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Tonight we put up our Christmas tree, the first Ravella/Gilbert tree. Actually we have two trees. One is artificial. It is perfect. It has p...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Take my Life, A video of Thanks

Blogspot has just introduced a way to put movies on the blog so I have decided to give it a try and add a movie I made over the past year. It started as a project I would work on when I could not sleep and it just grew into the movie you will see. It is not a memorial to Andrea but an account of our life and how all of you have played such an important role in our ability to fight. I'm definitely not a professional movie maker as you will see, in fact this was first made as a PowerPoint presentation and I just converted it into a movie to add to my blog.

After showing this to a few family members I decided to show this to some close friends in North Carolina when we were about to move. It was a way to say thanks for everything that was done for us. I felt that people may not realize how much it means to us when you share with us in this trial. It would be easier to run from someone in trouble. Each of us has our own trials not to mention the business of daily life, but all of you in some way have decided to stand with us and in doing so you took a portion of the load we bore and made life possible for Andrea and I . And so you encourage us to fight on. You become the answer to our prayers to our pleading to God for help. I was never sure what I was going to do with this video as I made it and now I want to share it with everyone because I felt this was a nice way to say thanks to you all. I hope you enjoy the video and better understand how much you mean to us.

Every picture in this video except three were taken since this trial started in August 2003. There are also scriptures which I copied from Andrea's 3X5 note cards of her favorite scriptures. Ones we have read when times were hard to remind us of the God we serve.
There are three songs in the show each with a special meaning to me.

1. A living Prayer A song of outward expression of faith.
This was a song given to us by Lisa Rowell. I choose the song because it speaks of offering our lives as a living prayer. I liked it because it reminded me that daily our life needs to be an offering to God. This is probably the one common idea Andrea and I both felt like the Lord was asking of us in this trial. Lay down our lives, abandon ourselves and trust Him, to have faith in our God and be willing to be used by Him. To let go of our desires and serve Him no matter what. It is easy to write or say but can be very difficult to do when times are hard. But this is what we feel He has asked of us and we are learning every day to abandon more and more.

It is our words to you.

2. Go Where you Go A song of our commitment to each other.
This is an old Michael English song and it speaks about the marriage vow to love each other in sickness and in health rich or poor, regardless of life circumstances.

It is my words to Andrea.

3. Where you are A song of all of ours commitment to stand by Andrea.
I first heard this song driving back from the ICU the very first night. It was so emotional for me as the words expressed what I was feeling. That I was right by Andrea's side just as all of you have been. This song has no scriptures along with it, only pictures of people by Andrea's side.

It is our words to Andrea.

Please send me a comment if the video does not work and I will see what I can do...although my computer skills are limited.


1 Corinthians 12:12-13

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized be one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Chair and a Half

For those who have been to or house in the past year you know in the living room sits a huge recliner called a chair and a half. It is Andrea's and my favorite place to be on a Friday night. Okay, maybe we are a little boring, we accept that. But ending the week together watching a Poriot mystery or Monk is our favorite thing to do. But there is more to the chair then just a comfortable place to watch TV.

In the fall of 2005 Andrea and I decided we would like to get a big chair so we could sit together. Our sofa, although nice just was not comfortable for both of us to fit and watch TV. It seemed like a simple enough thing to fix, just go to the stores and find a chair we liked. We already decided on a chair and a half, which is just a chair slightly smaller then a love seat, so of we went on our weekend shopping trip.

Normally making a purchase is a financial decision but unexpectedly became one of faith. Buying the chair was the first big, purchase since Andrea was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. It would normally be a simple decision but it is scary to think in the long term with cancer. This chair was the first time we faced that, and we took the leap. Both of us were having the same thoughts. Should we buy something this permanent for the two of us? Would it just be a sad reminder every time I saw it?

Today the chair sits as a reminder of our fight against cancer. To our unwillingness to give in to cancer. To our commitment to keep our life ours.

Every Friday night we get in our chair. I look over at Andrea and she looks up and smiles at me. This is our time. We turn off the lights, recline and watch our shows until Andrea falls asleep with her head on my shoulder.

In that moment we have won. We refused to let cancer dictate to us how we will live.

