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The fourth and final novel about the trials and joys of the residents of Cedar Circle. Sylvia Bryan has been feeling weak and tired, but is shocked when her internist finds a malignant lump in her breast. She and her husband can’t understand why God is allowing cancer to attack at a time when their missionary work is going so well. As Sylvia undergoes a mastectomy and chemotherapy, the rest of the neighbors pull together to support her, even while coping with the stress of their own lives. Steve and Cathy ...
The fourth and final novel about the trials and joys of the residents of Cedar Circle. Sylvia Bryan has been feeling weak and tired, but is shocked when her internist finds a malignant lump in her breast. She and her husband can’t understand why God is allowing cancer to attack at a time when their missionary work is going so well. As Sylvia undergoes a mastectomy and chemotherapy, the rest of the neighbors pull together to support her, even while coping with the stress of their own lives. Steve and Cathy experience problems with their blended family. Tory and Barry struggle to raise their Down Syndrome child. Brenda’s husband, David, who is not a believer, watches from the sidelines. Season of Blessing realistically portrays the all-too-common crises of both health and faith. How will God answer prayer? What will this latest trial do to their friendships? Terri Blackstock and Beverly LaHaye skillfully weave together the story of the lives of a group of neighbors who experience the overcoming power of Christ’s love.
But Harry had insisted on a complete physical because of her fatigue and weakness, and had sent her home from the mission field to undergo a battery of tests that befitted a woman of her age. She had been insulted by that.
"I hope I don't have to remind you that you're a man of my age," she told him, "so you don't have to go treating me like I'm over-the-hill at fifty-four."
Harry had bristled. "I'm just saying that there are things you're at greater risk for, and I want to rule all of them out. You're not well, Sylvia. Something's wrong."
She'd had to defer to him, because deep down she'd been concerned about her condition, as well. It wasn't like her to be so tired. She had chalked it up to the brutal August heat in Nicaragua, but she'd weathered last summer there without ahitch. For most of her life she'd had an endless supply of energy. Now she had trouble making it to noon without having to lie down.
So he'd sent her home to Breezewood, Tennessee, to see an internist at the hospital where he'd practiced as a cardiologist for most of his life. After just a few tests, he'd diagnosed her with a bad case of anemia, which explained her condition.
But then he'd gone too far and found a lump in her breast.
She'd gone for a mammogram then, certain that the lump was nothing more than a swollen gland.
The radiologist had asked to see her in his office.
Jim Montgomery was one of Harry's roommates in medical school, and he came into the room holding her film. He'd always had an annoying way of pleating his brows and looking deeply concerned, whether he really was or not. He wore that expression now as he quietly took his seat behind his desk and clipped the mammogram film onto the light box behind him.
Sylvia wasn't in the mood for theatrics. "Okay, Jim. I know you want to be thorough and everything for Harry's sake, but my problem has already been diagnosed. I'm badly anemic, which explains all my fatigue. So you can relax and quit looking for some terminal disease."
Jim turned on the light box and studied the breast on the film. With his pencil, he pointed to a white area. "Sylvia, you have a suspicious mass in your left breast."
Sylvia stiffened. "What does that mean ... 'a suspicious mass'?"
"It means that there's a tumor there. It's about three centimeters. Right here in the upper outer aspect of your left breast." He made an imaginary circle over the film with his pencil.
Sylvia got up and moved closer to the film, staring at the offensive blob. She studied it objectively, as if looking at some other woman's X ray. It couldn't be hers. Wouldn't she have known if something that ominous lay hidden in her breast tissue? "Are you sure you didn't get my film mixed up with someone else's?"
"Of course I'm sure." He tipped his head back and studied the mass through the bottom of his glasses. "Sylvia, do you do self breast exams?"
She felt as if she'd been caught neglecting her homework. "Well, I used to try. But mine are pretty dense, and I always felt lumps that turned out to be nothing. I finally gave it up."
"Not a good idea. Especially with your history."
She knew he was right. Her mother had died of breast cancer when Sylvia was twenty-four. She should have known better than to neglect those self-exams. But she had been so busy for the last couple of years, and hadn't had that much time to think about herself.
"Well, I have tried to have mammograms every year since I turned forty ..." Her voice trailed off. "Except for the last couple of years when I've been out of the country."
"Well, it seems that the last couple of years were what really mattered."
She looked at him, trying to read the frown on his face. "But it's okay, isn't it? You can tell if it looks malignant ..."
He looked down at her chart and made a notation. "You need to get a biopsy tomorrow, if possible."
