While I am glad to be home with my family, I also am thankful for my week staying at Hope Lodge. It has the kindest staff and there is something healing about being around people who are going through the same journey. One of the rules at the lodge is that food is not allowed in the guest rooms. While it seems inconvenient, it is a brainstorm. It requires you to get dressed everyday, which in itself makes you feel more human and physically better, and brings everyone to a common meeting place to the community kitchen and dining room. It is a gorgeous kitchen supplied with anything you would ever need Each guest has space allocated in the fridge and pantry for his / her own food. There is also a fridge and pantry where the community has donated food. Once a week a different organization provides a dinner. This past week a girl scout troop provided the meal. What a wonderful service project for our youth!
One evening at dinnertime, I realized I was the only one in the dining room who still possessed her own hair. I felt guilty as though I had not experienced as much of a trial as others and undeserving to even be there. Then it hit me – how can trials even be compared, why should they be compared, and who can truly know someone’s trial just by looking at them. I recognized this issue when listening to friends who shared discouraging events in their lives. They usually end by saying, “but it is really minor and doesn’t compare to what you are going through.” We all live in a fallen world and most of us will experience trouble, trials, difficulties sometime throughout our lifetimes and some of us may experience what feels like more than our share. However, it doesn’t devalue what each person is going through. We are all human and feel hurt, sorrow, and discouragement at the loss of a dream or ideal and we all need God’s peace and direction.
I was inspired by the attitude of a woman who has been living at Hope Lodge since October, the entire time I have been battling melanoma. She has only been home for one week due to her condition making it difficult to make the three and half hour trip. This weekend she is speaking at the Relay to Life rally and she is committed to letting people know how their donations have made her stay at the Hope Lodge possible.
Another eye-opening experience was movie night at the Lodge. I assumed it was a regular event and did not realize it was the very first week. The Hubbardston Fire Department donated $20,000 to the Hope Lodge, which paid not only for the movie equipment (so it may become a weekly event), but also for four rooms to become dedicated solely to blood marrow transplant patients. Currently, there are only three in all of Grand Rapids. All of this giving reminds me of all the good there is in this world.
I didn’t spend all of my time at the lodge. In fact, I realized that the more I was experiencing life, the less discomfort / pain I felt. Grand Rapids offers a lot of interesting people and places. I went to the Grand Rapids Art Museum where I found the security guard following the group of adolescents with autism much more interesting than the art . One young man obviously had been taught the protocol prior to visiting the art museum, as he loudly remarked “don’t touch it” upon viewing each piece.
The Downtown Market held many culinary delights and I was like a kid in a candy shop at the Fulton Farm Market with its beautiful array of fruits and vegetables. San Chez Restaurant was a new experience. I didn’t think it would be possible to get full eating off those tiny plates but it did work. Of course, we still seemed to find room to fit in some frozen yogurt from Sweet Yos. Below is a photo-op from San Chez. I thought it fitting that I was in the frying pan as I feel as though I am being “fried” lately!
My week ended by attending a presentation by “The Minimalists” who were speaking at Schuler Books. I didn’t really want to go as I figured they were extremists who lived in a hut with no running water / electricity living off the grid with minimal items used in a variety of ways. I am so glad my friend insisted as I enjoyed their talk. Their message really is to learn to live with less to make room in your life for more of whatever matters most to you. The best quote of the night: “Love people and use things because the opposite never works.”
My time of “frying” is near the end . THREE MORE THERAPY SESSIONS TO GO. Whoo hoo! Feel free to comment on how I should celebrate my last day. Please continue to pray for the healing of my skin. My radiation doctor continues to tell me how fortunate I am that this “skin reaction” is happening so late in treatment and that it is minimal compared to others. Um, okay, because it doesn’t feel minimal to me. I do wonder if doc’s genitals were burned, peeling, and with sores if he would still feel the same way. Keeping it real, Just Pamela.
Jer 30:17 “I will restore your health and heal your wounds.”