Hey, it’s Annie…
…so prepare for a much simpler entry!
Unfortunately I am not blessed with the same writing skills as Ryan and what little skills I did have, only seem to be getting worse!
Well, it’s October 22nd, 2012, which means it’s just about a year since our first blog entry. I have to say, as I write that, I am shaking my head in amazement that a year on I am still here. I am still able to be Ryan’s helper (be it half the helper I would like to be to him) and I am still able to serve the Lord, which is honestly my greatest joy.
There is a feeling in this autumn air at the moment; a familiar smell, that at times takes me right back to when I walked home from the hospital appointment where I was told the cancer was ‘terminal’. I remember the day. It was a beautiful fresh, blue-sky day, the leaves were changing into all hues of yellows, reds and oranges and there was that feeling of breathing in crisp, cool air tinged with the smell of wood smoke from nearby chimneys. I’m not sure how I got home in one piece as I think I spent a lot of the time either looking up into the sky whilst singing or closing my eyes, imagining what heaven would be like and talking to God. I remember thinking, ‘I must look like a crazy person!’ but not really caring what people thought of me. Sunday morning, as I walked out of the house, again into that Autumn air, to the car which we had loaded with things for our meeting as a new church plant in our neighbourhood, I had one of those ‘moments’ where I was taken back to that day in 2011 and then quickly to the realisation that we – Ryan AND me together – were driving for the third week to the church plant that I thought I would never see – though I longed so much to! In moments like that, our hearts fill with so much gratitude to our wonderful Lord and for the people who have been so faithful in praying for us over this past year.
Which leads me on to the next paragraph…
…There have been many lessons learned in this process which is still ongoing, but one thing that has humbled us the most and blessed us more than words can express is the prayerfulness of our brothers and sisters in Christ….even ones we have not yet met, who live half way across the world, in places we’ve never been. This year we have met a number of people, who we didn’t know, but who have told us things like ‘Our family prays for you every day around the table.’ or, ‘My child prays for you all the time at school’ or, ‘Our church prays for you every time we meet together.’ It just amazes and humbles us so much. I have also got used to feeling a sense of thankfulness when people say, ‘Wow, you’ve really put on weight’ or ‘It’s just great to see you eating so much!’ I even rejoice when some ‘less tactful’ men observe, ‘Cor, you’re much fatter than you were!’ (ha ha ha).
We’re also so thankful for the encouraging words people have shared via this blog, in person or in writing; for verses that have encouraged or things they feel God has laid on their hearts as they’ve prayed and fasted for us and for the MANY other ways people have practically helped us.
Thank you! We really want to shout it out….THANK YOU!!!
As far as my health goes, the summer was INCREDIBLE, I just felt SO good!
September and October have been mixed. Some days I feel pretty good all round, other days I have a few hours of nausea, occasional vomiting (a few weeks ago we were in the High Street and Ry had to scout an alleyway and a plastic bag!), aches and pains in my bones and tiredness. Today I had to use my wheelchair again, which I haven’t had to use in a while and that was a bit discouraging; but in general I’m ok – and MUCH better than I was from October 2011 – June 2012.
My mom – whom many of you know – is going through another course of chemotherapy at the moment. We thank the Lord for her incredible attitude and daily strength. She is looking forward to a visit from her sister Charlotte, and brother-in-law Karl, from the USA. In fact, as I write, they will have arrived already!
Uncle Karl and Aunt Charlotte, “Welcome – we can’t wait to see you both!”
The only problem with ‘welcomes’ – at least, this side of heaven – is that they’re always followed by ‘farewells’ 😦
– ~ –
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, – Philippians 3:20
Don’t you (believer) just want to stop sometimes and stand and acknowledge that we belong to the Kingdom of God where Jesus is on the throne. Bought by Him in love, so that we could be saved from a life heading towards eternal punishment; we are adopted into His family and made citizens of that everlasting Kingdom. So, we have a King who is fully gracious, fully merciful, fully loving, fully just, fully understanding and who was fully willing to die for us! What a friend! What a King! Hallelujah! That’s who we serve! Whoo hoo!!
He is our rescuer and has given us a reason to rejoice even when this world inevitably brings us pain and suffering; because one day…
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4
Just recently, I was reading about North Korea and how the people there are under a type of ‘kingship’ forced upon them by their ‘supreme leader’, Kim Jong-un and his predecessor Kim Jong-il. These ‘supreme leaders’ deify themselves (basically make themselves god) forcing the people they are in power over, to worship them. There is no freedom for the people at all. Everything they do, they do for the praise or the fear of ‘The Great General’ who strips them of many of their rights as human beings and indoctrinates them about the world outside of North Korea by restricting or moulding the already limited media available to them. For those who have escaped the brainwashing – those who have dared to take a stand by trying to make an escape or by finding hope in Jesus through bible verses written on scraps of paper or by attending a secret church – years in torturous prison camps have been their punishment in which horrors too gruesome to mention take place. Some are being lined up and shot dead or even steamrolled over. For a reality-check and for prayer take some time to watch this little video.
Unlike these ‘supreme leaders’ Jesus does not force us to follow Him. He gives us a choice. He has done His part, He has told us that our sin deserves separation and punishment (and believer or not, I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t want to see sin or injustice or ‘evil acts’ punished). He knows we are incapable of living perfect lives and out of His love for us, He came, humbled Himself, lived a perfect life for us and died in our place, taking the punishment of sin upon Himself:
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
We have to do our part.
For me, it was having a real sense of my sinfulness and how much it offended God; asking God to forgive me through faith in His Son, Jesus, believing and trusting in what He did for me, in history, on this earth, on the cross and determining in my heart with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, to follow Him and make Him my king. I wanted this more than anything and still do. It’s the most wonderful thing in my life and in Ryan’s too. That’s why we go on about it so much!
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
Kim Jong-un – like every slave to sin – enslaves his people; Jesus sets us free! That freedom is not just intellectual, it’s experiential. I experience this freedom and joy even in the dark valley of cancer and the restriction of a terminal diagnosis.
Christians, let’s remember to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in North Korea who are suffering so much for the His sake; and let’s be encouraged that even as they are being tortured and lined up to be shot, they are singing to Jesus their King of kings!
More Than Conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39