Right Now

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Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:45

It was Monday morning. After a rush through the usual routine, my son and I made it out the door a few minutes behind schedule.  Of course, we hit the first red light.  As my son told me about the new game he and his friends made up at recess; I stroked his hair, rubbed his ear, and stared at his thick eyelashes.  His big brown eyes smiled with excitement as he explained the rules of this game that sounded like a cross between dodgeball and tag. I looked at his sweet face, noticed his high cheekbones, the freckles under his eye, his chapped lips, and the way his hair was sticking up on the back of his head. I drank in every drop of him, all those little things that made him so special and so unique.  I wanted to freeze that moment in time. I wanted to hug him and never let go.

I could have been annoyed with the red light, stressed that we might be late for school. I could have allowed my mind to wander to the never ending list of things I had to do that day.  I could have missed those few moments with my son…

But I didn’t.

I was thankful for them. I enjoyed my right now.

That previous Friday, I had a petscan to see if my cancer progressed. My veins were bad from previous chemotherapy and often, the IV insertion was the worst part of the scan.  I managed to swallow many emotions in the anticipation of that day but with each failed needle stick, those emotions bubbled up and spilled over.  Once the injection was successful, I sat alone in a recliner and prayed in a darkened room for the hour wait before the scan.  When it was time, I lay on a table, closed my eyes, and prayed until I made it through to the other side of that tube.  After it was over, I had breakfast with two dear friends who escorted me to the hospital, waited for me during the scan, and then made me laugh after it was over. Then, I came home and waited for my doctor to call with the results. He always called me later the same day.

I waited all day for the results that would bring sweet relief or utter devastation, but my doctor never called. I had to wait until Monday.  How was I going to wait until Monday?  How was I going to stay positive while I waited? I knew I had a choice – let my heart and mind fill with worry or enjoy the weekend. I didn’t want to waste my today worrying about tomorrow so I focused on what was in front of me.

I focused on right now.

That night, my kids and I went to dinner with friends and attended a school talent show.  I made the plans before my scan was scheduled and wasn’t about to cancel. We ate too much food, laughed as the kids quizzed each other on States and Capitals, and cheered as children performed on the stage that night. I gave up my worry to friendship and fun.  Admittedly, at times between the chips and salsa, Montana and Sacramento, and the singing and dancing; that anxiety started to return but I pushed it away.  I was having too much fun.

Thank you, Lord, for right now.

On Saturday, my daughter and I planned a fun afternoon of lunch and shopping while my husband and son had another engagement.  It was a gorgeous day with sunshine and warm temperatures in the middle of February.  The blue skies, fresh air, and rays of sunshine lifted my spirits. What a blessing! I sat across from my daughter at lunch as she went on and on about her friends and school. I looked at her brown eyes flecked with green and watched as she pushed her hair that fell in unruly strands behind her ears and often into her plate.  She coaxed ice cubes around her glass with her straw and unwanted tomatoes to the other side of her salad bowl with her fork.  There were times I looked into her 11-year-old face, imagined her at 22 years old, and wondered if I would still be here for her, still be able to sit across a lunch table from her.  It was then she looked at me with a confused face and asked me why I was crying.  I protested and told her I wasn’t but then a tear landed on my napkin below.  She laughed at me as I wiped my eyes, unaware of the falling tears.  Then, I laughed with her as I wiped them away.

Thank you, Lord, for right now.

On Saturday night, my husband and I ventured out to a casual restaurant for dessert.  We looked at the menu that was way too big and decided to order food instead.  Over my bowl of chicken noodle soup and his plate of potato skins, we discussed the kids, current events, and the upcoming youth baseball season.  As he talked, I looked into his grey-blue eyes, surrounded by just a few more lines than the day I met him; and remembered the first time I looked into them.  I listened to his voice, that same voice I listened to over the phone when we lived in different states. I remembered one night long ago closing my eyes and knowing I wanted to listen to that voice for the rest of my life.  As he went on about baseball and playoffs and sports in general, I thought about how he would take care of the kids without me, wondered if he would eat right and get enough sleep, and worried that he would be lonely.  My heart broke for a moment as I looked at those eyes that smiled back at me.  I caught myself and wiped a tear from my eye before it could be discovered.  I focused on that voice and listened to the sweet ramblings of softball rules and batting practice.

Thank you, Lord, for right now.

