It is time for an update and I can't wait to share all that God has been doing in our lives. I have been s in awe of how majestic, yet intimate Christ is, and I have accounts of that in this post. I write this at a time, though, when mass shootings have rapid fire shot across our nation and our social media feeds are blasting with blame and fury. In the midst, I and a number of friends are facing our own battles with the evil of cancer. But this is a positive account--an account of the beauty and faithfulness of Jesus, despite our broken and bruised world. I hope you come away from it feeling hope and yes, even JOY.
As many of you have heard, my sessions of chemo were extended last month. Instead of four rounds, I had to add more, so a total of eight rounds. I had session seven two days ago and still have my pump in which will disconnect today. As of now, the plan is one more session in two weeks, then a scan is scheduled, and then my doctor says, "I will gather my SWAT team and we will execute a plan." What that is, I won't know until after the scan, but I am praying for no more chemo (duh). The side effects after session six were brutal as I described in my last post and I entered this round all prayed up--singing the song over and over again, "My fear doesn't stand a chance when I stand in your love."--love love love that song. (Bethel Music-songwriter Josh Baldwin).
But let me tell you about my sweet sweet week in Colorado, when I got to take a break from chemo and blood tests and doctor appointments, and simply bask in the beauty of nature, family, friends, and community. We went to Colorado for a special wedding (Jake and Darby Landon) in which Noah and most of his best friends from Poway were in the wedding as groomsmen. We went out with our friends Carolyn and Steve and Dee Dee whose sons were also in the wedding. We got a VRBO for all of us which was right in the middle of old town Littleton which is an adorable town in Colorado. Each night I would google the closest hiking trail, and each morning I would get up and hike an hour taking in the beauty of the area. We shopped (story of THE DRESS is on social media), ate, drank, and laughed.
The wedding was held at the Manor House in Littleton--a beautiful historic mansion that looked out over massive hills, red rocks and had a view of downtown Denver in the background. Jake and Darby couldn't have done a more beautiful job of weaving family, Christ, and beauty into their wedding. There was so much joy and smiles and great dancing. (video of dancing with my son Noah also on social media). Now mind you that three days prior to heading out to Colorado, I was puking and pooping and sleeping and enduring the side effects of chemo. I had prayed to the Lord to please give me His strength to not only endure this trip, but to enjoy it. I had prayed that I would have no side effects and great energy. While I did have some side effects (I have to be careful of what I eat and drink)--I felt God's energy and strength.
There was another big side story in all of this. I have mentioned briefly before that we bought a house in Fort Collins where Noah goes to college. We wanted it to be for Noah and his roommates and then in the future for any college kids in the YL college community to live. We prayed for it to be open for ministry and love and community just like the home we have here in Poway. We closed escrow in June and had to start making mortgage payments in August. The problem was that Noah and his roommates had to get out of their current lease which they had to sign back in January for the upcoming year. (That's how it works in college towns). The property management company made us pay $500 and then Noah had to do all the work to advertise, show, and get new sub-letters. The property management company denied one of the interested parties and Noah was starting to get stressed. It was getting close to crunch time, so we decided to put our house up for rent as well, just to cover bases, even though we knew we still had time (school starts mid August). So here is the cool and crazy part (our God is like that ---cool and crazy). When we arrived in Denver on Wednesday, Noah called us and said that he got a group of guys who applied and were approved to get into their current house, BUT--they had to be out by Sunday! The wedding was Thursday, and Noah was taking his boys to camp in Minnesota on Friday night. So.....Greg rented a U-Haul, two of Noah's roomies came back to help, and on Friday they all busted their butts to move everyone's things out of the old house and into our new one! We had planned to take Carolyn and the Beesons out to Fort Collins to show them around on Friday, so that turned into me dropping them off in Old Town and saying, "Have fun!" then driving to WalMart and stocking up on all things boys need for a new house and getting back to the place and making the front porch a cozy little place. The boys were exhausted, but we all met up at one of our favorite places in FC with our friends and the boys and celebrated friendship, love, and God's answered prayers!
Noah got off to camp at ten that night; his sweet roommates stayed and finished some cleaning and moving, and Greg went back to San Diego. I finished my trip off by driving up into the mountains to Winter Park/Fraser (ski mecca in winter, and biking/hiking mecca in summer) to visit the Marbrey family who were one Young Life assignment at Crooked Creek--another gorgeous YL camp in our country. I had rented a small condo just down the hill from the camp and each morning I woke up, hiked and then went to the camp to spend the day with Mat, Janell, and their precious kiddos. I would be there from 9:00 am to usually 9:30 pm and God gave me surreal strength. This is my element--I was YL Area Director from 2000-2007 and have either been on assignment or taken kids to camp for over 15 years. I watched Mat and Janell grow up (they were my students and then YL kids, and then Mat was my assistant youth pastor when we both did church and YL ministry for five years). Now they are a family of five and killing it doing ministry in the name of Jesus and sharing the gospel with teens.
I saw God's creation and majesty in the wildflowers, the creeks, the trees, the vanilla ice cream melted snow streams on the summer mountains, the faces of teens who had never seen a place of beauty like this, the servant hearts of all the staff and work crew who were there because they have been overwhelmed by the love and grace of God. I saw God's intimacy in that He has grown these special relationships through Christ centered community....Jake and Darby, their YL leaders, the groomsmen--friends for life, the relationship I have with Mat and Janell--fused together because of the cross and the grace of Jesus. I saw His intimacy in the way He answered our prayer for the house, and understood once again that His timing in not always our timing. I saw His intimacy in my time with my son Noah, and with my husband Greg and with our friends dancing at the wedding. I saw intimacy in spending time with each one of the Marbrey girls as we drank a smoothie together or held hands on the way to club, or sat at a bench and made bead bracelets. I saw His intimacy in how He brought so many people involved in YL together in one place---Noah's friends from Colorado were either there on assignment, summer staff or as leaders bringing campers. I saw his intimacy as I visited with my dear friend Sharon and lifetime friends, the Wrights, before I left the state to fly home. So much love of Christ gathered in one precious week in the glory of His creation in the beautiful state of Colorado.
I may be going through cancer, but God gave me such a taste of His glory, His grace, and His perfect love during this week. He gave me His strength, His energy, His healing. I am back in the routine of treatment, but God gave me this gift--of Him--and for that I am beyond thankful. I have hope. I have joy. I have family. I have Christ. I have....a beautiful life.