Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Where We're At

I apologize for the lack of posts recently.  Life is busy and chaotic, but I think we're starting to settle into our new normal.  Will is here until the middle of next week, and I hate to even think about what it will be like when he leaves.  We've put in the paperwork to get a Humanitarian Reassignment, so if you're the praying kind, please pray that the Air Force approves it quickly so Will can move to Omaha with us, soon. 

I've been sort of intentionally vague about Papa's diagnosis up until now.  I wasn't sure how much of it was out in the open.  He has lung cancer, with metastases to his brain stem, the bones in his shoulder/arm, adrenal glands and possibly one of his ribs.  The team of oncologists he's working with want to be pretty aggressive with treatment because he is young.  He started radiation on Monday.  Friday he'll go in for a Gamma Knife radiation treatment to stop the growth of the tumor in his brain stem.  It's an extremely powerful and precise type of radiation that only has to be done once (in most cases).  He'll start chemotherapy soon.  He is a long road ahead him.  We're all trying to help in any way we can.  I feel like I've asked a million times for prayers for my Papa at this point, but I will probably ask for them a million times more.  He is in a lot of pain right now, and we could really use a miracle.  When we look at all of this without God in the equation, it's scary.  We are so grateful for a loving God who has us in His hands. 

I feel like I'm getting a bit stronger emotionally.  I'm still a wreck, but I'm getting better at managing it when I'm around people (I don't have it down to a science yet, so if I run into you and fall apart, please forgive me).  There's a big difference between being 4,000 miles away and worrying and actually being here and having a chance to help out. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Weary Soul

I'm struggling.  It's a constant fight to calm my heart and mind and just-- be.  I worry about a lot of things these days.  Most of all, I worry about my Papa.  I worry about the immense pain he's in and the fact that medication can't even touch it.  I worry about the fact that everyone else in my family is ten times better at hiding their struggle than I am and that it could make life harder for Papa to have me around.  I am the emotional weak link.  I wear my heart on my sleeve and I have a hard time hiding what I'm feeling.  I also worry about Will's grandma, Will, and his family.  I'm trying to give it all up to God and try to find peace, but I am human.  I'm weak.  My heart and soul are weary from all of the news, but I am trying so hard to be strong.

I don't know that I should post much about what Papa's diagnosis is until they lay it all out some time this week.  It's all very overwhelming and it seems that they only give out little pieces of information at each appointment.  I keep reminding myself that God is SO much bigger than a diagnosis or prognosis.  All of the facts and the figures are irrelevant to God.  Once again, I am so grateful for the hope I have in Him.  All of this would be so much harder for me if I didn't believe that God has a plan for all of us.  He loves us.  I can't say that I don't question His plans or His will.  I do.  I get angry.  I feel like my family has been through enough hurt and pain.  I know that His plans for us are good and we see only a tiny speck of the picture He has in view.  It just gets hard when you feel like your family, and more specifically your father, is under a barrage of attacks. 

We're flying to Omaha tomorrow.  I am more than ready to be in Omaha.  I need to be with my family right now.  Being thousands of miles away has been so difficult.  I feel like my body is in Germany, but every other part of me is there.  I basically spend the mornings stressing out until someone from my family is up and I can find out how Papa slept and if he's feeling ok.  I also worry about how hard this has been on my family there.  None of us are sleeping. 

It will be comforting for me to know that we don't have to leave Omaha.  We're staying for the foreseeable future.  We'll be renting a home for the first year (we're praying for something near my parents to be available).  We will miss all of our friends in Germany, but we really feel like we need to be in Omaha. 

If you see me around, feel free to say hello.   It's always nice to see a friendly face.  Please don't feel like you have to ask how I'm doing.  Chances are I'll either give a pat answer or I'll fall to pieces on you.  We're all hurting, no matter how "okay" we say we're doing.  Please keep Papa in your prayers.  We all worry about him and we appreciate every single prayer more than words could express.  Knowing that people all over the world are remembering him in their prayers is an amazing thing.  I believe that God hears all of our prayers and His will is going to be done here.  We have so many hurting friends right now.  God, please help us to feel your love through these times of trial. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The New Plan

I wanted to give everyone a heads up because things have been changing rapidly and I am having a hard time keeping everything straight and remembering who I've told and who I have not. We did not make it to Omaha yesterday. We tried to fly Space A, but we missed the cut off and couldn't get out. I started planning another attempt on Thursday (the next available flight that would work for us), but I've decided not to leave then. I would be in the air during Papa's appointment with the oncologist and I'd probably find out about his prognosis in an airport I'm not comfortable while trying to take care of both of the kids on my own. I really feel like I need to be with Will (my husband) when I get the news. His love and support have kept me going throughout all of this. If I need to fall apart, I want to be with him.

