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Update: December 3, 2015

Posted on: December 3rd, 2015 by Christy Jansma

Dear Church,

Last weekend our children, along with their spouses, came together to honour Connie’s birthday. They’d arranged for their kids to be cared for at home, and so for two evenings and a day we enjoyed uninterrupted adult conversation. It was a sacred time for the 12 of us to reminiscence and laugh, and for a short while to forget about cancer. Their presence was their present to us and we were blessed. Connie and I continue to be amazed that we can all be together (for a few days) without conflict or any divisiveness. We recognize the gift that is and don’t take it for granted.

Thank you church, for your part to assist us in rearing our children. Over the years you’ve demonstrated a healthy, functioning church where petty issues are not allowed to get in the way of the mission. You have ensured that secondary issues not become primary. Because of you they love the local church and are active in their respective churches. Over these last 30 years our faith communities at Briercrest and E-Free have welcomed our kids and influenced them for Christ and his bride.

Connie continues her immunotherapy treatment this week. Many of you naturally ask if it’s having an effect. The answer is we don’t know yet. She’s scheduled for one infusion of Opdivo every two weeks. After three months of treatment a follow-up scan will reveal the level of “disease progression”. At that point, along with our oncologist, we will decide on next steps. Our prayer is that the scan will show evidence of tumour shrinkage.

Last week I drove Connie to our annual Women’s Christmas Event at the Lodge. This has been a key outreach event on her calendar for 15 years, and one that she’s helped to shape. It was just last year, with the help of her team, that I was able to pull off the surprise of a lifetime. I publicly honoured her and announced to her that arrangements were complete – she had days to get ready for a trip to Florida. That was so out of character for me and so everyone, including me, was shocked. Today that trip, in honour of her 60th birthday, lives on in our memories and I have the satisfaction of achieving for her the kind of surprise I’d heard other husbands had achieved. That was one year ago. How our lives have changed in just 12 months.

After getting Connie to her table at the Lodge I ran a few errands and returned in case she needed to go home early. I found an empty seat at the back of the ballroom so I could hear the speaker, a local physician, share her faith story. She described herself as a “Muslim refugee” from Iran and shared her journey to trusting Christ. Along with the hundreds of women in attendance I was spellbound as she told of her childhood in Tehran, her family’s escape to Paris, their immigration to Canada, her adventures in medical school, and her coming to faith in Christ. Although initially rejected by her family, she eventually introduced them to the Saviour. I was thrilled to be there to hear her captivating story of God at work.

While she spoke the Spirit ministered to my soul. The doctor concluded her story with thoughts about the seasons of life. While much of her life has been marked by spring and summer seasons, she spoke of now being in the winter of her soul as she navigates her own challenges. I identified. She reminded us that God remains good and faithful also in the winters of our lives. She pointed us to the passage that I know well: “But he (God) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Winter can be a beautiful season as we witness God’s handiwork in every snowflake and in his unique life assignment for me. She reminded us of the importance of truly abiding in Christ (John 15). While sitting in the back corner God met me. During those moments as she ended her talk I found myself weeping quietly while the Holy Spirit whispered to my soul: “Yes, you too are in the winter of the soul, but I’m still sovereign and I am good. I will never leave you or forsake you. Keep trusting me.” That was one of many sacred moments I’ve experienced in recent months. I’m grateful for those occasions when the Holy Spirit speaks into the winter of my soul, and by a variety of means.

 

Still trusting in God who is sovereign and good,

Ian (on Connie’s behalf)

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