Hello Everyone!

This week has been one of feeling almost normal!  I still get frustrated with not having quite the energy that I would like, but all in all the second ten days post chemo far surpassed the first ten days in feeling good.  I think that maybe my course of treatment will be divided into “the chemo weeks” versus the “almost normal weeks”.  But we never really know, do we?!  Every time I try to figure things out for myself (thereby hanging on to that precious illusion of being in control of my life that I so cling to), God re-arranges things!

I want to share with you this evening one little piece of how I was prepared for this part of my journey.  It began in early May when I celebrated my birthday.  As is my custom,  I asked the Lord if there was a particular word or verse that I could in a sense “take to the bank” as direction for the year ahead.   I was impressed that this year would be year of joy (small “j”, not capital “j”!).  I even wrote in my Bible that “joy” was my word for my sixty-sixth year.   Not too many days later I joined a women’s Bible study on the book of James, and was soon looking closely at James 1:2-5 which says:

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him”.

The phrase “count it all joy” and “various trials” connected for me, and I believe I had my first inkling that this year might just be a year in which the “joy” that God was offering me around the time of my birthday could have a strong element of “trial” in it!  By the time I received a cancer diagnosis, I was sure of it, and  I was not unaware that God had been preparing me for what was to come.  And, I knew that this diagnosis which so surprised me did in no way surprised God.  He had in fact, in his mercy, let me know that He was in perfect control of what was happening.  In addition, I saw that the wisdom that is promised in James 1:5 was directly related to having wisdom within a trial.  When do we ever need it or seek it  more?  It is that kind of wisdom that for me has quelled the panic that wants to arise in me in relation to undergoing cancer treatment and allows me to think clearly.

I share this in order to encourage any of you who read it to be very sensitive to and aware of the fact that God is speaking individually into our lives, all the time.  For the last several years He has been impressing this on me.  We can usually  accept that God speaks to us through His precious written word and at times does the same through a teacher or preacher who brings something to light for us.  However, for me it has just been in the last few years that I have been able to accept that the God who created and runs the entire universe wants to be deeply and lovingly  involved with me and speak to me as an individual by His Holy Spirit.  I believe it is so important that in these days we attune our ears and listen carefully to what He is saying to each of us personally.  If you have never done so,  begin to ask Him to speak and to expect Him to speak, and you will hear Him.  And it is so very life-giving when you do.

I just can’t sign off tonight without again thanking everyone who has in any way touched my life with their  encouragement and caring in my illness.  Every word and gesture that you have offered me has made the way easier, and I have been flat-out humbled to get word that so many people are praying for me.  The presence of the Lord has been strong in this time and has  buoyed me up like nothing else ever could. I know that every single prayer that you all have uttered has been turned int0 grace, peace and presence.  It’s difficult to find the words to say how grateful I am for each of you.

Tomorrow is second chemo treatment day and I will be letting you know how it’s going just as soon as I can.  Thanks for your being with me on my journey!

Love and Blessings,                   Joy

COMFORT – John 14:18

Having just returned from a long walk with Reagan (my dog), it’s hard to believe that  one short month ago we were experiencing record setting heat and humidity to the point that getting out of the air conditioning for any reason at all just didn’t seem worth it.  Today is beautiful, with noontime temperatures in the mid 70;s with bright sun and a cool breeze.  This is the second day since my first treatment that I have had the energy to walk my dog and it was a delicious treat!

One week ago this morning I was discharged from the hospital feeling like a Raggedy Ann doll and looking even worse!  Over this last weekend I began to regain strength (just like my doc had said I would), and today I feel very near normal.  As I was walking I was in a state of praise for everything that my five senses were taking in just in the little area of my neighborhood.  In the few weeks since this part of my journey commenced I have gained such sharpened awareness of the simplest and and most wondrous things around me.

In thinking back to a week ago, John 14:18 ran through my head.  There Jesus told His disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you”.  These words roll down through the ages to us, His current disciples.  Jesus knew how much we human beings need to be comforted.  We have a conflict-filled day at work and we come home needing comfort.  Someone dear to us encounters trouble and we need comfort ourselves even as they struggle.  We undergo losses so small that it embarrasses us to even think that we need comfort to get through them.  We undergo losses so hugh that we wonder if there is any source of comfort anywhere big enough to put a dent in our need.

Last week, I needed comfort as I was in a great deal of pain and I found that comfort in many ways.  From Marv holding my hand and doing all he could to make me more comfortable to friends calling to say that they were praying even when I was too weak to take their calls, great comfort was extended to me and I was so very grateful.  While in the hospital there was a nurse who took care of me who was a radical lover of Jesus and wasn’t afraid to spend time talking with me about Him.  A Respiratory Therapist came into my room to give me a treatment and prayed for me as he did so.  All of these people were pouring out what they had to give even as they fulfilled the scriptures direction to “comfort one another”, and peace was with me even as they ministered to me.

While I recieved so much from so many sources and was  comforted, I also found that there was a comfort that surpassed them all and that was the comfort of Jesus through the direct ministry of His precious Holy Spirit to my beaten down spirit.  It only took a snatch of a Bible verse or even just the whisper of the name “JESUS” to a bring about a level of comfort that was like no other.  As I thought about that today I realized the wonder of what Jesus said when He told us that HE would not leave us comfortless, that HE would come to us.  What an incredible reality that the comfort of Jesus Himself can be with us with no more than the whisper of His name.

