In Christ Alone: Our Journey through and after Breast Cancer

a 37-year old, christian, mother of four, missionary/pastor's wife and her families story

19 Years Ago Today August 15, 2017

Filed under: Erics Updates — ewilmeth @ 4:00 AM

This day I will marry my friend, the one I laugh with, live for, dream with, love

Today is, was going to be my 19th wedding anniversary with Amy. Yet another first in a relentless parade of unwanted firsts this year. They can’t be stopped and it can’t be predicted how each of these days will go. I don’t know which way my emotions will go today but I do know I miss my friend dearly.

When we said our “I do’s” 19 years ago we meant every single word. With love and passion for one another we committed ourselves to the care and betterment of each other. Our vows were not mere words said as part of some ceremony, but they were concrete foundation blocks on which our lives would be built stronger together than we could possibly be apart. For richer, for poor, in sickness, and in health.

When you speak those vows to your love and you say “till death do us part” you picture growing old together and having decades upon decades together. Ours was a relationship destined to be celebrated when in old age, people would ask us the keys to a happy marriage that could last for 50, 60, 70 years! The plans we had were not the plans God had for us however.

Today I remember my vows, in their initial utterance and through to their completion. My life is stronger today because of what God has built into it through Amy and through my precious time with her. My heart breaks to not have her by my side on this day, yet I know God’s will is perfect. While I miss Amy greatly, I know I am anything but alone. My God walks with me each and every step and reminds me daily of His love and goodness. He heals my broken heart and He mends my wounds (Ps. 147:3). He reminds me through my kids that I am loved and there is much joy in life. He reminds me through the Bible that He is with me, to guide my path by His very words (Ps. 119:105). Those same scriptures remind me of His Authority to do with our lives whatever He deems best (Mt. 28:18). He is wise and He is with me. He reminds me through my family who constantly go above and beyond to encourage and care for me and the kids. He reminds me through friends, co-workers, church family, prayer warriors, brothers and sisters in Christ, and new relationships that He and you are with me.

The Lord reminds me of His faithfulness each and every day. Some days I find I don’t have my eyes open enough to see it clearly, but His faithful love and provisions are always there. Each day the kids and I find ourselves cared for and loved by the Almighty Creator. We remember Amy together and we step forward into each new day, and God steps before us leading the way. His love knows no limits and He allows my heart to grow to love more than I ever thought possible.

I am so thankful that it is impossible to be separated from the love of God! Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Do you know the love of God in your life? Read Amy’s own words to find our own Hope and Strength.

He is with me. He comforts me. He provides for me. I look to the future and there is sunshine, there is hope, there is love.

 

Finding Joy in the Little Things May 27, 2017

Filed under: Eric + Kids Update — ewilmeth @ 11:56 AM

Proverbs 17:22 – A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Wilmeth Kids 2017

 

I am so thankful for my children. Kids have an unbelievable ability to go from one end of the emotions spectrum to the other in a blink of an eye. Sometimes this is a bad thing, but in recent days it has often been a blessing as a normal ho-hum day is turned into a joy-filled time together as something happens and we burst out in laughter together. Proverbs 17:22 is so true, “a joyful heart is good medicine”.

 

On several recent occasions the kids and I have been laughing together so exuberantly that our eyes water. In each of these occasions I have immediately had an additional smile in my spirit as I remember Amy laughing and smiling right along with our kids. She loved to laugh, have fun, smile, and be joyful in laughter.  Her joy was good medicine for my soul; the remembrance of her joy IS good medicine for my soul. I can hear her laugh in my kids’ laughter, I can see her smile in their faces. This makes my heart joyful.

 

As thankful as I am for my kids and the joy God continual provides through them, I am exponentially more thankful for my Savior, Jesus. My kids help lift up my spirit in a moment. Wonderful memories of Amy’s smile, laughter, and joy hold up my spirit, but the life giving love that Jesus shows for me sustains my spirit both today and forever. In John 15 Jesus gives an example of a grapevine and how we must abide with Him.  He ends the metaphor by saying, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (verse 11)

 

We can have joy in life but in order for that joy to be truly full, we need Jesus. If the Lord had not been building me and giving me the strength to rejoice in Him always, these moments of laughter and joy with my kids would have been spirit crushing remembrances of what we don’t have. Instead, because of God’s mercy, grace, and His joy they are celebrations of Jesus’ joy in us and a reminder that since Amy died on this earth knowing Jesus as her personal Savior, her home-going was not a goodbye but rather a see you later. Do you know Jesus? His joy and His love? Seek Him and you can know Him and His goodness.

