Here’s to a Year

“You know, we were actually expecting that.” Said no one ever after being diagnosed with brain cancer (or any other life threatening illness, for that matter). It always comes out of nowhere and stops the world from spinning at such a fast pace, leaving us staggering around like people who just competed in one of those relay races, you know, where you spin around the bat 150 times and then try to run.

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But guess what. We are a year, A WHOLE YEAR, away from the very first day Matt has been cancer free. A year away from Matt’s brain surgery. And it has been a long year, and a hard year, but we find ourselves realizing daily that it has been, in fact, our best year. And we laugh as we tell people, we wouldn’t change it. We are thankful for the tumor. And we repress our laughter when their faces contort into worried disbelief. They fear that we have either lost our minds or are in denial. Neither of which are true.
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The truth is, this was a learning year. A growing year. A good year. A funny, strange, otherworldly year. And all the glory, every last bit of it, goes to God. Jehovah Rapha. God, You are our healer. You put us in the perfect place, at the perfect time. You covered Matt from the start and we look back at how long you have been aligning everything for this particular moment, and we are in awe. We are so grateful. You protected Matt, you protected our marriage. You healed and led and comforted. You are not just a God who deals in the spiritual realm, but in the physical as well, because it is all Yours. We are Yours and you have proven time and time again that You take care of Your own. You listened. With the ear of a Father, you heard us and cared. You were not indifferent. You’ve loved us from the start and continue to lavish us with it. You are the Most High. You’ve blessed us again and again and again beyond measure. Thank you, Father.
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And tonight we are celebrating by going to our favorite restaurant, and we are going to raise our glass to all of you who have helped us get here.
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To my mom and dad. You have shown us so much grace. Being the geographically closest family and friends we have, you caught our overflow. And rather than be burdened by it, you basked in it. Thank you for the countless meals you cooked. For adopting our lifestyle so that we could eat whatever we wanted when we walked in your home. For stopping by on your way home from work just to put your eyes on us. For never letting us take this too seriously. For cheering us onward. For cleaning our cars and kitchens, and doing our yard work, and taking care of our dog. For being “nevertheless” people and not letting us worry or lose hope. For late night texts affirming that God loves us. He is for us and never against us and that Matt is going to live a long life. Because you are counting on it. And you have prayed for it. And that is the end of it. Thank you for medicines paid for and a place to go during chemo that was safe and clean and home. For calling the doctor because we were too fearful of what they would say. You were brave. You were steadfast. You were and are just what we needed, when we needed it. And God provided.

familyTo Mr. Mark and Mrs. Diane. Your love for us can be felt in our cores. You have sacrificed time and energy and thousands of miles on your car to get to us. And you came. And you stayed. And we are grateful. Thank you for making me a part. Out of all the things that have happened this year, one moment stands out in my mind. During surgery they called the name “Snow” and handed Diane the phone to be told “all was well” by the doctor. You put it up to your ear, only to take it away and hand it to me. That moment has forever changed our relationship. What was already a wonderful beginning was solidified as a truth that I could count on. Thank you. Thank you for fixing our lights and garages, for traipsing through Atlanta. For driving to every appointment. For your attention to detail in note taking. For the chickens cooked. For your consistent prayer. For never complaining even when we knew you were beyond tired and we weren’t the only ones who needed your time and care. For hours spent listening on the phone. For verses sent weekly to sustain us. They did. You were constant. You never quit. You were and are just what we needed, when we needed it. And God provided.

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To Josh, Kate and Chad. We are spread out all over the place, but the care and bond of siblings knows no distances. And we are grateful. Thank you for the calls and the texts and the cards sent. For the inappropriate jokes. For the visits to finish our porch. What Kate and Josh lack in closeness, Chad picked up the slack. For what Chad and Kate lack in phone calls, Josh, you did your part. And for what both boys, surprisingly, lack in words written whether in cards or texts, Kate, you made up for them. We were never left wanting. Thank you. For late nights watching Aristocats. For taking Matt Christmas shopping for me when he couldn’t drive. For always answering the phone. For praying. For making us laugh and reminding us of where we come from. You were diligent. You were deliberate. You never forgot. You were and are just what we needed, when we needed it. And God provided.

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To our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Our circle is vast. You answered tearful phone calls on multiple occasions. You came and sat with us during surgery. You brought food and stories and you prayed. You showed us time and time again how much we are loved. You gave us pizza money and chemo money and money to put toward the incredible amount of bills that comes with the territory without us having to ask. You asked. About us and our lives. You called. You gave attention. You drove SO FAR. You wrote our names in the palms of your hand. We were never without. Thank you. Grandaddy, Grandmother, Grandaddy Skip, Audrey, Bro, Mimi, Grandma, Nana, Marty, Angie, Ray, Evan, Ella, Carrie, Lisa, Dean, William, Eden, Matthew, Lacy, Nathan, Todd, Sheri, Taylor, Nick, Taylor, Glenda, Emily, John, Jenny, David, Logan, Maggie, Emma, Robert, Teresa, Bill, Caitlin, Ryan, Corey, Ruth, Scott, John Charles, Elvis, Lanie, Ramesh, Greg, Tracey, Nikki, Jo, Dennis, Julie and Jeff you were so generous. You were so loving. You were and are just what we needed, when we needed it. And God provided.

