Sunday, January 30, 2011

Grace's rainbow of promise....

Beyond Storms

Since Grace died 7 weeks ago, Mae has began to draw rainbows. They are made out of whatever medium is around including markers, paints, crayons, Lego's, & even fruit loops. She says rainbow is her favorite color and several of them show up in her wake every single day. She even wrote an eight page book about a snake and a unicorn playing tag over a rainbow, which she told me proudly was written and illustrated by her. I think it's part of her processing Grace's death, helping her feel closer to her sister somehow.

The rainbow became a sign of hope for our family during Grace's illness. One stormy day after a blow of a relapse, the end of one settled in our yard. We'd never seen the end of a rainbow and I haven't met many who have. It was breathtaking. It was a gift which felt straight out of heaven just for us. We could hear in our hearts "God's promises never let go". The problem was the future was still unknown. We wanted to believe that it was a sign that God would heal her, but in my heart I didn't get that assurance. I experienced hope, but there was still a presence of fear too.

When God painted the first rainbow in the sky it followed an unspeakable tragedy. Because of great sin in the world the earth had been destroyed, save Noah and his family who had been found faithful. In creating the rainbow He gave a promise to never give a repeat performance. The rainbow was a sign of new beginnings, of hope for a better future. So where did that leave us? Grace went though storm after storm while she fought cancer. Why did God give us a rainbow then take her away?

I think it may be a matter of perspective. Did God take her from us or did he rescue her from the storms and bring her safely home? Did God give her cancer or did He walk through it's journey with us bringing hope and encouragement along the way? Did God stomp us angerly with his foot or carry us lovingly in his arms? Did God abandon us to our fear or did he give us signs of His presence?

No one wants to acknowledge that the hardest times in life help us grow the most, but they do. In the storm is where we are strengthened, where we are purified, where we learn truth. (Romans 5:2-5) Grace was never alone in her fight. She carried an amazing measure of faith and peace which I have no doubt were God given gifts. He carried her when she was tired and lifted our family up when we fell down from exhaustion, fear or sorrow. He gave us a rainbow to remind of us His presence and promise of new beginnings. Grace is living a new life, and we are learning to live apart from her for now... but we are all being blessed with the rainbow beyond the storm.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Beyond the Broken

I hadn't been sleeping well for weeks, and the sheer exhaustion of grieving for Grace left me feeling a bit off center. My sister was visiting and we were standing at the top when her little one pitched forward and started to fall down the stairs. I went to grab her but lost my balance too. With grunts, bumps and a final groan I beat the little one to the bottom. The ER doc did an x-ray, but missed checking the spot of the break in my ulna which was found on an x-ray a week later. A referral to an orthopedic surgeon yielded me a cast from fingers to arm pit. Perfect.

Turns out I need that non-dominate arm more than I thought. Without it, I struggle to do even the simplest things. Putting in my contacts, buttoning my jeans, and putting on Joy's boots have all become nearly impossible to do alone... and I am fiercely independent. There was much muttering and sputtering going on until I relented to letting Joe help me.

When Grace got sick we learned quickly that we would not be able to get through it by ourselves. It was incredibly difficult to accept help at first. We didn't want to be anybodies charity case. We tried to do it ourselves and there was much muttering and sputtering... Why are we so suborn? Who ever said we were supposed to do things all by ourselves?
Early on we were forced into accepting people's help, but over time our feelings of pride and embarrassment were replaced with abundantly thankful hearts. Trust me in that it is a much more pleasant experience.

Our bodies were designed by God to work together. The parts rely on each other to do what needs to be done. People are the same way... we need each other to live the way God intended us to, to experience a fullness in life and love. (1 Corinthians 12: 12-26) (Ecclesiastes 4:10-12) There is supposed to be joy in community in both generously giving and graciously receiving. Without our body of believers and their persistent support we would have sunk during the experiences of this last year. The fear and pain of it all would have chewed us up and spit us out. But our church families were those bible verses above to us.

Many people are critical of the church these days... and I get it. A lot of them are dead. They go through the motions but have no passion or life. They are made up of people... and people are fallible, so sometimes they screw up. But there are churches out there who get it right, and offer a community that can support you when the bottom falls out of your world, even if they are not perfect. The bible doesn't say you need to go to church to be saved, but to go without that gift of family is to miss out on the fullness of life God intended for us. Gotta say, I am grateful for Willowbrook today!

Getting beyond the broken arm should take another couple weeks... getting beyond the broken heart of loss will take a whole lot longer. I'm thankful I don't have to do either alone.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My very first blog

I struggled with what to title this blog. In the end I decided to try to find the essence of what life is about for our family fight now. Beyond "it", is going to be about moving beyond the things in my life that get in the way of becoming what God has asked me to be. "It" will be fear, grief, anger, and confusion... but "it" can be a lot of other things too. In this process of moving beyond "it", there will be many past memories to share & many new adventures to explore together.

In the interest of protecting the privacy of my family, they all get "alias" names on this blog. In the end, it will let me share more freely in such a public setting.

We recently lost our 9 year old daughter, "Grace" to Wilms' Tumor, a childhood cancer of the kidney. She was diagnosed in Oct 2009 and went to be with Jesus in Dec 2010. I'd been using caring bridge to keep people informed throughout the roller coaster ride of those 14 months, but now that there are no more updates I can give on her, it seemed time to move to another form of communication. My husband "Joe", and daughters "Mae" (7 years old) and "Joy" (3 years old) are supportive of this and thankful for a way to stay in touch with our support system.

Thanks to those of you who continue to follow our journey. I hope we can learn and grow together... finding smiles, laughter and tears of joy along the way.