~~Today is my great niece, Kaelyn's birthday. She's six. Some of you may have been following her or my reports on her on Facebook. But in case you haven't, here's a bit of her story. Last year before Christmas she got sick several times and couldn't seem to get completely better. They thought it was the flu and/or other common maladies that all kids have. But then the week before Christmas on the day the family was planning to start home for a Christmas celebration with the extended family, a lump came up under her neck. A visit to the doctor just to make sure it wasn't anything serious turned into three months at St. Jude's Hospital after a diagnosis of acute leukemia. They didn't get to go home. They didn't get to do anything except go straight to St. Jude's. Suddenly nothing was as important as getting this little girl the best treatment possible. And thank God for Danny Thomas and his vision of curing all young people of cancer with the best possible treatment center in the world. The treatments are horrendous but the care has been superior. She has now entered her second phase of treatment. The cancer is in remission and the battle is now on to eradicate it from her body forever. For two years she will have to undergo treatments every few weeks. For two years any time she so much as runs a fever, she'll have to go to the hospital. For forever she will float along on the thousands of prayers that have been offered up for her because of many churches taking her and her family into their hearts and onto their prayer lists and for all the friends and strangers who have read about her on Facebook and have prayed for healing for her. And today she's six and getting to eat pizza and birthday cake because her blood tests show her counts are up.
~~Some of you may have fought similar battles in your families for those you loved as you prayed for their healing. Sometimes that healing comes and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes accidents steal our loved ones before their time. We're tough and fragile at the same time. And we're not guaranteed tomorrow.
~~Not long ago on a long ride home from somewhere I tuned into a country station on the radio. A song came on where the singer was saying in his next thirty years he'd do things different. He'd live better, kick all his bad habits, love his family and more or less be a model citizen. I don't remember exactly what he planned, but the lyric "my next thirty years" caught my attention because none of us knows if we'll have a next thirty years. We hope so. We want to look that far in the future and still imagine breathing. But we don't know. We expect to. That's why I'm working hard to finish my current book - because I fully expect to be here on July 1 when I have promised to have the book finished. If we didn't expect tomorrow we wouldn't have much motivation for a lot of the chores or work we are doing today.
~~But I got to thinking about my next thirty years and you know what? If I make it that long I hope I'll be able to keep putting words together. Keep making reading friends. At least for part of those thirty years. I look back at the last thirty years and wonder how they could have passed so quickly. Some of the things I did during those years I might like to have a do-over, but there are no do-overs in life. There are only the next thirty years or the next thirty days or the next thirty minutes.
~~I'm glad today we can say Happy Birthday to Kaelyn. She should have many more than thirty years ahead of her now, thanks to the advances in cancer treatment and her wonderful dedicated doctors and nurses. But today she's six and getting to blow out those six candles and make a wish. I'm so thankful for that.
~~How do you feel about your next thirty years? What would you like to write in your journal thirty years from now? Whatever it is, I hope it will be joyful. Maybe I'll look back in my journal to thirty years ago and see what I was expecting in the next thirty years. I published my first book 32 years ago.