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Whether By Life or By Death

Philippians 1:20 1

A Testimonial by Nancy Ellen Dodd


Published by Smudged Ink Press July 2010

Copyright 2010 by Nancy Ellen Dodd

This testimonial was expanded from a presentation given to the Hilltop Community Church of Christ July 4, 2010

Photography May 2008 by Nancy Ellen Dodd

Front Cover Photo: 18th Century Church of Saint Bartholomew Finestrat Spain

Front Cover: Above the stairs, the cathedral wall is riddled with holes, I was told, from bullets during the Civil War in Spain when they used to line people up against the church and shoot them. This picture intrigued me because of the steps leading up to the cross and the contrast between the cross on the door that one man carved, while other men used the wall of the church to take lives. It seems to me symbolic of the crucibles in life we must face, but ahead stands the cross of Jesus Christ our Savior.

Back Cover Photo: Mediterranean Beach at La Cala de Finestrat, Spain

Contact: nancy.dodd@smudgedinkpress.com

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When overwhelmed by the trials of living, and unsure where to turn…

In April 2008 I was told I had breast cancer. Cancer is a terrifying illness for anyone and has a major impact on a family’s life. July 2010, Jon Reed, the pulpit minister at the Hilltop Community Church of Christ, was preaching from Philippians 1 and he asked me to share my experience with cancer and some of my fears at that time. He wanted me to talk about verse 21 and whether, like Paul, my thoughts were that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” As I thought about what to say, I remembered that it had been my practice to write out my devotionals, so I went back to my prayers from April to November 2008 to rediscover my true feelings about facing cancer and possibly death. After my testimony, others told me some of the things I shared had also been on their hearts and was asked to write out my testimony. What follows is a recap of my experiences and excerpts from my devotionals during those six months. I have made minor edits for clarity.

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Whether By Life or By Death Philippians 1:20

T

inside me came an inner voice with the panicked

o put the events in context, let me give

thought, I have breast cancer! Immediately I

you some background. I was a young

chastised myself for being so foolish and

mother when my mother died at 56 of

dramatizing my own life from her suffering. I

either uterine cancer that metastasized in her

think however, God may have been preparing

stomach, or the other way around. All of the

me.

years since I was terrified of getting cancer and going through what she had been through only

Very soon afterward, my refills for asthma

to die anyway. I declared at that time, and for

medication ran out, and I was forced to go to my

the nearly 30 years following, that I would never

doctor for a check-up. The day before my

allow them to give me chemotherapy, that I

physical I wrote:

would prefer death to what they put my mother through. April 2, 2008

A few years after my mother’s death, just before I turned 30, I learned I had to have a

And the Lord blessed the latter

complete hysterectomy. Although sad at having

days of Job more than his

to have the operation, I was somewhat relieved

beginning,

knowing that was one less place I could get

Job 42:12

Father, You have truly restored my latter days

cancer—as my mother did.

to more than my former days. Thank you.

As the years went by without cancer, when I

April 3

turned 56 I thought I was safe—I was almost past that dreaded age.

…I pray Your blessings on my physical today that my health will be good and that I will take away from it positive knowledge of how to

One night at a Pepperdine banquet, I spoke

be better and to do the best I can.

with an acquaintance who had just learned she had breast cancer. I looked at her and from deep

… Please bless this Saturday when [Heather

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and I] will be reading [at the Blind and

surreal to hear my doctor’s voice on the

Dyslexic Center] and help us to do a good job

computer telling me that I had breast cancer. She

and to have strong and clear voices.

left her cell phone number asking me to call immediately.

