Monday, January 30, 2006

Faith, Love, Hope and finally WIN

I want to share with you four words that have come to mean a great deal to me in the last couple of months: Faith, Love, Hope, Win.

Why so significant? On December 1st, I was feeling a little low emotionally because my latest blood work was indicating that treatment might not be far off. Because of all the good prognostic indicators from the tests at MD Anderson, I wasn’t expecting it to be that soon. I wasn’t depressed, but I was feeling low and didn’t like the feeling. I was at work and couldn’t concentrate as usual. I started surfing looking for inspiration. I really don’t remember how I got there, I wish I did, but I ended up on David E’s blog,

David is the 43 year-old fellow (just had a birthday) I have mentioned before that has prostate cancer that has gone into various bones in his body – left leg, hips, pelvis, etc. He was just diagnosed less than a year ago. I spent a couple of hours reading his entire blog. I read it from start in February to that current entry and was inspired by his determination, courage, faith, and honesty in pouring out his emotions in his fight. All his ups and downs, hopes and fears were right there and shared with all. He has even started a non-profit foundation to help fight Prostate Cancer called FLHW, which stands for Faith, Love, Hope, Win. What a fantastic motto! I must admit shedding a few tears as I read his story. I realized I had stumbled across something special written by a special guy, who, even in the midst of his own battle, was determined to help others along with himself. In less than a year, he has raised many thousands of dollars for prostate cancer research through golf tournaments and selling royal blue bracelets with “Faith, Love, Hope, Win” emblazoned on them. (I finally ordered some!)

When I finished, I guiltily realized: #1, how lucky I am, and #2, I needed to be doing some actual work as this was unfair to my employer. I went to my mailbox, pulled out the distribution and there was a training newsletter, “Creative Training Techniques,” November 2005, Volume 18, Number 11 issue. I began reading it from the front page, as usual. The first article was titled the "Seven Attitudes That Lead to Success and Happiness," by Bob Pike. At first I wasn't going to follow the directions in the beginning of the article, but decided to. The directions were to write down the results that you want from living your life." My answer to the question was that I wanted to have made a difference for the better in people's lives, I wanted to be a person my wife, children, and grandchildren could be proud of, and I wanted to arrive in heaven and hear, "well done!" This was quite a different answer from the most common answers Mr. Pike listed in his article. The second set of directions said to write down the traits and characteristics that you admire in other people. I thought of David and a couple of others when I wrote down: courageous, honest, sincere, full of faith, and concern for others. On the last page, I was agreeing with everything the author was saying. He listed the seven attitudes as patience, anticipation, confidence, expectations, humility, understanding and belief. He then defined each of these. When I got to the end of the article, I was absolutely blown away when he named the three core attitudes to achieve and develop the other seven attitudes listed. There they were: Faith, Hope, and Love! The only thing missing from what I had spent the morning contemplating was “Win.” He said, " activates confidence and belief. Hope activates anticipation and expectations. And love activates patience, humility and understanding."

I went back to David’s website and saw his definitions:

FAITH - A virtue that provides a secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will. Having unconditional love for God through Faith will provide the strength required to win this battle. Through this journey, one must maintain and nurture their faith in God.

LOVE -An unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another. The emotional support from family and friends, neighbors and strangers that will strengthen one's will to fight this battle.

HOPE - An unwavering desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment. We hope for improved treatment and ultimately a cure.

WIN - The cure for advanced prostate cancer.
(And, I might add, CLL/SLL - John)

I truly feel that David’s blog, followed by that article in the training newsletter, came at the right time for me and God was using those to drive home the point that I could not spend the time feeling sorry for myself and that I needed to be concentrating on the truly important things. I need all seven of the attitudes listed in Mr. Pike’s article while I fight this cancer battle in my body. But, I can't display those seven characteristics and neither can I fight nor win the battle without faith, love, and hope as the core elements. During my lifetime, I have often been amazed how we touch people in completely unexpected ways and David touched and encouraged me!

Since that 1st day of December, three of those words, FAITH, LOVE, HOPE, have continued to surface. When we took the decorations off our Christmas tree a few weeks ago, I stared at a decoration I held in my hands. It was three silver solid hearts connected side by side and one word was written on each heart. Those words were: FAITH, LOVE, HOPE!!! Cheryl saw my look and knew I was startled. I asked her were we had gotten that ornament. She told me I had bought it to commemorate our 37th wedding anniversary on December 23, 2004! A few months before my diagnosis. (Remember, I have a really bad memory now.)

In preparation for writing this post, I went all the way back through David’s blog again. There I discovered another connection I had missed the first time. His wedding anniversary is the same as my birthday. I was going to copy and paste every mention of Faith, Love, and Hope from his blog. However, when I did that, this became over 6 pages long in Microsoft Word, much longer than any of my other posts. Instead, I am choosing to close with a copy of a post from David’s blog on January 6th of this year. It explains how he came up with the title for his organization. By the way, it was after reading David's blog the first time that I decided to start my own blog. (Thank you Lord for bringing people into our lives at just the right time that we need them.)

More than words…... (By David E.)
When I came up with the name "Faith-Love-Hope-Win" it was both something that just popped into my head and something that I considered carefully. As I remember it, I was driving to work, in traffic, on the highway. A homily at Mass in the days preceding had included references to "Faith, Hope and Love". The passage might have been this one: 1 Thessalonians 1:3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Whether this is the exact passage or not, my point is, a biblical passage was the inspiration, the order of the words however, were not random.

To me, faith is first and foremost. In addition to faith in God or faith solely from a religious perspective, it includes faith in your doctors, medicine, family, friends neighbors, etc. Faith that even in the midst of being diagnosed with this terrible disease, something good will come of it. As I pondered faith, I quickly realized that faith alone will not accomplish the goal ahead but it is the foundation which will enable us to beat this disease - to Win.

In my mind, Love had to come next - the love for one's spouse, children, God, family, friends etc. It is an emotion we think about a lot but say to each other far too infrequently. In my life for example, I love my brother in law. My wife aside, he is one of the people I am closest too. He is truly one of my dearest friends. I have never said to him "I love you". I realize that there are many other people in my life that I love, but I also don’t tell them nearly enough, or at all. The battle I wage cannot be successful without them and their love.

Finally, there is hope. Hope, without it, we as humans would struggle to survive. Placing the cancer fight aside, Hope is what gets us up in the morning and Hope is what allows us to sleep well at night. Hope for a cure, hope for surviving another day, another week, another year and beyond. There are times during this journey that Mary and I have struggled to keep hope alive. This struggle has been one of the most difficult moments of our lives. Fortunately, we have always managed to find the inspiration, spirit, faith and love to keep the hope alive.

So if you ever wondered about the creation of FLHW, it was not just a random grouping of words, but the foundation of our mission and our journey.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Bible, Hebrews 11:1


Anonymous said...

I am continually inspired by you and David E. and your message of faith, love and hope. I am a church member with David and I also have read his entire blog. I continue to pray for you and David on your journey and I pray the God blesses both of you with courage, strength and wisdom. I appreciate the message and insight from your most recent blog entry. God be with you and yours.

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