Chapter three: Oh, ye of little faith!

The doctor said, “I can’t believe it but your lymph nodes are already smaller.. reduced one-half their size.  I just don’t understand it.”

Mother received her first chemo treatment on Dec. 24th.   Not a fun Christmas present.   A couple of weeks after her treatment she became very sick and admitted to the hospital again.

The doctor didn’t understand why my mother was so sick.  They did a CAT scan to see what was going on in her body.  The scan revealed a hiatal hyernia which was probably caused from the vomiting she experienced after chemo treatment. They also noticed that the inoperable massive tumor, wrapped around her intestinal organs, were gone-vanished and the lymph nodes by her kidneys reduced in size.  (Mother’s words:  I asked Dr. Rhinehart if one chemo treatment would do this to me and he shook his head “No”.  I kept saying, “I just can’t believe that!”.  I.H. kept saying, “Believe it, Mary!  That is what we have been praying for!”)

God had been working the miracle all along.  My faith in God was strengthened through this family crisis.  I’ve learned never to doubt God’s assurances…His timing is perfect and all we need to do is trust Him completely.  Yes, oh, ye of little faith… why was I a doubting Thomas rather than a believing Thomas…. perhaps it was because I hadn’t spent enough time with God to know it was His voice that gave me the assurance mother would be ok.  That is why it is so important to talk to God and listen.  He talks to us in different ways… as you spend more time alone with God and listening, you will begin to know His voice.  Just like recognizing a friend’s voice when you hear their voice on the phone… you don’t have to ask who is calling because you recognize their voice.  The reason you know their voice is that you have spent time with them… that is way it is with God.  The more you spend time with Him the easier it will become to recognize His voice speaking to you.

Our mother’s story didn’t end here…. She was 68 years old when diagnosed with cancer…..she was given three months to live…tops.  She lived another 23 years to the honorable age of 91. She was a woman of faith and a very humble woman.  I wish you could have all known her.

So I ask you… when was the last time you talked to God and  listened for Him to speak to you.  Would you recognize His voice?

Thank you for reading a shortened version of our Mother’s cancer story.

Blessings, Marilyn

Chapter Two: His timing…not ours – His way… not ours!

Monday, December 1, 1980….my daughter, Mary who was then three years old, and I traveled from Chicago area to Indiana.  I planned to be with my parents and other family members on surgery day.  My dear friend, Connie, babysit for Mary so I could drive my parents to the hospital, which was 30 minutes away.  The  pastor came by the house to pray for Mother’s  healing and to anoint her with oil before we headed off to the hospital.    

I remember the trip to the hospital well.  Although my parents had talked about mother possibly having cancer between themselves, there was silence in the car and it seemed more like a three-hour drive than  30 minutes.   My heart was in my throat thinking of what might be ahead for my mother and father.   I reasoned with the Lord that I was to young to lose my mother. 

Surgery time approached and we kissed mother and prayed for her.  We waited to hear the doctor’s diagnosis after surgery.  He told us it would take three plus hours to do the surgery…however, about 1 1/2 hours later, we received notice that mother was out of surgery and in the recuperating room and that the doctor would speak to us shortly.  The lump in my throat grew larger – we all knew that the shortened time in surgery might mean problems.   We waited…finally the doctor walked in the private waiting room.  The doctor slowly described exactly what he had found.  Mom had enlarged lymph nodes and tumors which wrapped around her colon, like a sheet, and it was impossible for him to remove them.  He told us they wouldn’t have the pathology report for three days.  Tears welled up in my eyes as the doctor shook his head and said “Let’s wait and see what the report tells us.”  They had to close her up and leave the tumors inside.   The doctor removed the ovaries and many smaller tumors but couldn’t remove the larger ones.    My heart sank…everybody was upset… and I was in denial.  My father said, “Well, it doesn’t sound good.”  We all had tears.   Our pastor led us in prayer.  

At this point, I couldn’t understand the assurance I had received from God that mom would be ok…maybe it meant she was going to heaven rather than being healed physically.  I knew she was ready to go to heaven, but I wasn’t ready to let her go.   My mother didn’t remember much for the next couple days except that she felt a warm feeling all over her body.

Three days passed.   I was sitting in the waiting room reading and as I looked up –  the doctor walked out of the elevator… I knew he had come to tell us the results of  the tests.  Dad was in mom’s room at the time.  The doctor walked over to me and told me in medical terms that mother had lymphoma blah blah blah… I said you mean “She has cancer?”  He said, “Yes.” They would treat the cancer with chemotherapy but if that did not put the cancer into rapid remission–these tumors might press on her vital organs and giver her serious problems etc…….I was in shock and could hardly get past the word Cancer.  I controlled my feeling of desperation as my heart pounded so hard as if it was going to  burst…. I had to get out of there.  The doctor proceeded to my mother’s room to let her and dad know the results of the test.  