[My vocal cords were strongly affected by the treatments and are still weak. I frequently

I was stunned.

become hoarse and even lose my voice

I called my doctor and reached her dropping

completely.]

her children at daycare. She said I would be having surgery as soon as it could be scheduled. I asked what I should do. She said that I didn’t

During the physical the doctor felt a lump However,

when

she

scheduled

need to do anything, they were already making

another

all of the doctor appointments for me. I realized

mammogram and ultrasound, she was far more

how helpless I was. Still in shock, I called my

concerned than I. I had already been checked

other three children, but it was the one day I had

with a mammogram and ultrasound twice

a hard time reaching them, and then I started

during the prior ten years (once through another

informing my sisters and friends. I don’t

doctor and facility. I’m sure she would have

remember any of those conversations.

kept a closer watch on me had I been consistent

I went through much of those first weeks

in my checkups). However, I wasn’t worried—

like someone in a foreign country who doesn’t

results had been reported as only abnormal

speak the language and doesn’t know the

tissue twice before.

culture, overwhelmed by all the commotion

After the ultrasound, the radiologist took the

around them, unsure of what it will take to

next step of a biopsy. The results were due back

survive each day.

in three days. The radiologist insisted I contact

Before my surgery, I agreed to participate in all

my doctor that day and tell her how to reach me.

of the clinical trials the USC Norris Cancer

I thought that silly, but emailed my cell phone

Hospital asked me to do, which kept me very

number to my doctor, saying that I wasn’t

occupied. However, from the beginning I made

concerned and she could just email me.

it clear to everyone there would be no chemotherapy.

The next day I had off work and my

As time flew by, I was trying to put a

daughter Heather and I were on our way out the

positive spin on my health and the outcome, but

door to go shopping. Heather and her daughter

deep inside, I believed I was facing my death.

Sophia (only 1-1/2 years old at the time) live

Learning the cancer had been growing many

with me so that we can all take care of each

years, I couldn’t help wondering why this

other. While Heather finished getting ready, I

hadn’t been diagnosed from the other two

couldn’t resist stopping to check my email for

mammograms and ultrasounds. But throughout

the office. Pepperdine has a phone message

this time I never asked, “Why me?” Because I

system that allows you to play your voice

felt “Why not me?” Why should I be spared

messages through your email system. It was

what others must endure.

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April 17

Cliff thinks that this is not the end, but a new beginning for me …

Cliff [a good friend] thinks that You are giving me time to write and to have clarity, and he

I don’t know if You are punishing [me] for my

and Heather think that You are showing others

sins, or if this is for Your Glory or if it is just

about faith through how I react, everyone

happenstance and DNA and heredity or just

thinks it will be fine, but I’m not so sure … You

bad health habits. Father, what do you want

are not a respecter of persons, how could my life

me to know, to learn? … Father, every now and

be more valuable than someone else’s, why

then I feel a moment of anger creeping in, I

would everything work out okay for me? And

don’t want to die angry and bitter, please help

how do I know it is not my time? That You are

me to come to You in those moments and not to

calling me home? …

run from You.

When I met with my surgeon, I remember

I have to take each day as it comes and

being brave and comedic in an attempt to hide

accomplish what I can. I don’t know what to

my fear and show my strength. He asked me if

do, I only know that I need You to guide me

I’d ever felt the lump and I responded, “No …

and to hold me up or I will falter and fall.

Yes.” I suddenly remembered feeling the lump in the shower one morning, panicking, then immediately pushing the thought away and

When the doctor scheduled my

discounting the lump as being unimportant, It

mammogram she had also taken the

wasn’t real. Maybe that’s why when my friend

opportunity to schedule me for a variety of

told me she had breast cancer, I knew I had it

other tests I had neglected. One of them was a

too, I was just too afraid to take action.

colonoscopy.

By the time I went for the colonoscopy I was

April 21

having a harder time hiding my fears. Before the

Father, I don’t know what to pray or what to

procedure, I sat quietly as unabated tears rolled

ask. I see the surgeon today and I fear that

down my face. I nearly broke down sobbing in,

things are much worse than we know and I

yet another new, doctor’s arms. He and the nurse were extraordinarily kind and patient

have the colonoscopy in a few days and I fear

with me. As promised, after the procedure

that I am going to learn I am riddled with

before he left he awoke me to tell me everything

cancer … I am afraid and I am numb … And

was clear. I was too groggy to remember, but the

I’m worried about what will happen to

nurse repeated the good news to me later and

Heather and Sophia and it breaks my heart to

the doctor emailed me to be sure I got the

think about Sophia not understanding why

message.