 


 

Family Update:

The kids are quickly approaching summer break. Their last day of school is June 8th. Many have asked how we’ll handle kids out of school and me still needing to work in the office (and some have wondered what I’ve been doing with Asher while I work). Faith is 14 and very capable to keep an eye on things at home with an adult available via a quick phone call. Things go smoothly as long as her brothers agree to cooperate. They tell me they will. 🙂

 

Asher usually goes to the office with me. On Wednesday he spends the day with Becky Little (President Little’s wife) as I typically have meetings. The rest of the week he is able to just hang out with me in my office and play on the floor or watch shows on my second monitor. An amazon prime membership has come in handy so that he can watch Thomas, Dinosaur Train, and Backyardigans (a few of his favorites). The other folks in the office are very gracious to him and me as they help keep an occasional eye on him and let him help in some of the tasks of the office too. I don’t know if he quite earns his keep yet, but we are getting there.

 

Thank you so much for continuing to pray for and support us. May could have been (and at times has been) a pretty hard month. With Mother’s day and Amy’s birthday, and the fact that today has now been 20 weeks, we’ve been through lots of firsts and times that can be rough. God has been faithful and provided wonderfully for us through many of you. On Amy’s birthday I was overwhelmed by the many messages and texts reminding me of your love and prayers for us. That day, which could have been unbearably hard, was in fact a great day of joy and blessing. Thank you!

 

Isaiah 41:13

For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.”

 

My View of the Mountains March 31, 2017

Filed under: Erics Updates — ewilmeth @ 10:08 PM

08.17.1999 – Rocky Mountains

June 2000 – Royal Gorge

Amy always loved to visit the mountains. She was able to visit the Alps in the summer of 1994 while on a trip with the Iowa Ambassadors of Music. In her journal from that trip she made several comments about the beauty of the area. After a couple days around Lake Geneva, which included a day hike to Châtel with her friend Alice, she remarked “I love this place so much that I don’t want to go on. Too bad! Dommage. I’ll miss it so much.” Personally, I’m glad she did return because then we were able to visit the Great Smokey Mountains around Gatlinburg, Tennessee for our Honeymoon in 1998. We made our way out to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for our first anniversary in 1999 and we traveled back to the Rockies again several other times. The last mountain she got to go up on was Pike’s Peak in 2011.

 

2002 Missions Trip

The trouble with driving to visit the Rockies is the road you have to take to get there. For all the amazing beauty of the mountains, you must first pass through the plains. I don’t mean to belittle the likes of Eastern Colorado or Western Nebraska (or the seemingly never ending trek across I-80 through these lands), they contain their own beauty and they can be enjoyed and have much to offer. However, if your mind is on the mountains and the anticipation of being there, the plains are agony! You must simply endure mile after mile, each one looking mostly like the last one and the next one. In the midst of it, you know there is an end and yet it seems as though it will never come. If you are not careful, the drive will lead you to despair and hopelessness, you may even edge towards being bitter and angry about the landscape in which you find yourself.

 

What is a person supposed to do when a season of life becomes analogous with the drive through the plains? In my devotions yesterday the writer, speaking of grief, describes it as feeling “as though we are dragging ourselves through a rugged valley with little or no relief.” We know there is an end to the valley (and the plains). The end result will be glorious and great and will help us to forget all about the pain of the valley. That very real truth is easy to forget when all we see is mile after agonizing mile of flat, bleak plains.

07.05.2004 – Rockies

 

In Psalm 34, David recounts how the Lord delivered Him. He shows us how we should respond in the midst of life’s valleys. Verses 1 through 3 tell us:

1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2 My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.

3 O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

What an excellent charge for us today. No matter the circumstances, we can praise and worship God! Verse 4 continues:

4 “I sought the Lord, and He answered me,

And delivered me from all my fears.”

No matter how dark and agonizing the plains of life presently are, the Lord is here, answering, and delivering. Verses 5 through 7 declare God’s rescue:

5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.

6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

And then in verse 8 we find a beautiful reminder of the blessing that comes to those who seek God for their protection and find Him to be good.

8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

God’s blessings take many forms. Too often we only think of blessings as material things but seeing and experiencing mountains is a blessing. Comfort, rest, and peace for a weary soul is a blessing. Strength for today is a blessing. Memories of sweet times together is a blessing. Prayers and love from others is a blessing. Unchanging truth of God’s Word is a blessing. Hope, knowing that the mountains are coming is a blessing. Eternal hope in the Lord, knowing something even greater than the mountains is on the horizon, even better than that, is here now, is a blessing.

