When Suffering Becomes a Gift

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We are handing in the keys to our temporary home tomorrow.  After almost 11 months, this place is no longer needed.

The most intense part of my husband’s Leukemia treatments are behind us.

We spent 3 weeks at our real home this month and returned here this week for Bob’s check-up and biopsy.  He’s still in remission and we are going home for good now only to return for periodic cancer checks.

As I walk through the rooms of this small apartment packing up the last of our belongings, I can’t help but think back on all that’s happened here.  There were many days of uncertainty.  Many lonely nights for me as Bob spent days, weeks, months of his own lonely days and nights in the hospital for treatment.

There were dressing changes, IV magnesium and antibiotic infusions done here and long periods of time when all Bob could do was sleep in this space that we called home.  And all I could do was feel helpless — with only a prayer in my heart — as I watched him go through his suffering.  There were several emergency trips to the hospital after the bone marrow transplant, because of infections, virus’, graft vs host rashes, low blood pressure and a fall that ended up with a stitched forehead.  Then there were the re-admittance to the hospital times, because those side effects and illnesses became serious.

And there were times when I looked up and asked, “Where are you God?”  There were times when Bob cried out, in familiar to us words,…”My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

And that’s when Christ identified with us.  That’s when His presence became more real.  That’s when His compassion flowed into our hearts and uplifted our spirits.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  2 Corinthians 1: 3-5

And that’s when suffering becomes a gift.

So we leave this place changed.  We are forever changed and forever grateful knowing that God won’t waste our pain and grateful for this apartment that so often became our holy ground even in the middle of the not so wonderful times.

God doesn’t waste a second of our suffering.  There’s purpose in everything and the hardest of times, those times of trouble prune away the unnecessary to make room for the necessary.

Blessings,

Nancy

( I shared how this apartment was provided for us here: Your answer could be right around the corner and a little of our holy ground experience here: An Unexpected Gift)

An Unexpected Gift

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This place so far from home, the one we live in close to the hospital some may call isolation but we call it holy ground.

It’s a new normal.  A place stripped of most of our possessions but here in the quiet we have found God to be more than enough.

His presence is often experienced the most in our deep nights of the soul.

We are experiencing Him in new and profound ways.

That’s a gift.

Cancer.  My husband’s cancer has caused us to go deeper with God, to experience His peace that passes all understanding more frequently.  Especially in times of fear when we feel lost and alone and cry out to Him.  It may not happen immediately but He always lets us know that He hasn’t abandoned us.

We will never be the same.  You can’t go through something like this and ever come out on the other side of it the same as you entered into it.

Often God’s mercies are wrapped in unexpected ways.

Look at Jesus.  Away in a manger no crib for a bed…

Who would have thought God would wrap His most precious gift of love, grace and mercy in swaddling cloths?

Who would have thought God Himself would come to earth in such a lowly, humble way?

Truth is His most precious gifts often come wrapped that way.  In ways that we would never expect.  His gifts are perfect and right on time.

We prayed for 4 months that a bone marrow donor would be found for my husband.

Many have prayed.  Perhaps you prayed too.

The news came that a donor could not be found through the registry.

More chemo.  More waiting.  More praying. More hoping.

Then the miracle came.

Our oldest son, Scott, tested as over half a match.

Not perfect but good enough.

It’s good enough for a haploidentical bone marrow transplant.

These types of transplants have been done successfully at the University Research Hospital where the transplant will be done.  All transplants come with benefits and risks.  It’s not easy by any means but we trust God with the outcome.

On January 6 my husband will enter the hospital.  His immune system will be suppressed through more chemotherapy and radiation.

On Januray 13, Scott’s bone marrow will be harvested and given to Bob through an IV.

My husband, Bob, will receive the gift of life through the son that he gave life to.  The son we gave birth to is giving his father a second chance at life.

Who would have thought that the answer; the gift would come through our son?

We celebrate the most precious gift ever given in Jesus this month, the one who has given us life eternal.

And we receive with grateful hearts His precious gift of mercy wrapped in the most unexpected way through our son, Scott and we thank our son for his most special offering.  Certainly it’s the best gift that he’s ever given his dad for Christmas.

We are going to have a Merry Christmas knowing that our God knows what He is doing and although a perfect donor match could not be found He is going to give Bob a perfect transplant.

Merry Christmas!

Nancy ❤

( The photo was taken of an angel adorning our beautiful European Cyprus Tree.  Both the tree and ornaments were sent to us by some dear friends)

Grace~It’s All About Grace

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The words slid off my tongue like butter from a knife.

Smooth, slick words rolled out of my mouth and into my listener’s ears.

