In the Sharing, I Find Healing

LifeConfetti is not just a hobby.
It is a way to share my heart.
And in sharing, I find healing.

I love the fall season!

I had a great time putting together October and November’s LifeConfetti bags; and I embraced fall themes for the contents of the bags as well as in the presentation. You know the LifeConfetti bags have to be pretty, right?

Seriously, a lot of love goes into these bags every month.

In October, the bags contained apples and caramel dip, some cookies, a journal and pen.

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Of course, every bag includes an encouraging handwritten card and a copy of a recent LifeConfetti blog post.

My Mom, Florence Lilley, donated the items for the bags in October. She was always a huge supporter of LifeConfetti ( because she was awesome, and the best Mom in the whole world!).

In November, I continued with the same colors and fall themes.  Inside the bags, were blessing jars, donated once again by wonderful Mom. There were pads and pens included so that blessings could be written down, placed in the jars, and reflected upon at a later time. These jars reminded patients to count their blessings,  even in the difficult times.

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Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances. For this is God’s Will for you in Christ Jesus. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Kristi Bradley, owner of Chocolate Apple Orchard  generously donated her beautiful and delicious chocolate covered pretzel sticks included in November’s gift bags. (Please check out her website and facebook page. She makes the best chocolate covered apples, pretzels, and more.  Her products are amazing and so is her servant heart.)

 

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These last couple months were a struggle for me.  I felt the growing effects of my treatment, I was dealing with more pain, and I was increasingly exhausted. I watched my fellow MBC patients receive bad news about their scans, begin harsher treatment plans, enter hospice, and pass away.  I was becoming overwhelmed. I constantly navigated a path of gratitude for my stable disease, and grief for those not so fortunate; joy about my blessed life, and guilt about being okay when so many are not. This fall, my kids both started new schools and had to adjust to new routines and situations.  Thankfully, they were settling in and doing well; but it was as hard on me as it was on them.  Fall activities were on overload this year, as my daughter made the volleyball team and my son worked through extra classes preparing for a pre-black belt test in karate. Our schedules were hurried. Time to reflect and unwind was scarce. I had more emotional breakdowns than I would like to admit.

When things were a little crazy, and I was feeling a little lost, I found the best remedy was to help others.  Choosing items, assembling the bags, and distributing them to the cancer center allowed me to focus on something other than my own issues.  Turning my energy away from my exhaustion, discomfort, and emotional ups and downs, and then using that energy to lift the spirits of others always made me feel better.

I knew what it was like to sit in that recliner hooked up to a machine for hours. I knew what it was like to lose my hair and not recognize myself in the mirror.  I knew what it was like to feel removed from the life I once knew, for relationships and routines to change. I knew what is was like to not be able to do what I used to do and be unsure if I would ever find ‘normal’ again. I knew what it was like to be scared, more scared than ever before.

The contents of these bags aren’t expensive or luxurious. The contents of these bags are often ordinary things.

The contents weren’t the point.

I knew what it felt like to walk out of the cancer center after treatment feeling lost, scared, and alone — even though I had my loving husband with me at every appointment and every chemo treatment. I still felt alone. Many patients come to their appointments and to their chemo treatments alone. Many patients go home to an empty house. I knew this because I spent hours in the chemo lab, and hours in the waiting room since; talking to patients dealing with one of the most difficult struggles of their lives, without a strong support system, and often alone.

I thought about the patients who received the LifeConfetti bags.  Fighting exhaustion after the nurse removed the IV or the needle from their ports, they gathered their belongings, including the LifeConfetti bag that was handed to them by a nurse. My wish was when they opened those bags, they felt someone saw them.  Someone knew their struggle and knew their pain. It didn’t matter what was inside. I wanted them to know that someone cared about them and I wanted them to feel acknowledged. I wanted them to know that strangers prayed for them, and that God loved them.

Before I dropped the bags with the oncology nurse every month, I said a prayer over them. I asked God to put the bags into the hands of those who needed them most.  I asked God to put His loving arms around the recipients and all the patients fighting cancer. I asked Him to give the doctors wisdom and the nurses compassion for the patients.  LifeConfetti wasn’t a huge endeavor. It was only 12 bags per month. Did I wish I could do more? Absolutely. But I knew that what I did helped those who received them.

And being a part of it helped me in a big way too.

In the middle of my crazy schedule, in the middle of my cancer battle, in the middle of my personal struggles; there were three things that helped me…

Faith in God.

Loving family and friends. 

Serving Others. 

I thanked God every day…

I cherished time with my loved ones…

And I served others whenever I could. 

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 

1 Peter 4:10

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Thank you to everyone who has been a part of it. If you have donated items for the bags, helped assemble or deliver them; if you follow LifeConfetti, or simply read a post once in a while … thank you!

LifeConfetti is not just a hobby.

It is way for me to share my heart.

And in the sharing, I find healing.

 

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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