Sunday, November 16, 2014

To Touch His Cloak

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in my sister’s living room with all of my siblings, extended siblings (Tommy and Kelly), and their significant others. The only two missing were my Nate who was back in Seattle and our Robby who left us too soon (oh how he is dearly missed). We posed the question that is any of us could go back to the life and times of Jesus what would we have wanted to witness in person.

Now before you go thinking we are so spiritual and sit around speaking of only theological things, I want you to know we were sitting down for an intentional bible study, one we had postponed for three consecutive weeks because of San Francisco Giant’s games. Ha! We love Jesus and we love Giant’s baseball.

Anyways, I have felt for years like a rare combination of Job and the bleeding woman. I’m not claiming to be any biblical hero but bits of my story can be seen in both of these accounts. So, naturally I would like to have witnessed in person when the bleeding women reached out and touched the cloak of Jesus.

If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed. These are the words this woman must have thought as she travelled her long 30 mile journey to meet Jesus in Capernaum. During those 12 years of relentless bleeding, she was considered unclean and an outcast in society.  Yet, what remained healthy in her life was her hope and her faith. She never gave up. Despite going home after every appointment with a failed remedy that only put her in debt or expensive prescriptions that wouldn’t even touch the pain, she never gave up. And when she heard the news that this Jesus guy had healed a man of various diseases, she let her faith carry her those 30 long miles, to find Jesus in that crowd.

I’ve been there. I am that bleeding woman. I’ve dealt with prolonged illness and stubborn medical conditions that amidst countless medical treatments and prescriptions don’t go away. I’ve felt like an outcast as my friends have been promoted in their jobs, bought homes, and had babies. Meanwhile I’ve been passed from specialist to specialist, been unable to hold down a job because of the pain, and experienced heartache and shattered dreams. I’ve been frustrated, embarrassed and laid sprawled, broken, and bruised across many a bathroom floor. 

When the bleeding woman reached Capernaum she found Jesus in the crowd. It was busy. There were tons of people around. Maybe it resembled somewhat of a mosh pit. But when she got her chance she reached out and touched him. And she was immediately healed. And He immediately knew. He turned to ask His disciples who had touched him and they look at each other like he was crazy. Who wasn’t touching him? They were all being pushed and prodded. But Jesus knew and so did she. He wasn’t looking to accuse someone but to affirm that it had indeed happened and with the same faith that had allowed her to reach out in the first place she stepped forward. She “fell at his feet and trembling with fear told him the whole truth.” (Mark 5:33) He looked at her with genuine care, told her that her faith had healed her, and to go and be well. Completely incredible if you ask me.

This coming year I will have been “bleeding “ for 19 years. And just like that bleeding woman I have yet to completely lose hope or faith. I will admit that there are days that I can only manage crawling from my bed to the couch or where I wonder if God still sees me down here in my unmanageable pain but seven years ago on my left wrist I tattooed the word hope on my wrist because I refuse to relinquish it. Around my house, the word is displayed in various places and my close friends and family know that it is my life theme. In general I am a lover of words and will cling to various words throughout different seasons of life but I will always head back home to hope because through my faith it is hope that allows me to continue the battles placed before me.

In some ways, I’m not sure if God’s complete healing is supposed to be a part of my story. Perhaps, my un-healing and my faith and hope in the midst of it is what God wants me to use to bring him glory. But, what I wouldn’t give to touch his cloak. While I know that that is physically impossible it has become my prayer that I would experience His cloak on different levels during this current journey.

I close my eyes and pray that perhaps His cloak will meet me in the recovery room after surgery, when I am all alone, recently barren and broken, perhaps it will lay over me with assurance that I will get through this, that not all hope has been lost. I imagine a cloak that will wrap around Nate now and in the coming months as he catches my tears over broken dreams and broken hearts, as he nurses me back to health both physically and emotionally. As crazy as it may sound, I am hoping this cloak has got some bit of anti-anxiety up its sleeves on the long lonely days of recovery, when Nate is at work, and I’m in the deep throws of menopause, doing the ugly cry, just wishing I could take any pill, instead of the handful of hormones I will be prescribed that could send me to another world or another life. I take a deep breath and I ask Jesus to send me a cloak to cuddle up with that will let me mourn my unborn babies and heal my heart so that someday soon I am ready to love babies that grew in someone else’s tummy.

