Thursday, January 14, 2010

Going Home

I wanted to give you all an update on my friend Amy. I never got around to the follow-up post about the accident we were all involved in - sorry about that. Someday....

Anyway, Amy is doing excellent. She returned from the two weeks or so around Christmas that I didn't see her as a brand new woman. She reported being amazed what life could be like without the ever-present pain.

However, life has certainly NOT returned to normal. Through this journey of recovery that Amy was on, her mother-in-law - Mark's mom, Dianne - was on her own journey towards Heaven.

Yesterday, she went home. It was a long struggle with leukemia and the pre-cursor disease that led to it. It became clear that the only thing that would cure her was a stem-cell transplant that she didn't qualify for because of a pre-existing lung condition. Ultimately, they decided that continued chemotherapy was not worth dragging her body through. On Monday, it was determined to stop the platelet transfusions which were keeping her alive. On Tuesday afternoon, she went home.

I'd like to post parts of Stan's (Mark's dad, Dianne's husband) words here that he put up on her Caringbridge site. I think it needs to be noted that Stan is not a "writer", but truly felt the Holy Spirit dictating to him. (This passage is from the days prior to her death)

roughout this journey, Dianne’s attitude could be well described by words written long ago by the Apostle Paul: “My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or death. For me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21).

So many have asked “what can I do to help”. Please continue to pray; for mercy for Dianne that her days will be comfortable and without undue struggle, for strength to see this through with courage and perseverance, that we honor God in all we do, and that his peace and joy are reflected by us.

Many of you have told me of the tears you have shed for Dianne. Let me share a few insights from the Pastor Robin visit. This present pain is real, not trivial, and we cannot make light of it. Grief is real. The tears are real. Tears are one of God’s gifts. We cry because we love someone. The shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Read on friends ---- “So the Jews said, “See how He loved him” (John 11:36). It is Jesus who has shown us that grief and tears are part of how God has made us. We are in good company when we cry for those we love.

Here’s more from my good friend. Dying is a lot like being born. Picture yourself as a fetus in the womb. You are warm, comfortable, fed, cared for, and quite happy where you are. You have been told that you must leave now and be “born”. You’ve been told there is a beautiful world out there, that life there will be good, that there is much to do and enjoy. Yet because you can’t see it, believing it is true is a little difficult. Not only that but the pain of being born doesn’t sound all that exciting. Remember that we are born crying but are quickly held and comforted and “all is well”. (By the way --- you and I have an advantage over the fetus. God has given us much evidence both in His created world and the Bible to attest to the beauty and reality of Heaven.)

Dying for the believer in Jesus Christ is very much the same. Only we look forward to a Heaven that is beautiful beyond our imagination. If you can find a copy of the song “I Can Only Imagine” listen to it carefully. Look around dear friends ----- All the best things in this earthly life are shadows of what is to come. God has given us sunrises and sunsets, flowers, mountains, rivers, love for each other, the intricacies of His creation, Dianne, and so many other pieces of His creation to point towards the magnificence of the Heavenly home He has made for us. What amazing hope He has provided. Here it is from 2 Corinthians:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

I pray that what I have written today makes sense. Dianne has prayed for years for her relatives and friends that have not made Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior. Her prayer through this journey has been, and continues to be, that something in her journey will open hearts to the message of the Bible, and that those she has prayed for these many years will ask Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior.

Clumsy as it may be, it has been my privilege to use this Caring Bridge sight to make this message from her loud and clear. I pray that I have been faithful in that regard and something in these many postings will touch your heart and bring you to Faith in Jesus Christ.

Dianne has had a couple of dreams, I believe they are visions of what is to come, over the past several weeks. One is a picture of a regal King in the foreground, Jesus just behind him, and a large group of God’s children standing with Jesus. She is in the crowd standing with Jesus. (typical of Dianne she is surprised she “made the cut”.)

The other is swimming in a beautiful, natural pool of shimmering water, her figure restored to a better than ever condition, breaking the surface with complete joy in the moment. Dianne describes it as a beautiful pool that she would envision in Hawaii. Heaven’s pools are better.

Dreams or visions. I believe God provides these visions to reassure her that He has her place prepared, and to reassure us that Heaven awaits her. I also believe that He provides these to us who will be left behind to comfort and reassure us in the knowledge that His promise of Heaven is for real.

One last thought on the analogy to child birth. It was uncomfortable and difficult but none of us remember it.

Although this is a tough part of the trail to negotiate every day is a blessing. Family is close, there is still laughter, there are hugs that really mean something, tears and emotions roll over me like the “sea billows roll”. Fortunately they are brief. Good friends stay in touch and send there love and prayers in a variety of ways. Most of all Dianne is a joy to care for.

Dianne and I send you a big Happy New Year. May God Bless richly bless you.

Finally, I want to post a little portion of an email that Amy sent to all of us from her sister. It just demonstrates the "ripple effect" (that I'm hoping to continue) that occurs when we seek to glorify the Lord - how He will use tragedy to bring joy.....

I have to tell you I was just in with Blake doing a nightly devotion with him, saying our prayers and reading to him (before I came in to sit down and read my email). I shared with both him and Alyssa the other night after I got off the phone with you, Amy about Diane's visions of diving into the water and coming out refreshed and about the three men standing by her bed. Blake brought that conversation back up on his own during our quiet time tonight. He was almost bursting with confidence and excitement. He is so excited because what Mark's mom sees gives him even more proof that there is a God and that we have even more reason to have faith in Him (completely his words - not mine). I'm telling you this experience was a huge stepping stone of faith for Blake and one that will remain with him.


sara said...

Steph, I am reading this with tears in my eyes. It has been a hard morning for me, this is my Aunt's birthday, but these word's have been so encouraging. Words I already know the truth about, but just needed to hear again today. thank you.

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These posts are so fun to read! I know you had an awesome time!!! Can't wait to read more!

Deirdre G