In Her Shoes is a series written by readers to give us a glimpse into their lives – to see what it is like to walk in their shoes. Today I’m honored to introduce you to my friend Amanda! Her journey is very close to my heart. Let’s join our friend as she shares with us what it is like to walk in her shoes. ~ Love, G
In my thoughts on Easter, fast approaching, have been on feet. My reaction to the feet of Jesus specifically and the direction of my feet in response to Him, what will it be?
This week I have been thinking about the woman who washed Jesus’s feet in an act of complete surrender. Her most valuable asset, an alabaster jar filled with perfume, ushered Jesus into preparations for the grave and his ultimate resurrection. His feet had been covered in dust and dirt from the roads he walked to bring light, truth and healing to those around him. I have been thinking about my reaction to this story, this woman whose worship led her to extravagant outpouring of her life. I feel that my story intersects at many points. Her life had been riddled by pain. Some inflicted by her choices, some by desperation and her choice was worship.
But without Jesus, she had no options.
No way out.
My life has been a series of desperation as well, looking for hope and answers.
My beautiful little girl at age 4, with life overflowing, soft brown curls and bright blue eyes was sentenced to a period of prolonged suffering. She had a series of stomachaches and leg pain, which sent us to integrative health specialists, pediatricians, and nutritionists. Leaving us without answers. Her pain was unexplained and her suffering continued. My mother’s heart felt desperation, as doctor after doctor could not help us.
After a prolonged fever, we went to a local Urgent Care facility and thankfully the Doctor on call had years of children’s hospital experience, he took one look at her an knew we needed to go to the ER and test her blood. Two days later her scans came back. My daughter was diagnosed with Faviorable Histology Wilms Tumor, Kidney Cancer, at the age of four.
My mind was spinning, what did this mean for our family? Would she survive? This point in my life was shocking, paralyzing and overwhelming. I would give anything to trade places with this little girl. My heart battled with God. Was He still good in the midst of an innocent child facing suffering with an uncertain outcome? The mother bear in me rose up, wanting to stand over my child and protect her at any cost. The reality rose up in me that she was my most precious of all gifts, beyond what even an alabaster jar could represent.
I felt flat, numb, isolated, alone, in a very deep pit that felt impossible to be scaled.
But there was a back story. God had reached out to me from earliest years, He had been the one I had run to when my father’s bipolar depression swallowed him up and left me needy as a daughter. He had reached down to me when confronted with loneliness and isolation as teenaged entrapped by legalism. He had reached out to me when I longed for true love and provided my husband, who would heal my heart in ways I could not have imagined. Yes, my God had pursued my heart. He had loved me beyond my wildest dreams in the past. I could offer my daughter back to Him. Not understanding what that would mean, if it would work out in the end. Would she survive this disease?
But this would not be my last surrender, after going through a full course of chemo. My little girl was re-diagnosed with Unfaviorable Histology Wilms Tumor, that little prefix “un” would mean a whole new prognosis, and treatment plan. An extra year of treatment, the harshest of chemotherapy and radiation regimens, followed by a lowered immune system confronted our family. She would walk through deadly side effects, weekly hospitalizations, deadly diseases that could take life because of her weakened state.
All the questions came back to me, how could this be again God? My life felt ripped from beneath me. How could you ask more of her and of us? She has suffered so much already. I could not wrap my head around it. My whole family would be deeply affected. Her little brother would be taken from us for the better part of each week as we were hospitalized. My marriage was placed under such pressure, that the breaking point seemed eminent. Friendships were strained by the awkwardness of our extreme pain. Many people did not know how to keep us in their lives so they left us behind. My world felt broken beyond recognition.
But in the pain, just like buds of spring, breaking through the dry, dead ground. Redemption sprouted sunward. The God miracles showed up. He provided a grace. That grace carried us through every chemo, every hospitalization, every needle, every scream of terror my daughter faced in the face of injury.
How can this be?
It is in some ways indescribable to me, but there is a gift in seeing the Holy Spirit meet you, show up in miraculous small and big ways. He has spared my daughter’s life. He has miraculously healed her from life-threatening side effects. He has shown us the love of a community that has shown us the love of Christ in the most beautiful and basic of ways. They have been there for us through the tears, a messy house, the need for meals and childcare for my son. My marriage did not tear apart, but grew closer, deeper, and richer than I could have ever hoped for in my wildest dreams. I was able to see how our differences compliment each other so strongly, and reveal the intricacies that only God could have planned. I have seen redemption and rebuilding in my sweet little boy, his resilience astounds me.
I am grateful to say that it has been two years, and my daughter’s cancer has not come back. In my heart of hearts, I believe she is fully healed.
But does this mean the outpouring is over? No. God continues to challenge my heart to new and greater challenges. Many beyond my scope of vision, He has given me a job as PE teacher for students from young fives to graduating seniors. I help lead a group of women in our community, sharing their wounds and looking to Jesus to reframe their stories. My heart’s desire is to continue to offer my alabaster jar, of all my worship. To say “Yes” to my trustworthy Father in all He asks me to do. This is my challenge to myself and to each of you.
Let’s pour out our worship at His feet.
You might remember that my Beloved was diagnosed with kidney cancer almost one year ago. Amanda and her precious little girl were the major reason that I decided to donate my hair to Children With Hair Loss last fall. Her story hits so close to home, and I am so grateful that she was willing to share her story with us today!
To read more encouraging stories, or if you are interested in sharing your own story, please go to the In Her Shoes tab near the top of the page. I love learning about the people in this series. Connecting with others seems to make the world feel not quite as big and scary. We’re all in this together. I can’t wait to hear from you, to read your stories, and learn more of what it is like to walk in your shoes.
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