Blessings 

When news of my big c diagnosis spread last spring, I received a lot of cards, letters, and e-mails.  Almost everyone wrote “our thoughts and prayers are with you.”  Many would conclude by saying “God Bless you.”

I have written those same words many times myself when sending a note or e-mail to someone who has suffered a setback or experienced a death in their family.

I certainly appreciate all of the notes and even more the faithful prayers by so many.  But today I’d like to talk about something that I think is even more important than thoughts, prayers, or asking for God’s blessings…and that is actually going out and “blessing” someone yourself.

You see, it’s really pretty easy to say a quick prayer on behalf of someone else or to ask God to bless someone.  But I think it is much more beneficial…and pleasing in God’s eyes…when you take time out of your life to be a blessing to another person.  That’s because blessings involve action on your part…they take time, sometimes money, and often sacrifice.

After my diagnosis, Marilyn Byrne, a big c survivor sent me the book “My Grandfather’s Blessings” written by Dr. Rachel Remen.  As part of her practice, Dr. Remen counsels patients with terminal and chronic illnesses.  Since she was 16 years old, Dr. Remen has also suffered from Chrohn’s disease, a chronic illness for which there is no cure.

Dr. Remen’s grandfather was a rabbi and in her book she talks about what she learned from him about blessings and she tells many stories of how terminally ill patients have actually blessed her life.

I learned a lot from Dr. Remen’s book and here are some of the things I liked best about what she said about being a blessing to others:

“We bless the life around us far more than we realize.  Many simple, ordinary things that we do can affect those around us in profound ways: the unexpected phone call, the brief touch, the willingness to listen generously, the warm smile or wink of recognition.  We can even bless total strangers and be blessed by them.”

“A woman once told me that she did not feel the need to reach out to those around her because she prayed every day.  Surely, this was enough.  But a prayer is about our relationship to God; a blessing is about our relationship to the spark of God in one another.  God may not need our attention as badly as the person next to us on the bus or behind us on line in the supermarket.”

“The power to repair the world is already in you.  When someone blesses you, it reminds you a little-untying the knots of belief and fear and self-doubt that have separated you from your own goodness.  Freeing you to bless and receive blessings from everything around you.”  My Grandfathers Blessings by Rachel Remen

I believe there are a couple of simple truths when it comes to blessings.  First, if you are unwilling to bless others then you will become incapable of truly receiving blessings…or at least recognizing the goodness in others.  Secondly, when you do go out of your way to be a blessing to others, you will receive a blessing in return that will bring joy and purpose to your life.

Over the last four months, I have been the beneficiary of more blessings than I can count.  So many people have gone out of their way to do nice things…to let me know that they care and are supporting myself, Maria, and Zach.  I hope everyone knows how thankful we are to have friends and family who are willing to give of themselves for our sake.

There is one little “blessing” story that I’d like to share with you. When I arrived at Texas A&M, Tracy Treps was in charge of the ticket office but a year or so later, her husband’s job promotion moved the family to Oklahoma.  A couple of years ago, Steve was hired as the head football coach at the new high school in College Station and the family moved back to Aggieland.  Tracy re-joined the ticket office as an assistant and I was thrilled to have someone with her experience and talent back on our team.  A month ago, I received a beautiful hand written note from Tracy and here is a portion of what she wrote.

“When I came back to College Station /12th Man Foundation 2½ years ago, I was a little insecure-not usually a trait of mine-about the reaction to my coming back.  But Jeff-when you saw me for that first time (after I had been gone 6½ years) your face lit up-you hugged me and you told me how happy you were to have me back-and I felt like you meant it!!  I cannot tell you what an impact that had on me that day and how just that one minute made me feel.  Later that day I told my husband that you made me feel so welcome and after that I knew I’d be okay.  I know this may not sound like a big deal to you but it was a very big deal for me.  Thank you!”

Blessings…what goes around comes around!

Reach out and touch someone…and in return…you will be touched as well.  Zach calls it “paying it forward”.

ali_quotepay-it-forward


Medical/Personal Update:

Talk about blessings, I have definitely been on the receiving end when it comes to what is happening in my body!  Every two weeks, I get a new blood tumor marker number which is a primary indicator of how well the chemotherapy is working.  The lower the number, the better…and anything below 40 is considered “normal.”

Jeff’s tumor marker numbers:

March 31st           564

April 16th            1,382  (the start of chemotherapy)

May 1st               1,772

May 15th             1,195

May 29th              913

June 12th              504

June 26th              274

July 11th                188

July 24th                89

August 11th            62

August 25th           35

There are a lot of adjectives I could use to describe this.  Unbelievable, Incredible, Improbable…and especially Miraculous!

As I said back in topic two (Nicknames and Tattoos), my heart is filled with Happiness & Humility.

In the circle of life, however, there is also sadness.  Last week, the Texas A&M Athletics family lost a special person when Homer Jacobs died suddenly at the age of 49.  Homer was a great guy and will be missed by many.  He was very good at blessing others.

Life is precious…never take it for granted.


Next Stop: A Chemotherapy treatment