I know that this surgery will only address one of my health problems and is not even a guarantee to get rid of this awful disease but I know that Jesus is with me, even in those dark moments of pain when I think He has forgotten. I have yet to abandon hope and He has yet to abandon me. My 19 years of bleeding may turn into 20 and those may turn into 30 but with my faith I still have opportunities to touch his cloak. I just have to open my eyes and see them. Don’t we all? We may not live in the life and times of Jesus and physically be able to reach out and touch his clothes but He still shows up. Miracles still exist.

I do believe that, even if I can’t see it right now. So, tonight, this week, the months ahead…I’m going to pray…for you and for me….that we get opportunities to feel his cloak. Personally right now I want it to feel like a warm, cozy winter blanket….but more than that I want it to feel like peace, comfort, bandages, cool compresses, a true binding of brokenness and for my heart to feel joy again.
Oh if we could just touch his cloak…and yet I think we still can today, with gathered faith and prayers. And I also think we get the blessing to be a part of the cloaks he lays on all of us. I know that you have all been a part of our story by loving us praying, and sending your support. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It Came to This.

I've hesitated to give this season in my life a voice. I've floundered with whom to share my pain, with how to share the depth of our reality, of where our path was ultimately winding to. I want to tell you I didn't see our story coming to this.

And yet here we are. We entered our marriage with the vow of in sickness and health and my beloved husband has held true to standing by me through all the sickness. We have yet to experience the healthy years of that vow. We also entered our marriage immediately ready to start a family and began the process of trying to have children together. Unfortunately, our infertility was not just a season. After countless doctors visits, 14 plus surgeries, fertility tests and second and third opinions we have come to realize it is permanent. In about a week and a half I will have a hysterectomy.

I can't express the tears we've shed or the day a walk in the neighborhood brought me to my knees after I received bad news at our fertility clinic simply and then saw a mother pushing her child on a swing set. I've wept one too many times on the bathroom floor at a negative pregnancy test and I've experienced horrific loss every 24 days or so for several years now as I realized my female body had not done it's job for the thousandth month in a row. Yet, I put on a smile to the outside world, my friends, my family, and I carried on.

But now, my voice which I've only shared with so few has to speak up because if I'm honest, I'll tell you that I think I've failed. We live in a society where being a mom, having "the bump," breastfeeding, pregnancy, motherhood- it's all the total package, what womanhood is all about. It shows that you are the ultimate woman.  My whole life- I knew I wanted to be a wife to my husband, to love him, so that I could then be his partner in making and raising a family with him.

For Nate and I there will be no sonograms on our refrigerator, no gender reveal, no chances for my sweet husband to feel our baby kick in my ever expanding belly, no doctors appointment where we are left speechless by the heartbeat, no posted pictures of my "bump."

What there will be is an operating room. Where I will be taken and they will remove the diseased parts that have caused me pain for so long. And when I wake up I will be alone, unable to see Nate at first, raw and recently stripped of my womanhood. What I picture in that moment is darkness and a sadness that i can't imagine overcoming. What I ask from you is prayer. That I will feel the Holy Spirit's presence. That I will feel gentleness and not failure, but peace.

I pray that when I see my husband, my Saint Nate, that I will not feel shame. I pray that I will still feel like a woman. That we will move through this journey of grief together. We ask that the Lord will begin to place joy in our hearts again. That He will bind up our wounds.

We are asking for your prayer. I have been told recovery will take up to three months. Please feel free to send emails, text messages, notes of encouragement, etc to Nate. He needs an army behind him as he takes on the battle of taking care of me. We know not only are we entering into a battle of physical surgery, it is our hearts that will take much longer to find their way to the light again.

A dear friend of mine told me, "it will probably get darker before it gets any easier..." We would have to agree. Right now we are straining to get by but I'm trusting that you all are holding onto the hope for us that we are going to get through this and that we can lean on you because right now I'm not certain of my own footing.

We love you all and will keep you updated with more in a couple days. We are so sad it came to this. You never plan for this.