We captured this memory on my phone after a wedding today, and to me it's more than "just" a family picture. It serves as a visual reminder of God's grace because it was four years ago today, on August 30, 2010, that I heard the news that would change my life in so many ways. The "C" word--and all that accompanies it--was definitely not in my agenda. The new set of vocabulary I would learn, the extensive doctor visits, surgeries, tests, blood draws, treatments, weakness, grace, encouragement from many, questions, hospitals, uncertainty, healing, help, blessings, lessons to learn--these have all been a part of the journey.
Tonight I sat with Matthew and Joanna and reminded them of the August 30th when they were 3 and 1 (almost 2) years old. No doubt their lives have been affected in ways beyond what Dan and I have noticed. One of the most precious memories I have of Matthew during my journey occurred the evening after my first chemo treatment at Northwestern. He could tell how weak and sick I was, and he just didn't know how to help. He sweetly came over to where I was sitting, kneeled down next to me, and with much concern in his little voice, prayed that God would help me feel better. It was one of the sweetest prayers I've ever heard! And then there was the time I had to leave Matthew and Joanna (again) at Grandma's house, and I was bit emotional about it. Joanna found a kleenex and, with big eyes, helped wipe away the tears. Now there's also Andrew, our "little" miracle who just turned 1 last month. He's a constant picture to me of God's amazing power and love.
Last week I had the privilege of meeting a friend of our neighbor. As she shared with me a little of her journey which included both spinal bifida and a malignant tumor, I was touched with her kind spirit despite the challenges she's faced. We talked about the comforting truth God gives us in Jeremiah 29:11 "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." An expected end: "a future and a hope."
Whatever path we find ourselves on, we can rest, assured that God not only thinks of us but has plans that include a future and a hope! I love the words to this hymn by Horatius Bonar "Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord."
Thy way, not mine, O Lord, However dark it be;
Lead me by Thine own hand, Choose out the path for me.
Smooth let it be or rough, It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads Right onward to Thy rest.
I dare not choose my lot; I would not if I might:
Choose Thou for me, my God, So I shall walk aright.
Take Thou my cup, and it With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to Thee may seem; Choose Thou my good and ill.
Choose Thou for me my friends, My sickness or my health;
Choose Thou my cares for me My poverty or wealth.
The kingdom that I seek is Thine: so let the way
That leads to it be Thine, Else I must surely stray.
Not mine, not mine the choice In things both great or small;
Be Thou my Guide, my Strength, My Wisdom, and my All.