Update: August 20, 2015

Posted on: August 20th, 2015 by Christy Jansma

Dear Church Family,

Thanks for your continued interest in our journey, and for your prayers. You are a source of strength to us. Many have appreciated our authentic candour in these updates, and some attest to some inspiration arising from them. Candour comes more easily to us having spent our married life in vocational ministry, and living in the “glass house” that goes with it! From one of her recent WOW classes Connie has a line echoing truth: “we should be authentic with all; transparent with some; and intimate with a few”. These values mark healthy families and we love you deeply, our healthy church family.

In the last update I told you we decided to proceed with the initial chemotherapy treatment but I failed to give the reason. We recognize that, from a human perspective, Connie’s stage 4 cancer is terminal and we are on a journey to accepting that. She has dreams to accomplish and is hoping that chemotherapy will add sufficient quality of life to achieve them. While she was left exhausted for the week following the first cycle, the side effects otherwise were tolerable. In the past week her appetite has improved and she has longer periods of alertness, for which we are thankful. Recognizing that she can discontinue at any time, Connie took the second cycle of chemotherapy today (of four prescribed). We remain very pleased with the attention and support from our medical team.

Our daughter passed along part of a litany that struck a chord: “From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and unprepared, Lord, deliver us” (Book of Common Prayer, 1689). From dying suddenly and unprepared! We did not explicitly pray that but it seems this is what God, in His goodness, is giving us. Without being melodramatic or heroic, it appears that God is giving Connie time to anticipate the end and to have those profound conversations that all of us would wish for. In spite of the disappointments, we recount God’s goodness to us:

• Answer to the elder’s April 7 prayer asking for clarity about the severe and increasing pain
• Successful April 15 surgery, resulting in improved mobility and reduced pain
• Abiding peace from God that exceeds all human comprehension and explanation
• Connie’s walk down the aisle on Luke’s arm, and full engagement on the wedding day
• Enjoyment of quality time with our children and their children over these summer months
• Confidence that our stillborn grandson on July 20 is in the presence of Christ
• Delight in our children, among whom there are no conflicts or fractured relationships
• New oncologist arriving in Lethbridge just in time for Connie to be his patient
• Unexpected visits from “old” friends from a distance have been deeply meaningful
• The gift of thoughtful letters detailing how Connie has impacted their lives
• Unusually pleasant summer weather such that Connie can enjoy our deck (warm and windless without mosquitoes)
• The continued abatement of pain and nights of relatively sound sleep

My life has changed dramatically in these four months. I’ve become Connie’s primary caregiver and recognize that this is the outworking of a commitment made years ago – “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance.” This new role is God’s calling on my life for now, along with my church responsibility. The board has kindly permitted me to work at a flexible schedule and so I’m at the office about half time, otherwise working from home. We have an amazing staff team who have stepped up in a big way. All my major responsibilities are reassigned to staff who carry them well. Sunday worship continues uninterrupted. Staff vacancies are being filled. Fall plans are underway. Thank you for understanding, and for your faithful support. The board is processing questions about how to manage the immediate future, and I invite you to pray. None of these circumstances are a surprise to our Lord. We believe that God is sovereign and good, and that Christ remains the Head of His Church. I anticipate sharing a Sunday message about some of these things in the coming weeks.

In service to King Jesus,
Ian (on behalf of Connie)

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