Wow! I can’t believe I haven’t written in over a month. When I started this in May my goal was to atleast write once a week if not more and it was going to be about my walk. The struggles I have had with sobriety, with relationships, being a Mom, with God, just generally being me and living. If I could encourage just one person out there and open up about my failures, my struggles, my victories all the wonderings that race through this head of mine it would be worth it. Little did I know that when I started writing it would be so healing for me. So God has blessed me just by writing and sharing. I really hope it helps someone out there and I hope most of all you know you are not alone in how you feel or what you go through. If nothing else though I heal a little more each time I sit here and the letters flow through my fingers to make the words on the page.
I did not intend to take this much of a break but life has a way of sticking it’s foot out as you are running by and making you really ugly fall. When my Dad was diagnosed with an Anaplastic Astrocytoma Brain tumor on May 23rd life really did stick it’s foot out. Actually it threw a ridiculous amount of marbles out onto the road and I, well my whole family, have been trying to navigate that road ever since. We’ve been sliding and rolling and doing a balancing act to stay upright and move forward at the same time. We have all been trying to find our place in this and be where we need to be. What I have seen over these last months is nothing short of amazing. I have also learned God has given every one of us a different gift that we have the potential to use during a time like this. People have reached out in so many different ways and the love and support have often come from places that we did not expect. I also am learning to accept help from people and not to judge someones motives. Where I was expecting certain things from one direction they were coming from another. Not everyone can deal with illness, caregiving and dying the same way. You have to learn to meet people where they are and be thankful for the gifts that God has given them and how they are using them. Some are great encouragers, some send wonderful cards, some just check in time to time to see how you are doing. Others are hospital visitors, meal providers, shoulders to cry on and people to vent to. Some work with their hands and have contacts in the right places, loaning and putting together a wheelchair ramp that saved us a lot of money. Some send people to clean your house when you just don’t have it in you or to put in a handicap toilet because your Dad is coming to live with you. Others drive 5 hours here and back almost every weekend to give you a break and because they want to be here to take care of their Father, Grandfather, Grandfather in law. If they could be here 24/7 they would. Still others drive that far just to visit or have given money either to help with expenses or they have donated to the National Brain Tumor Society. I say all that to say I am learning to let people use the gifts they have and not require things and judge people for their actions as to why they did or didn’t do something. That is not a complete list of all the amazing people who are around us daily or who have been there for us and helped us through this. It’s just a little glimpse of how blessed we are.
I have also learned how I must pay it forward. I know the next time I run accross someone who is going through something. An illness, a crisis, a marble balancing act, instead of just saying how sorry I am and let me know if there is anything I can do I need to show up. That doesn’t have to mean to their house every day or maybe it does if that’s what God wants from me. A card, a meal, a phone call, some flowers, whatever the circumstance try to meet the need. That person is never going to let you know if they need anything so I know I just need to do.
This is a hard journey. For my Dad, for my family, for all those its affecting around us but I do know one thing. I have seen God show up a lot through out this and I need to remember that. I have seen my family become closer because of this and I need to be thankful. I have seen the giving heart of people that I never even thought cared and I need to rejoice. I have gained a lot of wisdom through this and I need to give it away. I have had my own personal hardships but I have also had my own personal victories and I need to Thank God.
Things sure have changed for me in the last month. I seem to spend a majority of my time at Dr.’s appointments or hospitals. I’m sitting in the hospital right now waiting on the Dr. to come tell me that everything went well with my son as he had his tonsils taken out today. There is never a dull moment here. I think I had four hours of sleep last night. Ya know it could be worse.
It can always be worse. I guess that’s what I keep stumbling upon. No matter what your circumstances it can always be worse. We checked into the hospital this morning and signed all the paperwork and went over everything including my portion of the bill. Which was not to bad since I’ve used the heck out of my insurance this year and hit my deductible. JT and I were looking at the total of the procedure and thinking, What if we didn’t have insurance? We wouldn’t be able to afford the procedure. What if we couldn’t pay our portion? We wouldn’t be able to get his tonsils out. Now whether we get JT’s tonsils removed or not is not life threatening. Think about other situations. What if we did not live in a place that affords us the opportunity to have his tonsils removed? What if I could never have gotten the antibiotic the first time JT had strep throat? What if? What if? What if? I could go on and on with the what if’s because there are so many. We are so very blessed and most of the time forget that we are. Your situation can always be worse. How? Do you really want to know?
