Hope in the Suffering

A few months ago my mom called me, I could hear the anxiety in her voice as she said “are you home?  I just need to talk to you when your home.”  It is when my mom asks if I am home that I know she has awful news.  I put my car in park in front of my apartment as my mom told me the doctors found a spot in my Grammie’s lung & they had fear it may be cancer.

I prayed.  I text my closest friend and he put it on his prayer chain at his church and I text my friends on the church staff and we prayed.  I prayed for God to remove the mass and for the doctors to be in SHOCK that following week at the scan.

At that next scan or maybe the next, it becomes so jumbled when your looking back.. the doctors revealed the mass was cancer, but they would do a surgery to remove it.  It seemed like no big deal almost, cancer seems scary, but removing it seemed wonderful.

We prayed.  God please let this mass be gone.  Perform a miracle, but thank you for the blessing of a hopefully easy surgery.

A few weeks later it came back they couldn’t remove it due to size so my Grammie would need radiation, but maybe not chemo.  Here is where I want to pause and share with you my real prayer.  Not the fake Facebook prayer in which zero pain is revealed, but my “yes I am a pastor, but it doesn’t change my REAL pain right now” prayer.

GOD WHERE ARE YOU?  CAN YOU EVEN HEAR ME?  I AM SO FRUSTRATED.  I AM SO SCARED.  DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH MY GRAMMIE MEANS TO ME?  HOW IN THE WORLD COULD YOU NOT CURE THIS?  HOW IN THE WORLD COULD YOU NOT TAKE THIS FROM MY FAMILY?  IN WHAT WAYS AM I NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU TO HEAR MY PRAYERS?  GOD, WHERE ARE YOU?

That was my prayer.  Raw, real, sad, and scary, but that was it.  That was my prayer not just once, but multiple times that week and the week or so to follow.

We prayed. Lord no chemo please no chemo.

New results return, she needs radiation and chemo.  She may not lose her hair though!

We prayed.  God please let my Grammie keep her hair.  

My grammie lost her hair.

….I think at this point of my blog you are realizing why my previous prayer was screaming at the Lord.  I also realized a miracle wasn’t occurring, at least not yet.  I realized I had two choices.  I could be terribly mad at God, or I could keep praying (even sometimes angry prayers) and I could have hope and peace that only could come from Him.  I chose the second one.  As I changed my prayers a little, God gave me verses like this in my daily devotion (GoTandem is the best if your seeking) and in my Bible as I studied his word…

“I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2

“I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.” Hosea 14:8

Slowly, but surely regardless of what the doctors say, regardless of what they continued to say I maintain a hope that surpasses all understanding.  Although if you read my story you may ask where is God, but as I awoke today and felt so heavy for my grammie and just started to get that fear again, this was my daily devotion today 5.27.17,

“I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me.”Jonah 2:2

Here is what I hope this blog says to you, I hope as you read this you see a pattern.  A pattern of our God who is constantly hearing your prayers, burdens, and struggles.  A pattern of love and grace.  A pattern of a child of God crying out to her God and although you cant see a mighty miracle from the outside He is constantly calming the storm within her soul.  I hope if you read, see, or hear nothing else that you can see the love of God as he speaks to me through his word.  I pray and hope that you can see a story that looks as if its hopeless and scary, but realize I have more hope and confidence than ever before.  I hope you read this and wonder, “How in the WORLD could she be so sure its going to be okay?”  That you re read the scripture God gave to me and realize even when we cant see, He is speaking, He is hearing, He is MOVING.  Here is my prayer today, it looks a little different than the one above…

Father,

Thank you for hearing my cries.  Thank you for taking my burdens.  Thank you for being my rock.  Thank you for taking care of my grammie even if her health isn’t great right now.  Thank you for every memory, every laugh, every single moment that fills my soul because you made her my grammie.  Thank you for your miracle healing that I know is upon her.  Thank you for working all things for the good of THOSE WHO LOVE YOU even if I am a little unsure what that means for us right now.  Thank you for my papa, and for showing my grammie how strong he is.  Thank you for my mom and for keeping her right where she is, in Sylvania for such a time of this for my family.  Thank you for every single blessing you are giving to us that we sometimes cant see because of this illness.  Thank you for the doctors and nurses caring for my grammie.  Thank you for calming the storm in my soul, for being my father, and for holding me in a time when I have never been more scared.  I love you God, I feel you, and I just please continue to ask for your love to surround my soul, and my grammie’s every single day in this journey.

Your daughter,

Chelsea.

Praying today you feel the Lord and the peace and joy of the spirit, even if you feel like the storm is too big.  Remember, He created it all, what is a big storm to us is a small rain cloud for him.

