Friday, December 27, 2019

The Weight of Heavy Things

Hello friends.  

Putting my heart on the page for you to read as we wind down 2019. 

Earlier this year, one of my favourite local artists, Crystal Drieger posted a picture of this painting she had just done.  The moment I saw it I gasped.  Something about it visually spoke to me in a deep way.    I love her work.  It can be both whimsical and realistic in a way that inspires me.  But this piece in particular felt like it symbolized 2019 for us.  As you can see, it depicts a coming thunderstorm on the prairies with vivid colours, texture, movement, power and peacefulness.  And though I couldn’t buy the original, I asked her right away if she’d be doing prints.  This month I bought a print which will be lovingly displayed in our home.  

Our year has been relentless.   I’ve not said a lot about it, but it feels a bit cathartic to write it down now.   At Christmas a year ago, my husband could not shake a brutally deep cough he had, and developed a fever.  I suspected he had pneumonia, which doctors initially thought as well, but when he continued to worsen, they hospitalized him and we waited weeks to learn he had a much more serious fungal pneumonia that required a heavy duty anti-fungal drug and treatment for at least a year to recover from. He was in the hospital for a month and off of work for 2 more months.  We had excellent care, but I juggled days at the hospital, and home with the kids and work trying to keep everything moving.  We experienced a great deal of love and support from our family, friends and Church that was so encouraging and helpful.  

Fast forward a few months, and the Doctor who is treating my husband's fungal pneumonia, can’t explain why some of his blood results are dipping.  She diligently researches and consults with other Doctors, and eventually lets us know she thinks the cancer my husband was treated for 12 years ago is back.  Tests confirm this.  Hairy Cell Leukemia has returned.  A big blessing is that this cancer is very treatable and it is also likely the reason he contracted the fungal pnemonia in the first place.  It causes a lowered immune system.  So, this fall, my husband had treatment October through the end of November.  Again, we were surround by prayers and support from such amazing people in our lives.  Our faith in Jesus powerfully sustains us in the deepest places.  The demands have been pretty heavy, he needed to be hospitialized again during part of treatment and there was a lot of up and down. He has been on medical leave from work since October and I’ve been juggling all of the extra pieces once again.  

My husband's last day of treatment was also his Birthday.  At our treatment centre they have a tradition that you ring the Bell of Hope to celebrate your last treatment.  Unknown to him,  I had planned for many of our friends to surprise him for the bell ringing to celebrate his recovery.  

As he was just beginning his last treatment we got the phone call that his Dad had just passed away.  We were heartbroken.  He had fought dementia for a number of years, and now he was gone.  Though we rang the bell of hope, we cancelled our celebration party, and gathered our family to head to ND for the funeral, which my husband did, as we are both pastors.  It was a day filled with sadness and joy, tears and celebration all rolled together.  

Just a week after Dad’s funeral, my husband’s mom became ill and within a few weeks her health became grave.  Less than four weeks after Dad passed away, Mom also breathed her last on earth.  There was no way we could have seen this coming.  So, even as I write we will be back in North Dakota with family to say goodbye and celebrate her life.  

That’s a lot.  Maybe you can relate to it too because of storms in your own life.  

Throughout it all, we have felt very carried by God.  We’ve been very supported and loved.  We are learning and growing even in the midst of this, and even as we grieve.  We are even closer as a family, and closer to our friends.  However, I have begun to realize that 2019 has taken a great deal out of all of us.  All of these events have held heavy weight and we need to pay attention to that.  I have not cared for myself well this past year, as I’ve spent most of it caring for my husband and children.  So, I’m going to be taking some time away to pay attention to the weight of what 2019 has been, and how I’m being called to live because of it in the years I’m blessed with ahead.  

I’ve asked for a leave of absence from my design teams and they’ve graciously given that to me (they are such good women - so thank you Marcy and Alma).  My creative spirit has left me, and I want the Lord to restore it, along with many other things in the weeks ahead.  

