The End of Summer and a New Beginning

This week marks the end of summer for our family. Monday beings the craziness of school, sports, and music lessons. While I’m sad to see lazy summer days go, I’m looking forward to getting back to a routine.

This summer was more laid back than usual for our family. Because Gabe needed to be close to the cancer center, and because the treatments were making him feel sick, any overnight trips were difficult to plan.

We did manage to get away for one night at Port Crescent State Park in Michigan! Their cabin that sleeps six had an opening at the last minute, and since Gabe had just finished his radiation treatments, we decided to go. It was wonderful! We had our own private beach right outside the cabin. I’m so thankful we were able to go!

Our beach scene from the front door of our cabin at Port Crescent State Park.

I also was able to make it to Lexington, Kentucky for a quick weekend to meet my brand new, great-niece! Kennedy Diane Calhoun is so precious, and I can’t wait to see her again soon!

Welcome to the world, Kennedy Diane!

Finally, I was able to take the kids to the Toledo Zoo. If you have never been there, you should go. The Toledo Zoo has been voted one of the top ten zoos in the United States. It had been a few years since we were there last , so it was fun to get to spend that time with the kids.

Six more weeks and Gabe’s treatments will be over! Gabe will get a final scan to confirm the cancer is gone, and then declared NED (no evidence detected). After five years of being NED, he will officially be in remission! 

As I look forward to life returning to normal for our family, I also feel a little timid in leaving this valley behind. You see, God has been here with us. 

We’ve seen Him work miracles. He has provided every single need, and blessed us above what we ever imagined He would! The close fellowship I have had with Him, and the peace that I have experienced while walking through this valley with Him, has been life-changing. I’m thankful for how He led me through the most difficult time of my life! 

For me, this is not just the end of another summer. It is a beginning of a new normal. I don’t know what our new normal will look like. I do know I don’t need to worry. If I can trust God to get us through a difficult year-and-a-half, I can most definitely trust Him with normal!

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” – Psalms 34:19

What a Cancer Patient Won’t Tell You (but his wife will)


I have debated writing this post for a few months now. It is not my intent to whine, complain, or cause discouragement! God has been SO GOOD to us while on this journey! However, many have asked me how Gabe is “really” doing? So I thought I’d share with you, what he probably won’t tell you himself.
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Often I’ve listened to my husband talk to someone inquiring after his health. He will lightly smooth his struggles over with a butter knife, making it seem as though everything was as sweet as jam. It takes every ounce of self control within me to not enter those conversations mouth first, revealing what he’s REALLY going through!

“Gabe, why do you glaze over everything? Why aren’t you sharing what you are really going through?”

“Care, if I’m not positive when I talk to people, I won’t think positive when I’m alone.”

So here I am, sharing to a world of readers (all 30 of you) what a cancer patient (at least mine) won’t tell you. 

1. They feel sick more than they feel normal. Despite being on two different anti-nausea medications, my husband feels sick a lot. Thankfully, he’s been able to eat, and the steroids have made him even gain a few pounds. He is not thrilled by that, but doctor’s reassure him this is fantastic!

2. They. Are. Tired. All. The. Time. I’m not even kidding. Gabe sleeps about 9-10 hours a night, plus an hour nap every day, sometimes 2 naps! If he does any kind of physical labor, it literally takes hours of energy away from his body. Every day feels like he just ran a marathon.

3. Chemo really, really, really stinks. Think tingling and numbness in your hands, fingers, and toes. Freezing cold sensation when eating or drinking room temperature foods. Muscle pain and weakness when walking or chewing food. Think having to know what your blood counts are every week, having people stick you with needles nearly every day! 

4. Radiation really IS as difficult as they say. Burned skin, mucusy discharge, and bleeding are just a few side effects. Because my husband recieved radiation in a delicate area, he has even more difficulties I can’t mention on a public blog. The symptoms last for weeks after the last treatment.

