Update: October 1, 2015

Posted on: October 1st, 2015 by Christy Jansma

Dear Church,

Today was Connie’s fourth and final chemotherapy treatment for this regimen. We are satisfied that we made the right decision in July to pursue this option. The treatments have improved her appetite and alertness, giving her some “quality days”. After Thanksgiving a CT scan will show the status of the cancer. We left yesterday’s oncology appointment mildly encouraged with the prospect of future treatment options. Through conversation Connie and I have become aware of our differing outlooks. While I approach the future in terms of years, Connie measures it in days. She enjoys the gift of life each day and celebrates every mercy, while I grieve the loss of our hoped-for future together. I’m proud of her as I watch her bravely embrace every step of this journey with courage and a resonate confidence in Christ.

Connie assures me that she’s not afraid to die, she just doesn’t want to go yet. She feels like “that little girl whose daddy is arriving early to take her home from the party before it’s over.” And I’m the little boy with a crush on her, disappointed that her dad’s coming too soon. Through tears I plead with her Father to let her stay just a little longer. Death always comes too soon. John gives us this promise: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3). Randy Alcorn imagines it like this: “For the Christian, death is not the end of adventure but a doorway from a world where dreams and adventures shrink, to a world where dreams and adventures forever expand.” Today we peer through the mist with eyes of faith.

I find myself in a state of recurring disappointment. Connie and I have dreams for the years ahead. We have plans to be realized. There are more places to see and friends to visit. At times God seems to be silent in my disappointment. I cry out to him wondering if he’s really listening. Discouragement is a frequent companion. Such emotions are the common human experience reflected by the psalmist who gives voice to our thoughts. While very raw, Psalm 77 is particularly poignant. Quite easily I can enter a period of depression, especially thinking about a future alone.

How do I get through these days? I survive most days by simply putting one foot in front of the other, step by step. Just doing the next right thing. I’m discovering first hand the reality of caregiver stress. It’s real and it’s exhausting, as many of you know. I’m doing my best to care for my own well-being – physical, emotional, spiritual. I end most days praying with Connie, submitting ourselves to the Christ who is sovereign and who cares. I’m committed to serve her in such a way that I can look back on these days without regret. I’m thankful for my continued role as “lead pastor” with the welcome diversion that it brings. But I feel like an injured quarterback unable to run the ball. But there is a wonderful team (volunteer and paid staff) who catch the balls I throw down the field and advance the play yard by yard. What an amazing team! To continue the metaphor, Jesus is the coach calling the plays from the sidelines. I’m routinely encouraged when I hear his promise of victory: “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” (Matt 16:18)

What’s life like in our home? It’s quiet much of the time, interspersed with tear-filled conversations about the future. I often read or work on the laptop while Connie sleeps nearby. We are weak and very human, in need of your prayers. I’ve been honest and candid with you through this journey. Yes, I am disappointed and discouraged, even depressed at times. We both gain energy and strength from those meaningful conversations with friends and with family. But most importantly we need your faithful intercession on our behalf. When you pray for us please ask the Lord for endurance and a deepening of faith.

Thank you for praying,
Ian (on behalf of Connie)

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