Sunday, August 3, 2008

Leaning On The Everlasting Arms

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" - Deuteronomy

These have been tough days for us both. Johnny had a blood test done Friday and the nurse called soon after with concern because Johnny's white blood cell count and his blood platelets were below average. She took emergency precautions and told him to start the antibiotics levaquin. She was concerned about his heightened risk to germs and contracting an infection. He has lost 12 twelve pounds this week since his last chemo on Friday. I do my best to force him to eat. These last few days I have been able to sneak in a milkshake and a health smoothie or two down him but his heart is simply not there. No appetite. Period.

Johnny LOVES culinary delights of alll kinds. He normally has a huge gusto for eating and a large appetite. This is the man who can normally eat 5 dozen raw oysters at Shell's oyster bar in Tallahassee before every Seminole home game. To see him frown at the sight of food breaks my heart. But this morning I think he may have been rounding a corner on the way back. Number one he smiled when he woke up. I could hear a little more life in his voice. I saw a little color in his cheeks. I kissed my angel good morning.

Did you ever stop and think about what a beautiful thing a smile is? I havent seen Johnny smile in two days and I realized that I had stopped smiling too. When two souls are so closely connected it is easy for the dividing line to blur sometimes. I felt myself slipping into a darkness filled with fear, and worry, and frustration, and low tolerance for normal aggravations (like cable problems). I heard myself sighing more and more often. Then finally yesterday I had to stop and think when Johnny leaned forward and said "Are you ok?"

"Of course I am!" was my first reaction. "You're the patient." Then I looked in the mirror and saw a face that was pinched with worry and looked 10 years older. I realized that when Johnny sinks low into the effects of the chemo I sink with him sometimes because my time is consumed with monitoring him and taking his temperature every hour and trying to make him eat and checking his mood often and being tense when his temp is high and relaxing awhile when it is low. It can be a roller coaster ride at times being a caregiver. But it is all because I love and I wouldnt do it any other way.

But the days when my loved one doesn't smile are very hard days. It 's the days that you beg God to do it your way and just bring my sweetie back right now as good as new! Let me suffer instead of him! Then here come the lessons about trust and patience and believing that God has His hand in it all and all is well all the time. But I'm thinking "my kingdom for a smile!"

And TRUST me, it takes ALOT to take away my smile. Just ask anyone who knows me. Smiling is just something I do bigtime. All the time. I love to smile and I love to make others smile. I have great big teeth that are just made to smile! I believe smiling can help you "fake it til you make it" on blue days. But there are other days you just wonder where your get up and go got up and went. Some mornings you just want to pull the blanket over your head and make the world go away.

Now I know where God's been hiding. He's been under the blanket waiting fo me. He's been drumming His fingers patiently wondering just how long I will try to keep fixing everything all by myself. He knows eventually I will beat myself silly trying to pound my head against the wall frustrated and overwhelmed. Well, here I am God. I'm glad You brought the flashlight. This reminds me of "playing tent" with my friends when I was little. We made our own little world away from the world.

Then it occurs to me - hey! This is what clefting into God's wing is all about. Come to Me and I will give you rest. Leave the world as we know it behind. Find God in the silence. Get quiet in our soul. Sing His praises and wait for Him. Those who wait upon the Lord shall be lifted up on wings of eagles right? God is always waiting to refresh our souls if we just slow down long enough to let Him.

This morning I sang Johnny one of my favorite hymns - "Leaning On the Everlasting Arms." We are determining to smile frequently during the day and to keep praising God. This hymn was written by a man, Anthony J. Showalter, in 1887 who was seeking to comfort bereaved friends that had written him of their troubles. He quoted the scripture from Deuteronomy and was inspired to add to it some more words in the form of song which led to a hymn that was completed by Pastor Elisha A Hoffman:

"What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms;
what a blessedness what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms.


Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms."

The whole point is to find the grace to be able to rest and relax in His loving care at all times. The blanket of His love always waits to enfold us and protect us. The hardest lesson to learn is to GIVE IT UP! Give your burdens to God and keep trusting that HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING!

Help me Lord to keep remembering it was YOU that created the world not me. YOU created all things. YOU know all things. YOU fix all things. You give us the same power to work with You through a simple thing called faith. Faith requires our unwavering belief that no matter what we see it is all leading to our greater good because YOU ARE GOOD.

Grab your blankets folks and run to those everlasting arms in times of trials. And when you have been refreshed and renewed come out shouting His name for all around you to hear and be reassured that whatever the question love is the answer and as we well know - GOD IS LOVE. Our Christian character requires us to live our faith. Our lives should reflect a living prayer as Alison Kraus sings it. It is important to be a beacon of light for those around us to see.

So smile with us today and share a smile with someone. And if all else fails God is always waiting under the blanket with His everlasting arms.

Beautidul Blessings!



Anonymous said...

What a blessing it is to read this post! You are so good with words and with presentin God's love in such an easy way! That is truly a gift. God is using you during this time with Johnny's health to minister to others! I will be smiling with you today! i will also be praying that today will be a good day for Johnny! Many prayers and much love for you both!

Annie- Nashville

Kit Crews said...

Good Afternoon Johnny, Rene and Scarlett,

As I read this blog I couldn't help but remember the words of Romans 12:12 and prayed that God would write them on your hearts and use them to strengthen your spirits. As I read about the hymns you love and sing I also came across a verse in Zephaniah that I wanted to share with you. It's Zephaniah 3:17;

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

Johnny, I pray that his presence and love will find you and quiet the storms that come from the treatments. I pray that during these particularly tough days that all of you will hear him singing and rejoice with him that he is near. I know from your writing that you know why the Holy Spirit is also called the Comforter. Nancy and I and many others in Nashville continue to pray for you,

Kit Crews