iPod Devotional Series…Turn, Turn, Turn

Welcome to today’s edition of the iPod Devotional Series. For newcomers to the site here is how it works. On the old iPod is a “shuffle songs” feature. You hit the button and the iPod randomly picks a song.  I am writing a blog about whatever song the device selects on that day from the 1,000 plus songs on my iPod. My music list will further confirm my status as a Christian who makes others feel superior. My music goes from Al Green to the Youngbloods. Beatles to U2. Old hymns to modern praise music. Toby Keith to Frank Sinatra. Oldies to the soundtrack from Monty Python’s Spamalot. This could be interesting. So with without further ado the selection today is…

Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds.

The song was the second number one hit for the Byrds and it reached that spot in 1965. Their first song to reach number one? Mr. Tambourine Man. I had actually written an earlier post using today’s song so I am reproducing some of that article with some updates. That post dealt with some of the lessons that Joni and I were learning on her/our cancer journey. A big part of what we learned was the truth of the wise king who wrote the classic lament in a book called Ecclesiastes that would become the basis for the song about 3,000 years later. That has to be the record for delayed release of a song.

There is a time for everything,
       and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
       a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
       a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
       a time to mourn and a time to dance,

I will have to confess I first learned these truths courtesy of  The Byrds in 1965. With lyrics by Solomon (King) and Seeger (Pete) the song Turn! Turn! Turn! was a favorite of mine during my confused journey into adolescence. But the truth of the words of King Solomon beautifully adapted by Seeger and colleagues is resonating with me today. I would suggest that a fair percentage of our journey so far could be wrapped up in these verses.

a time to kill and a time to heal,
       a time to tear down and a time to build,

This summarizes the weird cycle of chemotherapy. The chemo kills the rapidly dividing cells and then the other drugs stimulate white cells to regain strength and heal. I wrote about the odd concept of poison for healing  earlier. But the essence of this rambling is contained in the next verse…

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
       a time to mourn and a time to dance,

That says it all in a nutshell of ancient wisdom. There has been a lot of weeping. We had exhausted our annual Kleenex budget with seven months still left in the financial year. And that has been good. God has giving us the gift of weeping. It is cleansing and therapeutic and men ought to get a little better at that truth. There may be no crying in baseball but there is crying when your wife and best friend is facing cancer. There was mourning. We accepted the reality of her disease. This was a foe that could win. We trusted in a God that has proven trustworthy.

We mourned the loss of blessed routine. Our lives would be turned upside down for a very long time. But perhaps the most overlooked tool is the gift of humor – the time to laugh.

Joni and I have determined to find a time to laugh through this cancer journey. I have purchased a couple of t-shirts for Joni from a company called Cafepress (Not all designs are this site are, shall we say, edifying. Proceed with caution). One has a befuddled little happy face with the words, “I’ve got CHEMO BRAIN…What’s your excuse?”  Other shirts have an in your face attitude that some might consider dark but I believe represents the spirit of hope and trust and resolve. One company is called gotCancer?org and they have a wonderful slogan…”Laughing in Cancer’s Face!” I might modify that to read “Cancer’s Ugly Face” but the point remains the same. A couple of their designs are definitely for those with a sense of humor.


The shirts are available at the gotcancer?org website.

There is a time to laugh…even in the face of cancer. Joni and I laugh about an incident that happened early in the chemo triathlon. Joni’s hair starting coming out and she got the buzz cut on Monday. That same night she went to an event wearing her new wig. A woman came up to her and said, “I love what you’ve done with your hair! What have you done?”

I asked Joni if she had shared  how this admirer could have the same look? It is really very simple. Just have a port surgically installed. Begin chemo. Wait two weeks. Remove remaining hair. Don wig. Voilà! New look!

On the day of Joni’s first chemotherapy we felt some understandable trepidation. The unknown is the worst part of this journey. Then a wonderful brother in Christ showed up unexpectedly at the Oncology office. And there in the midst of our uncertainty we laughed and joked and talked. I am convinced that God used this servant to bring joy to us before the storm. When we made it to the chair Joni’s pulse and blood pressure were pretty normal. I suspect the dose of therapeutic laughter and joy were a big part of that.

It is easy for those in the valley and for those around them to discard the gift of humor. Sometimes we almost consider it a Godly thing to be somber. I would suggest that laughter is one of God’s most precious gifts in the healing process. We have committed to not waste our cancer. But we have also committed to laugh during this trial as we put our trust in the One who bestowed that wonderful gift. There is a time for laughter. Don’t forget to make time for it.

Post-script. We have done pretty well in keeping a sense of humor during this long process. Chemo infusion day became our “date day” at the “Slow Drip Spa”. I claim “sympathetic chemo brain” when I forget something. And back to the wisdom of King Solomon (as covered by the Byrds) we note that there is a time to dance. I am rhythmically challenged but I will ready to dance this upcoming Wednesday. I know my bride will be ready to dance. Joni will conclude the chemotherapy portion of the journey next week. There is still a long road ahead but the chemo will be behind us. Another song comes to mind from Mac Davis who once sang that “he thought happiness was Lubbock, Texas in his rear view mirror”. Sorry Mac (and West Texas friends that Mac offended) but for us “happiness is chemo weekly in our rearview mirror”. We move to the next part of the journey confident and trusting in Him. And still able to laugh.