Desiring a “Better Country”

Yesterday was Clay’s 10th radiation treatment and his 14th day of chemo. Everyone who sees him talks about how good he looks, and he does. His scar is healing very nicely, he hasn’t lost any hair, yet, and he looks strong. He doesn’t look sick at all. He has been getting increasingly tired and the doctors told us from the beginning that the side effects would be more prevalent starting in week 3.We are praying that they won’t increase any more. He has not had any nausea, which is such a blessing. His vision continues to be a challenge. He can function normally, but his eyes are blurry and his peripheral vision is gone, so he still can’t drive. But, we give thanks everyday. He is with us, and he is able to participate in everything we do, so we thank God for that.

A lot has happened since my last post, so I’ll catch you up real quick.IMG_3399

Last Sunday, after church, we had a visit from Clay’s Aunt Jean and Uncle Clemon and their family. It has been so nice that so many people have taken time out of their days to make a point to visit Clay. He is very touched by it, I promise.

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Sam and Grace went to youth camp. Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days, don’t you? Young and carefree and living it up at Summer camp. They had a great time. Our guest speaker, Steven McKay, really ministered to them. They needed this time with friends and Jesus, but we were really glad to see them come home.

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My nephew (well, really my 2nd cousin that I treat like a nephew) came to visit Clay as the kids were leaving for camp. Todd has been here a lot and it has been a blessing to see his concern for Clay. He got Clay to sign his football cleats and I’ll never forget that. Clay looked at me and said, “Uh….what do I write? I’ve never signed a shoe before!”

Robin and Caleb got to come to Clay’s treatment session with us. The staff at Doctor Russell’s office were wonderful and very hospitable….until they found out they were Alabama fans. Ha! They had some fun with it! When the nurse walked us back to the treatment area, he said, “We have some guests with Clay today who would like to see the equipment and how it works. But, you’ll need to dumb it down a few notches because they are from Alabama.” Hahahaha. We laughed a lot. It helped because I think Caleb might have hyperventilated if we hadn’t been distracted by all the joking around. When we first walked in the room and Clay got on the table, I noticed that Caleb stayed back by the door. He didn’t say much and I pretty much had to push him to go closer so he could see better. When we walked out, he said, “I don’t want to tell Clay this, but I couldn’t believe the mask!” Caleb is claustrophobic and so he’s been really praying for Clay to have the strength to endure the treatment mask. He and Robin were both a little surprised by seeing it in person. The mask is a very hard plastic, so there is no wiggle room. That’s the point. It holds Clay’s head in the perfect position, so he can not move, so the radiation is delivered to the precise location it was planned to treat. When he is finished, he has red marks on his forehead where the holes in the mask left indentions. That’s how tight it is! I love these pics:

Look at Robin’s face in the first one. She was saying, “Whoa, dude! I have major respect. You are awesome to be able to do that!” Robin and Clay are like brother and sister. It is so funny how much they are alike. We laugh about it all the time. Look at Caleb in the background ministering to the other patient. They are great friends to us and they have been a major blessing in our lives.

The Brewer’s brought us dinner and stayed to visit a while. Amy and Chris are friends from Victory. The boys go to school together. God has brought us closer during this time and it was a blessing to listen to them talk about how God is using our situation in their lives. We prayed together and had a wonderful time talking about the Lord. Thanks, guys. Lebanese always hits the spot for Clay!

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Clay missed out on the BBQ road trip with our church guys. They literally ate BBQ for like 4 days, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oh my. Caleb tried really hard to get Clay to go. He even asked the nurse if “copious amounts of BBQ” would help Clay feel better. Uh, that answer was a big no! Anyway, the guys were thinking of him and they called from the road to say hi. Clay was sound asleep so they had to talk to me. Bummer. I just thought it was so cool that they were thinking of him while driving down the road. He is surrounded by good friends who really love him.

These girls are some of my very best friends in life. We went to high school together and we’ve stayed friends all these years. Now our husbands and kids are friends. It’s so neat to see how God brings people in and out of your life in seasons and how He preserves friendships. They mean a lot to me and we had a great time visiting.

