For the last couple weeks I have been pretty silent. My mind has been reeling and I have been hoping I could write this post with good news. I am happy to say I can. Either way, I want you to know that God is good. Whether what I have to share with you had turned out completely different or stands as it is right now, God is and would still be good. All the time.
This is going to be a loooonng post. But I have much to say about what God has taught me over the last few weeks. Hopefully you will read all the way to the end.
For some time, I have felt like my throat is swollen and I have a lump when I swallow. It's constant now. I went to the doctor finally over a week ago.
Let's leave off with those sentences and also say that 2 weeks ago I had an abnormal mammogram. My doctor wanted to me to get a diagnostic mammogram and sonogram to find out what was going on. It took a week to get the necessary paperwork from my doctor to schedule the appointment for the tests. When finally scheduled, those tests were a week away.
Now, let's give some background on family history. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40's. She underwent surgery, chemo, and radiation, and there is no sign of cancer today. My sister had lymphoma in her 20's, which originated in her neck/throat. She went through chemo, then it came back a few years later. At that time she had a bone marrow transplant. Today she is healthy and gave birth to her first child a few months ago, when no one thought she would ever be able to get pregnant.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. My doctor says two things: my breast has abnormalities and may have a tumor or cyst, and my throat may have a few different things wrong with it (but one of those could have been enlarged lymph nodes. In that case they would have had to be biopsied.) Hello, family history!
What did my mind think? Duh. The endless possibilities were running constantly through my head. The big "C" word was one of them. Cancer. Oh yeah, I said it. There's a reason my doctors check me frequently for cancer symptoms. Because if you have family members with the history that mine have, you are more likely to be diagnosed as well. I know that. Nothing new to me. There have been times before that I have been worried about something going on in my body and feared the worst. (It's easy to do, right Dad?)
However, none of those times before took place in the middle of bringing two beautiful boys home from Ethiopia. This was new territory for me.
Alan and I both were very aware of what a cancer diagnosis would mean. "Y" and "P" would not be able to be our sons. After seeing our faces, holding our pictures, and being told over and over that we were coming for them, they would have lost another set of parents. And, ya'll, that thought broke me. Seriously. It wasn't the thought of being sick. Really, it wasn't. It was the thought of letting down two boys who have already been through things the rest of us can't imagine.
I began to grieve for what might never be. I don't mean to be rough or rude here, but if you have never been through the international adoption process, you have no idea just how a part of you your children become before you ever hold them in person. God begins molding your hearts together before you wipe the first tear from their eye or hold their hand or tell them you love them. Praise God, I have never yet lost a child, but I came as close to feeling like I was losing one as I ever have. It was not pretty.
Where was my reliance on God, you might ask? Oh, it was still there. But just because you know God is "working all things together for the good of those who love Him", doesn't mean your emotions don't get the best of you from time to time.
Enter a select group of friends. I have amazing friends. They are a blessing beyond belief. I told a very small handful of people what I was going through, and my "prayer posse" began to work. They beseeched the Lord on my behalf. It is truly wonderful to know when you ask someone to pray for you, they are REALLY DOING IT. I received texts, emails, cards, and phone calls from these ladies. I was loved. I was held.
Then there were my "adoption" peeps. A group of women who have adopted from Ethiopia or are in the process of adopting with our agency. I let some of them know what was going on and they prayed. Boy, did they pray! Keep in mind, I have only met a handful (as in probably about 5) of them in person. The rest I have an online relationship with (don't go getting any ideas here). But these are women that KNOW the way I feel about my boys. The way Alan and I are invested in them. They GET it. And they were awesome. I love each of them (you know who you are, and I really do love and appreciate you). I read their prayers over and over.
I reached the point where I listened repeatedly to Kerrie Roberts song, "No Matter What", and just told God that I would praise Him come what may. Here's the song with lyrics, in case you've never heard it. Very powerful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OA3MSqufJP4
This week was full of tests. The results? At least 2 cysts in my breast. Not sure yet if they will be removed or left. But the radiologist said she is SURE they are cysts. After a CT scan and scope of my throat, the ENT wants to do a Barium swallow test because he thinks it's a problem with my esophagus related to reflux. Scans were clear.
The last test was this morning. I think I'm still in joyful shock. It's a new condition. Have you heard of it? (Yes, that's a joke.)
For over two weeks I've felt like my life was on hold. Do I plan for the trip to Ethiopia? Do I work on the boys' room? I was paralyzed. Waiting.
Here's one thing I know: God was there all the time. I learned so many things compacted into a two week period.
(1) When you tell someone you are going to pray for them, DO IT. Be someone that your friends can turn to when they are going through junk. Let them know that you WILL be on your knees to Jesus pleading their case. Then follow through. My friends were exceptional in this regard. Prayers came in person, through texts, phone calls, and emails. I could listen to them pray and read their prayers. It was so comforting to know that the "where two or three are gathered" verses from the Bible applied to me during that time.
(2) God uses challenges and trials in our lives a lot of times to wake us up! I know that in the weeks before this time, I had been slacking on my Bible study time and prayer time. Then when I knew I might be sick, I was ALL in the Word. I couldn't get enough. Talking to Jesus was happening all day long. Just as it should be. Praying without ceasing, baby. He woke me up. Like, "Hello, Dawn, I'm still here, and I come first." Amen.
(3) Dude. Here's the biggest one. Drum roll, please.......... I AM NOT IN CONTROL. Did you hear me? I have no control over the day I die. I have no control over whether my boys come home or not. I have no control over this trip to Africa. God is the one who is in control. Of everything. I'm so ecstatic over this fact. Because, let me tell you, I was acting like I was the one in control. At least in my mind. I was planning this trip to Ethiopia, and even though I acknowledged God with my words, many times I left Him out in my heart as I planned. I was stressed out. No more. There's a lot to get done before we leave, and I have a very full plate. But I don't feel stress. God has our time table, not me. He knows our court date even though I have yet to be clued in. I'm just going to keep plugging along until he enlightens me. We are over $10,000 short for the amount of money we need for this mission. But I have to trust that God will supply, because He is the one who has called us to this.
(4) It's ALL for His glory. Every second. Our family. Our story. It's not about us. It's all Him. I am a peon. Psalm 8:4 says "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" What a privilege to be used. To be stretched. He not only knows my name, He knew every day I would walk on this earth before the foundation of the world. How can I not trust Him? He made the world, for cryin' out loud.
(5) Alan is the man of my dreams. Seriously. He is my perfect match. He loves me no matter what. I love him for the way he loves me. (Confused yet? Haha.)
(6) God answered my prayers 12 years ago when He began giving me children. All I wanted from the time I was in college was to be a wife and mom. He has granted that. I'm so thankful for Jayde, Alana, and Easton.
(7) It's okay to pray specifically. The last few weeks, my friend Lohri hosted a Bible study on the power of prayer. It didn't take long, like, the first session to be exact, to figure out that I have been praying recently, but not praying in FAITH. There's a big difference. If I really am not feeling it, I still pray and say, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!", just like the man in Mark 9:24. I specifically asked for certain things in this health process. All He could say is "No", right? So why not ask? Jesus already knows what you want and what you need, so why try to hide anything? Just tell Him like it is. He's not going to walk away because He thinks you're too demanding.
Yes, I know, I told you this post would be long. I could keep going.
On a side note, we are still collecting donations to take with us. The deadline is not going to be tomorrow because we still don't know when we're leaving. So keep them coming!
Now..."To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." (Jude 1:24-25)