A Gift

I have to apologize for not writing in a while. My life recently has been a whirlwind of emotions, mostly really good. I could easily compare it to a roller coaster. The last couple months have been extremely fun and exhilarating, but I feel like I am also trying to cling to God’s hand with anxiousness and fear and hope all at the same time.  My life is not incredibly busy, although running after my daughter has become a full time job, but my emotions and thoughts run me exhausted most days.

I will try and explain as best as I can 🙂

Meeting Tyler and getting to know him and falling in love with him has been a joyous and unexpected surprise. And I know not everything in my life is orchestrated by God, but I am completely convinced that God had this one planned out. I completely give God all the credit. Honestly, there were too many answered prayers to make me believe otherwise. Lets just say that Tyler brings me an incredible amount of joy, and every time he shows me love I am reminded of the love that God also has for me.

With all this new joy and love in my life also comes unexpected pain and sadness. Its like I have opened myself up to feel all the good, but I also feel everything else as well. Less then a year ago, Chris was my first and really my only. I married my high school sweetheart. And our relationship grew to be more mature based on the love and respect God intended for a husband and wife.  Now, in my new relationship, I know and feel love for another and it’s good and wonderful, but it also reminds me of the love I had for Chris and his love for me as well. This is a very good thing. Chris and Tyler share several similar qualities, and Tyler’s character often reminds me of Chris’s. I of course wouldn’t want it any other way, its why I haven’t looked back; but sometimes those qualities remind me of Chris, and I can’t help but miss him.

The only thing that is getting me through is sharing my thoughts and feelings to those who I trust, telling my story to friends or sometimes people who I just met for the first time, and realizing my struggle to a God who understands. About a week ago my good friend Bethany and I hosted a Christmas party at Dégagé Ministries in downtown Grand Rapids. Close to 200 men and women who, for whatever reason, have found themselves without a home, came to our Christmas party. I was able to catch up with some old friends who we knew from a couple years ago when we served at Heartside Park. I was also able to talk to several people I had never met before. One gentleman called me over to talk as I was passing by. He was an older African American who was missing most of his teeth but still had quite a smile. He started asking me several questions wanting to get to know me, and at this point I am very comfortable answering “I am widowed” when the “Are you married?” question comes.

I love this question actually because it makes the conversation go from surface to deep and intentional and real. I believe it’s the only kind of conversations we should really have as followers of Christ. I can immediately be open and real with a stranger, and when these conversations happen a stranger can become a friend in very short time. We talked for several minutes but the words that I remember the most from him is when he said, “Now listen, I can see that you have a lot of joy in your life, and I feel sorry for your husband who passed away because he doesn’t get to have that joy any more. But you find someone else that you can share your joy with, thats what your husband would have wanted.”

Its incredible what you can learn from those who you least expect.

I know that Chris misses me and all of us who he left, but I know that the joy he is experiencing is far greater then I can ever imagine. However, I never considered before that my life and the joy and love I have in life but also the pain, would be a gift to someone else. I never considered that I am a gift to Tyler. I realize how much he is a gift to me. He is the first person and sometimes the only who I share my deepest and darkest emotions too. He knows that I still miss Chris because he is there when I am sad, and he understands. I know my gift.

But I realized that day, from a man who did not have much to give, gave me a tremendous gift of realization that I am a gift to someone else.

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Confessions and Conversations (Confessions to single women and a private conversation with God)

In the last several months I am learning how to be single after being married for 7 1/2 years. Single women, especially with kids, I have the utmost respect for you. I am now walking in your shoes. My pain might be different then your pain, but I now understand the weight of making all decisions on your own. Always hoping you made the right choice. Even if I did think I was doing the right thing, I was always at complete peace when it was confirmed by my husband who I respected and loved. Its not only my husband that is no longer gone, but that peace I was given from his wisdom and discernment.

I now understand the nights of loneliness and how easy it is to fall into escaping your life with the TV, a Sci-Fi novel or Facebook. Spending your night writing honestly or in prayer before God will mean that everything in your life is real and bloody. I never had this much time before and as much as I don’t want it now, I do know its a gift and I feel guilty for not using it wisely.

