Sunday, September 14, 2014
The post originally began with loads of pictures from this beautiful party that was just so perfect in every way, except for the fact that Daena woke up with what she thought was the flu that very same morning. We decided to go ahead with all the arrangements as the food was bought and the decor was mostly ready. It ended up being so much fun and we loved on our favorite lady that afternoon and celebrated her triumph over cancer. And we have lots of lovely pictures of the Gus Summer Soiree that I'll share soon.
I want to make sure you understand that I'm writing this only as a way to get it out of my head … writing is therapeutic for me. I'm not sharing on behalf of anyone and I don't intend to share all the details. But this is all I've thought about all week and I can't really move forward here without addressing what we've been through. Tomorrow perhaps I can start afresh, enjoying and celebrating all the goodness and beauty of life again. But I can't ignore that for a week it was not good.
My sister found out a couple of days after her party that what she was dealing with was viral meningitis. She was rushed to the ER 3 times over the course of a week and spent a total of 9 nights in the hospital (if my count is correct). This past week was awful, you guys, really and truly awful. It was a million times more scary than her cancer was (for me) but I think that was because the cancer never made her feel sick and because she handled the side effects of chemo so well (absolutely and only my point of view which could be entirely wrong but she handled that process with such strength and with a smile on her face).
Her body did not handle viral meningitis well. There were other factors, one of the bigger problems being dehydration, that altogether made for an incredibly frightening experience for her and for our family. I'm not sure if you've ever received devastating news before … but if so, you'll know the emotion of it all. Time stands absolutely still, everything becomes pretty meaningless or is reduced to insignificant, and you just generally push the big pause button on your life. It's incredible that you can experience a lifetime (or in her case, 32 years) of wonderful health without concern and then all of a sudden … a year like this one. It just all amazes me.
Once again, our family and friends the world over stepped in and interceded on her behalf, asking for healing and wholeness, His grace and calming peace, and in some cases, a miracle. And again, God heard us and answered these prayers. He has done it again and again for our family but I'm so grateful that you asked, that there were so many hundreds of prayers lifted up for Daena, so many voices whispering her name. We watched her recover over this past week, day by day, until she was well enough to head back home on Friday. Today we are so happy and so grateful that she is out of the hospital and with her family again, though I'd say she must feel completely beat up. Her body was really put to the test this week and can only be exhausted. We're continuing to pray for her as she recovers, asking for that incredible strength to come back and for her to be stronger and healthier than ever before. I want her to feel really, really good again … and soon! You know, like the I want to run a marathon next year sort of good. Or the sign me up for a theater class sort of energy. :)
I am amazed by what we experienced this week, a bit exhausted from the panic. It already seems very surreal. You just tend to feel safe from it all, don't you? Thinking nothing bad will ever happen to me. And then one day the bad touches your life and your family and you really begin to realize how much we have to rely on God in this lifetime.
When scary things happen, or when we're sick and overcome by stress, it's difficult to see the beauty that is usually so easy to see. And sometimes it's even hard to feel comfortable with the joys around us when there is despair in our lives. As we were driving home from Minnesota, I couldn't help but be engrossed with the scenery. It was a beautiful drive. There were lush green hills and sweeping fields, big red barns and acres of corn, glittering lakes, picturesque corrals of horses that were so gorgeous they looked right out of a movie set. The colors were all so vibrant … it was the prettiest drive. I never saw any of it on my way to the hospital. I did once my mind had calmed down and we were heading back home.
I had a dear friend send me an email filled with love and encouragement recently and she reminded me of a verse that speaks of beauty from ashes. It had me thinking about this idea of living intentionally, for example (in my case), seeking to make life beautiful instead of becoming overwhelmed with the mundane … or staying far away from worry, fear and negativity. I think God has asked me to be intentional about many things and often it's the hard stuff, the choices that are not easy or natural. This season of our lives has been characterized by ashes, lots of really painful experiences, and I have been reminded so much lately that every day is a gift from God; actually every detail of every day. The little wobbly children, the energetic big kids, the sunlight through the window, the smell of fall, even the cozy sweaters and the new boots (yes!), the excitement of ballerinas running into class, the chili in the crockpot, the pencils on paper during homework time, the messy bath time, the chatter of kids who are supposed to be going to sleep, the quiet time in front of the TV with your husband when the house has finally gone to bed. All these things are beautiful and I'm paying attention, taking it all in, and relishing it.
This verse is from Isaiah 61:3 and it says ...
" To all who mourn in Israel he will give:
beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness.
For God planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory."
This last year has been horrible for my sister. I wish that we could erase it, you know? But so many other beautiful moments and memories would go with it. We have gained a strength of love for each other. We've gained an appreciation for living. And most importantly, we've been touched by God in a very real way. He's shown us how He takes care of his children and how He loves us. It seems we should expect the beauty to come out of the ashes, that we should celebrate the good despite the bad. That we can allow joy even in times of mourning, and that it will cause us to praise God and rejoice despite the heaviness.