I don’t often write about faith or my personal life in this blog. This post is a little different, a glimpse into my inner life. Whether you choose to read further is naturally up to you.
I’m a follower of Jesus and my identity as a follower of Jesus is what inspires my actions and attitudes. The faith community has played a significant role in my life over decades and I am very grateful to connect with, be prayed for and supported in many ways by many different individuals, groups and congregations. It has also been one of my life’s deep joys to speak to so many individuals, groups and congregations.
Being a follower of Jesus was an intentional decision when I was 17 years old, and following Jesus is intentional every day since then. This is what motivates my life, and gives me love for people. This is what motivates my advocacy and what gives me love for people affected by lung cancer. When I say love, I don’t mean a soft and squishy feeling. I mean deliberately working hard for the good of people affected by lung cancer and other kinds of cancer. This is also where my hope comes from. This is what has kept me going all these years, through many difficulties, many hard times. Being a lung cancer advocate has been challenging. I have almost stopped many times. Much encouragement from Chris Draft and a number of other people has helped keep me going, as did a strong sense of calling. Advocacy is what I strongly believe I’m meant to do in this season of life. I have seized this opportunity and I keep seizing this opportunity, looking to live as best as I can given the circumstances, controlling what I can control. Saying yes. Thank you, God.
Below is a hymn that has been very meaningful to me for decades. My parents were both diagnosed with cancer when I was 20 years old, and died within a year, and that was when I first heard this hymn. I was introduced to it by opening up a used hymnal that I had just bought to a “random” page. I was planning to sit at the piano to play and sing some hymns, and the first time I opened it was to that hymn. The hymn captured me and spoke deeply to me right from the first moments I saw it, played and sang it. It was especially significant that year. It helped keep me going.
My Ottawa church, Parkdale United Church, sang this same hymn at the Maundy Thursday evening service this week. One of the ministers is planning to come over to anoint me with oil and pray for healing again this week. So grateful. I had a very significant talk and prayer time with another one of the ministers the other day, who has been praying for me and others affected by cancer for years. She is a strong supporter, a game-changer. She strengthens the soul. I’m very grateful for the pastors and members of this congregation who have supported us and kept us fed both physically and spiritually for years.
We’re strongly supported, and not just by Parkdale. So many of you have told me you’re praying, your team is praying, your church is praying. Thank you. I just got a lovely card and letter from someone from another Ottawa church the other day. Words cannot express our appreciation. I know I’m alive because God is merciful, because God hears and answers prayer. God gives skill to researchers, compassion to clinicians, wisdom and insight all around. God gives love. So very grateful.
The lung cancer community needs more love. I am working hard to pour more love into this community.
O Love That Will Not Let Me Go (Public Domain)
O Love, that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe, That in Thine ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be.
O Light, that followest all my way, I yield my flickering torch to Thee; My heart restores its borrowed ray, That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy, that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain, And feel the promise is not vain That morn shall tearless be
O Cross, that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead, And from the ground there blossoms red Life that shall endless be.