God works in mysterious ways. He is healing me in areas I didn’t even know were broken. He is so in love with me. And with you. I want to share a little of how He has shown up for me and poured His love out on me.
I am a forty-two year old mother of five. Five very active and busy children. Ages three to twelve. Years of homeschooling, private schooling, pre-schooling, parenting, and just plain ole mothering! ADD, ADHD, LD…. you name it! Exhausting in and of itself.
Most Sunday mornings, I’m overwhelmed at the sheer effort it takes to get all five fed, dressed, ready and out the door – and then I realize I am still in my ROBE. Oh Joy!
Jesus says, “Come as you are,” and yet I can’t bring myself to show up in my pajamas. Yet.
I’m trying not to let the mornings get the best of me anymore. God is continually renewing my spirit and reminding me of what really matters. He has changed me from the inside out, in a NEW way. And I am living more freely today than I was yesterday. He has given me NEW LIFE!
Let me tell you how He led me to this place.
The pace of taking care of a house and children, in addition to relational difficulty and life in general, led me to believe that my constant fatigue and headaches weren’t out of the ordinary. For years, I had been to doctors and specialists that tried to help, but inevitably all of them joked that my fatigue and pain seemed proportionate to my life stressors.
“You have FIVE kids,” the doctors would say, “No WONDER you’re tired.”
After watching me wrestle a kid into a stroller and my numerous whispered threats in the mean mommy voice, I’d hear, “I’d have a headache, too, if I had to do that all day.”
And with a chuckle and a suggestion for more sleep and perhaps a vitamin supplement, they’d be out the door.
So, I was alone. And overwhelmed. And sick. With no answers and no path forward.
This past fall I caught everything the kids had. Strep, Flu A, Flu B. Sickness upon sickness and I never got better. Lingering sickness for months and months that left me debilitated. I couldn’t lift my head. Something was wrong.
And then it came. Some answers. An unexpected blow.
“Abnormal cells in your bone marrow. Highly probable that you will need treatment for Multiple Myeloma.”
“You will be contacted by Duke Cancer Center later today.”
And my life began to unravel before my eyes.
I was listening. Or was I? Did the doctor just say what I think he said? In a calm, soothing voice he’s asking me what kind of support system I have. Who do I live with? Who can take care of me? Where do my parents live? Do they live far away? Do I have people who can help with my kids and make us meals? Do I have a church family? Do I have any questions?
DO I HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?
I thought I would explode. All I wanted to do was run out of there and collapse in tears. I could barely hold it in. I ran to the parking lot and broke down sobbing before I could even get my car door open.
DO I HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?
I felt like God was so far away in those first moments. I couldn’t feel His presence or His hand on my life. I felt unloved and abandoned. I felt punished. I felt completely broken. Tired. Alone.
Before my trip to Duke, I spent time researching the possible scenarios the doctor might present to me. I researched treatment and prognosis options, and quickly realized that once I started chemotherapy, my life would look much different. And the clock would begin ticking. You see, Myeloma isn’t a curable disease. It’s a chronic and fatal condition. Once the cancer cells reach a certain percentage, treatment begins and you never go back.
When I began to think of how I may spend my last 10 years, walking through chemo, medications, surgeries, and stem-cell transplants, I was crushed at the realization that 10 years is not nearly enough. Mary Kate will be 13 in 10 years. My oldest won’t be married yet. 10 years is not NEARLY enough Lord. Please Lord, I begged, give me more than 10 years.
I had some extremely emotional and rough weeks following the initial diagnosis and subsequent visit to Duke. PET Scan, CT’s, MRI’s, painful biopsies and bloodwork. I really struggled with understanding God’s plan for my life and His reasons for allowing me to be sick. I was angry with Him. I was grieving the loss of health, but praising Him for answers. I cried out to Him constantly for strength, for hope, for peace, and for joy. And I buried my head in my pillow to avoid intimacy when it all became too much. As it often did.
And I want to tell you this: God never left me. My anger didn’t cause Him to remove His hand from me. My questioning didn’t sever our relationship.
It cemented our relationship.
And it provided an opportunity for God to give me one of the greatest blessings He’s ever given me.
Crisis brings perspective to what really matters in life.
When I was diagnosed, nothing in my life immediately changed externally.
But everything inside of me was altered forever.
In that moment, I realized how precious and important time is, and my entire perspective changed.
I wanted to live more than anything else in the world! Real relationships became all that really mattered. Being present for those in my life. Being real with my friends and my family. Knowing and loving God in a deeper way. Every day began to matter. Every breath and every day is a gift I had taken for granted.
