Yesterday was Clay’s 18th treatment, and the date was July 18. That means that all week, the number of his treatment will correspond to the date. I thought that was kind of cool. Friday will be #22, and we only have 30. As of now, his last day should be August 4. Praise God it has really gone by fast, and without many complications. He is tired, a little nauseated and his head is getting sunburned. His vision is still not good, but it is not worse. We spend a lot of time thanking God for letting Clay remain seemingly healthy during this time. His side effects are so mild that he functions pretty normally and we still have a lot of good times with friends and family.
We have had several good visits over the past week and a half. Our friend, Charlie Hubert, visited from Nashville. We haven’t seen Charlie in years, so it was great to catch up. Charlie is the one who sent us all the great music that we listened to on our drive to Houston. Thanks, Charlie!
Just days later, we had another visitor from Nashville…Clay’s cousin, Joanna, and his aunt, Sue Janet. The whole family came. Donnie drove from Hammond and Jessica and Jennifer came from Shreveport. It was such a sweet time. As I’ve mentioned before, we always say that we are going to visit each other and most of the time we don’t…until something like this happens. We have been so touched by all the visits and by people stopping to take time to come see us. It has meant more than we will ever be able to express.
Clay has two brothers, so he never had a real sister. But, he always told me that Joanna was his little sister. Jo, he loves you so much. He has always told me how special your relationship is.
In between the visits, we have had a lot of good family time lately. The kids have been home and our life is slowing down because Clay doesn’t feel good. So, we spend a lot of time here at the house and that’s a good thing. I love this picture of Ben and Clay. Ben needed to tell Clay about something that happened, and Clay was laying down on the couch, so he just climbed in between Clay and the sofa so he could tell him his story. Clay just smiled and talked to him. It was precious.
We’ve had a few good family game nights filled with laughter. Clay’s mind doesn’t work as fast as it used to, and, if you know him at all, you know that he is one of the single most competitive people that has ever lived. So, we’ve laughed a lot because he hasn’t been winning the family games quite as much. Now, please understand, Clay is the one who starts the jokes. He has a really great sense of humor right now, which is one of the things I love about him the most. He wants to win so bad, but when he realizes it is not going to happen, he starts making fun of himself. I thought he was getting frustrated at one point because he looked down, but then he busted out laughing, and said, “I hope y’all are taking full advantage of this opportunity to finally beat me fair and square!” And, he absolutely refused the pity I was trying to give him by changing the rules for his sake. So, we just played and laughed. And, he provided a really great example to our kids of how to handle difficult moments. Thank you, Jesus, for the strength you have given him.
My favorite thing that has happened since I last wrote was this past Friday night when about 40 young people from our church came to our house for a special night of worship and teaching. We have a group of young adults from our church that started a group called “Anthem” and they host worship services at our church about once a month. The services have been so anointed. Well, they came to our house and led our youth in worship. It was another opportunity for God’s praises to be sung in our home. It reminded me of the day that our church gathered in our home to pray for our family. There is nothing more peaceful and wonderful than listening to many voices singing to Jesus in your home. The presence of God was so strong.
Now, push play on this song while you read the rest of this blog.
The theme song for the night was “Jesus We Love You.” As we were preparing and asking the Lord what He would say to the youth of our church that night, we felt in our hearts that He is asking each of us, “Do you love me? Really love me?” Clay spoke from his heart about things the Lord has shown him as he looks death in the face. The fact that God has given him a steady peace is no accident. It is supernatural. But, the peace is there because Clay knows the Lord and he loves Him. He loves Him. And, yes, God has worked in his life since the diagnosis and God has shown him things that weren’t right and things that could change, but he started this test with the most important thing….love for Jesus and faith in Him.
He talked about how his house was built on the rock. He didn’t go find the rock after he got diagnosed. He was already on the rock when the storm came. And hell really concocted a good one for us….it is a big storm! It is beating against this house with 100 mile an hour winds. But, this house is not moved. And it won’t be moved. Because it is built on the firm foundation of faith in Jesus and a deep, life long love for Him.
If you’ve tried to imagine finding yourself in Clay’s shoes, or in my shoes, or in our kids’ shoes….and you’ve asked yourself how you would respond….I encourage you to ask the Lord to search your heart and reveal the truth to you.
What or who is on the throne of your heart?
Do you love God more than yourself?
Do you love God more than this world?
Is your life built on a firm foundation? Or is it built on sand?
Romans 5:5 says, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
If you find that you are not sure if you love God the way you should, ask Him to shed abroad the love of God in your heart. Tell Him the truth. Just tell Him what He already knows. Ask Him to renew your love for Him, or place inside of you that deep love that you may not have known before. The Bible says that He gives it to us. So, ask Him.
In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul is telling the church that God can direct their hearts into the love of God.
“And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”
He is telling them that it is all up to God. Not us. If the plan of salvation depended on us to do something right, it would surely fail. But, it doesn’t. It all depends on God, so it can not fail. He does the work. He sheds abroad His love in our hearts and He directs our hearts to love Him. All we have to do is surrender. Just tell Him that’s what you want. And He does it.
This morning, when I woke up, I decided to use one of the bath bombs my mom gave me. I brewed my coffee and laid in my tub for a while. As I was looking up and out of the window above my tub, the Lord spoke to me. The picture above was my view. Because of the angle I was at, and the curtain that keeps my neighbors from seeing me, I could only see this little bit of the tree in my front yard, and the beautiful sky above it. I was thinking about how beautiful it was, but I could only see a small portion of it.
This is how we see Heaven and the Spiritual world. We have the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and our experiences with the Lord that reveal small glimpses of all that awaits us, but our eyes are veiled and we can not see it all. The Bible only gives us enough information about Heaven to make us desire it more than this life, but there is still so much we don’t know, or we can not see.
But, soon, we will see it. The veil will be removed and we will see it all. Everything will be clear and it will all make sense.
We will see the full view of what God has prepared for us. The full view of His plans and purposes. It will all be so clear. And we will wonder why we ever loved anything in this world. We will realize how silly we were to hold on to this life. Our faith will end in sight when we see Him. And the love that we know will be so much stronger and so much deeper when everything else fades away and there is nothing but Jesus.
This hope is what is sustaining us during this storm of life. We believe and we continue in our faith because we know what is waiting for us when this life ends. We have no other choice than to trust God fully and believe that His plan is better than our plan. He is good. No matter what we think or feel or see today, He is good.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I vent, or if I take time for myself, or if I have a place that I can go and just explode. It is a sweet thought and I appreciate it so much. But, I’m being honest when I tell you that I am ok. Of course, there are times when we cry. There are moments of sadness. But, there are many more moments when we are overwhelmed by the goodness of God. I am constantly amazed at how “light” the yoke is and how “easy” the burden is. The Word promises that and it is true. God has filled us with the peace that surpasses understanding. He is good.
Thank you for your love and your continued prayers and support. Your prayers are what is enabling us to stand. Paul always asks the church to pray for him as he does the Lord’s work, so I believe in the power of your prayers for us and I thank you for them. My prayers often start with, “Thank you, God, for all the people you’ve added to our lives and the way you’ve burdened their hearts to pray for us.” So, thank you. We love you and pray that God will continue to bless you for your faithfulness. We pray, often, that our lives will continue to bring glory to God and that many will be impacted by the work He is doing.