The fact that he'd averted his eyes alarmed her. "You just evaded my question, Jim. And you know Harry is going to want to know. Does it look malignant to you or not?"
He leaned back in his chair, crossing his hands over his stomach. The frown wrinkling his brow didn't look quite so melodramatic now.
She set her mouth. "Be straight with me, Jim. You see these things all the time. I want the truth."
"All right, Sylvia." He sighed and took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes. "It does have the characteristics of a malignancy."
For a moment she just stood there, wishing she hadn't pressed the issue. Malignancy meant cancer, and cancer meant surgery, and then chemotherapy and radiation and her hair falling out and pain and depression and hospice care and death.
Her mouth went dry, and she wished she'd brought her bottled water in from the car. She wondered what time it was. She had to get to the cleaners before it closed.
Her hands felt like ice, so she slid them into the pockets of her blazer to warm them. "Come on, Jim. I don't have cancer. I've been fired, that's all, and they already figured out it's from anemia. There is no possibility that I have breast cancer. None. Zilch."
"Sylvia, you have to get this biopsied as soon as possible."
"Okay." She looked down at her blazer and dusted a piece of lint off. "Fine. I'll get the biopsy, but I'm not worried about it at all."
"Good." But he still wore the frown that said it wasn't good. He turned and jerked the film out of the light box. "And you're probably right. But if it is cancer, you may have detected it early enough that you'll have an excellent prognosis."
As Sylvia drove home, she realized that, along with early detection, she hated the word prognosis. It was not a word she'd ever expected to have uttered about her own body. This was just a minor inconvenience, she thought. She did not have time to be sick. The Lord knew how hard she worked for him in Nicaragua, and how much the children in the orphanage there needed her. They were probably already grieving her absence.
The Lord surely wouldn't cut her work off when she'd been bearing so much fruit. He cut off barren branches and pruned those who needed to bear more. But when she spent her life giving and serving, wouldn't he want her work to continue?
So she determined to push the news out of her mind until she'd actually had the biopsy. She knew in her heart that the mass was benign.
And if the biopsy proved her wrong, she would deal with it then.
"No fair! I wasn't looking."
He flung it across the prop and hit Leah across the forehead. She slung it at Rachel, her twin sister, leaving a smudge of paint across her cheek. Rachel tossed it at Joseph.
Preoccupied, twelve-year-old Joseph hardly noticed. He stood in front of his father, watching him sand the steering wheel that would go inside the car. "It seems like an awful lot of work to go to, Dad, if you're not even going to come to church and watch the play Wednesday night."
Brenda's smile faded, and she looked at her husband. David had that tight, shut-down look that he got whenever the subject of church came up.
"I don't mind."
"But, Dad, I'm the star. I play the Good Samaritan who drives into town in his limousine and helps the guy who got mugged. How can you not want to see that?"
David cleared his throat. A cool breeze blew through their yard, ruffling his wavy red hair, but he still had a thin sheen of sweat above his lip. "Son, you know how I feel about church."
"I know, Dad, but it's not like something terrible will happen to you if you come."
"I'm not a hypocrite."
"But I want you to see me. I've practiced so hard. And I'm good, aren't I, Mom?"
Brenda knew better than to get involved, but she couldn't let her child down. "He is good, David."
"It's not that he's good." Fourteen-year-old Leah slopped more paint on her shorts and bare legs than she did on the car. "It's just that he's such a ham. He's a terrible show-off."
"I am not."
"Are too." Rachel came to sit beside Leah. "I thought they were going to have to pry that microphone out of your hand the other night at rehearsal. They wanted you to sing one verse, but you sang three."
Joseph snickered. "Hey, I felt moved by the Holy Spirit, okay?"
Rachel laughed. "Yeah, moved to stand in the limelight just a little longer."
"Okay, guys." Brenda got up and went to the other paint can sitting on the picnic table. "Leave Joseph alone. He's a talented performer, which is why he was chosen to play the Good Samaritan."
Joseph struck a pose. "And Dad isn't even going to see."
"Enough, Joseph." David sanded the steering wheel, blew the sawdust off.
Joseph shrugged and grabbed a paintbrush and stuck it in the black paint.
Brenda winced as he dripped it across the lawn. "This paint's for the windows, Joseph, and we might not have enough. Be careful not to let it drip."
"I won't." With great care, he began to outline the windows. "But really, Dad. I know you don't want to come to church because you don't believe in Jesus, but I don't see why you couldn't just fake it every now and then."
