Monday, March 27, 2017

Giving your shattered dreams to God when a spouse dies

My husband and I were married for 7.5 years. With the exception of two work trips for me and a short trip to California, my husband and I spent every single day of the last 7.5 years together. When he was healthy, we spoke on the phone multiple times a day and spent much of it texting each other. His face was the first one I saw each morning and it was the last one I saw each night. Every single plan we had for our future involved each other. Even though he had cancer for the last two years, he responded so well to treatment, that I really didn’t think he would pass away. He was admitted to the hospital on January 31st and we were discussing discharge plans on February 9th with his doctor. In fact, the discharge date was written on the calendar in his room for February 14th. He was sent home on the 14th. Only it wasn’t to his earthly home, it was to heaven.

 (We have become a family of 3)

When I got married, I thought I would have 50 years with my husband. Every single dream and plan involved him. When I pictured myself at 40, 50, 60 and 70, I pictured my husband alongside of me. Yet, at 36 I find myself a widow and starting all over. Those dreams I had are shattered. Our plans involved me staying home after Mel finished school. Our plans involved co-parenting. Our plans involved me as a wife and Mel as my husband. And those things have changed. I now a single mom. I am widow.

I look at pictures of my husband when he was paralyzed and I am thankful God called him home. He required total care and while I would have cared for him for 50 more years, I know it was painful for him. I have peace because he is no longer in pain. He isn't hurting anymore and that brings so much comfort to my heart. And then I look at pictures when my husband was healthy and that is where the pain is real intense. Because I think of the memories we are not able to make. It is so easy to get trapped with our memories from the past. I look at pictures, videos and just close my eyes and I can think of all of the good times I had with my husband. And if I am not careful I can be trapped in the past. It is just as easy to be crippled with fear of the future. If I am not careful I can spend time lost in the thoughts of what should have been. It is just as easy to get lost in the thoughts that this is so unfair. And to look at what others have and think that I have been robbed. And these are all ploys of Satan to keep my eyes off of God.

And so while it hurts that my husband is not here. I look towards the Lord.  There is nothing I can do to rewind time and as painful as it is that my husband is not here, I have to accept that the plans I devised while he was living are going to be altered. This doesn't dismiss or diminish the pain I am in but it does help me go forward. I have no idea what my future holds. And that is kind of scary. But while I did not know that February 14th was the day that Mel would be called home to heaven, God did. God sees our future. Trusting in God involves trusting that even if your life didn't go according to the plans you devised, God still has a purpose and a plan. I have to trust that in the midst of the pain, God is there. I have to believe that if God allowed something to take place, God will give me the strength to make it. I have to believe that God wasn't surprised on the 14th of February when my husband died. And so while my plans may have been altered, the plans God has for my life remain intact.  God is not scrambling to re-write the story.
It is uncomfortable starting over. It is hard going from a family of four to one of three. But my trust and confidence remain in God.

IG @kimjoylira

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Why I can't watch HGTV anymore

I used to love watching HGTV.

When my husband was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2014 we sat in the emergency room waiting for the results of the CT scan, praying it was just pneumonia. HGTV's Fixer Upper played in the background. Mel would eventually make around 8 more emergency room visits during the next two years and each time HGTV played in the background.

(hospital stay # 1)

When my husband was getting chemotherapy he would spend two weeks out of every month in the hospital. The type of cancer he had required high doses of chemotherapy. He was often hooked up to chemo for hours at a time. Many nights I would spend the night with him and he would graciously let me watch HGTV in the hospital. He would tell me it didn't matter what we watched, he was just glad I was with him. So as he was hooked up to chemotherapy or wearing a mask because his white blood count was so low, we would spend time together watching HGTV.

(hospital stay # 3)

He somehow started liking the shows as much as I did. He spent hundreds of days in the hospital during 2015 and HGTV always played in the background.  In December of 2015 Mel received his last cycle of chemo and we didn't have cable at home so we thought our days of watching HGTV were over. I was happy about that. As much as I loved the channel, I wasn't going to miss the shows because not watching HGTV meant that Mel was in remission. It meant that we were done with hospital stays, chemotherapy and separation.

(my children walked through these hospital doors hundreds of times)

But then April of 2016 came. We found ourselves in the ER once again and the test results showed that the cancer returned. And the hospital stays began again. And so we picked up watching HGTV. Mel listened to me without complaining as I talked throughout each show. I always said I wished we lived in Waco so the Gaines could remodel a house for us. And when we were watching House Hunters I would tell him about all the things I would like in our new house when the cancer treatments were done and we could move.  As we watched Flip or Flop together he would always hear me complain about how expensive California was. He would just smile.

( Hospital stay number 4. This is how we spent Easter Sunday)

 In July we thought Mel was going to get a bone marrow transplant and hopefully be cured from cancer but during his last cycle of chemo in August he became paralyzed as a result of all the toxins that were placed in his body. That hospital stay was supposed to be five days and yet lasted six weeks. And during the days I spent with him and the nights I stayed over we watched HGTV together. During the nights I wasn't able to spend the night, Mel told me he would have the nurses put HGTV on for him because it reminded him of me.