That lovely painting shows the dark storm coming; but it also shows light and vibrant green in the center of the field, which will be further watered by that approaching storm.  Letting God water me and restore me and bring growth is what I’ll be investing in over the next weeks.  

Look forward to all that this will bring when I catch up with you again.  With love and blessing.  



Leslie Miller said...

I didn't know about your husband's mom, Christine. I'm sorry for your loss compounded. It's been a difficult year, indeed, and I'm glad you have a source of strength to help you through. Love to you.

Carole C said...

Take all the time you need, just return! Thankful for your devotion to the Lord. I send love and sympathy and best wishes for you and your family.

Sue L. said...

Christina, our love and faith are here to help share your burden and weight. Our prayers are with you as you take a restorative time. I've learned that God wants me to rest, not overdo, which is the Most Difficult Lesson personally! We'll be here for you and yr family.

Allison Cope said...

Dearest Christine, I hope you have a wonderful time off doing some self care for you! Sending bug hugs to you and your family today. Here's to a healthy and happy 2020!

Ann said...

Dear Christine - I've just this minute landed on your blog page and feel compelled to write a note. I've not seen your blog before, but I do follow Power Poppy and love Marcie's artistic work - so I'm not surprised by your comment on how caring she is. Your post shows how strong you are, in faith and spirit, but also the toll the combined events of this past year has taken. Take care of yourself and your dear family now, and I will look for you in the future. I came upon your blog through Pinterest, so it was your work that brought me here. With hopes that 2020 brings you peace and happiness through God's will.

Unknown said...

Dear Christine, thank you for your honesty and for opening your heart to us all. Sometimes we naively expect that being Christian will make life easy and we need to hear that while that is not the case, our faith strengthens us in the hard times. May God's grace and the love of those around you restore you to full vitality. Blessings to you and your family,

Elainej said...

We will miss you. I pray the Lord will give you strength to carry on with your life's work and lots of joy in between.
You are in inspiration to us all.

Conniecrafter said...

Oh my Christine what a year you and your family have been through, so sorry for all the bad health and the passing of such dear ones. So good to hear your hubby is on the mend.
May God guide you in the days ahead as you take time to rest and restore yourself after such a busy year, may he also bring peace and hope for the future and bless you with an awesome year to come!

Katy McGloin said...

Christine, thank you for sharing your struggles and your faith! I hope your time off is filled with His light and caring so that your spirit feels renewed and empowered with your creative spark. Blessings come in many ways (as you well know). May your journey continue to be blessed!

Helen said...

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers, Christine. I'll miss seeing your amazing work but, please do whatever is best for you and your family at this time.

KarinsArtScrap said...

Sorry for your loss Christine and hope you have a better 2020.
Wishing you all the best

Tracy said...

Thank you for share your challenging year with all of us. It brought tears to my eyes. I am sorry you had to go through so much. Sending prayers and hugs and wishing a more peaceful 2020. Blessing to you and your family.

Traci M said...

Dear Christine, I just wanted to send my sympathy and caring thoughts to you. I can empathize with your year of deep struggles and also know as you do...the encouragement that comes from being in Him and pray you will sense God’s Loving arms enfolding you and holding you in perfect peace. Your beautiful cards are always filled with such beauty and I love seeing them and hearing from you. I looked up the artist you shared...and her work is also inspiring. Her cows especially made me smile. Sending love your way.

Henriëtte said...

Dear Christine,
my English vocabulary is big, but not big enough to put into words what I felt when I read your post. I can well imagine that you now need some time to recover from all this.
My last moths of the year where also in hospital and rehab, so I can understand in what kind of roller coaster you got in, I saw the same thing happen here with my husband and daughter.
The loss of parents always has a major impact, especially if you are just in a difficult period like you. My condolences.
I wish you and your family all the best there is and hope your husband will recover compleet.
Big hugs, love and blessings.

DancesWithHooves said...

Oh Christine, I am so sorry to hear what a heartache 2019 was for you and your family. I pray 2020 is a clean, fresh, happy, and joyful slate!