Often, during my husband John's illness, we would travel from our quiet home and business in the north-woods, to huge hospitals and clinics in the big, busy city of Madison, WI. (We also traveled to trade shows when he was well enough. I'm an artist and we sell my art to gift stores. Our last trade show together was in January, 2010 in Dallas, Texas, at the World Trade Center.) While in Dallas I noticed John was not breathing right, having to "catch" his breath, take longer breaks. He was quite obviously sick again. His body was probably attempting to reject his transplanted lung again. We'd done this before, so many times, and usually after a week or so in the hospital, they would get it sorted out and we were right back to living our "normal lives". But this time something was different, very different. John's transplant team could not get the rejection to stop. I remembered a long time ago they had told us, "Somewhere along the road we will not be able to stop your body from ultimately rejecting the lung. It is called Chronic Rejection and it's deadly without a 2nd transplant." In January they hospitalized him 3 separate times, injecting massive anti-rejection medications into his body. But, nothing changed. The cough and shortness of breath got worse. Then, they finally informed us that John did indeed suffer from the much dreaded Chronic Rejection this time. It's the worst diagnosis there is in the transplant world. My knees were weak, I prayed and cried. For 5 years I had feared this, for 5 years I had feared the C word...Chronic. But, I still held on to a hope, they had said that people who reject can get a "2nd transplant". We held on to that, like you would hold on to a child in a house fire. Tightly and desperately, looking for safety. A few weeks after the 3rd and last hospitalization, we were home and talking on the phone with John's transplant-coordinator, Kelly. She said that a 2nd transplant was not going to be possible for him. The fight was over... No more big city, no more travels, hospitals, hotels, treatments or appointments, no more life together...it was as though a huge clock had ticked very loudly. And just with that one tick, a whole new time of "us" began. I swear I actually heard the TICK of the clock...and then stillness. "Be still and KNOW that I AM God."
I'm sorry I can't give credit to the photographer-I don't know where I got this picture
John is in Hospice care at our home now. We went from Home Health Care right into Hospice Home Care. Nurses come and go. We don't live by the "outside" world's time any longer, other than me going to church services. I heard the final TICK of the outside world's clock. It's can be 2, 3, 4 or 5 in the morning when we finally sleep a little. The O2 concentrator makes a sound like chchchchc-POOOOF-chchchchchchc-POOOF. John's nostrils get dry and sore from the plastic cannula in his nose and the constant rushing wind. We have to hook up 2 concentrators for him to shower, bath time is a nightmare for most people with lung disease. Yet he does not lose heart, he cheers me and our children. He says, "I know who I serve, I know why I'm here and I know where I'm going." He said that to the church body once when he was teaching, he then posed this question to the congregation, "Do you?" God has said that "In our weakness He is made strong." I've seen that in John. Faith wise, I watch him literally tower over most people though he's flat on his back in the hospital bed. It's amazing to see, it really is. We want to have the authentic faith that I'm reading about. All the world will eventually suffer, and everyone will eventually die, we are no different. So, how can I be different from the world in this? When I do it for Christ. When I show them His love, when I "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.", when I show them, as Amy Carmicheal said, that there is a "path through suffering"... and when I am still. Love, Pam
A small group of women from our church are getting together and reading Autentic Faith, by Gary Thomas. I've never experienced a *"book club" atmosphere before (*not sure what to call it), but I am already enjoying and learning much from this book that Cathy chose.
God is faithful...
Some of the notes I've taken from Authentic Faith so far are:
What if life isn't meant to be perfect but we are meant to trust the One who is?
The seasons (of trials) are necessary because we do not walk easily into maturity.
The active Christian life is full of risks, heartache, and responsibilities.
Yes, we experience peace, joy and hope, but it is a peace in the midst of turmoil, a joy marked with empathy, and a hope refined by suffering-Refined BY Suffering-
Learn to love with God's love. Learn to serve with God's power.
Mourning gives us a glimpse of the world as God sees it.