I needed to find the hospital chapel… I got on the elevator quickly and I broke down in heavy crying  and moaning….this couldn’t be real.  My mother wasn’t even sick…how could she have cancer.  After all God had given me the assurance that she would be ok.  I reached the chapel and prayed like never before…crying my eyes out…there I gave all my fears to God.   After I regained my composure, I called my sister and then went to see my mother.  I’ve never felt such helplessness in my entire life.

At church that Wed. evening during Prayer Meeting, the pastor told the congregation about my mother’s prognosis…that she was given at the most….three months to live.  At the close of the service one of the church members stood and said, “Pastor, if we believe what we say we do, why don’t we pray for Mary’s healing?”  So they gathered at the altar to pray.   They had not prayed like that in years.  Meantime, my father I.H., was home on his knees, praying as only he could pray.  He interceded for my mother.  He told my mother later, “You may think I am crazy, but I prayed through for you.  God spoke to me.  He did not say if you were to live or die, but He did say “It’s going to all right.”   This was the same assurance I had been given a month before her surgery. 

The thee days that followed seemed long.  At my parents home I saw a coffee mug that had this saying, “EXPECT A MIRACLE!” I filled it with candy (for the nurses) and took it my mother.  I set it down in front of her and said, “See what this says?  Believe it!”  Mom said, “I do!”.   Although I didn’t understand God’s timing… I still had faith that God would do as he had assured me and my father.  It was His timing not ours and His way not ours. 

Reflection:   Has God  assured you about something?  Did the answer come right away…or did you have to wait?  Have you learned that …. It is His timing…not ours – His way….not ours? 

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct your path.

Stay tuned for Chapter three…     Blessings,  Marilyn

Doubting Thomas or Thomas the Believer?: Chapter One: Why worry when you can pray?

It was October of 1980.   My parents & sister and husband traveled from Indiana to Park Ridge IL for a visit.  They seldom drove to Chicago because they didn’t like to drive in the Chicago traffic.   It was always a joy when they came for a visit, but little did I know that would be the last visit for a very long time.  The coming months would be a changing point in all of our lives.

While standing in our kitchen one evening, my mother mentioned that she had a couple of lumps in her abdominal area.  The lumps were so large that we could actually see them protruding.  My sister and I both felt the lumps and couldn’t believe that she had not seen a doctor.  Mother was not one to go to the doctor’s office unless it was necessary.  We told her that she must see a doctor as soon as she returned home.  

After returning home, she called for a doctor’s appointment.  Her first appointment proved alarming.  The doctor told her there were several lumps in her abdominal area and that she should see a specialist.    We were very concerned because Mom was never felt sick.  The specialist told her he wanted to do surgery as soon as possible.

During this time period, I was attending a Bible study called “What Happens When Women Pray” by Evelyn Christiansen, and I asked the women to pray for my mother.  During the next couple of weeks as I prayed, I felt that God gave me an assurance that the lumps would disappear and everything would be alright.  I couldn’t believe that God had given me this assurance…then I started to think… “What if she doesn’t get better!”  Then the assurance I heard from God would just be wishful thinking.  I decided not to tell anyone.  God’s assurance gave me comfort in the days ahead because I chose to believe God spoke to my heart… that it wasn’t my wishful thinking. 

Or did I believe?    Reminds me of the little song I learned in church when I was a little girl.   “Don’t be a doubting Thomas.  Just take Him  at His promise.  Why worry, worry, worry, worry…when you can pray!

Reflection:  Do you  have a  doubting Thomas story?  Would love to hear about your experience and what you learned.  Stayed tuned tomorrow for Chapter two of ……. Doubting Thomas or Thomas the Believer?                           (See description about Thomas below.)

P.S.  I am recovering very well.   I don’t even feel like I had surgery!  What a blessing!  Each day is a gift from God…enjoy!  Blessings, Marilyn

About Thomas:  In Thomas’ best known appearance in the New Testament, [Jn. 20:24-29] he doubts the resurrection of Jesus and demands to touch Jesus’ wounds before being convinced.  This story is the origin of the term Doubting Thomas.  After seeing Jesus alive, Thomas professed his faith in Jesus, exclaiming “My Lord and my God!” On this account he is also called Thomas the Believer.[6]