We’ve all heard the line “God won’t give you more than you can handle” when you’re in a crisis or something isn’t going your way. I guess it’s supposed to make you feel better? WHATEVER. These past 7 months – heck the past 7 years have been all together more than I can handle. Here’s some of the story:
February 6, 2017 – 5 minutes before Nick’s seizure
It was a fairly warm day in February and I was itching to get out of the house for a walk with the girls. Half way into our walk, Nick had his grand mal seizure in our backyard. I still have vivid flashbacks of that 7 minute long nightmare. The girls were just 9 months old and crawling – trying to cling to me scared and crying while I was on the phone with 911, clinging to Nick scared and crying. I hope it’s something I never have to experience again and I can’t imagine the people who have to deal with seizures on a daily basis.
February 14, 2017 – Millie and Claire are Daddy’s Valentines
An MRI of the brain showed some sort of mass in Nick’s right frontal lobe and doctors suggested doing a biopsy of it to figure out exactly what it was and if it was cancerous. So a week later we were back at OSU praying this “thing” would just miraculously go away. The biopsy showed that they didn’t think the mass was cancerous or that it was really anything to worry about. We were referred to a Neurologist specializing in MS to see if we could get Nick’s symptoms under control. It was such a long frustrating journey into figuring out what was ultimately going on with him and what needed done to fix it. We spent weeks in the hospital, Valentines Day and our June Anniversary. We’ve sat in too many waiting rooms and been told everything from “Nick’s healthy! He can run a marathon tomorrow if he wishes” to “It’s cancer”. Meanwhile Nick was still having daily partial seizures (a pretty bad one on Mother’s day in fact) and no one seemed willing to do anything about this mysterious “mass” in his brain.
February 2017 – Claire and Millie visit Daddy at The OSU James
So we called Cleveland Clinic. We had heard nothing but positive news about them and figured we had nothing to loose with getting a second opinion. And I’m so thankful that we did! Our first “meet and greet” with the doctor was on May 22 and by the end of May Nick was in the hospital being closely monitored for seizure activity. He had an EEG on him 24/7 as well as being video monitored for 11 days. This pretty much meant being restricted to just laying in bed except for the occasional bathroom visit and walk down the hall with a nurse. I prayed for a Jesus attitude of servanthood as I sponge bathed my husbands feet but I’ll be honest my prayers were growing weak and my attitude didn’t resemble anything of the nature of Christ.
June 7, 2017 – The staff at the Cleveland Clinic brought us cupcakes for our anniversary.
Nick was released on June 10th and had a follow up appointment on Wednesday, June 14th with the doctors to go over all their findings. Infectious disease, oncologists, neurologists – Nick had everyone on his case. All we kept hearing was – “Wow, you’re interesting.” At the follow-up appointment, we were told that they still were’t sure what the mass was but it was causing Nick to have daily seizures and needed to be removed. “How about, Monday?” They said it so casually, like we were talking about lunch at Panera. But we had waited so long and finally someone was willing to help us so the craniotomy was schedule and we spent the weekend enjoying the girls and being together as a family.
There is so much that I could say about the day and days following the surgery. The emotional wreck of having a loved one undergo such an extensive surgery. The risks. The what ifs. The hoping this fixing everything. What is the mass? Will it come back? Will my husband be the same – remember me, love me? Will he recognize our daughters and remember everything we went through to get them? Watching my strong, independent, can-do husband become helpless… like I said, it was a little more than I could handle.
Nick hasn’t been able to drive since February and hasn’t been back to work since May. He wasn’t allowed to carry our daughters (or lift anything else for that matter) for 6-8 weeks after surgery. He wouldn’t eat for days when he got home and seemed pretty purposeless. It made doing life – you know, with our twin daughters, 6 acre property and photography business – really, really hard. I was feeling exhausted and pretty defeated.
How much more could life throw at us? How strong do you think I am, God? How much more do you expect me to handle? Because I’m telling you right now – DON’T GIVE ME ANY MORE. But God did His usual thing. He smiled and responded:
YOU are not supposed to be “handling” any of it. Remember? You are supposed to give it to me – all of it. The good AND the bad. Why do you insist on doing it on your own? My yoke is easy. My burden is light. Trust me. I’ve brought you this far, have I not? I am your strength AND your song. I have plans to prosper you. Not to harm you. Plans of HOPE AND A FUTURE. While you carried both 9 month daughters around by yourself, I carried you. While you took care of your husband, I was taking care of you. The people who brought you food, mailed you diapers, gave you money – that was me. I’m the God that provides. I led you to the right doctors at the right time and I gave them the wisdom to heal Nick. And… oh, by the way.