 

Psalm 34:18 says:

18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

God is near, no matter the season of life, He is near. How thankful I am that in midst of my broken heart, He is here. My crushed spirit is being restored because He IS good!

 

I always had a desire to take Amy back to Lake Geneva to see the Alps once again. I wanted to have the privilege of experiencing that with her but we never got that chance. Today, Amy is experiencing sights and wonders in the presence of God that make the beauty and grandeur of the Alps seem no more wonderful than a heap of sand in a kids sandbox. One day, because of my salvation in Jesus, I will get to experience the marvelousness of God with her. Looking forward helps to alleviate present hurt and pain.

 

Are you looking towards the Lord? Whatever season of life you find yourself in today, will you magnify the Lord with me, and can we lift up His name together?

 

 

Psalm 18:1-3

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    and I am saved from my enemies.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

 

The Rich Love of God February 16, 2017

Filed under: Eric + Kids Update — ewilmeth @ 10:49 PM

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. – 1 John 4:10 (NIV)

I have never doubted that my family has been loved and cared for by many, many people, but the outpouring of love in the last few weeks has been almost unbelievable. Hundreds upon hundreds of you were able to come and celebrate Amy’s life with us either in person img_7638-001or via the live stream, and we have continued to get cards in the mail from hundreds more who were unable to attend. Your words have been an encouragement, your shared memories a delight, and your testimonies about God’s impact in your lives because of how God chose to use Amy has been a joy to my soul that I cannot describe adequately.

Beyond the love that you have shared with us is the love and grace we have experienced from the Lord. He has used you to minister to us but He has provided peace beyond understanding and grace that has supplied for our strength day after day. I don’t want you to get the wrong impression from these statements. Don’t put on some rose colored glasses and think that life has been peachy. I can tell you that in the midst of the overwhelming grace and peace there has been immensely deep sorrow and loss and loneliness. Yet none of these emotions have lessened the truths of who God is or the truths of the promises in His Word. The loneliness I feel in the loss of my sweet pea is tempered by the overwhelming presence of God.

Psalm 139 comes to mind for me and it would be worth your time to go read it. There is nowhere I can go and not be with God. There is no thought I can have or emotion I can feel that God does not already understand and comprehend. He knows me and has known me since before I was even formed. And in that great knowledge and presence also comes protection. His hands have been upon me and my children, protecting us and guarding us. What a wonderful, loving and caring Heavenly Father.

The day-to-day life the kids and I have been living is varied and each day has brought different challenges. The older three kids have been able to slide back into their routine of school and homework.  The Lord has provided them with good friends and wonderful teachers and school staff to help watch over them and help them as needed. It is a wonderful answer to prayer to see how God has provided so wonderfully and quickly for us here in Columbia Station.

The kids have each been processing through the loss of their mom in their own way.  Each has expressed their loss, but also their confidence that Mom is in heaven. Ethan was asked about his time in Iowa for the celebration of life service and his response was wonderful; a testament to the love we’ve been receiving. He said, “I got so many hugs I don’t know what to do with them all!”

For me, in this new role as a single parent, I’ve been managing alright. Truthfully, God was very gracious and walked us to this spot with lots of time to prepare. I have been exceedingly thankful for the time that Amy and I had together since last May (when she had her first seizure) to have a slow stroll together towards our parting of ways. There are so many people who unexpectedly lose a loved one and I am thankful for God’s grace to allow me some great time with my wonderful Amy. I miss her more than I ever knew you could miss someone. I have enjoyed taking lots of time going through pictures and remembering so many things that I hadn’t thought of for quite some time. I’ve also enjoyed getting to share these stories with pretty much anyone who’s willing to listen. It has been good therapy for me.

A quick side note for you. I’ve been encouraged by several to keep writing updates and I plan to do so. I’m not sure what the frequency may be but I will write more. Also, if you have relied on Amy’s facebook feed to see the updates as they get posted, know that soon I am going to deactivate the account. You can subscribe to get the updates via email or look to my fb feed.

Thank you for your continued prayers for our family. We treasure your love and support for us.In many ways you have been the expression of God’s rich love for us. Know that we love you too, pray for you often (specifically that God will bless you for your prayers for us, and that you will be drawn closer to God as you talk with Him), and we are wonderfully blessed by you. May God’s rich love fill you today.

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