Thursday, December 18, 2008

our interview - a few things I WISHED I would have said...

Not to beat a dead horse, but the last post I gave you a link to our interview at church lat weekend regarding finding peace.

As we were leaving the parking lot, I was overcome with a few thoughts I WISHED we would have shared. This is the letter I wrote when we got home so I could capture those thoughts.

Pastor Cal,

Brian and I completed our interview yesterday with Dave regarding our difficult situation with Brian’s brain tumor, bleak prognosis and finding peace in the midst of that.

Naturally, as we drove away, Brian and I thought of 10,000 things we wished we would have said that we didn’t say – the countless times we experienced God’s grace in the midst of our struggles – an inspirational card sent when it seemed all we could do was cry – a letter from someone Brian barely knows telling us watching Brian and the way he handles the situation gave them a renewed hope and attitude in their own trials – an insistent lending hand just when I thought I couldn’t handle another unexpected task.

However, I think what we most regret not saying outright is that finding peace in the last 11 years of our struggles has always been a choice. It is a conscious effort on both our parts. Brian had a choice as he lost his ability to use his right hand to never throw a ball again OR to teach himself to throw with his left hand. He chose his left hand and he can still pitch to his boys in the backyard. He had a choice to never write again OR to teach himself how to use his left hand for signing his name and eking out some legible penmanship. He chose to teach himself how to write with his left hand. Brian could easily choose to sit in a corner and fall into a deep depression, which would be understandable given his diagnosis and resulting issues, but he chooses not to wallow in despair. No, he rallies each day despite his own body making it difficult to do so. As for myself, I have a choice of not having things performed around the house because Brian can no longer do them OR I can become Brian’s hands and speech where he cannot. Brian has taught me how to better handle confrontation in a calm and respectful manner when he was unable to speak the words he knew needed to be said. Brian has walked me through wiring outlets and 3 way lighting fixtures when his own hands failed him. Brian has taught me how to handle power tools and hand tools and other trades equipment. He is giving me life skills to handle the things life may throw at us in the event of his possible death, but for now, it gives us great pride to accomplish life’s challenges together – as a team. I have a choice each day of denying the situation and living like it isn’t happening OR making each day memorable and enjoyable.

Whenever people tell us they admire our strength, our determination or our attitude, I tell them there is nothing special about us. We are not defined by our circumstances in life. Peace comes from how we choose to respond to our circumstances. There is nothing any of us could do to honor God more than to handle our circumstances with the utmost dignity and Christ-like character possible. I look at Brian’s attitude and the choices he has made over the last 11 years, and I see nothing more God-honoring than that.

We choose to love and to laugh and to cooperate and to communicate and to make each day count for something. It would be easier not to choose these things, but it would rob us of peace and joy that is so readily available. We choose peace.

In Christ,

Angie O’Neill



  1. Love the interview and the letter as well. I know it's always easier to think of the right thing 'after'. But well said all the way around.

  2. Angie, All I can say is , "Amen, sweet sister!" You are a beacon of His hope. Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family. Love and prayers from Shawn in TN.

  3. Angie,
    That is an amazing, inspiring letter. I'm printing it out so that I can see it daily.

    Merry Christmas to you, the boys, and Brian.


  4. YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!! I need to read this everyday!!! I love you both and you ALWAYS make the right choice!


  5. I just finished listening to the interview. What an experience to hear your voices. The love shines right through. I didn't think I could be more amazed by you both than I already was through reading this blog, but I was wrong. Thank you for sharing with your church and with us.

  6. Amen, Angie....Amen. We will all do well to be reminded about how it is our choice how we react to our life circumstances. We can choose to have peace or to be bitter. We can choose to live our lives or wallow in self-pity. Your family is a huge inspiration on how to live life to the fullest, no matter what comes your way. Thank you for sharing your life - the triumphs, the struggles, the day to day stuff and the trials and hurdles that you many things that a lot of us take for granted are struggles for you, yet you don't let it get to you and you keep us all in check. Still praying for you up here in Canada and trying to learn how to make each day count for something!

  7. Beautiful..just like your family. What a lesson for all of us. Thanks for the inspiration and reminder to treasure each moment.

  8. You and your family are amazing Angie. You truly are an inspiration to us all.

  9. Thank you for reminding us all that we CHOOSE how to react to life's circumstances.

  10. YOU are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so glad God brought you into our lives...our Mommy group. I know we are all better people for having you there. Actually, I "chose" does it feel to be "the chosen one" pressure!!!

    Love the way you relate everything to a "choice"...SOOOOOOOOOOOOO true...and something everyone can apply to their everyday lives. You can choose to be negative and complain, OR you can try to look at the blessings and the little YEAH GODs that we all have in our lives. Sometimes it takes real work to consciously make the "right and God given" choice, but we are all happier and more content------at PEACE-------when we chose God's path of blessings and gratitude. Thanks for the wonderful reminder of how to approach life....for better and for worse.

    LOVE YOU ALL...Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I believe that things happen for a purpose. I am wondering why God put me in your path for this moment. Reading your post sure helps me realize my blessings and what wonderful people are in the world. Thank you for sharing your words with the world today. I will remember them always.

  12. Angie,

    I found you through your comment on my Rocks In My Dryer post...what an amazing blog you have.

    I'll be back. And I'm praying that this Christmas brings you joy and wonderful memories as a family.


  13. Merry Christmas.God bless you and your family.