March 2020, I was in the home of a dear friend along with other ladies, before Covid restrictions were being asked of us. I was in her kitchen, where you can look out through her picture windows to see the stunning Rocky Mountain foothills. They were beautiful that morning; embellished with low clouds that spoke of cold, frost and snowflakes which gently fell one after another. Chilly as it was, the warmth in her home was cozy and inviting. The tranquility was interrupted by my phone – I listened to my husband on the other end, and the reality was barely believable. His mom had been diagnosed with colon cancer. Leaving me with so many thoughts and emotions, as I know some of you are well aware of. Since that time, she has had surgery and was cleared of cancer. Summer 2020 we received another call after a follow-up doctor’s appointment she went to. They needed to do more tests; labs and a PET scan were on the horizon. As test results were due, we held our breath and prayed for what was about to be articulated. This time the news was devastating, the cancer that was once cleared had moved around her body and found a new dwelling place. Stage-4 Lung-Cancer in both of her lungs; 6 months -2 years left (with treatment).
Shock ran through our veins; we were undone. I looked at my dear husband and took his hand, “do you want to go see your mom now? (they live in Wichita, KS) Do you want to leave today?” His response was yes, but as we weighed the decision over the next hour we decided since he had a cold we didn’t want to expose her. We waited a long week – it passed so slowly. During those days of waiting, I struggled. I wanted to do something – anything. (She had lost almost 60 pounds over the last several months.) I went out and purchased a few items of clothing. We packed food to take so I could cook for them. I ordered a couple hats for her from Amazon. The struggle still pulled at me. I called my daughter to see if I come and pick them up and take them to see her grandmother. I reasoned that we had a twin bed my daughter needed for our granddaughter, and I could drop it off and pick it up. They live in Oklahoma, about 5 hours from Wichita. I walked through our travel mentally and felt after I dropped my hubby off in Wichita, I could leave for Oklahoma the next day. This would give him and his parents one-on-one time to talk and able to engage in intimate conversation.
Thursday afternoon we left Colorado and headed for Kansas. The road-trip was filled with sporadic conversation, silence and listening to an audiobook. We got to Kansas about 10:30 pm; we hugged his parents with a knowing hug, then settled in for a night of sleep. The next morning, we ate together and listened to the journey of appointments and information they had learned. I hugged them before I left, cradling her head in my hand as I held her. I left their home for the next leg of my trip to Oklahoma.
I got myself settled in our SUV, maps, drinks and snacks in tow. As I set out that morning the same questions kept coming around and around. I wanted to do something for her, for them, I wanted to somehow make it better for them, for my husband, for her beautiful soul - my mother-in-law – and for me. Somewhere between Wichita and Oklahoma City I was praying and talking with God about the ALL I was feeling. No answer. Talked and prayed more – then the tears. They always come. I am blessed with the gift of empathy, and I do consider it a blessing, though the tears sometimes feel awkward. But that day, by myself, a sunny fall day, no one was around to stare or notice. Talking and praying, talking again – then a thought imprinted itself. I listened. His gentleness was kind, His love deep when He opened my mind. He pressed these thoughts in as I drove the stunning country roads:
He said, “This is not for you to manage. This is for Me. She is coming home to be with Me. The plan I have for her is between her and Me. You cannot change those plans. What I have for you Traci, is between you and me. She IS coming to be with me." I ‘heard’ tenderly – “What I am doing with you is walking with you through the grief you have now and will have later." Again, the answer came, “What I am doing with her is between her and I.” (My visual was a sphere on the left signifying His work with my mother-in-law.) What I’m doing with you is between you and I. (This was a sphere to the right of the first sphere.) In so many ways He told me, you are released from “managing” this, I’ve got it, on both accounts. I AM capable. You can be present with her, with them, with your husband, but I’ve got this. I’ve got you and I’ve got her. You have permission to find joy in your day, to laugh, to cry. To grieve now and in the future. This is MY work to do. I need you to be present, that’s it, that’s all.”
As I internalized this – I thought, and slowly responded, “Ok, Lord, I can do this. I trust You.”
We walk into each day and want to manage our lives and surroundings, our world, our thoughts, what we do, how we interact, how we love, how we deal with every involvement we have. What I ponder, and ask is this:
We live now in a changing world. It changes daily. We have regular abstract challenges. We have loss. Thankfully, we have Him, His hope, joy, love, grace, mercy and a world in need of Him. God has given us all of these. He has given us more time slowing our “busy.” Speaking for myself, I need to get out of the “what can I do” and trust what He has for me. To leave the managing, control and trust Him. To be released because He IS capable and has a plan. We are staying at home more, doing less, seeing fewer people. And to be completely honest, the news on TV, for me needs to be digested minimally. But ladies His Word does give me/us encouragement. Messages from Pastor Josh do also because they are bathed in HIS word. My Bible study does, watching videos about His word helps. I am careful with what I give power over me. There is only One who does. Power does not come from the media, circumstances, worry, or many other things. It is only Him. God’s plan prevailed then and does now. What is God’s profound gift? Jesus came and died for me, for you, for us. His promise is trustworthy and final. We know this, right? I find currently I have more time for my dependence on Him to grow and strengthen. His Word, though treasured before, is even more greatly esteemed now.
Where are you? What provision have you found in your faith, in your journey, in His word? Are you trying to manage the world around you? I am encouraged. Knowing, remembering, He is in control of each circumstance. I/we can be dependent on Him. He calls us to this. None of this is beyond Him. We know this to be true but do remember and embrace it thankfully.
I delivered the twin bed when I arrived in Oklahoma and my sweet little 4-year old grand-daughter LOVES it! Hooray! My daughter and her family saw their “Grammy” – such a tender and sweet time. My mother-in-law is on her fourth round of chemotherapy, the doctors are pleased her markers look good and we know God cares for her deeply. She is a woman of great faith and is a beautiful soul that belongs to our Lord. There is nothing better.
I miss you ladies, but I know that God is guiding this time and I am personally inspired by His love for each of us, for His church, His bride, and all His creation. I am thankful for our Woodmen leadership who seek God in prayer asking Him to show us the path He wants us on. Being obedient to Him in all we do. His sovereignty and provision in every way. My challenge for myself and I would love to include you, is to look for the small pleasures He provides and celebrate those boldly with praise!
Isaiah 40:31 ESV
– “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”