Some dear friends have been asking, "Where have you been?" and "did you give up blogging?" A few have wondered aloud wondering if I'm OK.
Yes, very much OK.
It's been a ROAD of many unexpected loops and struggles recently, but some AMAZING mountaintops.
I've been wanting to write, but the words haven't come.
You see, my goal is to write for Him. It's to write and share my heart to encourage someone else on this journey of life, even if it's just an audience of one. It really only has to matter to that ONE person. It really only matters that I'm sharing my heart....for Him. It's to be honest about struggles, so we all know that we aren't alone. It's to share in the victories. It's to admit weakness. It's to find strength and relationship based on loving and serving Him.
I've been waiting and seeking Him. Wondering when He was going to put something on my heart to share. The words didn't come in the form of writing and blogging. But...
It did come as He has been working in my own heart. Just reaching in and shaping, chiseling, and molding. Not for the world to see. Just Him and me. Reconnecting. Seeking and finding. Weeding out some tough things.
These last few days He has just been pouring it out. If time and focus had allowed, I think I could have pre-written posts to last for weeks or months!
The end of summer didn't shape up to be ANYTHING like we expected. We had vacation plans. We had lists of things we wanted to accomplish. We just had this whole LIST of how we thought we'd spend the time.
Then it happened.
Life veered off course and we had to do some reevaluating, changing, accepting, and CLINGING.
Medical scares can do that. They can cause you to instantly re-evaluate EVERY single thing in your life. Every thing you do. Every thing you believe. Every thing you rely on. Every little and big decision.
Fortunately, THANK YOU Jesus----this scare was not as drastic as we originally expected. Though it brought us to our knees as we waited and wondered. Fortunately, Kevin only needed surgery and a change in life-style---basically a wake-up call. I say "only" surgery because when you've watched people suffer through cancer and other major medical issues, your scope of reference of what is hard changes. There is hard. Then there is excruciating. We've experienced both.
It was the hardest weeks leading up to, during, and after surgery that we've been through with each other. We've faced harder than hard situations with extended family, but we weren't prepared for how hard this was going to shake us. With the stress leading up to surgery, we were both admitting we were ready for it to just be done and over. We just didn't know what that was going to be like! (Famous last words! I usually open my mouth and then regret things almost instantly!).
I was unprepared. He was unprepared. The surgeon even said he was unprepared, but was fortunately capable and skilled. When he came out to find me on the waiting room, all he had to say was, "Mrs. Goad. It's going to be he-- during recovery!" And it was.
I've never felt more helpless. Never stretched more thin, broken, or alone. Literally carrying your husband and taking care of EVERY single need while he was in excruciating pain and psychotic from meds----is not something I wish on anyone. Trying to also do that and still maintain a home, care for our three kids, and carry on as much of our normal responsibilities as possible----absolutely took more than I had to give.
It happens. Every moment I gave him, I couldn't help but think.... someone else is doing this and their results aren't going to improve in a few days. They are going to give of themselves and watch their loved one suffer and die. Not suffer for a short time and then be healed on earth. I felt lucky. I felt blessed. In the midst of it all, I knew we just had to hang on. Just a little longer.
We've been there. Many of us have watched our dearest ones ravaged by the cancer beast or major illnesses. We aren't alone in that.
I was angry. I was bitter. I was alone. No family to help. No one offered to help care for our kids in our weakest moments. Three families did provide us with meals after several days and let me tell you---that was HEAVENLY relief. I had a couple of very precious mentors and dear friends that I could LITERALLY feel praying for me across the miles. Their support was VITAL and life-giving.
I gave until my own body was broken. As he began to heal, I was falling apart. The physical stress and emotional stress were devastating to my health. My lupus came out with claws. Even now, we still feel like I'm trying to get back to the healthy point I was. I lost about half of my hair and the only way to slow that loss was to cut it off even though I was growing it back out to donate again in honor of my Dad. I had finally had enough good health to be losing weight, getting physically stronger, and emotionally thriving. Now---I'm getting back there, but slower than I want.
