Friday, October 18, 2019

Suffering for God's Glory

This week has been a rough week...

Tuesday, I took Ilana to her pulmonologist appointment to get the results from her lung capacity tests. Unfortunately, she failed all the tests. Basically, due to the paralyzed vocal chord, she's unable to breathe well. She can pant okay, but anything that involves regular breathing or big breaths, she just can't do properly. He explained that due to the severity of it, Ilana will absolutely require surgery to help fix the vocal chord. Neither of us really wanted to hear that news... We see her original surgeon that did her thyroidectomy for the thyroid cancer when she was 9 in Gainesville in November and we’ll go from there.

Yesterday, I had my follow up with my neuro-ophthalmologist. I went in expecting to hear the news that everything was stable, but unfortunately we got the news that my tumor has progressed more. It’s cutting off more of my optic nerve, which explains why I’ve been experiencing more color changes. We also found out that the tumor has invaded the interior eye muscle and has taken up room in all of the area behind my eye, all the way down the optic canal and is sitting right at the opening of my brain. We were left with 3 options – radiation again, craniotomy again to try to remove the tumor, or wait. I refuse to do radiation again. It was honestly hell to me – the extreme side effects were just not worth it and it didn’t do anything to the tumor the first time.  I’m not ready for surgery again just two years later - I thought I had years before we’d have to do it again. Recovery went relatively well, but it was long, painful, and difficult. This go around will be even more risky, too, as the tumor is made up of brain tissue and lots of veins and capillaries. Cutting it away is extremely risky and will cause blindness… I’d rather wait until I’m closer to blindness to pursue surgery… So. I told him I planned to wait it out as long as possible. He was okay with that and said we will re-evaluate everything in 6 months, but if I notice more vision changes, I have to go back immediately. If the next MRI shows any growth into the brain, at that point I have no option but to do surgery…

Needless to say, I was completely caught off guard and struggled not to cry in the room and was able to contain myself until we got out to the van before I lost it. I honestly was shocked. I really expected just a stable status or was hoping that everything would miraculously be better, but it wasn’t. So I was pretty disappointed and I struggled with the news all evening.

I went through a bit of depression just a few weeks ago where life just seemed to pile up and stress just built up on top of it. Homeschooling 4 kids, raising a teen with adoption trauma (a whole new ballgame I’m still learning and trying to navigate – it’s hard!), and then medical stuff on top of it all is a lot to deal with and I began to question my purpose and worth in life, feeling like I was just failing it all. This past Sunday, I played bass at church with the worship team. When I play music, I feel closest to God… I finally felt joy that I hadn’t felt for a few weeks. After church, one of the sweetest men, Danny, came up to me to tell me that while watching me play and witnessing my faith in Jesus, God told him I was healed. At first I was a little bewildered, but then got excited and prayed he was right. I went into my appointment yesterday expecting them to say “I don’t know what happened, but everything is normal!” But, as you now know, they didn’t say that at all.

I was confused by what Danny said and began to ask God if maybe Danny heard him wrong? I woke up this morning at 5 am. I’m not a morning person, but felt wide awake and felt the urge to write. As I started to write, God told me “Your tumor is not gone. That’s not the healing that took place. The healing was in your heart.” Looking back at this week, I’ve realized God’s right (I mean… when is he not? Ha!). This week my joy is there and my sadness and feelings of doubt and depression are gone.

Now that I’ve had time to digest the news and immerse myself in God’s Word and in prayer, I’m doing better. God reminded me of his goodness and how often He’s answered prayer. Maybe not always in the way I asked for or expected, but he’s always answered in the best way possible. God also reminded me that he spoke to me nearly a year ago, on October 15. He basically warned me of what was to happen, telling me “Your family is about to endure a season of suffering. With Me, you will endure. You will overcome. Just trust Me. I’ve been there before through these seasons. Remember this. Glorify Me through the suffering. You don’t understand it now, but you will soon.” I began to cry and told the Lord that I would always glorify Him. Even through the pain. Even through the suffering. Because He is my Joy! How could I not?? I told Michael that night that I don’t know what’s going to happen, but that God told me we were going to go through another season of trials and pain and that we needed to suffer for His Glory. It’s crazy to think that all happened just a year ago!

It sounds strange when you read the words “Suffer for God’s glory”. Like, why would God ask you to suffer? Could a God who loves His people really ask that? How is that love?? Let me remind you, though. God didn’t create these trials. He didn’t create these moments for us to “suffer”. We must remember that we live in a fallen world and so suffering will just happen. Until we reach heaven, trials and tribulations will occur. But as a follower of Christ, I have a choice. I can choose to be angry at the Lord and blame Him, or I have a choice to remember God’s goodness and that my joy comes from Him and Him alone. If I have Jesus, how can my joy be dependent on my situation? Choosing joy isn’t always easy, but it’s something I have to do. And I have to remember that through these trials, I can be succumbed to anger, frustration and sadness, or I can remember that despite these hits, God is still SO good and I have to trust in His goodness, even when I’m confused and hurting. If God can use us through these trials, I’m ready to glorify Him.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”  - Romans 5:3-5

If you are going through trials, I want to encourage you to look to Him. Try to remember His goodness and remember that your joy is in the Lord, so even when you're struggling, you can still find a peace and joy through Jesus. If you need prayer, please email me at and I would be more than happy to pray for you and walk through those struggles with you.