Sunday, July 31, 2016

The liver vs. the heart

I have been in quite the whirlwind the last few weeks.  It is such a strange thing to go from riding bikes and canoeing with your kids in what you consider a healthy state to a terminal diagnosis.
I did want to relay that I am feeling well.  I am not in pain anymore because I think I healed from the damage I apparently did to myself canoeing.  Also, my doctors visits are fewer these days so most things have gone back to somewhat normal.  My only issue now is the exhaustion and nausea.  That is manageable.

I have been thinking about so many things. Something that has struck me deeply is how amazing it is that so many people have been so kind.  You are all fooled!  I really am such a dud because I don't think I would have thought of half the things people have done for me if the situation was reversed.
We have received hundreds of Facebook messages, texts, and letters.  We have received gift cards to restaurants, people are mowing our yard, today a deep freezer was delivered. It was paid for by donations one church group took up so that we could hold all the meals people are bringing.  We came home one day this week to boxes of school supplies a friend purchased.  Plane tickets to clinics for second opinions have been offered.  Family trips have been offered. I have now lost count of how many people are praying AND fasting for me.

Seriously, we could never have expected these things! You are all so so generous!  You are all so so encouraging and kind!   I have been so floored by this!   Also, I am overusing exclamation points these days.

I am so blessed with so many things.  Not the least of which are some really amazing friends.  I have to share a funny story that happened on Friday. I was at home from work for lunch and Andrew called to ask me to stay because someone was delivering something to the house.  Three of my best friends showed up to 'kidnap me'.  The next thing I know I am in a chair at the tattoo/piercing parlor. I have wanted a nose piercing ever since I was in college.  The college I went to did not allow it and I had a string of jobs after college that did not either.  I was recently telling them how I wished that I had done that.  They decided that Friday was the day.  I love them for that!




That same evening I got to go to dinner with some additional favorites and had a great time. 


These women and their husbands have been so meaningful to Andrew and I the past several years. If you know us or search this blog you can see that before my post on liver cancer a few weeks ago it had been two years since the last blog post.  That is because my heart has been infected with a different kind of disease.  

Our journey to Sierra Leone was an odd one.  In our first years of marriage we never thought about or planned to be missionaries.  I simply had a heart for adoption which eventually lead to our desire to do orphan care and then missions. 

The idea of adoption began with me when I was in college and grew into a desire to adopt a sibling group. We know some really amazing people who opened a center in Sierra Leone and they were looking for sponsors and had sent out photos of kids who needed it.  While looking through the photos Andrew came across a sibling group of three kids.  He says he just looked at their faces and knew that they were the ones we were supposed to adopt.  That was a 6 (almost 7) year journey of ups and downs, always thinking that maybe once we made it through x hurdle that we would be able to bring them home and constantly being disappointed. Moving to Sierra Leone to help facilitate the center was a totally separate decision but while we were there we made the decision to foster these three kids.  That would open 3 beds at the center and allow our family to bond in the meantime.  After a year and a half of them living with us, and 5 years of saying yes to the adoption, the mother backed out unexpectedly.  Memories of my children sobbing in the floor, the kids packed up and driving out the gate, and stories from the center about how they would just sit and cry for hours created in me some very dark days.  There were days that I too laid in bed for hours crying bitterly.  I have a hard time typing it without tearing up even now.  

In my grief I began to question the one I had trusted would make this happen for me.  I just knew that God would grant me this desire of my heart because surely it was a noble request.  I couldn't imagine why he wouldn't.   In hind site, it was the beginning of thinking I knew more than he did.  I put myself in a 'time out' corner and sat in the dark for 2 years.  During this time Satan wasted no time whispering lies to me.  If you asked me during that time where my loyalties lied I would have said with Jesus Christ and I had no intentions of swapping sides.  But that serpent of old is very crafty and can settle for that.  He just kept whispering things to keep me in my corner glaring.  This is how sin began to grow roots in my heart.   I, just like the Israelites in the David and Goliath story I referenced in my previous blog, had seen many amazing things that God had done.  For us it was in Sierra Leone and following up to it. Andrew and I stood in amazement many times at what were miraculous and mysterious stories that unfolded right in front of us. Some of them are told in this very blog.  If you have read 'The fast fast' I would like to say that to this day Ivey has never had another staff infection and has minimal issues with eczema.  That can only be attributed to God himself since we had tried everything else under the sun for a year and a half.  However, just like the Israelites, I ran. I would not read or pray.  I just sat in my dark corner and did a lot of complaining and crying to the ladies in the photos above.  They and their husbands loved us anyway.  They prayed for our family many many times. If I were them I would have gotten so tired of me.  But they held strong.  They were there day in and day out- listening, empathizing and praying.  They epitomize the church.  They exemplify Christ and I thank him every day for the blessing of knowing them.

I have been saying for a long time now that I know it is time to buckle down and repent for my doubt in God's faithfulness, for my doubt of how much he loved me or my children, for shutting him out when I should have been digging in to know him better.  I am not angry anymore.  When I found out that I had cancer I knew that it was time to leave my corner and uproot the lies whispered and remember all the miracles that I had seen with my own eyes.  I could not stand up before I bowed down.  I asked forgiveness for these things flat out on the floor of our bedroom and decided that no matter what the end was, I would be at peace with that because I trust that Jesus has a plan.  I may not play the role I want, but I will submit to it.   I felt that it was important to say these things since there was a 2 year gap of ugly that most of you haven't seen in me.  This is my confession to anyone who reads this blog.   I was not born believing or having great faith.  Whatever amount of faith I have now is only from years of development and struggle.  Romans 5:4 says this: 'we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.'

Whatever God has in store for me, I know from personal experience that it is easier to bear whatever yoke God gives than to be in the best of situations defying Him. 

28 Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest in your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11

8 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post. I appreciate your transparency to admit your faith struggles. We all have them but we rarely share them. But it's in the sharing that we draw strength from others and encourage one another that these are struggles we all experience. God has used that struggle in you to prepare you for this journey. Only He knows where it will end. But I'm so glad to hear what you are thinking and feeling. I continue to pray for you and your family. I love you all. Steve McLeod

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  2. What a beautiful post. I appreciate your transparency to admit your faith struggles. We all have them but we rarely share them. But it's in the sharing that we draw strength from others and encourage one another that these are struggles we all experience. God has used that struggle in you to prepare you for this journey. Only He knows where it will end. But I'm so glad to hear what you are thinking and feeling. I continue to pray for you and your family. I love you all. Steve McLeod

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  3. You have touched us so with your posts and your family's faithfulness to God.

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  4. You have touched us so with your posts and your family's faithfulness to God.

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  5. Wow, Heathet, your writing is such a blessing! Kristie and I met you and Andrew a few years ago in SL, and we're blessed by your presence there, even though you were in the midst of making the tough decision to leave. We are praying for you all and think of you every day.

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  6. Very beautiful and honest! Many Christians have gone through far less trials and tribulations than you have and have not been so humble about it as you seem to be. We went to high school together. I was very fond of you as a friend then because of your humility and kindness and I see nothing has changed. Pray everyday, as I will as well.

    Exodus 23:25
    Deuteronomy 31:6
    Psalms 41: 2-3

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  7. What a powerful, powerful witness! Your words are not wasted. They are words of God and will fall into many hearts and sow a crop of repentance and righteousness! Thank you for being clay in His loving hands. <3

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    Chris Rader

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