David sanded harder. "I don't fake things, Joseph. You don't fake your feelings just to please other people."
"But why don't you believe? I mean, it's just so obvious to me."
David shot Brenda a look. "Joseph, could we drop it?"
"But why, Dad? You always say that we should ask questions when we don't understand."
Daniel turned to see his father's reaction. Rachel and Leah stopped painting. Brenda said a silent prayer that their son's probing would make David think. If anyone in the family could get away with questions like these, Joseph could.
David set the steering wheel down. He looked at Joseph, then at Leah, Rachel, and Daniel.
"Okay, here's the thing." He sat down on the bench and leaned his elbows on his knees. "Your mother is a believer, and I'm not. I'm a facts kind of guy. She's more ... spiritual. Ever since she became a Christian a few years into our marriage, I've agreed that she can raise you guys in church. I figure if she's wrong, it doesn't hurt anything. And you guys seem to like it. But ever since I was a kid, I've hated church. It's just a personal thing."
That didn't satisfy Joseph. "But you wouldn't hate our church. It's a good church."
"I'm sure it is."
Brenda knew that David would never tell them that he'd been the son of a preacher who had run off with the church organist, or how the church had thrown his mother and him out of the parsonage-leaving them homeless-in order to take a moral stand against the divorce that resulted. He would never tell the children how the church members had insisted that he was demon-possessed when his anger about his broken family surfaced. His father had died with a shipwrecked faith, and just five years ago, his mother died without ever forgiving his father-or the church.
Brenda didn't blame David for being bitter about the church.
"But, Dad, if you're a facts man, then how come you can't see the true facts? It wasn't so long ago that I was dying, and Jesus healed me. Now I'm perfect," Joseph said.
"Perfect?" Leah grunted. "Get real."
"I mean my body is perfect. I'm healthy and normal, except for all the medicine I have to take. But I was dying, Dad. God didn't have to give me a heart transplant, but he did."
David met Brenda's eyes again. She knew Joseph had put him in a tight spot. They had agreed that he would never denigrate the children's belief in God. But how could he defend his own beliefs without doing that?
"Isn't that proof, Dad?" Joseph demanded.
David swallowed. "To some people it is."
"But not to you?" He went back to the paint can and got more paint on his brush. "Dad, it's like this. You know how I was dying, and I couldn't be healed without a heart transplant? Somebody had to die so I could live?"
"Well, that's a lot like what happened with God. We were all dying, and we had no hope. So Jesus came and died in our place, so that we could have a new heart and a new spirit. So that we could live."
"I know how it works, Joseph." David's aggravation shone clearly on his face.
"But how could you not want to live?"
David gazed down at his son. "I think I am living, son. Don't we have a good life?"
"Well, yeah, but it's not just this life that you have to consider."
Brenda suppressed her smile and caught a black drip cutting down through the white paint. She doubted David had ever had the gospel presented to him in such a clear way. She knew that seeds had been sown, whether they took root or not.
Joseph was getting sloppier with his painting, but Brenda didn't dare interrupt. His words to his father hit dead center.
David reached out and tousled Joseph's hair. "I appreciate your concern, son. I really do. And I'm proud of you for being able to make your case that way. Someday you'll probably be a lawyer. If I ever have to face a judge, it's you I'd want speaking for me."
Joseph's face betrayed his sorrow as he looked up at his father. "When you face the Judge, Dad, I won't be with you. You'll have to answer him for yourself."
Tory Sullivan mouthed the words with Melissa, the physical therapist, as she moved Hannah's legs in an effort to tone her weak muscles. The small woman sitting on the classroom floor had become like a member of their family, ever since Hannah had been born with Down's Syndrome. Now, at twenty-two months, the child was just beginning to make the effort to stand on her own. Watching the other Down's babies at the Breezewood Development Center had been an encouragement to Tory, reminding her that these children did develop, even if they did it slowly.
But the struggle didn't get easier for Tory. A former Miss Tennessee, she had always expected near perfection from herself and her family. Her home was immaculate and decorated like something out of House and Garden. Brittany, her ten-year-old, was into frills and curls, ribbons and lace, just as Tory had been at her age.
Excerpted from Season of Blessing by Beverly LaHaye Terri Blackstock Copyright © 2002 by Beverly LaHaye and Terri Blackstock
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted June 26, 2014
I read this whole series and loved every book and couldn't wait to get to the next one! I found them to touch on a lot of situations in our society today
and how, as Christians, we can overcome or at least accept what comes our way.
Posted August 19, 2012