Friday, August 30, 2013

I'm just gonna be honest and say it...

if you want to comfort me, don't tell me that it's gonna be okay because my mama's going to be in heaven.  My tears have nothing to do with any uncertainty I have about my mama's eternal home.  I fully realize that very, very soon she's gonna be safe in the arms of her saviour.  If anything, I envy her that.

My tears don't come for that reason.  They come as I slip on the last pair of pajama pants she made me and I realize that never again will we spend too much money together at the fabric store.  Never again, will she make my children dress-up costumes or whip up beautiful window treatments for me.

They come when I look at pictures of she and my children together and realize there will be no more of those.  No more beach trips, no more strawberry picking adventures, no more Sunday dinners with her amazing augratin potatoes.  I cry for my sweet Abe who likely won't remember how very much she loved him.  I cry for my Lily, born on my mama's 60th birthday and realize that never again will they share a birthday cake.  I cry for the weddings and graduations she won't attend.  

They come when I realize that my biggest cheerleader is about to leave this earth.  The one who has spent the last two years gathering our birthday and Christmas requests and packing them into exactly 50 pound suitcases, driving them to wherever she can to find them a "free ride" across the Atlantic.  She is the one who has grieved deeply because of our move and yet has chosen to pray and serve rather than criticize.

I cry because it has happened so fast.  And I don't think it's fair.  I never dreamed that all of our lasts would be our lasts.  I would have savored them more.  I would have drank them in more fully.  I'm just not ready.

I cry because I am so proud of the way she has drawn closer to Christ in these last years.  I see the way that she has taken the wounds of her early years and allowed the Lord to redeem the years that the locust have eaten.  How she has exchanged her deep pain for a deep, deep, love for people.  It makes me so sad that her loss will bring sorrow to so many folks that she has loved well.

Tears fall when I realize how blessed I was to call her my mom and how much I wish that I had realized that 20 years earlier.  I cry as we have literally welcomed scores of people over the last week who simply needed to tell her that they love her and to thank her for loving them well.  When I look at the enormous bouquet that her Chick-fil-a manager sent because of her constant encouragement or the letters and well wishes she's received from senators and officials that she's advocated for in her constant quest for justice and freedom, I cry.  I cry because the loss simply seems too great for me in those moments.

So, if you want to encourage me, please don't tell me that soon my mama will be in heaven.  Instead, remind me that I have every right to cry, because this is rotten and this fallen world is disgusting.  Agree with me that this is a significant loss.  Remind me that death was not God's plan and it most definitely sucks.  Tell me the ways that my mama impacted you.  And when you do, the flood of tears may come, but that's okay.  Because this is hard and my tears don't indicate a lack of faith or a questioning of what's next.  They are simply evidence of a great sorrow that is most certainly valid.   

"You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.    
You have recorded each one in your book."
Psalm 56:8

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I want to thank you for all of the prayers and encouragement concerning my mother.  The last week has been a very difficult one, but the Body of Christ has been so sweet and encouraging to us in the midst of it.  The Father has reminded me again and again of His faithfulness.

In the way of updates I wanted to share that we are not getting good news.  My mother's overall physical strength has declined significantly.  She has been having serious issues with blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen.  In addition, her motor skills and mental state are altered.  After consulting with a team of doctors today, we made the decision to move from a goal of seeking cancer treatment to one of providing comfort for the days ahead.  Unless the Lord intervenes in a miraculous way, we do not expect that she will be on this earth much longer.  The hospice folks estimate a few more days.  It is really hard for us to believe, considering the fact that 2.5 weeks ago she was living her life just like always.

If she remains stable, she will be moved to an hospice care facility this afternoon.  We think that is the best environment for her at this time.

Ryan and the kids arrive in one week and we were desperately hoping that we would have some time to make some special memories together.  At this point, that doesn't look like it will be the case.  However, I have been and will continue to pray for a miracle, realizing that God is fully capable of that.  At the same time, I am praying about how to navigate the days ahead, should He choose to answer my prayers for healing in a more eternal way.

We continue to covet your prayers.  Obviously, this is a difficult journey and I would be lying if I didn't admit that I am struggling a bit with the "why this way Lord?" sort of questions.  Refining hurts.    I'm ready to be done with it for a bit, or at least to have a tiny reprieve.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

They were right...

Cancer sucks.  I've often heard that, now I've got ringside seats.  This is an event ticket I could have done without.  I'm choosing to believe that the Lord, in his infinite wisdom, is gonna sustain me through the days ahead.

