As I write, I am surrounded by the sounds and sights of the season; my favorite time of the year – Christmas! I pray each of you is experiencing the presence and love of Christ afresh during this very special time.

So many of you have been praying for me, and I am so grateful for prayer lifted on my behalf.  We have experienced God’s love and grace in many ways through this trial of breast cancer; not the least of which is through people like YOU.  We’ve been wrapped like a blanket in the love of our family, friends, church family, co-workers, and even friends we haven’t seen in many years.  During my chemo treatments I started making a list of everyone I wanted to send a thank you note for.  My precious Mother trained me up right! I remember her teaching me the importance of a timely, written thank you note.  I know that no one expects a thank you note, and does not do nice gestures for this reason.  But in some way I wanted to express my gratitude for the kindness I was given.

As you can imagine, that list got longer, and longer (and I got sicker, and sicker)…and so now the long list, still accumulating names, still sits in a box in my closet.  I pray that one day I am able to personally express my gratitude to each and every one of you who have prayed for me, made our family a meal, given us a gift, cared for my children, grocery shopped for me, visited me at chemo…. or even just a hug, phone call, or smile.  And every comment here on this blog and every sweet Facebook message, text, call and card lifts me up.   Each gesture is so appreciated.  I will joyfully be writing thank you notes for years because I never want to forget how wrapped in love we feel. And the best way to remember is to sit in that gratitude.

Beyond the kindness of people, I’m grateful for the kindness of God.  Again in Reach worship yesterday we sang a song “Joyfully” which has a lyric that says “Your goodness chases after me”.  Every time I sing those words, I cannot HELP but raise my hands as tears fill my eyes.  Even writing this I am moved.  Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!  To be hemmed in by his goodness, behind and before..it’s the most amazing security in the world.

There are times I haven’t felt like I was sitting in His goodness, but it is during those times that I believe that YES, He is Good, despite my feelings.  As I have said before, “faith isn’t faith if it is always felt”.  These are the days I had to lean hard into His promises and trust that which I did not see (or feel).

Thankfully, His mercy is in full view during these sweet December days.

My second lumpectomy (called a re-excision) was on 11/24.   A second surgery was required because they did not get clear margins from the first surgery.  What in the world are “clear margins?”  Clear margins basically means they removed all of the cancer from the area surrounding the tissue.  Clear margins are very important because if there is any cancer remaining, it can grow and spread.

My surgery went well, two days before Thanksgiving.  I had virtually no pain, and even helped cook for Thanksgiving dinner.  I was so grateful.  We waited with great expectation for the pathology results to see if clear margins were achieved this time.

I got the call last week that we were waiting to hear….CLEAR MARGINS! So (as far as I can understand)- I am currently cancer free!

I will have seven weeks of radiation, likely starting in January.  It will be Monday – Friday for 7 weeks (35 treatments). I also continue to have a Herceptin infusion every three weeks till April.  After April, if everything goes as planned, I believe I will be on Tamoxifen for 5 years.  Cancer isn’t a sickness that you put behind you quickly, I’m learning.  But I’m thankful for the journey, and mostly for the One and the ones who journey with me.

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
    the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

22-24 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

25-27 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.

28-30 When life is heavy and hard to take,
    go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
    Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
    The “worst” is never the worst.

31-33 Why? Because the Master won’t ever
    walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
    His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.

Lamentations 3:19-33, The Message