God is good. What can I say?
God keeps pouring in the blessings:) Just when I think there couldn’t possible be anything else… it keeps coming! Christmas here in Port Angeles surrounded by the people I love has been absolutely incredible. I have never laughed so much, cried so much, wrestled so much, played, talked, prayed and worshiped so much all in one setting. My soul feels full and beefy, yes beefy:) The week before Christmas I was able to spend a few days in Portland unpacking from Seattle and repacking for Christmas with family. In the course of a few days I allowed myself to drift a bit from the fervency I had been seeking Christ every day. I was most definitely starting to coast spiritually. It was amazing how quickly things changed for me. I had floods of emotions ranging from fear, hopelessness, insecurity, annoyance, acute self-awareness. Yuck! It took a couple of days cocooning myself in that grossness to realize that this isn’t how I’m supposed to live. This isn’t a reflection of my reality. My reality is that God is bigger than my circumstances. My reality is that God has provided me with peace, joy, protection and well… even fun, in what seems like it should have been the worst time of my life. My reality is my life is but a vapor here on earth and I get to spend an eternity with my Savior. My reality is my joy lies in Jesus and the minute I look elsewhere for satisfaction I open myself up to the same flood of gross emotions… more come included I’m sure. It was a good reminder for me to see that it is absolutely essential that I keep my self actively and passionately rooted in Christ on a day by day, minute by minute process or I will fall apart. This situation is too big for me. It’s a dangerous thing for me to attempt ever walking in my own strength. Last week was a good wake up call for me, reminding me to always take this very seriously. I need to keep myself healthy spiritually not only for my own personal walk but also so that I can continue to minister to those around me. I can only do that in his strength. So that’s been my biggest lesson since being done with radiation in Seattle. I am so thankful he chooses to teach me these lessons… they are most definitely saving my life:)
That is why I am extra thankful for this time I’ve been able to have with my amazing family this last week and a half. What a gift! What a time of fellowship and Spirit restoration. The memories from the Christmas will be with me forever. I have vivid pictures of sleigh rides, falling snow, more buzz cuts, great food, dances with the little cousins, late night Wendy’s runs, movies, endless hours of Settlers… oh goodness, I could go on forever:)
Thank you Jesus for your blessings. Thank you for being the source of all that is pure, lovely, victorious and beautiful. I love you. My life is in your hands.
P.S. I had my post radiation MRI on the 27th and my follow-up appointment is coming up on the fourth of January. This will determine if whether we are looking at more treatment or a waiting period. Of course we hope for waiting period:) Of course the Lord is in complete control and I trust him with any outcome. Thank you all for your prayers!
From Jo Dee (Christina’s mom)
I was thinking about New Year’s Day one year ago. I wrote in my journal “Happy New Year.” I then wrote, “Wildly Adventurous, Desperately Dependent (on God) New Year. Lord, this New Year is for you. I don’t want a Happy New Year. I want a New Year filled with you. All things submitted to you. You are my All in All. You fill everything in every way. I want to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Two days later, I was moving quickly into a huge pity party because of some very unpleasant circumstances. I had pulled to the side of the road and cried for a while and thought, “no one understands, no one cares”. I then felt very reminded in my heart about my New Year’s declaration. I sensed God’s huge question, “Do you really want a wildly adventurous New Year or would you just rather have a Happy New Year?” I realized then that wildly adventurous living with God is often challenging, painful, and costly. I prayed again. “O.K. Lord. I go for the wildly adventurous life with you. I just forgot about the price to be paid.” My tears dried up and I moved on with a little more sobriety and wondering where God was going to take me. I have wondered what would have happened to me if I had said, “Forget it. I’ll move to the Happy New Year department.” I journaled a few days later, “Is this the start of my wildly adventurous, desperately dependent New Year. Is that what I really want? Lord, will you enable me to walk strong? I am desperately dependent to make it through each day. Thanks for the reminder that I need you every minute. I never know where the dagger will come from. But you will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on you. I do not want to be greatly moved.”
As I think about all that 2007 has held, I am so thankful that life with Jesus is more than I could have imagined. Brain tumors don’t seem to fit in the Happy New Year department. One never prays for a daughter to have a brain tumor (at least I never did), or for trials to set in, or for much of life to become about doctors, tests, hospitals, treatments, and bald heads. I always thought that the best would be health, great jobs, a good walk with the Lord, loving friends and family, and so much more. I must say that watching the evidence of Jesus’ power in Christina’s life, watching the body of Christ at work, and seeing so many promises in the Bible proved true in a first hand way, has been better than I could have imagined. The reality of heaven excites me and comforts and keeps my heart from despair. I am so excited to see how 2008 unfolds. Much of what I used to fear has no hold on me. For that I am thankful. I pray that God will enable us all to know His adequacy in all situations.