5. They worry about the future. No matter how good their prognosis is, IT’S STILL CANCER. That means there is still fear of cancer spreading, or recurance of cancer, or serious illness from cancer treatments. They wonder if they will be able to return to work as they once did, and how they will pay the mounting medical bills. 

6. They miss what their life used to be. They miss the freedom to go away for a few days vacation instead of being “chained” to the cancer center. They miss feeling good, playing with their kids, food tasting good, working full time, sleeping soundly…there are so many more things my husband and I miss, we couldn’t possibly list them all!

7. They feel lonely. When friends and family first find out you have cancer, you will feel overwhelmed by their support and love! In time, however, some will get used to the idea you have cancer. For them, life is still going on as normally as can be, and you feel a little left behind. Many times loneliness is there, despite continued love and support, merrily because friends can’t go to your appointments with you, feel your pain, or hook up to your IV’s with you. Loneliness, to some extent, is unavoidable for a cancer patient.

8. It’s hard for their families. A spouse is going to worry more about the future than the cancer patient will worry. The added stress of caring for a loved one who is suffering through treatments along with average daily stresses can easily overwhelm. The fear of losing their loved one is never far from their thoughts. Older kids may struggle with extra responsibilities and having to back out of social activities in order to help their parents. 

9. Preventative treatments don’t feel any less painful or any less scary than treatments given in desperation. Many times I’ve heard, “but aren’t his treatments preventative?” Well, yes, but he’s going to feel the chemo and radiation just as if it were not a preventative measure. 

10. Lastly, a cancer patient won’t tell you that his entire outlook on life has changed. Things that were important yesterday, are no longer on the “to-do” list today. A cancer patient sees more clearly what is truly important in life. 

There are several other truths my husband will GLADLY tell anyone who wants to listen. God has been good to us through this cancer trial! He has provided every single need. We have been overwhelmed by friends and family who love and support us. We all have enjoyed Gabe being home more. Gabe is loving his guitar more every day. And lastly, this jourey is nearly over!

Really, I think Gabe believes that everything has been truly wonderful. He chooses to look at the positives and the blessings, and to cast the negatives behind him. This healthy perspective has been because of God’s Grace. The next time I hear him smoothing over how he’s really doing, I’m going to just keep my mouth closed.

Our Special Summer

Swaying with the swings smooth motion, I welcome the gentle breeze on my warm face. The setting sun spreads it’s glorious color across the sky, putting on a show of God’s amazing handiwork. My mind drifts to last summer and our family trip to Michigan’s thumb area.

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July, 2016 View of Lake Huron from our tent door.

How I longed to be on the beach at Port Crescent, chasing the waves with my bare feet. The sunsets at Port Crescent were amazing every night. The nightly bonfires represented family closeness and spiritual bonding. Sleeping in a tent meant scary stories and midnight bathroom trips. Coffee tasted best when slowly made over an open flame. I could hear my kids laughter as I invisioned them playing in the sand, and feel my husband’s embrace as we sat and watched the sunset together.

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July 2016, Port Crescent State Park, after a storm.

 

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July, 2016 Sunset over Lake Huron after a storm.

But no, we will not be visiting our favorite place this year. This summer has had fewer library trips and park visits. No lazy days spent picnicking at a local beach, or even day trips to the zoo. There will be no days set aside for America’s most loved roller coaster park, no out-of-state visits to see family, and no, there will be no camping.

This summer has been one of struggle in watching my husband suffer through radiation. It has been a summer of loneliness (your friends can’t walk each mile of your valley with you). It has been a summer of crazy schedules, a messy house, and many carry-out dinners and family movie nights.

As I sway in the cooling breeze, watching the last rays of sunlight dip below the horizon, I realize I no longer want to think back to last summer, or of this summers disappointments.

Instead, I begin to think of our church family’s generosity that has allowed us to get carry-out from restaurants we never would consider with four kids. The Clear Play DVD player a friend gave us has allowed family movie nights to include all the Avenger movies. Friends have helped pick up our kids from practices when we have schedule conflicts, and neighbors and family have come over to fix our falling-apart yard.

