Dana’s Story

The following was written by my dear cousin and life-long friend Dana. She shared it yesterday on Facebook and I asked her if she wouldn’t mind me sharing it here at Clothed with Joy.¬†She agreed.

Dana embodies being clothed with joy more than anyone I have ever met.

When you read this brief summary of her story you will catch a glimpse of what I mean. I came into Dana’s life three years after she was born, but from my early teen years we were always together (except for the brief period of time when she stole the love of my life at my thirteenth birthday party – but whatever. I’m over it. ūüėČ ) ¬†I can tell you from the point of view of a first hand account that she has sugarcoated much of the agony (yes agony – I was there, I saw it on her face) she experienced during her first 21 years.

Here is her story:

This morning, as I was praying with my kids on the way to school, I was convicted by the shallowness of my own prayer even before the final “Amen.” Here’s a recap. Help my kids to be nice. Help them to pass their tests. Help my husband and kids to be healthy. Help us all to be happy. I used fancier words, but the message was clear. God, I want everything to be neat and tidy; no struggles, please. Seriously?

42 years ago, I was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that usually hits kids under the age of 5. Devastating news for my parents at the time? Absolutely. Over the next 17 years, my mom and I spent countless hours together in doctors offices and hospitals. The end result? A genuine, honest, real relationship between me and my mom right smack through my teenage years and into adulthood. What mom doesn’t want that?

At age 14, I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis and was the proud owner of big ugly back brace. Some of the perks? I got to shop in the boys department at JC Penneys and wear hideous baggy pants with elastic waists. Despite the brace, the curve continued to get worse and I had back surgery at Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia. The hospital was full of girls with scoliosis and boys with broken necks. It would make for a cool love story if that was where Dennis and I met, but it wasn’t. The whole experience did, however, give me a real life look into the lives of these other kids. They were kids just like me. Many of them confined to wheelchairs, but their hopes and dreams were often just the same as mine.

That big clunky back brace may have made guys run in the opposite direction, but it little by little prepared my heart to one day run into Dennis’ arms, paralyzed or not. The cancer may have taken away my ability to get pregnant, but it carved a space in my heart for adoption and two precious children the Lord knew would one day call me “Mom.” So here’s to the end of praying for a struggle-free life and a renewed desire to pray for the Lord to use whatever struggles He allows to touch our family, for our good and His glory!

I love you my beautiful friend. I'm so thankful for the example you are.

I love you my beautiful friend. I’m so thankful for the example you are.

I Made the Decision

“So here is my dilemma ‚Äď when you¬†love¬†a book and it has subsequently been movie-ized¬†(esp. when you are pretty sure it‚Äôs been made into a made for DVD/B movie) do you risk tainting the memory of your beloved character to watch it, or do you pretend the whole thing never happened and move on with your life?”

Several weeks ago I faced this dilemma. You can read about it here. Not a BIG dilemma, but in the reality of my every day life, this is about as big as it gets (thankfully.) I’m following up with this post because, I’m sure it’s not a shock to anyone, but I DID¬†ultimately borrow the movie from Netflix. It sat there in its red envelope for weeks and last night I finally decided I needed to either watch it, or send it back.

Saturday night TV is pretty meh, especially since When Calls the Heart isn’t on anymore, so I tore open the package and watched it.

Here’s what I thought for those who care to know.

1. It stayed very (I mean, VERY) close to the book. Good! smile

2. The film did not retain even a bit of the charm of the book. Bad. frown 

Not every great book makes a great movie. Obviously.

I am glad I watched it. The movie was entertaining nonetheless and it left me with a strong desire to re-read the book. Good! ok

Not Much is Gonna Happen if You Just Stay Home

I really just wanted to lie down on Saturday afternoon.

Yet, I had an open window from 2PM, when I dropped off two children at a birthday party, until 5PM when I needed to pick them up.

Drive into the City and meet Culture Monk/Kenneth Justice  who was visiting Philadelphia on his Drinking in the Culture Tour or not? That was the question.

It’s weird, isn’t it? To walk into a coffee house with a 10 and 5 year old at your side to meet a person that you only know through reading his blog? In fact,¬†I wasn’t even sure what he looked like, between the coffee cup and the¬†baseball cap all I could decipher from his profile picture were bright blue eyes. I should just stay home and rest, I thought, meeting this random person has got to be weird.

Thankfully, Weird and me are old buddies.¬†Weird said, if you don’t meet him while you have this chance, you’ll regret it. Weird was right. I would have.

I don’t know what was more intimidating, meeting a person I’ve never met or walking into a coffee house. For non-coffee drinkers like me,¬†I assume the coffee employees are going to spot me right away. “COFFEE HATER!” they’ll point and yell before sliding me out the door.

The good news is,¬†the place was Super busy and I apparently slipped in unnoticed by the Coffee Drinker United police.¬†My girls and I stood by the¬†entrance- not in line, but next to it and I said to C, “I think that might be him.” Deep breath. “Are you Kenneth Justice?” I managed to get out.

And he was.

Shake hands. Introduce myself. Bolt for the door. That was the plan.

But Kenneth immediately pulled up chairs and engaged us in conversation. Warmest person in the world.

In more crazy news, Kenneth chose to shared the story of our meeting on his blog The Culture Monk today. Find it here. It’s strange to be the one written about and not the one writing.

Kenneth¬†is a story-teller of other people’s stories. He’s a conversation initiator and obviously a lover of humanity.¬†What a great job you have Kenneth. You are blessed.

I’m so glad I didn’t stay home and nap.

Oh, and FYI – I know the answer to the question Kenneth posed in his article:

Whatever is attributed as good, or noble or admirable in me is always and ONLY the work of Christ in my life.



The sweet girls eating their promised frozen yogurt and watching a street juggler. Glad we didn’t stay home.