03.04.20 – Hard

Journal entry by Vicki Bunke 

Last week, following Ash Wednesday, Caroline and I were discussing our personal plans for this Lenten season. Caroline loves sweets, chocolate in particular. So that’s what she chose to give up for the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Sweets. During our conversation we talked about how Lent gives us 40 days to make a personal sacrifice and open our eyes to what remains when certain treasured comforts are gone. Forty days to remember what it is like to live by the grace of God and not by what we can provide for ourselves. Sounds like a great idea, right? We think so, but we also acknowledge that Lent is not easy. Don’t believe me, then ask Caroline. In fact, after we talked about the importance and reasons behind Lent, Caroline said to me, “Then why is it so hard?”

Why is it so hard?

Caroline’s words and question resonated with me. Mainly because that’s not the first time I have heard one of my children utter those words during this time of year. The first time I heard those words and question was in March 2018.

After Grace’s first relapse in October 2016 and while sitting together with Kerry Jones, one of Grace’s most incredible helicopter teachers, in her hospital room post-lung-surgery, Grace jokingly asked us, “Does this mean I get a second Make-A-Wish?”

I laughed and said, “Sure, why not?!? What would you wish for?”

Grace replied, “I would wish to hang out with Todd Chrisley.”

For those unfamiliar with Todd Chrisley, he is the patriarch of the Chrisley family who are featured in a reality TV show called, “Chrisley Knows Best.” Both Grace and Caroline enjoyed watching this television show during overnight hospital stays when it first aired in 2014 during Grace’s initial cancer treatment.

Knowing this, when Ms. Jones heard Grace proclaim what her second Make-A-Wish would be, she pulled some strings and surprised Grace with a video of Todd Chrisley wishing her a speedy recovery from her lung surgery.

Fast forward to March 2018 when Grace was back in the hospital, but this time there would be no speedy recovery. This time there would be no hospital discharge. As a result, this time instead of sending a video, Todd Chrisley decided to come to the hospital to see Grace. While he was there, Grace told him, “You know that I’m dying.”

Todd replied, “I know Grace. But God has a plan for you. Your journey’s just beginning.”

Grace responded, “Then why is it so hard?”

Why is it so hard?

This time of year serves as an annual reminder to me that things can be hard. Life can be hard. Interestingly, however, that is kind of the point. Even though Lent is somber and repentant, it is a beautiful time. During Lent, we learn not to rely upon ourselves. When we are weak and tired or just sad, God tells us to lift our eyes and have hope.

As I have mentioned a few times recently (smile), soon I will embark on The Amazing Grace Swim Across America Tour 2020 where I will participate in 14 open water events with others to raise money to fund cancer research.

This week as I thought about Lent, Grace and Caroline’s question of “Why is it so hard?” and the first stop on the tour – Houston – I was reminded of President Kennedy’s 1962 speech in that same city about going to the moon. In his speech, President Kennedy stated, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” 

Those first attempts at moon exploration did not go well, but scientists and astronauts never gave up. They kept trying. Why? Because hope had become part of the collective American mindset. The willingness to pursue the unimaginable and achieve the impossible was far more powerful than scientific discoveries that were not quite ready and ultimately unsuccessful. And that is because when choice becomes a decision and a decision becomes a challenge, that challenge gives us hope.

Hope. That is what Lenten season and this swim tour is all about.

I encourage you to choose the difficult, make the decision, and take the challenge to join us on this swim tour of hope. First stop is in Houston on April 18th: The Amazing Grace Tour

Wishing everyone a very special Lenten season.

‘Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.’ (Catherine of Siena)

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