Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

It has been a very trying and taxing week in the life of a Nicky…death and discouragement have been all around, but praises to God that He is more than all the enemy could ever send against me.

Through the course of her chemo treatments (today was the last one, btw…hurrah!) Karen has made some wonderful friends; adversity is a fantastic incubator for closeness. One particular person, Danni, has really been through it – she had already undergone surgery to remove one lung, and a lemon-sized brain tumor, and met Karen while doing a course of chemo for “insurance”. Well, the chemo caused an episode of kidney failure, and while being treated for that, she suffered a stroke – which led to the discovery of a second brain tumor. At that point, Danni called BS on treatment, and said she could just ride out the rest of her life in peace and dignity. Her family consented, and the next step was moving her into hospice about a week ago. We have been visiting every other day, for as long as she has left, she will know we are here with her. Last night was hard…she kept telling her daughters “Today is the day, they are here for me.” We don’t know who she is seeing, because communication is very difficult for her, but she is convinced “they” are there, and so we wait with her…

Last Monday a dear friend from the church called me, sounding desperate, tired, and depressed – she has been fighting asthma and COPD from years of cigarettes, drugs, and life on the streets of New Orleans; the Lord rescued her from all that, and sent her to Houston in the aftermath of Katrina. She became a member of our church, and an invigorating reminder of the Holy Spirit’s transforming power – I have never in my life met anyone who more understood what it means to be redeemed. But last week, after several rounds of in-and-out at the ER, suffering pneumonia that just wouldn’t quite go away, she called me to pray with her – she said she was so tired, and hurting, and ready for God to heal her any way He wanted to, if she could only find some rest. So Friday morning, He did just that…Patricia went home to her reward, and now she is by His side: no more pain, no more sadness, received into His rest at last…

Yesterday morning, as I was making notes for the morning announcements at the worship service, I learned that the church secretary’s brother Wayne had also passed this week; he had been in the hospital for some time, and was not really expected to get better, but the loss hurts just as deeply, no matter what…

All this just kind of piled up on me, and I went and sat at the back of the church alone, to pray and collect myself to welcome the congregation, when the Lord brought back to mind a couple of passages of Scripture; some of them I had just received the other day from another blogger friend. I threw away my notes, and read these instead, and as I prayed I sensed the Holy Spirit settling over us, bringing the comfort only He can. I would like to share those verses with you…perhaps someone reading this is also in need of His touch –

When someone close to us dies, or is near death, it often helps us to remember the words of the Apostle Paul, who addresses the church at Corinth about these very concerns:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal…For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens… For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.  (2 Cor 4:7-5:5, selected)

And then, while we may be comforted about our friends, we may still end up angry at God, or confused and wondering just what He is doing…if nothing happens outside of His will, what exactly is His will? These two passages explain precisely what His will is: Jesus, speaking to the crowd gathered at the seaside says,

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:38-40, emphasis added)

And then, again from Paul, this time in exhortation to the church at Thessalonica,

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thes 5:12-18, emphasis added)

God’s will is very clear – we are to serve one another, in love that is the likeness of Christ’s love for us; and to endure in that love, so we may be lifted up in the last day. Those who have gone on ahead to glory, those already lifted up, are no longer under obligation…we who remain in this world are indeed in debt to Him whose love has redeemed us…and it is that very love, which makes all the rest something we can endure.

If you’ve been here before today, or following me on Twitter or Facebook, you already know the last week has been filled with emotion; and in all honesty I am not going discuss the situation in public any further at this time. I have done so to some extent, and I fear the reactions have been unprofitable for anyone. Therefore, while I cannot ignore the 800-pound gorilla camping out in my life, I am not required to attend to it. Moving on…

The 8000-pound gorilla of cancer was here first, anyway…remember that one? The one sitting on the couch, eating gorging itself on all of our money, time, attention and opportunities as fast at it can gobble them up? Yep, it’s still here, still hungry…but getting easier to manage with practice. That is something I didn’t expect…I knew that we would get used to the regimen, but not that it would start being, well, boring. Yes, I am painfully aware that I have the easy end of this fight; she is the one getting poisoned on a schedule…I would give anything to trade places, but that is not how God wants me to be. I need to be content in Him, in any circumstances (including the ones where I “just” watch my loved ones being tortured), and in the bible the Apostle Paul goes to great lengths to remind us of the blessings available to those who love God: grace, peace, joy. I pray for these things; I have even preached about them…so why am I unsatisfied when it happens? The grace of God has been more than sufficient for our needs; the money situation is under control (not great, but stable…good enough, and more than I deserve – I have a long history of trusting money more than God); Karen’s doctors are thrilled at how well she has tolerated chemo; and the long dreary spell at work with short hours but uncertainty aplenty has ended – I now have enough responsibility to occupy myself, and opportunities to demonstrate the claims I have been making to my bosses about how we can improve processes, and why I should be leading that. So what’s the problem?

