Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Day of Celebration!

1 Chronicles 16:31
"Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, 'The LORD reigns!'"

We got the big news today. The doctor at the cancer clinic came into the exam room with a big smile on his face. He said, "You look beautiful. Your counts are beautiful. Your immune system is robust. Everything looks great. You can do whatever you want."

With a couple of minor exceptions (she's not quite ready to dig in the dirt and she can't clean the litter box), all restrictions have been lifted. She's free to go back to work, part-time, when her energy level is high enough. She can eat at a buffet. Most importantly, she's allowed to go back to church.

Tammy, David Lee and I will worship together Sunday morning. It will be her first time at Sunday morning service at Cedar Ridge since March 22, 2009. It gets me choked up just thinking about it.

We have a lot to be thankful for. We have said it many times, but we have been carried on a pillow of prayers. At first those prayers were for survival and peace through a difficult time. They transitioned into prayers of thanksgiving and continued requests for recovery. Now, many are joining us in praising God for His wonderful act of love and grace.

Back when we received the bleakest news, that without aggressive treatment Tammy would not see Christmas 2009, we took a step back, then said (and wrote, November 30, 2008): "We believe it is part of the plan to draw others to Christ. Tammy is very much at peace with whatever this disease brings, because she knows that God can be glorified. If she is healed completely, as is our selfish prayer, then God can be glorified because of His power. If He chooses to have her suffer with the effects of the disease for a long period of time, He can be glorified through her faithfulness. If He chooses to bring her Home because of this disease, He can be glorified by her peace."

There were times when it was hard for me to read that, and much harder to believe it. I knew God was in charge, but I couldn't imagine life without Tammy. Tammy's faith is very strong, and she kept reminding me that His grace would be sufficient. Still, it was tough. Fortunately, He is faithful even when we're not. As we look back now, it is so obvious God had His plan in place all along. He is now being glorified with Tammy's steady and relatively smooth recovery, and her faith during it.

We are very thankful for family and friends who have walked along this path with us, many times picking us up and carrying us. We both have awesome parents and extended families. There was a message on our phone when we got home from one of Tammy's brothers who called it "the best news I've ever received." Mike and Jim (Tammy's brothers) and Ray (my brother) have been a big part of this journey. We lost track of how many people have stopped by or called to pass along cheer. Every visit, call and card was meaningful.

We're very thankful once again for the donor. We now have the opportunity to contact him. It's up to the donor registry in his area whether we can find out anything about him. But we can send him a card telling him how thankful we are for him. We'll post something if and when we get to meet him.

Thanks once again for praying for us. Celebrate with us today that the victory is ours--this victory over a deadly disease and the ultimate victory we have over death through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Blessings at Easter

Luke 24:6
"He is not here; he has risen!"

Today is our favorite day of the year. Our family celebrates birthdays and anniversaries. We enjoy spending time with extended family at holidays. We look forward to Christmas like most people do. But Easter is the most special holiday. Our lives are built on the promises of God, the greatest of which is eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And that is commemorated on this Resurrection Day.

Easter is the only day all year that I don't have trouble getting up in the morning. Tammy is a morning person, but I become one only one day a year. We just can't get enough of the worship. If there are multiple services, and there's room for a few more folks, we stay.

Today was a special Easter for us. Last year at Easter, Tammy was in the hospital on Easter. Our whole family visited her in shifts, but we each had to leave her behind when we went to her parents' house for dinner. We had hope for the future (Hebrews 11:1), but in a very real sense, hope was focused on Tammy's recovery.

Fast forward one year. This morning, for the first time in 14 months, Tammy, David Lee, Julie and I worshiped together in church. (Tammy is still not allowed to go to church, but we were visiting Julie in Louisville where nobody knew us, so Tammy was safe from being "mugged.")

It was very emotional. Not only were we reminded of what Christ did for us, but we were together. We are so blessed that Jesus is the center of all of our lives. The power of His grace overcame us as we sang and prayed together.

The pastor spoke about plugging into the power of Christ. It's not just waiting for us when we die and get to Heaven; it's available to us now. He used the deep theological analogy of Jed Clampett and the Beverly Hillbillies: "Well, the first thing you know, Ol' Jed's a millionaire." Jed didn't suddenly become a millionaire. He just suddenly figured out that he those resources to tap into.

As we go through life, we have an unlimited resource of power there for the asking. So many times we try to rely on our power. It is our prayer that we can remember the source of all power. God bless you this special day. Use the power He provides.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Exodus 12:47
"The whole community...must celebrate it."

Today is Tammy's first birthday! Really! Even though she came into this world more than 50 years ago, it was one year ago today that she got life back. It was April 1, 2009, when she received a bone-marrow transplant. God blessed her with the gift of life through the selfless act of donation of a young man we don't even know.

Just like with a young child, there is a whole world out there ready for Tammy to explore. She's not too far away from returning to a normal lifestyle. We'll take it slow, and not just because her energy level is still not where it should be. We want her to enjoy the journey, like a toddler exploring the world outside her crib.

After a year with the primary goal being making it through the day, the next year for Tammy may include: meeting her donor, traveling more than an hour's drive, returning to work, and, of course, returning to church. There are so many things we used to take for granted.

We are looking forward to traveling to Poland next spring for David Lee's wedding. We also hope to return to the missions field sometime in the next year or so. In the meantime, Tammy is anxious to return to the Sunday morning classroom. She has taught little kids in Sunday School since she was one step removed from being a kid herself. And, of course, she wants to continue to get healthier.

Later this month, Tammy will go through her one-year evaluations. If everything turns out the way they want it, we might have the opportunity to meet her donor. We'll update the blog if that happens. We'll introduce you to our friend as we get to know him.

It's hard to believe that it's been a year. We have felt the prayer support of people around the world. We thank you for riding along with us. We hope that every day is a new beginning for you.