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.



( 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)

Sentimental Journey and the Moments that Count

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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.

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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