Beth Moore recently asked her blog readers to list three words to describe the last year of their lives. It took me only a few minutes to come up with three that came strong and hard, but afterward, I was struck by many more that were buried deep in my heart. I believe that when when I sit with Jesus reflect over the lifeline of my time on earth, this portion will stand out as a very big deal.
This season of my life really began in Oct. of 2010, so I must count that as the beginning. After a series of events, God spoke to me about something he wanted me to do. It was two things really, and both took me by surprise. I was alone in the car as I pulled off the highway and parked underneath a rainbow. Through my tears I knew what God asked would require some real faith on my part, but I had never heard so clearly or felt God's presence more powerfully so I believed he would equip me for all that was ahead.
A few months later, on Christmas Eve of 2010, our precious friends lost their baby son Samuel after just 19 days of life. His father Dan, (a young Pastor) blogged about the experience every day and his faith and praise in the midst of it changed my heart forever. I simply can not think about the last year of my life without remembering Dan, Kelly, and Samuel.
As the new year of 2011 began I was knee deep in the project God had given me, and joined forces with the ladies of the LPM blog family to memorize Scripture for the first time in my life.
And then, my church shattered into pieces. Our small mountain community church had been our family for 14 years and as things fell apart around me, my heart began to break. Paul and I were being torn in two, and for months we prayed like never before and did not leave the house, or answer the phone except to go to work and talk to oue children.
The year proved to be more difficult as Spring came. While our family was at a Kairos conference at the Gateway church in Dallas, our son-in-law's griffon, Gus, drowned in our swimming pool. A young couple and their small girls were dog-sitting for all of us and one of the children threw a tennis ball into the, "not yet opened" pool. Gus went after it, and no one knew he was there. Paul takes the out when the pool is winterized, and when a storm came the tarp separated from the sides and Gus's life was over.
The tragedy hit everyone like sledge hammer, and just a few months later, our precious Onyx's got her cancer back and Paul and I and our children had to say goodbye to our lab/golden girl who had been part of our family for 13 years.
A few months after that, my husbands two best hunting buddies, five-year old Tug and Chase, (English lab brothers) disappeared and simply never came back. My husband still stand at the window with a broken heart and weeps for them.
As the winter wore on, I stood by as menopause grabbed hold and took over my body. I wasn't sleeping and a weariness came over me like I had never known. In the midst of this, Paul and I found out that our youngest daughter had something wrong inside her body.
Emotionally, spiritually, and physically, I had been scrubbed raw and was barely treading water.
Chandler had surgery.
We found out afterword, as 16,000 in medical bills piled up, that this particular surgery never should have never been done. She was then, after several MRI's diagnosed with a rare condition they call, "venous angioma." It is so rare that the only Doctor who treats it and only it, resided in Denver.
Paul then began the months-long battle with the hospital and our daughters California insurance to make right everything that was wrong. He fights for her with integrity and is winning battles but the war is not over yet. Chandler had her first procedure in Denver just a few weeks ago, but Paul is still battling. We are planning for the next surgery in early Feb.
While we sat in the Denver hospital waiting for Chandlers pre-op appointment, (we had yet to meet the doctor in person because we traveled from California) I was rushed to the ER with a heart rate of 240.
The Swedish Medical center is a teaching hospital, and apparently I was the patient of the hour. My room filled with med students around the ages of my son son. They watched and asked questions as a doctor whispered that the lotion on my skin was causing a problem with the EKG. He was going to have to open my gown rub my entire bare chest with alchohol, and then re-attached the EKG pads. This had been done privately the first time, before the students arrived. But now, with all of them watching, he did it again. I was totally exposed and completely vulnerable as I closed my eyes and asked Jesus to hold my hand.
They couldn't slow my heart rate down, and it had been beating at 240 for almost forty-five minutes. They told me they were going to have to stop and then re-start my heart with an intravenous medication called Adenosine
I was scared and alone, but yet I was neither. I can't explain it any other way.
My Mom had flown out to be with Chandler and I in Denver, so she was upstairs meeting Dr. Yakes with Chan while I was in the ER.
I had a "supra ventricular tachycardia," episode. I have a bad section of tissue in the electronic valve of my heart. When the impulses that my brain sends to my heart hit the bad tissue, it goes haywire and causes a rapid heart rate. I see another doctor at the end of the month, and will then be scheduled for a "cartiac ablation."
But here is the good news...
When I take all the trials of the last 12 months and lay them next to what Jesus took to the cross for me, what He suffered for Chandler, and what He did out of love in order to redeem Paul's life, they simply fade away. And although the spiritual principalities that war against us want desperately to use the trials we suffer to take us away from God's purpose and plans, I praise my Father in heaven that he is so much greater and more powerful than any of the enemy's schemes.
His throne sits high above it all and the mercy and grace that flows from the cross is abundant.
Through Paul's trials, I have seen him become a man of God who breaks into prayer like never before. I have watched the Lord grow him as a father and a husband into a place where quiet tears of great joy fall from my eyes.
Chandler trials have turned her heart to Jesus. I see him growing her faith, building her trust as she relies on Him.
In my journey before and during this last year of my life, I know what God did through an act of surrender and obedience. I know He is trustworthy and deserves my praise.
And so I thank you, Lord, for being patient in love. I have peace and joy in the midst of chaos because your words are true. It was your provision that I found myself in a hospital when my heart went crazy. I was not on the 3-hour plane flight of the day before or the 4-hour freeway drive in the downpour the day before that. You saved me.
I know too, that it was you moving in the heart of my mother to come and meet us in Denver, and it was you, at work in the heart of my sister who dropped everything to get on a plane in a Texas thunderstorm that night to be beside me and I know it is only because Jesus loved us first that any of us can love at all.
I realize as I write this that I am still grieving what happened in our church, but I know that God can restore and redeem all that is bruised and broken.
I still struggle with the death of Samuel and Dan's new health issues, (he has already survived three liver transplants and he won't get another one. He could be sick again.) But I also know that Jesus is alive in Dan. So when his trials go far beyond any human understanding I will ever have, he is still trustworthy.
Paul and I are settled in a new church and are active and serving again. This body of believers has some hearts of the hearts God has already knitted ours too, and He is at work grafting us together with new ones.
God has provided a new group of women to study and pray with because he knows my heart. They help me get me back on my feet.
And I know too, as I watch Garrett and Paul go out the door with their shotguns, absent of their best best buddies, that God will restore their broken hearts.
I have come to see how precious our broken-ness and vulnerability are to God. I see them now as virtues in the process of submission. Sometimes God has to break down our flesh in areas of self-reliance so that we learn to rely on him in all things.
Lastly, I have come to a new level of understanding of the gospel message of grace. I see clearly how God not only knew what I would need to get through this season, but He poured it out for me. It is not a coincidence that in the midst of this season I have also spent hours a day meditating over Scriptures and writing about God's "glory." because he knew I would need it deep in me.
May my heart forever praise him for what he has already accomplished in my life, be full of faith in what he is doing now, and sing of hope for all he will do in my future.
I want to walk with my head held high and a song of praise on my lips because the joy of the Lord is my strength.
Give me the grace Lord, to receive all my trials with praise because this road to your glory was chosen for me. You have put me here and Jesus has paid the price. May my life bring you glory!