(hospital stay # 16)

Mel was sent home in October on hospice because they thought the paralysis was going to spread to his brain. It didn't. But a bed wound that developed during his six week hospital stay grew and in November we were back in the hospital and back watching HGTV. There were probably a lot of other things Mel wanted to watch but because he loved me so much he let me watch what I loved. And so we watched Fixer Upper, Flip or Flop, House Hunters and Property Brothers.

(Mel never left the hospital during his 18th stay. He ended up passing away)

In January we were back in the hospital. This time his blood counts were low. It was suspected that the cancer had returned to his bone marrow because he needed many transfusions. He spent a week and a half in the hospital and we returned home, only to return back two weeks later. Once again HGTV played in the background during the day and the evening.  This time blood work confirmed that cancer had returned. An MRI showed an infection in the bone from the wound that developed in the hospital. Doctors started him on an antibiotic to treat the wound and that antibiotic created a bacterial infection within Mel.  And within just a few days of starting that antibiotic my amazing husband passed away.

(we were discussing discharge plans with the doctor an hour before taking this picture. Little did we know that Mel only had six more days to live)

And for the last month I have been unable to watch HGTV. My day is so busy I don't have time to really watch television but in the moments when my kids are playing, I stare at a blank television screen. It hurts too much to watch the shows I used to love because they bring back so many memories of the hundreds of days and nights Mel spent in the hospital. As difficult as the hospital stays were I cherished that time so much because Mel and I were able to spend so much quality time together. Typically spouses find it hard to make time to go on dates because life is just crazy. And while I would have preferred dates in places other than a hospital room, I am thankful because for two years when my husband was getting cancer treatment, God gave us so much alone time to spend together.

(There will be no more pictures of the two of us sitting on the front porch together)

We did more than watch HGTV all day long. We talked. We laughed. We prayed and read the Bible. We shared our dreams. We cherished every moment we had together. But it hurts so much to put that channel on now. Because memories of the last two years come flooding into my mind. Memories of the time I had with my husband. My best friend. The one I thought I was going to get old with. And now he is gone. I am left with just pictures. With just videos. And with just memories.

I just want to be sitting on the couch with him, holding his hand and watching HGTV.

 (The weekend we officially started dating)

Here is the link to the FB page where I detailed my husband's battle with cancer

My IG is @kimjoylira

Monday, March 20, 2017

Why Satan doesn't want me to pray

On Saturday I found myself alone in the house for the first time since Mel passed away. There has not been one day since Mel died that I have been without the children. And really there hasn’t been a day since probably since April or May of last year that I have been by myself. And so I went upstairs to the room where I usually pray and fell to the floor and poured my heart out to God. There were times during my time in prayer where I had no words to say, but I let the tears that fell so freely be the words of my prayer. I presented my hurting heart to God. I presented the intense pain that doesn’t seem to go away to God. I gave Him my worries and my fears.

Prayer is one thing that Satan doesn’t want me to do. The Bible talks about Satan being like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. When lions hunt they usually look for the weak. They target the young, the old and the hurting because those are the easiest to take down. The strong animals fight back too hard and too long and the lions want to devour one that is weakened and who won’t be able to withstand their attack. And Satan is just like that. He seeks after the weak and in his eyes, I am vulnerable. My husband just died. I am hurting. I am mourning. I am devastated. I picture Satan like the vultures that swarm overhead looking for something that is dead. Satan wants me spiritually dead so he can devour me. And he doesn’t want me to pray. He knows that if I don't pray and if I don't talk with God, he can then fill my mind with anger, confusion, bitterness and resentment. He can strip me of peace and joy and comfort.

Prayer is what sustains us. So Satan is hoping the pain from losing my husband will keep me from praying. He is hoping the pain will turn to disappointment because the miracle didn’t come the way we wanted and I will stop going to God in prayer. He is hoping that the pain will turn to anger towards God for leaving my children without a dad and I won’t pray anymore. He is hoping that the pain will turn to resentment as I see other married couples and that I won’t pray. Because there is so much power when we pray.

When we go to Our Father in prayer things change. Mountains move. Our perspectives change when we pray. Today in prayer I told God I don’t understand. Because I don’t. I don’t understand how it can be a part of God’s plan to take a husband from a wife and a father from his children. But I didn’t end my prayer there. I let God know that even though I didn’t understand I trusted in Him. I trust in His plan. I trust that He has not left us. I trust He will restore the things that were lost. I trust He will sustain us. I trust that the purpose and plan for His life doesn’t involve pain always lingering.

I praised God during my time in prayer today because God is good. Satan would like this situation to destroy me but I know that situation will be a testimony of how in our darkest times God doesn't leave us. Yes, I am hurting, but I am not turning my back on God. Through praying and turning to God my broken heart will be pieced together. My mourning will be replaced with joy. My time of sorrow will not last always. There is no walking away from God. I am drawing closer to Him each day. I am leaning on Him during this time. I going to Him in prayer. God will see me through. And I will not be destroyed.

If you are going through something difficult, whether it is the loss of a spouse or something else, I encourage you to continue praying. Satan does want to destroy us. He doesn't want us to have a relationship with God. He wants us to throw in the towel. But Satan is the father of all lies. God is good and He will see you through.

Here is the link to the FB page where I detailed my husband's journey with cancer and am detailing the transition from wife to widow

My IG is @kimjoylira