Made For So Much More

My life did not turn out the way I planned that it would/the way I hoped that it would. Like most young girls, I had dreams of college and a career, two kids and a husband.
I was blessed to be from a wonderful family where I was loved and respected. I was brought up in church and knew the love of God. I was, by nature, a people pleaser and always followed the rules, until I was 18 and found myself unmarried and pregnant during my freshman year of college. I was devastated to have disappointed my parents and to have gone against strong beliefs I had about sex outside of marriage.
Against the wishes of almost everyone that I knew, I got married because it was the right thing to do. I had made a mess, and it was my responsibility to clean it up. But instead of fixing the problem, I found myself in a very destructive marriage with two small children. Divorce was not an option for me. I remember very clearly sitting by myself one day in the house when I realized as long as I was in that marriage, I would never be the woman God had called me to be. There was no way. A year later, my husband left me and the girls for the second time, and I knew I had been given a second chance. Even though I had never experienced it, something in my heart told me that marriage to the right man that God had set aside just for me could be so amazing…And I was right…
A year after my husband had left us, God brought a wonderful Christian man into our lives. He proposed 3 weeks later. And 4 months later we were married. He not only was a wonderful husband but an amazing dad to all four of our girls.
We had been married almost a year when my husband started having trouble with kidney stones. After the first time or two, the doctor noticed a very small area in his lower abdomen. A month later, we were in the ER again with kidney stones and the area was a little larger. So we were sent to an oncologist just to have them look at it. The doctor wanted to be certain, so he decided my husband would need a biopsy, but told us it was possibly nothing. At the end of September, we saw a general surgeon. He was talking about doing a biopsy and due to the complexity of the surgery, my husband would be kept in the hospital for a few days. The doctor noted our confusion and asked if we had seen the most recent CT scan. We told him we hadn’t. I couldn’t have been prepared for what I saw. The first CT scan just months earlier had shown a very small area in my husband’s abdomen. What we saw that day was an area that covered a large portion of my husband’s lower abdominal area. The doctor prepared us for all of the possibilities and days later confirmed that my husband had non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Due to the rapid growth of the tumor, he referred us to Vanderbilt the following week.
In a matter of weeks, the tumor had grown from 7 cm to 12 cm and tumors were showing up in other places. I will never forget his doctor looking at him and shaking her head. She couldn’t believe he was one of her cancer patients. He looked amazing and had no symptoms except for the kidney stones.
My husband started getting treatment and for a few months things were going well. Then the medicine stopped working. We tried several different chemotherapy treatments, and after 10 months of chemotherapy nothing was working, and we were almost out of options. The doctor said she was going to send him for radiation because the large abdominal tumor just was not being affected at all. And when the scan was retaken on December 2, 2009, a lot of the specific prayers had worked and the large abdominal mass was completely gone. But as we looked at her face, we both knew something was very wrong. She showed us the scan and the abdominal mass was completely gone, but now there was cancer everywhere else. Lungs, liver, arms, legs, bones.
We were sent for an initial visit to Houston at MD Anderson, and there they ran a lot of tests. The day we were leaving to come back home, we had to run by the doctor’s office after a final CT scan. The doctor reviewed the results with us and told us we would have to stay and start chemo immediately. My husband told him we would come back after Christmas which was less than a week away, but the doctor said the cancer wouldn’t wait for Christmas.
I made some calls, rescheduled flights, found a hotel room and got us settled in for a long week. On Christmas Eve against his doctors wishes, we flew out of Houston headed for home. My husband had deteriorated tremendously in just a few weeks’ time. He was hardly eating, running 103 fever and didn’t have much strength left, but he was determined to get home to our girls for Christmas.
We got home around 2:30 PM on Christmas Eve. And at 8:00 that evening I was calling for help to get him to the ER with 105 fever.
On January 1, 2010, I came home from the hospital with just our daughters. My husband had died that evening.
I will never forget a dear friend who was struggling to figure out who God was asked me how I know there is a God. I told him, you don’t live the life I have lived and not know there is a God. He is in here (as I tapped my heart).
I tell you all of this to explain that my “anything” is now! A year ago, our group did Restless by Jennie Allen, and at the time, I truly was “restless”. Now as we start Anything, I am seeing Him take dreams and passions from multiple women and start weaving them together to make a beautiful picture. The more we say “Yes!”, the harder life gets (but that story is for another day). But it is like when Jesus asked Peter, “Do you also want to go away?” Peter said, “Where else would we go?”
This is it! I’m here standing on the edge where I always knew I was supposed to be. I’ve listed out my “anythings” and I have taken my first scary, crazy, excited (rather large) step into the unknown. I know it will get harder, but my story is all about beauty from ashes. I am a warrior princess and my God has a great and mighty plan for me. I won’t miss it!
Love in Christ!