I now understand what its like to feel that you don’t belong even in your own house. I understand how you accidentally pull away from all your friends who are still married, its just not the same anymore is it? And I understand how you don’t belong to any single gatherings unless you want to do more then just talk. There is lots of support but emotionally and mentally you just feel homeless.

There is a lot more I understand now and a lot more that God is teaching me. I am learning to walk in the dark and please don’t mistake this for a bad thing. In fact, I am able to listen clearer, notice more and judge less based on appearance when I am in the dark. Its scary but what better way to trust God completely then not being able to see whats in front of you.

So now, I’d like to share a conversation with you. One that I had with God a couple months ago. I wasn’t originally going to share this publicly, but I have come to realize that keeping it to myself would completely defeat the purpose of the conversation that I am about to share.

Me: Why can’t I sleep?
God: I believe you know why.
Me: Yes, perhaps I do.
God: I called your name, but you did not answer. Where were you?
Me: I . . . was distracted, watching a movie.
God: I see, and will this become a regular occurrence now?
Me: I don’t know, Sometimes it feels better then just the silence.
God: It’s numbing.
Me: Yes.
God: Is that why your distant?
Me: I don’t really know how to answer that.
God: You’ve been cheating on me.
Me: No . . . no its not the same. I just want to be in a different world, somewhere thats not my world.
God: to escape the pain and loneliness.
Me: Yes, I suppose . . . You took him away from me. You gave him to me and then you took him away!
God: I know you are saying this out of what you are feeling and not what you know, I am so sorry my love.
Me: You had the power to heal him and you choose not to.
God: My daughter, why is it now that you do not trust me?
Me: I trust you-
God: and yet you doubt my goodness.
Me: . . . forgive me, I know you are good.
God: Listen to me, and do not speak to quickly. You are trying to escape into something that is not real. And living an illusion, a lie. will only destroy you.
Me: Watching one movie is not going to destroy me.
God: Its not the movie, its the desire to escape your pain. A host of other things can do the very same thing- food, work, alcohol. Anything you want to do in order to block out the pain of being alone.
Me: I suppose I knew that, but it feels better to not think and be me, alone.
God: Then you have allowed yourself to be deceived.
Me: I guess so.
God: Tell me why?
Me: This is pointless, why must I answer you when you know? You understand better then I understand.
God: I know this is hard for you. It is not my intent to cause you pain but to clean your wounds. Please, answer the question.
Me: Sometimes an illusion is better then reality.
God: I could understand that if you were lost and you did not carry my very light inside of you. Please. . . open the eyes of your heart and ask me to take away what is covering that light and weighing you down.
Me: . . . fear? but what am I afraid of?
God: What are you trying to escape?
Me: From pain and sorrow and loneliness.
God: You are strong and you are not afraid of the pain itself. You are afraid that it will not end. You’re afraid it will knock you down and consume you.
Me: Yes, and it will if I allow it.
God: Allow it.
Me: What?
God: You have to trust me. You have to trust that I will take you out of it all when it is time. You cannot do this on your own, but if you want my help then you have to let me do it my way.
Me: This is insane! You want me to let the pain and sorrow consume me? You don’t want me to fight?
God: Lay your weapons down my love, keep your eyes on me and trust that I will deliver you.
Me: I don’t know how to not fight.
God: I will teach you. And in the end you will be complete.
Me: I don’t know if I can do this . . . what your asking is beyond what I can handle.
God: I know it is. Oh, and this is not a one time deal it is a decision you have to make day after day to not fight and surrender instead.
Me: Ok . . . this seems ridiculously impossible right now.
God: On your own, it is. I promise you, its worth it if you surrender to me, if you trust me. . . I love you, don’t stay away for to long.