As soon as we find out the prognosis we will start the process of getting ourselves moved to Omaha.  We are praying that we can get some sort of exception and be able to move quickly. We have been so blessed by a couple who have been dear friends of my family for a very long time who have offered to help us with the process. Their help has been invaluable and we've been so comforted by the knowledge that they're looking out for us.

My sister-in-law, Jackie posted this song to my Facebook profile and I've had it on repeat most of the time since.

I know that a lot of my friends are atheists or agnostic, and that a lot of people think that religion and faith are for those who are weak minded or just plain weak. I don't mean to be shoving my faith down anyone's throat, but I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that I could never survive this without my faith in God and the knowledge that no matter what happens, He has everything under control.

My faith was tested and tried so much during my Grandma's fight with cancer, but when I look back at my life so far, and at all of the pain and trials that I (and my family) have been through, I can absolutely see the hand of God through all of it. It doesn't mean that it all makes sense to me or that I take joy in pain, but I know that God was watching out for me and that He never let me go even when I wanted to let go of him.

My father was healed of Lupus when I was young. We went to a service at church, people gathered around him to pray and a few days later when he went to the doctor the signs of this degenerative disease were miraculously gone. God doesn't always heal people in the way that we want Him to, but He is a God who is capable of healing no matter how dire the situation.

My feeble attempts at understanding Him will never grasp the greatness of His love for us. If I die and find that God does not exist, I have lost nothing, because my faith in Him has made my life so much more rich and full of possibility and hope. I will never regret putting my faith, my trust and my hope in the Great I Am. I am not a great preacher or evangelist. I try very hard to make my life and love a witness to people (I realize that I've often fallen short of the message here so many times, and I truly apologize for any insensitivity I might have shown others), but I just can't keep silent about my faith in this time of trial. To my friends who don't believe, please don't worry. I will not push all of this on you when I see you. I still love you no matter what you believe or even what you think of me and my beliefs. I just can't hide what I'm feeling right now.

I also want to share the great news that Papa is in good spirits :)  In spite of what feels like a constant stream of bad news, he is choosing to be positive and keep living life and loving people the way that only my Papa can.   Please continue to pray for his pain to be eased.  I will update again after we receive his prognosis.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Be Still My Soul

My mind and heart are going in a million different directions each second.  I find myself constantly saying/thinking "Be still."  I often feel the elephant sit down on my chest and constrict my breaths as the fear sets in.  If I could only slow down my heart and mind I might be able to get out a coherent sentence, thought, or a moment of peace.  Right now my world revolves around the fact that my papa (dad) has cancer.  "A very aggressive" cancerous tumor in his shoulder that is causing him more pain than I could possibly imagine.  He goes in for a biopsy today to find out if he also has prostate cancer.  It's shocking and a little frightening that in a second, your whole world can change.  Our lives have changed.  No matter what the outcome, life will never return to the way it has been.

Cancer is an ugly word.  It's a poison, and once is seeps its' way into your life, you're forever in fear of it.  My grandma was diagnosed with cancer and passed away only weeks after.  She was the heart of our family and we all felt such acute pain when she died.  That memory is so fresh in all of our minds even years later.  We don't know anything about papa's prognosis yet.  We're playing an agonizing waiting game until Thursday when he meets his oncologist for the first time.  Until then, we're all going through every possible scenario, and it's scary.

Please bear with me through this.  I will probably be posting a lot of songs about God's faithfulness and trusting in Him on here and Facebook.  When my faith starts to falter, it helps me to listen to songs about how faithful and steadfast God is.  I will not lose faith.  I will not lose hope.  I will choose to trust God through this storm, no matter where He takes us.  I will lean on God and my family when I'm hurting.