Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Nine Years...

Today marks an incredibly special day in the life of of our family.  It started off as a typical day, but it ended in what, at the same time, seemed like devastation.

DH and I had just finished up a very busy Christmas season as youth pastors. We had enjoyed the Christmas holiday with his family, but I remember he and I talking that evening about being worried about a lump he had found. I remember when he told me it didn't really hurt that a red flag went off in my head, except he was only in his 20's, so it seemed kind of ridiculous to be worried about it being something serious, so I tried to dismiss the idea. And then we both went straight from Christmas festivities to the annual state youth evangelism conference. DH took our youth group, and I was in charge of backstage stuff for the event, so I had to stay in Springfield, IL at his parents' while DH went back and forth with the youth group.  I remember discussing things again with him over the phone one evening, and we decided he should probably go see the doctor on Friday, just to be safe, since it was going to be a long holiday weekend. I had to work that day, and we had plans to go on a "Christmas date" with friends to dinner after I got off, so to save gas money (we lived 45 minutes away from my job), DH decided to just drop me off at work and then go to the doctor, and then just hang out in Springfield until I got off. Our plans were quickly derailed though...

He went from the doctor, to the hospital, into an operating room, in a matter of just hours. I remember calling him on my morning break to check in on what the doctor had to say, and that's when I learned they were sending him to the hospital for a scan or something. I felt my heart skip a beat, but I remember he assured me they were just trying to be cautious. Next thing I know, I'm finding out he's got to have surgery...and I have no car to get to him, and my job is refusing to let me leave because there was no "undertime" available right before another holiday. I got in touch with DH's mom to come pick me up, and I just took the point for leaving work (if you got so many points, you got fired.) but I didn't get to the hospital until they had just wheeled DH off into surgery. I was a MESS!  I felt like I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I remember my sweet mentor-friend praying for me that God would prepare my heart to rejoice or to grieve.  I remembered the tears I had cried just days before when I discovered that, yet again, we were not pregnant, and now wondering if we would ever be able to have a child...and yet at that point, all I wanted was for my husband to be okay.

But, in the midst of the tears, the worry, and the confusion, Jesus was there. He was present in so very many ways, reminding me of the control He had of what seemed like a very OUT of control situation. You see, since all of this happened on a holiday weekend, there weren't really any surgeries scheduled, so the schedule was very open. And, the doctor who "happened" to be on call at the hospital that day also just "happened" to be the very best. If things hadn't all played out when they did, we would have been looking at a wait time to get in just to see a doctor about the issue, and then waiting to schedule surgery. But instead, it all happened that day, and it was truly a huge deal that it did, because they literally removed the tumor RIGHT before it had spread anywhere else as far as the surgeon could tell. The news was not one we wanted to hear: it was almost certainly cancer. But the outlook was as positive as it could be at that moment: it looked like they were able to get it all.

If I close my eyes, I can immediately transport myself back to those hospital halls and that waiting room where I received the news from the surgeon. I can remember walking in to see my husband for the first time after surgery. I can remember the grief in my heart, the worry in my soul, and the overwhelming love I had for this amazing man. At that moment, nothing else mattered--none of the disappointment of our fertility struggle even--but that he was there with me.

The next several weeks were quite stressful. I can remember laying on the floor, crying harder than I ever had before, banging my fists to the ground and up in the air, questioning why God had allowed this to happen, questioning what this meant for us, and being so angry. I remember going to church and them singing, "Victory in Jesus," and being unable to participate, because I truly felt no victory in my life at that moment. But you know what? God didn't punish me for my questions, or chastise me for my attitude. Instead, He just kept showing up and loving me and assuring me that He indeed was not caught off guard by all of this, He already had a plan for it all, and since I couldn't walk the path on my own, He reminded me that He would just carry me through it instead. You see, my Jesus' faithfulness to me has no bearing on my faithfulness to Him; His works have nothing to do with what I bring to the table; His plans are not thwarted when my flesh gets in the way because He is God, He is able, and He is bigger than my doubts, confusion, and mistrust. He didn't have to prove that to me, but He did, and I was forever changed because of that. During that season in our lives, DH and I learned we had to just cling to one another, being held together by the One who had brought us together: our Lord. It was the darkest road we had traveled together, but it brought about such a blessing, because we grew closer to one another and to Jesus in the whole process, so we wouldn't trade it all for anything. God doesn't always answer our prayers how we personally would hope for Him to, but He always answers them in the best way, and we praise Him that in this case, He allowed DH to be okay...

So how do we choose to celebrate this particular anniversary?  Well, in a few days, we're having a bit of a party to commemorate it all, but today, DH is taking his oldest on a daddy-daughter date. It wasn't purposely planned for this day. In fact, it's been delayed a week because Lucy was sick last week when they were supposed to go. But I can't think of a better day for DH to spend with our Lucy. You see, after all was said and done with DH's surgery and diagnosis, we were told it would be very difficult if not impossible for us to have children on our own, but just a few months after DH's surgery, we would find out that we were expecting our first miracle: Lucy Shea. And now, here we are, nine years later, with this amazing family that God has so lovingly and graciously blessed us with.

I'm not sure where you are at personally as you enter into this new year. Maybe you've received news that has left you in shock and confusion; maybe the desires of your heart have yet to be fulfilled and you find yourself feeling hopeless and doubting God's promises; or maybe you're eagerly anticipating all God has planned for you in 2016...whatever the case, let me encourage you keep praising Him through the storm, keep clinging to Him through the confusion, and when you just can't put another foot in front of the other, let Him CARRY you! We were never promised an easy road, but we were promised a Guide, a Comforter, and a victorious ending! God truly is SO good, even when life is not, so please join me in praising Him today, for the storms, for the sun, and for all of the moments in-between.

Happy New Year, my friends!

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