Friday, December 3, 2010

The Victory Celebration

There are days that you just don't want to forget. Forever etched on your heart and in your mind.


Many of those days are not days of our choosing. They are days that chose us through the hand of a loving and faithful Father.  Approving, understanding the significance, and knowing that the purpose holds eternal weight.

Wednesday was one of those days. As my last chemo treatment was before me, I wanted to celebrate.

Celebrate the end, bringing about a new beginning.

Celebrating the journey and all that God had taught me along the way, thus far...knowing there is more ahead, but this passageway complete.

Celebrate life and hope through Jesus Christ.

Celebrate friends and the family of God for whom God used to bring me through. Many who gave more to me than they may ever know.

A couple weeks before the calendar marked my last treatment day, I sat in the chemo lounge, receiving a treatment and watched as a lady finished her course. A bell was brought to the center of the room and this lady rang that bell signifying the end. And she bid farewell to each of us sitting in the chemo chairs announcing her road to wellness was before her. There was a smile on her face and a skip in her step. It was a joyous moment. One I will always remember.

I knew my day was approaching. After 97 days of enduring the effects of chemo....August 26th to December 1st....the passageway was narrowing and the door coming to a close on day 98, December 1st..a new beginning.

And I wanted to celebrate that victory.  I didn't just survive. Through Christ, I conquered.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.....yet in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him who loved us."  Romans 8:35,37

And that is victory....sweet victory. That these trials do not separate....they draw us closer, if we'll submit and allow them to.....closer to our Jesus as our dependence is on Him and none other. In Him I am a victor.

Now mind you, I didn't know what that celebration looked I deferred to my precious husband who enlisted the help of some precious other sisters in the Lord.

And once again, I witnessed the body of Christ in action. The love of Christ poured out as a drink offering.

I drank deeply and am still full today.

Once again, my thanks are not enough. They come from a place so deep in my heart and soul and yet I feel I can never adequately repay each of you for the love you have poured out on me and my family. So many of you, God has used in my life these past 8 months. From the time I found the lump in late April until today. These precious woman who surrounded me on Wednesday, have ministered to me in ways that truly bring me to tears as I write these words. From the continual phone calls just checking in on me, to the cards received by their hands in some of my weakest moments, to the prayers that they have ushered to God's throne, often over the phone with me or in person, to the life giving words of Truth from God that they have spoken into me, to the tangible help each chemo week with my children, to the hugs, the gifts the selfless love that they each have offered to me with open hands. May God return to them 10 fold. May God bless them in ways that I never could. Thank you sweet friends, for holding my hand and even raising them when I was too weak. You are tokens of God's grace and love.

And there are many more around me, who were not there that day, who, too, have walked with me. Thank you.

What a beautiful ending God gave me as I crossed that threshold over the chemo doorway once and for all. May these pictures complete this part of HIS story.

The completion bell resting upon a shelf in the chemo lounge. It was my day to ring it~

Ring the bell three times well, its toll will clearly say, "My treatments done! This course is run and now I'm on my way!"

Birdseye view of the chemo lounge. Many hours spent here. Barclay came with me to treatment this morning, but left at lunchtime (now knowing he had much up his sleeve!) and my best friend, Beth, came sitting with me to the end. 

As this was all a surprise to me, I later learned that some of my precious friends were waiting in the lobby outside the chemo lounge for their grand entrance as my chemo was completed. 

The moment of surprise as they came around the corner bearing balloons, gift baskets and their smiling faces.
I was truly overwhelmed with their love and their desire to share in this special day with me.  

Laura, my nurse that day, disconnecting me from the chemo line for the last time. 

At this point, my husband had returned with all of our children and my mother, in tow. Here is Jeddy,  our 6 year old, coming right over to hug me. Later that night, He told me, "Mommy, I am so glad your chemo is done!"

It is finished!