From Doug (Christina’s Dad)
What a great time with Christina, Ryan, Jo Dee, Jesse & Kristin, the VanDyke family, the Newbury family, and Linsey. Jo Dee and I and Al, Leah, and Linsey Tuttle visited with Mary Adams and Giles and Laura McMurchie during Mary’s open house Christmas party, and then later Christina and Linsey visited Mary later and thanked her for the kind gesture of letting us stay in their Seattle house while Christina was getting radiation treatment. Christina and I drove to Sequim on Friday, December 27, to get a post-radiation MRI taken. Christina was still calm in the face of the possibilities of the outcome, although the taking of the MRI was a very noisy experience, she admitted. Christmas eve service at IBC was worshipful and intimate with Jo Dee and Jesse playing the violin and cello as part of the candlelight service. God was very present in many conversations and contacts we had with family and friends over the Christmas vacation. One of the best stocking stuffers I ever received was one given to me by Christina this Christmas: a certificate for a truck detail job. She attacked the interior of my work pickup, which had become pretty dirty over the last couple of years, vacuuming up dog hair and dirt, and cleaning and dusting all the controls and dash with ArmorAll. I looks terrific now and will be great to drive in now with my new office job. I’ll miss seeing Christina and Ryan as they leave Port Angeles tomorrow for Portland. It’s been such a blessed time with them.
From Linsey (Christina’s Roomie)
Well I had to slip my comments in before Ryan…. During the various games of Settlers of Catan Ryan and I would frequently try to pull our rank as best friend or boyfriend to gain valuable trades to win the game….alas…I think she is pretty stuck on him :)! Watch out you two…Robbie and I are ready for the tournament!
I had several wonderful nights with the Ahmann clan! It is such a blessing when you come from a small family (only child) to be a part of a huge Christmas celebration! There is always a game to join, a kid to play with, a quiet conversation to be had, and a bite to eat. I was blessed to enjoy them all. My best friend is living every day to the fullest. I can’t wait for our time together in Portland.
For Christmas, Christina gave me 4 awesome roommate dates for the two of us. I am SO excited. I feel like this special time in both our lives are lifetime memories. It looks like it is the end of an era. While both of us have serious relationships and moving toward marriage, it feels much like my senior year of college where you are ready to move onto the next chapter of life but you are savoring every last page of the current chapter. I found myself laughing when I finally realized we are old enough to have seasons in life. But what God has been pounding into my heart is….We must serve, love, obey, trust, believe HIM for a lifetime not just a season.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
I look forward to savoring every day with my dear Christina as roommate! Back to the house of peace we go!
From Ryan (Christina’s Man he he…
Just a few days ago, I asked a friend how their Christmas went and they told me it was their best ever. At first I thought, wow, that’s a bold statement, best ever? Then I thought about mine and said, “yep, me too.” It really was. Best Christmas ever. Hands down, I can say that. 2 weekends in the PA with the Ahmanns and VanDykes (and the Newburys for 1 weekend) and Christmas at home in Portland with Mom, Dad and little sister. Thank you Lord for sending your Son and letting Him be born here on earth so we can spend time over the Holidays with our families and loved ones in total remembrance of you, Jesus! Thank you JoDee and Doug for opening up your home, being the picture of hospitality and for making me feel SO welcome. And thank you to the rest of Christina’s family for sharing Teeny Tiny Teenuh Time with me It’s been RIDICULOUSLY fun. Laila gave me an original masterpiece of her own doing, a framed picture of a sunset, which she told me was a symbol of how beautiful Christina is… awesome. Mainly, these last couple weeks have just been really great family time, and God reminding me over and over again just how much He loves me and how much He loves all of us. Like a really excited parent that can’t wait for their child to open a really great gift, God just wants to bless His children. So talk about blessings… yep, so thank you Christina for being such a huge blessing, for being SO much fun to hang out with always in any situation, and for being that constant reminder that happiness is circumstantial but true joy and perfect peace come only from the Rock, the Rock eternal. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is always faithful, even when I’m not. And His timing and His plan are perfect. So I’m excited for the new year, to see what our amazing God has in store. I’m excited to live for Him and make this new year ALL ABOUT HIM! I loved how Pastor Mike laid out this simple truth this morning at IBC which I can definitely apply to this upcoming year: If I get disappointed with my walk with the Lord, then there’s too much of me in the mix. Hmm, I love that. Happy New Year everybody, hope it’s blessed and Jesus-filled!
Aunt Jennifer’s Christmas with Christina…
It is very difficult to put into words what this time has meant. What I know is that she lights up a room when she walks in, and that I want to be around her constantly, because of her charm, humor, smile, but most importantly and seriously, she dwells in the secret place of the Most High. It is very clear that she spends her time in the presence of the Lord because she has such incredible peace and joy, which is so contageous.
There are times I catch myself looking at her, and thinking ‘God, I don’t think I could bare life without her in this world, we are all better off with her here, and the world is better with her, she is such light and life!’ and then I remember who God is, that He is the Great Healer, but that He also gives and takes and that each day is a gift. SO as I sit here and write this, Christina pops in and smiles at me, she asks…’whatcha writin?… nice things about me?’ She sees me crying and proceeds to flash me!
We played tons and tons of Settlers of Catan, and we are all hooked on that game! I think God favors Christina,… cuz she won alot! We had the joy of having Linsey drop in and the group of those Portlanders together was so much FUN!!! They should do a movie based on the lives of Linsey and Christina they would make millions with their humor, vocabulary and funny voices!