I’m no longer around and asking for me …

The day of my surgery, I was blessed that all

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four of my children had already arrived to be with

bringing me to Spain, where they lived, to

me. In spite of the circumstances, we were able to

recuperate. It was such an unexpected blessing.

laugh and cut-up, as is our custom, and find joy

My daughters and daughter-in-law Stacy did all

together. My four sisters kept in constant contact

the footwork to help me get my passport

with me, as did my friends, all a continuing source

renewed and plans made so I could go.

of support.

The trip was wonderful. To this day I

When I saw my surgeon. I repeated I would

remember the blessing of that trip and the long

not be having chemotherapy, I told the nurses, I

walks

told the radiologist, I told the oncologist. I told

Benidorm, along the beaches, and through the

my children that they had to respect my wishes

village with my sister, and not the anxiety from

in this. I was prepared to die, I believed in

the surgery and the aftermath of facing cancer.

Heaven and God’s promises and I was ready to

Janet and I both felt like God had given us a

go if He was calling me home.

miracle to be together at this time.

As always, illnesses bring high medical

through

Finestrat

and

Calpe

and

While in Spain, my sister told me that she

costs, I had been blessed with good health

once

asked

my

mother

if

she

regretted

insurance, but there are always major out of

undergoing chemotherapy. My mother told her

pocket expenses, and the day of my surgery I

that she believed it was her responsibility to do

was to pay hundreds of dollars for my co-pay.

everything she could to fight for her life.

The hospital agreed to let me make payments. Because Heather handles our finances, it wasn’t

May 28

until much later I learned that my daughter Kimberly had secretly paid the co-pay portion—

…. now I am home and the weight of all of

she didn’t want her mother worrying about

this really hit me … now I have to figure out

money.

how I’m going to live with this and what to do … But Father, I just want to keep my faith and

The surgery went well, with the usual concerns: Did they get it all? Will it return? How

my hope high and I want to accept what has

disfigured am I? What will the side affects be?

come to me and I want You to please lead me

That first night I stayed in the hospital due to a

where You want me to go and help me to be an

few unusual medical oddities I have. My

example …

daughter Shawn spent the night there to take care of me. We are only 15 years apart in age

May 30 I saw my oncologist again who gave

and grew up together, so she knows me well.

me

She always knows when to make me laugh and

all

the

stats

about

my

cancer

and

chemotherapy and recurrence. During surgery

when to listen, God has truly blessed me with

they felt they got all of it, but the lab results

wonderful children.

found there were additional abnormal cells, which could turn cancerous, meaning I needed chemotherapy.

After surgery, my sister Janet and her husband called to tell me that they were

I told him that for 30 years I had said I 7


little angry.

would never have chemotherapy and I told him about my mother. For two long sessions he

Yesterday when I was having a panic attack, I

argued with me. Additional tests showed I had

asked You to have someone call me who could

an aggressive form of cancer, meaning there was

help because I didn’t know where to turn,

a 43% chance it would come back. Finally, he

where I was being overly dramatic or to let me

told me they were trying to prolong my mother’s life, but that they were trying to

know that You are with me; a few seconds

prevent recurrence in my life. Something in that

later Cliff called and I fell apart and he said

clicked for me. Apparently, I wasn’t quite ready

it was about time I fell apart and cried., he

for the cancer to recur, wondering every day

didn’t think I’d cried since it happened,

whether it was back or I was clear, or how long

which I hadn’t really let go and fallen apart.

before it returned and how tortuous the end

Father, I don’t know where You are taking me.

would be. I finally agreed to chemotherapy.

I don’t know how much life I have left and I don’t know what to do with the time I have.

June 19

What is pointless? What is meaningful? Please

Father, I don’t know what is to become of me.

help me to take the steps today that will lead

Yesterday I decided not to have chemotherapy

me closer to fulfilling Your purpose in life for

and I had a panic attack and then the doctor

me.

talked to me and I changed my mind and now I am crying since yesterday and alone

For years this last sentence has been my constant

and afraid and overwhelmed and unsure of

prayer—although for brevity, I’ve not repeated

the future. I have an aggressive cancer that

it in these excerpts—and as anyone who knows

responds well to chemotherapy and I’m going

me will attest, God has led my steps on an

to lose my hair, which I don’t care about.

incredible journey.