Unanswered Questions

This is the end of one of the more confusing weeks. I choose confusing and not difficult because although Andrea's condition had taken a turn for the worse it was just so unexpected. We started the week with Andrea having to restart two of the harder chemo drugs. That in itself was hard as Andrea faces loosing her hair for the fourth time in four years. Then there was the difficulty with the military hospital which unnecessarily compounded the events. But in the end these were chemo drugs Andrea has taken twice before and had tolerated them pretty well. I say that using her first chemo called AC as the basis, and nothing could be as hard as that drug. So although we were facing more chemo we thought we knew what to expect. I soon found out I was wrong.

During the events of the past week I found myself touched by the story of Lazarus. Maybe not because of the obvious reason of Lazarus being raised from the dead but to the reaction of Mary and Margret and the Jews. That is one of the things I love about reading the Bible. Depending on what you are experiencing, different parts of the Bible will speak to you. I believe that even as some of you read this story you may be drawn to a different verses. There are so many aspects to this account of Jesus' life you could write 10 journal entries and although it is one of the more widely known stories in the Bible, I suggest when you read it you avoid the temptation to skip or read over parts you "know." Read it has if it is your first time to read the verses and you will find yourself drawn to parts of the story you may not have thought about.

John 11:1-37
1Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." 4When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. 7Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." 8"But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?" 9Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. 10It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." 11After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up." 12His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." 13Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." 16Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
17On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." 23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
28And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." 29When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34"Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. 35Jesus wept. 36Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

The past week I did not understand what we were going through or why we were going through it. Andrea came home from the chemo on Monday and seemed excessively tired. She basically slept until Friday afternoon. Not only was she sleepy, she was very groggy, her speech was weak and hard to understand and she just could not keep her eyes open. She was also having several other symptoms, shortness of breath, severe stomach pains, and swelling of her left hand. It was all so unexpected since Andrea has never had these side effects when she took the drugs in the past. So I had, as maybe some of you did as well, some unanswered questions. Why was Andrea having to go back on chemo? Why did our prayers seemed unanswered? It was these thoughts that led me to John 11.
As I read John 11, I was drawn to Martha's response when Jesus arrived, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." And Mary's response, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Remember they had sent for Jesus when Lazarus was ill, knowing Jesus had healed others and would surly come to someone He loved. So as I read this verse I related to the questions being asked and the unspoken words between the lines. Maybe I was just projecting my own thoughts between the lines but Mary and Martha were human like me and I'm sure felt some of the same thoughts as we all would in that situation. Lord, if you had been here, I could relate to the confusion in their words and the underlying disappointment, anger, that Jesus did not do for someone He loved what He had done for others. As humans we have expectations or an understanding of what love involves and delaying until Lazarus died did not make sense in their minds. Much like myself tyring to understand why Andrea was in such pain no matter what I prayed. It was as if I just could not find the words to connect to God. Did He not care, nor just not hear? The only obvious answer I could see to my prayers was for Andrea's pain to stop, and her body to be healed instantly. If later then why not now?

I was also drawn to the reaction of the Jews who commented, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" I just know Mary and Martha heard these comments, and probably began to ask the same question as doubt creeps in the door of misunderstanding. That's what happens when we look to man's knowledge to try to understand God's ways. The two do not equate and seemed to contradict each other.

Jesus knew the result of His delaying coming to Lazarus and He even told the Disciples why, "Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. He even told Martha up front, "Your brother will rise again." Jesus knew this had to play out and Lazarus had to die for God's will to be done. They just had to trust. I think Jesus displayed His love for them in His grief over their sadness.

33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
Soon they would have to draw on this deeper faith when Jesus himself was given over to death. How was he going to raise himself? They did not need to know the how, they would just have to know he would. Jesus' miracles were used to point to His Deity, His ability to do what only God could do. Not just for the moment, but for salvation.

In the end Mary and Martha and those around them were drawn into a deeper faith and understanding of Jesus.

This is what spoke to me this week. I did not understand why but being given the benefit of having the Bible, God's account of Jesus' life to help me I knew I just needed to trust. God may have seemed silent to me this week but that is only because I was listening with human ears and not my spirit. I'm not saying I expect the same events to play out in our life as this account, but the same heart of God is with us. The same love for us.
This week I learned again it was a time to trust. It was a time to know the character of God and quiet my questions. God is faithful and as we all know sometimes His timing and our timing are not the same.

Websters Dictionary defines faith as a firm belief in something for which there is no proof : complete trust.

