Let’s Git ‘Er Done
Last Saturday night, Brian and I went to the Christmas party and awards ceremony of the Wescott Fire Department, where Brian is a lieutenant and volunteer firefighter. (Brian’s paid job is firefighter for the Colorado Springs Fire Department.) The ceremony was presided over by Fire Chief Jeff Edwards, a highly respected leader who serves not only his community as fire chief, but also his country as a member of the US armed forces reserves.
Chief Edwards was deployed in Iraq for the first half of this year, and when he returned he was very ill. He spent several weeks in and out of the hospital while doctors tried to determine what was wrong. Finally on June 11th he received his diagnosis and it couldn’t have been worse: Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Get your affairs in order. You have 3 to 6 months.
The outlook was so severe and hopeless that local cancer centers declined to offer any kind of treatment. But Chief Edwards is not one to quit or give up. He protects and serves his country, his community, and his family that includes his wife and two school-age children, and he is determined to do that as long as possible. He was persistent in seeking treatment, and finally found a place in Denver that offered an experimental cancer treatment that would hopefully prolong his life.
Last Friday, the day before the Christmas party, the fire department threw Chief Edwards a surprise Celebration of Life party. It was the six month anniversary of his diagnosis. For the last six months, he has been continuing to take care of his family and do his job, taking time out only for his treatments. His spirits are high, his faith is strong, and he sets an amazing example on a daily basis of that quality we all could use – a positive attitude.
On Saturday night, Chief Edwards gave an inspiring speech that I’ve been pondering ever since. He said, “I have cancer. Cancer doesn’t have me.” He reminded us that our time here is limited, and he urged everyone to do the things that are important now, rather than putting them off. It’s a common message, but somehow it carries more weight when delivered by someone who’s staring death in the face. Edwards said, “Visit that place you’ve been wanting to go, take up that hobby that’s always looked interesting, read that book you’ve been wanting to read.”
That’s when I thought about you, my blog readers and everyone out there who’s writing a book and dreaming of publication. I’m so proud of you because you are chasing your dreams right now. You’re not putting it off. You’re opening up that computer and facing the blank screen and putting down the words and querying agents and fielding rejections and it might not always be fun… but it’s your dream and you’re going after it, and I want to commend you for that. Big giant kudos to all of you who are refusing to put it off until someday.
If you’re reading this blog because you’re thinking about maybe trying to write a book, I want to encourage you to make 2010 the year you dive in and give it a try. Chief Edwards is right. There’s no time like the present. As he would say, “Git ‘er done.”
Let’s all decide to do something in 2010 that we’ve always wanted to do. Whether it’s continuing to write those books, or maybe healing a family rift, or putting your photos in an album, or whatever it is… let’s decide that we won’t wait any longer. Let’s git ‘er done.
Q4U: What’s it going to be? What have you been putting off that you’d like to do while you’re still here on earth? Do you think you might want to tackle it soon?
Please pray for Chief Edwards and his family. Your prayers and warm thoughts really do matter. I know many of you will do this, so thank you in advance.
You got some beneficial ideas there. I did a search over a trouble and learnt most peoples will agree in your blog. If you are an experienced traveler, you’ll be able to know the ins and outs of travel to all parts with the world, and it is possible to have really specific ideas about what you need to see and in which you desire to go.
>Rachelle – this is a beautiful, inspiring post. Thoughts, prayers and all good wishes to you and yours x
>Pancreatic cancer has hit very close to home for our family. A beloved cousin, cousin-in-law and friend all died within a very short time after diagnosis. One of these was a brilliant doctor, the chief medical officer for a large insurance company. So even if you are well informed, this disease can attack surreptitiously.
Our family participates in organizing and walking in a "Walk for Life" benefit for the Lustgarten Foundation which is leading the charge to find a cure and prevention of this insidious disease.
Being involved in this endeavor keeps us aware of the brevity of life.
James 4:14 – Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
>This is such a sweet post. He sounds like an amazing man. Thank you for sharing about him and his journey.
As far as I know, I'm not putting off much. I'd like to be fluent in some languages, but that's just not doable for me right now. Someday…. *anticipatory grin*
>My father died of cancer five years ago, he was 84 years old. He was also a volunteer fire fighter in Illinois so this really went to my heart.
