Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rhythms of Grace: Journeying in Loss and Hope

Over the past few months, I've been talking about starting this Rhythms of Grace series based on Matt 11:28-30 (found in the Message):

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burnt out on religion? Come to me.  Get away with me and I'll recover your life.  I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced Rhythms of Grace.  I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

As I was first thinking through this verse, I came into contact with an old college friend.  We started talking about where our lives had taken us and she was sharing with me her journey.  I was immediately struck by the fact that God wanted to use her story.  

Debbie graciously agreed to share with all of you what these past couple of years have looked like for her and how her faith in God has only been strengthened.  I hope you'll be as challenged and blessed as I have been.


Picture this... three people standing in the kitchen together, a mom, her daughter and son in law all crying as they count down to the new year, 2010. Why are they crying? Hope! Seems a little odd right? Only God can make three people who have been through so much still have hope.

You see 2009 was a very rough year. Just one year earlier as this family was counting down to the new year of 2009 all seemed to be going well. Then within four months of that night three family members were diagnosed with cancer, all with very different outcomes.

The first was my dad. I am the daughter in this situation,the son in law is my husband, and the mom...well she is mine too. She was visiting me on January 2nd when we got the call that my dad had been in a head on collision and was in the hospital. He was doing fine except he had a broken sternum and in the process of doing the body scan they found a tumor in his kidney. More tests were run and the tumor was found to be cancerous. This was a relatively easy form of cancer to deal with but we had to wait six weeks for his sternum to heal. This turned out to be a huge blessing. We did not yet know God had already planned to take my dad home on the day after his surgery, February 18th. Because he had to "heal," we spent that six weeks just spending time with him. We had a family picture taken with my parents and in laws and my parents took a very special trip "just in case". I don't believe in coincidence. I know that God told us to do these things... luckily we listened. 

The second family member to be diagnosed with cancer was my father in law. On January 8th he was diagnosed with Lymphoma. This cancer, we later found, tends to be very lethal in adult men. Because of circumstances that led to his diagnoses, my father in law and mother in law missed Christmas with us. They decided before he started his chemo they would come see us "just in case". That is why they were here to have a family picture taken and also enjoy the last few days of my dads life with us. 

Between the time that my father in law was diagnosed and the time he was suppose to start his chemo treatments he was at a healing service and had the pastor anoint him with oil. When he went to start his treatment the doctor tested his blood again and the cancer was no where to be found. The doctor obviously thought that there had been a misdiagnosis so he had the blood in my father in laws spleen tested again (it had been removed at Christmas time and the cancer was found there.) It turns out that the cancer cells were still in the spleen but there were none to be found in his body. God still does miracles and we know this to be true. 

The third diagnosis was our son. He was three years old when he was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia, a little over a month after the death of his grandpa. The success rate in curing this in young boys is 90-95% with chemo treatments. He is right on track with where the doctors want him to be as of now. During 2009 he had four 12-17 day hospital stays due to infections and his immune system being completely shot. We are so grateful that God has given people the knowledge to handle these types of illness. If it is Gods plan, he will finish his treatments in 2012. 

To add just one more bump in the road, two days before our son was diagnosed with Leukemia our two year old daughter tried to be a big girl and jump from the swing while I was pushing her. She broke her femur and had to be in a Spica cast (from her chest to toe on one leg and to her knee on the other) for 5 weeks.

Many people have asked us how we made it through this still standing? The only answer I could give them was "GOD"!!! We knew through out the year no matter what happened he had every situation in his hand and each and every outcome was a part of his plan. Was it easy? NO!!!!!! But with the comfort we had in our biological  his hand every day and keep our joy in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Christian music is also very important to us. Whenever I was feeling down or like I could not keep going I would listen to the radio and God seemed to give me just what I needed. One day I was driving and I heard a song by Mercy Me and the lyrics just seemed to fit my life as if they wrote the song just for me. I will not write out the whole song but to chorus goes like this..

"Bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free bring me ANYTHING that brings you glory. For I know there will be days when this life brings me pain but if that's what it take to praise you, Jesus bring the rain."

He never promised us that our lives would be easy, but he did promise us that he would never leave us. I can find hope in that.

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