The man of my dreams. Having walked intimately beside me. Holding me. Enduring. Drawing closer. And here embracing me once again. We celebrate together.  
They brought the bell to the center of the room. There were about 7 people still finishing up their treatment that afternoon. I quickly shared with them the passage from Deuteronomy that God had spoken to my heart that morning. Praying that God would encourage their hearts on their journey.  "Stand strong in the Lord. Posses the victory that is in Him. He will lead you to the other side...a land flowing with milk and honey.  This is what He desires for you. He cares for you deeply. Trust in Him" 

And I rang that bell!! 

My family

With my mom.....

with my sweet, endearing, precious friends and sisters in the Lord. 

Some of the many wonderful and gifted nurses that took care of me with a tender heart and a tender touch. With a smile on their face and compassion in their eyes each week. They walked me through each treatment, each Neulasta shot, each question and concern. 

After I ran the bell, Beth handed me a baggie filled with laminated Bible verses.  My life verse was typed on pretty paper and laminated. 1 Corinthians 15:58 "My beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord." She had made them for me to hand out. I walked through the chemo lounge and asked each person if I could give them this bookmark, that God would encourage their hearts as they continued through their journey. All but one took them. This dear lady, was holding the hand of a friend. As I came to her, she had a story to share with me. 

She told me that she is a 30 year cancer survivor. She continued to tell me a story that I will remember forever. After her treatment ended, she worried, as most cancer patients do....that her cancer would come back. Her faith was strong. But Satan was waging a war on her mind. That is his way. He is a lion who seeks daily who he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8) She wasn't going to let him win. She was speaking to her priest one day sharing this with him. This is what the priest told her that she passed on to me in that moment....."I wouldn't tell anyone to ever go to hell.....but priest told tell him to go to hell, back where he came from and leave you alone!"

The battle is won! Victory is mine says the Lord! AMEN. 

And here is my oncologist, who happened to come around the corner at the end of the celebration, Dr. Johnson.  Like a mother in many ways to me. Her sweet and gentle spirit drew me. Meekness, in a profession where you don't see that very often. Yet, a woman filled with knowledge and wisdom. God placed me in her hands. 

One final farewell....and around the corner, out the door I went. My friends went their way, and we piled in the car heading home....relishing in those beautiful moments and the people that God had blessed me with. 

Little did I know the party was to continue at home with others gathered. As we pulled into our neighborhood and drove up the hill, there lining the roadway were familiar cars.  Tears of joy flooded my eyes once again. As I walked in there they were. And I pulled them all in for one big group hug. 

I am truly blessed beyond measure to know these woman. 

We sat around the table, eating, talking and sharing. Fellowship. 

And as I shared again what God did in my heart that morning, the message He had for me that truly set the foundation for that day and my days to come....our  Pastor's wife and dear friend, Laurie, pulled out a slip of paper that she had written a note to me on, laying atop a package and read it...

."Stacy, I couldn't find "pink" but praise God 'pink - as beautiful as it is, shall be behind you.' I don't know what color stands for triumph....but whatever that color is, it is yours! I believe that whatever grain of fear that was left in you - God has used the vehicle of cancer to stomp it out. You expressed years ago that you battled fear and worry. Faith will and has triumphed! Amen!!

You see.....God confirmed through Laurie, all that He had spoken to my heart just hours before through His Word. He is faithful, always and to the end. 

And as my morning began at the throne of Jesus, so too, it ended with my sisters gathered around me, unified through Jesus Christ as He laid His life down for each of us on the cross some 2000 years ago....saying, "It is finished." He conquered death. He took our sin upon His shoulders covering our sin with His blood.  Fully God, fully man. He suffered and it was in His suffering that He knows ours, intimately. He meets us there with outstretched arms saying, Come. In Me, there is everlasting life. Believe. Have hope. Find lasting peace.

"I am the way, the Truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. " John 14:6

There is nothing greater than He!!!

I am not a survivor. I am a Victor, through Jesus Christ my Lord. 

In Christ's amazing love,


Janette@Janette's Sage said...

