Thursday, May 28, 2015

Six Years Later

It's hard to believe that six years ago today I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  Six years ago we were filled with hope that God would cure me of this disease.  Six years ago we had no idea what kind of roller coaster we would be on fighting the cancer.  Six years ago we were still looking forward to a long life with our family.

Now it's six years later.  We are no longer hoping for a cure.  Instead of a roller coaster of fighting a disease, we are on a roller coaster of my final days.  Instead of a future as a family, I am now looking toward a future in eternity.  What a difference six years can make.

A few months ago I posted this picture.

It was my hope that I could look at this picture and be reminded of the race I was running.  I knew I was almost done and I was hoping my last days would be ones of always looking forward to my final home.  I was hoping this picture would remind me of the amazing things that were awaiting me in Heaven.  It hasn't quite worked out the way I thought.

If I took a survey I would guess that most of us would want to die peacefully in our sleep, just like the prayer:
Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I've prayed this prayer over the past few months.  There have been times I've even begged the Lord to let me fall asleep and wake up in His arms.  I think we understand that there will be physical pain before we go home, but we have no idea the other things we will have to face in our last days.

We don't know how many days we have left.  The agony of waiting is very heart wrenching.  The mourning that has to happen can be physically exhausting.  I never knew how much mourning I would have to go through.  I mourn every time I say a last goodbye to someone.  I mourn when I remember that goodbye.  I mourn when I think about all the things my family will have to experience not only in my death but also in all the things that they will experience, both good and bad, without me.  I know first hand how painful it is to be without a mom at events from confirmations to simple picnics in the park.  The pain of knowing what they will experience at times almost seems too much to bear.  It's no wonder at times I pray "Please let me die before I wake".

But I think the hardest part is walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  For me it has not been a short road.  There have been so many ups and downs and twists and turns it's hard to know what to think sometimes.  And let me tell you, the devil works harder in those last days than I ever thought possible.  It's his last chance to take me away from my Savior, and he is going to find every weakness I have ever felt or thought about my Savior and try to use is against me.  I've doubted His love for me because I've suffered for six years.  I've questioned His wisdom in taking a mother away from her family.  I've questioned decisions I've made and wondered if He led me down the wrong path.  If I have thought it, the devil has used it.

Yet the one thing I've never doubted is where I am going, and that is only by God's mercy and grace that I have been freed from that doubt.  It comes from that second part of Psalm 23:4.

Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me,
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Through every temptation the devil has put in my way, my Shepherd has come to protect me.  He has always been with me, sending his angels to guard and protect me.  He has always been with me, using his rod and his staff to lead me through my long shadow of death.  He has always been with me, and he will get me to my eternal home when His time is right.  It might mean many more hard days ahead for me.  But that won't stop him because nothing, not even death, can stop him from getting me home to him and in his everlasting arms.

So i'ts my sixth anniversary of cancer.  Honestly just a few weeks ago I didn't think I'd make it this far.  To have six years with my friends and family I am extremely grateful.  Now I look forward to my Heaven day where I will have the best day of my life.  I can't wait to see you all there.

See you soon!


Friday, February 27, 2015

I Never Set Out

All through our lives we make plans.  When we are little it might be for play dates or sleepovers with our friends.  As we get older, we start planning what our wedding will be like, how many kids we are going to have, and maybe what our perfect house would be.  And even later in life we start looking forward to retirement and think about all the things we will get to do now that we finally have the time.

I had plans and ideas too, but so many things that have happened to me were so different than how I imagined they would be.

I never set out to teach high school.  I said I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.  Yet that is where God led me.  Because of Him, I got to relate to some amazing young adults and share God with them.  Now I call many of them friends and they pray for me.

I never set out to marry a short man.  I just wasn't going to be the tall one in the relationship.  Yet that's what God sent me.  He sent me a man who was short in stature but strong in love.  He loves the Lord and shows it every day by how he cares for me and my family.  He took his vows of in sickness or in health seriously.  I couldn't be more grateful.

I never set out to have twins.  I always said I wouldn't wish twins on my worst enemy.  Yet, that's what God gave me.  Through those twins I learned the meaning of "doubly blessed" and "doubly loved".  It's just a different kind of love that you can't explain.  Those twins, and my daughter, know how to love me even on my sickest days.  God gave them that ability.  I couldn't be more thankful.

I never set out to live in a small house.  I had lived in one with 5 brothers and it was always tight.  I wanted a larger home with space for everyone and room for entertaining.  Yet, that's what God gave me.  But even with a small house, we have filled it with so many memories of our kids and parties.  We can squeeze over 20 people in here when we have to, and it all works out fine.  I couldn't feel more blessed.

I never set out to have cancer.  In fact, after my mom died, I was going to do everything possible to avoid getting cancer.  The screenings, the blood work, the surgeries were all going to be done so I could be here a long time for my family.  But God allowed the cancer to come.  He didn't cause it, sin did that.  Yet through it all, I have experienced more of God's grace than I ever knew what was around.  My family is closer and loves to be together because of it.  Thousands of people have prayed for me because of it.  I started blogging and God used that to spread His Word.  We have been blessed with more cards, gifts, money and food it's been overwhelming.  And because of the hard journey, I have been able to feel Christ's strength in me.  I have only been able to overcome and get through things because of His strength.

I'm sure you can see the point of all of this.  While it's not wrong to make plans, we need to let God alter them because He knows what is best for us.  He knows how He is going to keep us close to Him.  The two verses below sum it up very well.

If you ever feel a tug at your heart that maybe you need to go a different direction, listen closely to that tug.  Pray about that tug.  Because when God leads you in that different direction than you set out to do, you will received more blessings than you ever thought possible.