Saturday, May 2, 2009

Update on Ginger

Every month or so, I send out an update email on my wife, Ginger, to a hundred or so friends. Many readers of this blog are aware that Ginger was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in 2007. Since many readers here do not receive those emails, I have chosen to include today's update here:

Family and Friends,

Many of you have thanked me for including photos of Ginger in these update messages — and some of you even write back to complain when I don't! So, over Ginger's voiced objections, I'll continue to post pictures, and below are two more. They were taken at our family's Resurrection Day celebration dinner on April 12. Tim, Mandy, Kaleb and Micah joined in with the rest of us for a candle light reenactment of the story of Jesus: Incarnation to Ascension and beyond! This has been a tradition in our family for many years now. After reading Surprised by Hope, by N.T. Wright, I actually re-choreographed the "end of the story" this year. You'll have to read the book if you're curious about that. Wright's book also helps set into focus the power and significance of the Resurrection on our lives today, and our lives to come. I am encouraged, (surprised by hope!?!) by God's profound and wonderful intentions for Ginger, and for all of us. Cancer is a small thing when we consider the scale of God's redemptive work in progress!

Still, Ginger's cancer is an every day reality now, and occupies our thoughts much of the time. A friend of a friend, who was diagnosed with the same cancer a year before Ginger, and who went through the same courses of treatment, passed away last week; his funeral is today. That news is sobering. But we know that both in medicine, and in God's economy, Ginger is not bound to the same time-table. We continue to ask boldly for many years to come.

I may have shared this with some of you before: When asked, "what is your favorite age", most people will respond "30" or maybe "25" or "16". As long as I've known her, Ginger's answer has always been "65". Next time you see her, you can ask her why. I have asked God, specifically, that Ginger would experience her favorite age, and more! Join me!

We had lunch this week with a friend (Wayne Shenk) who makes frequent trips to the West African nations of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Both Luke and Charis have been in Liberia with him at different times. He related how, on a trip earlier this year, some of the people there asked about "Charis's mom". Wayne tells me that they pray for Ginger three times or so every week (and West African prayer meetings leave many of our North American prayer meetings looking a bit insipid, frankly). These brothers and sisters, along with our friends in Cambodia, Southeast Africa, and many of you who assure us you pray for Ginger regularly, we are truly blessed with around-the-globe prayer support. 

Despite a favorite catchphrase of some, prayer does not "move the hand of God". That phrase always leaves me wondering if God suffers from temporal paralysis! Prayer does not guarantee our desired results. Rather, prayer is our invitation for God to intervene in our affairs ... something he is otherwise reticent to do. And when we pray, it opens the door for God's highest and best will to be accomplished, something that is not otherwise assured. Thus it is that Jesus instructs us to pray "your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." And that is our continuing prayer for Ginger!

Ginger's next scheduled chemotherapy is Monday. Except for the expected three or four days following chemo, Ginger continues to feel well and shows no sign of slowing down. As I type this, she is in the kitchen making bread and other baked goods. Yum! 

Thank you for all your caring and your prayers.


At the end of our Resurrection Day candlelight story, all of our individual candles, having been lit earlier, are joined at the center of our table (Earth) by the candles representing God — Father, Son and Spirit. This represents the re-making of Earth, and of all Creation! The New Heavens and the New Earth, joined at last; the final destination of and fulfillment of Resurrection! The picture of Ginger was taken in the glow of this conjoined light, and it speaks powerfully to me of the hope which is ours ... the very good news of Resurrection Day! 


Tom said...

Thanks for the update, Cliff. I have wondered how Ginger is doing and wish the best for her, you, and your family. It's a lot to go through. Hang in, especially during the start of this week.

Cliff Martin said...

Thank you, Tom.

Rich G. said...


I cannot really imagine the mix of emotions you two are going through. I see one possible blessing: The opportunity to deal with mortality on a close, personal level. How many people put that off until too late, and step into the Unknown Eternity unprepared? Whether her time here will be long or short, I hereby ask God that it be productive in His eyes.

Please tell Ginger I would like to share you'alls company at least once 'on this side', so to speak.

Mike Beidler said...


My prayers are with you and Ginger. A friend of mine was diagnosed with colon cancer last month and just underwent surgery to remove the cancerous portion. Another friend has had a number of polyps removed over the last several years. Seems like the older I get, the more common these stories become.

Keep the faith, Cliff!

Cliff Martin said...

Thank you, Mike.

RBH said...

Ouch. I missed this earlier. Many good thoughts for both Ginger and you, Cliff. I wish her (and you) well.