In a supernatural way, God awakened me! A diagnosis of cancer cells plaguing my bone marrow didn’t bury me, it awakened me.
I have been awakened to the reality that I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I do have TODAY!
For instance, God has been working on me for years in the area of SURRENDER. This past year, He has been inviting me to trust Him in the area of provision. I used to lay awake at night and ruminate on how in the world I would ever be debt-free. And “what-if” one day I couldn’t afford my house? Or car repairs. Or activities for the kids. My mind would run in circles and I would find myself afraid and anxious. I have spent plenty of time worrying about so many things, and instead of living life, I was just trying to make it through the day. Wasting precious time and energy.
God is not inviting me to worry and waste the days He has blessed me with!
He is inviting me to live life.
He came to give me life. Abundant life!
Today, I rock my baby longer, linger over dessert and coffee with friends, and look for Him in the ordinary and everyday monotony. But it’s really not monotony to me anymore. Now that I can’t escape the fact that my time here on earth is a blink of an eye. This is not my home.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
I have been awakened to the fact that I must live in the present. Appreciate what I have. Seek His face above all else. Satan would love to steal my joy and mar my witness, but God put me here right now for a reason. He is writing my story. He has trusted me with this story. What an honor and a privilege.
After a life-altering diagnosis: how am I doing?
1) I feel more alive!
In Psalm 39:4 David says:
“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days. Let me know how fleeting is my life.”
God reminded me of what is important! He reminded me how fleeting my life is so that I can appreciate each day and live each day to the fullest!
“Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all men.”
“Behold you have made my days a few handbreadths, and the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.”
“Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
2) I have more joy!
I had been living without God’s measure of joy! I had been overwhelmed by my marital difficulties and my limitations and my kids’ imperfections, while missing out on the fullness of life that God blessed me with. He gives all of His children the same blessing. The gift of Himself.
Psalm 5: 11-12
“But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may exult in You. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; You cover him with favor as with a shield.”
Psalm 63: 5-8
“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise You with joyful lips, when I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the watches of the night; for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
Psalm 30: 11-12
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. That my heart may sing to you and not be silent, O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”
3) I am more thankful!
“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” ~Bonhoeffer
Just a month earlier, I had repented for my lack of joy and thankfulness. For my failure to go to God and have Him fill me with His presence. And all of a sudden, a month after devastating news, I am so incredibly thankful!
I am most thankful for His presence. His goodness and faithfulness right now. In this lifetime.
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
4) I have more hope!
Another gift from God as I studied the Psalms recently:
“Man is but a mere phantom as he goes to and fro
He bustles about, but only in vain
He heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You.”
“Illness increases our awareness of life’s limits…. so we turn to God for renewed hope.” (NIV Commentary)
On April 9, 2015, my life changed forever. But it was no surprise to God. There was no emergency meeting of the Trinity to be called.
This disease does not decide when my time on earth is over. God is, and always has been, in control of my life. My life will not end one second sooner than He has ordained.
I am secure in His hands and I trust in His love for me.
“Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you.”- Timothy Keller
My prayer is that He would bring health to my body and heal me, all the way down to my bone marrow. In both Proverbs 3:8 and Hebrews 4:12, God referenced the importance of bone marrow. The health of our bone marrow will contribute to our overall health. God so lovingly placed that in His Word – just for me!
God is healing me. He is healing me spiritually and emotionally. I even have renewed strength and energy right now, and I petition Him to heal me physically and completely. He is able and I go to His throne and ask for healing. Like David in Psalm 27, I repeat to myself who God is and what He promises. And that confidence in Him empowers my prayers.
In God’s grace and mercy, the specialists at Duke say that right now I need no treatment. The abnormal cells aren’t at a critical number. As the matter of fact, the specialist, an expert in her field both in the United States and abroad, said these words to me, “Go live your life.”
And I will. I will live it abundantly and faithfully.
Thank You, precious Father, for reminding me of how to spend my days. My time on earth is limited. This is no new revelation to me. I knew I would one day die, but You have given me the gift of perspective. I wouldn’t have gained that perspective without a wake-up call; Your severe mercy. Like a rainbow in front of a dark cloud, I see your beauty more magnificently and clearly. Thank You for healing the broken places in me I didn’t even know were broken. My ability to see what was important was distorted. The fruits of the Spirit in my life were muted, and I didn’t realize the extent of that damage. My body is broken. And only You can heal me. Thank You for carrying me through it all. And loving me in my weakness, woundedness, and despair. I love you, Lord. You are my all.
In His Grace,