>Rachelle, I hope you don't mind, but I wanted to share this column. Maybe it will help someone.
Moments that matter
Tapestry: A shift of view
A friend of mine shared a thought one day that blew me away. It touched me so deeply that I’ve passed it on to others who were hurting or grieving. It’s one of those moments you can’t help but share. Before I tell you what he said, I need to explain what led up to it.
I had just called the hospital to ask for my girlfriend’s room number. Dee had been admitted the day before, and I figured I would pop over during my lunch break and surprise her. But after I told the woman at the hospital why I was calling, her cheerful voice changed. It’s then that I learned Dee had died just a few hours before.
I was in shock. I couldn’t believe she was gone, and I went to share the news with my editor, Jim McClure, a man of deep faith. Jim and I have talked a lot over the years about my many losses. Mom. Dad. Sister. Brother-in-law. Pastor. Other family members and friends. The list, sadly, is too long to count.
He listened quietly like he always does and offered his condolences. A few minutes later, he came over to my desk. The conversation went something like this.
“ Buffy,” he said. “Right now you are looking at the back side of the tapestry. You see all the knots and loose threads and it’s not very pretty.”
“You got that right,” I said. “It’s ugly. Real ugly.”
“Yes,” he said. “I know you think it is. But one day you’re going to see the other side of that tapestry, and you will see how beautiful it is.”
Wow! What an image he had painted for me. I remembered the cross-stitch wall hanging my mother made for me before she died. He was right. The back of it wasn’t pretty. There were knots and loose threads. It didn’t look like a picture at all. But when I flipped it over, all the ugliness was gone and a beautiful picture was in its place.
So many times in life we’re looking at the back side of the tapestry. It’s hard not to. Life’s not always fair. It’s not always happy. And it’s not always how we want it to be.
But I’ve learned that it’s the knots and the loose threads on the back of the tapestry that make the front of it the masterpiece it is.
We won’t always understand the twists and turns our road of life takes, but, if we trust in the Lord, we know where that road will ultimately lead.
Thank you, Jim, for your gift that day. You probably didn’t know how much that moment meant to me or that it was a moment that I would pass on to so many other people.
I will always remember the tapestry story and that beauty can be found in even the ugliest of times.
>Thanks for the inspiration. This really touched me.
>This one hit close to home. A beautiful way to uplift the Chief. I appreciate how you wrote this post as an encouragement (the true meaning of encourage).
I will reach out.
>What an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing it with us.
My "thing" that I've been pondering for a while is writing a book on homeschool organization (emphasis on the school part).
Q4U: Would that kind of book be a good seller? (As in, good enough for an agent?)
~ Bethany L.
>I have a friend who had non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (very, very bad). I was his camp counselor at a camp for kids with cancer and their siblings. About halfway through the week, my friend took of his shirt and another counselor saw his chemo ports and said, "I didn't realize you were sick."
My friend, a very wise eight year old, shot right back at her, "I'm not sick, I've just got cancer."
Outta the mouths of babes, I tell you.
>This was an incredible, courageous, inspiring post dear friend. This year I wrote 'that' book and was amazed I had it in me. I'm now writing the 2nd.
As for what would I do in 2010 that I've put off. Learn sign language. I've been deaf for 5 years this January. It's time to open my world up even more. I've already broken out of the box people tried to put me in as a deaf individual, now it's time to embrace that part of me as well.
>Thanks for the post. My heart goes out for the chief and his battle.
For what its worth I had hit a low point in writing my book today. This post gave me the inspiration to continue and see this dream through (even if its only relatives that are subjected to reading it)
>Card is in the mail *hugs*
>Beautiful words. Thank you. Prayers for the Edwards family. I'll gladly send a card.
>Thank you for telling us about Chief Edwards. My kids and I will definitely pray and send him some Christmas love. His attitude is very, very inspiring. Lots to think about…
I'm so glad you wrote about Chief Jeff Edwards. You tweeted about him earlier this year and I prayed for him off and on, as the Lord brought him to my mind. He came to my mind just this week and as I prayed I wondered how things were.
