What’s Brewing – That Very Stone!

It rolls around every year! Easter! But does it roll like the credits at the end of a movie, or like theStone at the Tomb stone that was miraculously rolled away from the tomb? We need  to ponder this. Because, what you and I believe about the stone means difference between “The End” and “In the beginning.” It’s the difference between a promise broken and a promise kept. A fistful of lies and a tablet of truth. Darkness and light. Life and death.

The stone was, from all human perspective, the very thing that sealed the end of Jesus’ story. The world was done with Him. Finished. Finist, if you were Caiaphas, and the high priests. Terminat, if you were Pontius Pilate and the soldiers who beat Him, flogged Him, pressed a ring of thorns into His forehead and drove the nails into His hands and feet.

That, now infamous, stone separated the disciples from their Rabbi.  Friends from Friend. Brothers from Brother. Mother from son. The sick from the Healer. And sinners, like me, from the One and Only, who could forgive my sin and wash it away with His own blood. That very stone! Rolled away. For though his body was broken beyond recognition, carried limp and lifeless from the hill of Golgotha, wrapped for burial, hidden in the cold, dark, tomb, and guarded by Roman soldiers whose lives depended on keeping Jesus right where He was – THAT VERY STONE – was moved out of the way like a grey cloud covering the light of day.

THAT VERY STONE – rock hard – proved once and for all that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus!

Not sin done to us or by us

Not guilt, or shame, or abuse

Not persecution, or bullying, or rejection, or abandonment

Not the removal of our religious liberty

Not a sword, or a knife, or a gun, or a suicide bomber

Not cancer!

NO! In ALL these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 NIV

NO THING will keep us from Him.

For HE HAS RISEN! Just as He said. SO THERE! Now, let’s go laugh, and sing, and dance, and praise the God who loves us dearly.

Love and joy! SandyHe is Risen 2

 

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What’s Brewing – Our Journey Through Cancer – New Day

It's a new dayI love that our anniversary comes at the first whiff of spring; just as the lilacs are budding and the ground is drying out after a long winter of frost, and ice, and incessant rain. It’s a simple reminder of that recurring phrase in the Bible, “And it came to pass” – because, obviously, it didn’t come to stay.

So many things in life, hard things, as well as sweet things, have a way of appearing on our calendars only to fade away as the pages turn to make room for what’s coming next. And yet they’re there, hiding in the back stories of memories left behind. One year it was the birth of our daughter, then another – the birth of our son. Then, there was the year our marriage nearly ended, followed by the year God put it all back together again the way He wanted it to be in the first place. There was the big move from Portland to Gresham. Graduations and birthdays. A litany of pets popping in and out of the dog swing door. Marriages. And grand-kiddos who showed up and took over our hearts in ways we could never have expected. Pages curled by age. Yet all a part of our story. This year it was, and is for now – cancer.

When the diagnosis was first pronounced we purposefully chose to look at life in terms of our lasts. Last Christmas. Last winter. Last anniversary. Last year with family. Last trip to Hawaii. Because it’s good to be prepared for the worst – just in case spring doesn’t come. But, on Monday, March 21st we’ll celebrate our fifty-second year of marriage. We plan to go shopping for our trip to Hawaii in April, have lunch at our favorite Hawaiian restaurant, and at night we’ll raise a glass of Prosecco and toast the demise of Lymphoma. This thing that blew into November, breathing fear through its nostrils and threatening to erase the word together and replace it with alone, is quickly losing its power to divide and conquer – us.

But, just as a reminder that this journey has been carried on the wings of prayer, ours and yours, a nasty cold moved in and took over. Colds and cancer are like watching our worst nightmare coming true – Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton taking the oath of office together. Nevertheless, spring has come. The cold has been conquered. And when June arrives we’ll be done with blood tests and infusions and handfuls of chemo pills.

I love that our anniversary comes in the spring. A declaration of new life. New days. New dreams. And new blessings yet to be received.Spring Fever

“And it came to pass…” Because it didn’t come to stay!

“Behold, I am making all things  NEW!” Revelation 21:5

Thank you all for sharing this journey with us, Love and joy Bud and Sandy

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What’s Brewing: Our Journey Through Cancer – A Family of Heroes

infusion chairIt has been one month since Bud’s last infusion. Tomorrow we head back to Providence for another hook up and to wait for the slow, steady, drip to do its thing. And while I wish it weren’t so, there’s nevertheless, a missing stirring within us; a longing for this unexpected blessing of family.

Family, defined by Mirriam Webster as – a people, or group of peoples, regarded as deriving from a common stock. Or, this from Dictionary.com: all those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor.

And our ‘common stock’ descends from a ‘common progenitor’ called cancer. Because, family has a way of morphing and changing according to our needs and experiences as we drift through the various seasons of life. And in this season of life, we are strangely and unexpectedly related to this community where everyone has everything in common. Cancer.

Every visit to the infusion room brings new members into our household of faith. New faces with new stories waiting to be read. And new heroes, all bearing the battle scars of that thing that binds us together. There’s the Viet Nam vet, fighting pancreatic cancer, who’s smile exudes confidence – “Here’s how I see it; if I live I get to stay here and if I die I get to go and see my wife. Either way – I win.”

And the woman with breast cancer, widowed for ten years, with a twelve year old son who’s embarrassed by his mother’s bald head. And yet her face is a portrait of joy and hope.

And the woman who also has Lymphoma. As we sat side by side waiting for the bags of chemo to finish their jobs, we talked about books, and family and faith. Before we left she handed me a book she’d just finished reading and said, “Here, I think you’ll love this as much as I did.”

