Monday, June 18, 2012

Hope in the Home Stretch

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  Romans 5: 1-5

36 weeks ago I began an incredible journey.  A journey I felt ill equipped to take.  A journey that would lead me through pain, suffering, periods of extreme loneliness, frustration, hurt, and sorrow.  Equal to the bad came blessings of joy, peace, friendship, prayer, strength, wisdom, perspective, respect, and hope.

Tonight, I will take my final chemo injection.  On Sunday, the 24th at 11:00 pm, a mere 6 days away, I will take my last set of medications.  Praise the Lord.

I have been asked several times over the past few days, "Aren't you so excited?"  Funny how life works.  I am not sure how I feel.  I will try to articulate it.  The short answer is of course I am thrilled to be in the home stretch.  But the emotions of ending a 9 month journey are not easily set into neat lines.  

I am still incredibly tired.  The extreme anemia that has accompanied my treatments, leaves me breathless and exhausted most of the time.  I have a severe sun sensitivity and the heat makes me physically ill.  My tongue and taste buds are swollen and burned making it hard for me to enjoy food and sometimes hard to eat at all.  There is no timeline on the reversal of these affects.  It could be as soon as 12 weeks, it could be years.  While I am concerned about the length of time in which it will take for me to actually feel better, I remain filled with hope.  

My marriage:  There are no words to accurately praise the husband who has taken such good care of me these last nine months.  John has brought me every meal, helped me in and out of bed, taken care of our children, prayed for me, walked beside me and after a couple of rough months in the beginning, devoted his love, time and energy to me and our family, while working a full time job.  In a very backwards way, my illness has been a blessing to our marriage.  John has stepped up in an incredible way, growing as a man, a father, a husband and a son of God.  I want all of those things to continue once my treatment is over and my life starts to return to some sort of normal.  I want that incredible man to continue to be changed and continue to grow, so I remain filled with hope that it will be so.

I am filled with happy tears and emotion as I have been somewhat of a rock these past 9 months.  I have only cried 5 times due to my illness (not counting tears in church, because those don't count!)  Twice the past two weeks, when in the sheer craziness of life, I just couldn't handle it anymore.  But now the tears are tears of, "I did it".  I am almost through.  I did it will little complaint, I did it with a great support system.  I did it with lots of love.  I did it with so many prayers that God surely thought, I had rallied an army of prayer warriors.  I did it with encouraging texts, notes, cards, and food.  Yes, more food than a family can eat, made by so many loving hands.  I did it with friends who picked up my kids, loved them and made them secure.  Yes, I did it with the faithful assurance of a Father who has provided in ways seen and unseen and I did it filled with Hope.  Hope that I would not be disappointed and Hope that Joy would come every morning.

I am filled with gratitude and a heart that can not even begin to thank every single person who has walked with me. There will never be anything I can do or say that will even convey how much I appreciate you, love you and have been encouraged by you.

Am I excited?  Yes, I am.  I will be more excited when I swallow those last disgusting pills on Sunday.  

Hope, it is a funny 4 letter word with a huge impact.  I remain in that hope as I face an uncertain recovery and a few years of testing that will determine if the liver disease is gone forever.  I remain hopeful that those tests will all return negative time and time again.  I remain hopeful that my recovery will be short and my health will rebound quickly.  I remain hopeful that my family will get the mom/wife back that they long to have, sooner rather than later. I remain hopeful that I will be able to put pen to paper and write out my full testimony one day of God's amazing provision in my life.  I remain hopeful that the perspective and lesson's learned during these 9 months will be reflective in my every day life for years to come.  I remain hopeful that as I have changed and others have changed that we can use our newfound joy to impact others.  

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

6 more days and I will be basking in the Glory of a healed body and savoring the Hope of a future that is wide open.  Praise the Lord.

Thank you all for walking with me, God put me in Charlotte when I didn't want to be here.  He surrounded me with love, friendship and an awesome church family.  He built a huge protective barrier around me so that I would be well covered during this storm of life.  

Today, he has bestowed on me a crown of beauty, instead of ashes.  He has given me the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  (Isaiah 61:3)  and always a Hope that will not disappoint.

I will update as the final tests are administered and the end is really the end.  You all remain in my prayers, and I ask to remain in yours as well. 


Kendra said...

This is so beautiful, Amanda! It makes me miss you so much even though it has been 4 years (yikes!) since I have seen you. I feel like such an awful friend that we haven't kept in touch and I didn't know all that was happening with you. Hugs!

kimmie said...

aChareamanda honey i love you so much. it's kind of hard to see the glory and joy in trials such as these especially while still going through them, but the father has given you a revelation that has given you the ability to feel joy in the midst of this horrible disease.

i'm praying for you daily and as the spirit brings you to me. i will continue to do so and am honored to be able to do so.

i know i am far away and can't help physically. i hope you know that i miss you and love you even though we don't communicate as well as i should.

in him,

*Todd, Kim and Tyler* said...

Great story and hopefully this journey will come to a complete END! Thanks for sharing and please know that you have a lot of love and support!!!

Amazing how things transpire but I agree about the family becoming closer in a time of despair and need... I can't wait to continue reading about your journey.

Keep up the good work!