I saw a video on You Tube today depicting 2016 as a Horror Film. You probably saw it. It was a pretty funny idea. But, it made me think about how many people are so ready for this year to end. 2016 has been a hard year for most of us. In a quick response, I probably would have said that 2016 was a horror. But, as I sat and reflected this morning, I could clearly see that this is not, at all, how I feel.
While it has, by far, been the hardest year of my life…..it has, in many ways, also been the best. Weird, huh? I know. I’ll tell you why….
But, first, let me tell you why I’ve been so reflective. I spent my day today cleaning out my office.
This is where I write, where I pay the bills, where I store all our family memories, where I keep all my unfinished projects. And, it was a disaster! As I started cleaning and organizing, I took a 2 day trip down memory lane. I found so many things that brought back sweet memories.
These are my unfinished “Adventure” walls that are covered in memories from our favorite vacations.
These are two of my favorite pics from my work life at Capital One for 17 years. I miss these faces. And, look at that pile of pics that I need to organize! Yikes. That’s a bit overwhelming, so I just focused on getting them all in one place.
Then, after two days of working and looking at old memories, I found this….
This bucket is filled with cards and letters from many of you. I sat in the middle of my office floor….very hard wood, by the way…..and read them all. I cried lots of tears as I relived the past 6 months. And, although it probably seemed like I was falling apart, I wasn’t. They were good tears. While there are some sad memories, that bring thoughts of difficult tomorrows, it was so sweet to recall how wonderful all of you are.
We have been absolutely showered with love and affection. So many of you are praying constantly and have been since May 2. You have called, texted, sent letters, sent cards, sent us gifts, visited us, fed us, prayed for us, prayed with us…….you have truly been the hands and feet of Jesus.
This morning, I read Hebrews. I love chapters 10 – 13. But, these verses really jumped out at me:
Hebrews 12: 1-13, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.“
So many have gone before us in this walk of faith. So many have endured so much more than we are asked to endure. Especially Jesus. When our life seems hard, and we start to grow weary, all we have to do is think of Him and what He endured for us. He did no wrong, yet He suffered….for me. For you. Nothing we will ever face in this life will compare to what He suffered. So, we must consider Him. And our spirits will be lifted.
This passage talks about how God disciplines us because He loves us. When I hear the word “discipline,” I think of when my kids are in trouble and I have to punish them to correct them. But, as a parent, I also use life’s situations to teach my kids how they should behave. It’s the same with God. If you are going through a hard time right now, it may not be because you are being punished. Maybe God is using your circumstances to teach you and mold you.
The good news is that He doesn’t leave us alone. He loves us too much to do that. He is constantly trying to teach us and make us more like Him. And, as He works on us, it yields righteousness and holiness….that can not be attained any other way.
Of course, it is painful and unpleasant, but if we can see the work that is being produced, we will be able to “lift our drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees.”
So, tonight, as 2016 comes to an end, I am not slamming the door and kicking this year to the curb. I am reflecting on all the work that God has done in me and thanking Him that, in the midst of pain and an unpleasant year, I can see how He is closer than ever.
I know Him more.
I trust Him more.
I need Him more.
I feel Him more.
I rejoice in Him more.
He has made Himself very real to me, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I think many of you feel the same way. It has been a hard year. But, look at all that God has done for us and in us.
As 2017 arrives, Clay and I are looking forward. We changed our insurance plan so that we have more flexibility and I began the process of scheduling appointments at MD Anderson. The doctors in Baton Rouge have been so wonderful to us, and I know that we were meant to be here for treatment over the past several months. But, we’ve reached a place where I feel we will benefit from the expertise of the doctors at MDA, again.
Clay continues to take the Avastin infusion every other week and the Temodar (chemo) once a month. Our last MRI was a good report that the tumor is shrinking, so things are moving in the right direction. He is not on the steroid any longer, and he has completely lost the cravings and his appetite. I haven’t weighed him, but I think he’s probably lost 10 pounds already. The “dad-bod” is in jeopardy!!
He enjoyed the holidays and did great until Christmas day, when the chemo caught up with him. He stayed in bed most of that day and the few days following. He’s still dragging a little, but it gets better each day.
His Aunt Sue (from Nashville), his dear friend Michael (from Beaumont), and his cousin Mike (from San Francisco) visited this week.
We had several very good family gatherings. We have so much to be thankful for…
And, it was a wonderful “Christmas morning” with the kids (we had our Christmas morning on Christmas Eve so we could have a relaxed Sunday morning on Christmas Day.)
I hear the fireworks beginning outside…even in the pouring down rain….
2017 is here. What will it hold? I’m not sure, but as long as we have Jesus, we can face whatever it brings.
We love you.