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GRATITUDE: That's a Big Word!

Gail's Journey

Some words seem bigger than others, such as STOP on a traffic sign, EXIT when trying to get out of a building, DANGER, FIRE, SALE or FREE. The words that stand out to us also depend on what we are looking for, our focus.

In the medical realm, we are hoping for words like NEGATIVE, BENIGN, WITHIN NORMAL LIMITS, and fear the words ABNORMAL, and of course the dreaded word, CANCER! No one wants to deal with the word DEATH, but we love the word, LIFE!

I had my last CT scan on 8/16. Although we were hoping for a miracle with words like TUMOR-FREE and NORMAL, we got the report of NO SIGNIFICANT INTERVAL CHANGE. This was still good news for now, and we will keep praying for a miracle!

In the daily struggle with this cancer and the increasing side effects from the chemotherapy, it is easy to get discouraged, feel sad, angry, fearful, and depressed. All of these feelings and emotions seem to come and go depending on the day, the circumstances, the distractions, how I am feeling physically, concerns for my family, and my focus. I think it is normal to have all of these feelings, but I cannot let them stay for long. Don and our daughters feel the same way.

So, how do we get our thoughts and focus off the negative and instead think of the positive, the joy and the hope? Time with God in prayer, praise and His word are vital! Then there is another focus: GRATITUDE – that’s a big word that brings big results!

Webster defines Gratitude as, “The state of being grateful; thankfulness.” For me, gratitude begins with counting my blessings from the past and being thankful for the moments I am living right now. We all have things to put on our gratitude list. The more I do this, the more my mind and heart move to a state of thankfulness. This is a good place to be!

While I am frustrated that I’ve lost about 75% of the feeling in my hands and feet from the chemotherapy, I am grateful that this aggressive cancer is being held back from growing right now. Although my life has changed drastically and I’m unable to return to my job, I am spending more time with family and friends. I am grateful that God continues to answer prayers with giving me decent energy most days. I’m grateful that I get angry with my body when I don’t feel good or am feeling exhausted, because that means I still have the fight to keep going. I am grateful that I can still take walks and enjoy God’s creation. When I get frustrated with the numbness I now have at the end of my tongue and the way food looses it’s taste the first several days after chemotherapy, I’m grateful that I still have a good appetite and am able to enjoy most foods.

For years, I felt a desire to write, but didn’t really have a clear direction. I talked to God about it many times and wondered what He had in store for me. I never dreamed it would happen in the form of writing blogs about my life with terminal cancer!

Yet, I am thankful for the opportunity to write and hopefully encourage others.

I am so thankful for my husband! He is a strong man of God. He is a great leader and visionary, compassionate, loving, forgiving, romantic and fun! I am thankful that we have had the opportunity to minister together at CACC for 35 years as of next week. He was persistent and faithful to God’s calling and vision for this church through some very difficult times and many wonderful years. I am honored to have been by his side. (In fact, we are celebrating 37 years of marriage today!) I am thankful for a great marriage and thankful that we had God to lead us through times that were difficult in our marriage.

I am thankful for our 3 amazing daughters, who we got to bring into this world, love, teach and mentor into their adult lives. I am thankful for our 4th daughter who God rescued and put in our family in her teenage years. It has been amazing to see the miracles that God has done in her life. It is so wonderful to watch them now as leaders in God’s kingdom! I am grateful for 2 wonderful son-in-laws and our grandson!

I am grateful that God chose me and my family to represent girls in need in Southern Asia, and that He has given me the opportunity to build a legacy beyond my family, church, friends, and country. Now I, and all who join me, are building a legacy in a part of the world where I knew the need was great, but didn’t know how I could make a difference.

I am thankful for all of you who have been joining with me to raise the support for 25 young women in Southern Asia who are being trained and mentored, and are now in communities bringing the news of Jesus and providing means to transform their poverty-stricken communities, even in the midst of persecution and danger. If you have not read about this in previous blogs or want more information on how you can join me in this ministry, go to

I am filled with gratitude when I think of how blessed I am to have been raised in a Christian family from birth by parents that showed us how to love and live for Jesus. I am thankful for my 3 sisters and my brother, and the love and support they show me. I am grateful for my many friends and my church family. I am grateful for the job I’ve had with Hershey Medical Center, my co-workers, and for those I was able to help. I could go on and on...

Your list may be very different from mine, and what I wrote is only a start! The point is that we all have struggles in life, but we all have things to be thankful for. Both the list of struggles and the list of blessings will each continue to grow as we go through this life. Jesus told us there would be both. We need to keep our focus on Jesus – the author of life, our strength, our deliverer, our hope. We all need a Savior as none of us has ever been perfect. Jesus has stood in our place to take the penalty of sin for us. He pursues us and loves us. He wants a deep relationship with us. When we accept His free gift and love, He now stands before us as our righteousness before a Holy God. I am so grateful!!! What about you?

GRATITUDE - that’s a big word!!!!