The problem is…with all that going on, and God firmly in control of all of it, so I can focus and perform my duties effectively… why am I not content? What is it that makes me actively seek out more ways to do, to go, to serve? I think I know,  it’s an old acquaintance of mine named Impatience, and his entourage: Arrogance, Blame, and Contempt – I thought I had seen the last of this motley crew, but it seems they were waiting another chance to get back to work clouding my judgement, whispering in my ear that I don’t need counsel, I have all the information I need to do what needs to be done. This has never been true in the past, when I have listened to the whispers; but by grace God has blessed me with some valuable gifts: a smidgen of discernment,  a wife with much more wisdom than I have, and a score of true Godly men and women to call me on BS, and encourage me when I am on the right track.  I am a rich man indeed!

So, I remind myself to let up on the throttle (not off of it, there is work to do) and allow God’s time to happen, to be the wise servant diligent in my tasks, so as not to be caught unaware when my Lord returns. Contentment does not just happen; it must be an intentional act of my will to accept Jesus’ invitation:

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:28-30

I accept, Jesus…I accept.

Following hard after Him,

Nicky

This has been a very strange week…one of those “calm before the storm” moments. There is much change in the near future, on so many levels: a nation faces a hotly contested Presidential election, which promises no real resolution regardless of who wins, and often brings out the worst in well-meaning but misguided people; as an employee, I’m working hard to transition my career track in a new direction, creating a job description which currently does not exist (but I think I can demonstrate it should, and that I should do it); my  church faces a pastoral election, no less hotly contested, which absolutely determines the future of the only body of believers I have ever belonged to; which forces me, as a man responding to a very clear calling into vocational ministry (which I imagine is still further down the line, after some training and mentoring by someone with more experience and I pray, more wisdom), into recognizing my doubts and fears for what they are – prideful lies I tell myself, so I don’t have to trust God when things take unexpected turns. I am a sinful man, who forgets sometimes how good and perfect the grace of God is, and tries so hard to mold myself into what I think God wants me to be, instead of allowing Him to mold me into the shape of His pleasure; and I am a husband and best friend, watching my partner struggle through the days of her disease, knowing that God also works in doctors and drugs, but sometimes wishing He had chosen a different way, because this way hurts just to watch – I cannot imagine what she feels, she humbles me by how she responds to it. Her faith, her continued concern for and ministry to others, her joy in life in spite of cancer and cancer treatment (which is almost worse than the illness)…these things also remind me that grace is in effect in the lives of all believers. I believe that as Christians we all need those reminders now and again, and that is why God allows stuff to happen…to deepen our  faith in Him. Other people teach a different interpretation – that grace is what keeps God’s people happy healthy and wealthy, and if you aren’t, you need to be working on your faith and confessing your sin, and maybe not in that order!

This brings me to the topic for this week: What does grace mean to you, in your day-to-day life? I am being vague on purpose, because I don’t want to limit the discussion, so feel free to share an example from your life, or a favorite teaching, or whatever. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Following hard (so hard it hurts sometimes) after Him,

Nick

Those of you who have been reading know that I am married to a beautiful, Godly woman named Karen. I have talked about our struggles dealing with her cancer, but I thought it would be good to let her tell some of her own story, in a guest post (I hope to convince her to appear again.) Please reply in the comments, I will be sure to forward them to her. So without further ado, here she is.

My name is Karen. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my right breast May 14, 2012; May 23rd, we found out it was in my left breast too. I can’t begin to tell you what that news does to your life. Suddenly everything is pink and hardly a day goes by where I’m not talking about having cancer. Oh and the TV… if you don’t want to hear the word cancer, don’t turn it on.

OK enough complaining.

