Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just one more day

The sun was shining. The air was crisp and clean. A refreshing breeze blew in the unusually warm February air. There may have even been a few birds chirping their sweet spring song as one of the daffodils along my front walkway was beginning to bloom. It is the first I had seen this year - but not surprisingly early considering the warm winter we have had.

I went about my dreaded morning routine – setting out the breakfast bowls, making lunches for school, reminding my kids over and over and over to “get your shoes on, brush your teeth and comb your hair. You have to leave for in a few minutes!”, and trying to fight the callings of my bed to return for a few more minutes of peace and rest. I was secretly hoping (as I do most every day) that my busy and talkative 3 year old would actually sleep in today instead of rising with my other 4 monkeys so early in the morning. But with kids fighting to get to the toothpaste, and hollering that they can’t find their shoes or that they are “COLD” but won’t put on a sweatshirt, my precious preschooler was awake and ready for the adventure that lies within each day for her. “That’s ok” I thought. “It’s not like I could really climb back in my bed today anyways. I have MOPS this morning. . . . . .Oh shoot! I forgot I am supposed to bring snacks today!” No time to run to the store. Scrounging around, I found some red apples for our Valentine’s theme, some orange juice and Pumpkin Pie coffee creamer. That will have to do. Last year was to be my last year as a “MOPS” (Mother of a Preschooler) as my youngest was going into kindergarten. However, God blessed us with our adorable 3-year-old daughter from Guatemala in Sept! Yeah! I definitely was not quite ready to be a “mentor mom” yet. :) But I had forgotten just how busy and tiring it is to raise a preschooler!

We made it to MOPS, a little later than normal, but still arriving on time. I dropped my daughter off at her “class” and then strolled down to the beautifully decorated and inviting MOPS room. Here is where I engage in a cherished routine of chit-chatting with my tired-and-in-desperate-need-of-caffeine-snacks-and- fellowship-without-kids friends, complimenting them on their new clothes, commenting on how they miraculously managed to get their skinny bodies back so soon after giving birth, dipping into the delicious and “calorie-free” (yeah right!) snacks, and plopping into my chair for a blissful 2 hours of “mommy time”! Twice a month is definitely not often enough to do this. Everyone agrees. As we ate, laughed and traded the latest news, our MOPS coordinator moved to the front of the room and quieted us down with a look on her face that none of us wanted to see.

For the last year and a half, we have been praying for and ministering to a young MOPS mom (Andi) who was diagnosed with a very rare form of ovarian cancer. So rare, the doctors were not really sure what her prognosis was or how best to treat it. Because of many factors – one of which was the chemo and how weak it left her – she was not able to attend MOPS this year. She was definitely in our hearts each time we gathered. She was truly a Godly woman and lover of God, and had a beautiful family with her two preschoolers and husband. She loved to Scrapbook and was an “email junkie” (I can identify with that!). :) I never saw her with anything other than a smile on her face and a tremendous faith in God and HIS plans and love for all of us.

The recent chemo treatments had not worked as expected and the many tumors in her abdomen had continued to grow, causing a lot of pain. Just this week she had switched to a new pain medicine that had helped her to feel better without as many side effects, and she was on her 2nd round of treatment with a new chemo drug. She emailed us on Monday after her treatment, sounding encouraged that the doctor did not think the biggest tumor had grown any more! Praise the Lord! It was stabilizing with this new drug! She was being proactive in her pain and nausea medication and fluids, as she had experienced a rough couple of weeks after the last dose of chemo. Some of the side effects that she had been experiencing before were lessening (like trembling of her hands) and she sounded very optimistic! I was thrilled to hear that! She expressed thanks for all the ladies that had joyfully come together and had spent a day scrapbooking her precious photos of her children and family for her, as well as praying over her. That had meant the world to her.

So many times, I would have a sore throat or slight upset stomach and would start to complain. I would then get an email from Andi, praising God that she was able to drink her smoothie that day without nearly as much pain in her mouth or gut! Boy how foolish I felt! For months, she could hardly even swallow her saliva without being in massive pain all throughout her mouth and throat (a side effect from a certain combination of chemo drugs). Yet we never heard her complain. She was always praising God. Letting us know that God had not healed her yet, but that she still had faith. Above all, she had faith that what she was going through and how she was handling it would be a testimony to the unsaved members of her family. Yes, she wanted to be healed and live a long life here on earth, but even more than that, she wanted to see her whole family guaranteed to be together forever in heaven! There is nothing greater!