* You have probably figured out how that ended, or began- depending on how you look at it. And now you have a little more context to explain my last post. Yes, the pain feels very consuming at times but how can we ever get rescued if we are never in trouble? And how can we ever be healed if we are never sick or broken? All of this, friends, is not a bad thing. Do not try and fight against the great pains and trials of this world. God, our lover and rescuer will give us joy out of our circumstances, a deeper love and understanding for others and a faith so unwavering that it can never fall.

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New Life from Dry Bones.

Easter for me is all wrapped up in tradition. Not tradition from my side of the family, tradition from Chris’s side of the family. There were some traditions that we held this year, but it took great effort, like Grandma baking her “to die for” rolls. Motivation in keeping the traditions alive was dead. There was no fire this year and frankly I think we all thought, “What’s the point?” and “It’s not the same.” Chris was the one who felt so strongly about tradition and fought for it. Now, can we really keep the same traditions? Should we, in order to keep it alive, to keep the memories alive? Today, as I was with family, it was like we all just got through.

One think I do know, is that my focus was not on family and traditions this year. This year was quite different. In my remembrance and sorrow of not having Chris here, I clung to the wonderful weight of the Spirit living inside of me. I wept with joy over the story of Jesus raising to life the widow’s son because of His great love and compassion for her. (Luke 7: 11-15) And all of my thoughts keep coming back to how utterly lost I would be without Him. This easter was very different then it ever was before. I was not as busy, distracted, self dependent, and put together. It brought me to my knees realizing the incredible gift that was given to me. Without His sacrifice I would be blinded with darkness and despair. There would be no hope, there would be no life.

But He has created NEW LIFE, by rising from the dead and bring us out of the grave. His gift was new life, because of His great love for us. (Ephesians 2:4-5) Its hard to even put into words. I am overwhelmed by the whole thing and end up in silence because I have no words. The gratitude in my heart is overflowing, and its because of my dependance, my entire identity in Him. He is the one, and only one who has saved me, and He is constantly creating me into something new.

 

 

my soul cries out
my soul cries out for you

these bones cry out
these dry bones cry for you
to live and move
only You
can raise the dead
lift my head up

Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
Constantly creates us into something new
Jesus You’re the one who finds us
Surely our Messiah will make all things new

Dance in the Downpour

Dear Gabby,

Today as you were busy giving sloppy open mouth kisses to your adoring grandparents, your Uncle Dan and I spent our day listening with our ears and digesting with our hearts a host of information, wisdom, and advice from writers who have already gone ahead of us. I am listening to these writers because I want to learn how to write my story and your Daddy’s story so it will not be lost, and that it can be a part of your story.

I’m sorry to say that what I discovered about writing today is very much like that first tooth in your mouth that is still stubbornly hiding behind your gummy smile. It’s there, but it can be quite a process of pain and it is very uncomfortable. And of course to help relieve your pain, you chew on coffee tables, people’s fingers and Mommy’s I Phone cord. It’s taken me a while to realize this, but you are teaching me to work through the pain of my writing instead of screaming about it. And I can only work through it by involving others into my story. Granted sometimes chewing on fingers is easier then chewing on people’s heartstrings. A physical reaction of pain is easier to see from a friend then an emotional reaction to pain, especially the pain in my own life.

I realized today that I have a lot of work and a lot of writing ahead of me. I love writing. I love writing about you and your Daddy and the small drop of knowledge I have of God in the vast ocean of who He is. I will always love to write, but I have to decide if I should still write on the nights when I am sad and lonely, or the nights when I am tired, or the nights when I am lazy. On those nights when you’re dreaming of that first taste of Mommy’s Reese Pieces with your new and long awaited teeth, I will be laying in bed wondering if writing with that much passion, vulnerability and work is really worth it? (I have to admit, it’s very hard to resist those cute beanie boo eyes of yours. Inching closer to me in such anticipation almost transforms me into this programmed robotic mom who would give you anything you wanted.)

So Peanut, if you see me this week sitting down at my computer, but produce a look of confusion, discouragement and anxiety, you will know that your Mommy answered her question. She answered herself; yes, it is worth the “hard” to share the story. It is worth the nakedness to have the open, unfiltered community. It is worth the risk of failure for the chance to love and to live as I have always been called by Christ.

