Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cancer, infertility, & hope.

 Where to begin. I've felt like I needed to share more of my story for months now, but it's so hard to get the words out. It brings up so much hurt & emotion that I'm honestly tired of feeling (insert tears throughout). But here's my best try. Let me preface this post with saying the point is to share where God has brought me & my family through the last several months.

  How far we've come from my dad's diagnosis of stage 4 kidney cancer in Oct. 2012. How far we've come from my post a year ago when we had just gotten news of new spots. I just thought that was the hardest time of my life. Good thing we only see small pieces sometimes.

  Last February, mom & dad called all the kids into town for a 'family meeting' (most dreadfully anxious week ever). That's when we heard the words '6 months left'. Treatments weren't working & the cancer was growing rapidly. Of course we were devastated. All the hope of healing just left the room. We spent a wonderfully hard weekend together, followed by as many more as possible. Come May of this year, dad told us he only expected to have weeks left. So much for 6 months. Thankfully he got to be at home & had little pain along the way. It was so sweet but awful to have those last few weeks together. Watching my dad decline was inexpressibly hard, but there's no other place I would've been. On June 6th about 8 pm, we surrounded dad when he went to be with Jesus. The next several days are very surreal, but I remember being surprisingly strong & being able to keep it together in public somehow. Combination of shock & the Lord!
  Before describing how God's worked in my life the last couple of months, there's another huge piece of the puzzle I need to share:
  Tim & I have been trying to have a baby for 2 years now. After nine months of trying, we got pregnant, but miscarried early on in Sept. of last year. At the one year mark, we started seeing a specialist (whom I love if you're in need). Thankfully nothing showed up being wrong in the process of testing & blood work, but also no answers. Five months after, we were pregnant again in late April of this year. We had the joy of finding out while at the beach (last week I can remember being deep down happy), & most special the joy of telling our family. I am so blessed to have on video my dad's reaction. It is priceless to me. However, at 6 weeks, I miscarried again. Yes, this happened within a couple weeks before dad passing away (Did I mention I was teaching all this time too!?). There are no words for how hard that is. Since then, we've had more negative blood work, lots of waiting on my body to cooperate, etc, but still no treatment or answers. That's 8 months of nothing. We are hopeful for what treatment lies ahead and pray that we get to see God's plan for our family very soon. Infertility is a struggle that hurts deep down every day, but clearly we are not in control, so it comes down to whether I'm going to trust God.

  My first reaction to losing dad & my 2 babies was anger. I was mad at God & thus didn't talk to Him for quite awhile (just now getting there, honestly). I will never understand why God's plan had to include taking my loving, faithful, godly Daddy. I will never understand why my dad couldn't meet my children (baby #1 would've been due before dad passed away). For weeks into months I really struggled with the Lord. As soon as I felt some improvement, another huge wave of grief would come. It wasn't until about October (like a month ago) that I felt like I could breathe again. One of the biggest factors in my growth was an infertility & loss Bible study I did Aug-Oct (glad to share more if interested). God knew He had to grow me slowly & patiently. Life is still pretty hard to live day to day sometimes, but I can start to feel hope. That brings me to the main point of my post (about time, right? Got that from dad ;) ).

   I apologize for the long, heaviness of this post thus far, but I needed to share where I've been in order to truly show how very far God has brought me. Through my Bible study/worship songs, constant encouragement from family & friends, & my biggest support, Tim, the Lord has been slowly working in my heart. It has taken weeks and weeks of ups & downs & baby steps, but I am making progress. This is not because of my strength whatsoever, but because God hasn't given up on me. When it was hard to see Him as loving, I was reminded of His greatness instead. Thankfully He takes us where we're at. And now I can start to see that His plan is infinitely bigger than just me and my circumstances. Wrapping my mind around that is hard, but I have to be content (hard word) in letting Him take control.

  The goal of this post came largely from my dad's service. It was the most personal, uplifting, & impactful service ever (I'd love to share more on that if interested). The entire service was laid out by my mom & dad, which made it easy to see dad's faith throughout. I cannot explain the steady peace & faith that dad had facing his last days. He was confident in meeting the Lord. Dad wanted his service to be all about leading people to God. The biggest take away from dad's service was how he wished he'd been more bold in telling others. That has haunted me ever since. That is why I am writing this extremely long post.

  I can't possibly leave out my mom here. Through the years of taking great care of dad, to facing what was to come, to losing the love of her life, my mom has been faithful. She is an amazing women, who couldn't possibly be strong all the time, but constantly chooses to show God amidst her hardest days. She is my biggest example of someone whose life is given to the Lord. I love you, mom!

  Here's what it ultimately comes down to: I desperately want my dad's life, my life, & your life to mean something. I want to bring God glory. That has taken me a long time to be able to say. And I still struggle nearly every day to choose joy over sadness. But slowly the Lord is showing me His faithfulness. Even at our darkest times, He has never left. He doesn't promise answers, but He does promise to never leave us. I choose to trust (most days) that He is bigger & knows the entire plan. The only possible reason for my family's hard times is to show other people who God is and how he loves them. I pray that you see that through my story. I fail often to be bold in my faith or simply to praise God, but I know He can use my weakness for His glory. I would love to tell you more about God through my story, but I think that's enough for one day! ;) Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading.