One of my family’s favorite and most often quoted movie lines is from The Other Guys. After a delightful exchange involving lions, tuna, establishing a beachhead, and breathing devices for aquatic creatures, Will Ferrell says to Mark Wahlberg, “Did that go the way you thought it was gonna go? Nope.” Since we quote it to each other often, it’s ironic that we find ourselves in that very situation right now.
We had a plan. It started out as a tiny idea, but after much discussion, prayer, and advice-seeking, it seemed like not only a good plan, but the best plan. Things seemed to fall into place and were moving forward swimmingly for about five months. Then, the wheels fell off. Well, perhaps they didn’t fall off completely, but we’re definitely taking a detour that we didn’t anticipate.
My reason for writing today is twofold. First, I wanted to find a way to let everyone know what is going on at the same time. Rather than retell the story many times over the next weeks as an unexpected face shows up in my photos and whatnot, I am hoping to get it handled up front. Secondly, I’m hoping that this will be therapeutic for me; these last weeks have been exceedingly rough and perhaps writing will help.
The very short version is this: John, our eldest son who is in his first year of college, is coming home.
Approximately eight weeks ago, he got very sick. At the time we all thought it was the flu, but as days turned into weeks and it didn’t pass, it became apparent that he was dealing with something bigger. There have been numerous visits to the school’s Health Center, many tests performed, way too many pounds lost, days of agonizing pain, and a trip to the hospital. While he is still waiting for some test results, we did discover that there is a problem with the lymph nodes in his abdomen. If this is the only problem, it is supposed to clear up on its own in a matter of weeks; given that we’re at two months now and it hasn’t gone yet, further testing, evaluation, and eventually a restful time of healing are necessary.
Therefore, after considering all of the information that we have, the decision has been made that it is time for him to come home, receive the treatment that he needs, and recover. To that end, he has withdrawn from this current quarter and will be taking the spring quarter off; technically a medical leave of absence. We are hoping that this will give us time to get to the bottom of things and get him healthy. He is on track to, Lord-willing, resume his college career with the fall quarter in September. So please pray for him as you think about it; this is a very annoying illness in that it can literally change minute to minute. He is up, about, and seemingly normal one minute, and then he can be in excruciating pain the next. It’s frustrating.
So that’s where we’re at. As for the title of the post? I’m trying very hard to make lemonade out of the lemons that life has handed us. As you can imagine, this has been a difficult time for us and I’ve had moments where I didn’t think I could handle the stress of it all. I’m sure that some of you can relate…it’s horrible to know that your child is ill and be powerless to help. However, I’m trying to be mindful about counting my blessings throughout all of this. So here we go…lemonade, folks:
1. My walk with my Creator has grown. There’s an old Steven Curtis Chapman song called, “Carry You to Jesus” and that’s where I’ve found myself. While I couldn’t do anything tangible for John, I have spent hours and hours continually bringing him before my Lord. There have been moments of pain and despair, but there have also been moments of such incredible peace that they could have only come from Him.
2. My marriage has been strengthened. Andy and I have had to lean on each other in ways that have never been necessary before and we’re better for it. Having recently celebrated our nineteenth anniversary, we are now working on our twentieth year of marriage and I can’t conceive of a better partner. He is truly amazing, every single day.
3. My immediate support system is amazing. My family, my friends who I consider to be family, and my church family have been a constant source of strength and help. To those who have been a sounding board for me in the past weeks, I love each and every one of you and I am so grateful for you.
As for our plan? It’s definitely not working out how we’d have liked and we have to deal with this curve ball. If you think of us, you could pray for us as things move forward. There are more doctors to see and possibly more tests to run. We are asking for a clear picture so that we can know exactly what we are dealing with and how best to help John.
Honestly, today is bittersweet. I certainly don’t love the new direction we’re heading. However, there is cause to rejoice: I am on my way to San Luis Obispo to pick up my boy. I will look at him, hug him, feed him and do everything I can to help him get well. And I will trust that the God who knew about this long before any of us even took a breath will keep us in His care and guide us.
“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.” Psalm 73:28 NASB