What an amazing man. May we all heed his words.
Please tell him we're praying for him!
>Thanks, Writer Jim. You're a cool guy.
Rachelle, thank you for providing this space to let us connect, and share some things we may not necessarily share with the people around us. This is far more than just a writing blog. It's about life; the joys and heartbreaks in the writing life are so often writ larger in daily life.
And Anonymous…there are obviously people who won't treat your mss. and your dreams with the care they deserve. Please don't let your dreams die because of them. When they day comes that you include a note that you've got an agent…and then a publisher – we, here, will smile a bit broader. For you!
>How blessed Brian is to have a boss like Chief Edwards–and how blessed he is to have Brian and you in his "family." After reading your post, probably all of us feel we're in on something wonderful. Thanks for the heart-lift. I pray this fine man will have many more years of health–and I will send good wishes.
As for my goals, they're always the same. First place goes to faith and nurturing my marriage and family relationships. (Thank God for a supportive husband.)
These next months I absolutely will be firing off queries to agents and publishers for my book for moms. That's the passion that keeps me at this computer and crowds out other "normal" activities.
>Great post! But hard to get moving when agents sit on mss. for months. I've wasted a year on agents who take forever to read partials and fulls–and I get my hopes up each time only to be rejected. What's the point of trying to chase your dreams when we must depend on agents who don't care or want to help you reach your goals?
Best wishes to Jeff–happy holidays to all.
>Awesome. Thanks for being so inspiring.
You are so right. Small things we DO…are so important… sometimes even USED by God to totally change others' lives forever.
I'm sure other readers, like me, are saying prayers for your health.
>Very touching and powerful post. And inspiring at the heart of it. Thank you, Rachelle.
My thoughts are with your Chief. I'm thankful that he has strength and support to sustain him through such a difficult time. My heart goes out to him and to anyone dealing with illness and loss.
>Coming out of lurkdom to comment today. I appreciate this post so much for many reasons.
I'm conflicted. Last year (2009) was going to be the year I finally got my book written. I didn't. I worked on it, for sure, and it's further along than it was last year, but it's not done. I could say that 2010 is going to be my year, but I wonder, will it? I read so many writing blogs that tell me that my chances of getting published are so slim that I wonder why or whether I should even bother.
And then I read this kind of inspiration and it keeps me trudging. One foot in front of the other. Thanks for the encouragement, Rachelle.
>Just a thought for everyone –
when you look back and see the things you haven't done, but wish you had, remember the things you DID do. The Little League games you attended and the ice cream afterwards, and the long boring visits with shut-in relatives who hardly had any visitors, except you…
Remember that the small things that you did may have been big to someone else.
>Wow. Pancreatic cancer. God bless and keep this man.
What do I want to do? I want to raise my children to adulthood, God willing. And deep down inside, I want to be a singer/songwriter, which is easier said than done!
>Thanks for this. I've been so downheartened by query responses that I've not written a word all month. Time to put on my big girl shoes and remember reality…
>My father was a war veteran, and he died from cancer; so did my oldest sister. My thoughts and prayers will be with Chief Edwards and his whole family, and my thanks go to you Rachelle! I've been writing, but have slacked terribly this year and I gave into depression and the 'little things' far too often. Time to kick it all in the pants and as you said, "git 'er done".
Also, to pray for a Christmas miracle.
>Wonderful. I'm going to send him a card with some of my own words of inspiration this morning. Thank you for so warmly thinking of us as we head into our dreams. It's not an easy journey and the weight of rejection can easily throw us off track but most of us are far too determined to stay down too long. My outlook for 2010 is hopeful. I've learned so much the last year alone through reading blogs. I'm really ready to tackle new novels, and revisions with a renewed energy.
>Rachelle, thank you for sharing Chief Edwards story with us. People just amaze me sometimes and it really brings your point home. We shouldn't be wasting any of our days.
I'll happily send my prayers and best wishes along to Chief Edwards and his family and also keep in mind what you said about making 2010 more memorable by doing something I've always wanted to do.
>Thank you for your post. It's a wonderful reminder that "time's a wastin'." Make the most of the time you have. Give it to your friends and family. Give it to the world. And give it to those unfinished projects you promised yourself you would complete.