I am celebrating with you also. I couldn't read it all through my tears of complete joy have blurred my vision! I will come back one day and read every word..but the ones I could see were so precious.
Yes, it is finished, yes there is Victory! Yes the Body of Christ is beautiful and so are the Hands of Healing that Christ has extended for you.

Enjoy...praying for no side affects and a joy filled Christmas season with those friends and your precious family

Praising God with you and BRAVO, BRAVO GOD!!!

Kimberly said...

wow what a great post! Brought tears to my eyes. Your are surrounded by so much love, a wonderful family and great friends!

Jenny said...

Praising Jesus with you this morning!!! What a beautiful testimony of the body of Christ at work! HUGS and blessings to you and your BEAUTIFUL family!

Debbie said...

Oh PRAISE GOD Stacy...I am just soo happy for you that this is all behind you now...I am crying still with tears of such joy. Your are not just a survivor, you are VICTORIOUS in Him. How wonderful that you had such support and all these women to love you and be there for you. Such a wonderful moment of celebration and joy it must have been. I will pray the side effects are not bad, and quickly over with and you are able to enjoy this Christmas season with your family...Soo much love, Debbie

Shelley B, Follower of Christ said...

The Trials do NOT separate us from Christ. They only bring us closer. Love that... You are in my heart Stacy. I love reading your message.


The Montgomerys said...

YAY!!!!!!!! So excited! I am so happy for you! I've followed this journey with you via your blog and have such joy at what God has done throught this time, for you and others. I am praying for you Stacy! So happy!!! <3

tab said...

Whoot! Whoot! So happy for you and the beutiful people that surround you- especially the most loving, wonderful father a girl could hope for (and then some).

Jenn Holste said...

Praise God that you are all done! God's unending love for us is demonstrated in every step you took in and out of your treatment center, every long night you were wracked with sickness, and every morning you choose Him over sleep. His glory radiates from you, dear one! You are absolutely dripping with God's majesty, and I am the blessed one to know you!

lisasmith said...

Woo hoo!!!!! Ringing the bell is awesome. I LOVE that sound!
Praising God with you. xoxo

Darlene said...

I cry tears of joy and victory with you, dear friend.

Your post. Your pictures. Your story. All beautiful.

The story of your husband kissing you brought me steady tears.

Victory song! How happy I am for you this day!!!

Praying for you!

Sara said...

Praising God with you for such special friends and such a special day finishing this part of the journey... Awesome. I am so thankful that you are surrounded by such a special husband and family and such wonderful women:)

Melissa said...

I have no words as I read this. Your words capture me.
You are a BEAUTIFUL women of God! your heart is humble and pure Your smile is radiant! I am rejoicing with you in this victory! I will continue to pray for you and I look forward to what God continues to speak to you. Your words usher your readers into the very presence of God. I pray that you have a wonderful Christmas with you family!

Love in Christ,


BARBIE said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. I am so encouraged by your story and am celebrating your victory. Looking forward to following your blog!

He & Me + 3 said...

Just beautiful. I am so happy for you! What a celebration and such beautiful pictures of it all. You are so blessed. I loved seeing all your families smiles. What a joyful day!
Haven't been around much but you are on my mind & in my prayers all the time.

Melissa said...

Stacy, I see December 1 as a "birthday" for you. Thankfully, this gestation was not 9 month, like most pregnancies. It didn't have labor in the traditional sense. There was pain. And that pain, like labor, was productive. It birthed a new you. One without "pink". One without sickness and discomfort. A newness in your outlook, your spiritual being and in you physical being. His way...NOT mine. Blessings. Happy Birthday!!! And many, many more to come.

Alicia The Snowflake said...

Oh my dear friend, tears are streaming down my face. How mighty is our God! Thank you for sharing this journey with us. You have strengthened my own faith in ways you will never know. May God continue to bless you today and every day!

LisaShaw said...

PRAISE THE LORD!!! It is FINISHED indeed and you have the VICTORY in JESUS NAME!