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To RDJE. You have set the highest standard of any workplace we have ever heard of. And we have been beyond humbled by every single one of you over and over again. Thank you for walking with us through this. For visiting us at the hospital. For providing Matt’s last junk food meal. For never letting us worry about where our next paycheck was coming from. We knew. For letting me drop off Matt when I needed to run errands. For stopping what you were doing to care for him, and to make him feel loved and known. For teaching us. For never mentioning my lack of timeliness getting Matt to work when I was behind the wheel. For lending me a jacket when I showed up on the job with only a light cardigan in 17 degree weather (I was distracted).  For not making Matt feel sick, but able. Ronny and Janelle, Dave and Velinda, Ed, Joseph, Justin, Robbie, Donald and Cheryl, Amy, Chrissy, Lori, Terry, Trey and Laura, Rachel, and Orren, you put food on our table and a roof over our heads. You emboldened us. You connected with us. You were and are just what we needed, when we needed it. And God provided.

 

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To Lily. You haven’t complained once about the 3,928 times that you have reminded me that God doesn’t bring us this far to let us fall flat on our faces. You have been deeply involved, tracking appointments and treatments better than I have. We are grateful. It reminded us that we were not alone in this. Thank you for always reminding us of the positive. When the doctors told us one in a hundred people just like Matt would not make it through the surgery, you reminded us that meant Matt had a 99% chance. You’ve shed tears on our behalf. You have made us laugh and feel normal. You came. You showed up. You didn’t let us waiver or falter. You believed. You reminded us to be grateful. And you’ve never made us feel like watching Netflix isn’t an acceptable hobby. You brightened our days. You comforted our souls. You were and are just what we needed, when we needed it. And God provided.

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To Reed, Jessie, Connor, Josh, Sara, J., Lindsey, Charlotte, Scott, John Rock, Tony, Allison, Willie P., Thomas, Allysn, Jonathan, Adrienne and Carl you came and visited us at just the right moment. Every. Single. Time. God pushed, and you listened. You let us talk. You hugged us. You put up our christmas tree. You gave up your weekends. You were interested. You sat on our couches and watched Youtube videos for hours. You let me cook and you feigned delight. You were present. In the flesh. You were and are just what we needed, when we needed it. And God provided.

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To Katie and Bob. You have provided the outline for how Matt and I could handle whatever God has put in out path. You are faithful examples of God’s promises. You’ve reminded us time and time again that God created us for such bigger things than we could possibly imagine. You spoiled us. You ministered to us. Thank you for the love you’ve given. For art as therapy. For three-inch prayers. For praying fearlessly and boldly. For standing on the promises and in the victory with us. You encouraged us to sing. You were our reminder of joy. You were and are just what we needed, when we needed it. And God provided.

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To Jan, Ernest, Scott, Laura, Chuck and Cindy. You have loved us longer than we had known. We are so grateful. Thank you for choosing us. For getting down on your knees and praying for us. For cooking organic food for us. For strengthening our marriages together. For lunches spent praising Jesus for Matt’s healing, not knowing yet the results of the next day’s MRI. For immediate emails. For waiting by your phones on appointment days. For waiting. You could have filled the space, but you chose to wait. You were obedient. You love us well. You were and are just what we needed, when we needed it. And God provided.

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To Alena, Derek, Erin and Rusty. When a lot of people stepped out, you stepped in. We are so grateful for morning walks in the park and walking in general, because we do walk a lot. You went through the toughest circumstances this year, and you praised God for it. You strengthened our faith. Thank you for your prayers and the prayers of your families. For your confidence in Christ. For your humor. For time spent playing cards or watching soccer, or having picnics. This year may not have revealed our best selves at times, but you did not care. You were bold. You gave us so much life. You were and are just what we needed, when we needed it. And God provided.

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To our family of believers. You are HUGE! So much bigger than we could’ve ever imagined. You sent over 700 cards! You sent so many hats! Your generosity floored us. Literally, on the floor. Smacked down. You wrote. And you wrote. And you wrote. And sometimes, I would write back, and you would write some more. You gave us such joy. How many of you stood up and asked for prayer on our behalf? Hundreds! All over the country and world! Your prayers held us up. Your work was the greatest work. You spoke on our behalf. You Lifted us up. You supported our families. You reminded us of truth. You trusted. You fought for us. You called and texted and rallied around us. You contacted doctors and hospitals and had everyone you knew praying. You have had an eternal impact. My dad reminded all of us that our church family are not just the people who sit with us on Sundays, they are the accumulation of believers that surround us. You had faith. You knew what to do. You carried us to Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. You were and are just what we needed, when we needed it. And God provided.

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Here’s to you all. And the year you have walked through with us.

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So, where do we go from here? Well, Matt is officially off of chemo. Our doctor will watch him very closely with MRIs every two months. We don’t really know for how long. What we do know is that God will make it apparent to both us and her when it is time to stop. It will likely be quite a few years from now. We ask for your continued prayers. Pray for God to protect Matt’s body from any more harmful cells. Pray that the latter years in Matt’s life are even better than his first. Pray for confidence and for stamina as our race is still new to us.
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And get down on your knees and praise the Lord for all he has done for us. On our behalf, with us. And do it every day. Because He knows just what we need, when we need it. And He provides.
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