November 16 marks one year since mom received the scary diagnosis of AML, Acute Monocytic Leukemia. “He said acute. That’s the bad kind” were the words mom used speaking to me before her oncologist told us to go straight to the hospital to begin treatment immediately.
When Life Gives You the Unexpected
I was expecting a diagnosis of some sort of anemia. I was NOT expecting or prepared for the next 12 months of life to change completely.
I wasn’t expecting to become the caregiver to my mom or to hear words like neutropenic which basically means my mom can’t be around germs…. and I live with three. germy. small. children.… talk about stressful!
I wasn’t expecting to hear stats like 25% or procedures like bone marrow transplants or risk like graph versus host disease…..it’s all nuts and crazy, crazy scary and thank you, Jesus, for the extra smart people who have the brain space to deal with this kind of crap.
I also wasn’t expecting to be thankful for it all.
Well, maybe not all of it. I hit a rough patch around month 10 and almost lost my mind! Those 100 days after the transplant were awful watching mom daily fight for her life in all ways: physical, mental, and spiritual. And all that time spent away from my three girls…yuk! My kids have never had that many babysitters.
Bountiful Discoveries in Caregiving
And all that…okay, well….Maybe I’m not thankful for all of it or even most of it, but I would do it all again. I have never felt more loved, seen, or been in awe of who God is. I’d experience every emotion again just to watch God show up for mom and me over and over and over again.
How else would I have learned that God really is who He says He is??
I have never had to trust God this much!
I’ve never had so much doubt, fear, confusion, and stress, in my life!
But God was faithful.
When I was the most afraid, I heard his voice remind me of who He was.
When mom and I were pretending everything was fine while she was hooked up to chemo, we ended up praying for her nurse! When I was bored at the hospital, I shared the gospel with another caregiver, and she received Christ!
I had never had that kind of conversation with anybody before. You don’t forget that kind of stuff.
When I needed help, I saw God’s love for me through the outpouring of help from my friends and family!
And mom…WOW! She’s had the least dramatic bone marrow transplant experience ever! It hasn’t been a walk in the park, but she’s yet to have a fever or infection! It’s been a legit miracle! These are just a few stories!
The Truth of the Matter
THIS YEAR HAS BEEN SO HARD!
But I am grateful for these last 12 months.
This year taught me to be grateful for the storms. The Bible is crystal clear that we will have troubles in this life. Jesus is also crystal clear when He tells us He has overcome the world.
We all know that power of a testimony, and now I have 12 months stacked full of stories of how the God of the Bible was faithful to bring mom and all my family through this super trying time.
God is a good father.
He is kind.
Jesus is actually enough.
So, yes. This November I have lots to be thankful. I’m grateful that I had the privilege to be my mom’s caretaker. I’m thankful that we live in 2016 and have the latest treatments to treat disease. I’m thankful that my mom is around to do life with and that she is well-ish! She is getting stronger and stronger every day. She is even driving now and on this awesome baking kick! We’ve had banana pudding and apple pie just in last two weeks.
I’m most thankful that I serve the living God who cares about His people and shows us His unchanging love by giving us Jesus and the cross. I’m thankful that God is kind and keeps His promises even we don’t get the outcome we desire. He won’t let us be consumed, and we do get new mercies every day.
For the One in the Trenches
Are you in a caretaking storm? I pray you see reasons to be thankful as you keep your eyes fixed on Christ. Are you feeling overwhelmed? I’ve been there, and it is awful, but I promise there is a purpose for your pain even you can’t see it or explain it.
I promise God sees you and hears your prayers. I pray as you seek Christ He grants you with a heavenly perspective allowing you strength to get through the next day and the next until whatever storm you are living in passes.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your faithfulness and kindness to your people and for being the ultimate caretaker. Father, help us to be grateful and every mindful of what we have because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Jesus, give us strength as we walk through life and the troubles that we face. Protect us from bitterness and allow us to see you in the pain and stress. Thank you God for all that we have because of you.
In Jesus’ name,