Saturday, February 13, 2016

Defining Love

Before I get to some reflections on love in light of Valentine's Day, here's an update since the January 12th surgery. Andy shared with you that the surgery was successful in removing all visible cancer. This is amazing news and a huge, huge answer to prayer.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the thousands of you who carved out time that day to pray. We are beyond grateful for the prayers and support of so many. God is good and hears our prayers. Did you know this blog has over 70,000 hits?! So cool, so humbling. I praise God for the privilege of sharing my story.

So what's next? That's the big question. This surgery was kind of the last step in the current treatment plan. Without the option of chemotherapy or radiation, we've been praying and hoping for successful surgeries. We have a few appointments and scans in the next two months, so hopefully we'll receive confirmation that all visible cancer is gone and have more answers about what future monitoring will look like. I would love if my oncologist said, "Well Julia, you're officially in remission!". However, the term "remission" can be rather elusive. While it means there is no evidence of cancer in your body, it doesn't necessarily mean you're completely cured/free of cancer. And in my case, it is likely that there is still microscopic cancer present that surgeons would obviously not have been able to remove. That reality is definitely unsettling, but we continue to trust God, knowing the importance of us moving forward one step at a time. 

Recovering since last month's surgery has been challenging. My voice is very weak. I whisper, hoping that it will come back as my chest heals internally. Please pray for full recovery of my voice, because there's no question I love talking! I've lost even more weight, which is expected after a major surgery, but we also expected I'd have stabilized by now. Please pray again for weight gain. I'm eating four meals a day but am nauseous every morning and can only manage smaller portions. Due to my September surgery, I have quite a few long-term diet restrictions which makes eating more complicated. As a result of all this, I have low energy and I rest most of the day. Pray for strength and energy to move around more. My nerve-damaged left leg continues to improve so I can walk aid-free! So thankful for this and just can't wait to get stronger so I can thoroughly enjoy the gift of walking again.

My spirits definitely dipped in the weeks post-surgery. After ten nights in the hospital busy with procedures and much activity, home seems to be filled with this vast, empty space of time. I found myself reflecting on the surgery and all that had happened in the hospital. It's overwhelming to take in. Then, feeling like this could be the last piece of my treatment plan, I found myself reflecting on and almost mourning the heavy weight of the past 8 months. Not only have our lives been flipped upside down with the news of cancer in our twenties, we are forever changed physically, emotionally and spiritually from this journey. While I'd love to close this chapter of our lives, put it on the shelf and pick up where we'd left off, it's not as simple as that. Our lives will not go back to normal, instead we will find a new normal. The pain of this season, the permanent effects of my surgeries and the uncertainties of the future will be forever significant to us, but by God's grace we'll continue to discover the beauty, peace and joy of living in step with the Spirit each day. In our weakness, God's love, strength and power is made perfect in us. What a beautiful truth.

"But he 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 about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, 
I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. 
For when I am weak, then I am strong." 
- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

August 12, 2011, Wedding Photographer: Joel Hannigan
Dave Tebbutt Wedding Video (5min):
With Valentine's Day this weekend, I can't help but publicly recognize the example of true love and commitment Andy has demonstrated to me in this journey. While the spotlight often lies on the patient going through treatments, and I'm so grateful for all the encouragement you've poured on me, my incredible husband Andy is the quiet, selfless rock carrying the weight of it all with me. Andy is kind, patient, understanding, giving, hilarious, caring, gracious, calming and just daily showers me in love with his full eyes, reassuring kisses and selfless actions. He never complains when I'm sick in the middle of the night, when I ramble away with my deepest fears and thoughts, when he has to do all the heavy lifting himself, when he chooses to miss guy hang outs to be with me, when endured uncomfortable hospital sleeps just so I wouldn't be alone overnight or when I ask for yet another heat pad to be warmed. When I'm a weeping mess overcome with it all, Andy graciously listens and then gently points me to the profound hope we have in Christ. He has been an inspirational example of Christ-like love to anyone who's had the privilege of witnessing it including myself, family, friends and nurses.

God defines love. God is love. "This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:10-11 Jesus' death and resurrection is unquestionably the ultimate demonstration of love. There is no greater love than this: "to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13  Love is a choice. Love is selfless. While our wedding day was unforgettable and fun romantic dates are my favourite, true love is revealed in the difficult moments where we choose the other first. I'm so deeply grateful for a husband who lives this out, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Ephesians 5:25

Andy will be embarrassed that I wrote this because he's humble. However, I share this because his example of love is an example to us all. Are we loving those around us selflessly and consistently? Are we looking for ways to put others before us? Are we investing in relationships over roles/jobs/status/success? Even when it's hard, are we choosing love? This Valentine's Day, I hope you'll marvel with me in the true meaning of love and look for ways to extend its beauty to those around you. 

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love." 
1 Corinthians 13:13


  1. Hi Julia. I have nothing profound to share this morning. Just sending lots of love to you, Andy, and the whole family. Les and I pray for you every night. Thank you for making me cry! :) Thank you for your living trust in the Lover of our souls!

    Mark (and Les)

  2. Julia, thank you for this beautiful reminder that love is a choice that we make towards others and that this is God's will for our lives. I LOVE you so much - Chanty

  3. Oh Julia...the cries and outpouring of your dear dear heart just touch my soul so completely. I loved hearing more about Andy. It's true that people's true character emerged during the difficult times of pain and disease . I'm so thankful that you have a true and loving man by your side. I'm continuing to pray for your complete healing, and will pray more specifically over the areas of concern that you mentioned.. Hold tight to your anchor, Jesus...he's the one who holds us in the storm..and tells us..peace be still..know that you are loved greatly

  4. If I wait until the mist lifts from my eyes, I could write way too much.
    So, I will just say, your character, revealed in your message, is praise-worthy.
    Blessings to you,
    sister, because of Jesus,
    February 13
    Proverbs 13:17 A trustworthy envoy brings healing
    (and much more )

  5. I was deeply touched by your words Julia. I thought of the verse in 1 Corinthians 13:7 Love..Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth. So thankful God has provided you with such wonderful husband/family to help you in this time of need. May you continue to shine for Him and may He strengthen you and give you more grace. Live2Love…Grace

  6. Dear Julia. You are being prepared for great service.

    God’s Toolbox
    2 Timothy 2:21

    The auction hammer struck the deal;
    the auctioneer cried, “Sold!”
    I paid the clerk and took my prize:
    a toolbox - large and old.

    The opened chest revealed a cache
    of worn and broken tools
    which were repaired by skillful hands;
    they had been greatly used.

    When God mends hearts and rebuilds lives
    and opens prisoners’ locks
    He uses YOU - the special tools
    He keeps within His box.

    Thank you for sharing with us your journey of preparation.

  7. Wow... what a poignant wise reminder. We are praying for you all.

  8. I love you and your family Julia, so pleased your surgery was a success and continue to pray for recovery and strength

  9. Julia:
    You are our hero.
    May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord Shine His face towards you and show you favour. May the Lord be favourably disposed towards you and may He grant you peace.
    The Freeman Family
    (your cottage neighbours)

  10. Dear Julia...such a strong and powerful message! We continue to pray for you and your thankful that you have such a wonderful man in your life. Andy is a blessing! May God continue to heal your body. sending hugs...xo s&p


I'd love to hear from you. Please jump in on the conversation or just say hi!