God used the events of this week to remind me to walk by faith and not by sight.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Getting Out of The Boat

This is about one of my favorite scriptures. It is about the faith of Peter, and the faith we all need to trust even when we might look crazy to the rest of the world. I like to remember that although Peter ended of sinking and Jesus had to save him, there were 11 others who never had the faith to even get out of the boat.

When we began this journey I was immediately drawn to this account in the bible. It spoke to me about keeping my eyes on the source of my strength. It spoke to me about what may be impossible to man is possible with God.

Mat 14:22-33
22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. 27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." 28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." 29"Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" 32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." 34When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. When I read this I thought why did Jesus have the disciples go ahead of Him? Why did Jesus stay and dismiss the crowd. I think He sent them ahead so that the disciples could have the chance to see this miracle. Sometimes God sends us out on our own so we have the chance to see His power. Jesus went alone to pray and then at night He was alone. Do you think this surprised Jesus? Do you think he somehow mixed up the schedule and missed the boat? No, I think Jesus knew exactly what he was doing and this was His plan.

I like to close my eyes and imagine this story and put myself in the moment, the dark night on a stormy sea where life itself is threatened. The picture is painted in the details of the story. The boat was buffeted by the winds and it was the fourth watch of the night. I have read that the fourth watch of the night put the time around 2am when this occurred. It is late at night, the end of a long day, where Jesus fed the 5,000; the disciples are alone in a boat in stormy weather sailing to the other side where they will meet Jesus. I would think the conversation in the boat was infected with the excitement of the day and the miracle Jesus did feeding the 5,000. So far the Disciples have seen many miracles. They have seen a Leper cleansed (Mat 8:1-4, Mark 1: 40-44, Luke 5: 12-14). They have seen the Centurion’s servant healed (Mat 8: 5-13 Luke 7: 1-10). Peter’s Mother-in-Law is healed (Mat 8: 14-17, Mark 1: 29-34, Luke 4: 38-41). Jesus calmed the seas (Mat 8:23-27, Mark 4: 35-41, Luke 8: 22-25). Jesus restored life to the Rulers daughter and the woman with blood issue was healed. (Mat 9: 18-26, Mark 5: 21-43) The blind received sight and Dumb speak. (Mat 9: 28-34) Jesus has begun to revel Himself and the Pharisees have begun planning how to get rid of Jesus. The confrontation is building and the works of Jesus are growing in magnitude, which will culminate with Lazarus being raised and Jesus’ triumphal entry.

That is the scene, the disciples I’m sure are starting to understand who Jesus is and their confidence is growing as well. Now they are in a boat, it’s late and the sea is stormy. I wonder if they wished Jesus was with them to calm the seas as he did before. Then Jesus approaches them, walking on the water.

When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

I’m struck that the disciples were “terrified”. I think some were sleeping tired from the day and although they had seen many miracles, seeing someone walking on the water at 2am was scary. And although most people picture Jesus walking on a calm lake, remember it was a windy night and the boat was buffeted by the winds. No it was anything but a glassy smooth lake. Jesus sensing their fear, tells them “Take courage, do not be afraid.” I found it interesting these are the same terms the Lord told Joshua when He told Joshua to arise and go into the promise land, but “be of good courage and do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” I think Jesus was teaching them that even though they will face trails they are never alone to prepare them for what lie ahead.

28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." 29"Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Peter is his usual boldness, is the only disciple to respond. The story now becomes a one on one between Jesus and Peter. But first Peter asked. “Lord if it you, tell me to come to you on the water.” I found myself asking God much the same question when we found ourselves in this storm, feeling somewhat alone being buffeted by the winds. Andrea and I began to seek God and His will. I did not want to believe in me or my desires I wanted to know what God's will was, I wanted to know if what I wanted, if my desire was the same as God’s will. I did not want to project my earthly desire onto God and claim that as God’s will. So when we heard God speak to us and we truly felt we could claim Andrea’s healing I found myself asking, “God is that you? If it is, call me to come to you, call me to get out of this boat and onto the crashing waves where you are.”

The boat represented safety, outside the boat was the sea, waves crashing and wind blowing, and do not forget it was the dead of night. I assume a cloudy night since it was stormy, so there was little light. So climbing out of the boat into a dark and stormy sea was truly a step of faith. And Peter no matter where he was knew that to be with Jesus was where he wanted to be. That is how we feel. There was some safety where we were, we had a good doctor and some new medicines but I wanted to be where Jesus was, and he was beyond my own security zone he was out on the waves where you have to keep your eyes on Jesus and ignore the reality of the physical world around you. I can tell you that every day, I feel I need to get out of the boat, and ignore the physical the pains Andrea feels, the doctors words “there is no cure.” No getting out of the boat for Peter must have seemed crazy to the other eleven disciples, but to Peter it was the safest place to be. Peter knew the miracles Jesus had done and I think he was beginning to understand who this Jesus was.