My son Aaron had recently been reassigned

That day I bought a knit hat to wear for after I

from Norfolk to Point Mugu. He took time off to

lost my hair. I remember how because of

stay with me, and with my grandson Andrew

finances my mother had to wear a cheap wig she

they went with me to my first injection. I was so

didn’t like. I decided instead to wear hats and

glad to have Aaron close by me. It was

colorful scarves. Heather had already bought me

wonderful to have that support and love at such

a large, black floppy hat, just in case.

a difficult time. My girls Heather and Kimberly had long

I’m emotionally distraught that for 30 years I

planned for Heather and Sophia to visit

said I would never let them put me through

Kimberly in D.C. and I insisted she not change

what they are about to put me through and

her plans. I was then blessed to learn my sister

I’m overwhelmed and I’m sad and maybe a

Janet was coming from Spain to help me

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through the first couple of weeks after my first

On June 25 my chemotherapy treatments

chemotherapy injection.

began. I decided to cut my hair very short. Then as my hair began to fall out, I decided to go the next step. When I told the young woman that I

June 21

was undergoing chemotherapy and wanted to

Father,…If You are calling me home, then I

shave off my hair, I could see that with each

will go with You, but Father, for the sake of my

draw of the electric razor across my scalp she

children and sisters and friends, I would like

was struggling with tears. I felt worse for her than I did for myself.

to stay longer. I would still like to accomplish more in my life. I would still like to see my work published and produced, but if that is

It turned out I was allergic to the chemo

not Your Will, I accept it. I trust in You, I lean

drug and I had two very bad episodes. The first

on Jesus.

one was on July 4th, about eight days after my first treatment when the white blood cells that fight infection had all died. I ran a high fever and was delirious at times. Even though they

June 24

told me that it was imperative I get to the

Please bless me with complete healing and

hospital if I had a temperature of 101—mine was

that this experience which Satan meant to

around 103—I refused to go, for two reasons.

harm me, You will use for good.

First, I lived in an area where the 4th of July brings in thousands of people to watch the

During this time I also prayed constantly about

fireworks on the beach, I didn’t think we could

my writing. I had to accept that perhaps my

drive out or an ambulance could get in. Second,

writing would never go any further than what I

I was having terrible problems with sores in my

had already accomplished. And if it did, I might

mouth, a reaction to the chemotherapy; when I

not be alive to know or care.

sought help I felt the nurse had minimized my suffering. Angry, I became contentious and too rebellious to call for help. Later they told me I

Father, Cliff said that when I talk about my

could have died.

writing going unpublished I speak of it like a woman who longs for a child. Like Samuel’s

July 10

mother in the Bible … praying fervently to You

Father, I don’t understand my relationship

… It is interesting, Father, that I pray more

with You. Sometimes I know You are there,

for my writing than for the return of my

and sometimes I wonder if it is only me

health. But it is very sad to me to die and

attributing to You what is not of You. And I

have never succeeded as a writer, and what

don’t know how to respond.

good is it if it succeeds after I die, unless the point is to glorify You after my death.

The last two weeks have been incredibly

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difficult. I had my chemotherapy on Jun 25

