THANKSGIVING UPDATE (Hebrews 7:25)

Hello Everyone!

I have generally tried to post something once a week, and I could hardly believe it when I looked at the calendar and saw that I hadn’t posted since November 8th!  I can’t blame it on being busy because I’m not!  In fact I’ve been staying very close to home as I remain immuno-suppressed (very susceptible to infection) and have been sternly told to stay out of crowds.  Chemo number 4 went smoothly, although it did seem to take me a little longer to recoup my energy this time, and just in time for Thanksgiving!  I love Thanksgiving – it is definitely my favorite holiday.  When I was working as a nurse, having holidays off was a rare treat.   While I never really minded working on the holidays too awfully much, after over eight years of retirement it always seems like a special treat to get to celebrate when everyone else is.

I was reminiscing today about a memory that has stuck with me for years since I was in the first grade and got to be in a Thanksgiving play.  All my little classmates and I dressed up in pilgrim costumes and together we recited Psalm 100.  I remember that the entire first grade worked for several weeks learning all the words and presenting them to our parents and families (can you imagine that going on in our public schools today?!).  I don’t know why that episode has stuck with me for these many years, but I wonder if it wasn’t seeds like that being planted in my life that gave me a heart that yearns to reach out to God in praise and thanksgiving on a regular basis. I’ve been reading in Psalms all week and enjoying them so very much as it seems the natural thing to do as this time of the year rolls around.  I think it is a curious thing that in this culture of ours in which people strive to discount God, we still have a national holiday during which it is hard to ignore Him, the source of every good thing.

This year, more than anything, I am thankful for a God who is always near, and it seems that the more I recognize my need of Him, the more present He becomes.  I’m not sure that there are really degrees of “presentness” (probably not!).  However, for me this year has caused me to  run smack-dab into my own mortality, and that has effected my experience of my relationship with Him.  Hearing that I had cancer was a shock, but coming home and reading up on the type of cancer I had been more than a shock.  I first read words like “rare” and “aggressive”.  Then came mortality predictions of “average 24 months from time of diagnosis”.  Then, “few successful treatment protocols”, and “frequently recurrent  in spite of treatment”.  It took awhile for all that to sink in, but it all came around to my thinking “This can’t mean me – I’m too young – and too healthy – and too…”  Too what?  Just like everyone else, there is a time to live and a time to die and it slowly became real to me that my life could be wrapping up way sooner than I ever imagined.  But there is always another side,  and after a while I began to see it as I sensed God’s presence so strongly that it nearly took my breath away.  I cannot even explain in words how the Holy Spirit showed up as my comforter, my encourager, my guide, my teacher, my friend and anything else that I needed Him to be.  Those days that I spent thinking about this disease that turned my world upside down were so very, very worth the shock of it all as I slowly began to realize how  near He was – and how closely I live to the realm of heaven where Jesus ever lives to make intercession for me ( Hebrews 7:25).

Let me quickly say that the more I have learned recently about this disease, the more hopeful I have become that treatment has advanced for Lymphoma and  is more readily available now than ever.  Stem cell transplants are proving to be very effective and I learned last week that I will probably be going to Baylor Medical Center (Dallas) in early February for that treatment.  I am, for practical purposes, in remission now after just 4 rounds of chemo, and will go through two more (on November 28 and December 18) to get the maximum effect.  My progress is all to God’s glory and has everything to do with all of you who are praying for me. I know that a battle is being waged and it is not over, but your prayers keep me going and growing in Him!

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving as I certainly will!  God is so very good to us all!                                Love and Blessings,                        Joy

READY FOR SOME GOOD NEWS? (Psalm 118:8-9)

Good Evening!

I’ll get right to the point tonight!  I had chemo #4 today, and I met with my oncologist to review my PET scan results.  The results show that all of the tumors that were originally found on scanning in July are now completely gone.  In addition, there are no new areas of cancer anywhere in my body (I had a full body scan).  To sum it up, it was a normal PET scan!!  All I can say is praise the faithful, wonderful, awesome God that we serve!  I could never find the words to adequately praise Him (although I’ve been trying all day)!

When I told Marv, he said “the election results don’t seem so important to me now”!  While we both realize that the election results will of course impact our lives, we also see a bigger picture that has to do with our intimacy with the God of the universe who is always available to us personally.  That personal relationship with Him has never changed and will never change.  My good news today reminded me that in the Psalms we are told that “It is better to put confidence in the Lord than to put confidence in man.  It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes” (Psalm118:8-9).  The Psalms are full of verses that tell us to trust in the Lord.  Prior to this election, we prayed.  On November 6th, we voted.  Now it’s time to renew our minds with the Word of God and walk in trusting obedience, whether we personally like the outcome of the election or not.  In fact, now would be a perfect time for us to read through the Psalms again and note every verse that gives us all the benefits of trusting in God!