Here is what going on with me now. I had a double mastectomy June 1st. After some time to heal from the surgery August 13th I went back to the hospital to get a portacath put in: a simple procedure, in and out;  for me it was 8 days. During the procedure my lung got punctured. Fixing it was supposed to be a 24 hour thing but it seems sometimes as if nothing is going to come easy for me. I didn’t heal like they thought I would and on day 3 I pulled the tube almost completely out and had to get it put back in. So I also had to heal from that before I could start chemo. Now I’m doing chemo. It’s really not as bad as I thought it would be but it isn’t fun. Right now it’s every two weeks but soon my chemo drugs change and then it becomes once a week. I’m sure that means new challenges.

I’m not a hero, I’m just a person with Cancer who is following her doctors’ orders. I have a strong faith in God and I believe He has equipped the doctors with far more knowledge than I have. My faith has also given me great peace. ”It is what it is.“ I say that a lot. God will heal me in His way and I have come to terms with the fact the healing may not come in the shape we want it too.

Keep watching for more special posts from my lovely lady, and thanks for all your prayers, we really feel them.

Following hard,

I love a good running gag in a movie – a particular scene, prop, gesture, or phrase that occurs again and again, with a better laugh every time it comes. Many will recognize the line above from “The Princess Bride”, one of my favorite movies of all time, yet I find it oddly appropriate for so much of the rest of my life. (My wife and I seriously considered adding that  line into our renewal vows earlier this year – with the closer, “…but I’m gonna hold you to it anyway!” We were out-voted by our kids.)

Strangely, this line has become a running gag in real life, as Karen goes through chemo, and people try to comfort and reassure us that everything will be OK (in between telling stories about every person they ever heard of who had cancer…and was miserable all through treatment…and died anyway). They often quote scriptures meant to inspire, but…here’s the rub: I write and teach specifically about reading the whole of what the bible teaches, and not selecting only that which supports whatever point you want to make. Most people who do this are not malicious in their intent; they are simply passing on something they learned (wrongly) from someone else. If they think to check what they were told, the verse is usually quoted correctly, or “pretty close, I guess,”…and that’s as far as they go; they simply accept whatever interpretation someone tells them, if it makes them feel good; and hold on dearly to that “promise”. The problem is, “I don’t think that means what you think it does” applies most of the time.  Here’s one example I see a lot: someone in a small group will share with about some disappointment or new difficulty that has arisen, and they don’t know exactly what to do yet. Inevitably, someone will rush to tell them,”I know it’s hard right now, but remember Genesis 50:20 : “What the devil means for evil, God uses for good.” So have faith that God will turn this around and make it all work out good for you.” And once again I fight down the urge to “shot-block” that prayer right back at them. (h/t to  Jon Acuff for that awesome phrase!) So, how does “I don’t think…” apply here? Let’s look at the context surrounding the verse, and see if the popular interpretation holds up.

In the bible , we read in Genesis the story of Joseph, hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, his death faked to hide the crime. God brings Joseph into Pharaoh’s house, and blesses him for his faithfulness (even while imprisoned on false charges of attempted rape), eventually making him Vice-Pharaoh of all Egypt. So it is Joseph who the poor, starving sons of Israel must come to, begging to purchase enough grain to survive the famine which has struck the land. Initially concealing his identity from his brothers, he at last breaks down in joy at the reunion. Their surprise turns to fear when they realize they are face-to-face with the man they tried to kill – and he has ALL the power now.  He forgives them, explaining that by what he understands the bigger picture to be, summed up in the referenced verse:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (Gen 50:20 NLT)

