“I grew up on a farm at the end of a lane where living and loving were one and the same, adventures were many, sorrows were few, as kids we could always find something to do….” This is where my parents still live and enjoy the beauty and peace of this special place. My sister, Julie Nevel, is a singer/songwriter and the lyrics above are part of a beautiful song she wrote, called, “Asbury Lane.” (Those who know the song are already singing along!) The song continues, “…The lane was adorned with wild flowers and trees. I’ve never found better treasures than these and the bittersweet wild cherries, on Asbury Lane …. Where we learned to love Jesus and we learned to love life. It never occurred to me that I should ask why. I just knew that I loved livin’ on Asbury Lane.”
This was my dad’s dream. He spent summers working on his aunt and uncle’s farm when he was a boy and always wanted his own farm. When I was 8 years old, we moved to his dream farm. My dad took a risk for his dream. He is a carpenter and had built a nice ranch house for his bride in the suburbs of Altoona, PA. Now he was asking his wife, who just had their fourth daughter, to move from her new house to a very small, rundown house that was on the farm, with a promise he would build her a new house there also. My mother followed my dad’s dream and they purchased the farm. Three years later, we moved into that new house on the farm that Dad built as promised. It was good we had a larger house at that point, because their baby boy came shortly after, to total five children!
My parents took a risk on a dream, and the results of that risk have not only brought joy to their own children, but have had a ripple effect of bringing joy and a place of peace for relatives and many friends over the years. It is still the most peaceful place anywhere to me, and of course, holds many great memories.
When we were kids, we would go to a pond in the horse pasture for fun. During the winter, we would ice skate. During the nice weather, we loved having contests to see how many times we could get a rock to skip across the water. We watched the ripple effect of the rocks on the water grow from little ripples to giant ripples as we found bigger rocks to throw.
Don and I were married during our last 2 years of college, going separate ways each day as Don drove to Johnson University, as he was studying for the ministry, and I drove the opposite way to the University of Tennessee, where I studied nursing. As we were nearing graduation, Don interviewed for ministries in Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The interview in Pennsylvania was for a fairly new church in Harrisburg - Capital Area Christian Church. We really felt we were being called to the little church in PA. The same day that Don was interviewing, I took my nursing boards in Harrisburg, following the calling we felt before we knew we would move to PA! (At that time the state nursing boards involved two days of written tests. Things have progressed to shorter computer tests now, so be thankful all of you nursing students!) Don was asked to be the pastor at both the church in VA and the one in OH before we had any word from the church in PA. Don had always felt God was calling him to the Northeast, and so, he turned down the first two churches and took a risk to trust where he thought God was leading. Then he got the call, and the rest is history. Looking back over the last 34 years of his ministry at CACC, there have been many, many ripple effects. Each person that has been affected and changed has caused their own ripple effect in the lives of others. It has been amazing to watch the church grow in numbers and maturity, and to hear how those who have moved to other areas have continued on with serving the Lord. The ripple effect continues.
I’ve been thinking lately about the ripple effects this cancer has been causing in our lives – some good, some bad. The bad are pretty obvious. It has disrupted our lives - big time, and nothing has been the same since December 16th. Bad news or not feeling well causes a ripple effect of doubt and discouragement, which we have to fight and decide not to stay in that mindset. Some side effects from treatment are frustrating also, such as right now, I am typing with gloves on with hand warmers in the gloves, sipping on a mixture of ginger ale and warm water for fluids and nausea (yes, drinking plain warm water is as nauseating as it sounds) due to neuropathy with cold sensitivity. Not much fun and it is frustrating. Don has a hard time trying to carry on with each aspect of his ministry with this illness and uncertainties looming over him. He recently made the comment, “When I’m at work, I can’t stop thinking about you and home, and when I’m at home, I can’t stop thinking about work and all I have to do.”
I’ll admit that the beginning of this week was difficult for us for several reasons, but in different ways. Through it, I was encouraged by others to recognize not only the power of words we speak to ourselves and each other, but to recognize the power of “The Word” and His words in the Scriptures. I love receiving text messages from various people who write out a verse or so of Scripture that I can read and concentrate on quickly. The words of scripture carry power and have a great ripple effect in my thoughts and attitude.
A couple that have been helpful this week were:
The Lord says, “I will save the one who loves me. I will keep him safe, because he trusts in me. He will call out to me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in times of trouble. I will save him and honor him. I will give him a long and full life. I will save him.”
“My child, pay attention to my words; listen attentively to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight, guard them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and healing to one’s entire body. Guard your heart with all vigilance for from it are the sources of life.”
There have also been good ripple effects from this illness, which are also very apparent! The overwhelming support and encouragement we have been receiving is amazing. We have heard from so many people who are offering encouragement and reminding us of times together, past memories and letting us see the ripple effects our lives have had on others. It is humbling and very encouraging. There are a lot of emotions involved, which include tears (many happy tears) and laughter. Either way, crying and deep emotions can be draining and time consuming, although necessary and good. Those of you who wear contact lenses know this is not good for clear vision for the rest of the day, besides the swollen eyes!
I have come to realize that God has used my life to cause a ripple effect into other people’s lives in ways I didn’t realize. Don has realized the same. This has encouraged us to continue to reach out to others, and serve and trust God through our circumstances. There are so many of you that I would like to respond to individually, but am finding time is limited with trying to work part-time and deal with all of the medical issues, and just the routine things of life that go on. More time is needed to enjoy family. Many conversations become longer and more involved with many people asking our situation and medical updates. (By the way, the good news yesterday is that some of the labs results are moving in the right direction!!) The ripple effects of dealing with this illness will go on. I am praying for God’s healing to allow me to continue to serve Him and be part of the ripple effects He creates through us as we let Him use us. I want to be able to declare his works as the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 118:7, “I shall not die but live, and shall declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord.”
I am humbled and encouraged by the ripple effects of love that you all are having on our lives as you pour out your love and generosity in so many ways! God is using each of you to help us, and I know He is using you in many other ways to touch so many others. It will be amazing someday in heaven to be able to truly see the effect our lives have had on others, and how that ripple effect continued on through their lives to more people. It is quite a powerful picture! Let’s continue to take risks as God leads and keep the ripples flowing!