I am not sure why I have been feeling the tug of the Lord to blog again but it is definitely there. So many of you have asked what we have been up to and many times I just have not had the energy or the heart to share it . When I read my last blog post this morning I realize just how blissfully unaware I was then about the things that would happen over the next year…….
2017- We were busy planning our next big event at The Connection (the Easter weekend ) and we had been struggling financially and even just emotionally for a few months living in Countryside.We also were feeling a shift….. even though we fought it and did not want to admit it, both Jason and myself were starting to realize our time at The Connection was coming to an end. We finally told Shanda (our ministry partner in Countryside) what was going on and then The Easter egg hunt was upon us. We knew this would be our last big event there and we were all really excited !! Unfortunately, I never even got to go to the hunt. Jason’s dad called me that morning. He was really sick. Now if you knew Rick, you would know that he was the strongest,healthiest person and he HATED to go to the doctor. He didn’t want to go then. I said to him “Rick get up and get dressed because we ARE going to the emergency room. You have been sick for weeks and you sound awful.” The news we got that day would change the course of our lives forever. Rick was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (a type of bone cancer ) and it had spread pretty bad. You see, before we even knew how much Jason’s dad was going to need us, God already knew. We had planned to move in with him while we looked for our next place to serve but it turns out we moved in with him to walk beside him and serve him as he went through this difficult time.
Looking back, even that day I thought he would be able to beat this. I thought,”He is otherwise healthy and vibrant. He can do this”….. but that would not be the plan for him.
When I say our family has been fighting cancer for the past year, I don’t think those words even do his fight justice. In fact, i never really understood before now why people said that when one member of your family gets cancer, your whole family gets cancer. I do now. He fought so hard. I am just weeping as I think back on it now. The doctors, the sickness, the pain, he battled through it all. We were blessed with time to be with him as he fought. Time to have deep conversations with him and time to let each other know how much we loved one another. Honestly, most of that time is a blur….. we left Countryside and I had our 4th little girl and we began serving at a local church and it was all just so much and so fast.
This year was the hardest year of our lives. Ministry was hard. Sometimes realizing that where you are is not where you need to be is REALLY hard.
WE HAD TO LET GO!
First, we had to let go of our positions. There were just more important things that we had to do right then and we were out of energy. Also, maybe God wanted us to humble ourselves and ACKNOWLEDGE that we were out of energy and heart to battle. (If you are serving anywhere you know what i mean when I say that you are on the battlefield every day and it does not stop because we have an enemy prowling around seeking to devour ).
We had to let go of precious family members. My grandparents both passed away within 3 months of each other. They were the heads of our family for so long. They babysat great grandchildren,and cooked meals, and hosted our big crazy family, and even still went swimming with all of us. They both passed down a heritage of loving and serving the Lord as well.
Then, we had to let go of Poppie (Rick).He was spiritually ready but he also wanted to be here with us so badly. We were blessed with the opportunity to minister to him and be with him up until his final moments on this earth. We have not shared much about that time because it just hurts to do so. But that last night and morning we just held his hand , read the Bible to him, sang songs for him, and loved him. Though painful, we are thankful that God had forced us to slow down our lives and take this time, and that He just gave us a little longer to love each other.
Now, we are dealing with grief and loss for ourselves and for our children who miss Rick dearly. The emotions creep up on them. As we rode home from Rock Hill one night, one of them busted out in tears and said ” I just miss Poppie so much ” . Remembering that they don’t always share how they feel and trying to be there for their hearts whenever they open up is a challenge. They have never dealt with loss like this either.
Unfortunately, not every time in your life as a believer can be spent on the mountaintop. You will spend time in the valleys too. Each one of our valleys looks differently. For us, this valley has been one of loss and heartbreak. For others, valleys can look like the loss of a job or battling an addiction or anything really! But,we know that God is walking through this with us. We have felt his comfort and his presence. We have been ministered to by friends in our lives that will probably never even know the depth of the encouragement they have shown us. Jesus has shown us both new parts of our relationships with him. And as we struggle we still have good news!!! Our family has been ministering in a new way this year but he has not cast us off to the side. We are still telling others about Jesus and about his love for us and his love for the world! As I am writing this, I am waiting on my children to come back from their first mission trip without us ! God is taking the loss we experienced and making all things new once again!!! We are praying about what is next for our family! If you are one of our prayer warriors will you join us in praying for that ??
I hope that this blog post encourages you whether you are in a valley or if you have just come out of one as well! This is only our story ( one of millions in God’s big story)…. you have one too!If you are not sure about this “Jesus”thing or where you stand with him , message me or email me and we will get together and talk !! and if you are sure about him…. you’ve got good news too…. Go and tell it 😘