So, how does our friend’s proffered reassurance match up to the real verse? First, it is misquoted: Joseph says his brothers’ intent against him was evil; he does not attribute this to Satan, but allows them to be responsible for their own actions, just as God allows us to be responsible for our sin – we do not need forgiveness for things we are not responsible for, do we? Second, the blessing is misplaced: it is not Joseph that God is concerned with doing good for…reading the rest of the verse shows it is the people whose lives were saved by placing Joseph in a position of authority, and guiding him in wise decisions by prophetic dreams and interpretations of dreams. Any good that befalls Joseph along the way is entirely collateral to the purpose of God’s plan. To be sure, this is an encouragement to the believer: when the circumstances of life go against us, we have the assurance that God is aware of our suffering, and will sustain us through hardships, because we serve a part in His plan. But it is most certainly NOT a guarantee that “things will turn around, you’ll see” . They might, they might not; but getting this wrong…promising someone the wrong thing…is a faith-killing trap for anyone “going through it”, waiting for their “good” to happen… and getting discouraged when it doesn’t turn around. For me and Karen, life is not “turning around”; if anything it is gaining speed and momentum as it careens downhill. (Sorry, feeling kind of tired and cranky tonight, but I’m not going to edit out an honest thought!) We have been blessed by God, and sustained through this time of trial…but the good is being done on behalf of others – those who are encouraged that they also can be sustained, can endure whatever is happening to them, for the same reason…because God has a purpose for them and He will take care of hem along the way. That is the true promise of Gen 50:20 – that people and things will try to hurt me, and often succeed; but God is in control, and as long as I trust in Him, it will be OK in the end – as He defines OK; maybe not as I define it, but as I should define it, and as I am learning to define it.

I cringe when I hear or see this kind of lazy, false teaching being propagated. It’s the biggest reason I started writing again – to try to help people learn to read and understand the bible the way it was always meant to be: for what it really says as a whole, not sliced and diced into pleasant little sound-bites. I will probably not reach the world, and some people will never be convinced; but if even one person learns something from what I write, it was all worth it…and now we are two, and may reach one or two more; and so on, and so on, and so on…I did not intend this to be a manifesto, and it does not encompass enough to suffice for one, but it’s a start. We will visit this again.

Following hard after Him,

I have written here before about some of the challenges my wife and I are facing while she battles breast cancer, including the obvious financial difficulties. This has been a great time of faith-building for us – trusting God to provide all the needs, and He has not let us down (although the lessons on the real definition of “needs” have been moderately painful…I never knew exactly how selfish I am, until now.) Now I am facing one of my greatest personal challenges – a time of success and prosperity.

All truth be told, by American standards I have been poor most of my life. My dad made a decent salary, but he lived a frugal life in general…what we had was good quality, we just didn’t have very much…so I learned to be content with only a little, and never saw him deal with money in any real way…he just said, “We can’t afford it,”, or “We don’t need it.”, and that was it. ( I still prefer reading a book to seeing a movie, and my taste in clothing runs toward the cheapest jeans, t-shirts, and tennis shoes I can find.) The problem was, I didn’t stay poor. I spent eighteen years learning and moving up in a construction trade, with the salary increases that come with that kind of longevity, and I have nothing to show for it and almost no idea how to manage it. I have defaulted on credit cards twice, and now live exclusively on cash, because I am just a little afraid of money. Years ago, I placed my faith in my bank account and my ability to earn a living, and both of those let me down every time. Recently, I placed my faith instead in the Lord, and He is good, all the time…but I don’t trust money any more, and I have trouble using it wisely; sometimes I get amnesia and start trusting in my own abilities again. That’s about the time catastrophe strikes, and all the money goes away, and I am reminded again where my life comes from. Many times, soon after this some situation comes up that tests me spiritually, and I realize that, had I still been running on my own strength, I would have badly failed…but because He had quickened me in repentance, I was focused on Him, and able to endure. This happens so often, I now view every financial crisis as a precursor to spiritual attack!
So being broke during Karen’s illness has not been a terrible hardship. We know that we are remembered and cared for, and that is enough. But just as the tide which goes out must at some point come in, work is picking up, and the money is coming back, and I am terrified. My inner man, “the flesh”, as Paul would say, responds to this news with indignation: “I much prefer not having to be faithful with my finances, because there aren’t any… it’s so much easier that way! Having wealth brings more work and more responsibility, don’t you see?” I am appalled at how many times I agreed with that voice, and set about ruining my life to make the money go away. I no longer need to do that, but learning new behaviors is hard.

I am not expressing any profound insight, today – I wanted to share a real struggle I face, and ask for your prayer. I feel we need to confess the areas we are weakest in, to open ourselves to receive God’s healing and grace, and that is what I am doing. I invite you to do that also – seek out some area of your own life, where you know the right thing, and you try, but it’s scary and you don’t believe you have the hang of it yet, and confess that weakness to God and to your brother. I encourage you to give it a look, and comment here if you like: we can pray for each other, and share some stories of how great God is!

