Earth’s Crammed With Heaven

My alarm went off at 6 a.m. this morning. Ugh. Too early, especially when I didn’t sleep well last night. In fact, none of us slept well. We had to be at the Cancer Center at 8:30 a.m. It is difficult to get up so early, but it’s nice that we got home before noon.

The drive to the Cancer Center this morning was gorgeous. Before the sun peeked over the horizon, it shot up a beacon of light into the sky like a searchlight. When the sun finally showed itself, it was a very vivid flourescent orange. The trees and plants were all clothed in frost, and a heavy fog swirled over the fields. It was beautiful. I kicked myself for forgetting to take along my camera. I had taken it out of my purse the other day so it would be accessible if the hawk visited our bird feeder, and I thought I had forgotten to put it back in my purse. However, when we got home I found that it was in my purse after all. Bummer! The only thing worse than forgetting my camera is thinking I forgot it when I didn’t.

We were in Infusion Room 1 today. It was a small private room, but not as small as some of the rooms. JJ had a two-hour session of Chemo in which he was given Bleomycin. We are now beginning to count “last times.” This is the very last time he will get this particular Chemo drug. Yay!

Our primary nurse today was Janet. All of the nurses have their special strengths. Janet is always really good at explaining to us the results of JJ’s Friday blood draws. She said that JJ’s white blood cell count is quite low, so she went to check with the Oncologist’s nurse, Val, about whether JJ would be able to have Chemo this week. Val said to go ahead with the Chemo, but it’s possible JJ won’t be able to have Chemo next week. I asked why they couldn’t just give JJ an injection this week to raise his white blood cell count rather than wait until next week when his count might be so low that he can’t have Chemo. Janet explained that JJ had had this particular injection last week and it lasts 14 days. Giving him another injection this week would be a waste because his body would just flush it out. Oh, that makes sense. I’m glad I asked.

Janet also told us that JJ’s cancer marker numbers are higher than they were when we first met with the Oncologist. Low is good, high is worse. However, she said that sometimes the numbers fluctuate during Chemo so it’s not abnormal. I was actually hoping the numbers would be zero so JJ wouldn’t need surgery. The oncologist wants to send JJ to Indianapolis to remove the cancerous lymph node because it’s in a tricky place–between his spine and his lung–and he wants a very skilled surgeon who does this type of surgery several times a day to operate on him rather than one who maybe does it once or twice a year. If the surgeon isn’t skilled, he could nick a nerve and JJ could be paralyzed or have other problems. The hospital in Indianapolis is one of the best in the world for this type of Cancer. EJ talked to a co-worker who said the insurance company didn’t pay for his surgery at Indianapolis because it’s out of state and they considered it “out of network.” I pray that either JJ won’t need the surgery or the insurance company will pay for it. Regardless, we will not risk JJ being operated on by anyone except skilled surgeons.

On the way home from the Cancer Center, we stopped at our veterinarian’s because we are almost out of Luke’s Very Special Cat Food and I needed to get another bag. Luke has a urinary problem and will likely have to have this special food for the rest of his life, but he is such a genius cat that he’s worth it.

Gifts from my Fairy Godmother
Gifts from my Fairy Godmother

Since we were all tired, I called ahead and ordered takeout at Chubby’s Cafe. We picked it up on our way home. We also stopped at the post office, and I was surprised to find a package in the mail from my friend. She sent me a box filled with Dead Sea Treatment Exfoliating Mud Mask, Dead Sea Bath Crystals, a soothing beauty mask “for cooling tension relief,” beautiful soft therapeutic slippers that smell of soothing lavender, and  a small box of very delicious Swiss chocolates. Accompanying these items was a picture of Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother with the words “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.” So I think my friend is my Fairy Godmother. Not everyone has such an awesome Fairy Godmother. I feel very blessed.

I sort of dozed off on the couch but woke in time to hug, kiss, and pray for EJ before he left for work. A few minutes later he called to tell me that the truck had broken down. So rather than go to work, EJ called a towing service and waited for it to arrive. It’s a good thing he had to work this last weekend because it will provide us with extra money. I am glad that the truck didn’t break down on a day when JJ was sick and tired after a long day of Chemo.

