Sunday, April 3, 2011

525,600 Minutes

When I was in college my friends and I decided to sleep on the street and get front row tickets to see Rent. Ever since the first time I saw the show I have had the lyrics of one of the songs etched in my mind. "Five-hundred twenty-five thousand six-hundred minutes, how do you measure a year?" We just recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis. In some aspects the last year seems somewhat surreal but in other ways it seems more than real as I think about the effects that it has had on my life (physically, emotionally and spiritually), my marriage, my relationships with my family, friends and co-workers. It would be difficult to write all of the things that I learned while going through cancer and quite honestly, I am still unpacking it all and still learning. There are things that hit me at the strangest moments, when I'm getting ready for work in the morning or when I'm fixing dinner in the evening. The other day I took the dogs for a walk and just as I was coming around the corner of our neighborhood I thought, "a year ago I couldn't have done this." I do not mean that in a negative way at all, quite the contrary. It may sound so incredibly strange but a part of me misses last year. There is this indescribable intimacy that can be found during crisis that is found nowhere else in life. It is a perfect blend of God carrying us through something so challenging and us yielding and surrendering because the truth is that we simply cannot do it on our own, we were not made to.

This past Thanksgiving John and I had the privilege of flying down to Fort Myers to spend the holiday with his Mom and Dad. Our flight was very early, around 6am. My husband, not being a morning person, was not looking forward to the flight. But I was. I knew that I was in for one of the coolest things ever - sunrise at 10,000 feet. While I was excited about this, God had something even cooler in mind. Once we got on the plane and got all buckled in, the captain came on the speaker. He said we were being re-routed due to a major thunderstorm and that he was going to do his best to avoid it and fly around it. We got up in the air and the sun began to rise. The colors were amazing. If you know me you know nothing makes me happier than witnessing the awesomeness of God and His creation. I was practically salivating at this point of the flight. Then I saw it off in the distance. I could see the storm. There was a mass of thick, dark clouds that almost appeared to be swirling. It was still a ways off and was below our altitude. We were getting closer and closer. I was almost holding my breath, taking in every second. I knew there was no way I could get any type of photograph of what I was seeing so I was doing my best to memorize every moment. We were almost directly over it now and I saw something I will never forget. A lightning bolt shot straight from the cloud in front of us to the ground. As I was watching this, it dawned on me. There was this incredibly massive storm going on just below us and yet we were flying over it, with not even the slightest bit of turbulence or rough air. I realize this doesn't happen on every flight going through a storm but it happened that day. I couldn't help but equate it to the season of cancer in my life. It was a challenge, a storm, and yet I was able to fly through it feeling no turbulence. There is only one reason for this: Jesus. It had absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him. He carried me. He gave me hope. He gave me strength. He whispered to me that I was beautiful when I didn't recognize the woman staring back at me in the mirror. He provided for my every single need including giving me a loving husband who would take care of me, a family who would show me unending support and love, friends who would call and send cards of support and love that always seemed to come at just the right moment. In Isaiah 46, God speaks and says, "I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." This is not just for me, it is for you - in your circumstance right now, in your hardship, in your storm. This is His promise to you. Sometimes it doesn't feel like He's carrying us. Sometimes all we feel is turbulence and rough air. It is in these moments that we cling to His promise. Is it easy? No. All I can tell you is that 525,600 minutes later I am sitting here, thanking God with everything that I am that He allowed me to have cancer. Only through cancer did I find new depth and new dimension to what it means to be loved by a Holy God.

God continues to speak in Isaiah 46, "With whom will you compare Me or count Me equal?" I love that. There is no one that comes close. There is no one like our God.

"Taste and see that the LORD is good." ~Psalm 34:8


  1. Jenny,
    Great reflection and post - as per usual! I love your story of flying over the storm and how you compared it with your season of going through cancer. The fact that you felt no turbulence during the season speaks to your strength, the fact that you thanked those around you for support (when it seemed to me that many times you were actually supporting us) speaks to your character, and you giving glory to Jesus through it all speaks of your deep faith. I think oftentimes it's natural for prayers to go up to God during a trial, but then in the absence of the praise to follow, we (I) have a tendency to feel I got through the trial on my own. For a spritual story on this to follow your lead: I rode my bike straight north on the Hazel Dell parkway sidewalk last summer and was thrilled at the rapid pace at which I kept. "I'm in great shape - better shape than I thought!" Finally stopping near a pond after 4 miles, I realized one detail: there happened to be a fairly good wind blowing behind me from the south which I hadn't felt until I stopped. Now I knew the more accurate reason for my pace, it was not my "great shape," it was due to a steady, constant unseen movement which had propelled me. My heart reminded me "THAT is what His Spirit is like, Sam."
    In contrast to a view in which you could say "I did this all myself," you point to God, and His love shown by His Son and the love given by your husband, family, and friends. Perhaps love, then, is the best way to "measure, measure a year."

  2. Hi Jenny,

    This is Melissa, from COAT. Jeanette directed me to your blog and I just wanted to tell you I loved this entry! Thanks for your honesty and for sharing what you learned. I'm so thankful for how God blessed you throughout your trial with cancer and also for how He has healed and strengthened you.
    Blessings and love,
    Melissa (

  3. Jenny, how blessed I have been through your journey. I know the Lord has you in His hands and there is no stronger, safer, and healthier place to be. Continued prayers for you and John ~

  4. Jenny--
    still (and even more) the most beautiful thirty-year old I've ever known.

    xoxo aunt Lisa