I Don’t Want To Let Go!

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Hi. My name is Christy and I struggle with letting go.

Hi, Christy.

I mean, I get excited about new things, but I don’t like having to let go of what is familiar and comfortable and safe. Change can be scary, particularly if there are unknowns ahead. Like, if I can’t picture what my routine will look like in the next stage or what my purpose will be in a new season of life, I start to fret.

Please… tell us more.

 I guess, well, I mean… I feel like I don’t want to let go of what is certain because what if I don’t like the next step as much as I like this one. How can I be sure it’s safe to let go? But yet, as time marches on, I’m simply forced to let go of some things.

(Christy starts biting her nails.)

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All right, I don’t actually have a support group. But, I do have a husband, whom I asked one day why he thinks I feel sad during times of change, like on my kids’ birthdays or last days of school. He said it’s because I have issues. Maybe I should get a support group. They’d probably be nicer.

But although my husband is somewhat right to so kindly point out that I have issues with change, I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. Women tend to agree with me. At least I think they do. Please, someone tell me (or at least tell my husband) that I’m not alone.

We ladies can sometimes struggle with change… and in particular, the changes that force us to let go. The act of letting go of a season of life, comfortable routine, or familiar territory is hard. We’d prefer to keep a white-knuckled grip on our children, dreams, schedules, plans, hopes and security. Trading the familiar for the unknown can be a bit unnerving.

This time of year always makes me feel sentimental too. Another school year has come to an end and I’ve seen kids that I used to babysit wear caps and gowns. I am feeling nostalgic as my own son reaches a grade I can clearly remember being in myself (and not that long ago, either)! I am once again slapped with the reminder that time marches on more quickly than I’d like it to. I’m forced to let go of this stage and phase and usher in the new.

And that kind of scares me.

But, wouldn’t you know, I’ve found comfort and reassurance. Not from my husband or my imaginary support group, but from my Heavenly Father through a wonderful hymn reminding me of His truth.

As I stood with a group of ladies in a Bible study that I attend, we recently sang the hymn, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty*, and one of the lines struck a deep chord in me.

Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been

Granted in what He ordaineth

I’ve thought about those lyrics countless times in the last few weeks. It’s two short lines with a lot of meaning. In other words, it’s saying:

“Hey! Haven’t you noticed that God has provided peace and joy for you in every stage of your life, good and bad, up until this moment? He has basically made your desires fit with his will. What makes you think He won’t be faithful to guide you and give you peace and joy in the next stage of life? Let go and move on, dummy!”

(You can see why my translation hasn’t made it into the hymnal just yet.)

And so, as I continue to replay that wonderful hymn and it’s truth in my mind I’ve found comfort and been reminded of God’s faithfulness. It’s hard to let go and to take steps into the unknown, but I trust that my God will go before me. He will lead me with His loving hand.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

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So, let me ask you something, Christy.

(Imaginary Support Group leader leans back in their chair and crosses their legs. The rest of the imaginary group members lean in close to listen…)

 Christy, hast thou not seen how they desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth?!

 Yes.

Yes, I have seen. And with that in mind, may I look forward to the days ahead with joy and anticipation, as I trust in Him who leads me.

*Words: Jo­ach­im Ne­an­der (Stras­lund: 1680); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Cath­er­ine Wink­worth, 1863. Music: Lobe den Her­ren, An­der Theil des Er­neu­er­ten Ge­sang­buch, se­cond edi­tion (Bre­men, Ger­ma­ny: 1665)

Daddy Loves You

IMG_4051 2My memory of the moment is both crystal clear and fuzzy at the same time. It’s hard to explain, but yet if you’ve ever been in shock, you’ll understand.

My body felt numb and weak and apparently that was obvious to those around me because a nurse pushed a stool underneath my legs and helped me sit down beside my son’s hospital bed. I hadn’t even realized until I sat just how much I needed that support.

My two-year-old son, Karson, was laying on the bed along with Lyle the Lamb, his stuffed companion. My husband, Kraig, stood on the opposite side of the bed and rubbed Karson’s little back. Our heads were reeling with the news we’d received just mere hours before. Doctors were telling us that our toddler had cancer. Now we were crammed in a small procedure room at a children’s hospital watching them prep our son for a bone marrow biopsy.

I was experiencing feelings of denial and shock. Our son had been limping for a week and he presented only mild cold symptoms. Why were they suddenly throwing around words like, “leukemia,” and “chemotherapy?” Wasn’t this just a virus that would pass on its own? Do we really need to do this procedure?

But deep down I reasoned that if these trained medical professionals thought there was enough evidence of cancer from a small bit of blood work, then I must allow them to proceed with further testing of Karson’s bone marrow. They had explained that leukemia starts in the marrow and they must take a look to find out what type of leukemia we were fighting.

And so, in what was literally half a day, we went from a normal morning routine to that dreaded procedure room in a hospital two hours from our house. I can still smell that moment and feel the sterility and darkness of that room. It was awful.