The last few days have been a complete roller coaster.  Yesterday, I had to help facilitate some difficult decisions concerning my mother's care.  After 12 days in the same hospital, my parents had more questions than they did answers.  We weren't moving forward.  My mother continued to be in real pain.    We spent all day trying to get her a hospital to hospital transport, but none of the Duke facilities would grant her a bed.  We hit one dead end after another.  Finally, about 5 o'clock we made the call that we were going to allow them to discharge her.  We then put her in my van and drove her the 30 excrutiating minutes to Duke Medical Center, praying that when we presented in the ER they would actually admit her.

I shouldn't have worried about being turned away.  By the time we got there, she was in significant pain and her vital signs were in agreement.  The doctors were concerned and she was admitted.  It was a difficult few hours, but I know we made the right choice and it is already obvious that they are going to be able to give her an excellent standard of care.

Today has been a day of  getting answers.  And the answers weren't what we hoped for.  My mother has terminal cancer.  The scans show multiple lesions on her liver, lungs, and bones.  Pain racks her body.  She is battling pneumonia.

Our goal for the weekend is to minimize her pain until we can get another biopsy on Monday.  This one will be a bone biopsy.  We're hoping it will provide the doctors with answers about the cell type and origin.  This will allow them to begin palatable chemo for the purpose of increasing the quality of her remaining days.

The days ahead will most definitely be a journey.  We appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Quick Update

Well, this evening I'm boarding a plane and heading to America.  I have wished many times over the last 18 months that I had a plane ticket to visit home.  This wasn't exactly how I wanted it to go down.  But, I am grateful that I get to go and be with my mama and daddy.  I am told that they were thrilled to hear that I am coming.

At this point, we still have more questions than answers regarding my mom's cancer. We know she has lesions on the liver and lungs.   We know that the liver biopsy shows us it is cancer.  The problem is, the biopsy isn't giving the doctors any indication of where the cancer originated.  They are doing further tests to figure that out, but for now we only know that we are dealing with a "cancer of unknown origin."  Until they determine the origin, they can't start trying to kick it in the tail.  Meanwhile, my mom is in an awful lot of pain and obviously, the whole thing is a bit discouraging.  So, please continue to pray for her.

Please pray for my husband and kids.  We've been apart a lot this summer.  We've had 4 stressful days together since his return Friday night.   I really wish we could all hop on the plane together tonight.  But, obviously, it's not as easy as that.  We're praying that God will make it very clear when/if they should come and that He will take care of all of the details surrounding that.  It's a bit complicated with vacation days and re-entry visas and airfare times 7.  But, God has got this and we just pray that we can honor Him well in the days ahead, however He chooses to work.

And hey, I'm not gonna lie.   As much as I wish the circumstances were different... I do intend to savor my first fountain soda in 19 months!  America is not without her perks!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Prayers Appreciated

This past week has been torture for me.  While my husband has been 3 countries away,  doing what God called us to do, my body has been at home trying to meet at least the most basic need of our children.  My heart, however, has been thousands of miles away, in a hospital room in North Carolina.  My thoughts, my prayers, my tears have all been focused on one of the bravest, most selfless women I know.  She’s the woman that I have the privilege of calling my mom.

Yesterday was so difficult.  I woke up in the morning knowing that it would be the day that would bring my husband home, but that it would also bring the biopsy results we’ve been waiting to get on my mom.  I want so desperately to be there with her.  Instead I’m depending on phone calls and FB messages from people who love us to keep me in the loop.  I’ve had to trust that they’re shooting straight with me.  I’ve had to trust that the Holy Spirit would sustain her, sustain my father, sustain me through the minutes and the hours and the days.    My prayers this week have simply been groanings, I can’t even accomplish a complete thought.

Now the results are in and our fears are confirmed.  It’s cancer.   Since the minute I said yes to this job, this. has. been. my. fear.  

Pray for us friend.  Pray for my poor mama.  She is in so much pain.  I know she has to be so scared and so sad.  Pray for my daddy.  I can only imagine the weight he is carrying.  Pray for me.  I can’t get there soon enough, but it will take a few days to arrange everything.  Pray for my husband.  He just wants to make everything better for all of us.  Pray for my children.   They want so badly to hug their Grammy.  The logistics behind getting them there are overwhelming.

I cannot do this.  I cannot.  There is no strength in me that can face the days ahead.  None.  I am finished.  I am empty.  I am broken.  Any good thing that comes from me in the days ahead will be Jesus.  I am at the end of myself.  

Blessed be the Gpd and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 
2 Corinthians 1:3-5