I sit here drinking out of my blue coffee cup this morning, alongside it in Bethany’s cabinet is also the pink coffee mug that we bought at Egg Harbor upon hearing the news of their pregnancy. A fun shopping trip ensued with bright hopes, giggles and fawning over soft, hopeful and fanciful baby items. Each tender touch of the trinkets and treasures brought hope and joy as Bethany and Kevin headed into the unchartered waters of parenthood. That morning seems so long ago, a faint memory as those unchartered waters swelled quickly into the unforeseen stormy seas.
I was texting with my friend this morning, she diagnoses cancer for a living and she reminded me of the tears and prayers that are offered on behalf of each positive diagnosis. She begins these journeys for people, a weighty profession as she hoists the sails on what I would imagine are distinctly different voyages. I am grateful for each healthcare worker at Loyola Medical Center, they did not begin their journey there and I am so grateful that they landed there and they truly live up to their motto of treating body, soul and the human spirit.
I have always heard that the lessons of cancer would be wonderful for everyone to learn if they could be saved from the journey of cancer but I am quite certain being the stubborn hearted people that we tend to be that we would be quite incapable of the lessons without fully embarking on the journey. So, as we complete this portion of the sojourn, I am going to think back upon some of the valued moments and lessons to take away from these past five months of watching Kevin and Bethany navigate this tempest launched upon their lives.
Without sounding cliché, life is precious, it truly is, never has life seemed so vulnerable, not only in our personal walk but in the current climate, life is significant, just look in the eyes of all you encounter and know that really, a created life is magnificent, there is beauty and hope and momentous potential in every one of Gods creations. This has never been more evident than watching as you all reached into their pain to buoy them with your incredible creativity, wild generosity and continued acts of kindness. It takes time and courage to step into someone’s pain and accomplish truly brilliant things. I am giving you a standing ovation, applauding you, thanking you. There is beautiful sweetness in all of this, sweetness that never would have been tasted in any other way and sweetness that has now fashioned them, marked them, changed them. Your benevolence was overwhelming and one of my greatest joys has been seeing it all take place. It is actually astounding, humbling and fascinating to see how uniquely you used your time and treasure to care for them. You softened the blows, injected joy and laughter, fed them, visited them (some quite sacrificially from great distances), prayed for them, fueled them, sat with them, carried and covered them. Gratitude pours forth from this mothers heart and hopefully spills all over to your precious souls who softened their harsh reality by caring deeply and dearly for them. You have become the benchmarks for how to live going forward!
Sometimes the crushing weight of circumstances press so hard on your soul that out of the weightiness comes forth thoughts, emotions and passions awakened to seeing life differently, a new filter to view your days ahead. It is an upside-down world. I believe God beckons our honest questions of why because they open the door to uncovering some of the answers that lead us down paths we would never have had the courage to step upon had we not been forced. There is unleashed opportunity for stepping into this war-torn world and using our allotted time for impact. Suffering extends membership into a fellowship of broken sojourners. Conventional life is a distant memory and out of this wintery, desolate chapter spring small signs of hope forcing their way through. I am so proud of Bethany and Kevin, their outlook, their fight, they have had so much to deal with and they navigated it all with grace, grit and great generosity to all they have touched on the journey. I am now giving them a standing ovation of monumental proportions for their victorious accomplishments in piloting this unique process. I am just so incredibly proud of them, weren’t they just something! May I just take a moment to brag on them. And can we talk about Bethany and her writing, I can’t wait for her to document the next chapter of life, she must not stop, this is a gift born out of the weightiness, and I can’t wait for the tears we’ve cried in following her written journey to evolve into tears of joy.
I know there is good that will force its way through and we have only scratched the surface in understanding the purpose of Hallie’s life. Piece by piece some semblance of sense will come to fruition as the days ahead provide time to process what has transpired. I am confident that Hallie Hope who delighted us when she was just a blue and pink coffee mug, has already surpassed our wildest expectations in her purpose. She did not live in vain and I am confident that she will be the catalyst for so much good to come. Our hearts will always ache and our finite minds will always want to wrap our heads around the what could have been but my prayer for Kevin and Bethany is this, that they will love deeply the purpose of this little girl, that she will change the trajectory of their lives as they lean into God and discover that in all that they are facing, they will remain confident that she was uniquely created for a purpose. To live a life of impact will continue to honor her memory.
Because God says it so much better (I believe this is an appropriate time to plagiarize), I will always remember her dearly when I treasure these tender words from Psalm 139:
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, darkness and light are the same to you. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.