Following hard after Him,

Nicky

…will be back to try again later! That isn’t how that the old saw normally ends, but here lately that feels like the core truth – we may get stronger after a particular adventure, but we are not finished! Let me build that out a little.

Yesterday Karen went for her second chemo treatment, and so today we know the side effects will be on display.  (That interview I promised with her is in the works, hope to have it later today.) Her first round taught us much, and overall she came through like a trooper…but now she is facing it again, and she knows it will be back at least twice more in this stage, and then weekly starting in November. I am concerned, not so much about her body (the doctors are well qualified to maintain her physical health) but about her spirit.  I know from experience how frustrating it can be to want to do things and be too sick to do them; but when the treatment makes you sicker than the disease, it can really screw with your interior logic, and doubt finds a foothold. It can get hard to believe that the outcome is worth all the pain…that there is any purpose which justifies all that we are going through. Sometimes it can even appear that we’d be better off just letting the sickness run its course, and dealing with it later on, when we are “stronger”. That of course is dead-end logic, because problems almost never get better by themselves. In physics, the word “entropy” describes the idea that the universe cannot sustain itself, and that eventually decay and loss robs the system of energy, bringing it to a stop. William Butler Yeats expressed it perfectly:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

“The Second Coming”

The poet is inspired by the devastation of war, but cancer is a war too, fought on the most precious of home fronts – our very own bodies – and a survey of that battlefield can be even more disheartening. We ponder over what remains after destructive forces which are supposed to “save” us have spent their fury…and we despair, “Is it really worth all this?”

Beyond the body, there is an unseen battlefield: that of the spirit. As Christians we are told the spiritual battle is the most important, the one with eternal consequences, and therefore we are best prepared when we avail ourselves of the protections heaven offers…the armor of God.  There is a reason we need such mighty protection – it’s not a one-time fight! We will be assailed again and again, simply because we choose to remain faithful.  Jesus tells us many times that this is to be expected; one of my favorite instances occurs in Revelation, when Jesus tells the church in Smyrna that He knows about their sufferings, but relax – it’s going to get worse! And then He reminds them of the reason we endure…because the reward is worth the pain it costs to get there.

Cancer hurts, and it kills. Curing it appears to hurt worse, but Karen’s prognosis on the other side makes the cost worth bearing, we believe. In the same way, sin hurts, and it kills. Once we turn away from sin, seeking the cure of forgiveness in Christ, life can seem to hurt worse than the sin did. But we have a glorious prognosis on the other side of this life, and we believe that makes all we have to suffer to get there worth every step.

Following hard after Him,

So we are in the “off” week of Karen’s chemo…she saw all her doctors yesterday and received glowing reports, so that is very good, praise God. I hope that this is the pattern to come: a few rough days of side effects, and generally life as normal. (Does that word even have a meaning? I keep waiting for it to happen, and I think I’m waiting for the wrong thing.) Monday she has her next treatment, and we start over again.

I spoke of the weather changing in the title…and it has, in many ways. Living in Houston, you just get used to the heat and humidity, but you still get tired of it. And I work construction, so I’m out in the heat and blazing sun far more often than the average person. Somewhere around the Labor Day weekend I start having nostalgic visions of October…that’s when it usually cools down for good.  (One reason Halloween was always my favorite holiday was it was finally cool enough to enjoy being outdoors with people!) But the “sneak preview” we’re having this week is a refreshing pause…stepping outside in the morning, and taking a deep breath that doesn’t make me want to spit it back out is a nice change! The change of the seasons, the circle of life making another revolution…these things always bring to mind the constancy of God’s grace. The bible tells us  in Psalm 19 that:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”

Just as I can see the seasons change, I see the internal weather of our lives ebb and flow, and I can feel God’s sustaining presence all the while. Sometimes it is very hot for a spell, and we wonder if we will ever see a break from the heat; other times it’s cold and blustery in our souls, and we crave the warmth our bodies need. In these and other times, we need to be aware that God is always there in His creation, always maintaining the rhythm…and that the ups and downs are all a part of the plan, not deviations from it. The writer of Ecclesiastes, speaking from his vantage of age and wisdom, encourages us to keep this in mind, as we consider the state of our lives:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (emphasis added)

We have a choice: we can either lament the situation we are in, and long for other (better? not really) times; or we can rejoice that this moment belongs to the Lord, just as every moment does, and rejoice in all that He has done, is doing, and has in store for tomorrow. I think I much prefer the latter, and I would strongly encourage you to try looking at the world from this perspective…it really can change your weather forecast, too.

