It has been a week of “new” ups and downs. After all, most weeks have their typical ups and downs. I felt pretty rough last Friday and Saturday after my second chemotherapy treatment. But by Sunday morning, I felt good and was anxious to sing with our worship team. I love praising the Lord through music! It was so good to help lead worship and sing the powerful lyrics of the songs. It was also good to see people and hear many words of encouragement.
My body hurt and felt fatigued again on Monday. My third chemo treatment went as expected this past Friday. I was very thankful for a new IV medication they used to help with nausea. It really did help this week. The nausea was reminding me of many months of sickness during my pregnancies! I told the Lord and others that I would rather be pregnant again, even at this age, than to be dealing with this cancer. I continue to pray for healing and am so appreciative of others who are joining me in this plea to Jesus!
The rest of last week went pretty well. I was able to work some hours at the adolescent drug rehab facility in Harrisburg, which has been a contracted part of my job since working for Hershey Medical Center. I am able to be flexible with my time there and it is less stressful than being in the regular clinic. I am grateful that I still get to do that a couple of times a week. I have often talked to the boys there about my faith when they were open and have encouraged many to pray and be open to Jesus, but now I feel even more of an urgency to encourage them in this way by sharing where my strength is coming from, as they know I have cancer.
The Lord has definitely given me a heart and many opportunities to encourage teenagers and young adults. There are so many changes, needs, questions, personal struggles and relationship struggles happening at these ages on every level – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and so many times there is no knowledge, experience or encouragement of spiritual things. I am always amazed at how teenagers may try to avoid eye contact in many conversations, but when I am telling them the positive things I see in them, and how God created them uniquely with gifts and talents, their eyes become glued to mine as though they are starving to hear something positive about themselves. We can all do that! I am so proud of our Momentum teen ministry, the students, the coaches, and of course, my daughter, Kristin, who leads them. They also “get this need” and are pouring life into our young people!
In fact, I was able to go to Momentum last night for their worship time. I have played the drums periodically with the group, but last night I was there to support one of our young men, Nathan VanOrmer. He took the time and had the courage to write to me a couple of weeks ago. He said he wanted me to know that I was his inspiration to play the drums! I had no idea!! He asked me to come when he played next and that was last night. How thrilling for me! I am so proud of him and each of our teens who are growing and serving the Lord. I know God has unique and big plans for each of them. Their hugs and smiles mean a lot!
It has also been encouraging to receive cards and messages from some of my patients who I have been seeing for many years at the eating disorder clinic in Hershey. It is encouraging to hear how they are still working hard to overcome their struggles and are also growing in their faith!
As Don shared in his sermon yesterday, I received an amazing gift in the mail this week from Julie Russell from my home church in Altoona. She sent a little red “Hymnal for Boys and Girls” which I recognized as I opened it. She had kept this book for over 40 years! She wrote a beautiful note inside the book to let me know about the impact that I had on her life and on her sister, Jana, when they were little girls, and I was a young teenager leading the worship for their Sunday School class. I have read her message many times and it still brings tears each time. I had no idea that God used me to impact Julie and Jana to “fall in love with Jesus”. There are no words to describe how amazing this is! I am also thankful that they took the time to let me know.
Yesterday, I got to attend both services at church. What an amazing group of people! So many have taken the time to let me know they care and are praying. Their words, written and spoken, are refreshing. We are in a series called “Small Things, BIG Difference”. Don preached about “our words” – how they can be “life-giving or life-taking.” The examples I gave above and many other things so far in this difficult journey are driving this message home to me in a very real way!! The main scripture Don used holds power and truth. Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” (NLT) He reminded us that “Words kill or words bring life. They are either poison or fruit---you choose.”
I am finding that a serious illness creates crisis on many levels, and also a sense of urgency as time may be very limited. Please let me encourage all who are reading this to not wait for crisis to make your words count, and be courageous and care enough to let others know how much they mean to you and how they may have inspired you. It’s a very good thing.
There have been good times this week, but also many struggles and emotions. Life has changed on every level. I keep praying that God will quickly teach us, and others, what he wants us to learn, then heal my body. It is encouraging to know that so many are asking God for my healing. I continue to sense his peace. I am hurting for my family also, as they are hurting and trying to face an uncertain future. Please continue to lift them before the Lord. Thank you for encouraging each of them also. I am trusting in the Lord. I know His plans are beyond my understanding. I continue to remember what the disciples said after Jesus taught some hard lessons and many of his followers walked away and left him. John 6, verses 66-69 – “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God’.” This is where I, and all of us, rest our hope!