In fact in Mat 16: 13-17 Jesus asks the disciples Who do you say I am?” And Peter answers,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

I think Peter's understanding of who Jesus was did not happen the moment Jesus asked the disciples Who do you say I am, it was being reveled to Peter as he walked with Jesus, and that night on the stormy sea, Peter began to act on what God was reveling to him.

30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

We always remember Peter losing faith and sinking and crying out for help. And we think oh, poor Peter he had so little faith. But I think wow he was the only one with the faith to get out of the boat. Although Peter was not perfect in his faith, Jesus was there to catch him. I have experienced this many times, where I took my eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind and became afraid. I have tried so hard to not doubt, but I have had many days where I was overcome by the waves of this cancer. I have had more days then I would like to admit to where I did not want to go on. But every time, every single time, when I cried out “Lord help me!” He would take my hand, and catch me. I would feel convicted not to doubt. 32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

Now Peter, having been so bold leaping over the edge of the boat, now has to get back in, somewhat embarrassed with soaked clothes pointing to out failure. But Jesus calms the storm, and then the story mentions the other disciples, and they worship him. So when I fail in my faith, and have days where I doubt, I know that God uses those times to grow my faith. But when He catches me in my weakness, He uses that to show His power to help others to worship Him.

Romans 8:28
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.

I love the end of the chapter where Jesus reached the other side and the people bring the sick hoping to touch the edge of His cloak. And all who touched Him were healed. Jesus’ continues His miracles and His disciples are growing stronger in their faith every day. Stronger, though they will still face some difficult days ahead, stronger even though they will falter in the days ahead. And God was with them, taking them from their moments of weakness and growing them stronger, so one day they would see Jesus taken away, beaten and killed. They would scatter but God was with them, and they would return to preach on the day of Pentecost, now emboldened and ready to do the work God had called them, to spread the Gospel. I don’t know what God is preparing Andrea and I for down the road, but I know that every day we face a storm and every day we learn to get out of the boat in faith, I know He will be faithful to us, and we will be perfected in our weakness and we will be ready for what He calls us to do. It will not be by our strength that we succeed, but by the hand of God. You see when Peter started sinking he did not just swim back to the boat, and when he cried out to Jesus, Jesus did not say, start kicking and swim back to the boat. No He reached out and saved him. Peter got back in the boat with the help of Jesus, not on his own, and Andrea and I are able to do what we do, not by our own strength but by the hand of God lifting us up. Trust me the challenges we face are well beyond our ability, but with God we make it.

As it says in Mark 10:27, Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." And in Philippians 4: 13-14 “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.”

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Maintenance Chemo

This is about adjusting to Maintenance Chemo.

Aug 4 2007

When you are in chemo treatment you look forward to the day you can stop. It becomes a mark you set on the horizon, a point you focus on to pace yourself in an exhausting trial. Then one day it comes, "graduation day" and what you had focused on and hoped for is suddenly upon you. Lost in the moment is the fear that comes from walking away from chemo. Because to be a cancer survivor you will have to quit chemo and make it own your own. Your body will have to do something it could not do in the past; fight and win against cancer.

You are hoping the chemo beat back the cancer to the point where your body’s own immune system can keep it in check or better yet took it away completely. That is what makes metastatic cancer so intimidating, the cancer has already survived some very strong chemo, and was still able to spread. And when it is able to break free and spread from its original location the cancer has demonstrated it is an aggressive and strong opponent. And now it is free roaming throughout your body and you wait to see if and where it will show next. It makes me think of that old video game Asteroids. You know where you try to shoot the asteroids and every time you hit them the break up into smaller pieces that move faster and faster and are harder and harder to hit. The big ones are intimidating but it is the little ones that get you.