To be completely honest, I’m not even sure I want to draw up those memories or that emotion ever again. I wrestle sometimes with the watershed moments that were burned into my mind in the coming three-and-a-half years of my son’s chemotherapy and treatment. Some memories can bring the sting of tears in a matter of seconds. I used to see them often when I closed my eyes at night. Now it’s much less frequent, but the pain is just as raw. It hurts. So you may ask why I write about it or even bother to relive it at all?

I guess I don’t want to waste it.

As awful as Karson’s cancer was, there was so much good that came from it as well. Most of that good came in the form of God’s gentle presence in the midst of the rough storm. Kraig and I learned so much and felt like we were matured in our faith in a way that would otherwise not have been possible.

And on February 9th, 2007, as we took the first shaky steps into that journey, my husband… my son’s father, told me of how he now understood the love of our Heavenly Father in a deeper way. It was the first of many things we would learn along the way.

Kraig recounted the horrible moments of having to physically pin Karson down on that hospital bed as doctors used a large and painful needle and tools to extract bone marrow from our little boy’s hip. Karson was awake and acutely aware of the intense pain. As he lay there on his stomach, his face was turned toward his daddy who was firmly holding him still and talking to him. Karson was screaming and crying for the pain to stop and looking at Kraig with questioning eyes as if saying,

“Why, Daddy?”

“Why are you letting them hurt me?”

“Please make it stop!”

And oh, how we wanted to!

Kraig and I would have crawled onto that bed in a heartbeat and taken that pain instead of watching our son have to experience it. But we couldn’t. We knew that we had to allow to the doctors to proceed. We had to allow them to extract bone marrow so that they could determine what course of treatment would be most effective for fighting this cancer. But we couldn’t explain all of that to a two-year-old. Even if we had, he wouldn’t have understood.

And so as Karson screamed and pleaded with his Daddy, all that Kraig could say in response was,

“I love you, Karson.”

“I love you, buddy.”

“Oh, Karson! Daddy loves you so much!”

It was heartbreaking and profound.

And as Kraig shared with me later, he thought about how many times in life our Heavenly Father has had to hold us down through pain, trial, sin and ugliness. And we don’t understand it. And perhaps even if He told us, it wouldn’t matter. All we need to do is look into his eyes and hear His words.

Daddy loves you.

1 John 3:1 says,
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

I don’t get it. I can’t mentally grasp it or figure it out. I don’t know why my Heavenly Father has allowed pain in my life or my child’s life. I simply don’t know.

Yet the lesson Kraig learned in that moment, I continue to learn as well. I submit to my Father’s hands holding me firmly through the pains of this life, and listen to his almighty and loving voice reminding me of His unconditional love.

I know my Father’s love. And that’s all I really need to know.

A Thanksgiving Dinner

As a guest blogger for Riley Hospital for Children, where our son received treatment for cancer as a small child, I’ve been asked to write about a variety of topics. Recently I was asked if I could write something for the hospital to post on Thanksgiving Day. I thought about it for awhile and then wrote the following entry. I cried as I typed some of the words. Though it’s been several years, (Karson was diagnosed February 9th, 2007 and underwent more than three years of chemo until April, 2010) the emotions are still “raw” and just under the surface. I suspect this may always be the case. But, I felt so grateful and blessed as I recalled this day and so I thought I’d share my thoughts on my personal blog as well as on Riley’s: http://blog.rileykids.org/

Happy Thanksgiving!

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A Thanksgiving Dinner

My husband and I sat in the cafeteria at Riley Hospital for Children and watched as our son scarfed down his meal. I slowly ate my own food as my stinging eyes tried to hold back tears. The lump in my throat was hard to clear as memories flooded my mind.

I thought back to four-and-a-half years before that day when we sat in that very cafeteria, at a table just across the way. As I glanced at that empty table I recalled our first meal in that cafeteria. My husband and I could barely eat, but we were encouraged to do so by our own parents who had come to support us. Our then two-year-old son had just undergone a terribly painful procedure called a bone marrow biopsy and he was now laying beside our table in a red Riley wagon. He was twirling his fine blonde hair between his forefinger and thumb trying to soothe himself with a habit we knew would soon be taken from him with his impending hair loss. Karson had no interest in eating that night. He didn’t even want to sit up or smile. Our hearts broke with the news that our toddler had cancer and we had more than three year of chemotherapy ahead of us. It was going to be the fight of our lives.

As I refocused my eyes back on the present and on our son who was not only sitting up at the table, but laughing and showing off his trademark large appetite, my heart filled with gratitude. We had fought the fight. It was behind us now and our son was alive and well.

Those four years in between those two meals had been filled with valleys. Some moments are difficult to recall and even harder to share. But that day in the cafeteria, it hit me. Not only was that moment a blessing, but there had been thousands of blessings all along the way. Sometimes in my grief and exhaustion I failed to be thankful for them. Now I began to mentally count them.