Lazy days at home have included slip-n-slide fun, gardening, trampoline wars, front-yard ninja battles, and Star Wars recipe cooking. Let’s not forget homemade popsicles, ice cream, smores, and popcorn balls. Reading aloud of adventures found in books written decades ago, have helped take us some place else, where we can explore caves or ride a rocket to Mars, right from our very own living room. Everyone has had a chance to improve in their guitar and ukulele playing skills. And endless rounds of Battleship and Zingo have kept all our competitive spirits alive.

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Playing a game of Battleship with my son, Bryce.

This summer has not been one we would have purposely planned, and it has for sure been filled with emotional struggle. However, it has also been a summer of opportunity as we grow closer as a family, and of continual thankfulness. Thankfulness that Gabe is alive, that there is hope for healing, and of God’s grace through this all.

As the stars (and mosquitos) begin to come out, lightening bugs begin to flicker above the grass. Bullfrogs begin their territorial calls while crickets start to chirp in unison, creating a chorus of nightly music. My heart joins in with their melody, praising God for giving our family this special summer.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Summer of 2015, watching the sunset with Gabe, before his stroke and before thyroid and colon cancer.

He Overwhelms My Days with Good

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Peeking down through the old, grated ceiling vent, I could see my dad sitting in his recliner. He was watching the eleven o’clock news, his cigarette sending puffs of smoke into the air. He yelled to my mother, who responded in turn with a heated tone. Realizing that a fight was brewing, I got up from the floor and tip-toed back to my bed. 

In my young, seven-year-old mind, I remember life before Jesus as a life filled with uncertainty. My parents were fighting a lot. I had a school friend whose parents had recently divorced, and I feared that would become my story.

One day, someone knocked on our front door and told my mom about Jesus. I remember she cried, then bowed her head to pray. A few weeks later, those same people came back and told my dad about Jesus. He cried, and bowed his head and prayed, too. Our family would never be the same!

Shortly after getting saved, my parents were invited to Hope Baptist Church. My dad never heard anyone speak with authority as he had that morning. When Pastor Sowell lifted his King James Bible into the air and declared, “don’t take my word for it”, my dad knew we were in the right place.

No longer were my days filled with fear over my parents fighting. Our family’s days now revolved around the changes we were making for God.

We went to a Christian book store and bought King James Bibles. We packed away our imodest clothing and worldly music.  My dad even gave up smoking and drinking. I didn’t hear swearing in the house anymore, and yes, my parents were filled with such zeal in their new-found faith, they no longer fought as they used to.

My family threw themselves into ministry wherever there was an opportunity. If the church doors were open, we were there. I remember cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming between pews. I worked in the nursery and helped wash dishes during Bible Conference. Once, I even did the worst job ever- scraping gum from the bottom of the pews! We sang in nursing homes, and even helped out in a ministry that focused on inner-city kids. As I got older, I had the opportunity to be involved in our tiny orchestra, and girls ensemble.

Life was good, and we were too busy to think about it! We were growing in the Lord as a family, and it was an amazing journey! Soon, I was in the singles group at church, where I met my husband. It wasn’t long before we were married and started our own family, beginning our own journey with the Lord. We have continued to throw ourselves into ministry, trying to raise our own children to have a deep love and desire for the Lord.

Life hasn’t always been easy. We’ve had our bumps along the way, just like any other normal family. We’ve had heart-breaks and sicknesses, frustrations and fears. Yet, each step of our bumpy journey, we have seen our days overwhelmed by Gods goodness!

We have watched other families, who don’t know Jesus, struggle with a diagnosis they’ve just recieved. They find themselves desperate, crying out for some kind of hope. They post on social media of their depression and despair, searching for answers that will help them cope with their grief.

And then, there’s my husband and I, sitting in treatment rooms, surgery waiting rooms, and appointment rooms, smiling, and sometimes laughing! How? Why? Even if our worst fears come to pass, there is joy at the end of our journey, and God’s grace for along the way. Because, He has overwhelmed our days with good!

