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Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.
Forward by the Editor
Dee e-mailed me in December 1996 with the joy of Jesus Christ jumping out of her e-mail. She "refreshed my bowels" through her words for the Lord. She mentioned some of the struggles she's had victory over and, after exchanging a few e-mails, I asked her if she would share her testimony. She most graciously agreed.
We Christians are not promised a cushy, comfy life. Let us follow Paul's admonition to Timothy in II Timothy 2:3, "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." Enjoy Dee's testimony-- be encouraged and edified.
Please pray with me.
Lord, may the words I use today be pleasing to you. Please come into this attempt and be with me and this testimony as I worship you. Amen.
I recently had my annual cancer tests on a Tuesday. I was not going to sit around waiting for the results so I called my oncologist's office on Thursday afternoon. The girl that did my chemo said they'd call me back Friday morning at 10:30.
Friday came--10:45 no phone call, 11:00 no phone call, 11:30 no phone call, 11:45 no phone call. Finally at 11:50 the phone rang. My heart almost stopped. I said a prayer and answered the phone. "Miss Dee," Paige said in her high-pitched voice, "do you want some good news on Friday the 13th?" I almost fell off the chair.
The CT-scan was normal and the other tests showed no sign of cancer in my entire body. I got off the phone before I started to cry. I placed my face in my hands and started to scream, "Thank You, Lord Jesus...Thank You, Lord Jesus...Thank You, Lord Jesus. After about 15 minutes of thanking Him and praising His Holy Name, I was able to call my husband Ray and my mother, sisters and brother.
My First Bout With Cancer
I was told that I had a mass in my abdomen in August 1992. I went through the usual denial. Not me! I was just fine. Sure, I had had some health problems but the doctor that I had been going to for the past 17 months (who I also worked for during this same time) said I was okay--I just needed to take my medicine and eat right. He was wrong.
When I started treatment with my new doctor, he told me that the other doctor didn't know what he was doing, I had cancer! When I heard that the mass was malignant, I went into shock. The papers to admit me to the hospital could not be pried out of my hand. I held them like a life-line. The nurse had to beg for them. I was not allowed to go home. My husband Ray took me straight to the hospital--it was a Friday.
At the hospital, I went through several tests. The CT-scans didn't hurt, they just scared me. The decisions had to be made about who would do the surgery. Who would be my oncologist? I didn't even know what an oncologist was.
Since I was admitted on a Friday, I figured that I wouldn't have surgery until Monday. Ray had called my family so that they could be with us. They all lived out of state and each had families.
On Saturday, the surgeon came in and told me that he had reviewed the CT-scan. The surgery would be Sunday morning at 9 a.m. I told him that Ray had called my family and that they would come on Monday morning. He said, "Call them back and tell them tomorrow morning. You can't wait until Monday."
When I went into surgery, I was singing the Doxology. Nurses asked me what I was saying and I told them that I was prayin' and singin'. One nurse prayed with me.
After surgery, the surgeon told me that he didn't think that I would live through the surgery. The mass was so big. The cancer had gone out of my colon and attached to the wall of my abdomen and all surrounding organs. My ovaries were involved and everything in the area. All that was removed, and then some. I lost 10 inches of my colon. I did not have to have a colostomy. The surgeon just recoupled everything. [editor's note: Dee experienced a number of illnesses in relation to her cancer including a heart attack]
You need to know that for years I did not live a "religious" life. I couldn't be called a "practicing" anything from the time I was 16 years old in 1967 until 1988. I guess I was a backsliding Christian, if you believe in backsliding. I believe now that you are on the Lord's side or you are on the devil's side. Guess where I was standing for all those years from 1967 to 1988?
I became a born-again believer on October 26, 1988. I was sitting in a little church in Marietta, Georgia. I had been so depressed and feeling absolutely worthless for months. I asked my mailman, "What am I supposed to do?" I could tell that he was a Christian man. He invited me to church with his family. I spent 10 weeks in a spiritual session that made me completely uncomfortable. The reason for the discomfort was the life I was living. I was under conviction. I knew that I was a sinner and that if I died I would burn in hell.
When the lady that was giving the session asked us to say the sinner's prayer, I prayed for the first time in a long time. She said some would get it, and that she was sorry, but some would not. I asked [Jesus Christ] to come into my life and into my heart. Being from a southern background and raised in a Baptist church, I was not used to shouting in church--that day I almost forgot. I wanted to jump the pews and shout, "I got it!" Praise God, nothing has been the same since.
No, things have not been the same since, thank God. I have a new feeling of freshness that nothing can ever take away. I overcame things that would make a sailor blush. I won't go into all that, because regardless of the past, I am a new creature in Christ Jesus.
People cannot seem to understand how I can thank God for cancer. I have to thank God for all things [I Thessalonians 5:18]. I don't know why the devil put cancer on me. God didn't do it. I know that I was not taking care of myself with good food, rest and care. [Cancer] woke me up to so much--there was so much that I needed to be doing that I had never thought of before. I've come to realize that God is in control, not me.
When I had my last bout with cancer in April 1993, I was told that I would not live more than 18 months, at the most. I had a metastatic colon cancer on the lining of my abdomen, along with breast cancer--all this after seven months of chemotherapy. The breast cancer came after they gave me a hormone treatment for hot flashes. I was to die in October 1994.
I never thought that I would live to see the Olympics; my son, Jaye, finish college; my step-daughter, Susan, get married; or, my step-son, Scott, grow up. Praise the Lord, I saw all those things.
God is so good!!! Not only did I live to see the Olympics, I got to go out west this summer on a once in a lifetime vacation. I rode horses and went on a fishing float trip down the Big Hole River in Wise River, Montana. I rode that horse over a goat trail--that put me even closer to God. I was scared stiff. God allowed me to have so many experiences to show me that He is still in complete control. Even a coyote came into camp one night, but that's another story.
Being saved is the most important thing that has happened to me in my life. Other important events include having my son, meeting my husband Ray, and beating cancer. All those things could not have happened without my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Being able to stand before anyone, a sinner saved by God's grace, is the most important thing in my entire life. I do stand and tell anyone that will listen--and some that don't want to listen.
As much as I would like to know each of you, I am glad that you don't know the home life I came from while I was growing up. You don't know the abuse I suffered as a child or the life I led running away from the only One Who could save me--Jesus. All that does not matter one bit. My family did the best they could. I have forgiven them as God has forgiven me. What more does this world need [than the forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ]?
I wrote the following note last summer, and I want to share it with you. Maybe it can say what I feel:
My Bed of Roses
I have made my bed of roses. I thought all the blooms were gone. I had nothing left but the thorns. It is up to me how I lay on those thorns. I could rub them the wrong way and constantly stay in pain, or I can learn how to lie on them where they are turned away from me. I have the knowledge [of] how to do this, and with Jesus' help, He shows me how.
My thorns are the consequences of my sins. The blooms that continue to appear are the opportunities He gives me to share my story with someone who may get a blessing from my rose bush life. I have had roses so sweet and yet the thorns are so tough.
I have fond memories that will go with me until the end. What makes the thorns less hurtful is His forgiveness of you and your forgiveness of yourself.
Maybe you can help someone with their roses. Jesus will make your thorns easier to lie on.