One day, my daughter, you will have many adventures. You will have places that you want to go and things that you want to do. And the best things are when you get to play in the mud and rain and get dirty. Its easy to live in a partly cloudy, predictable and pleasant climate, but where’s the fun in that? Not just the fun but where is the joy, where is the wonder in predictable? I might regret saying this, but I give you permission to live and get messy. I want you to feel the wet and residual clumps of mud between your sinking toes into the earth below, I want you to see the masterpiece of beauty when you create your first finger painting, I want you to hear the cry of other kids who are hurting, I want you to smell the rain in the middle of a downpour, and I want you to speak the truth to your friends through fear and rejection and self-consciousness.

Things are very unpredictable right now and your Mommy feels like she is caught in a downpour. Many adults that I know do not like to get caught in a downpour of rain. Once you start caring about what you look like, you probably wont like it either. But your Mommy is learning to appreciate the downpour, like a child.  In the downpour you can play and dance and feel a freedom that is unlike any other feeling in the world. You just have to get past the heavy clothes which cling to your body, the standing water in your shoes announcing to everyone you’re presence by a “squish” and it reveals your appearance to others; disheveled, imperfect and messy. Is it worth it? Gabby, do you think it’s worth it for Mommy to dance in the downpour?

A perspective on grief and loss.


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Grief and loss are very weird emotions. As our pastor reminded us, it can look different and be different for all of us. What I have realized is that my grief, and I am sure this is true of others, has come in several stages.  There were many tears in the hospital and at home while Chris was still here. After talking to Palliative Care and understanding that Chris has a very short time, there were friends and extended family who came to see him.  For several weeks I experienced and heard each person say good-bye to Chris for the last time. It was hard. It was hard to say good-bye every time someone else did.  It was hard to fight against my emotions that Chris was going to die and I would have loss, but that he hasn’t died yet. It was hard to accept what was really happening, despite knowing in my heart and mind that it would one day. It was hard to not be afraid. It was hard at the end too. (My details below are only to help you have a little better understanding of my grief and pain in order that others will be comforted who have gone through similar situations. It is not for you to feel sorry or be given the horrid details)

For several days, 5 I believe, Chris lived longer then what his hospice nurses expected. He was ready and we all told Chris good-bye. We took shifts to stay with him around the clock. Some of his pain and nausea meds made him hallucinate and laying in a bed all day for several days was causing him to have bed sores. He could no longer stand or sit up without help. He could not hold his own bowels and had to wear a diaper. His feet turned cold from the blood conserving itself towards the organs. He then could not lift or more his legs. He was coherent right until the end. Things were confusing and the lack of blood circulation created some disconnect but when you said, “I love you,” he said, “I love you” back. There were many times when Chris thought it was time and we would all gather around and say I love you and good bye. We would hold his hands and cry. We would pray. And Chris’s body would keep fighting and it wasn’t wanting to quit. His last 8 hours were painful and uncomfortable. All night he was very restless. He would tell whoever was up with him that he had to sit up. Then he would immediately want to lay back down. He wanted pulled and turned and readjusted. When it became my shift at 6 in the morning, he was in pain and was trying to breath through it. His heart rate was high because of the lack of blood. Chris, for several weeks, was bleeding internally. After 1 then 2 then another 2 ml of Roxanol (liquid morphine) and the pain wasn’t subsiding, I knew we were very close, but I was focused. I was terrified that he would be in uncontrollable pain at the end. I gave him another 4 ml and we were at our absolute max. We held hands and I tried to keep him comfortable. When his mom got up and came out to sit beside him I called hospice to have a nurse come out. I wanted someone’s help to keep his pain under control. I got off the phone and came to kneel down beside his bed. I could tell he was still in pain despite that he never complained. Then he said, “This is it, its time for me to go now. I’m going to sleep, I love you.” I said, “I love you too.” I watched him breath as he tried to rest and then his mom and I started talking. A couple minutes later, with both of us beside him, I looked down at Chris sleeping and there was blood draping from the corner of his mouth. His chest rose and fell, never rising again.