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” – Psalms 34:8

“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:19‭-‬21

 

Abundant Little Blessings

Summer is here! And despite a few minor setbacks due to my reaction to stress (anyone else allergic to stress?) and Gabe’s port failing, our family has been able to enjoy the first official week of no school. This week marks the end of phase 1 in Gabe’s treatment. Radiation and chemo begins on Monday.

Although it was hard to deal with the setbacks, I am very grateful that we experienced them.

For it was through the difficult moments that God decided to show Himself to me in abundant little ways.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think….” – Ephesians 3:20a

From gifts handed to us at church on Sunday, packages sent in the mail stuffed with gift cards on Tuesday, texts and email messages from friends near and far all week long, and the extraordinary kindness of neighbors, God was pretty busy this week.  Not to mention bumping into friends at parks, and hour-long phone conversations with family and friends offering hope and prayers. All of these little blessings added up to be one extraordinary message from God. He was thinking of us.

We kicked off the summer last night with the family getting ice cream after church. Since Gabe is not having any of the side effects of his chemo right now, he thought it would be a good idea to get a taste of ice cream before the chemo starts again. (I don’t know why he’s making this face, but he did it on all five pictures we took!)

Don’t underestimate God’s thoughts of you. When life gets stressful, He’s thinking of you, and He really wants you to know it!

“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” – Psalms 139:17‭-‬18

3 Things Cancer Has Taught Me

Before you read this post, I have two disclaimers that I need to get out of the way. First of all, this is not about what my husband, the​ patient, has learned. This post is about what I, the caregiver, has learned. Secondly, we are only 1/3 of the way through our journey. I am certain I have a lot more to learn!

My husband did not volunteer to have cancer, and I did not volunteer to become a caregiver. Yet here we both are on this journey together. Along the way I have learned a few things that I thought I would share with you.

#1 – Everyone’s cancer story is different. I don’t need to do a Google search on every possible outcome for stage 3 colon cancer. If I do, I’m going to read hundreds of different stories, and for some reason, only the worst case scenarios are found on Google searches.

The acquaintance at church, the stranger in the grocery store, or your well-meaning second cousin whom you’ve never met, all have a story to share.

But those stories are not your story. This is your journey, not theirs. Don’t allow well-meaning voices to tell you how you are supposed to be feeling, or what tests or blood work you should ask for. That’s between you and your doctor. If you choose to get an opinion from someone else, that’s perfectly fine. It is also perfectly fine to let the story of your great Aunt Martha’s best friend’s husband’s terrible battle with cancer, roll right over your head!

#2 – Everyone means well when expressing their concern. In other words, some people are going to say stupid stuff, and rather than get offended, realize they only care about you and are doing the best they can to comfort and relate with you.

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear you have colon cancer. My dad died of that years ago. It was a terrible death!

Honestly, my husband and I often find ourselves in stitches over some of the “well-meaning” things we have heard!

 I have chosen however, to accept each comment that is sent my way, regardless of how it is presented, as a blessing.

Because at least people care enough to try and comfort us, and for that, I am truly humbled. Besides, I know I used to be one of the well-meaning Great Aunt Martha’s!

#3 – Looking for Comfort outside of God is always a bad idea. When I start feeling afraid, or sorrowful of the circumstances I am in, I tend to have some of the following thoughts:

I just need some of that Double Fudge Brownie dessert to take away my blues!

Or,

Just keep calm and call my sister! 

And,

I just need a break! One day of Netflix is all I need, and I’ll be back to my old self tomorrow!

Not true! While none of those things are wrong, if I had just gone to the right Source for comfort in the first place, I could have saved myself at least 5lbs!

 Besides, after I was done with each of those things, I still felt empty inside.

They only brought me temporary comfort. It’s not until I get on my knees and bring my fears before my Father that I find true peace.