It’s one thing to know scripture intellectually and quite another to know it experientially.  What I learned last week is that there is no comfort like the comfort of Jesus.  And even more wondrous is the fact that it is to be had just for the asking.

I will have my second treatment on September 26th, and in the meantime I will enjoy the strength, energy and comfort that is mine each and every day because I am His disciple.  May you do the same each day as the wonder of His presence is just waiting to be discovered!                 In His Love,            Joy

 

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Kindness and Peace – HIS covenant promises to us!

Hello Everyone!

Thank you so much for your kind replies, the cards, the flowers, phonecalls, messages, all so encouraging and helpful, and most of all thank you for your prayers.  I am humbled and amazed at the love you have poured out to me.  I wish I could thank each of you personally and maybe soon I will have that joy.  Currently, my body remains in “chemo shock” and I will do well to just get a few words out to you!

I recieved my first “miracle mix” (five potent chemo drugs over about 6 hours) one week ago today and am just now coming out of the fog of a great array of side-effects that cause me to belive that not one cell in my body was left untouched!  WOW!  On Saturday evening I landed in the ER and was admitted to the hospital because my blood counts had dipped so low that my heart was over-working  in trying to get oxygen to the rest of me.  I received 2 units of red blood cells which have helped to right all that, but to say that I feel “wrung out” is an understatement.  I am resting at home and working on regaining my strenght in time to get my second treatment of six somewhere around the 26th of September.

So enough of that!  More inportant is the fact of how incredbly near God has been in power and presence.  Shortly before I began treatment I came across the following verse found in Isaiah 54:10 which says:

” For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, But my kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has mercy upon you.” 

During the physical misery of the last few days, my spirit reached up, grasped His Holy Spirit and held onto that verse for dear life.  Repeating those precious words never failed to give me great strength and hope.

Today when I began to feel better I looked up the words,”Kindness” and “Peace” as they are used in the context of that scripture.  What I learned was that KINDNESS, when it comes from God, is not some soft, sweet little act of goodness that one human might give to another, but a part of the very character of God Himself that He constanty extends to those who have chosen relationship with Him.  It is tough, resilent, and effective when it is extended to a believer in any situation.  When I say I felt his KINDNESS lifting me, it was as if a weight lifter had suddently removed a killing weight from my chest or a tormenting pain from my head or in some other way dealt swiftly with whatever was bothering me.

The word “PEACE” is the familiar Hebrew word “Shalom”.  It is so extensive in it’s depth and effects that I doubt I would ever have the writing skills to expound on it. I’m sure all of us who believe in Him have experienced the “Shalom”  that it is the promised peace that Jesus extended to us in the gift of His Holy Spirit.  It is the supernatural peace that enable us to rise above all that this temporal world has to throw at us. It is that “lift” that we experience when we are completely out of the ability to help ourselves and finally fall trusting into Him.It too,is a word of strength and power. The wonderful thing about Isaiah 54:10 is that Kindness and Peace are part of His COVENANT with us!  These extend to us all the time, and as the last phrase of Isaiah 54:10 says, they come to us by His mercy, and it is “through the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed” (Lamentations 3:22).  

The next time you feel like maybe life is in some way consuming you, remember Isaiah 54:10 and grab hold of His KINDNESS and PEACE!  For me, it changed everything about this week and its sheer misery into another opportunity for giving Him glory in my circumstances.

Again – I can’t say it enough – thank you for your prayers.  I am riding on them constantly!

Love and Blessings,           Joy

 

 

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First Chemo Today- “God is our (my) refuge and our (my) strength”! Psalm 46:1

It was  a long day of treatment involvoing 4 separate IV chemo drugs one right after the other over 8 hours.  Before I went into the chemo suite  my doc explained that in this protocol, they start with the highest possible dose of each drugs and would only back off on the doses if I wasn’t able to tolerate them (which often happens).  The very good news is that I was able to tolerate all of them at full dosage!  Now, I won’t say that I don’t feel like I’ve been hit by a very large truck tonight – mostly just body aches all over.  I have been able to eat and drink and keep everything down due to the wonder of new drugs to control that sort of thing.

Last week as I was thinking about all that was to come, I opened two different resouces, one an e-mail that I receive daily and one a daily devotional book.  Both resources talked about the “gift of fragility” that we are given at those times when we ourselves have no strength of our own.  I found a new place of rest and peace that day, and the more I meditated on what had been given me,  I thought of the wonder of Psalm 46:1 where God promises to BE our strength – not just GIVE us strength.  Today I  had to surrender my physical strength to Him.  I’ve always been pretty much a “can do” type person, and consequently carried a lot on my shoulders.  God  certainly worked with me today on giving new meaning to resting in Him and enjoying the knowledge that He is my strength.

Again, I know that the outcome today could have been much different if I didn’t have the tremendous prayer covering that I know all of you are providing.  I am so very, very grateful.  Thanks also for all the cards, words of encouragement, and offers of help that have come from you.  What a reflection of the love of God that you have been to Marv and me!    I also have my on site trooper in Marv who hung in at my side me all day.   Precious gifts, all of you.

I forgot to mention in previous posts that there is box you can check on this page that will let you know when I release a new post.  Be sure to set that up if you want to do so.  Also,  if you know someone who you think might benefit from this blog, feel free to send the link that I sent you via e-mail.  Love and Blessings!                                          Joy