Monday, October 21, 2013

Continuing Gifts...

Christina and Stacy
This past week, one of Christina's good friends spent the week with me.  Stacy became Christina's friend through mutual cancer diagnosis' in the fall of 2007.  Stacy was overseas and was being sent home for treatment.  She and I spent some time on the phone and then one year later, I invited Stacy to our home to meet me face to face and also to meet Christina.  I didn't even know if they would like each other.  Apparently, Stacy was not too thrilled with Christina's blog.  She was not sure Christina was for real:)  Well, it all worked out in their first 5 minutes of comparing stories, encouraging one another, and laughing together.  I still remember one snippet of conversation when Christina mentioned how tired she continued to be even a year after surgery and radiation.  Stacy said, "That is completely normal.  You know that don't you.  You don't know that?  How could you not know that.  Of course you should take naps--lots of naps."  What freedom for Christina.  It was the first time she had ever talked to another young cancer survivor.  Yeah for naps!  Lots of naps!

Stacy also happens to be a hospice nurse and has attended many brain cancer patients.  We talked through Christina's last weeks.  Stacy had visited twice during those last 11 weeks but was not here when Christina died and was not able to attend the memorial service.  So, we talked through it all.  What a gift to my heart--to share again the things that stunned me, that made me laugh, that made me cry.  Stacy opened my eyes a little further to the miracle of Christina's last days.  It was quite unlike what Stacy has seen in other patients..  For Christina to be aware to the end and to even be able to communicate at all in the last week was truly a gift.  I see again that God gave Christina exactly what she asked for--an answer to her entire prayer.  I posted the prayer on my first blog entry but it bears repeating because it is so amazing to see God answer so specifically.  It was a prayer from April 16th, 2013--two months before she moved into the full presence of Jesus.

"Lord, can I ask a simple, maybe even selfish request until the moment I go home?  Will you somehow miraculously allow me to stay vibrant, coherent, clear minded, and fully able to feel you, express you, and maintain my own personality in this process?  Oh, Lord, I can't imagine a better way to end my days--besides perhaps getting to lead someone to the Lord personally somehow.  I pray that the way I go is not traumatic to anyone who might have to witness it.  May it be peace, peace, peace.  May it be a time where your presence is so beautiful, thick, and joyful that no one witnessing it or even hearing about it would ever deny you.  Lord, please put the exact people to be there that need to be, for their own hearts, for mine, and for your biggest glory to be known.  I so deeply trust you with this too, Lord.  I don't wish to die, Lord, but I do long to see your face, and I feel it stronger every day.  To be swallowed up by life, REAL LIFE.  Thank you Jesus for this excitement.  It gives me a bit of a skip in my step, even with an 'ouchie' back.  :)
I never expected or even knew that I could experience it now and in this powerful way.  You are so kind, my Jesus.  So kind.  I love you."  Christina

Christina, Christy Meyer Wilson, Jesse (high school years)
Another gift I never expected came a few months ago.  Christy Wilson, author of The Serpent and the Sparrow, sent me a beautiful set of CD's that contain the hours and hours of interviews that she did with Christina in order to write that beautiful book about Christina's first two years of her cancer journey.  I sat in my kitchen and listened to a very articulate Christina describe in detail how she felt, what she thought, what she hoped for, and a thousand other little details.  These are recordings I have never heard.  My overwhelming response is absolute joy that her struggles are done and she is with Jesus.  I love having her voice fill my kitchen and I love being challenged by her focus of letting her life be known publicly so that Jesus can be made famous.  She shared everything freely, honestly--holding nothing back.  Wonderful.

This past week, I also had to rely on some video responses that Christina had allowed us to record back in April.  Someone asked me why Christina had to die so young and did not get to enjoy much of life.  I played Christina's response to the question, "What would you say to someone at your memorial service?"  She talked for about 10 minutes about this question but here are some little piece of her response--

"Have some pie.  It's probably good.  (laughter)  I think the main thing would probably be, for sure, I am so happy where I am.  If you could see what I'm seeing now, you would understand. Us being separated by death is the hard part but Jesus died so that we don't have to have that.  Don't be sad for me....Death is hard, because of that temporary separation but you have to know that I didn't come to an end and I am living the ultimate life.  Be not sad for me.  Ever.  I love all that life is...The blip of life on earth that we get to experience drawing us into Jesus--there is nothing more beautiful but then moving into eternity--there is no better place.  No better."

Such beautiful thoughts and magnificent gifts. 

 Lord, help me to see more of your generosity and goodness
 in all the hard things I pass through.  
You are truly present and powerful and more generous than I can imagine.


  1. Last weekend, I thought about Stina a TON. Some friends and I watched "Waiting for Guffman," which Stina and I would watch with the other RAs in Armington. I could just hear her quoting some of the lines as it played. The next night, I went to a concert where Laura Story was playing. Her husband survived getting a brain tumor removed, and a few of her songs reflected that journey. I momentarily felt upset - why did God let him live and why did Stina have to go? I was reminded about how unique and beautiful Stina's story is though - what an amazing inspiration she was, even through the process of leaving this earth. And I was also reminded about how complete and joyful she is today in heaven.

    I was also reminded about how it's slightly embarrassing to cry (I mean completely sob!) during a concert, but that's beside the point. :)

    I love these reminders about Stina, even when they cause messy tears, and I continue to love these lessons, JoDee. Thanks!

    1. Oh dear Emily--"Waiting for Guffman"--Christina introduced me to that movie on her floor in Armington when I was visiting Westmont one weekend. Soon the whole floor of girls had joined us. I remember more than a few people knew the lines and even 'the dance". And I remember every time I laughed someone would say, "She likes it!!!!" Such fun memories.
      And as for Laura Story--Christina and I picked up Laura and her husband Martin at the airport to bring them to Port Angeles for a concert. We shared brain tumor stories on the long ride home and prayed for Martin. He has such a difficult journey and I am so thankful that he is now getting to experience being a Dad!
      Thank you for loving Stina so well and I am grateful for your tears of love.
      Much love to you,
      Jo Dee