The morning our son had been taken from us by a surgeon we’d met just moments before, I’d felt fear, sadness, and dread. But now I thank God for that brilliant surgeon and his colleagues who operate on the sickest of children with delicate care and skillful hands every day. When I watched a toxic poison dripping into my son’s IV line I wept bitterly as I grieved the loss of healthy cells and life as I knew it. But, now I thank God that brilliant doctors and researchers have figured out how to treat diseases in such efficient and effective ways. When a friends’ child was not as fortunate as my own and lost their battle, my heart broke. But I continue to give thanks for each heartbeat, smile and moment those parents, and each of us, are granted.

That day in the cafeteria at Riley, it struck me hard that each step in life is a gift. Every moment, even the ones I’d rather forget, have something for which to be thankful. And as difficult as it is for me to understand, I believe that sometimes the trials of life turn out to be part of the blessing.

And on that summer day in the Riley cafeteria, I sat with my husband and healthy son and enjoyed a thanksgiving dinner.

What Time Is It?

My education formally stopped with my college bachelor’s degree. However, since becoming a parent I feel as if I should be receiving continuing eduction credits. I’m earning a PhD in L.I.F.E. The syllabus is all over the place. Subjects and tests vary from day to day… ok, minute to minute. But there’s something about being a Mom that’s haphazardly educational. Sometimes all I have to do is listen to the things that come out of my own mouth as I’m teaching my children. I accidentally make statements that resonate in my brain and teach me more about life. If only I could get extra credit somewhere!

I’ve known that being a parent is helpful in teaching. You see I grew up as a pastor’s kid. My parents had two sermon illustrations…. er, I mean kids… and I grew accustomed to hearing about how my brother and my comments or actions would turn into a teachable moment from the platform. Now I’ve got three little life exhibits of my own. They teach me so much.

Just this week my youngest child has been posing a question to me. And if you’re a parent, or if you’ve ever spent significant time with a two-year-old, you know that toddlers are champions at posing questions. They have question posing stamina that can outlast any willing subject.

My little girl has been repeatedly asking me, “What time is it?”

Now, mind you, she just turned two and she has absolutely no concept of how a clock functions or what the time even means. I could answer her with the literal time, military time, or say it’s two bananas past a cantaloupe and she’d be none the wiser. So the fact that she keeps asking me what time it is has become sort of funny… and a tad bit annoying.

I started by answering her straight. She kept asking. I changed over to sarcasm asking her if she had something on her calendar or an appointment she didn’t want to miss. She kept asking. Finally, I became inpatient and uttered, “If I told you it wouldn’t make sense to you anyway!”

And there it is.

There’s one of those educational statements that I accidentally pulled from my maternal arsenal. “If I told you it wouldn’t make sense to you anyway!”

Hmmm… I think I’ve heard that one before. I’ve heard it from my earthly father and I’ve understood it from my Heavenly Father. In my life, when things happen that I don’t understand, I become a champion question poser. With persistence and frustration I call out to God saying, “Why?” “Who?” “When?” “What?!”

And I know a statement sometimes needs to come into play. A reminder from my Heavenly Father that, “If I told you it wouldn’t make sense to you anyway!”

Job certainly learned this lesson. If you read about him in the book of Job in the Old Testament you see a man whose life gets tragically turned upside down. He loses his children, livestock and health. He spends chapters angry with God and he poses the question of “Why.” Later in chapter 38, God responds by posing some questions of His own.

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

“Who is this that obscures my plans
    with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels shouted for joy?

“Who shut up the sea behind doors
    when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
    and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
    and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
    here is where your proud waves halt’?

And it goes on and on… Basically God is telling Job, “If I told you it wouldn’t make sense to you anyway!”

I know that my little girl doesn’t really need to know what time it is because I’ve got it taken care of. I know where she needs to be and what she needs to do. I’m the keeper of the clock in our relationship and she just has to go with the flow. Wow, again, what a correlation to my relationship with my Heavenly Father. He’s the “keeper of clock” if there ever was one! He’s got it taken care of. He knows what I need to do and when and all I have to do is go with it… and trust Him.

Thankfully God is not inpatient or easily worn down by our questions. He’s stable. He not only knows the answer but He’s Truth itself. He’s got it covered. As He tells Job, it’s waaaay bigger than my feeble little mind could understand. I just have to go about my childlike faith and trust Him. I’ve got the easy end of the deal.

So, the next time my toddler asks me what time it is I’m going to take the time to thank God for being in control. He continues to teach me more about life and about Himself through the children He’s given me. And I know that in this continuing education I’m getting I’m going to get some answers wrong and I won’t get all perfect scores. But I’m going to stay in the program and be open to what He’s teaching and where He’s leading.

Who knows, I might just graduate Summa Cum Laude.