If only I had caught my words that morning and took them captive while they were still a thought.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Restless, agitated, mulling over my words, trying to convince myself that I spoke ‘truth in love’ was how I spent the next few days.  My soul felt like a clogged channel and I was looking for ways to unclog it.  The truth is–I couldn’t do that myself.

Around the same time, I was meeting with a group of women studying a book titled, “Seeking Him–experiencing the joy of personal revival” and what an eye-opening, wow inducing, all-encompassing truth encounter that was!

I rested one morning in the chapter on having a clear conscience and dealing with offenses toward others.  Emmanuel ~ God’s astonishing grace with me, was pointing out, teaching, empowering and challenging me to live out the gospel.

I may have failed to live it out just days before but I could begin again.  It’s what we do after we make a mess that really matters.

Acknowledging the messiness before God was liberating.  His grace ushered in peace, but my peace, wasn’t enough.  I had to bring peace into the relationship with the woman, that I had offended.  I needed to apologize.

With an invitation to a party in hand (that I knew she would be attending too) I planned my move.

I was hoping my words would slide off my tongue like butter (this time too) but I envisioned them more like peanut butter sticking to the roof of my mouth as I tried to force out an apology.  I wanted her to understand the motive behind the words; defend myself and I kept rehearsing how I’d say it.

But none of that mattered on the day we met.  I said a prayer while walking into the event and courage and power flowed through my once clogged soul and I simply said, “I want to apologize for what I said, it was uncalled for, will you forgive me?”   She smiled, “Wow I appreciate that.  Yes I forgive you.”

We sat at the same table, enjoying the party together, with the air cleared of everything but GRACE.

Grace.  It’s all about grace.

God wrapped Himself in grace on that first Christmas, over 2000 years ago, and the gift of grace keeps on giving.

It’s grace that meets us in the middle of relationships and helps us speak the simple words “Will you forgive me?” And it’s grace that allows the response, “Yes I forgive you.”

It’s not enough for me to accept His gift of grace, I need to extend it.  Freely I have received so I can freely give.  There isn’t another way to live the life of faith except through grace.

When we first believed it was by grace; living our faith daily is grace upon grace, upon grace, upon grace…it’s all about grace.

Is there someone who needs the gift of grace from you this Christmas?

Written by: Nancy Janiga ©2014

New Every Morning

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Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  (Lamentations 3:22-24)  I’ve read and focused on this comforting verse recently and even shared it in my last post.

Another version of the same verse states:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

God’s love never ceases, his mercies never end, they are new every morning, because he is faithful.

His mercies come in different ways — like gifts to unwrap.

Sometimes the gift I want isn’t the package that I receive.

A phone call with unsettling news came yesterday.

It was an ordinary day.  A day when my Iris’ were in full bloom and my peony buds were getting ready to open. All things were good.

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peony-bud - CopyThen the phone call.  In the late afternoon as the call came in, storm clouds rolled over my house and the world around me and inside of me changed.  No longer did it seem good.  If God’s mercy is new every morning, I’d like the mercy to come packaged in a change in circumstances.  For now, that isn’t the gift that I’m receiving.

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 One friend said, “You’ve got this.”  My thought was, I know she loves me, means well and I appreciate her confidence in me, but there is no way that I have this under controlOr in my control

Then the words from my sister, “God’s got this.”  Yep, now those are words I can count on and believe in.  Sometimes I unpack mercy through the words of encouragement that are spoken to me through others.

There are times when God’s mercy shows up in a visit or a phone call from a friend who just happened to have me on their mind.

It can come through the words of a card, a blog, a book, a sermon and especially the Bible–comforting words that warm my heart and carry me through the day.

Other times it’s unwrapped in quiet reflection as I remember how mercy was given to me in the past and it will come again.

One day at a time his mercy comes.  It’s new and different everyday but from the same God.  A God who never changes and promises me that his mercy will be new every morning.

Today it came in the symbol of peace.  A dove.  A dove on the bird bath in my yard at dawn.

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A dove brought an olive branch to Noah to signal new life.  A dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, descended on Jesus as he was baptized by John the Baptist.

The dove; a symbol of peace and a symbol of the Holy Spirit sat before me on my bird bath.  It reminded me that I cannot manufacture peace.  It comes, like a dove, descending on me and through me by the Holy Spirit as I trust in God.  In the remembering, I received the gift.

The Holy Spirit will see me through all things and I will be presented with gifts of mercy daily and I will untie the ribbons and accept the gift with a thankful heart.

This morning the gift I unwrapped was PEACE.  All things are good again–within me.

Written by: Nancy Janiga ©2014