My grief was loud and uncontrollable. For 10 minutes I cried hard, clinging to his hand. I could hear myself in my sadness, and I just couldn’t stop myself. Everyone who had gone back to bed was back up and around Chris, each grieving in our own way. Then I just had this release, and I became calm. I stepped away grabbing a tissue. I left to take a shower, and in that moment I felt tremendous loss but also an equally felt relief that it was all over. The struggle was done and the race was completed.

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From the time of Chris’s death until his memorial service I became focused again. It was Chris’s goal that even after he was gone, Christ would be proclaimed to those who attended his memorial. I worked on obituaries, memorial cards, the selection of songs and the order of service. I stayed busy. I compiled stories and asked specific people to read at his service, including myself. Then the day finally came. I had been looking forward to it all week. It was Chris’s long talked about accomplishment. Then all of a sudden we were there and people started showing up and before I knew it we were walking in. In my hand was little Lorenzo’s hand and the rest of the bunch behind me. In what seemed like seconds we were already done with the first slideshow and friends were coming up to read. The entire day completely flew by. I was so tired at the end of the day but, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and couldn’t stop the intense feelings that it was all over. Only this time the feelings were heavy and painfully overbearing. It was all over and now my life has to go on with out him. Everything has been accomplished. His purpose was over. It was a long night.

It has been 3 days since the memorial service and each day is getting easier. There are still times when I cry and other times when I am surprised I’m not crying. I still laugh when my daughter makes a silly face and smile just as much as I did before but I am different. I have changed. Its not bad, its actually a very good thing. I have grown in ways that I feel like its been overnight. I am in a strange middle ground, a land between, but I am learning to find joy in it. I don’t want to be too distracted or busy and I don’t want to be lazy and discouraged.

I want to truly live exactly where I am, in the present. Not in the past and not in the future.

It is not very often in life that you have a chance to start over and seek a new direction, a new purpose. It is scary, but I am not afraid, because I am not alone. God is here and is with me.

The Life of a Fighter

My husband is a fighter! I’m not just talking about now, but his entire life. His entire being is so strong that its hard to describe. When we were dating he told me stories how he had several concussions as a kid. One was when he was playing baseball and during an inning that he was not bating he was standing on top of a picnic table, fell off and hit the metal pole connecting the bench to the table, hard! It hurt, but he got up and went right up to bat when it was his turn. After his hit, he ran around the bases over and over again, not stopping because of the confusion and dizziness. Later that year when we were dating in college, he had another concussion playing soccer. His symptoms got worse and worse as we waited in the ER, He couldn’t remember my name as he tried to go through the alphabet. Laying on that hospital bed I thought he was going to leave me then as he said, “I love you”. But God had much bigger plans and opportunities for someone who is willing to fight so hard.

Picture 126Chris was 19 when he had surgery on his face and neck and went through a hard dose of chemotherapy at U of M Hospital. I was there supporting him as a girlfriend, but then I had no idea how truly lucky I was to be with such an incredible guy. He liked that I stuck around and proposed shortly after he recovered from his last dose of chemotherapy. The proposal was also very thought out and planned well in advanced, very impressive!  I said “yes” through a cascade of happy tears and beautiful Niagara Falls lit up at night in the background. It was an absolute fairytale to be marrying my best friend and the renewed hope that he had beaten cancer and was now in remission.

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We got married and had many great times and many challenging times. Like every marriage, there is a lot you have to learn when there is a lot less room to be selfish. You learn how to compromise and communicate. You learn how to be honest and patient. You learn how to be responsible and how to cook and clean for two. We learned all of these things with each other, and although I didn’t realize how much at the time, Chris was a fighter. He fought for his integrity and his faithfulness as a husband. He fought for our marriage despite my many, many mistakes and downfalls. He fought to love me unconditionally, like Christ loves the Church.