>Great post. This is a lesson I learned 6 years ago when my son died, in December – a stillborn at full-term, delivered New Year's Eve morning. I've been a writer all my life, and the story of my son, and the aftermath, became my first full-length book (agent considering it right now!). When Ben died, I learned firsthand that no one is promised anything out of life; I finally understood that today is all we have. But your post is a great reminder; sometimes I still need one.
Prayers for the Chief.
>Love this post. Just love it.
>What a moving post, Rachelle. Thanks for sharing Chief Edwards' words with us.
I'm going to start that memoir in 2010. It's about time – it's been niggling at me for two years.
>Thank you for the inspiring post. I have tears in my eyes…
In 2010, I will get my book done and I will start querying by next fall. No more excuses.
>This is a "close to the gut post." May God be with the Chief…and with all of us who are wasting precious time.
>Thank you, Rachelle, for this post. I can't tell you just how needed it was.
>Good morning, Rachelle;
Thank you for allowing us to share the pain and courage of the Chief's story. It resonates with me, as well. The senior pastor of the congregation where I worship spent the last six months fighting melanoma. God, in His mercy, granted him healing and granted us the grace of our pastor's continued leadership.
To those who have recently said good-bye to someone you love, I pray that God would comfort your heart and that you would feel His arms surrounding you in love.
To those who know the time of good-bye is near for one you love, I pray that God gives you the strength to bear the pain of parting and the comfort of knowing that the separation is temporary, not permanent.
We celebrate, in this season, the birth of the One who makes all of that true and possible.
May Christ dwell in your hearts richly, according to His riches in glory.
>I'll add my thanks to the others. Great motivating post.
>Rachelle, first, thanks for bringing your friend's serious health concerns to our attention. I believe in the power of prayer. I lost a special blogging friend at this same time last year — mother of two young children and a beautiful writer. It was so shocking when she died on Christmas Eve. The last words she wrote to us she borrowed from Raymond Carver:
"And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth."
— Raymond Carver
She also wrote this column for a religious publication and shared it with readers on Dec. 19, 2008. It's about finding joy in the darkness and is a beautiful reflection on life written just days before her death:
Finally, I'm summoning the courage to write a novel that was requested by an editor a year ago. Many factors have contributed to the slow progress, but I'm convinced it's going to happen in 2010 and I'm excited. (I like even numbers!) Thanks for another gentle nudge, Rachelle!
>Thanks for the motivation! I will get my book going in 2010!!
>Thanks for sharing that, Rachelle. I've addressed the envelope, and it's ready to go.
I'm going to think a little bit longer about my BIG plans for 2010.
>Matilda, if you've been singing for 40 years, maybe you should GIVE singing lessons!
>Buffy Andrews – my heart goes out to you for your losses, and my soul salutes you for the way you are smiling through the tears, such a lovely smile of hope!
And to The Voice – well, maybe the munchkins' parents don't want them around for Christmas – but they have you.
Thanks again, Rachelle, for opening up a wonderful session. I hope The Chief gets to read it.
There is a short poem that speaks to some of the bad times we face. I hope it's OK that I reproduce it here.
I see no gleam of victory alluring
no hope of splendid booty or of gain;
If I endure, I must go on enduring
And my only reward for bearing pain, is pain.
Yet though the thrill, the zest, and the hope are gone
Something within me keeps me fighting on.
It was written by an Army officer in the Philippines at the start of WW2. He died in a Japanese prison camp.
May God bless you all. May he honor your hopes, and dry your tears, and may all of you who've seen loss truly find that goodbyes are necessary before we can meet again.
>Thank you for this post. I will spread the word via my blog and facebook about sending him a letter if that is ok. What a special story. It is so inspiring.
>Beautiful and inspiring post, Rachelle. Thanks. I'll send Chief Edwards a NYC card. As to the question, I'm going to have to think about it. I'm not sure. I've been singing in choirs/glee clubs/choruses for 40 years and recently I thought that maybe it's time I had a singing lesson. So I might do that. Or something else? A good thing to ponder this holiday!
