Jan Woodard

Jan Woodard will speak Saturday at Blue Spruce Park.

Stitched around the edges of a glittering blue and white quilt is Isaiah 41:10 — Fear not, for I am with you, I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (NIV)

On gray-sky mornings I need this.

To keep me warm.

To keep my mind in the right place.

To remind me blue skies will return.

Quilting is a traditional fiber art. This one is a work of love spelled out in stitches. The wonder is, the woman who made it for me was responding to the request of a friend. She didn’t even know my name.

She took her time, resources and creativity to create a bright pattern as if she knew I would need it as we trudge through the darkest time of the year.

o o o

My new friend Judy said the Spirit encouraged her to visit a woman with an infected limb who lived in a place hostile to faith.

Judy told her God cares about her but hesitated to pray for healing — what if God failed to answer?

Yet pray she did, pushing aside her worries, in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s nudge.

Fear not.

The following day the woman called, excited. Her wound started healing the moment Judy prayed. God touched others parts of her life, too, because Judy gathered the courage to pray.

When she spoke, one of Judy’s comments lingered with me — the Spirit gives her strength to do her job, be a mom and wife, and overcome fatigue.

Fatigue. My constant companion.

I hug my homemade quilt. It tells me God is my strength.

What does this mean? Will God help me overcome fatigue, like He helps Judy?

Well, I won’t know if I don’t pray.

My oral chemotherapy, combined with other meds, contrive to keep me bone weary. Right now my lids are heavy, calling me to sleep. It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

But listen to this: my meds are working synergistically with prayer, contemplation, exercise, diet and other practices to stop the creation of new lesions and prevent the ones present from spreading.

This is a big deal. Perhaps we’ve tricked cancer, diminished its horrific appetite, depleted its vigor.

I don’t have pain like some people with cancer because there’s no pressure on nerves from hungry cancer cells.

No bones are cracking from ballooning tumors.

This is definitely worth feeling a little fatigue, a side effect of chemo drugs. Am I overly optimistic?

Maybe, but smiling is in my DNA. It fits me better than moaning through life.

There’s a reason Judy’s comment spoke directly into my heart.

I think God wants me to trust my fatigue to Him.

To release it to His hands.

To rename it — to think in terms of recharging my batteries, to plug into my Source. Remember the little engine that could? Instead of repeating “I think I can!” I’m repeating the verse that borders my quilt.

Fear not.

The angels sang it, and still do. Do I hear them?

I reach for my quilt to read the second phrase.

For I am with you.

I’m never, ever alone.

I am your God.

God takes our intimacy seriously. Do I?

I will strengthen you.

That’s what I need to keep my engine going, Lord.

I will help you.

God helped and healed a young woman in an oppressive nation who didn’t even know Him. He guided another to make a quilt for a stranger. Why would I doubt He’s helping me?

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

God’s strong hand reaches down and helps me up, strengthening me to do what He calls me to do.

What a wonderful God we have.

I’m going to nap now, knowing God’s in charge.

Covering myself with my blue-and-white quilt, I shut my eyes …

And then another wily foe sneaks in, as often happens when I attempt to snooze, mid-afternoon.

Anxiety gnaws at my innards, spreading cold apprehension.

As if a pump is spraying acid throughout my abdomen.

My eyes are too heavy to open but I practice measured breathing, repeating my breath prayer:

God is … (Inhale, deliberately).

God is … (Exhale, slowly.)

My torso swells and relaxes, gentle as waves in Lewes Bay last summer, washing away the jitters’ power to disrupt my rest.

God is …

The phone rings. My eyes slide open. I slept an hour and a half.

A wasted afternoon? Or a pause to renew this grandma-on-the-go.

I already have more energy after a simple step — I’ve taken a multi-vitamin daily since beginning this column a week ago. Heaven’s Health Plan includes practical things I can do, while trusting God’s angels — some with thread and needle — are working in our midst.

All will be well.