Then, four years after he was first diagnosed, his cancer returned. I remember substitute teaching that day at Chris’s school and I came to visit him on his break, he told me that his cancer was back. Now, I cannot remember what treatment, trial or cancer study we did first but over the years he has done several. Some of the treatments he was on allowed him to teach and travel and stay up to all hours of the night with friends. Other treatments caused him to be in the hospital because of pain and nausea and other complications. He has had his hair fall out or turn white, rashes, antibiotics or other medicines attached to him through a pick line, painful swelling internally and externally, no appetite or everything tastes like pennies, hallucinations because of meds, constant belly pain, weakness, and constipation that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Many days he would go to work and teach despite the discomfort and pain. I don’t know how he did it, but he did it because he was focused and had purpose in what he was doing. He loves his students and he loves his job. Chris got to a point where he would not even tell me if he was in pain, but it would show after he came home from school, when he had time to rest. I know that there are many times when I had no idea how much he was really fighting.

At a time when things were decently well with Chris health, God took hold of both of us and open our eyes, first individually and then together, to what it really means to follow Him. Before this time, Chris and I both trusted and wanted to follow the Lord and in a lot of areas of our life we did follow. We followed God by going to church and having other Christian friends. We followed God by giving 10% of our income and reading our Bibles regurally. We followed him by helping in our church’s youth group and making a Christmas shoe box. Now, God tried us and pressed us and told us, “I want you to follow me completely.” Over a span of a year, we (mostly me) got rid of bad habits, confessed wrongs, and turned away from both hidden, exposed and “everyone else does it” sins. Through this time, I remember Chris as an example to follow. He fought against being a comfortable Christian. He fought and strived to follow exactly what he was hearing from God and how he was convicted. We started taking some radical steps in order to be in the will of God and force ourselves to trust in Him. We decided to give away a much larger percentage of our income in order to trust for the Lord to provide. We got out of our bubble and into the lives of the homeless of our city. And we loved being in God’s peace and presence by our obedience and trust in Him.


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We soon were both led by God to do the most adventurous, amazing, life changing experience. We became parents to four kids overnight and it changed our lives. Our relationship with each other quickly became a roaring fire. The flames were ignited as we were trusting God together and he provided for all our needs and the needs of our now family of 6 completely through His people.
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I don’t want to make it sound like it was a piece of cake because being foster parents is a very very difficult job. It was not easy (especially if you have met those crazy rambunctious four), but it was exhilarating knowing that you are doing what God wants you to do and behaving how God wants you to behave. With Chris’s example and experience, He taught me how to be a fighter. In this time of our lives we fought together, and we kicked butt as we relied on God’s strength 🙂

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IMG_2069Life was crazy and chaotic, but we were so happy and felt so blessed even not knowing what the future would hold. Chris was teaching and I was working part time and tutoring along with taking care of four kids when God decided to bless us with one more. We were beyond thrilled but didn’t want to get our hopes up, Chris was on cancer fighting drugs still and those are never a good combination in producing a healthy baby. But of course if God wants to give you a healthy baby, He will give you a healthy baby!

I was 7-1/2 months pregnant when Chris starting having some adverse side effects to the increased dosage of his cancer meds. We took him into the hospital and he was there for almost an entire month because of internal and external rashes and swelling. His mouth was so swelled up that he had a hard time just eating and drinking. Friends and family helped with the kids so I could see him and many times I just brought the kiddos with me. 20 days into his stay I feared that he would not be able to be there when I had our baby. I couldn’t imagine him not being there so I prayed and God answered. The day he was planned to be discharged I also had a Doctor appt. My baby doctor told me that she wanted to induce tomorrow, I was 37 weeks. It seemed that the placenta was not doing its job and my little girl was not growing like she should have been at that point. Its very, very easy to worry but I knew God had it covered. Chris came home from the hospital the day before I was induced and he was there right beside me when our perfect, healthy, beautiful daughter came into the world. On April 14th at 8:00 in the morning Gabriella Grace was born. We named her Gabriella because it means “the Lord is my strength”. After all, she is a “Hinshaw” and being a fighter is in her blood! Fighting is exactly what she did when 4 days after she was born went right back into to hospital and into ICU. It was the scariest moment of my life but after it was all over Chris and I never again complained about her screaming and crying.

