In response to some followers of this blog who have commented towards briefer posts, I’ll try my best. In response to comments towards less preaching, that’s a bit like telling someone at a football match to quit singing about their team; it’s the passionate overflow of the heart.
This blog isn’t a pulpit or a soapbox; it’s a window into our life at a really difficult time; a vent for me to document a stage in our journey which for us personally, is uncharted territory. It’s Annie, Ryan, cancer and Christ. Two suffering, struggling but saved sinners following their Lord and Saviour through a dark valley. Not talking about the daily reality of Jesus in this blog would be just as weird and fake as not talking about the daily reality of cancer. If we edited or censored Jesus out of our blog, then we’d be left with a work of fiction not a documentary. For me, as the author of these posts, it would be as absurd to leave Jesus out of what I write as it would to exclude any mention of Annie. I neither write this blog to gain followers nor offend them but the bottom line is less Jesus equals less reality. The recent Oscar ceremony is an apt reminder that there are plenty of places on this planet to escape reality; this isn’t one of them and I can’t apologise for that.
Annie and I really would like to thank the many brothers and sisters in Christ who prayed especially that Annie would have strength during the weekend. We were expecting four visitors from Czech Republic who were passing through to start a new chapter of their lives in England. One quarter of that group was a dear friend and sister in Christ, Anna. We met Anna last summer and more importantly, she met and put her trust in the Lord Jesus that summer. She came again to visit us in November 2011 during a week when Annie was very sick. You can read about that bitter sweet week in the archives of this blog. Annie was prayerfully desperate to have some health for Anna’s sojourn this time.
Our friends arrived a good seven hours later than expected on Saturday evening. They had been driving for a straight 40 hours without much sleep and were tired and slightly post-traumatized by the event that caused their delay. Anna’s dog (Bady) who had been thoroughly vaccinated and administrated for entry to the UK was held up in France by the British border control. Just when they were near breaking the finishing line they got tangled up in red tape. Long story short, they had to miss their ferry and search for a boarding kennel near the port where Bady would have to spend an expensive three weeks before repeating the vaccination process just for the sake of a different piece of paper bearing the same approval! Boo-reaucracy!
Being able to share our home, our meal table, our time with outsiders is something that Annie and I consider a real privilege and blessing. When we first were engaged and began looking for a house, this was something we laid before the Lord: to be able to use our home for His glory. And we’ve enjoyed every single open-door opportunity that the Lord has granted us. Last week Annie was really wrestling with finding purpose when life and health are at a low ebb. And so we consider this last weekend a response from God, an answered prayer, a gift, a privilege and a blessing. Thank you, Lord.
We had a short but great time with Michal, Honza, Petra and Anna. All four came along to our Sunday worship service and then came back to ours for a fellowship meal with others from our home church family. Our prayer was that the Lord’s people could be the first to warmly welcome our visitors to the country. The Lord approved that without any red tape or restrictions. We’d only been with our guests for less than 24 hours and they were in the car again and headed north for Manchester. It was a bitter-sweet departure for all of us and Honza and Michal were already talking about coming back to see us when they go to pick up poor Bady! As they drove away I said to Annie: “We didn’t even get a photo!” Too bad. You’ll just have to take our word for it – they arrived and we had a great, blessed time together.
Annie enjoyed good health but about an hour before our guests had to leave she had a brief spell of nausea. The great thing about having a home full of others from Manor Park was that Annie and I could slip out unnoticed while I took care of Annie for a routine bucket and bag procedure. After she had thrown up, we were back downstairs with the wider fellowship!
Almost like clockwork, once our guests left us, Annie’s health and strength began to wane. She joined us for part of the youth discipleship meeting we had in our home later in the evening but then needed to exchange the company of the youth for a mattress and a bucket.
Today, she has been very tired and more nauseous than she has been in a few weeks. This morning we enjoyed brief fellowship with our dear sisters Amanda and Jess and after that, Annie slept through the afternoon. This evening we went out for a bite to eat and within 15 minutes of paying the bill, what was previously on her plate was at the bottom of our trusty bucket. For the remainder of the evening Annie slept while I caught up with our accounts and then read. After reading together we continued a recent tradition of watching an episode of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. It’s a show we both loathed as kids but somehow we now find quite enchanting. I know, we’re getting old! But the idea of getting old is not something we meet with resistance. With a terminal illness, it’s a refreshing privilege.
This evening we read this verse of scripture:
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. – John 2:23
Annie continues to lose weight, nausea is ever at the door and brief spells of better health, so far, are indeed just brief spells. We thank God for all the blessings of health, no matter how infrequent or brief. Our frequent and most common request of the Lord is ultimately for continued faith and wisdom to know His presence and follow Him wherever He leads – with or without the miracle of healing.
Without Jesus in this journey we have nothing to say and nowhere to go. With Jesus, we can continue this journey with cancer and even without healing.
[We] can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth [us]. – Philippians 4:13 (KJV)