But has I have said before, our trust has been in the drugs, we know all too well the limits of medicine. With metastatic cancer you know that ending chemo is a test, a test to see if life is in your future. When you end chemo you enter that test and in that test lies the brutality of cancer. No matter what stage your cancer was in you face this; it just intensifies as your disease progresses because you are that much closer to finality of cancer. As Dr Atkins told Andrea when we left his care, her anxiety was normal, 'It was the stretching of the umbilical cord." I thought that was a good visual of treatment, and umbilical cord that sustains you, but has to be cut for you to live.

This past week Andrea had her third CT scan since we cut the cord and went on "maintenance chemo." The days have been consumed with trying to identify every ache and pain and soreness as something other than cancer. But I will tell you cancer and life's regular aches and pains have very few differences in the beginning. Not to mention the effects on Andrea's body from taking 30 months of chemo drugs. Who knows what price we have paid in the long run from these chemicals dripped into her body every week. When you start chemo you accept the long term affects of the drugs, because at the time they are nothing compared the short term affects of cancer. But as you end chemo and try to transition back to "normal life" you face the affects of the drugs and the price paid for life.

This period of maintenance chemo, is really the transition from life with cancer, to life without cancer. Like a birthing process change comes with pain, and uncertainty. All God has promised is before us and in a way the test of faith is more difficult now then during treatment itself. Maybe not more difficult but just difficult in a different way. I think it just seems harder because you feel close to the finish line, to the end of this nightmare and you don't want to lose so close to the end, like dying in the final days of a war. In the beginning of the war there is an expectation that you won't make it, as your mind tries to prepare itself, then as the end seems in sight the hope for life grows and expectation changes from dying to living. Life seems within our grasp and every hour of every day brings us closer to life and farther away from cancer. We stack the days behind us like a buffer from cancer. Each one offering that much more protection.

Someday I hope to find it hard to remember the anxiety, the highs and the lows of day to day life of cancer and this transition period as we try to break free from the pull of cancer. Like a rocket trying to accelerate itself from earth’s gravitational pull into the effortlessness of space I want to break away from all this. With every day we gain more speed and altitude. And we are closer and closer to a promise being fulfilled. Suddenly I find my thoughts on things of the future. I find myself looking towards events of the future and I want to be there with Andrea. I have found there is a measure of fear in hoping. But I want to hope, I want to think about the future. Cancer has taken that from us. For four years now we have been unable to think about life with grand kids, or the house we always dreamed of. A house sitting on a small hill with old trees around it, an herb/vegetable garden and cutting garden just so we can have fresh flowers on the kitchen table. A big wraparound porch to sit on at the end of the day and watch the sunset and read.

Subjects of the future were taboo, forbidden. Maybe next week or six months from now was okay, not years out. It was just too far away and those thoughts would bring more sadness then joy. I wish I could pick Andrea up in my arms and run to just get away from it all as fast as we can. I want to run my fingers through her long hair. I want to turn in our "C" card. I don't want to be a member of this club anymore.

I hope to someday read this blog and find it hard to remember the feelings behind these words. Hard to relate to the person who typed them early Saturday morning, unable to sleep, alone in a quite house, hoping the silence would not last. Relieved by the sound of Andrea opening the door to the office where I was typing. I want to forget the endless hours of waiting in a doctor's office reading magazines about things I cared little about just trying to distract my mind from life. I want to forget a life built around appointments, vacations planned and daily life orchestrated around chemo and it side effects. I want to forget the countless brown prescription bottles and having to travel with a suitcase just for pills. Trying to plan when and in what combination to take the pills to avoid a day of nausea and throwing up. I want to forget the pity in people eyes when they look at Andrea.

What I want to remember are the words spoken to my spirit in the silence, the hope that filled me and drowned out the doctor's words of "Incurable." I want to remember the utter despair of the most difficult days only so I can remember that the strength and hope I felt was not my own. I want to remember the hope of a hopeless day, the comfort on a lonely night, the peace in the shelter of His wings, and the faithfulness of a loving God.

I want to remember who I was, and who I am now and know that life is better; that I am better for having suffered. That on the darkest of dark nights, on the worst of the worst days, when I felt as if I was in a pit a mile deep, there was always a point of light. A friend, a memory, a word, an e-mail, a card, a letter, a hug, or a scripture, or that rare smile on Andrea’s face that let me know we were going to be okay.

Maintenance chemo is the beginning of the reality of our dreams; it is the next door we must walk through. I have found it comes with its own unique challenges most of which I did not expect or even think existed. But ones I know God will answer; and I will be better having faced them. That is the promise of our God, the promise I have held onto everyday for the past four years.