In March of 2009 Libby and I returned from an unusually cold ski trip in Big Sky, Montana to an unusually warm early spring in Flintstone, GA as she was nearing the end of her chemo treatments. The remainder of her treatments were uneventful as Libby adapted to the sleepless nights from the steroids, the nausea from the harsh drugs, the hot flashes due to the estrogen suppression drugs, dry mouth sores, the joint aches, the nose bleeds and headaches. Okay, in retrospect, maybe “uneventful” was a poor choice of words to start that sentence but we both knew that it could have been much worse because we saw it every trip we made to the infusion lab.
I had been working for several months on a way to celebrate the end of Libby’s chemotherapy treatments and I posted this on our Caring Bridge webpage, “People like to say they plan to ‘party like there is no tomorrow’ but for this event, we are going to ‘party like there is no more chemo’!”
Dubbed the “No Mo’ Chemo Party” hundreds of friends and family packed into our church on the evening of April 4th 2009 as we celebrated the end of Libby’s chemotherapy. Our good friend Doug Richesin sang several songs and was accompanied at different times by the children from church, the teens and the Chattanooga Valley Community Choir, along with tributes from many others. The concert was then followed by a covered dish supper and fellowship.
During one portion of the NO MO’ CHEMO party, Libby introduced a duet with these words:
I Am Blessed (Libby Gilley)
Before my precious friend Helen Hawkins and Doug Richesin come and sing the next song, I want to tell you, my family and friends; thank you for all the love and support you’ve given me along this journey and I want to tell each one of you how humbled I am that you are here to share this very special day with me. When I look out at each of your faces, I want to tell you that you have loved me well. You have been like the four friends in Mark’s gospel who literally carried their friend, overcoming many obstacles and sacrificing much to place their friend at the feet of Jesus. During these past months, you have carried me to Jesus in many ways.
As I thought about the words to the upcoming song entitled, “I Am Blessed” I decided to take each letter of the word Blessed to describe how all of you have truly been the body of Christ to me.
The first letter B stands for Barry, my beloved husband. Through all the scans, tests, doctors appointments, treatments, good news and bad he has been there every step of the way. His unwavering love for me through these difficult months has truly been one of God’s most good and perfect gifts. He has seen me at my worst yet his unconditional love has remained constant. He has cared for me so tenderly and deeply with such grace at times, when I have looked into his face I know I have seen the very face of Jesus.
B also reminds me of my boys, Jerod and Nathan. I am so proud of the young men they have become and through all of this they will see Jesus more clearly. Jerod, your humor has made such a difference, you have helped me laugh at my self when I would just have soon cried and laughter is wonderful medicine. The lunch dates have been a special treat and your thoughtfulness about my feelings, along with all the little things you do I will always treasure. Nathan, our long talks about God and His ways, the great back rubs, shaving my head and your sweet words are great memories that I will revisit many times.
L reminds me of my loving family. My mom and dad, Kathleen and Jimmie Willis and my mother and father in law Maurice and Joyce Gilley who are the definition of commitment, faithfulness and devotion, not only to each other as well as to their families, but more importantly to God. Their legacy I have valued highly and I pray that Barry and I have passed this along to our children. My sisters, sisters in law and brothers in law have been there for me, encouraging, loving and praying for me. I knew all I had to do was make one call and they would come running for anything I needed.
E stands for encouraging church family and friends. You have sent cards and emails, prepared delicious meals, cleaned my house, made homemade rolls, brought me great books and gifts, held my hand through chemo treatments and have lifted me up through intercessory prayer. God has seen every sacrifice you have made on my behalf and I know He will bless you because you have blessed me so much.
The first S stands for Sovereign Savior. Jesus you alone are my center, my rock. You have held me so tightly at times I felt you would surely break me, but I was confident you were engraving me on the palms of your hands and would not let me go. At times when this journey has been hard, dark and lonely, you have reminded me that it is because you placed me in the cleft of the rock and covered me with your nail scared hand. Jesus I have truly learned you will never leave or forsake me and am confident I can trust you. I can never thank you enough, but I hope to live a life that honors you in all I do.
The second S is for suffering and I know some of you are saying suffering can’t be a part of being blessed by God. I used to think that too but when you suffer and you are a child of God you are often moving into miracle territory. You are never more like Jesus than when you suffer and only God gets the glory for bringing you through. I have come to know Jesus in such a personal, intimate way. He has held me in His strong arms so closely that I can almost hear His heart beating. When you realize how much Christ suffered to pay the penalty for your sin going to the cross and shedding His precious sinless blood for you it changes you. Walking the path of suffering yourself cannot even come close to what He went through but it makes you want to live for Him. I’m so thankful I will get to enjoy Him for ever in my Heavenly home.
The second E is for exceptional Doctors and nurses. They are the crème_de_la_crèm , the best of the best. They are intelligent, caring, interested in me personally and have made sure I have had the best medical care available. I love each of them and am grateful for them in my life.
The last letter D is for Divine intervention. All of the reasons I have listed above are all part of God’s plan for my healing. You have been used of God in my life and have been part of that plan. Thank you for choosing to be a part of His divine plan. As I learned in our study of Daniel, some time God rescues us from the fire, sometimes through the fire, and sometimes by the fire into His precious arms. I don’t know the future but I do know my Savior and He has promised everything He has allowed in my life will somehow work together for my good and His glory!
Yes, I am truly blessed!!