Some of the patients, like Bud, bear none of the typical signs of cancer. No hair loss. No weight loss. No grey skin pallor or dark circles under the eyes. They are the ones who appear to be winning their battle with cancer on this side of the river. Others, from all we can see, may win their battles on the other side of the river. Yet all are heroes.  The doctors, who tirelessly wage war against this horrible disease. The patients, who bravely submit to a rigorous routine of treatments and endless invasions of privacy. The family and friends who sit by their sides, sharing their journeys, as if they were their own. The nurses who cheer them on with love and mercy and much needed injections of humor. And even the receptionists who welcome them. Heroes everyone! Joined at the heart! Family! Those amazing people who have everything in common. The unforgettable ones. All loved by a God who loves them well. Because, it’s hard to walk out of the infusion room as an atheist.

By these we are humbled.

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. Psalm 16:3 ESV

And tomorrow we get to visit them! Again.

Bud and Sandy 50th anniversary croppedThank you for sharing this journey with us.

Love and joy, Bud and Sandy

 

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What’s Brewing – Our Journey Through Cancer – A Time To Laugh

Laughter. There are times when we long for it like the missing ingredient in the mixture of life’s emotions and there are times when it’s simply a blast of unwelcome, ear shattering, mood-killing, irreverent, noise.  Nevertheless, laughter, when rightly placed, is like a song of praise rising up to meet the joy of Heaven.

Monday’s visit was a double header; infusion at 8:30 AM followed by a visit with our oncologist. We walked up to the check in desk with our snack bag filled with fruit and nuts in one hand and bag of boredom breakers, including a laptop, Kindle, and Bud’s book on tape, in the other. It’s the old Boy Scout rule – Be Prepared. And for us being prepared means doing all we can to break up the monotony of the three hour drip, while keeping our minds from overthinking our circumstances.

Then, to our complete surprise, the infusion went way faster than expected. The nurse set the drip a speed higher than usual, which cut an hour off the IV time, giving us ninety minutes to play with before our visit with Dr. Orwoll. So we headed over to the hospital for lunch, cackling like normal people who get to do something that doesn’t involve cancer.

In keeping with the mood of the day, our visit with Dr. Orwoll went even better than the hyper-active drip! You know the news is good when your oncologist walks into the exam room with a smile on her face and laughter in her voice. We have successfully completed our round of weekly infusions. Bud’s lymph nodes are shrinking rapidly! After his next treatment, two weeks from now, we’ll   switch to one per month! He’ll still be taking nineteen chemo pills at one time every two weeks. Aside from the heavy fatigue in the early evenings, he’s not having any of the predicted side effects, including, mouth sores, nausea, chills, hair loss, etc. And, if things continue to go as swimmingly as they are, we’ll be free to go to Hawaii for our anniversary in March!

We laughed our way home. Because laughter, when rightly placed, is like a song rising up to meet the joy of Heaven. God, my friends, never not hears our hearts! Never forgets what we ask for! Never loses sight of where we are and what we need. He’s the God of well placed guffaws. And this would all still be true even if the news was not good from our perspective. He’s in this journey with us!

What a blessing it is to share the laughter with you as we rejoice in what our God is doing in and through us all.

He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR MEETING US AT THE THRONE!

Love and joy

Sandy and Bud

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What’s Brewing – Our Journey Through Cancer – And Now it’s Real

TRUTH2There is, I’ve discovered, an invisible line between what’s real and what’s not, separating illusion from experiential truth. Fantasy from fiction. Perception can only go so far in convincing us that we know what we think we know and can do what we think we can do. Cancer is one of those unseen lines that divides who we really are from who we imagine ourselves to be.

Tuesday, Bud and I walked into the infusion room, where three rows of empty chairs accompanied by sturdy IV poles were waiting for us, lined up like sentries prepared for battle. The cheerful nurse smiled at us, “You’re the first to arrive so feel free to pick where you’d like to sit.” Visions of scanning the restaurant, looking for a table by the window, gave me a fleeting sense of prestige, until I realized what was on the menu. Suddenly, I didn’t feel hungry anymore.

Four and a half hours later, the last drip disappeared from the tube and slid into Bud’s veins. We were finished. The first treatment was over, until the next day when we would walk in and choose another chair. Because that’s what war is like, you press forward, retreat, regroup, and press forward again to fight another day. Then, you march back home knowing that the soldier who said, War is Hell, said it after his boots had sunk into the mud of the foxhole.

The first day was rough; all the usual suspects showed up for battle, nausea, fatigue, cold and chills, and the inability to sleep for any reasonable length of time. But, by the second day we began to feel like maybe this would not be our worst day ever. And, in fact, it went better than we anticipated. We drove home, excited to enjoy our four days of R & R, before going back to do it all again. And again. And again. Each treatment bringing us closer to our goal; to beat cancer into submission and head for Hawaii.

So this, my friends, is the true face of cancer. The worst friend you never wanted to have, and yet the friend who sneaks into your life and gives you the gift of discovery; that your strength is an illusion and your self-sufficiency is a gathering of powerless words. And the only exception to this is found one word; Jesus. Ever Present. All Powerful. Tender and Merciful. Gentle and Kind. The One who reigns over us with sword drawn and ready for battle. The One who shines His face through nurses, and patients, and friends who join Him on the battlefield of prayer. The One who holds you close, rocks you to sleep, and whispers softly as your eyes finally close, “It’s okay, you can trust Me, I’ve got this.”

And suddenly you know what’s real.

Thank you for sharing the journey with us.

Love and joy, Bud and SandyJesus-Lamb

 

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