I’ve been thinking a lot lately about volunteerism and having a servant’s heart. Obviously, I need a lot of helpers in my world right now. So I'm trying to see things from your perspective.
I’ve had worries of being too needy. Of not being gracious enough (there’s still Tupperware to be returned and thank you notes to be written!). Of being too vocal with my needs; too selfish. And of course, at the top of my list of “volunteer worries” is that I have never been good at this myself.
I’ve gained tremendous perspective from being “28Cancer” girl. I’ve got a house that has to be maintained, a husband who still needs to be encouraged and loved, chores that have to be done, bills that have to be paid, doctor’s appointments that have to be tended to, babysitters to be arranged, endless prescriptions to fill, and two precious, buzzing boys who don’t understand where mommy has been lately.
Before I was “28Cancer” I would have never been able to imagine all that it took to live through a medical crisis and come out on the other side without declining into utter chaos.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my friend Brandy. Brandy has restrictive cardiomyopathy. That means her heart chambers are unable to properly fill with blood. She’s just about my age. Her two children are elementary school age. I’ve only known her for a few months but I believe our friendship was divinely ordained. We don’t share similar diseases, but we share many of the same emotions from our illnesses.
She recently had some trouble with her heart and her Implantable Cardiac Defibrilator shocked her three times. Since then Brandy bravely underwent two procedures and was sent home from the hospital and told to rest. Indefinitely. Basically, Brandy has orders to abstain from things like laundry, dishes, driving, etc. The longer she can relax and hold off on these things, the longer she’s got before her doctor’s put her on the heart transplant list.
Brandy writes a blog called, I Will Give You a New Heart, and we both believe God will do that for her! But in the meantime, she and her family are completely at the mercy of their friends and church family (her family is in East Texas) to keep their lives running.
And here’s where God makes it interesting- Brandy and I are in the same Small Group at church. Meaning a group of about 6 other families has been placed directly in the line of fire! I can only imagine their struggle as they look around and wonder what they can or should do.
I listened to an author speak on Focus on The Family earlier today. He said he used to pray for God to care about the things he cared about. He’d pray for his neighbors' broken marriage, for healing for his uncle, etc. But he’s recently come to understand that since God is the embodiment of love, He doesn’t need any reminders to care for hurting people. So Yancey has started to pray differently. He’s asking God what he can do to show God’s love to those around Him. In essence, I guess he’s asking what each of us should be asking every day: How can I look more like Jesus? How can my life bear fruit? What can I do to show your love to my family and friends that are hurting? How would you like me to sacrifice?
So many of you are so very, very good at this! I want to take a moment to list out the ways you’ve shown your love for my family in these last few months:
Emailing/texting encouraging messages or verses
Hand-crafting gifts for us
Cleaning the house
Paying for housekeepers
Connecting me with survivors/doctors to talk to
Driving me to doctor appointments
Bringing the kids gifts
Donating your very hard-earned money
Arranging help with car problems
Wearing a pink bracelet
And weekly lawn work!
Earlier on I was having such a hard time taking all of these things. I felt a little undeserving, a little apprehensive at letting people into my lives on such an intimate level to help me take care of basic needs. But, sweet Lisa Beadle told me a few weeks ago that anytime I don’t let someone help, I am robbing them of the blessing they might get from God for being obedient in serving.
Since then I have been quick to say, “Yes, I need help!” Just ask Paul and his angels how many times they’ve recently brought us dinner during a non-chemo time!
I’m grateful for those moments when people don’t ask, but instead just call up and say, “I’m helping and here’s how…” I’d give anything to be able to be that person for Brandy and her family right now.
She and I have both been struggling with what good can come from our situations. Is there anything good that our immediate families can gain from being in this painful position?
I just finished reading a novel based on the Biblical account of Esther. Her story reminded me of how God can take something detrimental and do so much good. Esther was taken from her family and given to a king she’d never met. She had to give up her own dreams of marriage and family amongst the other Jews and go to a man to whom she couldn’t even reveal her true identity. Then God called her to risk her life to appear before this King and reveal the truth to him. A task that might very possibly have ended in her death. Instead, God was faithful and He used Esther to miraculously save all of the Jewish people of her land!
I think Brandy would agree with me that we both humbly hope God can use us and our situations to bring God’s love into the world. And I know we’d both say that seeing your outpouring of love and care for us while we’re incapable of living our lives on our own is breathtaking.
I’m happy to say that I’ve seen Jesus’ love through so many of you. And you might not ever, ever, ever understand it, but believe me when I say it… Every little thing you have done or will do means so very, very much. Nothing is too trivial; all of your efforts are coming together to keep us afloat right now. God bless you for your generosity and sacrifices. We know the extreme effort that its taken to help us. I don't doubt that there are many of you who have put your heads on your pillows at night feeling exhausted by all you've done to help the Dominos. While you're resting in your beds, please know that we're over here praying for blessings upon blessings to come your way.
Quick UPDATE on Chemo 4:
So, here I am. Blogging away on what is normally my worst chemo day. Thanks to my very own personal pharmacy that is now covering one whole counter in my kitchen, my nausea and headaches are much more manageable. My biggest prayer request during this round of chemo is for my hemoglobin numbers. They are low and if they drop more then we might soon be facing a blood transfusion. Please pray for these numbers to rise! I don’t want a transfusion, of course, but my hemoglobin being low is also contributing to my exhaustion and weakness. And I'd rather not keep going through non-chemo weeks with so much fatigue!