As I journeyed through the most difficult road traveled for any parent, I was fighting alongside my boy as he battled the cancer that would take him from me. I remember the agony I felt and the longing for just an ordinary day. Many people talk about the peace above our circumstances…and I wanted that peace. But the truth is, my heart was in excruciating turmoil, longing for my baby to survive this cancer that was destroying his perfect little brain. It was beyond gut-wrenching to know and watch him being slowly taken away from me, from our family, and me not being able to do a thing to change it. I just had to sit and watch it happen.
As with anyone facing the grim diagnosis of cancer, this new reality goes from days to weeks to months…months and months of living with the unimaginable. Life has changed. Without a miracle for your baby, his life on earth is almost over. Everything you know is different. And it will never be the same again.
And somewhere in the middle of the battle, you long for that ordinary day. And during the journey, I would go to that ordinary place in my mind. And where it would take me would be a house on piers in the middle of a field with a big porch…and I would be sitting at a pottery wheel with my hands in the clay, molding and shaping my masterpiece…and feeling the Master’s peace. I could see the sun shining across the field, and I could hear the wind blowing through the tall grass. And I could feel God’s presence there. That is where I found my peace above all circumstances.
13 years later, as I have learned to trust God in ways that I never knew I could, I remind myself to appreciate the ordinary days. I am learning to live without manipulating my life and just trusting where He has me and waiting for Him to lead me to where He wants me to go next. There have been so many changes in my life today. I have a new husband, a new address, a new church, a new bank account, less children at home, more children at home, less friends, new friends, less family, more family…and the list goes on.
I have mourned over lost family and friends, and I have rejoiced over this precious new chapter. And I am waiting…waiting for God to lead me where He wants me to go, doing my best to not overstep my bounds and manipulate the outcome. Those that know me, know this is hard for me. I want to go out and find the next bible study. I want to go out and look for the next mission trip, the next task to accomplish, the next this, the next that. But I know He wants me to wait on Him. It is one of the lessons He has been wanting to teach me. And I want to be obedient.
Recently…my awesome Father gave me a most precious gift that brought me to tears. Two precious ladies were put in my path because of my new family and because of my first born. Out of that, they sent me some “gifts” that show that “we are banded” and we are not alone in our journey. The first gift I was given was a beautiful Silpada bracelet symbolizing that alone, we may be weak, but when we band together, we are much stronger.
I love my bracelet and I will always cherish the message of hope that it gives me as I continue to navigate through this life. But the truth is, none of us are alone. We have a Savior that is always there and ready for us to turn to Him, ready to love us exactly where we are. I LOVE how He uses people and circumstances to convey that love that He has for us. Just like He has used these two precious ladies…which brings me to my next gift!
Psalm 16:5 ~Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup.
(This piece of pottery represents that we accept our cup of loss, the thumbprint symbolic of how each of our stories are unique. We have all been through the fire and we have not been burned up!)
Pottery! Can you believe that? As soon as I received this, tears came to my eyes as I was brought back to that place in my mind so many years ago that I would think about when I needed the Master’s peace. I really wanted to share this very intimate gift and the precious note that came with it because I wanted to share how God continues to use your story for His glory…and how He continues to remind little old ME to trust Him.
As I have struggled to just “wait” on Him to move me where He wants me next, I have thought about pottery classes, writing a book, mission trips…I knew it was more than a coincidence when I discovered the stories of these two precious ladies.
Meet Nan Deal and Pam Cope…I met Nan because of her sweet husband Ron who conducted a seminar that my husband and I attended. Little did I know, through that blessing, I would hear his story of the loss of his son, Connor, and get introduced to his wife, Nan, and how God led her to her precious friend, Pam.
Nan’s precious son, Connor, and how his legacy continues — Connor’s Song ~~ http://www.connorssong.com/about/
“A mutual friend told Randy and Pam Cope about our loss. They, too, had experienced the unspeakable loss of a child when their son, Jantsen, age 15, died in 1999 of an undetected heart defect. With great compassion and shared experience, they ministered to us. Pam invited Nan to go to Ghana and work with rescued slave children. Helping children in honor of Connor seemed to be a worthy effort and something that he would have loved to do. In 2010, Nan, my sister, and a small team of women went with Pam to Ghana for two weeks. By God’s grace, while surveying the rescue efforts, Nan and the team unexpectedly found themselves rescuing two young boys!
And that’s when she heard Connor’s voice; he was singing again. Our Connor had been taken, and now we were helping rescue kids in his honor. Connor always loved and cared for young children, and he loved most things creative: making art, scripting movies, building with Legos, writing stories, drawing. Bringing healing to children rescued from slavery just made sense. So we kept doing it.
Meg Bourne, one of the team members, began dreaming about building an art center for the kids. It would be something that would embody Connor’s spirit, offering education, therapy, and a creative outlet to rescued children. That dream is now becoming a reality.
Connor’s Art Center will be a place for fun and creative learning, offering caregivers the opportunity to rehabilitate kids recovering from trauma. We’ll help children move through their difficult experiences as they find God’s healing and recovery.”
And then there was Pam and the other precious gift I have been given through the loss of her sweet son, Jantsen…and that is her book, Jantsen’s Gift. I am reading it now…and I can’t wait to see what God reveals to me through her words!
Pam’s precious son, Jantsen, and how his legacy continues — Jantzen’s Gift ~~ http://www.touchalifekids.org/jantsens-gift/
“Touch A Life was created in November 1999. Pam and Randy Cope had recently traveled to Southeast Asia to visit some friends who operated an orphanage in Vietnam. The Copes had never experienced anything like the poverty suffered by people there, and as they walked the streets of cities like Saigon and Nha Trang, their hearts began to cleave towards those of the children forced to beg and live in the streets.
After returning home, Pam began to read about the problem of street children in Vietnam, commonly known as doi moi, or “dust of the earth”. She read about the beatings and fear they endured, their hunger and malnutrition, and, worst of all, their chances of being picked up by child traffickers and forced to work in hard labor conditions or sexual bondage. The Copes connected with people who sought to do similar work in Vietnam. They bonded together to determine a way to begin providing for the vulnerable children who had tugged on their heartstrings. The work started out small – they rented a simple apartment in Saigon to house 15 street children. For the first time, these children were provided with three meals a day, clothing, an education, and a closely-knit family. The effort became a preventive measure that prohibited these exploited and vulnerable children from becoming absorbed in the trafficking ring in Southeast Asia.
Pam and Randy hoped to do their part to save at least a few more children from this fate, and from a future in slavery. A few months later, they rented another house, brought home 15 more kids. Today, Touch A Life supports over 200 children throughout Vietnam.”
Nan and Pam, thank you for allowing God to use you in such an amazing way…your two precious sons have made a difference in my life…and the life of so many others!
So, to sum it up, I believe to whom much is given (even if that “gift” is suffering), much is expected. Our Father uses our suffering to bring us and others to Him in ways that we could not understand otherwise. Just as His expectation is to have Christians bring others to Him, I also believe He expects great things out of those who have suffered much.
These two ladies and their families are proof that He can use our story for His glory every single day, in every single way. And I am so grateful to God for having our paths cross.