My mom and dad met on a blind date nearly 33 years ago.
She was a waitress at a small town cafe. He was the hunky farm boy that worked at his dad’s gas station. She was a high school cheerleader & he was a studly college guy. After their first date, he said he would never go out with her again because she talked too much. She said she kissed him on the first date to make sure he asked her on a second. Thankfully, it worked.
A few years later, my dad showed up in her college dorm room and asked her to be his wife.
My parents moved to a small town in Iowa and started their life together. He was a 22 year old accountant, and she was 19 and pregnant with her first child….and they were incredibly in love.
I love listening to the stories my mom tells me about their early marriage, and about her pregnancy with me. Because I was a surprise, and because she was so young, she was nervous and anxious about having a healthy baby. Even though she didn’t really have much of a relationship with God at that point, she said that she would pray, promising God that if I came out with 10 fingers and 10 toes and was healthy, she would follow Him for the rest of her life.
Around 1:00 in the morning on May 18, 1981, I entered the world…after over 18 hours of labor. Just moments after I was born, my mom asked the doctor if everything was ok…
“She’s perfect,” he said.
Even though I’m pretty sure that I enjoyed getting royally SPOILED, it wasn’t just the three of us for long. Fifteen months later, my brother Daniel was born. We were now a happy little family of four. Life was perfect.
As Daniel and I grew up, we did EVERYTHING together. We were inseparable. (Caution: Brief Nudity ahead.)
My mom and dad will tell you that their faith didn’t really take off right away. My mom kept her promise, and began to follow Christ just after I was born, with my dad following suit a few years later. They were young, and things were tough, but they made God a priority, and they followed Him through thick and thin. They worked hard at their marriage, and learned to put each other first, second only to their faith in God.
I look back now, and I had no idea how great I had it. My friends would always talk about how awesome my parents were. My mom taught in the middle school in our town, and was one of the most popular teachers there. Everyone loved her and thought she was ultra-cool. Of course, at the time, I thought she was ultra-OLD. Like 30 or something. Haha. My dad was no different. Rather than coming home and laying on the couch, he’d drop his things right inside the door, go change, and head outside to play with us. Kids from all over the neighborhood would flock to our backyard. My dad was the life of the party, he was so much fun. While all of the other dads were inside working, ours was outside playing. We thought we were pretty cool…so cool that I’m pretty sure the neighbor boys cared more if my dad could play than they did if we could.
The years that followed were filled with joyous moments for our family. Daniel and I went off to college, my mom began a new career, my dad moved up in his office, my brother was married, followed by two amazing grandkids. Then in February 2012, I got my engaged to my best friend. Again, we found ourselves so blessed…and happy.
June 21, 2011.
They say there are some dates that will stick in your mind forever. This is one of those days; the day we found out my dad had cancer. I can still remember my dad’s voice on the other end of the phone. I knew immediately that something was wrong. I listened as he told me that they had found a tumor on his colon. I sat there as he comforted me and told me everything was going to be ok, that he loved me and that I didn’t need to worry. Then I hung up the phone and crumbled to the ground. Moments later, my brother opened my apartment door…we clung to each other and cried, heartbroken. Not our family…not our dad. We couldn’t believe it.
We drove home that evening to Hannibal to be with our parents. It was confirmed the following day that it was, in fact, cancer. They would do radiation and chemotherapy, and had hopes to remove the tumor in a few months time.
I had plans to get married that October. I remember worrying that my dad wouldn’t be there to walk me down the aisle. I remember the fear in my heart and the worry in my soul, wondering if this man that I had loved so deeply my entire life would be there for one of the most important days of my life. I remember pleading with God to spare his life, to keep him here for us. We so desperately needed him.
And the Lord granted my prayers. Six months later, we gathered together to celebrate a beautiful day with family & friends. Not only was my dad there, but he was feeling great. He told me how beautiful I was, cried tears of joy, and held my hand tightly as he led me to the man that would take my hand for all the days of my life.
On that beautiful fall day, we got to set our heartaches aside, and focus on the beautiful blessing of our family…
The next few months were a blur. Dad went through surgery to remove the tumor on his colon, and it was successful. However, new scans showed that there were traces of cancer on the liver. They immediately began chemotherapy on the liver in hopes to treat the spread of the disease.
April 24, 2012.
My brother and I drove home to be with my parents for the results of a scan that would measure the effects of the chemotherapy on his liver. Nothing in the world could have prepared us for what we heard that day. We sat there in the office as the doctor shared the news…the cancer had doubled in size on his liver, spread to parts of his lungs, and had settled on a small part of his tailbone. Without effective treatment, they gave him only a few months.
“So let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & perfecter of our faith…” Hebrews 12:2
May 6, 2012.
They say that you never realize how blessed you are until you go through rough waters, through tough times. And in a way, they’re right. When you’re going through good times, you rarely look around and ponder how good you have it.
But when you’re in the middle of tough times, that’s ALL you do.
So we’re living for TODAY. Because if you stop and think about it, that’s all that any of us really have. The amazing thing? I live with the security that no matter what happens on this earth, I will spend eternity with my precious family in paradise, worshiping our Heavenly Father.
There will be no more sickness, no more pain, no more hurting. Only JOY, only PEACE, & only PRAISE to our Lord and Father Jesus Christ.
So today, as I sit here in a coffee shop, tears streaming down my face, (this would be one of those times that I should blog at home..) I think back to last weekend. My dad and I got to spend some precious time together, just the two of us. It’s a conversation that I will remember for the rest of my life. We talked about how blessed we are, even in the middle of this storm…to have each other, to have our family, and to have our faith. We talked about our relationship, how precious and unique it is; how thankful we are for the special bond we share, a daddy & his girl. Most of all, we talked about the fact that this is not our home. Sure, our yearning is to be here on earth with the things and the people we love…but those things are nothing compared to joy that is coming.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Our job here isn’t just to be happy and to have an easy, carefree life. It’s to proclaim our Savior, and to show others a faith worth having. To show them that even through the trials, we have a God who will never leave us or forsake us.
My dad is the closest thing to God that I know. I think, in a way, that’s how God intended it; to give us earthly glimpses of His face in those that He puts in our lives. I am blessed to get to see that in both of my parents. My dad is selfless, kind, full of wisdom, mercy, and unconditional love. My mom is gentle, wise, and servant-hearted. My parents have raised me in a house where Jesus is our Rock, where prayer is the guiding force, and where faith gets us through it all. And now I get to put that to the test.
I pray every single moment of every single day for my incredible dad. I pray for his healing, for God’s tender mercies on his life, for him to beat this horrible disease and come out on the other side, proclaiming God’s greatness. I’ve seen it happen, and I will not stop believing. I pray for my mom, as she supports and encourages him; as she walks alongside him through these battles & challenges. She is one of the bravest women I know, and I am so incredibly proud of the way she can find joy in the smallest things, even on her darkest days.
We have not given up. We are going to fight this with a steadfast strength that only God can provide.
Even though cancer has robbed us of some of our joys for today, it cannot take away our HOPE for tomorrow.
For we know that with God, ALL things are possible…