So, for me now, I will take the next two chemo’s (the last one being on December 19) because I am grateful that I have access to what the mind of man has discovered in cancer research.  Chemo is not easy and I can think of endless things that I would rather be doing besides being in the process of treating cancer, but I have to say that doing so has opened me up to learning more and more about the faithfulness of God.  There is more to come, as after completing my remaining treatments here in Hot Springs, I will have another scan and a bone marrow biopsy to confirm that I am in total remission.  Then, the plan is for me to  proceed to the next step of  having an autogenic stem cell trasplant, probably in early February as this way of approaching lymphoma is proving to be the best way to prevent it from recurring.  That means I will need to spend 4 to 6 weeks in a hospital in Dallas undergoing a rigorous course of treatment.  My doctor strongly recommends that I do this, but I will have to be accepted into the progam for it to happen. Whether or not it actually takes place is totally in God’s hands.  I’m continuing to trust that every step in this journey is entirely under His control!

Stay tuned for more news!  No matter what happens, since He is the author of all good things, it promises to be good!

Love and Blessings,              Joy

 

 

 

 

LIGHT AFFLICTIONS? (II Corinthians 4:17-18)

Greetings from a beautiful Fall day in Arkansas!  It’s such a wonderful gift after the record-breaking heat and drought of the summer of 2012.  I remain pretty much confined to the house due to a very low white blood count, but I do get out and walk my dog and enjoy that thoroughly.  My main instruction is to stay out of crowds, so I’ve been in staying in until we see more white cells regenerating.

While this confinement has been very different, it has given me time for quiet contemplation that has been nothing but good.  I find in particular that scripture comes to life as I have the luxury of meditating on it and ruminating over it’s meaning.  One scripture in particular has been a focus for me for probably the last year, and I know that God has had it in my meditation for a reason.  That scripture is II Corinthians 4:17-18 as follows:

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal”.  (New King James Version)

I thought that I had studied those verses from every possible angle, but I just recently discovered some new territory in regard to the word “glory” as it is used in context.  That discovery came from a book entitled “Pure Grace” written by Clark Whitten.  There I found that the Greek word “doxa” (verse 17) is translated as “glory”,  and one meaning of the word “doxa” is “the manifest character of a person”.  Using the example of the word  as it is used in John 1:14, Whitten says, “…a person’s glory defines the person, sums up the nature of the person, or shows forth the essence of a person.”  I had always had the idea  that “glory” as it is used in scripture always (or at least most of the time) pertained to the glory of God, but a word-study of II Corinthians 4:17-18 revealed that “glory” may be shown from within the nature of a  human being.  That glory is a reflection of God who dwells within each of us who have believed in Jesus.  Most important, I saw that the “light affliction, which is but for a moment” is the very thing that allows the glory of God to be manifested in our own human nature!  It helps to notice that in the verses preceeding II Corinthians 4:7-8,Paul refers to his own experience as a disciple of Jesus by using the words “hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and stuck down”!   I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t call these descriptors light affliction.

For me, that brought into sharp awareness the thought that every single “affliction” (however I define it) that is allowed to come into my life can, if I will allow it, have a destructive effect on my fallen flesh and allow more of a reflection of the one who lives within me.  No matter how hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, or struck down I may be, if I am obedient in submitting to the work of God in me, the circumstance can allow more of God and less of me to be reflected to the darkness of the world.  Afflictions chaff our flesh, but they are momentary and they are necessary if we are to shine as lights in the darkness.  Chemotherapy chaffs my flesh for sure, but if I believe that “…He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus”,  I can recieve it as God taking something intended for evil (cancer) and turning it to good.  If that concept is hard to accept, you might want to review the story of Joseph  (particularly Genesis 50:20) to get his take on it!

II Corinthians 4:17 and 18 also casued me to think about things like how can glory have a weight when it is not a tangible object?  And how can we see things that are unseen?  So there you have a glimpse of what happens to me when I’m placed in relative isolation for a few days!  One thing I know is that as long as I have the Word of God upon which meditate, I am never bored!

I will have a PET scan on this coming Monday, (Nov. 5), and my fourth chemo treatment on November 7.  The PET scan will show what effect the chemo is having on the lymphatic tumors which will indicate whether or not there is a need to change or add to the current mix of medications that I’m getting. So by next Wednesday we should have further information about how I am doing.  I’ll be in touch again after that, but maybe not right away depending on how I’m feeling immediately post-chemo.

Meanwhile, I am carried on your prayers and thank you again for all you are doing for me!

Love and Blessings,             Joy