my personal portrait of grace

“Oops… I’m sorry…” This has become my opening line more than I care to admit. The scene, on a sick day, is something like this. I’m convalescing in some reclined position, propped up by pillows in bed or on the couch, without much strength. It’s mid-morning. Dana has awakened long before me, helped the kids start their day, worked around the house, and done her absolute best to keep our room quiet so I can sleep. (Her favorite trick is to surround me with little electric fans so their humming will mask out the sound of the kids preparing for school. It works, but when I actually do wake up I generally feel like I’m sleeping in a manufacturing plant for small electric fans.)

Back to the scene. So, I’ve managed to prop myself up and begin needing. I need water. Gatorade. An orange. A pop-tart. Oatmeal. Saltine crackers. On the list could go—completely random and extremely urgent. Like, I need this… ten minutes ago! On three separate occasions my wonderful wife brings me a drink—in this case chocolate milk. She hands it to me, walks away, and crash… I spill it. I don’t mean I bump a little out onto the carpet. I don’t mean I drip a little onto my shirt. I mean complete and utter motor-skill failure—the whole glass is dumped upside down on something costly. Once on the carpet. Once on the couch. And once on her favorite pillow shams.

This is where the “Oops… I’m sorry…” line comes in. All three times, she stops, turns and I do my best to put on a “poor-puppy-dog look”—as milk drips and flows all around me. Then she laughs. She’s not laughing at me—like ridicule. She’s laughing with me like— “I’m raising a three year old again!” Yesterday she said, “I’m getting you sippy cups for Christmas!” And we both laughed. We decided from now on she will bring me two glasses. The first one she will just dump out all around me, the second one I will drink from.

The good news is I have an awesome excuse to use when random muscular anomalies cause drink glasses to dump on the nearest permanent fixture—”Side effects.”

I share this story, first because it’s funny and it’s a microcosm of our recent home-life—our somewhat humorous adventure with cancer and all its related experiences. But I share it for another reason. Today is our 21st anniversary and I want to honor my modern-day hero in life!

For the past three months I’ve had my very own personal portrait of God’s grace. Every day, by my side, a virtuous woman rises to care for me and her family in exceptional ways. Since the time we received news of cancer, Dana’s heart and life have resonated with God’s grace and strength, and even humor, in ways I could never accurately describe! Her grace defies description. But I wanted to take a moment this morning and share with you what I have seen:

First, she’s radiant! In every way that word can be applied—YES. Dana radiates God’s grace. She radiates joy. She radiates strength and faithfulness and care and beauty and… well… all of it! She is a radiant portrait of God’s strength and power at work in her heart and through her life. Every time I look into her eyes—even from across a room or a crowd of people—she seems aglow with energy and abundance. How she does this in such a deep valley, I do not comprehend. But I can tell you, it isn’t contrived. It isn’t a public show. It’s real. It’s authentic. It’s there in private as well as public. She is truly radiant!

Second, she is excellent in spirit! Since this trial began she has personified a genuine, care-giving heart and faith-filled spirit. She has allowed her laughter and her smile to dominate her emotions. A trial takes a toll on your emotions, but even in the midst of the storm or through tears, Dana has smiled and refused to become hopeless or self-centered. Her smile emanates from a true heart of reliance upon God and it communicates faith, trust, and surrender. Not once have I seen her downcast, doubting, or despairing. When she could justifiably have self-pity or discouragement, she has risen up with determined delight. From the first moment until now, she abounds with joy and resolve. Her smile, her laughter, her faith, and her passion have been indomitable! I love her excellent spirit!

Third, she is an amazing servant! She has made our home a haven in every sense of the word. Every waking moment she’s anticipating needs, planning care, providing medication, handling phone calls to and from doctors, cleaning up messes, fulfilling odd meal requests, and doing anything in her power to make my life with chemo more tolerable. Never have I felt like such a burden to others—especially her. It seems I say, “I’m so sorry” about 100 times a day, but her response is nothing less than eager love! It’s as though she is sitting on a dime waiting to jump into action at my first thought or need. All of this in addition to the regular running of a busy household with three kids who generate a lot of laundry and appetites! She is relentless and exceeding in her heart to serve and desire to care.

She sits with me while I’m having treatments. She stands behind me supportively “cringing” while I’m giving myself an injection. She wakes up before me so she can be ready to help. She stays up later to do the things she couldn’t get done during the day. And from morning to evening she expends herself for those she loves. Believe me… the list goes on and on… and on.

She truly is my personal portrait of God’s grace! On this 21st anniversary, I just needed to try, in jumbled words, to describe what amazes me about Dana. I’m sure her strength and grace are largely due to the faithful prayers of so many who have promised me, “We are praying twice as much for Dana and the kids, just like you asked.” But no doubt a lot of what I see is just the Holy Spirit of God filling and using a surrendered and godly lady.

On more than a few occasions my heart has ached for my wife and kids through this. What’s it like to have a spouse or a dad dealing with this? Big bummer, I’m sure. But with Dana, you honestly wouldn’t know it. To know her, to be married to her, and to have her love and care certainly makes me one of the most blessed people in the world!

Happy 21st Anniversary, Sweetheart! Can I have some chocolate milk???

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5 Responses to my personal portrait of grace

  1. Pat Ash says:

    This was truly a blessing to read! Thank you Mr. and Mrs Schmidt.

  2. Kelli Royal says:

    Oh my goodness, I loved reading this so much… thank you. : ) And, happy 21st anniversary to both of you!

  3. John and Laura Downey says:

    I have always loved seeing you two in action. There is almost magic at times. What a testament you are to a godly love. I will continue to pray many times a day for the both of you. You will never realize, I think, what you are doing to minister to people as you go through this trial. Love you all.
    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!!!!!!

  4. Diane King says:

    Dear Bro. and Mrs. Schmidt
    Happy Anniversary and Merry Christmas! Every time I read your website I am blessed. Your love for each other and most of all for Our Lord touches my heart as you go through this storm in your life. You touch and encourage so many lives all over the country not only in Lancaster. Each day in Benton, Kentucky I pray for you and your family. Thank you for your wonderful testimony of His Amazing Grace in your lives. In a few days I will be there in Lancaster, looking forward to seeing you again.

    In His Love

    Diane King

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