Our Hearts Are Being Refreshed

macarons xxx

It’s early.  I woke before dawn and watched daylight break through the darkness.  I glance at the cup a dear friend sent to me and read the prayer printed on it.

“May God grant you courage, and through His grace provide the peace that lies in knowing He’s always at your side.”

More than ever I need to know this.  We, my husband and I, need to know this.

My friend sent two different but special mugs.  One for me and one for Bob.

The other mug says:

FAITH, is being sure of what we hope for.  Hebrews 11:1

Our hope is in the Lord.  Our hope is knowing that He will give us strength and courage to walk through this valley.  And as the prayer on the cup says…and through His grace provide the peace that lies in knowing He’s always at our side.

We believe.

Bob went to sleep with those words on his lips last night:  “I believe.”

There have been bursts of glory knowing God is near as His overwhelming presence carries us.  It’s actually more than knowing it.  We’re experiencing it.

We arrived here in this place, 170 miles and three hours away from our home, at the end of August.

It is the beginning of December now and we are still here in our home away from home.  In this apartment 2 miles away from the hospital where Bob is being treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, we are living our new normal.

Bob spent 34 days in the hospital during his induction treatment.  Now he is having his treatments out patient as we wait for news about a stem cell/bone marrow transplant.

A donor match hasn’t been found.

We’re running against time and soon the transplant team will be making a decision to do either an umbilical cord blood transplant or use a 1/2 match from a family member in an attempt to save Bob’s life.

Chemotherapy alone will not keep the aggressive fast growing cancer in remission.

Without the quick decisions and chemotherapy program that Bob’s doctors designed for him, he may not be here today.

We were whisked away within days to begin his treatment.  They didn’t waste any time.

Bob is in remission receiving chemo to keep it there until a transplant can be done.

rose x

A couple of weeks ago, we found flowers on the doorstep of the apartment where we’re living.  A gift from friends back home.  I clipped and arranged them, put them in a vase and they have been giving us many days of joy.

As we look around at the gifts and cards that so many friends have sent we’re overwhelmed with gratitude.

My sister and her husband have been coming at least once a week.  Dave stays with Bob and Judy takes me out for a while.  My other sister, Diane and her husband Andy visit and Diane meets Judy and I for lunch often.

The doctors and nurses ask me, “What are you doing to take care of yourself?”  It’s easy to forget that if I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be able to care for Bob.

My sisters have been lifesavers for me, rescuers who won’t let me slip into depression or neglect my emotional or mental health.

Our sons; our daughter-in-law ~ ~ they’re like life-saving medicine to our hearts.

My brothers, my parents, many friends ~ their cards, their calls, their texts, their visits, their prayers are bathing us with hope and courage. We have an army of prayer warriors standing with us in prayer.

We arrived here in the summer…

queens anne lace 4 x

flwrs 3xxx

Saw the beauty of autumn come…

dandy 2

1(1)whole apple 2

then slowly slip away…

tree leave e

droplets

and stood amazed at the winter wonderland of our first snowfall…

snowy berriesx

Through the seasons of change and waiting, we are refreshed by the love and prayers of so many people.

In the fights of life, people can be conduits of great joy and deep refreshment.  Margaret Feinberg

There are many friends and family members fighting this fight with us.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.  Philemon 1:7

Blessings,

Nancy ❤

(All photos were taken by me in or near our home away from home.  I believe God has given us the ability to find and create beauty in the middle of this messy often painful world.  I hang tight to Him and to His promises and will continue my search for beauty through my lens)

Sentimental Journey and the Moments that Count

pinecone 4 wdp - Copy

I’ve felt sentimental lately.

A dear aunt of mine passed away on Thanksgiving.

The older I get my aunt’s age of 77 doesn’t seem that old.  Of course I know that younger (much younger) people or children pass away and the reality is that death is no respecter of age.

Either is illness.  My aunt actually left her family a few years ago as Alzheimer’s snatched her from her loved ones and kept her captive until being released and set free on Thanksgiving.

She was a big part of my childhood~and even into my adult years~so the memories of the lovely person she was with her beautiful smile and contagious laughter are washing over me like a stream from a waterfall.

I’ve felt the need for stillness in the days that followed the news.  I’m sensing a holy hush, a reminder of how fleeting this life really is.

Not only am I visiting memories of my aunt but memories of other loved ones, that have passed on.  I’m brought back to different places in time recalling the moments spent with each one, who they were, their personalities, their quirks, their uniqueness and how they mattered.  How they mattered to me.

I’m sitting here, in my pajamas (as noon approaches) with my third cup of coffee, and a half eaten bowl of steel-cut oats, clicking away at my keyboard.

computer 3 wdp - Copy

Then out of nowhere my husband approaches and says, “Your brother, Frank, got us hooked on steel-cut oats, remember?”

I slide my glasses down my nose and look over them, “Yes, I remember.”

And I’m transported to another time; another memory.

Frank made a big pan of steel-cut oats for us, on one of our last visits with him, before his death.  Coffee, oats and laughter filled our morning.  Frank always made us laugh with his quick wit and funny stories.

