Sometimes life can really throw us curveballs…and these days I often feel like I am definitely having trouble with the curve! We all have times when it seems as if the challenges keeps pouring down over our heads to the point we truly think we might drown. When these times hit us, it is easy to lose sight in the storms and start thinking there’s just no way we can make it through. We get frustrated, overwhelmed or just downright depressed. Even if we try to keep ourselves going in public, we privately find it hard to even catch a breath. Trouble and challenges find us no matter how much we try to avoid them. We can certainly make ourselves vulnerable to more difficulties through our choices, but sometimes all the things we see as difficulties are really a chance for us to grow. Yeah, I know. I don’t like the fact that’s the truth either!
Many of you have read my most recent book titled “How We Said Goodbye.” Though it was the story of the journey I made with my friend Annette, in it I also shared the circumstances surrounding my dear friend Sandy and how cancer reared its ugly head in her world a couple of years ago. It has been an amazing journey with all kinds of treatments since that time, but she has done better than I think most of us expected. With each new round of treatments there was potential for all kinds of negative and debilitating effects and yet she sailed through with relatively minor issues. It has been an unspeakable blessing to have seen the progress she has made over the past couple of years. In January, Sandy was pronounced to be “radiologically” cancer free. You can imagine the excitement we all felt at such great news after such a difficult journey! And then it happened….
Sandy had a scan in April that revealed recurrence of her cancer that is necessitating yet another, potentially very extensive, surgery. In addition to the surgery, the doctors will be performing an IORT procedure (Intra-Operative Radiation Therapy) while she is in the operating room. It is an amazing procedure where they are able to move vital organs aside while the surgical wound is still open and pinpoint the radiation therapy directly on the site of the cancer. This may turn out to be a great help to her prognosis. We are certainly hoping so.
Because Sandy really hates the limelight, I realize I might get slapped by her for what I’m about to say, but right now she has no control over my fingers so…here I go. Anyone who knows Sandy or has been around her at all over the past couple of years will tell you she really is one “tough old broad!” I’ve always known and seen what an amazingly strong person she is, but this journey has proved just how right I was. But with Sandy, it’s more than just strength…it’s grace. I’m not saying she doesn’t have moments now and then when things get to her, but to listen to her talk, she has a faith that surpasses that of what most of us claim to have – especially in times of trouble. She may be human, but she continually looks at the blessings her Heavenly Father has given to her or provided for her during this very difficult time instead of looking at all the things she has to deal with. It isn’t platitudes or clichés; it is a palpable, authentic trust and gratitude for God’s love and care for her and her family. She doesn’t wear rose-colored glasses and she knows exactly what she has been (and is) up against, but she truly lives what she believes…even when she thinks she is caving just a little bit.
Sandy and her family are a family of true faith. She and her husband (who happens to be a Pastor) have raised their four daughters with great love. They’ve not had to use words to teach their children (or those around them) what it means to live according to God’s word because they’ve taught them (and us) through their actions. It is this very rational, logical faith and trust in God that is continuing to sustain them now just as it always has. To me, that is a beautiful example of what it means to have peace in the midst of the storm.
So speaking of storms and the ones raging around me right now, I suppose it’s time for me to take note of all the blessings in my own life instead of getting so distracted by the wind and waves that seem like they will overtake me. If Sandy can raise the sails in her storm and harness the wind, I can certainly do better at doing the same in my own. And as she approaches surgery this Friday, May 23rd at 7:30 a.m., I am asking those of you who are willing, to join us in prayer for Sandy, her family and her medical team (Dr. Nakakura, Dr. Gottschalk and their staff). Anything is possible and we choose to believe that our Father truly is working things out for His glory and our ultimate good. The short path is not always what we want to travel, but the reality is we can all breathe easier knowing we are resting in the palm of His hand.
Blessings…and thank you.