanced against all of the financial obligations. It left us in a scary place that would require a step of faith. Ultimately we decided to take that step of faith. Now we’re in waiting land…will we get enough support to not go in the hole financially? Ultimately, however, we are trusting God’s provision and leading because are passionate about our message and solid in our mission to help marriages go the distance.

What plans do you have over the next two to six months to take care of yourself or to take care of your marriage? Isn’t it time to prioritize refreshment and recharge that will help you BE, not just DO?  Here are some events I’ll be at where I’d LOVE for you to join me!

October 21–Springfield, IL–The Leader Within You–Register Today!

October 27-28–Alpharetta, GA–Birds on a Wire SOAR Mom Event–Register Today!

November 3-4–Elmhurst, IL–Moms In Prayer UNSHAKEN Event–Register Today!

November 10-11–Rochester, MN–No More Perfect Marriages Couples Retreat– Register Today!

February 9-10–Springfield, IL–No More Perfect Marriages Valentine’s Retreat–Register Today!

If you’re planning on being at any of these events, let me know! I’d love to see you! 

A Mom Study You Can Do In Your Jammies!

Being a mom is hard, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.

Need to find your mom tribe?

Looking for inspiration in building your mom community?

Want to sharpen your relationship skills in order to take care of the friendships you have?

I’ve got an opportunity for you!

It’s the Better Together book study!

Better Together shows you how you can:

COMBAT ISOLATION and enjoy a supportive mothering community

INCREASE YOUR SOCIAL CONFIDENCE and stop the comparison game

DEEPEN YOUR FRIENDSHIPS as you share life with others

STRENGTHEN TRUST and build friendships without fear

INCREASE YOUR JOY and thrive as a mom

All of these are possible! Hop over and join the group, pick up a copy of the book, read one chapter a week, and participate in the Facebook group discussions whenever it works best for you!

I hope you’ll join the fun!

What Weeding Taught Me About Taking Care of My Health

Most mornings I spend an hour or so weeding before I take my shower and get ready for my day. I love being out in the quiet of the morning. It’s my time with God, time to think, and my opportunity to get my hands dirty. God teaches me so many lessons while weeding. Last week I shared a principle God taught me about parenting while I was weeding. Today I want to share with you a principle God reminded me of about taking care of my health.

After helping both our parents with some landscaping, Mark and I made off like bandits with a ton of new hostas! We have several areas in our yard where grass doesn’t grow well due to the shade, so we decided those areas would be just perfect for the hostas.  We planted them and then mulched around the plants. Once every week or two I go out to keep the hosta gardens cleaned up and weed free.

Dandelions are one of the worst weeds to deal with. You can’t just “pull” them. Instead you have to dig deep to make sure you get the entire root. And those puppies are looooooooooooong!

However, when I stay on top of the weeding and I catch the dandelions when they’re small, I don’t have to dig at all. Most of the time I can just grab hold of the plant right where it enters the ground and pull. The root isn’t very long when the plant is small and hasn’t yet flowered.

In October 2013, after my annual pap smear and breast exam appointment, my doctor scheduled my annual mammogram. Because my aunt, mother, and grandmother had all had breast cancer, I’d been getting an annual mammogram since the age of 40. My doctor found nothing to be concerned about in her breast exam. I’d found nothing on my regular self-exam either. But we always followed my annual “female” appointment with a scheduled mammogram.

This time, however, the mammogram showed something of concern so a biopsy was ordered. And the biopsy came back with a cancer diagnosis.

Nothing could have prepared my heart for that day.

Cancer.

The following days and weeks were a blur as I discovered more about breast cancer than I ever wanted to know. Mark and I learned about the treatment options and decisions were made.

One of the most important things I learned, however, is HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO CATCH CANCER EARLY.

Just like extracting those dandelions out of the ground when they’re small, if you catch cancer early you have a much better chance of extracting it out of your body. We caught my cancer so early that I most likely would have only needed surgery and possibly radiation. However, my type of breast cancer–triple negative–also required chemotherapy regardless of when the cancer is caught.

Still, my chance of recurrence is quite low because we caught it early, treated it aggressively, and I made many lifestyle changes concerning food choices, weight control, and exercise.

You and I need to take a lesson on self-care from nature and be intentional about catching things early. Been waiting to schedule that colonoscopy? Don’t wait…do it today. What about a mammogram or your annual pap smear?  Pick up the phone now and make the appointment. What about taking care of your teeth? Been to the dentist in the last six months? Get an appointment on the calendar! Need to lose some weight? Today’s a perfect day to get serious about that.

It doesn’t have to be cancer we’re preventing with early care. Last year I was dealing with knee and shoulder pain. My knee had been bothering me for some time but I just pushed through it. I’d also had a pain in my shoulder and it was becoming harder and harder to do push ups in the kickboxing class Mark and I took together. I chalked it up to my 52-year-old body that was simply revolting against all I was asking it to do. I didn’t have either one checked out but just kept pushing forward until one day when my shoulder wouldn’t hold any of my weight and it hurt to raise it above my head.

A trip to the doc and a couple of MRI’s later, I found out I had a torn meniscus in my knee and a full rotator cuff tear in my shoulder. Oh joy. Had I listened to my body when it first started talking to me I might have saved myself shoulder surgery in particular. I could have possibly strengthened my shoulder when it was a small tear and prevented it from fully tearing.

So last week when I was weeding, God used those little, easy-to-pull-out baby dandelions as a reminder of why it’s important to do both preventative healthcare AND to pay attention when my body is telling me something is wrong.

What about you? What do you need to pay attention to? Do you have a genetic history you need to take seriously? What regular preventative healthcare do you need to put on your calendar?