“And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

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Have you learned something from your own journey through cancer? If you have, please leave a comment, I sure would like to read it! 

Perfect Love

When I first met Gabe, one of the first things I noticed about him were his broad, strong shoulders. Back in those days (that I fondly call our “thin and trim years”), my husband loved to go to the gym. Even now, when he grabs me to pull me into his arms for a hug, I find myself surprised by his strength. And of course we have the old-fashioned husband-and-wife relationship where I hand him the brand new jar of pickles to open and let him carry heavy boxes for me!

Just like any couple who has been married over a year, my love for my husband has grown and changed.  I’ve seen things about his character that have made me love him even more deeply.

I know. This is getting too mushy.

I guess my point is, that this cancer journey has made me see a strength in Gabe that I have grown to admire more than his muscles.

How can someone who has stage 3 cancer be so positive? How does he have such peace about his future? How is he able to focus only on today? How is it that fear seems to not even be a part of my husband’s vocabulary?

I, on the other hand, feel as though I am desperately fighting fear on a daily basis. I am the one that lays awake at night, fear causing my stomach to churn.  I am the one who is grumpy at everyone the next day because I didn’t sleep the night before.

Fear. It makes me obsessive. It paralyzes me.  It controls me. It lies to me. It makes me crazy. It effects every other area of my life.

Why is it that fear can hurt your body and make you sick? Why is it that fear can keep you awake at night? How can it keep you a prisoner in your own home, or in your own mind? Fear can torment you!

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18

Jesus did the most perfect thing on Calvary. He was the perfect Lamb, sacrificed for our sins. He showed perfect love.

Reading the accounts of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, I used to believe Jesus was afraid to die. However, I recently realized that if His love was perfect, He couldn’t have been afraid, and we know Jesus is perfect.

“And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.  And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” – Luke 22:43‭-‬44 

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” – Matthew 26:39

Jesus was very sorrowful, and in a great deal of distress. It doesn’t mention fear, however. How was Jesus not fearful?!

…nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Perfect love is the key! Jesus had perfect love. Perfect love casts out fear. Even in His distress and sorrow, Jesus had perfect love for His Father. He trusted His Father, and submitted to His will. Jesus was able to get up off the ground in that garden, and walk towards impending doom. Without fear.

I believe my husband has figured out perfect love. He has figured out that it’s worth it to surrender to the Father’s will. He sleeps pretty well at night. He’s not bogged down by worry of how he’s going to react to the next treatment or if his cancer will one day spread to other organs.

He is not being tormented by his cancer.

I need to daily practice perfect love and trusting the Father’s will, knowing that only then, can I find peace and rest.

“O Love, that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”

Don’t Worry…

Years ago, when I was a sophomore in highschool, my youth group was planning a missions trip to Europe. The night before I was to board the plane, my family decided to watch a movie together. Someone thought it would be awesome to watch “Alive”, a movie about how a plane crash survivor took extreme measures to stay alive. Needles to say, I was more than a little worried getting on that plane the next day. As it was my first time flying, I think the more appropriate word would be “terrified”!

In case you are wondering if it’s normal for me to worry, the answer would be a resounding YES!  For example, when the tornado sirens go off, even if the sun is shining, I’m going to head to the basement. Not only will I go to the basement, but I will take the weather radio and my phone, so I can be sure I know EXACTLY where that tornado is, and what street it’s heading towards. I will want to know how long the warning is to last, and what damage the tornado made before getting to my house!

So when we found out my husband had colon cancer, of course, being the worrier I am, I began to do in-depth research. I read every website there is to read, every brochure from every doctor’s office we went to. I went to the library and checked out books on cancer, cancer diets, and juicing for cancer. Not only did I want to know exactly what we were up against, I wanted to know exactly what would be expected of me as my husband’s caregiver. I found a private support group for colon cancer patients and their caregivers on Facebook. I organized the growing stack of office visit summaries and test results into a large binder, along with lists of  my husbands medications and doctors.

