For those of you who don’t know me I am the youngest child in our family. Steven is the oldest and is married to Ashley with three kids (Payton (8), Cooper (6), and Finley (3)), Dylan is married to Nikki with Eli (2) and baby girl due in two weeks, and I am the youngest married to Greg with Reese (2) and Hudson (3 weeks)- all pictured below.
I can’t tell you how much our entire family appreciates the love and support from so many of you who read this blog. Many of you have checked in saying, “How are YOU doing with your mom’s cancer diagnosis?” And it kind of stops me in my tracks.
The truth is, I don’t even know the answer to that question. I don’t know how to wrap my head around the fact that my mom, my best friend, my source of wisdom, support, and encouragement- has cancer. My family means the world to me- and I don’t really know what to say, feel, or do to even fully grasp the journey that we are on.
But there are some things that I DO know and right now I am hanging on to those things.
My parents have instilled strong values in each of us kids so that we would be able to endure whatever life brings our way. So when I’m confused, scared, or am having a hard day- These are the things that my family has taught me and these are the things that I must go back to as we endure this journey of cancer together:
- START WITH GOD. My dad has read the Bible through twice, has studied up on biblical history, and believes it is the most intellectually sound thing to believe in God and put your faith in Him. He is currently reading the book “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis for the 4th time. My mom models an intimate walk with the Lord as she sits at His feet each morning with her devotional books and Bible commentaries in hand- in order to hear God’s voice and learn of His mysteries. They each approach faith differently and they inspire each of us and our spouses to intentionally seek God on our own. Even just this morning my husband said to me, “Because of my new job and having a newborn at home this week, I haven’t had as much time to read my devotional. I don’t like it and it makes me feel out of sync with God.” We both talked and agreed that right now- more than ever- spending time with God is going to be our lifeline. We can’t afford to not hear from Him in times like these.
- BE STRONG. My parents taught us to be strong, and boy, am I glad they did. Throughout our childhood if one of us kids were left out at school or if we didn’t make the team- our parents comforted but did not coddle us or let us say “poor me” for very long. While my parents certainly hurt for us when we were hurt, they gave us coping abilities to deal with whatever hand we were dealt. The truth of the matter is that life isn’t fair and hard things WILL come. They had the confidence that we could handle anything. So now as adult children who are coping with our mom’s cancer, we don’t think “poor us”. Instead, we are trusting God to comfort us and give us the strength to endure.
- LAUGH. For those of you who know my dad, you know he is a good laugher. I can just picture him now throwing his head back in complete hysterics over something funny someone did or over an episode of “The Office”. I believe he has passed this trait onto all of us. Just this past weekend, two days before my mom’s surgery, we were all at my parents for a family bonfire and we spent the night listening to our favorite songs, laughing over the grandkids’ dance moves, and enjoying the beautiful chaos that our family of 14 (almost 15) has become. We are going to need to laugh and smile and focus on all of God’s goodness during this trial.
- KEEP TALKING. Our family is a family of talkers. Starting at a young age my mom got us talking and sharing about what’s going on in our lives. And today, we’ve learned to share everything with each other- our fears, our passions, what we are learning about faith… you name it. There are many days when I’ll get talking about politics with Dylan or I’ll sit with Steven and learn his wisdom on parenting. My parents valued our opinions as kids- and we value theirs. My mom also taught us that if there is a conflict or tension in the family- never ignore the issue and let it cause a wedge in the relationship. Work all the way through it- as it’s the most loving thing to do. No family is perfect, so we’ve had to do this over and over. And during this journey, we are going to need to keep talking it out. We can’t stuff our feelings, or let fear and worry keep us in isolation- the more we process together, the better off we will be.
- BE HUMBLE. My parents have never really talked about money, status, or wealth. Because they lost my uncle Keith when he was only 29 and my parents were 28, they learned that you can’t take anything with you when you go. Death and cancer have a way of humbling a person and revealing what truly matters in life. The Bible says that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” – 1 Peter 5:5. Because of my mom’s cancer we have been brought to our knees in humility before the Lord and it’s the very best place for us to be. Happiness, success, and even health are not the end goal…. holiness is.
So, while I don’t know how to perfectly wrap my head around cancer or know how to navigate this- I know that God has prepared us for such a time as this. I can rely on what I DO know in order to keep moving forward. And through it all, God is doing a mighty work- not just in my mom, but in all of us affected by this cancer. Just this morning I read from my pastor’s book these words-
“But we can have hope because growth will always follow the fire. God is faithful to take something meant for destruction and turn it into something good and refining. He may let a fiery trial sweep through our lives to remove something impure. And He may allow a blazing fire to barrel our way so something new and better can replace the old…But growth will always come. When the smoke clears and the spring rains fall on our dry souls, we’ll find God was there. And after the fire He will begin to fill our lives with things we never knew about…Deep roots of trust replace a shallow faith in God…New growth. New life. A faithful God.” – Bob Merritt
And for the promised SURGERY UPDATE: It was a miracle that my mom, who detests a simple blood pressure reading or getting an IV, walked into surgery completely at peace. She said it felt as if she was going to the dentist for a root canal- nothing more intense than that. Surgery went well! She called me shortly after and was on cloud 9 feeling great and relieved that it was over with- and she was so grateful for her amazing surgeon and nurses. She cheered saying, “I did it! Cha! Cha! Cha!” And we praise God that the detected cancer has been removed. In the next week and a half we will learn more results regarding how many lymph nodes were taken out and were affected, as well as the best treatment plan moving forward.
Thank you all for your continued prayer over this journey- we truly could not do it without all of your love and support!
Until next time,