IMG_1137 copyThe summer held some joys and crazy challenges. The kids were going back to live with their mom and we were very supportive but I’m telling you, it was trying. We were going to miss them terribly, but definitely not their behavior during the transition. We bought a new home, a fixer-upper and sold our old house that summer. We also went on a long awaited trip with our closest friends. I started a new position at the middle school and it was great working in the same building with my hubby. The days at home were busy improving our new home and taking care of a new baby, but we loved it. All three of us did a lot of relaxing together as well.

The joy that Gabby brings to my life, Chris’s life and his family’s life sustains us now through this very difficult time. About the time when she was 6 months old, a little under 3 months ago, Chris really started feeling the pain and the toll the cancer was taking on his body. His cancer treatment was no longer working, the black dark malignant cancer cells were spreading. He began having horrible pain in his stomach and a mass in his pancreas was discovered as the cause, the pain being very similar to pancreatitis. The cancer had also left his body weaker and unable to bounce back after loosing a lot of weight. Chris told me recently that there was a night in the hospital, during this time, where he could have stopped fighting right there and it would have all been over. All the pain, all the discomfort and weariness would be gone but he didn’t give in, he kept fighting.

Its important for me to tell you as well that Chris had certain things that he wanted to accomplish before going into the hospital and finding some relief from the pain. He wanted to have his conferences with parents and finish the unit that he was teaching to his students providing for them some level of closure. He also wanted to be there at home the two weekends before he went in because we were watching the 4 kids while there mom was away. We had lots of laughs those weekends and we loved having them back in our home. Lastly, Gabby’s baby dedication was the day before he went into the hospital, and he did not want to miss it. I think he was mostly holding out for this. It was very special and Chris fought very hard to be there for that moment.

It was the very end of October when things really headed down hill. I realized at the beginning of December that I needed to be home full time to help Chris. I took a temporary leave of absence and took care of Chris after so many years of him taking care of me. We have been in and out of the hospital, but Chris has been able to enjoy Christmas at home with his family. He has watched Gabby go from a “baby” to  a baby who talks and laughs and sits and crawls and jumps and reacts and kisses and hugs. He has had the time to witness all of the ways that others have been blessed and impacted by his life and reflection of Christ. And he has given me a powerful example in this last month of how to live.

A prayer that someone prayed for us and is our constant prayer as well: We pray first and foremost that God’s perfect will be done. Secondly we pray for miraculous healing in the name of Christ, and third that more people be brought into salvation through Jesus Christ through your shared witness and testimony.

When your eyes are opened to what is real truth and what really matters it is an absolute pleasure to live for Christ. And the journey is not over. Our real home is not here, here is just where we decide who we will follow and what we are going to do with the time that is given to us. Chris’s life verse is Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He knows who he is and who he follows.

IMG_1297Through all of the constant pain and struggle he has hardly complained, and is alway thankful and grateful to those that are continuing to help him and our family. His pain has not ever been his focus, instead it has always been on others. You may be wondering, how can someone be so strong and be such a fighter for so long? There is only one answer, and I know Chris would agree completely, its God. Its all about God. Jesus sacrificed and fought and struggled more then we can possibly imagine for us and He showed us how to live. He has given his very own strength to Chris. Even now, the strength I am using to write this is not my own, it is God’s inside of me. And my hope is that through the life of a fighter you will realize how powerful God can work in the life of someone who chooses to follow Him.

 

 

 

Keep on

First of all let me say thank you to all my “sisters” who have lately been so encouraging. I really truly believe that God is answering my prayers through you guys! If ever you feel God nudging at your heart to text a friend, message them or stop by their house to say “Hi”, please do it! 🙂 It very well might take that friend’s love tank from 0 to 100 just by your words. This is what many of you have done for me.

