Have you seen the television show This is Us? I have a love/hate relationship with this show. I love it, but I bawl like a huge baby through each episode! One episode in particularly really hit home. Dr. K comes out to give Jack the bad news that one of his triplet babies is stillborn. Jack is completely stunned and is trying to process what has just happened. Dr. K tells Jack that he and his late wife lost a child when they were first married and how he thinks of that baby every day. He encourages Jack by saying if “you can take the sourest lemon that life hands you, and make something out of it that resembles lemonade, then maybe one day you can provide another man hope.” Wow! I bawled as I watched this… I sobbed uncontrollably.
We all experience tragedy, grief and difficult seasons in life. We don’t all have the same hard, but we all go through difficult seasons.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT)
This week, a picture popped up on my facebook memories from 7 years ago. I took a look at this picture and the smile on my face and thought, “I can’t believe all that has happened in my life in the 7 years since this photo was taken.”
When this picture was taken, I was in my 30’s and I have a huge smile on my face, not knowing what the years ahead would hold. My husband had just bought me a BMW. We were living the American Dream with our home in the suburbs, our 3 kids, and a dog. We were surrounded by family and friends, and life was good.
I was homeschooling my boys, living life, and the future was bright. Much to my surprise a few weeks before my 40th birthday, I found out that I was pregnant!
I birthed and buried my baby that following year.
My long-awaited son was stillborn. Within a short period of time, I went from living life on the mountaintop of life to quickly descending into years of agonizing, soul-crushing pain.
Life didn’t stop and I didn’t slow down. I pushed the pain down, put on a happy face and just kept going. In between my days of intense grief, there were happy times too. I helped Jacob start a Model NATO debate league for high schoolers, and host conferences and workshops. Most of my days were filled living life to the fullest loving my sweet husband, homeschooling the boys, going to church, doing Bible Study, cooking tons of meals and washing a million loads of laundry, traveling across the country with Jacob and Ian for Speech and Debate, and driving Connor back and forth to therapy and school.
Jacob later graduated from our homeschool, took a gap year, and it was during this time that the health of my mom rapidly declined. We spent our Christmas that year going back and forth to the hospital. My mom was put on life support, and after many years of pain and suffering and battling illness, she died a few days after Christmas. After her death, I cried nearly every day for almost a year and I was consumed with grief. In between my days of intense grief, there were good times, but this season was marked by agony and major life transitions. We were in a serious transition period. We moved for the first time in 15 years, Jacob started college, and Peter changed jobs!
After we moved, I struggled to get our life back to normal, although I am not really sure our life has ever been “normal.” We moved into our home 2 weeks before the new school year started. On top of that, we began renovations on our home immediately. Things were pretty chaotic.
A few months after we moved into our home, and eleven months after the death of my mom, my dear sweet Mother-in-Law suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. This sent rippling effects through our immediate and extended family. Once again we found ourselves devasted by loss and heartbroken in the valley of the shadow of death.
Fall turned to Winter and Winter turned to Spring.
We found ourselves out of the valley and back on the mountaintop of life again. We continued our home renovations, bought new furnishings, and put in a pool. Things were finally looking up, and it looked like 2015 was going to be a great year, and it was until spring break came, and I broke both of my arms in a bicycle accident and was incapable of doing anything for myself for weeks on end. My guys had to feed me, dress me, brush and floss my teeth, fix my hair and do my makeup. They literally had to do EVERYTHING for me! During my recovery, God was very near and taught me many things. After months of healing and therapy, I was finally beginning to get my life back.
Soon after we discovered that Connor was not Autistic, but that he was suffering from PANDAS and Auto-Immune Encephalitis. Which began months of intense medical inventions and therapies.
Most recently, I hit my head and suffered a concussion, and was laid flat on my back in complete darkness and silence as I healed. I was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, and for weeks I suffered the effects of that concussion. I spent hours in my room by myself in the dark completely overwhelmed by sight and sound. I am still feeling some of the side effects of my concussion today, and hope that the symptoms soon reside.
It is filled with both personal victories and mountaintop experiences in between the valleys. Life has continued to give us some of the most bitter pills we have ever had to swallow, but through it all, we have become stronger as a family. We have become closer to our Saviour. We have learned that life is hard, but God is good. He gives us beauty for ashes, and His Love for us incomprehensible! It is not just about taking lemons and making lemonade.
With Jesus, the scripture says, we can do all things! No matter what the future holds, for those who are in Christ, we are clothed with strength and dignity and do not need to fear the future. We know God is with us and that he loves us and wants good for us. He has given us a hope and a future, no matter what comes our way!
My friend, I don’t know what lemons life has given you. Your hard is not my hard but hard comes in all shapes and sizes. The road ahead may be uncertain, but I am here today to tell you that no matter what you are going through today, it is temporary and cannot be compared with the glory that awaits us in heaven! Press on, and continue to fight the good fight of faith.