Erica, my daughter, I AM giving you more. You’re pregnant.
Yes, you read that right. I found out the day Nick came home from the hospital after surgery that I was pregnant. No fertility treatments. No shots. Against all odds and the stress and the circumstances – I am pregnant.
We are now 10 weeks post surgery and I have a 16 week old babe growing inside me. Nick went back to work on Monday and will be doing half days for a few weeks to make sure he can handle it. He still isn’t able to drive but the doctors gave Nick some hope for getting back on the road next month if all goes well. He’s MUCH better than before the surgery and hasn’t had any seizures or partial seizures since! Doctors say they are still unsure what the mass was – maybe some kind of scar tissue – but it was NOT cancer or any other disease and they don’t see it returning. They are confident that removing the mass along with most of Nick’s right frontal lobe fixed the problem! Can I get an AMEN?!
Our baby will be due almost a year to date from when this whole thing started in February and I don’t think that’s coincidence. It’s just God in all His awesome glory making old things new. Bringing praise instead of despair.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21 the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.
A special thank you to everyone who has given and prayed and helped us through some of our lowest days. God certainly brought us some amazing warriors into our circle. The victory is His.
Photo Credit: Grace E. Jones Photography
One of the recent devotionals from DVO that might lift you up:
|Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Lam 3:21-22 (NLT)|
|HOPE SERIES – PART 4|
|Lamentations is a book of mourning written by Jeremiah, whose warnings to his country went largely ignored. He prophesied to and encouraged his countrymen for years to return to God and worship. But their response was just more wayward living, and the results of that were starting to leak through the cracks of the nation.Here he writes about the heartache of abandonment – 3:1 “I am the one who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the Lord’s anger. He has led me into darkness, shutting out all light. He has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.”Jeremiah was a prophet and poet, and I can imagine he felt everything deeply. It’s though the book of Lamentations was more like a journal for him, rather than a book for public reflection. We’re getting an insight into what he was going through. And he was in a dark place.Sometimes it can feel and look as though we have been shut out by God, abandoned, forgotten… or that God is against us, punishing us, and we are left surrounded by darkness with no way out… Jeremiah says in V18 “My strength and my hope Have perished from the Lord.”I’ve had those moments, and I know you have too, where in the midst of despair a raw and guttural cry from the depths of your soul arises… This is what was happening with Jeremiah.Let it arise, let those feelings come up…and then let them leave. Breathe them out, expel them from your heart. Because the truth is that no matter what it looks or feels like, God is still here, Jesus is still risen.
There is still HOPE.
His faithful love never ends – that gritty whisper that God has left you is a lie.
Breathe out the heartache, and breathe in hope… rise in it and be confident that your HOPE, JESUS, has love and mercy for you that is endless. Hope will pick you up and carry you beyond the moments of despair into days of peace.
I have an app on my phone of daily devotionals. This one from yesterday was too good not to share. The app is called DVO and you can download it here.
|“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk not to stand still in terror, but to walk and make spiritual progress upon my high places of trouble, suffering, or responsibility!|
|Hab 3:19 (Amp)|
|This verse is very dear to me. About 4 years ago, my family went through a very difficult experience… We were left torn, heartbroken and empty. I had no idea how to move forward from it, how to rebuild my life and my confidence; I remember being filled with fear and uncertainty. I turned to the bible and started to read… but nothing seemed to be ‘getting in’… It was like the words on the page were as empty as I was.Until I found this scripture.|
It lifted off the page and filled my heart and mind with hope.
He is your strength. It’s OK if you feel weak. It’s OK to go through seasons of vulnerability. It’s OK to be frail in heart and spirit. IT IS NOT FAILURE! And it happens to us all. It’s OK, because GOD IS OUR STRENGTH.
2 Cor 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Some of us, perhaps most of us, are embarrassed by our weaknesses and seasons of hardship… But in those seasons, no matter how we get there, the important thing is NOT to cover up the pain or shroud ourselves in embarrassment, but allow God to be our strength. Open up to him, lean on Him, depend on Him…
He is your personal bravery… Not someone else’s or the crowds… yours. He will help you be brave and will lift your head high so that you can face tomorrow assured of His love and strength. He is your invincible army – unshakable, indestructible… Consistent, strong, true… Nothing can separate you from His love.
There’s an old English proverb that says “a smooth sea never made a skilful sailor.” Embrace your season of hardship, don’t be embarrassed or defeated by it… You can get through it; He is your strength, and there is always HOPE.”
June 16 – DVO