Seven days ago I flew with my husband to Quintana Roo, where the wind blows off the sea onto the great expanse of sun drenched land, filled with palm trees and exotic flowers. The sun and sea and quiet were to help make me well again.
Rain had been predicted off and on all week and the sky was overcast as we landed, but it came only on the second day when we walked through the puddle filled streets of Playa Del Carmen.
In spite of the forecast, the weather was sunny and fair all week, and our feet are now burned across the tops from daily walks along the shore. The wind was lovely and strong, enticing the salt water to bring its healing as only salt can.
I am well into my first year of weekly low dose chemo injections with two to four years yet ahead of me. This is to keep my overactive T lymphocytes from attacking the deep layers of my skin and joints. I’m not thrilled about sticking the needle into my thigh each week and uncertain about what the future holds, but it is making me feel better. I have found that when I remember to thank God first for providing good care, the needle doesn’t hurt.
I had plenty of time to soak in the light with His Love Letter and continued on through Numbers. I found myself either frustrated by the complaining Israelites or relating to them. How many times do the Israelites speak against God in their disbelief saying, Why have you brought us up out of Egypt only to leave us to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food! And how many times have I questioned the place God has brought me and complained about what I don’t have?
And then how many times did the Lord say to Moses, ‘Do not be afraid’, and delivered him.
We walked through the lands of the Mayan ruins in Tulum with Martine, our guide, who spoke of the religious leaders’ fascination with the cosmos and their advanced astronomy. They believed in one supreme creator god and also believed in many god-like spirits in nature and tried to please those spirits. I thought that could become as exhausting as people pleasing. I am grateful to have one God to please and am working hard to let go of my tendency to please everyone.
After our time surrounded in Mayan history it was a gift to meet our young Mayan waiter, Carlos. He told us that he is often homesick for his Mayan upbringing and visits his parents in Chichen Itza often, where much of the underground Mayan history has been excavated. As we ate dinner, he shared how his mother prepared their family dinners underground with the slow method of cooking over rocks heated by wood fires. The large dutch oven-like skillet was covered with banana leaves to hold in the warmth of the beautifully spiced meals she served her family of five, who lived together in one room with hammocks.
We parted that evening using our new Mayan vocabulary: Niib oolal (thanks), maybe the most important word in any culture. And Mix bool (you’re welcome) doesn’t hurt to have handy either.
Perhaps it was the words from Carlos’s heart that inspired dreams of my own family that night. The young man’s love for his parents triggered mine. I could feel their presence and see the farm I grew up on so vividly I had to sit up in bed and catch my breath. The details of the small mound beside a crooked little tree stood before me. I had been told it held buried within it Native American bones. My own heritage. The remnants of my past run through the halls of my memories like redeemed ruins, guiding me into the present moment and I stop to say, Niib oolal.
Each day we walked through the sand and cool water for hours until we were too sunburned, and then walked the surrounding area in the shade.
Todd didn’t see a single fish all week but I ate fish every day. We saw the moon rise and watched the sun rise twice.
We thought we would be saying goodbye to Quintana Roo on Monday but after a five hour wait at the airport, our flight was cancelled. Maybe my heart needed one more day in the “School of Belief”. And just in case I had any trouble, I think God painted a picture, as if to say,
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God, I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Niil oolal, Abba.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful experience.
Thanks for sharing it with me, Sarah!
Hi Deb, I’m glad you and your husband had a chance to get away and enjoy those sun rays and walks on the beach. I’d never heard of active T lymphocytes before so I had to look it up. I am especially glad that the treatment is making you feel better. My heart went out to both of you because I know first hand how the unknown with regard to an illness can play havoc with our minds. A few years ago (actually about fifteen) I was told I had cancer and that I had a 17% chance of being alive in five years. Obviously that was wrong because I’m still here and now cancer free after I underwent an operation.
I am so glad that you and I are both working our way through the Old Testament. I actually really loved Numbers this time and am now almost finished Deuteronomy. I especially was gratified to see what you had observed and recognized. There is an over riding theme of our needing to come to the place where we recognize our need to deeply depend on our loving God and trust in His willingness to meet all of our needs. And that theme comes from a love within God that is hard to fathom. I prayed to our loving God before responding, asking Him to give me words for you and I know beyond a shadow of doubt what it is. He loves you way beyond what you can imagine and He has you because you have given Him your heart. That’s all He needs and that’s all you need. I can’t help but see the little girl in you. You are His daughter, He will surely meet all of your needs. Rest in Him, He will take care of the rest. If I could I would give you a hug but as of today you are on my daily prayer list. We are always to lift one another up in prayer because He asks us to. Kind of like being mindful of our family. God loves you and my heart goes out to you both. May the grace, love and peace of our Lord bless you daily. – Bruce
Hi Bruce, I read your message and felt like God had walked into the room to have a Word with me. You understand so clearly how illness can mess with our heads. I’m trying to have unwavering faith but struggle so thank you for your prayers. My sister once gave me Max Lucado children’s book You Are Special and told me I reminded her of Lucia. I’m afraid I have become covered with spots. Hurts and slights build up so slowly and hang on so inconceivably (we think) until you get sick and have to stop and notice. I have noticed and God is working on my heart and thought patterns. Every day is a day to allow God to make me more like Lucia, skipping along in her white dress, no spots or stars and free. And I’m certain she remembers to pray for her “family” everyday. That’s the problem when we get it wrong. All our energy is spent on ourselves and we miss out on all the opportunities to share God’s love with others. I am so grateful for you, Bruce. Thank you for your gentle kindness. And thank you for your precious prayers. Much love, Deb
And Bruce, your story is such a beautiful testimony of God’s healing grace and goodness. Thank you so much for sharing your encouragement there. I will confidently await His grace and goodness in this situation, as He as always shown it in the past. I will also start a daily prayer list and yours will be the first name. Please let me know if you have a specific prayer need. With gratitude, Deb
Dear Deb, God blessed me this morning with the witness of His love for you. You are His dear daughter and His love for you is so great. Thank you for your prayers, mention Rebecca, one of our daughters, my wife and I need all the guidance and faith we can muster to fulfill God’s will for her. Thank you so much.
We worship a loving God. He is more than able. Much love, Bruce
I’m sure Rebecca is a beauty and I know God has a plan to prosper her. Yes, indeed, I will enjoy praying for her. Thank you Bruce.