So many things to write about. So much to catch up on. Where do I start? Lately, when I’ve sat down to write, my sentences don’t seem to form. Yet there’s a lot going on.
This is my fifth week in Atlanta for treatments. Every day has been full. In order to avoid the traffic mess, I leave the house between 6:00 and 6:30 each morning. That puts me at the clinic sometime between 7:00 and 7:15. Although some days are more tiring than others, I’m not nearly as exhausted as I could be.
The Allens are a great blessing too! Their hospitality, kindness, and godliness are uplifting. God had all the details for this trip worked out, and I’m so thankful for the Allens being willing to house me during my entire stay. I couldn’t say enough about how the Lord has used them to encourage both Dan and me during this time.
One of the hardest things about getting treatment here is being away from the kids. I’m so thankful for Skype as we can talk and “see” each other! Matthew and Joanna don’t reallly understand what’s going on, but they do pray for Mommy “because she has cancer.” Dan was able to come down the week after Thanksgiving, and this helped him so much....being able to meet the doctors, see the treatments firsthand, and stay at the Allens too.
My parents and in-laws have bent over backwards to help us out. They’ve watched the children countless times and supported us in ways too numerous to mention. What a blessing to have parents and in-laws who love us selflessly and will do all they can to help.
The bond of Christian fellowship is priceless. Friends have continually encouraged me, and their support is amazing! I’ve met a number of Christians at the clinic who also have this support, and then there are others who can only imagine what it’s like. God has given the opportunity to witness of His grace and love. I pray He will use this experience to draw others to His kingdom.
Cancer is a situation that will cause one to look at life through a different set of lenses. I’m meeting many who are looking through those lenses and seeing how short life really is. I’m thankful for the eternal perspective we can have in Christ Jesus. The hope that He offers is unfathomably different than what this world tries to grasp without Him.
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God Has a Way
I'm not sure who posted the link first on facebook, but I watched a stirring video of Gianne Jessen, speaking at Queen's Hall, Parliament House in Australia.
She survived an attempted abortion, and has dealt with cerebral palsy since birth. Her amazing testimony shines through. One comment she made really stood out to me:
God has a way of making the most miserable thing beautiful.
God does have a way! And His ways are above ours. It reminds me of Psalm 18:30, "As for God, His way is perfect..."
Look Up and Experience Victory
Some days are just difficult--more difficult than others. Today started as one of those days. But the Lord used a comment on the radio (and I don’t remember exactly what was said) to remind me to look up and experience victory. How refreshing to have that change of mind! Although some challenging circumstances surrounded the day, God enabled me to obtain a fresh outlook and then He gave me the energy to do what needed to be done....namely schedule more doctor’s appointments and follow through with the nutritional protocol I’m attempting to maintain.
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).
The Lord has been sending me special blessings in my mailbox. Today I was astounded by people’s kindness and generosity. A dear relative sent a gracious gift. Friends from church sent cards. Old friends sent a card for me and Dan along with coloring books and stickers for the children. And a class of eighth graders (whom I didn’t even know) sent 13 creatively designed cards to brighten my day.
I knew the teacher’s parents (Ron and Barbara Allen) but had only met Kimberly once. Indeed the trial she endured when her husband was taken home to glory after his battle with cancer gave her an increased understanding of how to encourage those facing this dreaded disease. As I read through the mail today, the tears came again. They seem to do that more frequently these days, but that’s all right. I guess it’s all part of the process. And the Lord gives strength and comfort as I face the array of emotions.
More encouraging words as I opened up the song book to play the piano...not the easiest task these days. (Some peripheral nerves were damaged during surgery, and movement in the upper arm is extremely limited.) The pages fell to “How Can I Fear?” by Ron Hamilton. This song that once seemed so childish on the early “Patch” recordings now seemed very fitting to my trial, especially verse 2.
When I’m alone and I face the unknown,
And I fear what the future may be,
I can depend on the strength of my Friend
He walks along with me.
How can I fear? Jesus in near;
He ever watches over me.
Worries all cease; He gives me peace.
How can I fear with Jesus?
Sure, there are lots of unknowns in the days ahead. (Who hasn’t heard their share of horrifying chemo experiences?) But, there is no need to fear. In His hands, God holds my breath and all my ways (Daniel 5:23). That is a calming and comforting thought.
Overwhelmed but not Overcome
Tonight Pastor Estep informed the church of my diagnosis and requested prayer for decisions yet to be made. God knew the message I would need that evening. Evangelist Brent Sivnksty was preaching from Psalm 61. The title of his message: "Overwhelmed but not Overcome." Just the title speaks volumes, doesn't it?
The basic outline of the message:
1. His Cry "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer" (v. 1)
a. Pleading: A plea of desperation
b. Persistent: A statement of resolution
Defeat comes when we quit praying, when we allow our fear to overcome our faith.
2. His Condition
"When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." (v. 2)
Only in God's presence will I find what I need.
3. His Confidence: God his Rock (v. 3)
a. A Shelter
b. A Strong Tower
c. Tabernacle: the presence of God; unbroken fellowship
d. The cover of God's wings signify intimacy, care, and protection.
When the phone call from the doctor came, we were in Georgia, and he advised that I head back to Illinois to see the surgeon that very week. His urgency, I'm sure, was related to the fact that the biopsy revealed a high grade tumor.
As hard as it was for Dan and me to be apart for the next few days, it was necessary, and the Lord provided grace as only He can. I drove back to Illinois with the children Tuesday. I had planned to stop for the evening at a hotel, but when the children finally got to sleep, I didn't want to lose the momentum you attain when all is quiet in the car. We drove straight through to my in-laws, and I stayed awake thanks to some late-night phone calls and the anticipation that I could sleep in the next morning.
When I awoke, I spotted an updated copy of Streams in the Desert on the nearby shelf. I had read this devotional in the past, and the content always seemed fitting when going through difficult times. With an eager heart, I picked up the book and read the devotional from a few days previous (August 29). These words ministered to me:
God knows best what cross we need to bear, and we never know how heavy someone else's cross may be...Yet if we could actually test all the crosses we think are lighter than ours, we would never find one better suited for us than our own.
God knew I needed to be reminded that this cancer was the cross HE chose for me. No need to look at others and wonder, Why me? This was God's choice, and His ways are always best.