"One year ago today our husbands began chemotherapy and Tom and I received new friends that faithfully prayed for us. We are grateful for you both. Prayed for you this morning."
My heart had a thousand feelings as I read that text. Vivid memories flooding back to my mind of that scary, but blessed day as we embarked on the chemo adventure. God just "happened" to place Jamie in a corner of the chemo pod next to Tom, with Susan and me by their sides, squeezing 4 of us into a spot really meant for one patient. My pastor has said, "Coincidence is a secular term for providence". I do believe, this was no coincidence, this was pure providence. After Jamie and I lifted our heads from praying that morning one year ago in the chemo pod as the infusions started, the couple next to us smiled and asked, "Are you believers?" That question led to a friendship with Tom and Susan that would help carry all four of us on this oh-so-difficult journey of chemo and the road to healing from cancer. I'm amazed at how God works in mysterious ways.
I'm also amazed to think of all that happened in just one year. At that point, we were just getting by, day to day, trying to make it through each moment by faith. We were planning our wedding only 9 1/2 weeks away, but we came to an understanding that "In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." (Proverbs 16:9) We knew that in the physical realm, the chemo could keep us from ever having biological children, but that in the spiritual realm, with God all things are possible. We knew that in the physical realm, Jamie would be temporarily weakened to a low state, but that in the spiritual realm, he would be raised victorious above the trial.
These memories cause my heart to be in awe of the Living God, who faithfully is with us through it all. The days are long, but the years are short. This I was reminded of again before I went to bed last night, when I read a text from a new dear friend, Nicolle:
"Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the beautiful life you have entrusted to Jamie and Caitlin. I pray you will give them wisdom beyond their years as they learn to raise this child in this world. I specifically pray this child will have a passionate love for your Word and will constantly strive to walk in truth. Give them patience, both with each other and their child...even in the midst of the weariness that surrounds a new baby. Let them treasure up moments like today in their hearts, knowing that the days are long and the years are short. In the blink of an eye, we know this new life will be making his/her own way in the world...but ultimately we pray he/she will obey and seek you. Amen."
Yesterday, we had our 20 week ultrasound for baby. She sent that text during the ultrasound, God's perfect timing for the prayer...Again, no coincidence. The experience of seeing our baby so clearly on the ultrasound images was beyond incredible. We were able to see little one in so much detail. We didn't just see the beating heart, we saw all four chambers of the heart! We didn't just see the legs and arms, we saw the collar bone, the femur, the tibia & spine! Every bone, every organ in the place God ordained. That little face with hands curled up next to those baby cheeks. Precious tiny feet kicking- which I could feel as we saw them on the screen! Baby was all cuddled up comfy inside of me, not really wanting to pose for pictures, but we did find out some exciting news...baby is a boy!!!!
We are just so thrilled knowing God has given us a little man to raise. It feels even more personal now as we plan and pray for him. In all the excitement and preparations and expectation...I want to take a moment to reflect on Nicolle's prayer. There is some profound power in what she prayed, and I want to take it deeply to heart.
This is truly a precious life inside of me- a miracle of God. Every life is a miracle, and it is just so surreal that I am carrying a little human within me for these nine months. As I watched the ultrasound yesterday and the doctor described the various organs and development of the baby, I thought, "How can anyone ever think or say that this is not a living human being, a child? That is pure life I see on the screen! Those kicking feet and the four chambers beating in that heart- that's not disposable tissue- that is a remarkable living being!
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." -James 1:1-6
PASSION FOR THE WORD
The only way we can teach our child to desire and seek the Word of God is if we desire and seek the Word of God on a regular basis. I pray that God would daily renew the passion in both our hearts for His Word. "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." -Deuteronomy 6:6-7
WALK IN THE TRUTH
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 4:4 I had this verse on my bulletin board for years, and prayed it over my sponsor children, my nieces and nephews, and other children who are special in my life. Now I get to pray this over our own baby!
All I need to say is patience is not my forte. However, it is my husband's strength, and sometimes I think it's his middle name! I hope he continues to model it for me, so that I can learn this fruit of the spirit and live it out in a better way! For those "Patient Pandas" out there- I applaud you!
TREASURE UP MOMENTS
Our Lord's mother, Mary, set this example in a most beautiful way as she experienced and lived out the most marvelous miracle of the incarnation- carrying the Living Savior in her womb and birthing him in a stable in Bethlehem. I hope to take time to be still, ponder, recall, pray, journal, reflect, and treasure up the gifts of this new season in motherhood. "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." -Luke 2:19
LONG DAYS, SHORT YEARS
I truly can't believe it has been a whole year since Jamie began chemo. We both have experienced tremendous healing. We have experienced 10 months of the extraordinary gift of marriage. We are expecting our little one in just 4 months, and it all has flown by in a blink. But yes, sometimes the days are long. Like that first day of chemo, when he sat there for 5 straight hours with an IV pumping heavy doses of medicine into his veins. Each of us has long days. Sometimes it really does just feel like we just woke up on the wrong side of the bed- especially on Mondays. But in those long days, we can find blessings if we look for them, and we can offer grace to those we encounter if we are willing. I'm so glad on that long day one year ago, Tom and Susan asked "Are you believers?" I can't imagine had we journeyed through those 9 weeks without our dear friends by our side the whole way.
OBEY THE HEAVENLY FATHER
I believe with all my heart that our Father in Heaven longs to bless us, His children. However, we so often stray from His will and His way. He is a good God and a just God. He is Holy. "But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you." -Jeremiah 7:23 Are we listening to His voice? Are we walking according to His will? I can be stubborn. We all can- it's called human nature. It's also called sin and selfishness. But I am learning that when I truly submit to my Father, that is when it goes well with me. When Christ is my one Vision and my Ruler of all, that is when it is well with my soul.