We have only been home from vacation for a week and a half. It feels like it has been months. We so relished being able to hit the road for a month with the family and not have to worry about anything tying us to home. There were no appointments, nothing that could cause a rush to the emergency room. We were just living out of suitcases, driving around the pacific northwest, not worried about much of anything really.
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How is it only a week and a half later and our reality has been turned on its head? I try not to ask myself why our last three vacations were quickly followed by tragic illness for Joel. It is easy to feel a little robbed of a carefree life that other people take for granted, but perhaps I’m looking at it all wrong. Maybe God encouraged us to take our trips and enjoy them knowing that rough seasons would come all too quickly. I am grateful for the special family together time we have had, especially sleeping all together in one hotel room. It felt like we were making up for all the nights one or the other of us was gone at the hospital and our older boys would comment on how they liked it when we were all together as a family. I want to jump to the conclusion that Joel’s new tumor will mean more nights that our family is separated, but my spirit cautions me not to assume this will last that long.
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I have every reason to believe that God will quickly vanquish this tumor, and that Joel will be healed so fast that I will look back and think every tear I cried was silly. I also know intimately every part of what life for our family will look like if this battle lasts longer than I’d like, and knowing what we’re up against seems to justify all the tears I’ve cried.
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These past few days I have been easily overwhelmed by simple things. I don’t feel worried about Joel, but other aspects of my life that should be totally manageable are not, so I know that there is a lot of stress that accompanies all the unknowns in our life right now. Ryan and I are quick to check how each other are doing and just trying to be extra sensitive and patient. Basically, right now, life is very hard, and I feel very fragile, but we are doing pretty well all things considered.
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Despite the stress and emotion, I feel anchored. As much as I don’t know how or when God will move, I know that He will, and it keeps me from worrying. There is a weightiness I feel, even when I don’t remember quite why, and yet it does not even come close to despair.
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We know that this past year feels worth it because of the way we love each other now, the new things we know about God’s love for us and His faithfulness, and the incredible miracles we have witnessed. We have to assume that at this time next year, we will still believe that all of this has been worth it. We have wondered why the tumor is back now, and why God’s healing seems to have happened so subtly and incrementally. We are not sure. We have proposed that maybe there are people reading about Joel who don’t know God yet, and who are watching this all take place, who are learning how much God loves us through Joel’s story as it unfolds. If this is the case, if anyone could come to realize that God loves them and wants a relationship with them because our family goes through the trial of another tumor and waiting one more time for God to deliver Joel, then we would say we are willing.
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We are willing to go through this even longer, if in the end Joel is ok, and people can see the character of God more plainly. Then I think about that, and how I am willing to sacrifice some comfort, as long as my son is ok. God was willing to sacrifice His son’s life entirely so that we could be united with Him. I am humbled at how much God sacrificed, and that He did not put caveats on his grace. He said that we were worth His son’s life, even when we were broken, even when we delighted in our own sin. I do not understand the way God sacrificed for us, and the closer I get to that kind of sacrifice willing or unwilling, the less I understand it. I am so amazed at how much God loves us, and I know that His love for us is what keeps me anchored through these rough seas. When I am overwhelmed, I plunge into the depths of God’s love and I have not found its limit yet.

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