I've been waiting for the right time to show you this picture. It is so very special to me, not only because it shows physical beauty, but also for what it represents: a garland of joy, beauty from ashes.
Teri is in the middle of her Chemo now. Two more harsh treatments to go. There have been three experiences that I have had during this that qualify for the "I never, ever want to do that again", although really, I would do it in a second for the woman I love so much. One of these would be shaving off half of her hair, after half of it fell out.
Here is the second one: last Thursday they couldn't attach the Chemo from the IV to her "port", a device which was surgically implanted within her chest, which then feeds the chemo directly into her veins. It was discovered the port was "flipped", a rare but known occurrence, where the device turns over inside of her, making it impossible to access. They then decided to use her veins to drip in the Chemo. Well, Teri is famous for having difficult veins to access, and after a number of minutes of "poking and hoping", Teri passed out - for over 5 minutes. 911 was called, and fortunately they were able to awaken her before the ambulance arrived. The doctor told us today he was 5 seconds from putting her on the floor, and doing CPR. Hmm.
All this happened as I was on my way to Mexico. No one told me, cause Teri et al didn't want to "alarm" me. Imagine then my "alarm", when I read about this ordeal on Facebook between concerned friends and prayer partners! I had a "moment". But God saw us through it, including the minor out-patient surgery Teri had yesterday to put the port right again. More cutting, more scars, more blood being drawn, more needles, more bruising, more signatures, more insurance approvals, more deep fatigue, more checking your attitude at the door, or better, at the foot of the cross. We need a category for these things when they assault us, and I can't think of a better filing cabinet for experiences that 'take life' than the cross of our Savior.
I asked myself just today - is God still good? Of course I believe it. Am I abiding in it? Am I walking in it? I also remind myself, would I think that God was still good if I was being marched down a lonely Libyan beach by "Jihad John" - who would behead me in front of cameras that would show my bleeding disembodied corpse on the global stage? I am convinced that my faith needs to be large enough for tragedy and horror, not just medical inconvenience. What this means to me, is that my attitude must never be related to my circumstances, and I don't know about you, but that I find to be very hard. But also necessary.
And that brings me back to Teri's smile. Here she is, trying on wigs. This was not an "…ok, I guess I have to go find a wig…" moment. Oh no, not for Teri. It was an "Awesome! I get to go try on wigs!" moment. Some dear friends went with us, and got in on the action. One of them found this one, as the last to try on, and guess what? Teri loved it! So now I have a blonde wife!
But the smile… this is the outward sign of someone who is walking in the deep-weeds with Jesus - so closely, that there is no degree of separation from her faith and her attitude. And there it is, written all over her beautiful face...