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My Feminist Feelings today…

I love children, I love women’s rights, I love the church, I love Jesus, I love being married, and I love teenagers.  This past weekend MANY people commented on their thoughts, passions, anger, feelings, and just opinions on the women’s march and I am sure you clicked this blog post thinking the title was going to discuss my feelings on that march as well, but I am sorry to report that is not my actual topic.  My reasoning for titling my blog post “my Feminist Feelings today” is because the definition of the word feminist is: supporting the concept of feminism, which is pushing for women to have equal rights to a man, but I want to write about the ONE thing we can do that they cannot.  I want to say I am proud of the women who came before me that allowed women to have such equal rights, but one thing women have always been able to do that men cannot and that is conceive, carry, and deliver a child.  It is that exact subject that is on my heart today and I am eager to have attracted your attention with “My Feminist Feelings” to share my heart with you.

                I found out earlier last year after 3 years of trying (March of 2016) that I am going to struggle immensely conceiving a child.  My doctor did assure me its not impossible, but that my odds of conception are very slim.  I have cried, I have been angry, I have prayed, I have talked with my husband and cried with him and have talked with my mom and close friends, but it doesn’t change the way my heart aches.  I heard a song around the same time this news came to me called Thy Will by: Hillary Scott and it really helped me to feel peace with the Lord that His plans are always good even when I struggle to accept them.  I just wanted to allow this blog for you to know if you have someone in your life who is struggling with conception, or cannot conceive here are 4 things you can do and things that have made my heart remain whole in the breakage. 

1.)    Allow them to tend to your kids.

I can’t put into words what it means to me that parents of my youth group teens or just parents of kids I know trust me enough to allow me to hang out with their kids, and take care of them.  Weather it’s for a night of babysitting or just picking them up from school I can’t imagine my heartbreak if people stopped asking me to care for their kids finding out my pain.  My pain is made better BECAUSE your children are in my life, thank you for not counting me out because I am struggling to become a parent.

2.)    Don’t be afraid to ask, but be AWARE of WHAT you’re asking.

One of the most difficult thing about the struggle with conception is that it’s a silent struggle.  Most everyone around you has no idea that your hurting or struggling and they don’t realize where you are at emotionally in that struggle (shoot, sometimes I don’t even know how I feel).  Do not be afraid to ask how I feel, if you can pray, or what is going on, but be prepared if sometimes that person or your friend isn’t ready or doesn’t want to discuss those things with you right away, but never be afraid to ask.  Be aware that questions like, “why aren’t you guys having kids yet” or “are you guys ever having kids”  are very hard questions in the midst of this battle.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but pray and seek wisdom about which ones you ask.

3.)    Don’t be shy or subtle sending a card or giving one on Mother’s Day.

The most thoughtful thing someone ever did for me was hand me a card on Mother’s Day.  I was shocked and surprised as she handed it to me and later as I opened it only to find that it was a Mother’s Day card I wondered if it was a sick joke?  I then realized she written a short letter inside.  The letter was reminding me how loved I was by so many children and teens and to not forget that the role God has me in is perfect and to be patient and prayerful in His timing.  It was beautiful, thoughtful, and meant the world to me.  In this story I want to encourage you that if you have friends or someone around you struggling in this silent battle please throw them a Mother’s Day “prayer” card or a random card reminding them you haven’t forgot and you are still praying.  I am a firm believer that cards, & letters have and leave strong impacts on peoples hearts.

4.)    Please do NOT recommend foster care of adoption, or ask if we know about other options.

I can assure you with 100% confidence if a woman cannot conceive or has that battle the doctors and Google has already led them to about 10 different ways to have a child another way or an agency to assist them to still become a mother.  The struggle within these systems besides cost is time.  Most people have no idea the struggle to obtain a foster care license and the resources it takes if you don’t have what the checklist requires, not to mention the credit check, bank account last year information, or the blood type of your pet (yeah, I had no idea either), but because of this those systems are hard and take a lot out of you.  I also want to explain that this is a roller coaster.  One minute I am 100% sure I want to adopt then the next I am sobbing that “my” child will someday have to know why they don’t have “my eyes”.  One minute I am sure I want to be a foster parent and the next I am convinced my teens take all my time and energy.  It is a constant roller coaster and if someone in your life is struggling, unless you have an agency you recommend or have used and that’s your advice, please avoid the list of “other options” we have, trust me, we already know.  We also know you never intend to cause pain or more struggle, but that’s simply why I am writing this blog so that you know how it does feel before you step in those red zones.

        I hope these 4 things have just helped you to know how to better love and support someone around you that struggles silently, but most of all I hope you know if you are one of those people who struggle you are loved and supported, and you aren’t alone.  1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.  I am not telling you this verse has been easy for me, but even in the storm I know God needs my #BESTDAYEVER attitude and to tell him I love him, and that I trust Him no matter what happens and I pray and hope that verse speaks to you in that same way it did for me, regardless of whatever your struggle or “storm” may be.

Chels.