All of this to say----
It was hard.
It broke us.
Bitterness and anger tried to really take root.
Helplessness and loneliness overtook our hearts deeper than we expected.
HE WAS THERE.
He showed up in the middle of our mess. Smack dab in the weakness. There were moments I would do what needed to be done, then step away and sob, wipe away my own tears, and then go right back to him to care for him with another ounce of strength that somehow showed up. On the second day after surgery, Kev literally passed out as I was trying to physically carry him to the bathroom. Both of us will tell you that moment was a moment that God was in our midst. We can NOT explain how as he fell, his body twisted in such a way that he landed completely in such a way that it was as if God picked him up, arranged his body so that it didn't hit anything around us, and softly let him land. It took 45 minutes to get him back on his feet and physical strength that there is no way I was able to provide.
Sitting completely alone in the hospital during surgery, despite my normal panic attacks upon entering medical facilities (most especially after our battle with Peyton as a toddler and haunting memories of Dad's journey)----I had a surreal calm. The sweet little volunteer lady that managed the phone and desk looked and acted like Kevin's mom. It was as if God gave me a little nudge to remind me that even though I felt completely alone in those hours, worried and uncertain, that He was making sure I knew He was there.
We found ourselves facing a MOUNTAIN of unexpected medical expenses, time off work, and issues that we had no idea would be in our laps. Yet, even up to this moment, He has provided. He has taken away our worry of how to pay this or that and every time I've sat down to pay a bill---the money has been there. It hasn't fallen from the sky, but it's worked out and continues to every single time we get a new statement. We gave up our vacation and used that money to cover basic expenses while he was out of work, but it has worked out that we've been able to do little things with little to no cost and still make GREAT family memories. It's just worked. He has provided.
Countless times during the first week, my heart broke at the memories and similarities of things I had experienced with Dad...and well...it hurt. It broke places that I thought were healed over and opened up areas of grief that I thought I was over. BUT----it was a gift. It was a gift to serve and offer love to my Dad and it was most definitely the same with caring for my husband. It was a GIFT to remember those times of giving love to my Dad because it was the reminder of how when we give of ourselves, beyond our own capacity, we are truly SERVING Him.
It's amazing what all of this has done for our marriage. We've had some rough days. No doubt about it. I don't sugar coat that it's been hard. Yet, this roller coaster brought us to each other and connected us in ways we didn't know possible. You can't go through the Refiner's Fire together without it bonding you together. We had the chance to re-evaluate life, priorities, and reconnect on new levels. It wasn't without pain (physical, spiritual, and emotional), but it had great value. Life-changing value.
Above all, the greatest gift of the struggle has been our faith.
It tested it.
It stretched us.
We went through same valleys that began to pull us away from Him because it WAS HARD. We lost sight or some important lessons we already thought we'd learned. We thought we needed more support from MULTIPLE levels and our disappointments rocked us.
He brought us back into focus.
Showed us what mattered most.
Let us see that all we needed was already right in front of our faces.
Helped us to release the hurt.
Let our bodies begin to heal.
Replaced fears with faith.
We've been spending the last couple of weeks at church with a sermon series on "Unbreakable". We've been talking quite extensively about our weaknesses being our strength. How hard times shape us.
We're learning and growing. Growing together as a couple. Growing as a family. Our hearts are seeing more clearly what He needs us to see.
Our eyes are back on Him.
Last week we celebrated 19 years of marriage and we are about to take a short trip away to reconnect. It's not the trip we anticipated or hoped for originally---we can't splurge like we intended. Yet, we are so beyond excited to just have this time together to look at where we've been, pray about where we are going, and make goals to go in the direction He has for us.
Ready to face the future with His strength. Ready to move mountains in our family. Ready to share His love and grow together. Ready to see more wounds healed, more bridges built and faith renewed in ways we never imagined. Ready to move forward each day as physically healing continues for both of us.
We're just ready.
I'm ready. I'm ready to see where He is about to lead me. I'm ready because I want to be the woman HE designed me to be, walking on the path of HIS design. Oh....I'm ready!