Our family had much to celebrate in the last week! Here are a few things: Faith graduated from the 4th grade, Adam graduated from Kindergarten, Asher celebrated his 5 week birthday by staying off oxygen help for 48 hours and reaching the 7 pound mark, and Amy celebrated her 34th birthday! God has so blessed our family once again! Thank you all for your prayers, support, gifts, and birthday wishes! Celebrating these special things with you has brought such joy to my heart!
I almost got my birthday wish of having Asher come home from the hospital on my birthday. He was all set to be released until he set off an alarm in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday that required an automatic 5 day hold for observation. We were disappointed to have to wait again, but we want Asher to be a healthy boy when he comes home, so we want the doctors to be sure there is not another underlying issue to deal with. We are so thankful that he is eating AND breathing completely on his own now and still thriving! It’s wonderful to look into his precious little face without any oxygen or feeding tubes. He is getting longer and filling out as he passed the 7 pound mark for weight this week. He is holding up his head and looking around the room, wiggling and pushing himself around with his arms and legs, and being alert for much longer and more frequent times between his naps. So now at the age of 5 weeks, he is looking and acting like a “normal” newborn, just in time for his actual due date of May 23rd! It has been another amazing miracle to watch the medical technology, directed by an excellent medical staff, help Asher and his God-made body, with all the perfect pieces he needed, get to this point at just the right time. Barring any more unforeseen alarms being triggered, we are now looking forward to bringing him home on Monday!!!
I have been thinking on how precious and fragile this life on earth truly is. In the past few months, Eric and I have had to face the possibility that I might not make it to my 34th birthday. Doctors told us that waiting for treatment due to my pregnancy along with my cancer growing so aggressively could mean that we wouldn’t be able to stop the cancer. We had to wrestle through the idea that dying could be God’s plan for me at this time. I might not get to see my three wonderful children grow up, or even see my precious little baby Asher be born and hold him in my arms. I might not get to grow old with my wonderful husband and walk alongside the love of my life everyday. I might not get to live any more of this life alongside so many wonderful people that have touched my life in so many ways. I might have to leave all of my family and friends behind for the time being.
As I thought about this, I noticed a few things. My only regret, the one thing that hurt my heart and soul, was leaving those I love here on this earth where I could no longer tell them of the hope of Christ and build them up and encourage them in love on their journey in this life on earth. There were many things I do enjoy doing and having that I wouldn’t miss: my work, getting to plan events, my cake decorating, my baking, my house, my clothes, my things, my favorite television shows, my favorite movies, my favorite songs, my favorite sports, my favorite books, or even my awesome mini-van. 😉 But there are many souls I would dearly miss in this world: my dear family, my church family, my fellow Christians, all my Bennington and Omaha friends, all my Iowa friends, my chemo friends, my medical staff friends, and the list goes on and on. What does this tell me? I do enjoy having things and doing activities, but only when I am able to share them joyfully with those around me. It’s the people that are important, not the things!
I also realized I was at a crossroads: I could blame God for all the bad things that were happening and turn away from Him OR I could trust in Him that all things work together for good and He will keep all His promises to me and turn to Him. God had been preparing me for this crossroads, especially over the last 2 years of this cancer journey. He didn’t put me at this crossroads when I first started my cancer journey. At that time, things never seemed life or death. There were many options before me that would seemingly remedy the cancer. These options were not easy, and took me on a path to learn to depend and lean on my God and Savior and grow my faith every step of the way, preparing me for what lay ahead.
I am reminded of Abraham, who was called a great man of faith by God. He also struggled and failed as he grew in his faith to the point where he was willing to obey God and give his only son Isaac to show his faith in and love for God. Abraham obeyed what God said; God delivered Isaac and kept all his promises to Abraham.
At this crossroads, I chose to trust God that all things would work together for good. Even if God chose for me to die, that would mean I would be in heaven with Him! I would be in a perfect place for all eternity with no sin, no death, no pain, no sorrow. I can only imagine what it will be like to be there with The Everlasting God who created everything, who has power over everything, who knows everything, who can do anything! And yet He is The God of Compassion who loves all of us, who wants the best for us, who wants to be with us, despite our sin, our doubt, and our failure. He gave His only perfect Son, Jesus, to die in your place, so that you can have all your sins wiped away if you only turn to Him and believe He is your God and Savior of your soul! Then you can say with me that our citizenship is in heaven with Him, not on this earth where sin and death befall us.
Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.” (Philippians 1:21-26) Now, God has delivered me from the cancer for the time being. He chose to keep it from spreading in my body long enough to deliver Asher and get the treatment I needed to fight off the cancer! I have reached the milestone of my 34th birthday! Just as in Paul’s case, God has chosen to let me continue living my life with all of my dear loved ones. I am able to continue helping and sharing the hope of Christ with those around me each and every day, for your progress and joy in the faith!
So what should you that hear these words do? Paul said, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:17-21)
My friends, what do you glory in, what do you set your mind on? Earthly things that will pass away and end in destruction? Or do you set your mind on the things above, eagerly waiting for a Savior Jesus Christ who has the power to transform our broken, dying bodies into glorious, perfect ones? Don’t be an enemy of Christ, but a follower of the God of love who desires to bless and keep you in perfect peace no matter what this life may bring.