This year Christmas lingered through our home for days with the sweet fragrance of freedom and an aura of peace. Unlike the past two years there was no hurry to pack for the hospital nor any growing anxiety about upcoming surgeries. There were never moments when family could be found huddled with tissues in the kitchen. Never moments of silence when all eyes would migrate toward Izzy watching her play while questions that had no answers built up in our minds. But this Christmas was not like that.
On Christmas Eve Izzy and I gave a short testimony at church about what God has done in the past two years. For nine years I served our church body and resigning once treatment began was one of the hardest things I have ever willingly done. That said, it certainly was not a difficult decision to make. Deep down I also knew my season there was coming to a close but none of that made it any less painful. With everything that was happening to Izzy I longed to hold on to my position at the church more than anything. I longed to do the thing I had always done, the thing that had given me such life. Most importantly, I longed to control a single aspect of my life which was violently being thrown into utter chaos . Walking away was surrendering part of my identity at a time I was clinging to it more than ever before. For all of those reasons and more when I walk into the church now it brings about a great deal of pain.
Christmas Eve itself has such painful memories for us,we honestly weren’t even sure we were going to church that night. I wanted an evening that was redemptive and I had begun to convince myself that maybe keeping everyone locked up and under the tree would somehow provide that. But that afternoon I got a last minute phone call about the testimony and I knew I had to go. The truth is redemption is not found in running or hiding from our pain. It is only found when we press into it.
When Izzy and I walked on to the humble stage we received a warm welcome. I have not stood on that stage in a year and a half and never with Izzy. It warmed the hearts of many to see Izzy up there healthy and it gave testament to the kind of God we serve. Christmas morning I awoke to find that I did not feel as if something had been stolen from me anymore. That notion had been replaced by the one that something had been restored. Perhaps, one might even say, redeemed.
As I look back on 2013 I see so much victory but, of course, that is because there were so many battles won. Each battle had to be walked through before it could be won. For that reason, I couldn’t be more ready to take down the 2013 calendars in this house. Tonight we will celebrate with good friends; children included. It will be a stark contrast to the past two years I have spent New Year’s Eve in a hospital bed with Izzy. Tomorrow when I wake up, before my feet even hit the floor, I will choose HOPE. For the day and for the year. I will choose to HOPE that 2014 can be the first of many years that cancer is not a part of for our family. I will choose to HOPE that tomorrow will be the first day of a year with less pain and less fear than we have seen in the past two. I will choose to HOPE that God has a new season He is bringing to our lives. Hope, like love, is not a feeling but a choice. I pray you choose it for this coming year as well.
Blessings to you today and in the new year to come and as always, LIFE for Izzy.