While EJ was waiting for the tow truck, I went out and shoveled out the car, which was buried under a ton of snow. We will have to drive the car now, so hopefully the weather won’t get bad for the rest of the winter.  

At one time, I would have gotten frustrated at all these challenges and problems. However, EJ and I often discuss that it felt as if our dreams were blocked–because we longed to move to the beautiful North or even how to buy a nearby place in the country, but we just couldn’t figure out how to make it a reality. But we thankfully acknowledge that if we had moved up North, we wouldn’t have been so close to a good hospital for JJ, and if we had bought the house we had our eye on last summer, money would have been very tight and bills harder to pay. So we are glad our “dreams” didn’t happen. Now when things go wrong and dreams are “blocked,” we consider that a loving God is providing for us for needs that we aren’t even aware of yet.

EJ had the truck towed to his friend’s place since the local auto repair shop is too busy to work on it. EJ called me and said that as they rode together in the tow truck, the driver told EJ that he had been having a very tough year and he was discouraged. EJ was able to encourage him. So maybe the truck broke down so EJ could encourage the driver. Who knows?

Life is interesting and mysterious.

On the way to the Cancer Center today, EJ and I discussed how there have been “pivotal points” in our lives. Sometimes these pivotal points seemed quite minor at the time, and sometimes they were heartbreaking, but they completely changed our lives and moved us in a direction that we might not have traveled if it hadn’t been for that event. So who knows what will result because JJ has cancer or because the truck broke down and EJ had to call a tow truck and ended up encouraging him?

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein

I used to have a friend who always questioned how to tell if something was a “God thing” or just a regular everyday event. I really think this friend saw life wrongly. I believe that it’s not that some things are “normal stuff” and other things are “God things.” I think everything, even the smallest, most “normal” seeming things or events are awesome works of God. I like what Albert Einstein said. He said that there are only two ways to live: We can live as if nothing is a miracle or as if everything is. We can live as if nothing is a gift from God or as if everything is.

I think we can lose our sense of wonder and awe if we overlook that God is in even the smallest normal things. I always think that it is sad when people are like a character in  Zenna Henderson‘s book Pilgrimage, who said “There is for me no wonder more, except to wonder where my wonder went and why my wonder all is spent.”

I love that my family has never lost our wonder. We always stop and look up when we hear honking geese. We call each other to admire the beautiful weaving of a spiderweb, or the glitter in the snow, the birds at the feeder, or the colors in a rock. We gaze breathlessly at sunsets and stars, streams and fields. I loved that one time as I walked Danny a couple of years ago, I came across a HUGE praying mantis at the side of the road. I called up JJ to tell him about him and asked him if he wanted to see it. He said he did, so he drove the car to where I was and we stood and admired the insect. I love that he was 16-years-old at the time and hadn’t lost his wonder.

One of my favorite poems reflect that nothing is small but earth is crammed with Heaven. The poem is by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

And truly, I reiterate, . . nothing’s small!
No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim:
And, — glancing on my own thin, veined wrist, —
In such a little tremour of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct.

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:

But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more, from the first similitude.

I love the song “Creation Calls” by Brian Doerksen which describes how EJ, JJ, and I see the world around us:

Although we have tons of snow, it is February and in another month there will be hints of Spring. Plants and animals will awaken from their sleep. So I have been looking at my garden and considering what I want to do with it when the weather gets warm. I am also thinking about birdhouses and baby birds. 




2 Comments on “Earth’s Crammed With Heaven

  1. Check with your insurance company re: out of state insurance coverage, my experience of needing medical treatment out of state is that they won’t cover all of it but some of it. I will pray that you don’t need to go to Indy for the surgery. 😉


  2. Dear Teri what a really beautiful written column this was and I have enjoyed it so much although I’m very concerned that JJ still will need the operation an even maybe have to go to another state to have that done. And difficult to cope with the insurance stuff. That are all things to pray about.I’m glad I’m an ” Einstein” thinker and every day is G’D’s miracle for me also when it is a bad and difficult one, we never know why ( I mostly don’t ask that question ) but I know Abba is in control. And that makes it worth to live even in the most terrible circumstances. I’ll pray for the problems above and giving you all a very big (((((hug))))) ❤


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