Charles Dickens said the key to a thankful and joyful heart is to “reflect on your present blessings of which every man has many; not upon your past misfortunes of which all men have some. Therefore, as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, Cheryl and I are thinking about many things for which we’re grateful. For one thing, Cheryl is still alive and with me. I can’t imagine how I’d get along without her. Furthermore, the results of her latest PET Scan came back last Thursday. It showed absolutely no sign of any cancer cells, which means she has now been cancer free for almost a year. We believe that God has healed her of this horrible disease and we give Him thanks for His kindness.
Cheryl does continue to suffer the side effects of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Her right leg suffers from lymphedema and nerve damage. This causes a great deal of discomfort which makes sleeping difficult. Insomnia is something she fights every night. However, her energy level is starting to return to normal and by taking daily medication and wearing compression undergarments, she has been able to keep the cellulitis and swelling in check. The undergarments cost $800 a pair, but thanks to the Karen Hilburn Cancer Fund, we were able to get her first two pairs without any charge to us. She is also using a compression machine every day that helps with the lymphedema. The machine costs $13,000. But we qualified for a refurbished model from the company for just $300. With all these medical expenses, you’d think we’d go bankrupt. But by God’s grace, we’ve been able to pay all our bills and remain out of debt.
Another blessing for which we give thanks is that both our daughters and their families are now living in Portland. Both Heidi and Rebecca attended Liberty University in Virginia and chose to continue living there following graduation. But then, five years ago, Heidi’s husband Ben accepted a call as worship minister at a church in Gresham, and this month Rebecca’s husband Aaron started a new job as an IT technician for Multnomah’s Sheriff’s Department. So both girls, their husbands, and our 11-month old grandson, Malcolm (Aaron and Rebecca’s boy) are living just 2 1/2 hours away! That means we will all be able to celebrate Thanksgiving together for the first time in ten years! What a joy that will be!
But, of course, the greatest joy of all is knowing Jesus Christ, having our sins forever because of His great sacrifice on the cross, and enjoying the privilege of taking every one of our needs before His throne of grace in prayer. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich…Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 8:9; 9:15)
We pray that your Thanksgiving is likewise filled with the joy that comes from being surrounded by family and good friends. Thanks for being such wonderful friends to us! I don’t know how we would have made it without the love of Christ that you’ve shared with us in so many ways. May His presence fill your heart and your home not only this holiday weekend, but every day of the year ahead.
Our love in Christ,
Gary and Cheryl