I thought about Christina during the message at church… the point was made that if your not in the midst of where Jesus is you’re probably bored and in a place of self, which is a place of death. In contrast, to be where the Lord calls us to be, may be hard and not very appealing at first, but it is exciting and adventurous. To be where Jesus is, brings about His glory, and in turn brings blessing to all! Well… that is where Christina dwells. Where HE wants her. She listens and obeys, and in turn He is glorified and all are blessed. Thank you Almighty God, and thank you Christina for showing us what it means to dwell in His secret place. You look cozy. :0)
Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart…
Heres to many more Holidays playing Settlers of Catan and worshipping our Lord together under His great and mighty wings!
From Jade (Christina’s cousin)
I am so glad that my family and I made it out here for the Holiday’s. It has been so fun to get to know people better, and to spend quality time together. I am so thankful to God for the blessings that he has given us all. He is so amazing. I am constantly amazed by his mercy and love. I see it through everything that He gave me. Creation, my wonderful family that is so much fun, and lots more!
Thank you Lord for the wonderful blessing of a family that loves you, and is such an encouragement. I pray that you would continue to help us all walk with you, and give you glory in everything. I love you, and am so thankful for your love and mercy.
From Gabriela (Christina’s cousin)
This week I enjoyed staying at Aunt JoDee’s house I also enjoyed sitting on the warm chair by the window and looking at the ocean. I loved being with Christina and Ryan too. We all had a fun time. I think we all had a fun time. I liked playing rock stair with Ryan. Laila won. The second time I won. Gabriela
From Chloe, age 7, (Christina’s cousin)
I gave Christina a picture of a flower painted with water colors for a present. I painted her a flower because it reminded me of her. The verse that came with her flower was from Psalm 91 which says; “Because you love me, says the Lord, I will rescue you; I will protect you, for you acknowledge My Name. You will call upon me, and I will answer you, With long life will I satisfy you. She loved her present.
A make-believe story from Laila Rose (Christina’s cousin), age 5.
One summer morning, the girl went out and behind the tree, she saw it shaking and it frightened her. It was just her cute little puppy Jack. And Tina(Christina) told her daughter Rose (Laila) to come in for breakfast. And Ryan, Rose’s father, told her to hurry up, because she needed to go to school. And he said he did not want his beautiful daughter to miss out on something fun, and she asked him “what?”. and he (Ryan) said it was a surprise, and they will see if she gets back in time. “That is if you can get done with your chores in time”.
“Oh, yes I will!” Rose said.
When she got home, she got the surprise. She got to go to Ballet lessons. Tina, her mother said ” I hope you got a good grade.” and her father Ryan said “anybody want to go to ice cream?” and they both laughed.
This is from Laila’s mom; Laila is completely in love with Ryan and Christina, she is their biggest fan. So this story is a little indication of that. Looks like she would like to be their daughter :0);
From Aunt Loralee,
Christmas was amazing. It was spiritually rich and relationally rich. I am so thankful that God allowed us to gather in Port Angeles as a family. I never want to take these opportunities for granted. (Bonding and building memories.) What a gift!
Of course, memory building with Chritina usually includes side splitting laughter. Christina, you say you’re an introvert, but you hide it really well. Thanks for being willing to step out of your comfort zone. You are an incredible role model for the younger cousins. With your example we don’t need to worry about shy, introverted, insecure, self-concious little girls. (Flying Pokers for Everyone)
Thank you Christina, Mandy, Lindsey, and Chris for the really cool Choreography ideas. (I dare you to put that video on your web site.)
Thank you Lord, for protecting Christina’s personality through out the trauma of a brain tumor, brain surgery, and radiation, allowing her to spread so much sheer joy and amazement to those around her. She reflects a unique part of Your character. May You continue to be glorified as You help her walk in obedience, embracing the great adventure with her Lord.
From Uncle Russ
Greetings Jo Dee, Doug, and Christina,
Thank You all so much for the wonderful Christmas experience in Port Angeles(Port of Angels). I had never really thought of our visits as being located in such a divinely ordained location, Port of Angels, but I sure get it now. What an incredible picture to think that we are all, by faith, watched over as if angels were protecting us (and they are). For Christina to grow up in such a place where she has been watched-over, fed and nurtured in the truth of God’s Holy Word, by parents, friends, pastors and teachers, is breath from heaven. Far from accidental. May we all be so prepared for the unique demands that are, and have yet to be placed in our paths for the maturing of the Saints. I loved Christina’s picture of her fellow prayer warriors lifting her up with hands of prayer, “prayer surfing” through rough water, and yet, resting in the calm assurance that all is well with her soul. Christina’s countenance was my favorite gift this Christmas. The smiles, the jesting, the calm amidst the storm that pervaded the many moments of joyful sharing. All reminding me that “all things are possible for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”
What does this Christmas mean to me? God is Good and has once again shared His light in the darkness through Christina. I saw His light this week and where it was shining there was no darkness.
p.s. Loralee reminded me the other day that Godspeed might need further clarification. “May the winds of God’s almighty purpose feed your sails, leading you to bold acceptance of His divine intention for your day!”
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