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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...

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Of course today we pause to say thanks for all we have been given, for all the blessings in our life, for family and friends. So of course I awoke this morning with thanks on my mind, to tell you the truth I awake with thanks most days. I awake and listen to Andrea breathing and just take the time to pray over her. Sometimes because I either pray or crumble. In the background is the hum of the oxygen generator in the other room. It always greets me in the morning, shattering any thought I might have had that this was just a bad dream. I watch the rhythm and the pace of her breathing. It is a nice time to pray for her and thank God for blessing me with her. I pray God will spare her from any more suffering. I’m always struck by how small Andrea is when she is sleeping. And I think how can she be asked to endure such a huge trial and such pain. She barely takes up half the bed, Sevgi (Sevgee) our cat sleeps at her feet with more than enough bed left over. I get up and pick up some of her clothes off the floor and I'm always shocked by how small her pants are, and even more amazed that they are baggy on her. She just never seems small to me when I’m with her. But she truly is a petite woman, 4' 11" and 95 lbs dressed and yet I always think how I could never do what she is doing. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. I just think I would have given up long ago, overwhelmed by the task that confronted me. But Andrea fights on and usually with a smile and an unbending belief in God. And I remember it is not by her strength that she fights every day. I’m reminded of this verse:

1 Corinthians 1:27
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

Then God seems that much bigger to me. His mercy that much more amazing. His love for us that much more precious, and at the same time that much harder to comprehend.

Every night Andrea and I pray and take communion. I know that may sound strange, it did to me as well at first. A woman Andrea met in Goldsboro suggested it. At first we thought we don't want to do anything that we felt would be a "requirement" or in some way we were buying Andrea's healing with good deeds or behavior. I was uncomfortable with it. There are so many people dealing with cancer and other tragedies. I know we have not, nor can we, earn healing by our actions. Just like our salvation all we bring is a heart aware of our need, acknowledge God as our Lord, King and provider of what we seek. Then we trust Him and His unfailing love and praise Him with unconditionally.

Ephesians 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

But after about 2-3 weeks Andrea and I both kept feeling in our spirit that this was something we needed to do so we started. At first I was unsure of what to do but it has really grown into a special time for us to pray and end every day focused not on our needs but on Christ and what He did for us on the cross. It turned out not be become a ritual to earn healing but a time to reflect. It reminds me that the most important healing we need has already taken place and that always puts cancer in its place.

I'm always humbled to hear my wife pray because she always starts off and ends with giving thanks, next praying for others, then lastly she asks God for healing. Sometimes when she is really hurting, and I mean really bad to the point where I can hear the pain in her voice, she will plead with God for mercy. But those times are rare even though her own needs are so obvious. But mostly Andrea gives thanks. Thanks for all God has given us, for all the answered prayers, and thanks for another day. I witness in awe this petite woman, battling cancer and the effects it has on her body, yet always thankful. I witness daily the faithfulness of God and His love for Andrea. I'm thankful I have been allowed to witness God's love reflected in this most unexpecting woman. My small but mighty. My faithful wife. Andrea's believes in the solitude of our bedtime prayers as much as she does in the brutality of the chemo room.

So today as we stop to say thanks please remember two things. First, let this day put your life in perspective for we all truly have much to be thankful for. Second, try not to wait for a federal holiday to remind you to be thankful. Keep thanks on the forefront of your thoughts each and every day and I promise you what seemed like an overwhelming problem will shrink to its proper place in life. When you feel worry creep in, and it will, focus your thoughts on things you are thankful for and prayers God has answered.

But also try this. Take a couple of minutes as you end each day and remember Christ's act of love for us. Walk a few steps of His last day. Feel the dread in His words as he asked the Father if possible let this cup pass. Feel the sting as the crowds cry for Him to be crucified, the same people who days before praised His entry into the city. Hear His silence in the room as he is accused. Feel in the anger in the room as they slap Him for not answering. Feel the loneliness as His disciples flee. See the guards mocking and laughing at Him. Feel the contempt and self righteousness as they spit in His face. Feel the thorns pierce His brow and hear the laughter at His expense. See Him being beaten and whipped. Feel the heaviness of the cross on His back. Feel the blood, mixing with His sweat and running down His face. Try to look through His eyes for a moment and see the crowds lining the streets as he struggles to put one foot in front of the other. Feel His sadness for them, they really don't understand. Stop and think about being crucified in such a gruesome way, in such a public forum. Feel the shooting pain in His body. Hear the condescending words of the crowd as He died, "Save yourself." Feel the sadness as He was separated from the Father, as He felt the weight of our sin. Feel the life running out of His body. Feel the weakness from the loss of blood and the beatings take their toll. Feel the shooting pain from just taking a breath. Feel His love for you. Then know when our Father looks at us He sees us through the sacrifice played out that day. He does not see us with rose colored glasses and the old country song says. He sees us through red colored glasses. He sees us through the blood of Christ and we appear clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Yet we played no part other then realizing our need and acceptance of His sacrifice.

Let your mind run away with the thoughts of Christ's love. Don't filter His actions trough the limitations of your mind or what you believe is possible. Just for a moment let your mind absorb the love expressed on the cross. Filter your struggles through this love and trust the one who willing suffered so that you might have life. He loves you no less today then that terrible day He suffered for you. Then stop and be thankful for all He has given you, first and foremost and always for salvation.

I pray your day will be blessed, that your time with family is covered with happiness and you will be reminded of everything God has done for you, thankful no matter where you are in life knowing God loves you. That He stands waiting to help even the smallest deal with the biggest of trails. He stands waiting for you to come and to sit at His table, and experience the depth of His love. It really is amazingly.

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