The process of radiation is over, and after that, I continued to experience some fatigue resulting from calcium levels in the blood, along with low hemoglobin (I got down to 8.4 -- the doctor would accept 10, but 12-13 are also healthily normal.) So I had two blood transfusions and went on the drug coumadin which helps to thin blood clots (I have a lot of swelling on my left leg that indicates a clot near my ankle). That said, after those treatments, I have had a great relief from the pain I had in my right leg. That pain was of the sort that made it nearly impossible to walk, sit, stand, even get in and out of bed without shooting pain. It appears to have been caused by a pinched nerve that was relieved by the radiation. Thanks be to God.
I have also experienced a resurgence of energy and vision for my job and family life. I am surprised that Margie and I were able to use the gift tickets we received to the Chicago Lyric Opera last Saturday for La Traviata -- 7:30 to 10:30 pm, getting home at 12:00, and still surviving with Sunday morning peace and focus. What an encouragement that is, and how it inspires more hopes for continued possibilities!
Another of those great delights is ministering with Redeemed Lives, teaching weekly of the matters of the soul that I have learned over the years, biblically and theologically grounded truth that I believe in so confidently because I've been through them personally, solid grounds for hope and healing of those who come. It is such a delight to pray and minister to others.
In that context, I was struck by how little I had understood the Prayer of St. Francis, especially in the midst of my suffering. Here's the text, the one that I learned through John Michael Talbot's musical setting:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
It was especially in the matters of giving rather than receiving, seeking not so much to be consoled, understood, and loved, etc., that I realized how easily I could lose my focus on giving. Ironically, I now see that having opportunities to meet for prayer with others on their behalf, engaging outwardly in hopeful visionary planning, accomplishing in the ways that I am gifted -- these are great sources of healing and hope.
Consequently, I have been led to listen more closely to what the Lord is telling me, rather than turning inward to try to figure out what is happening in my body. Thank God for words such as "I am healing you today, even if you are not aware of it. You have only to be still and yield your burdens to me. Cast your cares on me. Breathe deeply, as I empower you to rest." Other instances would be occasions when I'm called to take authority over the predominance of pain and cancerous cells in my body. "In Jesus' name, I rebuke any invasive cells that may be destroying my healthy ones. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; I belong to God. I will go only in his time."
I know that language like that can be misused, but I have seen amazing changes from one day to another in pains that I thought would abide.
In conclusion, I would ask for your prayers for some particular physical needs:
1) For my right rib cage. Something does create pressure there on my lifting, breathing, and even on my skin. It will become heated inside at times. This could be very dramatic, but I do not believe that it will have the victory over me.
2) For the ongoing clot in my left leg. My leg shrinks back to near normal during the night, but even with the tight hose I wear during the day (was that ever a piece of beauty when I was out in shorts running the Chicago Marathon -- (joke!), it's clear that a clot is still there. I would love to have the freedom to walk and move about more. At the same time, just as I was writing this, my son Josiah woke up crying, and I was able to move upstairs, no, DASH upstairs in a way I couldn't have imagined even a few weeks ago. This could have consequences tomorrow (!), but I know that your intercessions will be of great help.
3) Finally, thank you for your prayers for Margie. She has truly been a woman of integrity and honesty during this process. She has just given a talk at her Muffins & Mugs ministry, addressing the challenges of marriage to a difficult spouse. Not that we don't love each other and continue to grow in unity and joy, but that a trial like this elicits tremendous areas of struggle for her. The fact that she could be so transparent about it makes me respect her even more. I see her blessing others, and also teaching me about my own potential ongoing narcissistic expectations or criticisms of her. What a great spouse. We celebrate our 7th anniversary this Sunday. Her talk will stream on the web sometime soon -- possibly from her blogsite. I'll let you know.
Must go to bed. The blessings of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit remain with you all.