True story, not widely known: did you know that Annie has three tattoos? Nope, not kidding. Leave your jaw where it is (it will save you picking it up twice) because today she went to Cheltenham with me to get three more tattoos. No, they were not henna nor were they temporary tattoos. We are talking the real ink-and-needle, permanently skin-staining tattoos.
What the tattoos were of and the establishment in which Annie was tattooed will relieve some of you and perhaps disappoint others. These tattoos were neither dolphins, roses, love hearts, Hawaiian flowers, Chinese symbols, Koi Carp or dragons. And neither were they etched onto Annie’s skin by a heavily tattooed artist. They were simply three dots, etched on her skin by a radiographer at the Cheltenham oncology ward! When you go in for radiotherapy (and I hope that you never have to), the administration of the radioactive beams/rays (???) have to be so precise that they mark the area with three, permanent dots of ink. You can imagine the fun Annie has had in the past talking about her tattoos, of which, she how has six!
I read post this back to her before sending it and she joked: “Plus the one of Elvis on my back!”
It was quite a long and drawn out appointment at our Cheltenham oncology hospital which is roughly a 40 minute drive south into the very beautiful spa town of Cheltenham. Just over a month ago I was making the same trip, my eyes full of tears, my mouth full of prayer, accompanied by a desperately weak and sick Annie who needed to be rushed in following her terrible reaction to chemo. So, this time, I had a song in my heart as we drove down; a song which Annie beckoned out with her infectious smile and happiness today.
Yes, given the circumstances, it’s been a great day again and began very early. Every fortnight I meet at McDonalds with nine teenage guys for a breakfast fellowship before they start work and college. With a McMuffin in one hand and God’s Word in the other, it’s a great way to start the day. Although this morning, I abstained from my usual Sausage and Egg McMuffin as another post-birthday breakfast followed with my family; and what a lovely time and breakfast it was!
Well, from breakfasts to
The reason for the two blasts of radiotherapy this evening were as a means of helping with the pain that accompanies cancer in the bone. The appointment started with a CT scan and then after a few anti-sickness pills, she was ushered into the radiotherapy room where she was inked and zapped.
On our arrival we were told that one of the oncologists (not the one we usually see as she is on vacation for two weeks) wanted to come and speak to us first. I was not expecting this and that always unsettles me a little. We were asked to wait in the same room as the CT scanning machine – a vast mechanical donut that looked like something from Star Wars. As we sat down, there was one extra chair right next to us, and I imagined Jesus, pulling up that chair and sitting right there with us. The great thing is we don’t have to visualise or imagine His greater presence in the room. When Annie and I asked Jesus to become Lord of our lives, He commissioned us with the honour of serving Him with our lives and subsequently promised to be with us always!
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20
I have recently heard a number of people say to Annie and I: “You are amazing!”. Please, let us be absolutely crystal clear, we are not amazing. This is not fake humility. Spend a week with us and you’ll see plenty of weaknesses in us.
Our God is amazing! His love is amazing. His gospel is amazing! What is amazing is that the death-conquering, sin-forgiving, guilt-freeing, shame-covering Jesus the Son of God, actually dwells with us, strengthening us, shielding us, encouraging us, lifting us and holding us when we are too weak to even visualise and imagine Him there. And what’s more, He loves being there. His promise was to be with us always – not sometimes. From the most mundane moments to the most difficult days; through the happiest hours and through every minute of the most wretched weeks: He is with us. Always. He was there today and no matter what that oncologist would say, one glance at Jesus and all would be well in our soul.
As it turned out, the oncologist simply wanted to ask Annie where the pain was most so that he could plot where the radiotherapy should be focused. So we had that discussion and then it was onwards to galactic donuts and laser beams.
Meanwhile, in the waiting room, I talked with Jesus about Annie.
The nurse told us that over the next two weeks Annie might experience greater waves of pain as the radiotherapy works its way. She also warned of sickness. These were some of the things I talked to Jesus about. Again, we are reminded that each day is a gift from God and we will not worry about what might or might not happen over the next 14 days.
We had a great trip back home, a lovely meal delivered to us by a precious sister at Manor Park and then we got a little visit from Paula and Hannah who blessed us by singing God’s praises with us!
So, on that tuneful note. I close this entry for today with a Psalm and this encouragement to all you fellow brothers and sisters in Christ:
Sing praises to the Lord together more often!
If the Lord gives us the time, Annie and I would love to have another get-together with as many of you that can, so that we can join together and sing praises to our God. Watch this space!
I will exalt you, LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
LORD my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
LORD, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
To you, LORD, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me;
LORD, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
LORD my God, I will praise you forever. – Psalm 30
Yours only by Him, with Him and through Him.