Oh Stacy, I read every word...cried tears of joy...prayed for the lady whose story you shared and every photo I could feel HIS LOVE!

I've been off line for two weeks -- returned this week and have been trying to catch up but I kept praying for you as the LORD brought you to mind.

In the months the LORD has allowed me to get to know you and ALL THE MORE to pray for you, I have been privileged to do so. I count you a true sister in Christ in my life and I will continue to rejoice with you and pray for you and your family.

Now, keep living life in CHRIST! The example of NOT SELF but JESUS focus in all your posts has blessed me and strengthened me in my own walk.

With sincerity I say, I love you sister!

LisaShaw said...

P.S. I hope you don't mind but I'm going to share your prayer button and link on my blog. I believe this Victory Celebration is going to touch even more...if it's cancer they are going through or something else -- the message of being a VICTOR and not a victim is so vital. We have the victory in JESUS NAME!

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

Praise God, Lisa. You are such an inspiration and will be in my prayers. XO!

Nana's Nuggets said...

Hi! Stacy, I hopped over from Lis'a Blog to visit! I will quickly Praise God with you on your victory! I Loved your story! and OMG~ Girl you so encouraged me with your sweet spirit! You know even if one is not going thru something of this nature, just hearing of the "Amazing Grace" that God gives is so Awesome! for we do serve a Mighty God! May the God of Peace rule in your heart today~ BTW~ You have a Beautiful Family! To God Be The Glory!!

Ann Nichols said...

Dear dear Stacy,
I come to you from Lisa's wonderful site. Your story is like a psalm - one of victory and joy and one only a daughter of the king could sing! I feel blessed just to have "met" you in this wonderful blogging way! Every good thing comes from God - nothing bad. And I am sure that God above and the angels in His heaven are singing and rejoicing with you!! This is the victory He wants for His children. Amen, amen, amen!!
May God send many many more blessings to you and your entire family!!

Ann Nichols said...

PS Don't bells just make the most joyful sound!!

Melanie said...

Praise God!!! I just want to stand up and shout Hallelujah to the heavens! I'm visiting from Lisa Shaw's blog, and this post has been a true blessing to my heart... typing through tears... I have a 6-year-old too and the picture of you and your son spoke directly to my mommy heart. May God continue to strengthen you and use you in a mighty way for Him.

Praising God and rejoicing with you, my sister!!!!

NanaNor's said...

Blessings to you today, I came over from Lisa's blog as well and also just joined as a follower. I've walked, side by side, this cancer journey with beloved family so I'm lifting you up for renewed strength now. Yes victory in Jesus; what a testimony He's given you; I can't wait to see how many lives you impact with His life.
Hugs, Noreen

Sonja said...

I am also a first time visitor and came over from Lisa's blog... what a glorious time for a first visit!! I am rejoicing with you at God's faithfulness in your life and praying for all the days and years ahead.

Have a WONDERFUL Christmas, as if you need someone to say that! :)



Linda said...

Dear Stacy,
Amen and amen! Praise God!
I loved your heart touching post and I was crying as I read your post.
It is finished and there is victory! I am praising God with you and what a wonderful testimony of Christ's amazing works.I am sure He will bring many to you to share your amazing testimony.
So glad that you can enjoy the Christmas season and enjoy your family and friends.
Praying for you and many blessings to you.

Saleslady371 said...

What a beautiful testimony to God's strength, Stacy. Your family is just beautiful. Celebrating with you today!

Crown of Beauty said...

Hi Stacy
This is my first time here, having come over from Lisa's blog.

I read your post...and want to let you know I share your joy. Rejoicing with you... I appreciate reading about your victory...

You are not a survivor, you are a victor.

What a beautiful family, and a beautiful heart you have.

What an outpouring of love your friends have showered on you...

What an encouragement this post was to me today.


Catherine West said...

Truly inspiring. I'm glad to find your blog, Stacy and I'll be praying for you.