found myself in the area where I work, but the

[for 3 days] after I was like the energizer

building was like a commuter building and I

bunny because of the steroids they had me on,

got stuck in the building and it looked like

then the first day after the steroids as I came

an old-fashioned bank building and I went

down the spiral staircase I could feel my body

to the roof and figured that was the fastest

crashing and I was in bed in pain and

way to get where I had to go, to step off the

absolute misery for days, more than a week,

roof, which was 4 floors up, but I knew the fall

only getting up to run “must do” errands for

would probably kill me, still I needed to be

an hour or so once or twice. Then the day

somewhere and so I stepped off. I landed on

after Aaron brought Janet from the airport I

my feet and went to this event; then I found

started feeling better—Tuesday, and by

myself back at this building, but somehow on

Thursday I felt really well and we went out all

a stairwell/conveyer that was taking me to a

day and the next morning I crashed with

plane and suddenly I found myself on a plane

severe chills and a high fever, on the 4th, but I

and jumped out of my seat and went to the

refused to call or go to the hospital; I was

back where the plane door was open and [the

slightly better on the 5 , but it was Monday

plane] had taken off and by now was 3 or 4

before I could be up and around … During

times as high as the building I’d stepped off of

these days I have felt dark and as though I

and I knew I had to get off that plane because

were going to die anyway and then I was

it was taking me the wrong direction, but I

beginning to feel the chemotherapy would kill

knew the fall would kill me, but if I didn’t step

me for I don’t think I’ve ever experienced

off, I could never get back. So, I stepped off

anything this horrendous before and the idea

and as I fell I knew I was going to die, how

of poisoning my body to make me well makes

could I not, then I saw a tree below and I

no sense.

didn’t know if the branches would break my

th

fall or skewer me. And then I was on the

… Monday night I woke up again, as I’ve been

ground and I walked away.

doing during the night, and realized I was waking up from dark, morbid dreams. In the

Father, this dream gave me hope, and I

days before I’d had a couple of dreams about

believed for the first time that everything was

trying to help someone who was being abused

going to be all right and that my mind had

and fight off their attacker and take control

put a lot of things together. But Janet and

of the situation …

Cliff thought that You gave me this dream as you did to Jacob and Joseph in the days of

… I went back to sleep and I had a very

old. So I prayed that if You gave me this

bizarre dream having to do with Hollywood

dream I would have it again Tuesday night,

and a Halloween-type event and children in

but I didn’t …

odd costumes and co-hosting a party at someone’s house; but during the dream I

So, Father, I don’t know if You gave me the

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dream, but I have to assume You didn’t and

culmination of all the time we’ve had

that it was me filling in the blanks and

together and the hope You have given me in

giving me something different to hold onto …

the past. And maybe I’m not going to die or maybe I am and maybe I am going to walk

… since that dream I have had a great deal

away with more than I lost, and maybe I’m

of inner peace and I have overcome that deep

going to be lucky to come out of this with my

gloom. I so wish the dream had been from

head above water. All I care about is that I

You. And if it wasn’t, I don’t understand what

come out of this with You on my side. And that

that means about our relationship, although

I am an example to others, a vessel through

Tuesday night after I got home and rested I

which Your Light shines.

felt You were calling me to You, and I didn’t come, and again tonight, but this time I came. So, here I am. Father, do You have

I was very ill, but at times I would get up

things to say to me, to tell me, to teach me??

and go to work where everyone was very supportive and helpful. Many people continue

I also got an email yesterday from someone

working while undergoing chemotherapy, but I

who wanted to know what I charged for

don’t know how. Sometimes I would lay in bed

polishing a screenplay and I told him first I

and work from home, sometimes I would be

don’t work with people who use Yours or Jesus’

totally debilitated.

Names as profanity unless they were willing to

Much of the time, at least in public, I was

change that, and then I’d want to see the first

upbeat and reconciled to going through this

few pages to see what level the writing was

with the best attitude I could, people were

before I could give him a quote. I got back the

constantly telling me I was an example to them,

most vitriolic hate-filled email.

they were amazed by my attitude. But there

I feel like I am under attack by Satan as

were times at home when I felt more despairing.

never before in my life. My rent has been

Sometimes I thought that I most likely was going to die, and I felt prepared for that.

raised, my new car isn’t running and I don’t

Still, there were also so many miracles. I

have the strength to do anything about it, yet … My health is horrible and as bad as I

have rarely felt so close to God. I felt as though

thought chemotherapy was going to be and

He was holding me in His arms and whispering in my ear, “you are not alone, I am here with

the reason I’d never do it—it’s been even

you, I am watching over you.”

worse. But I’ve had Janet here and supportive

The

friends and children surrounding me and

next

bad

episode

I

had

with

chemotherapy was while they were giving me

people at work filling in for me.

the second injection. During that process I kept

So I know that You are with me, and maybe

having allergic reactions and they had to give

You have allowed Satan to test me like You

me other drugs to bring me out of it so they

did Job, and maybe that dream was a

could continue the injection. Later I found out

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calling me to be in this situation.

that the poison was from trees—I am allergic to many types of trees; because of these types of

Thank You that my family is seeing You

reactions, many people are unable to withstand

through this—if it draws them closer to You,

chemotherapy.

then I praise You for using me in this way as an instrument for You at this time.