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Thursday evening, our sweet friends, the Lloyd’s, called and offered us their Lake House for the long weekend. We jumped at the chance! We literally threw some clothes in bags and left at 10:00 am Friday morning. Clay’s treatment was at 11, and then we left town. All three kids were with us and we got to visit with Dr. Russell for a while. He removed a stitch from Clay’s incision and visited with the kids for a few minutes. He has 6 kids, so he takes a real interest in how the kids are doing right now. You can see true concern in his face and it is very comforting to know that he cares about our lives.

They are adding a brand new machine in the room next to Clay’s treatment, so Dr. Russell took the kids in there and showed them all the equipment and how it works. They were a little blown away by some of the explanation, but it was interesting. They got to watch Clay on the monitors and the technicians explained everything that was happening. They showed them exactly how it all works when we went back in the room to get Clay. It has been a real blessing to see these people everyday. We already feel like they are friends and they make us feel loved. When we got ready to leave, Dr. Russell had the entire staff come in the back and we stood in a circle, holding hands, so they could pray for us. Dr. Russell prayed for our safety on our trip and for Clay’s healing. I wanted to take a picture sooooooo bad, but I was in the circle praying. It was a moment I will never forget. Most of the people in the office have read the blog, and most of them are Christians. They treat this job like a ministry and we are definitely being ministered to! I don’t ever want any one else to walk through this, but if you do, pray that you can have Dr. Russell and his staff take care of you.

Then, we were off! It’s the first time we’ve left town since we went to MD Anderson, and it is the last time we will be able to leave town this summer. Clay doesn’t finish treatment until August 5, and the kids go back to school the next week. So, this was our summer vacation. And it was wonderful! Look at this place!

The house was so beautiful! The lake was gorgeous. The sunrise was perfect. The sunset was like a paining. The company was superb. It was the perfect weekend getaway. Thank you, Jim and Gail Lloyd, for thinking of us and allowing us this chance to be with our family. Look how happy we are:

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My parents, Clay’s parents, and my sister’s family came with us. There was plenty of room for everyone and we all needed the relaxing time away. We laughed, played games, took naps, fished, paddle boarded, kayaked, canoed, fished, crabbed, ate, laughed, talked, and prayed. It was wonderful. I am so thankful for the faces in this picture. We have lived an incredibly blessed life, and, although we are in a valley, God continues to show His great love. We continue to recognize His blessings and His love.

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This was our favorite spot. The porch swing was almost a twin size bed. Clay and I sat on it a lot. This is a memory I will have forever. The last night, we were there by ourselves, and we sat on the swing just talking. We rarely talk without crying, so there were some tears, but there is also a joy that I can not explain. Clay has a great anticipation of what is ahead for him. We laid there and talked about what Heaven must be like and what it will be like to actually see Jesus. There are so many different emotions that I’m feeling right now, and strangely, one of them is a bit of jealousy. If God doesn’t heal Clay, he will be with Jesus. What an amazing thought. I know that, if God takes him, my  heart will long for Heaven all the more. And, that’s what God wants of us, isn’t it? He wants us to live in this world as if it is not our home. As if we are just passing through. Our home is Heaven. We should have a deep longing to get there. For Jesus to come take us home. But, we get so attached to this world. We think of things like high school graduation, wedding days, grand babies being born, etc. But, if we truly live with a heavenly perspective, these things are not as important as being with Jesus.

Hebrews 11:13-16

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”

I’ve always loved this scripture, but now it has new meaning. I see, now, that my eyes have been on this ‘country from whence I came out’ and not always on the ‘better country’ that is ahead. Reflect on this today and ask yourself, do you love this world more than you love Jesus? Would you stay here rather than go and be with Him? Is your heart set and your eyes fixed on what is ahead, rather than what is behind? Do you live like a stranger here? Or are you settled here on this earth? God, help us to keep our eyes fixed on you and Heaven. Keep our hearts from loving this world and the things of it. Help us to be persuaded, to embrace you and to live as strangers on this earth. Help us as we seek Heaven. Open our eyes to see You and our ears to hear You and shed abroad Your love in our hearts so that we will be drawn to You above everything else. Show us a glimpse of Heaven so that our hearts will desire that better country and so you will not be ashamed to be called our God. Amen.

3 thoughts on “Desiring a “Better Country”

  1. Debbie Nolan says:

    Kristy, thanks for the updates. So helps me in my daily prayers for your family. You are both ambassadors for Christ and his work is being done through so many right now to see you and your loved ones through this. We will touch base for dinner next week.

    Love y’all…

    Liked by 1 person

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