Last night was such an amazing night. Without my knowledge, which in and of itself is quite a feat, my husband pulled off a surprise 33rd birthday party. It is the largest birthday party I have ever had and truly one for the books. My favorite part of the night is that it wasn’t about me. It was about celebrating through praise, message and prayer the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. It was also about my husband being the man of God I know he is called to be.
I woke up yesterday still feeling nauseated and pretty tuckered out. I thought, “It’s my 33rd birthday, which is an insignificant birthday in the scheme of ‘life’, but I have cancer. Stink! I don’t want to go down this path. I don’t want to have cancer. I don’t want to have this journey.” My eyes welled up and I knew my own personal pity party was about to commence. Then… the boys came roaring in the bathroom screaming, “Haaaaaappy Birthday, Mama.” Pity party over. Roy was making my favorite breakfast – biscuits and gravy. I wish I was a gal who loved a low-fat yogurt and an apple for breakfast, but I like my homemade flour and crisco biscuits covered in milk gravy – yu-umy! He did a fine job, too! (Also, part of him becoming the man I know he can be.) We had a bittersweet good-bye as Mom and Dad headed home after being with me for the better part of nine days. What a day.
In the afternoon, Roy told me we were heading in to town for supper and although I was excited, the mouth sores that were beginning to develop put a bit of a damper on a nice burrito. We celebrated and laughed as a family and I simply stared at the beauty of my children. They are wonderful, perfect creations. They are also loud, make embarrassing “boy” noises frequently in public and the littlest one has no sense of volume control….yet. After the usual clamour of a meal we headed to our church for this surprise celebration.
Revelation 12:11 states, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” Last night there was testimony. Roy got up and spoke, which if you know Roy, is something that has been overcome. He is a cowboy. He is the type of cowboy who is quiet. He is the type of cowboy of very, very, very few words. But, he spoke. When Roy speaks you listen. He does not repeat himself and he has truly thought about what he is going to say before he says it. (We have worked on this for nearly thirteen years and his strides of improvement are outstanding)… Last night, Roy shared that the Lord had pressed on his heart that he was to coordinate a praise and prayer gathering on my birthday. He knew he was to walk out his faith and “do” that something that God had called him to do. He was to be a man of courage and valor. Ladies and gentlemen, he was!
Pastor Dale from the United Church of Crook led some fantastic praise and worship. We sang beautiful songs that glorified God. The theme of Revelation 12:11 rang through the choruses. It is BOTH by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony that we overcome the evil one. He reminded us that we are “safe” from evil and fear. He stated James 1:3-4, “The testing of your faith develops perseverence. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete.” What an opportunity to grow and develop in maturity of faith.
Frank Waitley, a gracious friend of ours, and the man who officiated our wedding ceremony, brought the message. Frank has such a kind and tender heart. He can ride and rope with the best of the them, and loves Jesus dearly. Frank told stories of Grandpa Dean Gillham offering him a home, rent-free, for four years while he and his new bride figured out life with Frank as the new science teacher in Peetz. Frank reminded us of our wedding vows – that we promised to stand beside each other in sickness and health, in good times and in bad. Frank shared scripture after scripture, which is exactly how it should have been. He proclaimed 2 Timothy 1:7 boldly, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” If I could store Frank in my back pocket I sure would keep him around forever. He is a man who you are better for knowing.
As I took my turn to speak (I just don’t know how to do it any other way), I simply wanted to stand at the front of the church and look out, not at a sea of faces, but focus on individuals who were able to join us to celebrate life and resurrection in Christ Jesus. There were people from all walks of our life – family, friends, pastors, church family, Fair Board members, past rodeo queens, neighbors, our youth group “kids” (as Jake and Matt call them) from Bulldog Ministry, and even our veterinarian. Roy had solicited the troops. My spirit swelled. I really didn’t know it was in him, but the Lord revealed a plan to Roy, he took action and overcame any preconceived notion that we were going to submit to fear and pain in the face of cancer. With Jesus, a superb husband, an encouraging family and an excellent support network on my side, this will only be a journey for God’s glory. We declared that we are going to praise God in the good times as well as in the bad. We have been abundantly blessed by the magnitude and outpouring of prayers and well wishes – thank you.