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