July 18 …Thank You, for reminding me that You are Father, so much has happened, I had a bad

with me and letting me feel and see Your

reaction from the 1st drug in the

Presence and how that manifests itself

chemotherapy treatment and Cliff had taken

through surrounding me with love and people

me and was there and helped interpret to the

and confidence in You. Help me to grow more

nurses what was happening to me and to me

mindful of other people and their needs.

what they were asking me and everyone felt like You sent him there to be with me at that time because he was so good at handling the

When I was at my absolute worst during

situation and he kept taking the calls and

chemotherapy,

informing my family and watching me like a

insisted I go to see an acupuncturist. When I

hawk for my reactions and my chemo nurse

finally did, his wife Sabine accompanied me for

was so good and stayed really late to take

the first visit. I thought acupuncture was

care of me. They wound up putting me on

voodoo medicine, but one of my doctors had

my

longtime

friend

James

told me that chemotherapy patients recovered

stabilizing drugs 3 times and oxygen and

better with acupuncture. As sick as I was, I was

putting me in a day hospital bed, but You

desperate, but mostly I went because of James’s

answered all the prayers and took care of me.

nagging.

At one point Cliff called his mother and they

In one treatment Dr. Cathryn Hu turned me

prayed over the phone and she said to You, “I

around. It made all the difference in how I

sent my son to be with Nancy, now You send

responded to the chemotherapy and later the

Your Son Jesus to take care of her” and You

radiation. Overnight I could see a positive

must have, thank You, Father.

change in my body.

Father, please be with me today as I feel my body growing weaker, please help me to July 24

endure and to rely on You. Thank You, Father, that the doctor and nurses acknowledged my

Father last week I prayed for You to be with me

bad reactions over the past weeks and are

and You were and I slept through the first

seeking to give me the medications I need to

terrible days and they weren’t as bad as

get through this time better. I pray, Father

before, and then You gave me the opportunity

Your guidance and Your help and Your

to have acupuncture and I feel that was such

strength and Your will and to be who You are

a tremendous help and made such a

12


difference already and everyone I’ve talked to

August 6

says I sound better. Father, I don’t

Please be with me and protect me this week as

understand how it can work, but I

I go through another round of chemo.

understand that You have placed many ways

I am feeling less afraid about my treatment

for healing and for our benefit in the world

on Friday because I know You are with me

and in our bodies that we don’t know and

and whatever happens will be for the good

don’t understand and I pray that this is

and according to Your Will.

something of You …

The doctor and I agreed that for my last two

Father, yesterday Joy [my youngest sister] told

treatments we had to change the drug because I

me after she talked to me last time she cried

was very concerned that my next reaction might

and cried because I was so sick and she

be fatal. Even though he believed that I had

thought it was so unfair that I was going

better odds of the cancer not returning with the

through this and that it should have been her

first drug, he did not want to go against my gut

and that all of her friends tried to comfort

instincts.

her and I told her I never wanted her to feel it should have been her, that I didn’t feel that

September 4

way. That although I didn’t believe this came from You, that it is part of life, that if You can

Father, yesterday was very stressful, I had to

use this to Your good, then I’m okay with that

confront a lot of things in my physical life

… if this brings my family to You, or others to

that were uncomfortable. I kept trying to

You, then it is all worth it….

remember that I could handle these things: Please help me to handle these things the way

I was thinking … that death is just a

You would have me handle them, and not to

transition into the next life and that greatest

overreact and not to underreact, and not to

adventure and I need not fear death, but I

be afraid, and that’s what I kept thinking

need to cling to You …

about yesterday, I can’t keep being afraid.

Apparently all my sisters felt it should have

After

been them and not me. Janet had spent time and

chemotherapy

came

weeks

of

radiation. They gave me six weeks instead of the

money to take care of me and Dixie and Betty

five they planned. Every weekday I had to get

and Joy called often to check on me; Betty was

up early and drive to USC Norris Cancer

even able to come with her family for a day. I

Hospital before work. It meant even more hours

hope they know how much they all mean to me.

of driving added to my already long commute.