Following had after Him,

Nicky

Two days ago, my wife Karen did her first chemotherapy treatment, and now we have the joy of waiting for the side effects to kick in; we have read everything, which means we know probably less than we did before, but have so much to be anxious about now…I call it “the uncertainty cloud”. Nothing is for sure, the range of possibilities is vast and overwhelming, and sometimes it’s just easier not to think. We are both very typical Type A people, and being out of control in situations is so hard to deal with. This is where strong faith in God has been the lifeline, the only constant in a whirlwind of confusion and change. Being two different people, we each experience that differently. Today I want to talk a little about my own outlook; next week I will interview Karen and let her share her perspective.

Karen has taken to telling people that I have “cancer of the wife”, and I find that to be an oddly appropriate description. I love my wife, in the most desperate, urgent, all-encompassing sense of that word…second only to God, there is nothing and no one more vital to my existence.  The idea that she may go home to glory before me, leaves me torn and anxious: of course I would never want to hold her back form the joy of being in the presence of the Lord, but I’m not done with her yet! So to see her fighting this disease leaves me at wit’s end most of the time. I trust God, even when His plans don’t look like mine;  and I know that He is in control of everything; and He is not required to give an accounting to anyone, least of all me. But trusting God means that I have to get off His throne and let Him reign, and that goes against all human nature, and brother, I am neck-deep in my human nature!

 

So what does this mean to me? It means that I get to experience peace, the kind of peace promised in the bible. You may know the verse – Philippians 4:6-7:

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

This is a conditional promise, which many teachers do not point out: peace only comes when we give our worries to God, in expectation that He is willing and able to take care of them. God is such a gentleman, He will not force His grace upon us. We are free to hold on to ALL our trouble, if we want to…but that is surely NOT the path to peace. For myself, I have decided that grace is better than stress, and so I will gladly lay my stress at the foot of the cross, and accept His grace in its place. I would also strongly recommend this to you, Constant Reader, because He really does love you, and only awaits your acceptance of Him to make you complete. Won’t you?

 

Following hard after Him,

Nicky

Another reason for this blog…

Posted: September 4, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags:

Having a place to share my writing with a larger audience is one goal of this blog, but nit the only one. I also intend to share my life with my friends out there, and so through the week I will be posting on what’s going on. Today’s post is like that.
About a year ago, my wife noticed a strange lump in her left breast. She has had fibrocystic issues for a long time, so lumps were not new, but these were different enough to send us to a doctor. They did the mammogram/xray/ultrasound thing, said “Yeah, those are lumps…come back in six months and we”ll look again.” Time passed, and the lumps got bigger and more painful, so we went back earlier than 6 months…good thing too.  Biopsies confirmed cancer, early stage but very aggressive and growing fast. Time to get moving on treatment.
June 1st was surgery day.  We had talked through the options, and decided double mastectomy was the best answer…Karen (my wife) is a very petite woman, and the surgeon was concerned that lumpectomies would leave misshapen, uneven breasts, and might not get all the cancer, so we went all the way.  We also decided to postpone reconstruction, until treatment was finished, to reduce complications.
Complications has become a familiar word to us, lately. After the mastectomy, her blood pressure zoomed up, and it took a week and medication to get it normal enough to go home.  She went in for an outpatient procedure to have her catheter implanted, developed a pneumothorax (collapsed lung), and spent another  week in hospital, followed by a two-week recovery.

Finally, today she starts chemotherapy. As I write this she is grumping around in the closet looking for “going to chemo clothes” (I don’t know what that means, and I don’t think she does either, that’s a big part of the problem.) There is so much unknown in front of us…the only thing we have been able to depend upon is the hand of God holding on to us, keeping us safe, and wrapping us in loving people, from the church and others. The future is so uncertain, but the eventual ending is sure…to quote the Apostle Paul, in Phil. 1:21 : “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” 

So we are off to live today for Christ, and if we die, it’s Him we gain…I can work with that, I think. Pray for us, and I will post updates later this week.

 

Following hard after Him,

Nick