"Phil Valentine’s call to walk the Appalachian Trail is a vivid example of moving beyond recovery FROM life-threating illnesses as a means of recovering TO a life of extraordinary possibilities. Thousands of us who have shared the challenges and unexpected gifts from such recovery journeys will be walking in spirit with him.” ~Bill White
About 90 family members, friends and CCAR colleagues came over yesterday for a party to celebrate Phil’s 5 years of recovery from cancer, and to send him off with love and encouragement on his journey. The afternoon went by in a blur, and I had some amazing conversations, but wish there had been time for more. Love radiated from all the kind souls that crossed our threshold. I am very grateful.
We hung the “Valentine’s Battalion” banner over our garage. Originally created for a Relay for Life event while Phil was in the midst of chemo and radiation treatment, we hung it this weekend to show people where to find us. As I unfurled it, tears sprang in my eyes to think of how far we had come from those dark days. Days when Phil’s mouth was filled with sores, pain was uncontrollable, and ultimately a feeding tube had to be inserted. It was not the Hallmark movie channel version, where the patient shares final words of love “just in case”, and the caregiver willingly sacrifices their own needs for that of the patient. It was a season of discomfort for both of us, his being physical, mine more emotional.
Most days, I woke up each morning and went on a 3 mile hike – 1 mile to yell at God. I let Him know that I was not the right person for this job. I was not good enough to do this right. That there was no way that I could manage his care, keep the lives of my four kids at home uninterrupted, and work full time for the employer’s benefits which I needed more than ever now. The 2nd mile, I listened to God’s answer. “Why not you Sandy?” “You are the daughter of a King.” “You can do all things through Christ.” “I am mighty to save.” The 3rd mile, the peace that surpasses all understanding descended gently upon me, my breathing smoothed out, and I noticed around me the vivid color of the earth He created. Ok, I can do today. Thank you God.
Over the last few weeks, many who know me deeply, and many who know me only casually, have expressed that I am so strong. That letting Phil go for 6 months is inspirational. That our family is amazing. Those words are not comfortable. (Well, my momma’s heart does love the compliments for our kids!) They are not comfortable, because it is not me, it is not Phil, it is not our kids. It is God. All Him. If there is any goodness in what you see, you are seeing Him through us. The wonderful collision of our surrender to our Higher Power and the correlating obedience to His will for us. I wish I could say it happens all the time.
It doesn’t, but thankfully He looks for my progress, not perfection.
The peace that surpasses all understanding has covered me time and again since I gave my heart to Jesus. Two days away from Phil’s departure, it is fully in place. I’ve matured a little since 2010. I’m not yelling at God anymore. Instead, I am anticipating. “God, what are you planning to harvest with this?”, “I can’t wait to see what you are going to do.”
Watch with me.
Love and peace, Sandy
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:7.