>There is a wonderful place where I've spent a long time. It's called Our Cancer (http://www.npr.org). Anyone can visit and read the posts there; one only has to register if the desire is to leave a comment.
I will add Chief Edwards name to our Prayer Posts and a link back here to his story.
I hope the Chief and his family might consider "stopping in" at OurCancer. What's given there is mighty healing.
>Rachelle, being a cancer survivor myself I share Jeff's feeling: live like there is no tomorrow, because really, cancer or not, no one is guaranteed another day. But you're right, when you're staring the big "C" in the face that sentiment takes on a whole new urgency. For me and my writing this means to write every book like it's my last. What do I want readers to walk away with that will stick with them? How do I want my story to impact them, to resonate in them, to change them?
We only have the here and now . . . make it count.
>"If you're reading this blog because you're thinking about maybe trying to write a book, I want to encourage you to make 2010 the year you dive in and give it a try."
You slapped me with your words. I need the jolt tho.
I said to my husband a few months ago .. there are two things I want to do [in life] [before I die] [right now please] .. 1) finish my book 2) finish law school.
I'm 45 years old. Life has me by the throat and it's just plain hard to get through the day, much less work toward my personal desires.
But I need to do it.
When else can I?
>What a testament to a well-lived life.
>Andrew, what a lovely thing to say. Rachelle's post is so poignant, and yes, that is all I can do for him, just be there. We've just been moving the furniture around to accommodate his wheel chair as well as the Christmas tree. It's sad, it'll be the last one, but we'll make it the best one.
I've been ill myself for the past fifteen months. Luckily it isn't life threatening and I've finally had an operation two weeks ago so am on the mend. But at least I get to come out the other side, not like my Dad. I wish you all the best xx
Sorry to take over Rachelle, if Andrew had a blog I would have posted on there 😉
>This morning I woke up sad thinking about the twin three year olds I am keeping and how their parents don't even want them for Christmas and this is a much sadder situation.
I have lost a lot of people and more often than not, in December.
I love the message from Chief Edwards and will send him an email and a prayer for him to God.
I write constantly. It is the breath God has given me.
>Yesterday, I lost a dear friend. (Like you, I blogged about it.) I got to the hospital minutes after he took his last breath so I'm hoping he heard my goodbye. Sometimes it seems like life is nothing but a book filled with chapters of goodbyes. I lost my mom and dad, sister and brother-in-law, pastor, two good friends at church (45 and 34) and the list goes on. So today I'm sad. And then I read your post and it is a heartfelt reminder that life might be filled with chapters of goodbyes, but there's also love and adventure and fun and discovery in that book. May each of you be blessed this holiday season, Buffy
>This is SUCH a true and moving post! Thanks so much for sharing it!
I always thought about my writing as something I'd do when I have more time, after the kids were grown. But a few years ago, God asked me why I was waiting.
I explained to him all the reasons I shouldn't write, and He, in the way only God can do without you seeing but you still KNOW he is doing it… rolled his eyes and said, excuses excuses!
So I began to write, even though I have 3 little ones and work full time. I make time, and even though I'm still unpublished, God knows my heart, and I'm being obedient to Him.
I lost my grandmother this year to cancer, and wow, she was a HUGE inspiration. Can I just say, not even a month before she died, even though she was still sick and feeling really bad, she would still go to the nursing homes to visit the elderly? On her deathbed she asked my mom to go buy her some yarn because she just HAD to finish the baby blanket she'd promised for a charity organization. The things she did might not be huge for some, but she made a difference right up to the very end, in her own, special way.
>This is a reminder that will never, ever get old to hear. Something I need to hear every morning.
The plain truth is, our time is limited. None of us know when our hour will be up. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the to-do list of life and sadly, so wrapped up in myself, that I forget to really LIVE. I neglect spending that extra time laughing with my son because there's laundry to do, or I speak irritible words to my husband because I'm tired, or I'm short with my students when they "bother" me at lunchtime because I have a million and one things to do.
Maybe in 2010, instead of making a long list of resolutions, I will just make one. Resolve to relish in those simple, significant moments in life. To BE present and chuck the to-do list.
Thanks for the inspiration this morning, Rachelle. My prayers are most definitely with Chief Edwards.