You’ve been there too, I’ll bet.  I mean the journey back to those sentimental places for a visit.

Then after a brief visit, we return.  We come back to here, now, the moments of today and hopefully begin to savor each one.

I savor through photography.

Some people may think that taking pictures doesn’t allow a person to truly enjoy the moment.  For me, just the opposite is true.

My camera engages me with my surroundings so much so that I become aware of things that may go unnoticed by others, especially in nature.

“Some people say they prefer living life instead of taking pictures of it.  That’s missing the point.  Photography gets you more involved in your environment.  Most of all, it gets you out of the house and into the sunlight, where a lot of what I call “present-moment living” happens in the first place.”   Jim Miotke

My camera has been a gift from God to help me focus on the blessings that surround me.  One by one I see them, frame them with my eye and then snap them.

I don’t have to have a camera to savor the moments and either do you.  We just need an awareness of how precious they are and give thanks for every gift.

The point is we often rush through our days without savoring much but when we make a conscience effort to savor we become engaged in the moments without letting them slip by.  And we engage with the people we’re with making the time with them count

During this busy season of December, taking notice of when we’re harried, hurried, stressed (and with a deep breath) remember what really matters–the moments–the people–that’s what will help us refocus again and again.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it is a memory.” Dr Seuss 

Let’s savor and value the simplest of moments now–the everyday blessings–even before they become a memory.

Written by:  Nancy Janiga©2014

When We Need Each Other

door3xx

“It’s kind of scary,”  she said.  A young woman, who stood on the threshold ready to walk through a new door, summed up her thoughts with those four words.  It’s.  kind.  of.  scary.

I sat with her for a couple of hours.  I listened, offered some suggestions but those four words didn’t leave me once we left one another and drove home in different directions.

Sometimes doors that we don’t want to go through appear and we have no choice–we have to enter them.  Others may look beautifully inviting but may not be the best ones to open.  She and I tried to sort that out together.

Although years separated that young woman and me, we actually weren’t that different.  It’s the unknowns that lie ahead that can overshadow our faith sometimes.  They can paralyze us with fear if we allow them to consume us.

She was growing up, about to venture out into the world, taking on new responsibilities and she was afraid.

I, a mature woman, recently had a few of my own fears.

My husband, Bob, started his treatment for CML last week.  As he was preparing to take his first dose, I read all the possible side effects from the information sheet that came with it.

That did it.  I allowed my thoughts to spin out of control.  All of a sudden the scenarios of what could happen played out in my mind.  Those scenarios overshadowed my faith.  I began to tread on shaky ground but caught myself before I got too far.

That’s when I asked others to pray for Bob (that he wouldn’t have any adverse side effects from the chemo drug) and that I would regain my peace.

It’s times like this that we need each other.  That’s when we need others to speak back to us the faith that we announced, pronounced and were walking in just hours before.

We aren’t lone rangers.  In a world that glorifies independence it’s difficult, at times, to step back and then turn back to what is true–we need each other.  It’s called interdependence.

Independence proclaims, “I don’t need anybody.”  Dependence says “without you I can’t survive.”

Interdependence throws off pride, doesn’t pretend to have it all together, isn’t a burden on others but knows when it’s time to reach out to someone.

It’s the way we’re designed.  We weren’t designed to handle life alone.

egg heads

In our fear we should never be afraid to share what we’re experiencing with the right people.  Often it will lose its grip on us just by telling someone else about it and talking it through.

It also loosens its hold on us when we allow others to carry us to Jesus when we’re too weary or afraid to walk toward him ourselves.

Like the paralytic man in Luke 5: 17-26 who needed someone to carry him to Jesus we, at times, need others to carry us to him when we feel paralyzed by fear.  You’ll notice in the story that Jesus commended the faith of the paralytic’s friends and then ultimately healed the man.

It wasn’t long, not even a few hours, when my fears washed away and faith returned.

Also sometimes it’s good to go to a familiar place where we are alone or a place that we know will help us to enter into the presence of God.

For me, one of those places is the lake near our home.

The night of Bob’s first treatment, after he took his first dose and I asked others to pray, we drove down to the lake.

It was chilly.  We sat in the car and watched the sun begin to set.  Then I walked down to the water’s edge.  Very few people were on the beach in the chill of that evening.  It was peaceful.  Some sunsets are brilliant and other times the sun looks like a ball of fire against a dark sky.  The only way to describe the one before us that night was tranquil.

tranquil sunset

Bright light broke through the sky with ribbons of pink around it.  Waves washed up on shore and light reflected on the wet sand from the light above.

As I think about that night, I’m reminded of the words from “Hosanna” by Paul Boloche–“In your presence all our fears are washed away.”  My fears were washed away…in his presence that night on the beach.

With every wave, in the peaceful tranquility of the sun setting, I was able to carry Bob in prayer to the one who would keep him, hold him and use the medicine to heal him and not to harm him.  Other friends and family came to mind too.  As I carried Bob, I carried others.

And today I’m able to carry my young friend in prayer.  The one who was about to walk through a door into the unknown.  The one who spoke those four words to me, “It’s kind of scary.”

Written by: Nancy Janiga©2014