Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29th, 2011

From December 29th 2010 blog:

God is certainly showering me and Aaron with His peace and His supernatural strength.How else could we be doing this? This journey requires us to walk so closely with our Heavenly Father and clinging to His promise to carry us and sustain us through anything.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

On this day last year Nick was transferred into hospice, and it was without a doubt the most difficult transition of this journey. When I go back and read, I am always amazed how a year later the words I wrote back then are the same words I would still want write today. He did sustain us then as He continues to sustain us now. 

January 1st marks the official new year for everyone. For many, it is simply a time to change the calendar, but for others, the new year can represent a renewed hope. In my heart, I do not think my new year will begin until January 30th. That date signifies to me I have made it, I have survived the " year of firsts" without my husband. As that time approaches I can see myself standing at the threshold looking back, remembering all that God has brought me through, but also eagerly looking forward to all He has in store for me. 

This blog has been an immense source of healing for me. It is a treasure that I have been able to write openly and honestly with you all about my journey over the past year. Although, I know it was very sad to read at times, I hope you were able to see the true love story between a husband and wife. I pray you saw the strength of the Lord carry us through our grief and even provide us with laughter and joy along the way. 

I will continue to update on my journey periodically throughout 2012, but my passion and direction for this blog is changing and I am excited!  I look forward to sharing the stories of others. I have had the priviledge of meeting and befriending a few brave survivors, either recently diagnosed, in the midst of an illness, or "learning to live" after an illness or losing a loved one. My desire is to share their stories of hope and determination with you and to put a face with each of the stories. I can speak from my own experience of how sharing your story with others can bring comfort and healing. I will have more information to share on "F.A.C.E.S. (Fighting Against Cancer with Extraordinary Strength) " coming very soon. 

I want to wish you all a very blessed 2012 and thank you for supporting "Learning to Live" I look forward to having you all and many more on board next year as I know God has big things planned for F.A.C.E.S. 




Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22nd, 2011

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, 
to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. 
Lamentations 3:22-26

As I looked back to my blog last Christmas, I had ended it with these verses. There was so much encouragement to be found in those words then, and even more so now. 

Family and friends, it is so hard to believe that we are coming up on Christmas, and that it was almost a year ago when we spent that day at Mayo. Little did I know that would be my last time ever leaving this house with Nick by my side. 

It is hard to put into words all that I have experienced this year. I have accomplished things that I never thought I could. I learned how to manage a household, made some important decisions on my own, got a great job writing, and even put my own gas in the tank (that's a joke, even though Nick used to always do it for me)! Could it be that I am becoming independent?  Some of you may read this and think, "What in the world, I have been doing that stuff forever!" But the truth of it is, Nick took care of everything! So these things are kind of a big deal for me! 

As I have written before, there are many times I am sad, lonely, and my heart is breaking in two from missing Nick so much, but there are also those times of joy, hope, laughter, and excitement about what God has in store for me. I have a future, one that I look forward to with great anticipation, a future filled with the love of my family, friends and my Heavenly Father. He has and continues to refine me through the fires in my life.I keep telling myself God has big plans for me! 

I have gained appreciation for so much that seemed so unimportant a year ago. I am grateful to be accepted for who I am, flaws included, while also being able to learn to love the flaws in others. The passing of my dear husband, has taught me many of these invaluable life lessons and has forever changed who I am. I pray it is all for the better. 

As we near our first Christmas without Nick, I cannot help but to think back to last year and remember how much pain and suffering he was going through. I find myself feeling relieved, knowing that he no longer has to endure that.  I know he is experiencing a true CHRISTmas in Heaven.

We want to wish you all very Merry Christmas! I encourage those who have lost someone they love to celebrate and start new traditions with the family and friends that are here with you now, while reflecting on wonderful memories of years past. 

"Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy
which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths,
lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly
host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
[Luke 2:10 - 15]




Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19th, 2011/A post from Aaron

So many of you often inquire about my son Aaron and how he is doing. From a mother's heart that means so much to me and I want to thank you. I asked Aaron if he wouldn't mind sharing his heart a little bit. 

This is what he shared:

My perspective on life is so incredibly different from a year ago. I value people differently, I recognize what it means to really see others through and beyond their trials. I find myself having formed so many new relationships with people who have genuinely seen me through some of the hardest times of my life. I cannot thank God enough that I’m ending the year miles away from where it began. 

I guess what’s so amazing is that all of those blessings weren’t the ones I expected. I have fallen into a family at Celebration Church that has supported and embraced me and helped cultivate the gifts that God has given me in order to serve His kingdom. I have met people who will forever change my life, even after having learned from them for just a season. I have seen people show me what it means to sacrifice your desires for the will of God, and I have learned to suffer well through an incredibly trying year. 

I recently talked with a friend who lost her father a couple months ago, and we both agreed that the most difficult thing is realizing how to deal with the fact that life--friends, school, obligations--move on completely unaffected in so many ways by the very thing that has changed your life indefinitely. Birthdays, Father’s Day, starting senior Year, Thanksgiving, and Christmas have and will come this year, and they will of course be another day to press into what matters most.

I cannot say that putting up Christmas lights outside was the same without my dad. And moments like these--the small things of great personal value--are the ones that affect me in ways I can’t explain. Each time I encounter one of those moments, it’s one of maturity, growth, and a recognition of how different things are and will be. These are tough moments, even almost a year later.   I can count on one hand those friends who have stayed close and lifted me up each time I felt low this year, and they are blessings I can hardly consider myself worthy of.

But I should never think that I am to be perfected in this life, completely finished in the eyes of my Heavenly Father. I read a thought recently that said we should always be in an attitude of asking God to make new over, and over, and over, and over... 

This is the prayer I want to learn and believe in. I know I have been through so much at a young age, but I believe that I am not designed to be halted here. One grows in faith not to merely endure the testing fire, but to come out with the courage to be refined again. 

I don’t know where I’ll be, or honestly where I even want to be, 6 months from now. I just know that I want it to be another step forward in translating pain into progress in my relationship with Jesus, and serving in a way that matters. 

Looking forward to another year of unexpected blessings. 


Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12th, 2011

Happy holidays! It is about this time of year that the real hustle and bustle kicks in! I hope you all are pacing yourselves!

I have to say I was very touched and overwhelmed (in a good way) with all the feedback I received from my last blog about loneliness. I know I wrote on a subject that is very real and can be extremely painful. Please know I will pray for each of you that shared your very private struggles with me. You are indeed loved.

I was looking back at my December 2010 blogs and I noticed that I had only written one blog up until Christmas and then of course things changed very quickly after that. It was a blog that I posted on December 9th, 2010 regarding a visit to the Neurologist. It was a tough blog to write because of the news we received, but as I continued reading I realized the words I wrote then, are words that still hold true today, probably more than ever.

Here is a little nugget from that blog:

"We have to remain encouraged that in the eyes of the Lord, we are his beloved. Although, our flesh wants to question why, we do not want to open the door to any doubts of His plan for our lives. Honestly, that is very difficult right now. A devotion I read a while back said: Look to God for answers through His word, Bible study, and the counsel of mature Christians. We are humbled and grateful to know we have all of those resources available to us. I pray for the daily wisdom to use them." 

"This is a moment of darkness for us, but we will continue to cling to The Bright Morning Star, the One who gives light. Our prayer request for now would be for God's continued supernatural strength and peace to fill our hearts and homes during the holiday season, and to not let a moment go by that we do not appreciate and give thanks for."

Although my circumstances may be different now, my prayer request is still the same, God's continued strength and peace to fill our hearts and home during this holiday season, and to appreciate all God has given to us. 

I hope you will remain encouraged through this holiday season knowing that you are His beloved.  

Much love and many blessings always!