Shell-shocked. Ten days have passed. Three hospitals. Two ambulances. Several Emergency Rooms and we’re all worn completely out. Rollercoaster of emotions. Welcome to 2017!

On Saturday, January 7th my mom rushed Big John, my stepdad, to the ER thinking he was exhibiting signs of a stroke. After many scares and tests and reports and transfers, and even longer periods of waiting, we learned that it wasn’t a stroke but rather tumors on his brain. His cancer has returned. On Tuesday, January 17th, he underwent surgery to remove two brain tumors, and eight hours later his neurosurgeon called it a success! Praise God!

There are already many other scheduled appointments for radiation therapy and meetings with other teams to discuss further treatments to address the other tumors in the other locations, but that’s to come later. For now, this one huge hurdle has been crossed and we are rejoicing.

One of the many silver-linings in the midst of all this is more time with family and my parents. This is not what we were planning, thinking, or dreaming for our year, but with the chaos, with the stress and the tension comes closeness and more togetherness. We are most notably at our finest and our lousiest selves as we try to process through grief, uncertainty, and largely fear.

We carry one another’s burdens, we listen, and we research, all the while trying to bring calmness, certainty – a peace which surpasses all understanding. Over the course of these days, we’ve gathered and huddled and met and gathered some more. At just about any moment each of us is in physical contact with someone else – we’re constantly leaning on each other, lounging across legs, rubbing backs, and massaging heads, touching arms, sharing chairs, or giving hugs. We all need a little extra security and touch.

My coping mechanism is control. I have a tendency to micro-manage anything and anyone. When so much is unknown, I grab ahold of the tangible and fight the urge to line up everything in my life – for me, that feels safe and grounded. Having a clean house, organized pantry and garage, spotless car, and a minimalistic closet housing my (make-believe) capsule wardrobe. It’s also not realistic for the other parts of my personality and it’s wildly incongruent with our current life-stage and family values – hello, minivan! With so much shifting, I am grasping at straws to maintain order and balance and peace. This looks like me rummaging through my refrigerator at 10:30pm and cleaning it out, discarding everything out of date, and wiping down each shelf. It also looks like me dumping my sock drawer with seven minutes to go before we need to leave for school, so I can organize all the pairs and discard any that I hardly wear. These are important tasks and MUST be accomplished RIGHT NOW!!”

But, here’s the thing: we are not without HOPE. We have the unshakeable peace of God, and we have joy in spite of all these turbulent waters.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they
trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD Himself, is the
Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3-4

We are placing our hope in the One who is above the heavens and the earth and we are trusting in His goodness, His loving-kindness, and His Presence. He is with me and will never forsake me. I am so thankful for this tender and all-knowing Father God, who turns His ear toward me. God is love. And, He is loving.

Below are images from an amazing, impromptu, seriously last-minute, photoshoot from the most sincere and gracious Marsais Urban. I am so thankful for her friendship and laugh and sincerity and generosity and big hair. Because it is an entire thing… I digress… If you’re recently engaged, or like to travel or are in need of some photos, check out her work. It’s incredible!

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All photos by: Marsais

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