Along with all that organization and research, I began to notice a headache that wouldn’t go away. I often felt nauseous, and when anyone would touch me on my shoulders, my muscles were so tight that I would cry out in pain. I also began to notice being short tempered with my kids.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” – Corrie Ten Boom

This quote is actually pinned up on my board above my kitchen sink. You would think I would have learned this lesson by now, being as it has been hanging there for a few years. However, I’m finding that some of life’s lessons can only be learned by going through valleys.
Worrying about my husband’s colon cancer has not changed the course of treatment he is recieving. It has not made me feel better about the fact he has cancer. It has not drawn us closer together, or endeared my children to me more. It has not helped me clean my house faster, keep up with the laundry, treck all over town for the numerous doctor’s appointments, or minister in my church any better.

Worry hasn’t given me one thing (well, besides a headache).

Worrying has, however, taken away the gift of peace God had given me. It stole away some of the hope I had for this turning out all good in the end. It took away some of the joy I once felt over the many gifts God has given us. It zapped me of energy I needed to clean and cook and run errands for my family.

 

 

 

“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” – Matthew 6:27

Gabe’s second infusion didn’t go so great. His muscles in his legs began cramping before the treatment was even completed. It was painful for him to walk, and he could only manage to limp around for several days. The muscles in his hands cramped so much he could barely hold on to the rails when going up and down stairs.

As I was trying to process all these changes that happened so quickly in my husband’s body, I felt my stomach begin to clench with worry.

Would he be able to finish treatments? What would his prognosis be if he couldn’t manage treatments?

After a few days of watching my husband limp around the house, flexing his fingers to stretch out muscle cramps, and rub his jaw because of the pain of chewing his food, I had became a huge knot of stress.

A friend who has been through this with her husband texted me to see how I was doing.

I asked her: “How did you manage the stress when your husband was so sick?”

Her reply: “I didn’t think about it. I just did what needed doing. Don’t think about the stuff you can’t change. Refuse.”

As I am writing this blog post today, I’m feeling like a hypocrite. I have experience with living with worry, but not with conqouring it. However, I’m going to refuse to think about what I can’t change. To refuse to carry burdens that the Lord has offered to take. To remember how good God is to me, and that He can be glorified by this walk in the valley.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7


PS: Gabe is feeling much better. Most of the side effects wore off after a week. 

 

Contentment Amid Chaos

When I was single, I thought the only thing that would make me truly happy was to get married and start my own family. I struggled daily with feelings of discontentment and frustration because not only was there no boyfriend in my life, I didn’t even have a prospect!

Then I met and fell madly in love with a guy named Gabe, and we got married. Finally!!  I was content…except, well,  I got the baby itch! I just KNEW the only thing that would really make me truly content was to have a baby! It only took a few sleepless nights with a screaming infant to realize that a baby was not the source to true contentment!

Over the years I have learned that contentment does not come from how many kids you have, how much money you make, how big your house is, or wether you drive a mini van or an SUV.

This is actually a hard thing for me to grasp even now.

We are still living in the first house we ever bought. It’s a cute little house in a neighborhood that is starting to go a little “ghetto”.

We had great plans to fix up our house when we first moved in,  but we just never found the extra money to set aside for it. We were so busy raising our 4 kids, it just wasn’t that high on the priority list. Now that our kids are a bit older, those things that needed fixing 14 years ago are in even worse shape now. I have counters that you dare not place an egg on our you will be cleaning up the floor.  Out of the many doors in our house, only one doesn’t have a large hole in it. Don’t even get me started on my bathroom!

Yes, I struggle with being content with my house. I really, really want to move. Moving isn’t possible until we fix it up and sell it first.

The week after Christmas, we had our kitchen measured for new cabinets and our floors measured for new carpet and laminate! After years of talking and planning, sacrifice, and hard work, we finally walked into the bank on a sunny January day, to look at our options for a home improvement loan. I could hardly contain my excitement!