On Sunday, I went to church.  Just like every week, the worship team performed songs that touched my heart. As I listened, my mind wandered to the news that I would hear the next day. I struggled to focus on the words and the melody, to let my soul call out in praise.  I listened to my pastor deliver the message.  I took notes and followed the passages in my Bible.  When my fear rose inside, I listened more intently and scribbled my notes more fiercely. As I cast out the worry, that calm that only God could give filled my heart and settled my weary soul.  I breathed out the anxiety and breathed in His goodness.  The sound of the instruments, the vocalists, and the congregation filled the sanctuary with the symphony of praise and my heart with a lullaby of peace.

Thank you, Lord, for right now.

On Sunday evening, I was talking to my Mom in her bedroom.  She was wearing her glasses and going through some papers.  I looked at her eyes.  They were behind glasses now but those were the same eyes that watched me grow up.  Those eyes watched me sleep as an infant and watched me become a mother to her grandchildren. I looked at her hands.  Those were the same hands that fed me, tied my shoes, mended my clothes and my broken hearts; the same hands that crocheted the pink blanket that kept me warm at every chemotherapy session.  No matter if my Mom was near or far, I was always, always wrapped in the warmth of her love. My Mom was beautiful, inside and out and I was beyond blessed to have her.

Thank you, Lord, for right now.

On Monday morning, I cared for my beautiful infant niece. I looked into her big innocent eyes and felt my heart stir inside my chest.  When I held her, I breathed her in and held her close.  I thought about how very much I loved her and how very much I wanted to be here to watch her grow up, alongside my own children.  I wanted to see her grow from an infant to a preschooler, to a teenager and then to an adult.   Having learned from my own children, though, that children grow up so very fast; I also wanted her to stay little just like this for a very long time – but then, I wondered how much time God was going to allow me? Just as the wave of anxiety started to come over me again, I held my niece on my shoulder and felt her breath on my neck and my soul calmed like the gentle waves of the ocean.

Thank you, Lord, for right now.

It was mid-morning when my phone rang.  I ignored the lump in my throat and answered the phone. After a full weekend of waiting, my doctor finally called me with the results of my scan.  No progression.  My medications were working, the cancer was controlled, and I was considered “NEAD” (No Evidence of Active Disease).  Praise the Lord!  God is good.  As I held my niece, the tears (happy ones, grateful ones) poured from my eyes. What wonderful news.  What sweet relief.  What a glorious day!!

It wasn’t until later that my good news really settled in. I thought about my weekend of not knowing and was so very thankful that after all the waiting and the worrying, all was well.  I was able to take that deep breath I had been holding in all weekend. Just as God promised, if I trusted in Him, He would take care of me… and He did.

Every time my faith started to waver, I thanked God for the blessings before me. I thanked God for what was in front of me right now.  If I had allowed myself to be swallowed in fear and anxiety, think of all I might have missed …

My son’s belly laughs…

Sunshine pouring through the morning room window…

Sunday dinner baking in the oven …

Warmth of a cozy blanket…

Buttered popcorn during family movie night…

All those little things were right in front of me but I might have missed them. All those seemingly little things were actually big things and if I had been overcome with worry and anxiety; I might not have noticed them. How much might I have lost?

I thought back to all the times in my life that I allowed worry to rob me of joy; all the times I allowed anxiety to overshadow the happiness that was right there in front of me.

I had it all wrong.

When I was confronted with pending news or was waiting for a resolution to a problem over which I had no control; I could only wait. Whether I curled up and cried on the couch or went out on the town and celebrated life; the outcome of that situation would have been the same.

The only difference was what I chose to do with the time in between.

 I chose to enjoy it. I chose to be thankful for it.

Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.

Luke 17:33

I read that passage in my Bible over and over again but that weekend, I lived it. Maybe God made me wait so I could put into practice this lesson. I gave Him control over the outcome and I gained control over my time.  He was molding me, sharpening me, testing my faith. I was so very thankful that I passed that test.

That experience reaffirmed that I shouldn’t wait for troubled times to be thankful for all the blessings God placed in front of me. I should be thankful during any situation, at any moment …

even right now.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ. 

Philippians 4:6-7

Author: Jennifer Lilley Collins

I'm a Mom, wife, daughter, and friend navigating life with metastatic breast cancer while finding joy in the everyday and spreading hope, love, and inspiration along the way.

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