Streams of mercy

We go to the Cancer Center at least two times a week where Marissa has a team of people who care for her. From the receptionist to the lab workers, they know her.

She makes them laugh. She’s spunky and she teases and they tease her back. I see her make the best of every visit. I see her engage others, ask about their day, encourage them. She brightens the room–they are glad to see her. The actual process of chemo is pretty painless now.  Once the Benadryl hits, she sleeps until it is over. It’s part of our routine, and I think in some ways we will miss Thursdays when this is done.

I see people of almost every age coming in for treatment, but I haven’t seen anyone as young as she is. So she has a little bit of celebrity status. The older patients smile when they see her. They are already tired when they begin this battle, and they watch her, envious of her youth and energy, although not envious of her journey.

Yesterday we had a new nurse who kept saying, “She’s too young for all this.” And I feel that she’s right but I know that she’s wrong. Because this is exactly where she is supposed to be. This hard place is one of the chapters written just for her. This is her road, her path, and it is taking her to a safe place. I know the end of the story. No matter where this journey takes her, it ends with her safe in the arms of Jesus. Always safe. Always in His arms. Always loved.

She only has five weeks left of chemo. Twenty weeks seemed like forever, and now it is almost done. She is tolerating the Taxol so much better than the Adriamycin and Cytoxan. The side effects are easier. Not friendlier, exactly, but more do-able. I hope that it is fighting the cancer cells as well. We really won’t know until after surgery.

These are hard days and there are hard days ahead. But the streams of mercy never cease. There is never a moment when we are separated from His love. (Romans 8:35) We are not crushed; we are not despairing. (2 Corinthians 4:8)

We are never alone.

Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me and Your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10)

You are a hiding place for me; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with shouts of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7)

 

 

 

Things I can see and things I can’t

January is slipping away. I look at the calendar and the days are moving, passing by, and I have not really accomplished much except getting through. But the days are not without purpose. We hope the days are taking us to a place we want to be–past treatment, past this present pain, past cancer.

Some days I put blinders on. I trudge onward but I’m not looking ahead and I’m not looking around. I’m just looking at the next step, the next decision, the next hard thing.

I can’t see the cancer. I can’t see if this new medication is stopping the division of cancer cells or not. I can’t see the weekly battle in the blood–the intricate dance of the white blood cells that determines whether or not Marissa can receive treatment each week. I can’t see her body fighting off infection or her mind fighting despair.

I can’t see the fear in my children’s hearts or the spiritual battles waging in the souls of those I love. I can’t see where this path leads. I can’t see the future.

But some things I can see.

I can see my daughter laugh. I see her square her shoulders and bravely face each day. I see her turn to God for strength and hope.

I can see answers to prayer. I see how God has shrunk the tumor. I see how He has miraculously kept Marissa from sickness when she has no white blood cells to fight infection. I see Him providing relief from side effects.

I can see beauty all around me. I see it in morning stars and frosty days. I see it in shared moments of joy. I see it in kind words and helping hands. I see it in God’s living, powerful words.

And it’s as if God removes the blinders and lifts up my eyes. It’s as if He sheds a beautiful light on the road ahead. It’s as if He gives wings and lifts me up and helps me fly. It’s as if He carries me.

You have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place. (Deuteronomy 1:31)

He is opening my eyes. He is helping me to see that He has carried me all the way.

He is helping me to see Him clearly.

Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. (Mark 8:25)

 

 

 

 

Falling stars and sparrows

Everything is meaningful these days. I am intensely aware of details, almost like I am watching this trial, my life, unfold in front of me. A dead battery? Meaningful. A hospital stay? Awareness. A test result? God. It always comes back to Him and what He is doing.

I don’t take my belief in Him for granted. I know that even my faith, my ability to believe, is a gift from Him. It feels like I have always believed, but I do remember doubt and disbelief. I remember as a teenager not wanting to believe, because it meant changing. It meant submitting. It meant choosing a way that was not my own.

But my belief in God fills my soul now. I cannot imagine not knowing, not believing, not looking up. I cannot imagine saying there is no God or saying no to God. I don’t want to say no to God.

Two mornings in a row last week I saw falling stars during my run. And I thought of the twinkling lights and how He numbers them and puts them in place and knows when they fall.

Lift up your eyes on high and see Who has created these stars.  The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name. Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:26)

He knows when they fall, my friend. There are billions of stars, and He has numbered every one. He knows their names. Not one is missing.

He holds them in place by His might and His power. When they fall, it is not because He is not strong enough. They do not fall because He looks away. Not one is missing that is meant to be there. Because of His greatness, they shine. Because of His greatness, they fall.

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. (Matthew 10:29)

Every sparrow is precious. Every sparrow is subject to His benevolent hand. He numbers them, He feeds them, He knows their days.

So do not fear. You are more valuable than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:31)

And I’m letting that sink down into me. The great God Who numbers the stars and the sparrows is the One Who holds my hand. He formed me and He formed my children with an exact purpose. He loves me with an everlasting love. He sent His son to die for me. He is intentional in His pursuit of me. He plans to bring about good and glorify Himself through my life. He is powerful. He is kind. He is good.

He knows when the stars fall. He cares for the sparrows.

And He sees me.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)