As I was starting our dinner that night, my mind was racing with color schemes and decoration ideas. Kids clattering through the house with toys along with the melodic notes of my daughter playing the piano, easily made the ringing house phone  unnoticeable.  A few minutes later my husband urgently called me upstairs to our room. I had never seen him so distressed. I started to get annoyed. Was he getting cold feet about investing money in our house?

“I have cancer. Again.”

“What?”

“Carrie, that was the doctor. I have colon cancer.”

Time seemed to slow down. I could hear my heart beat roaring in my ears. Then I lost control and cried my heart out. My husband held me, shock rippling through his body. Finally, I realized the wrong person was comforting the wrong person. I realized I was dangling over the edge of a full-fledged panic attack. I finally regained my self-control.

“God has got us through so much this last year. Why should we lose hope now? It’s going to be OK. No matter what, it’s going to be OK.”

My words echoed through my mind, trying to find a place in my heart to rest.

It’s March now, and everything is still OK. Gabe had a successful surgery. He is one cycle into his chemo treatments. Side effects from the chemo were there, but tolerable.

God has provided each and every need, and beyond. He has given us peace that we have a hard time explaining to others. We even have been able to forget sometimes that Gabe even has cancer.

It’s funny how circumstances in our life can cause us to be content where we once struggled. How things that seemed so urgent just a few days ago are now nearly forgotten.

Ok, do I still want to move? Um…yes. Do I still want my house fixed up?  Yup. Do I ever think about how close I came to getting my house fixed up before the door slammed in my face? You betcha. In fact, I was even doing a little complaining to my dear friend the other day about it. Being the dear friend she is, she sharpened this old piece of iron by saying, “Carrie don’t let the Devil steal God’s victory from you.”

The fact of the matter is, contentment is a long roller coaster ride. One day, you can be focused on living your life to please God and you don’t struggle one bit with being content. You actually feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what you do have. The next day, you might go to IKEA, and well, your eyes get off focus from what God has already done and you may slope into days of discontentment and ungratefulness.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. – Philippians 4:11

If I can keep my eyes focused on what God HAS done (taken care of my husband through a stroke and thyroid cancer), and what God IS doing (taken care of every single need as we now face colon cancer), I can be content with knowing He has my future in His hands. I can trust Him. I can be content, even in the midst of chaos.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. – 1 Timothy 6:6

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Through the Valley

“The only way to get through the valley is to go through the valley.” – Gabe Nehmer (my husband)

Our family of six is presently all packed like sardines into our van. We are on a short road trip to Cincinnati to visit the Creation Museum. We have only had to roll down the windows three times (come on people, I have 3 boys) on this three hour drive, so I feel we are doing pretty good!

Gabe had the procedure last week to have the port put in for the infusion part of his treatments. It went well and he is healing up nicely. Chemo and infusion starts this Thursday.

We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary this weekend by sneaking away for an hour to get Cold Stone Ice cream. It’s a huge accomplishment when you can sneak ice cream past 4 kids!

Usually we schedule a weekend getaway for our anniversaries. Spend a couple days hidden away from the stress of life, work, and children where we only focus on earch other.  This year we decided to take a family trip, instead. With Gabe starting treatments we weren’t sure if we would be able to go camping this summer. We didn’t want to wait for spring break to plan something, either. We just aren’t sure how Gabe will respond to his treatments. So, we pulled the kids out of school for two days, packed a few bags, and piled in the van this morning, headed on our family adventure.

Saturday was such a great day, I had actually forgotten about our troubles. As we were getting ready for bed, I happened to walk in the bedroom where my husband was changing his shirt. I saw all his scars from his last three surgeries. He was still bruised from IV’s from the last procedure. Tears quickly came to my eyes as reality hit me in the face again.

As we talked that night before bed, my husband said something that to me, seemed very profound. “The only way to get through the valley is to go through the valley.” What is the point of feeling sorry for ourselves while in the valley? It’s not going to make it shorter or happier. We still will have to go through it. What will make it easier is to remember we are not alone, the Shepherd is leading us.