A Wonderful Update – I Thought I Was Tough

(The most read post in the humble ramblings history is an article based on Craig Morton’s song “I Thought I Was Tough”. The song perfectly chronicled my bride’s battle with breast cancer. This weekend we quietly celebrated her third year as a “survivor”. Here is that original article with some updates.)

I am not a crier. So it was a bit out of character when the tears started flowing as I drove through the canyon in downtown Dallas. I blame Lindsay for this event. Lindsay is my bride’s cousin who moved to Texas. She already loved country music so that saved us some time in not having to indoctrinate her. We love having her in Texas but she is going to have to stop introducing me to songs that make driving dangerous.

Lindsay told us about a song that we just had to hear. So I downloaded it to the trusty iPod and fired it up as I drove to work yesterday. The song is called Tough and it is performed by Craig Morgan. If you know much about our past year you will quickly see why this song had the Old Yeller/Field of Dreams effect on the eyeballs. The lyrics start innocently enough…

She’s in the kitchen at the crack of dawn
Bacon’s on, coffee’s strong
Kids running wild, taking off their clothes
If she’s a nervous wreck, well it never shows
Takes one to football and one to dance
Hits the Y for aerobics class
Drops by the bank, stops at the store
Has on a smile when I walk through the door
The last to go to bed, she’ll be the first one up
And I thought I was tough


She’s strong, pushes on, can’t slow her down
She can take anything life dishes out
There was a time
Back before she was mine
When I thought I was tough

That made me smile as I remembered the days when Joni juggled three active boys through school, baseball, basketball and forced Cotillion dance lessons. I was a little too absent as I carved out my career. I finally realized how tough she really was to raise three wonderful sons while her husband traveled around the country and world. I appreciated how tough she was while sacrificing weekends with our friends because sports teams insist on playing on the weekends and sports television was my job. So a mixture of fond memories and some regrets filled my mind when I got ambushed by the next verse.

We sat there five years ago
The doctors let us know the tests showed
She’d have to fight to live, I broke down and cried
She held me and said it’s gonna be alright
She wore that wig to church
Pink ribbon pinned there on her shirt
No room for fear, full of faith
Hands held high, singing Amazing Grace
Never once complained, refusing to give up
And I thought I was tough

I am not ashamed to admit that those words turned on the waterworks. That is my bride and that has been her journey. She has been full of faith from diagnosis day till this moment. No room for fear because she believes that faith in God casts out fear as you rest in His Sovereign hand. I have probably complained more about my knees aching than she has about cancer. And she has refused to give up because she wants to live and serve the Lord. If I thought I was tough that misguided notion fell by the wayside as I watched Joni battle cancer with the courage that a young shepherd boy challenged a Philistine giant. Now we have passed the three year mark, the scans have been clear and the treatments are done.

How can I thank all of you who have prayed so faithfully over the past three years? Many of you have prayed so diligently and I don’t even know you. We may never meet this side of eternity. Yet you have cared enough to pray for us throughout this long journey. Amazing. Joni has long since retired the wig. I kid her that she looks completely B.C. (before cancer). 

IMG_0195 Joni looking gorgeous with Hair 2.0.

Joni’s strength and dignity throughout this trial humbled me. There was a time before she was mine when I thought I was tough. No more. But there is one other thing I learned during this difficult journey. I remembered Paul’s words to the church at Philippi.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Most of us quit quoting Paul at that point. We lecture about being mature in the faith and being content. We rightly point out that our dependence is on Christ. But we forget a couple of key points. Paul says he has “learned” these truths. It was a process for him as well. And we forget that Paul also needed the encouragement and prayers of the body of Christ to help him trust these truths.

Yet it was good of you to share in my (our) troubles.  (Philippians 4)

Thank you. It really was good of you to share in our troubles. And we are so grateful and humbled to have so many of you as a part of our community of faith.