My Dad was quoting some scripture yesterday just sitting in the living room. One such scripture he mentioned was “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 perserverance. Let perserverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1: 2-4. He was kind of talking that through with everything that he’s going through, Is this tumor from God? Is this tumor from Satan? Am I to consider this tumor Joy? Are we to consider our situations sent from God? Are we in them because that’s where he placed us? I certainly don’t consider myself a scholar of the Bible. I haven’t even read the entire thing but I am trying to do that. By the way that still won’t make me a scholar of the Bible. I think each one of us can apply scripture to our lives. There is truth in each scripture. It’s not that it has a different meaning depending on how you read it. I believe it applies differently to your life depending on where you are at in your journey. Does that make sense? Maybe not. Sometimes words in my head don’t make sense on the screen. I think God does place us in the right moment at the right time in order to “fulfill his good purpose.” Phil. 2:13 and “work for the good of those who love him.” Rom. 8:28. I also feel like we well I’ll say me, I have to go about it the hard way. Instead of taking a direct route to where God needs me to be I go around and around the mountain. I can’t remember if I’ve seen that rock before so I take another trip around. But that’s the beauty. Not while you are going through it necessarily. When you get there!! If God wanted us just to get there he would have created robots who could not think and act for themselves. We can, think and act for ourselves, and we fail and we fall and we learn and our faith gets tested and it produces perserverance. That’s when God shows you where he needs you to be when you have matured and you see that rock. You realize you have seen that rock 17 times. If I just would have noticed the grafitti on the right side I would have known I passed that rock 17 times before.
So is my Dad supposed to consider his tumor joy? Am I supposed to consider it joy? All these things that are happening are they from God? My feeling is this, the tumor is not joy, JT’s “faulty” tonsils are not joy. Am I here due to my own choices or because God put me here. I’m here by the grace of God. He brought me through all my terrible choices and he will continue to be a good good father and walk with me through my choices to come. Good, bad, silly and really, are we going to go through that again choices. As hard as it is sometimes I need to remember to consider it pure joy.
I had to take a break from writing and I just got started. Some of you know and some of you don’t. My father was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to undergo brain surgery last Thursday. This really caught my family off guard and it all took place (diagnosis, surgery, hospitalization) within a week and a half, two week period. Most of all it caught my Dad off guard. He went in for an MRI and found out he’s perfectly healthy in one area and by the way we’re glad you’re here because there’s a little something on that scan that we need to talk about. I suppose no one is ever prepared for that kind of news, but really? A brain tumor? There were no signs. He wasn’t having any symptoms. I guess that’s the blessing. If we would not have known until he started showing signs and symptoms the tumor would have progressed so much more than it had.
The day of his surgery we were sitting in his room listening to some music just spending time with him before he went in and I played Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin. If you haven’t heard it. STOP!!! Go listen to it and come back. It’s an amazing song. I looked at my Dad and my family in the room and those that were on the way and thought of my family who had surrounded us through out the week and the friends and just everyone who showered us with love and prayers and I was completely filled. I knew whatever happened HE is a Good Good Father. I looked at my Dad and loved him so much at that moment because he as well is a good good father and as much as he loves me, which is unconditional, and would give his life for me, how much more does my Father in heaven love me. It can’t even be measured. I want to share something my nephew Nick wrote earlier that morning after sitting with Dad around 6am when it was quiet and it was just the two of them.
“Today I sat with PawPaw in the early morning hours while everything was still quiet. I sat there and prayed for the success of the surgery. I pray for a miraculous healing and I pray that no matter the outcome that not just me, but the entire family still realizes that God is good no matter what happens. It made me realize our hope isn’t in a hospital, doctors, nurses or surgeons although we pray for them and want them to perform above and beyond their best abilities. But our ultimate hope is in Jesus Christ. The fact that HE has laid death in it’s grave and HE is a Good Good Father and we are deeply loved by him. Harper has been singing a song that she learned at church lately and the lyrics are “I know no matter what God loves me” and after sitting and talking to PawPaw I know that he believes that with all his heart.” Nick Bailey
You can’t get any more real than that. I know that no matter what my Dad loves Jesus Christ with all his heart and I can take comfort in knowing that God’s got this. Not just on the surgery day or when I pray extra hard but he has this in his hands. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
For those that aren’t close to the situation my Dad made it through the surgery amazingly well. I don’t know what this next year holds for him but I know I’ll be there with him, with my Mom and as my cousin Allison Kelley stated “although I’ve hated the circumstances I’ve really loved being around family these last few days. #Baileystrong”