>There is something else I should make clear: Oftimes people pray, and PROMISE God to serve Him IF He heals them. God lets them live…an they soon FORGET their PROMISE to GOD. This kind of stuff DOESN'T work with God. We must fulfill promises made.
In 1973 I was feeling "HOPELESS" as world class doctors worked on me. In my fear and sorrow I begged God to let me live, AND PROMISED TO DO ANYTHING HE EVER ASKED OF ME. When I made my vow I took a sheet of toilet paper from the hospital (it was the closest thing I saw) and determined I would ALWAYS keep that sheet of paper in my wallet as long as I lived as a reminder of my VOW to God. 36 yrs later it is still in my wallet. Some people would have tossed that paper after they were healed for a month. As for my promise to do anything God ever asked of me: I've been writing one book for over 18 years, almost daily, because …to my surprise, That's what God called on me to do…I'm fufilling my vow.
We must DO our part, if we want to see God's power in our lives. Too many folks think they can toy around with God, making promises they never fulfill.
Please, let's all honor GOD, and pray for each other…especially all who have great needs made known on these posts today. Thanks.
>Rachelle, this post was really moving and very inspiring, thanks.
I've written a card to Chief Edwards and will post it today. It's coming from Ireland so it may not make it there by Christmas, but it's not like prayers and good wishes have an expiry date, right?
As well as continuing to write, in honour of Chief Edwards, I'm trying to think of a new goal for the new year.
>Mel, you said something vital.
"We will be there for him."
It gets so lonely. You brought tears to my eyes, mate.
>And I have to add, how strange this is but the comment above came from someone in Bangkok who belongs to my virtual writing community The Novel Racers. JJ, thanks for reminding me of Lisa, writer's write…xxx
>Wow, Rachelle, like Andrew above, you floored me too. I think you'll have a fair few long comments to this post.
Like Andrew, I'm halfway through book three, not having sold book one or two yet, but I live in hope. I emailed you in April this year, telling you about my ten year journey, a new agent and still my dream goes on. Things are moving but you never know.
And like your Chief, my father was diagnosed in June this year with stomach cancer. As a result he has less than a year to live. The cancer can be contained by chemotherapy but his body is breaking down. As a result his last bout attacked his blood, his foot became gangrenous and had to be amputated above the knee. He goes to see the specialist in the New Year to see if he is able to take any more chemo or if it will be too dangerous to continue it. To see a man cut short in his prime is terrible, he's just retired at 65. But we will be there for him.
But life and dreams do go on. I'll send an email with my best wishes.
And that's what I love about your blog Rachelle, every post is written with thought. Good on you girl and long may you continue. x
>This is such a moving post. It took the death of a writing friend a year ago to make me realise that I could start to write or go on talking about it.
My friend Lisa blogged through her lung cancer and her last words to us, as a writing community, were that 'writers write.' I've been trying to do her justice in 2009. I will continue into 2010 too.
The very best to Chief Edwards and his family.
I've been dealing with severe chronic pancreatitis, and the likelihood of eventual – sooner, rather than later – pancreatic cancer, for the last six months. I'm waiting for test results now.
Chief Edwards has may prayers, and Rachelle, you have my thanks.
What am I doing? Well, it's close to 1 am and I'm fighting through the effect of pain meds to write novel number three (kind of wish I could sell 1 and 2…). I just dozed off and my fingers hit some odd keys and for awhile the caps lock key worked backwards, and none of the mouse buttons worked…
I've also decided to start a long-delayed project, building a flyable copy of an Avia S-199, the first true warplane fielded by Israel in the War of Independence. It's a mark of confidence, I suppose – I have to build a 6000-lb airplane with a 1200 hp V-12 engine, and I can't walk unassisted right now.
I'm trying to be a better husband, while there's time. I've been a crappy one.
Mostly, though, I want to learn to live – and die – with humor, clarity, and a forthright faith in God.
>I truly appreciated the post. Sometimes we do get so involved in just living that we don't savor out short time here.
I am indeed apprehensively writing a book and this post was kind of the kick that I needed to put fear aside and just do it.
Thank you so much for this thought provoking post. I also will keep Mr. Edwards in my thoughts and prayers.