Thursday, April 24, 2014

Jodi, single file. . .

I have missed being here in the mornings! I recently returned from Denver, where I spent my spring break with my eldest sister, Jodi. Many of you have been praying for her for the past three years as she has been fighting multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, and I’m so very grateful for that prayer support for her. She was told about four weeks ago that she has 4-6 weeks to live, because she has run out of chemo options, and her platelet and red blood cell counts are critically low. That news was delivered while our sister, Susie (sister #2 of 4), was visiting Jodi from Florida on her spring break. It was devastating!

Jodi’s children and grandchildren all descended on Denver to celebrate Jodi, and they had a very special reunion that affirmed Jodi’s place as the matriarch of the Marcucci clan (the reality is that she is also the matriarch of the entire extended Frost clan, my family). What a blessing it was for all of them to be together, laughing and crying as they shared stories of Jodi and thanked her for her impact in their lives. A week after they all departed, I arrived for a very special, quiet five-day visit with Jodi, and my brother-in-law, Ed, that was sprinkled with a few visits from close friends of Jodi, who arrived to say good-bye and bless her.

I have to say that Jodi and Ed are making this so easy for everyone who visits or calls. They are very open and frank about what is happening, and, as always, they maintain their sense of humor. Yesterday, I spoke with Jodi and she had just been told by her doctor that there is really no further treatments for her, although they will continue the platelet and red blood cell transfusions that are just keeping her alive, until she is ready to end them (at some point they will stop working, too). Thankfully, she is in no pain! God is gracious and merciful.

So, I have obviously been continuously praying for Jodi and thinking about her and reflecting on where she is right now. And while reading for the Bible study I am doing at my church, Stronger by Angela Thomas, the LORD gave me some insight into this period for Jodi. Angela Thomas was the speaker at our Women’s Retreat at the end of March, and her focus there and in this study is that on this journey between initial salvation, when we come to Christ, and when we finally arrive at our destination, eternity with Him, God is ALWAYS with us, giving us His presence and strength to make the pilgrimage.

The study last week specifically looked at how God strengthens us in the struggles common to all: with loneliness, temptation, stress, doubt, and in finding direction for our lives. I was particularly struck by Angela’s teaching on loneliness in light of Jodi’s battle. She quotes Charles Spurgeon, the famous British preacher of the 19th century on this subject:

No Believer traverses all the road to heaven in company. There must be lonely spots here and there, though the greater part of our heavenly pilgrimage is made cheerful by the society of fellow travelers. 

Christ’s sheep love to travel in flocks. [Isn’t that the truth??] We take sweet counsel together and walk to the House of God in company. Yet somewhere or other on the road, every Christian will find narrow paths and close places where pilgrims must march in single file. - Charles Spurgeon

This image of walking in single file jumped out at me! And I thought of Jodi. Even though she has been surrounded by family and friends, and sweet Ed is right by her side at all times, this final journey is being made in single file. She is the only one in the room doing the dying. We can’t do that with her. And this has been pretty much true of the past three years of her life. The day after she learned she had multiple myeloma, she received a phone call from her eldest daughter informing her that her youngest son, Justin, had died in bed of sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 35. Justin left two five-yr-old twin boys, a three-yr-old son, and his wife, Stephanie, was pregnant with their fourth, a girl.

When Jodi received this devastating double-punch of news within 24 hours, she and Ed were in Rome alone on a mission. She had no friends or family with her! They flew home as soon as they could, and after Justin’s funeral, the treatment for cancer began. She entered a hospital in Chicago (where her third child, Jared, was a resident doctor), and spent that entire summer of 2011 in isolation during her stem cell transplant. While she lay in that hospital, her second son, Jenner, who was living just five minutes away from her in Denver, moved with his family (five of her grandchildren) to Florida for a job! So, when she returned to Denver, she had lost the close contact of that part of her family. So many losses, so much to deal with - and all of that in single file.

I am so grateful that even in our single file moments, God NEVER leaves us. And in this final part of the journey, He promises to be right there, bringing us home to the unique place He has planned for us in Heaven!

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.  There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:1-3 NLT)

Please keep praying! I’m not giving up on a miracle yet! :) Next week we will begin the Book of Hebrews. There is so much to bless us in this book!  

No comments:

Post a Comment