13


October 18

treatment and I’ve made it through,

Father, I have so many responsibilities and

November 4

things I need to do and things I am

This morning was the first time in ages I have

responsible for and things I want to do, but I

felt my voice could sing hymns. Thank You,

don’t seem to be able to pull it all together. By

Father,

the time I get home at night I am tired from the day of driving and radiation and work,

November 9 was my birthday—I survived.

and I just sit in front of the TV and I’m not productive. Please help me to see what I need to do to accomplish these things, without

November 13, 2008

ruining my health, to be better organized in

He spoke another parable to

time and thought and deeds and worship.

them, “The Kingdom of Heaven

Thank You, Father, for restoring my health,

is like leaven, which a woman

for putting me in a situation where they

took, and hid in three pecks of

found it in time, for showing me Yur Grace

meal, until it was all leavened.

and Your Love and that Your forgiveness is complete and Your Love is Everlasting. …

Matthew 13:33

Thank You, Father, for all the incredible

I have a note in my Bible which reads, “in her

blessings in my life and the opportunities You

heart until her whole life was devoted.”

have blessed me with to enjoy the big and the And so it is Father, I want Your Word daily

little things.

implanted in my heart until the whole of me is leavened with You.

While going through radiation I would see young women getting treatments and I would think, Oh, how lucky I am that this didn’t happen when I was young—the whole course of their lives

July 14, 2010 Jon Reed asked me a couple of weeks ago to do

has been altered. When I would see older people, I

a devotional from Philippians 1:21 about my

would think, Oh how lucky I am that this didn’t happen to me when I was older, for what a terrible

experience with breast cancer and “to live is

ordeal to have to go through when you are weak and

Christ, to die is gain.” … one of the things that

frail. I came to the conclusion that if I was going

I noted as I read through the devotionals was

to have cancer, my age was the best age to get it.

how much I prayed about my writing, as much if not more than the cancer. … I felt like You were taking me back to my devotionals at

November 1

this time to remind me of how much I had

Father, yesterday was my last radiation

prayed for it ...

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July 19, 2010, I learned that my proposal for

Father, please help me to take the steps today that will

my book (The Writer’s Compass) on the creative

lead me closer to fulfilling Your Purpose in life for

writing process I developed has been accepted

me. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

for publication.

And so I close out another chapter of my life, and begin a new one.

Nancy Ellen Dodd grew up attending the Avenal and Lemoore Churches of Christ. She is a writer, an editor, and on faculty at Pepperdine University. She is blessed with four incredible children and their spouses: Shawn and her husband Greg, Aaron and his wife Stacy, and Heather and Kimberly; six grandchildren: Andrew, Robert, Rachel, Joshua, Sean, and Sophia; and three stepsons: David, Andrew, and Tyler, and their children Torey, Tyler, and Michael. She also has four wonderful, loving sisters, Dixie, Janet, Betty, and Joy. The good friends God has blessed her with are too numerous to count, along with three wonderful church families, Westside in Bakersfield, California; Culver Palms in Culver City, California; and of course, Hilltop in El Segundo, California.

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THE SOUL UPON THE LOOM IS WOVEN The soul skeaned upon a wooden frame, The pattern new within the Weaver's mind. With treadle He looms and deft shuttle aim, He knows the warp, the threads He will combine. The fabric replete with rich texture laid, The Weaver's chaste design blanches to sorrow. Ill deeds the brocade of the pattern fade, While each deceit the thread a loop doth gnarl. Too late virtue taut, unravels off the loom, Jagged the mending by defect untrue. Tattered, torn, the rag cast to doom, The flawed cannot patch a stained garment new. The Weaver doth reclaim the cloth, with gold Thread He restores, and so the stitches, stronger, hold. 窶年ancy Ellen Dodd

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May God fill the winds in your sails with blessings, and may all of your storms blow you into the shelter of His Arms.

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Whether By Life or By Death  

Nancy Ellen Dodd's testimonial about her experience with breast cancer.

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