Wednesday morning, before my children had even risen, Andi’s husband was dealing with anyone’s worst nightmare – performing CPR on his wife after her heart had stopped beating. She was rushed to the hospital and placed in the ICU – it was not looking too promising. As our coordinator relayed the information, we all stopped our now seemingly selfish chit-chatting at MOPS and prayed for her and her family. Silence and heaviness filled the room. However, as we prayed I was filled with immense peace, and saw a vision of Jesus standing on the left side of Andi’s bed – holding her hand with his right hand. He was just standing there patiently. At one point, He leaned down and put his other hand on her abdomen, and I sensed that a warm peace flowed from him into Andi. He then went back to standing calmly and lovingly beside her. He was not going to leave her. He never had and never would. He loves her too much!

The day dragged on as we waited for more news. I felt trapped at my house with all my kids – wanting to be there to comfort and pray with Andi’s friends and family at the hospital. However, I was, at the same time, wanting to love on my own kids and was so very thankful for the time I had been blessed with to spend with them. My kids and I prayed throughout the day. At 6:30 pm, I was debating whether to go to the hospital or to a local prayer service. I wished I had gone to the hospital. I was afraid of intruding. How silly, eh? I prayed and cried over Andi’s family and their situation at the prayer meeting. God filled me with His peace again and showed me another beautiful vision. This time it was of God ushering Andi on his left arm, down an aisle – as the bride of Christ that she is. She was entering the most beautiful and peaceful place imaginable. She was very happy and free from pain and thrilled to be walking with God! Little did I know that at this time the family had to make a tough decision.

“Andi has severe brain damage from lack of oxygen”, the doctor said. Amidst tears and sorrow, her husband and family painfully honored Andi’s written wishes, and around 8:30pm on Wednesday, they took her off the ventilator. She actually was breathing on her own for several hours, but by 1:30 am she was walking with her King, her Daddy, the greatest love of her life! Those of us left behind are dealing with our own grief – of losing a wife, mother, daughter, friend, encourager and more. But the one thing I am most grateful for right now, is that Andi has reminded me that I have been graciously given just one more day – to laugh, to love, to live, to cherish, to grieve, to mourn, to witness, to pray, to giggle, to play, to hold, to kiss, and yes – to even make lunches, set out cereal bowls and find lost shoes. I cannot take those things for granted today – and I hope that I never do. I am glad that I can walk and talk with my God here on earth – but I do long for the day to be just like Andi – holding my heavenly Daddy’s arm and entering into a glorious eternity!


May you all enjoy the “one more day” that you have been given today as well!

Blessings,

Lori :)

8 comments:

Journey to Josiah said...

Hi there, I just want to say how sorry I am for your loss. She sounds like a wonderful sister in Christ. Thank you for sharing this with us. It is a great reminder on what we are here for and what truly matters. Blessings
Meichell

Kelly said...

Oh my goodness Lori I am crying so hard reading that. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. You told the story with amazing emotion and made it feel as though we know her personally. I am off to go cuddle and squeeze my little ones before our afternoon activity level begins. Thanks for reminding me "one more day"

STACY A said...

Lori,

Thank you for taking the time to journal in the midst of your sadness and loss. I feel as though I know her and am so encouraged by her praising the Lord in all things......it makes me not want to take a minute for granted. Thanks again Lori,

Peace and Blessings,
Stacy

Bob Fox said...

It is a great loss. Thanks for helping us who did not know her well grieve and rejoice with more understanding.

Nice blog!

Dad

Happyhome said...

Thank you for the tearful reminder of my precious blessings. I so often major in the minors and give no thougth to each moment. Today I will.

Praying for this family during their grief.

Lori :) said...

I know I always need a reminder to not "major in the minors" as well! It's so easy to do - but really not worth it!

Blessings!
Lori :)

Kelly said...

Wow. What a tragedy. My heart breaks for Andi's husband and kids and family. I don't understand why God chooses to have some of His children to come home when He does, but I trust in His goodness and sovereignty nevertheless. And I pray that He will bring much good out of this, including the salvation of Andi's extended family!

bree said...

Lori, thank you for writing about Andi...
with love,
Bree