Here is my attempt of giving a synopsis of the last couple of weeks. . .  In my life right now, days are so different from one day to the next. Today has been good. I woke up with a peace and a joy about things today. I showered, fed and laughed with my daughter and took off towards the hospital. The roads were at times slightly dangerous and when I went sliding on the backroads, I laughed at the adventure of everything. I grabbed a coffee and a lunch at Horrocks and was on my way. Chris was feeling pretty decent when I got in and was getting a blood transfusion. He informed me that his hemoglobin was low- 6.7 down from 8.4 the night before. I knew it, he was bleeding internally. Right away I liked his nurse. She has one of those contagious personalities, hard not to like. Despite it being Saturday he got started right away on having a parensentesis done to take out all the fluid in his abdomen (This was mostly blood of course). Afterwards, Chris felt pretty good with the 6 1/2 lbs (3 liters) of blood out of his belly. Can you imagine, a 2 liter plus another half of one, sitting on your gut, no wonder he’s uncomfortable and doesn’t want to eat. Then he went down to do a tagged rbc scan to find where he was bleeding. During this Chris had to lay still for an hour. In the meantime, his nurse, procedure tech and I told stories about our kids and shared pictures. It was like the girls night I missed out on the night before only with nurses I had just met.

Yesterday was a very different story, not a good day to say the least. Chris had a pretty difficult night from Thursday to Friday. Thursday he had 2 blood transfusions and Friday he felt horrible which is very weird considering that blood usually makes you feel better not worse. He puked up some blood and we decided we better go to the ER. We got there at 10:30 a.m. and did not get admitted to a room until 10:00 at night. In those 11.5 hours Chris tried pain medications and nausea meds but could not find any relief. His heart rate continued to climb; 127 . . . 142 . . . 155 . . . 178. He was sitting up but not walking around. The high heart rate was exactly what happened before, I knew what he needed, he needed blood. I talked to the nurse and resident Doctor who came in, I asked if they could check his hemoglobin again but because it was at 8.4 when we came in, it wasn’t a priority. The ER was busy and everything was very slow. It was very emotionally draining for both of us. I would help Chris try and get in a comfortable position, grab his bucket quickly for him to spit into because he was feeling nauseous, and then give him a back rub to help him relax on the padded slab with wheels. I was able to go get some lunch at 2:00 when he was relatively comfortable but the rest of the night I stayed with him. We tried music, we tried going to the bathroom, we tried foot massages, we tried TV, we tried every pain med he was allowed to have, we tried sitting in a chair instead of laying but it wasn’t until 9:00 at night that he finally felt some relief from a beta blocker that was given by a second nurse. Driving home I was exhausted but our marriage, our love for each other grew that night. Chris told me before I left that mentally he could not have survived that night without me. I prayed for peace and comfort for the both of us, I prayed for patience and wisdom. I prayed for strength and God answered.

This has been a good feel of really the last couple of weeks.  Good days and hard days. Days of hope and days of pain. I have realized that my biggest fear is being alone. The fear of loosing him physically but even more the fear of loosing precious days with him mentally and emotionally. The loneliness can be overwhelming at times, and unfortunately its not something that anyone can fix. The confident, fun, engaging and awesome personality that is my husband is just not there most days. Even on the good days, theres no energy left for him to talk kids, life and us after explaining his condition, symptoms and past treatments to 20 different people. A week and a half ago, when he was in the hospital, I had this realization as he was laying there in the bed, and I was knitting in the chair beside him, that we were like an old married couple who were perfectly content to just sit with each other in silence. This really made me smile. I am being given the chance to grow old with my husband.

Even now I know I will have days of joy, love and laughter, and then “I can’t do this anymore” days. This morning I read 1Peter 4. Verse 19 I read over and over again. “So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” This gave me tremendous strength. Its like his voice telling me, “Keep on! I will never fail you. Keep going!” It would be very easy to be bitter or allow someone else besides God to fill the loneliness. Allowing another person or other things to fill the emptiness is in our human nature and it is perfectly reasonably and acceptable according to most of the world. Gabby is an incredible joy I have in my life right now but she is not my everything and she cannot fill what only God can fill. Pray for me as I am looking to God every day to be my source of comfort and strength and meaning.