Exam Weather

It is May, the time of the year that college students dread. Exam time. In Ireland there are blue skys and sunshine, typical exam weather. Instead of studying one would prefer to sit in the park and hang out with friends.

Two of my children are studying at St Andrews and Edinburgh. This is their final year and they hope to graduate in June. Abraham finished his last exam this morning. What a relief after five years. He is celebrating. No more lab research, library, exams, reports or lectures. Angela has handed in her dissertation and has three exams to sit. Only a few days to go.

Seven years ago I was suffering from Fourth stage bowel cancer. I was wondering if I would live to see all my children graduate or indeed see any more grandchildren. Nine children have been born since then and I have my outfit ready for two graduations this summer. Praise God, he has kept me alive to enjoy the goodness of God in the land of the living.

I started my treatment of chemotherapy and radiotherapy on July the first in 2010. Each day for five weeks I would attend the City Hospital Cancer Treatment unit in Belfast. I told my husband I wanted to try out a different cafe each day for lunch after my treatment. It would lift my spirits before the long journey back home. Let’s celebrate now, whether I was going to live or die! Brendan didn’t know what to think.

I had been diagnosed with cancer back in April. Since then I was given promises from God that I would be healed. People were praying for me. I was encouraged by this new hope and I began to respond to it. Students from Queen’s University, Belfast graduate In July. Placards outside restaurants advertised places for graduation dinners. I thought I will organize a meal and invite my daughters who were visiting, a step of faith. It will be my graduation from cancer dinner, even though I was just starting my treatment. I had been to a graduation dinner each year for some of my children as they finished university for the previous five years. Three of my daughters joined me for dinner a few days later. They must have thought I was crazy. They were trying to cope with my diagnosis and were hoping the best for me. I had lamb for dinner and remembered another lamb, who was sacrificed for me, Jesus.

Brendan arranged another surprise graduation for me. On the day of my last treatment my daughters Mary and Nora walked into the waiting room of the cancer department with a bunch of flowers and balloons. They presented them to me as Brendan played the song, “Pretty Woman” on his I phone. Music and joy filled the room, a light relief in the somber atmosphere. I was taken by surprise and uplifted with my loving family, another step of faith on my healing journey.

This summer I am seven years cancer free. I’m alive to celebrate my last two children out of fourteen graduate from university. I’m alive to praise God for his touch in my life.

Family Friday. We Didn’t Get Invited Out to Dinner

While in Canada recently, a young man called David, picked us up from the airport at Dawson Creek.   I remembered him from my last visit.  He came to a meeting with his wife and four small children.  They were like little mice playing quietly, not wanting to disrupt the meeting.

This couple reminded Brendan and I of times past when we would attend meetings with our young children.  I had eight children at the time.   The children joined in the singing and were well behaved when someone was speaking.  We were the biggest family there.

Our host was telling us that David and his family don’t get invited out to dinner, because people think a family of four is too much to cope with.  They can cope with adults but not young children!   I sympathised with David.  Wouldn’t the parents feel loved and accepted it someone had their family over for soup even.  

Getting everyone ready for Sunday meetings became stressful for us as our family increased.  We had to be up early, get dressed, be on our best behaviour, sit through services and then come home to make dinner for all of us.  When we had ten children we decided to stay home on a Sunday morning.  It was more relaxed for us all.  Brendan taught our children in the relaxed atmosphere of home.  I had plenty of time to cook dinner.  For seven years we stayed home on Sundays.  Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, and Angela were born in those seven years.

We remembered the love of God for children. 
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭40‬:‭11‬ KJV)
We knew God was carrying us in his arms.

In the earlier years when I had seven children we met up with friends for picnics.  We would meet in each other’s homes for lunch.  The other ladies were great cooks.  Our children were around the same age, and played happily together.  But as number eight child, number nine child, etc arrived the invites for dinner stopped.  We were alone on Sundays together with our growing family. We lived far away from our parents or extended family, so no aunts or uncles to give a helping hand.

I will always remember the kindness of a friend, Rose Rodgers, who invited ten of us for dinner.  She knew my husband was away on a trip.  He was working on a mission and often I would come under attack from the enemy, the devil, when he was away. The enemy would use these tactics to wear me down. If I was not able to look after the children at home then my husband would have to stop travelling. I was determined I was not going to miss this dinner.

Came the day to go, I asked one of my daughters to help get the youngest child ready.  She put the child in the bath and turned on the hot tap.  She forgot to turn on the cold tap as well.  I was busy seeing to the others when one of the other girls came running in shouting, “The baby’s legs are scalded.”  I was calm.  I knew this was an attack from the devil to stop me going out with my children for dinner.

I attended to the baby, dressed her, told my other children to get in the van and wait for me.  We drove to the doctors surgery just to check that the baby was okay.  I was praying all the way.  I told the other children to behave while I went into the surgery.  I didn’t know how long I would be.  While I was waiting to be seen, one of the children came running to find me.  Two of the girls were fighting in the van.  I had to go out and restore calm. One was annoyed with the other for hurting the baby and was battering her with a stick. They were traumatised at the thought of permanent damage being done to their wee sister’s legs. I told them God would heal my baby’s legs. I returned to the doctor.  He dressed the baby’s legs with cream and he reassured me her skin was not harmed.  

Praise The Lord.  I drove off with the van full of children to my friend’s house.  We all filed in and apologised for being late.  How I enjoyed that meal.  My friend had a big heart.  I will never forget this kindness from Rose Rodgers.