Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Irish Blessing

I want to start out by giving a bit of a caveat before I continue. Those who know me well have heard this testimony, perhaps many times, but it is one I never tire of. One I will never forget as long as I live. This testimony moves me to tears, laughter and joy. It stirs faith, hope and love inside of me like none other. If you know the story, I pray you will read it anyway and share in our joy and glean whatever new insights the Lord might have for you today.

This is the story of my beautiful boy. Born in the wee hours of March 17th 2007.

But to tell his story properly we need to go way back to the spring of 2006, shortly after celebrating our one year anniversary.

Things had been going well, we were adjusting to life as a married couple, and the newness of living with each other was just beginning to wear off. We had a kitten and lived in a nice apartment. I would cook extravagant meals and frequently delivered baked goods to him at work, complete with a gallon of milk! Yes, everything was going along exactly as we had expected. The annoyances of a toilet seat left up, toothpaste in the sink, dirty socks and underwear littering the floor were in full swing, but enjoyably so. You know that stage? Where your hideously annoyed at the pet peeve, whatever it may be, but secretly so happy you get the chance to have that annoyance (I think I'll remember this tonight when he crawls into bed leaving his shoes in the middle of my freshly cleaned bedroom!).

All of that said, there was one problem. I was married to a hypochondriac. Or so it seemed. Since about October of 2005 he'd been concerned about a lump in his throat.  He went to urgent care, saw a surgeon, an ENT, and urgent care again. He "had" everything from an abscess tooth, to lung cancer. He would spend hours online researching his symptoms, when one medicine wouldn't work he'd try another, always going back to the internet and coming to me with a new theory. It was infuriating. I knew nothing was wrong. He knew something was. 

Eventually the lump became visible in pictures. See his right side looks like he has a double cheek? At the 3rd or maybe 4th visit with the ENT they decided to do a biopsy on it. 

I still was not worried. I had convinced myself that he was worrying about nothing, and had worried the swelling into existence. I had done this without even realizing I'd done it, I honestly did not have one iota of concern about the results. Naive, sure, but imagine it was your husband?

The biopsy was at the end of June and went well, no complications. The ENT told me a swollen lymph-node is usually the size of a pea, and his was as big as a quarter, so he was glad they'd removed it. Well, ok. I'm glad we did the surgery then. Now he's fine, let's move on. That's what I thought.

On July 5th Brian had an appointment to get his Biopsy Results. The Lord prodded me to be there. I cannot explain it otherwise as as I stated I wasn't concerned, Brian didn't think I needed to be there, but I knew that as his wife I had to go. It was at 5:00 in the late afternoon on a gorgeous sun filled day. I can't tell you if the doctor was on time, if he talked a lot or got right to the point, but I'll never forget the shock I felt when he said "you have Hodgkin's Lymphoma, do you know what that is?"

He was an ENT so there wasn't a whole lot of information he could give us. He set us up for an appointment with an Oncologist for July 11th and for the next 6 days all we could do was wait, cry, and pray. At the time I had been in a stretch at work where I worked Wednesday evenings so I never got to go to our church midweek prayer/Bible Study. As I had to switch my schedule for his results appointment it was our plan to go.

After driving our separate cars home, calling our families and best friends, we decided there wasn't any better place for us to be. So we drove to church. I don't remember what we said, or if we were still crying, or if we had even really spoken to each other at all yet. When we walked in, surprisingly a few minutes early, I remember wondering what I would say. My "church mom" took one look at me, and pulled me in for a hug. She didn't ask questions, didn't pause or panic, but she gave me the warmest, longest, most meaningful hug of my life. She knew.

At some point I must have muttered, "Brian has cancer" because when the hug was over she had tears in her eyes too. I remember our friend, who'd been married a few short months after us, sitting across from me in our circle and the look of shock on her face. A look that revealed feelings words would be unable to express. Feelings of sorrow, sympathy, and a very personal response. Later she told me it had really hit home for her, when she went home she cried to and hugged her husband saying "what if it was you?"

I remember these things because they were significant, they showed me love and offered me comfort. I can't be certain but I'm pretty sure church ended that night with everyone laying hands on us, many tearfully, praying. That Sunday Brian stood up and gave a testimony at church about how blessed we have been, how grateful we were for our church family, but also about how this had woken him up making him realize how precious and fleeting life is and the importance of living for Christ now.

After many long conversations on the phone, with millions of people, most of whom I rarely catch up with, hundreds of prayers, tears of remorse and apology for judging him so harshly, and prayers for forgiveness, July 11th finally arrived. My parents were passing through town and Brian had asked my dad to join us at the Oncologist appointment for an extra set of ears, questions, and support. The Oncologist offered us few answers but much comfort. She told us what tests needed to be done to figure out staging and about Hodgkin's and how it functioned.

I don't remember much of that appointment either. But I do remember this small portion:
"Do you have kids?"
 "No," we said looking at each other in wonder. Somewhere we'd heard this might come up, via internet searches or friends etc. Our plan had been to be married for 2 years before having kids, so the topic hadn't really started coming up yet. Not really ;).
"I will have the nurse get you information for the Sperm Bank. I highly recommend that you freeze some of his sperm before his Chemo treatments."
"What are the statistics? If we don't freeze his sperm, what are the chances that we would be able to have kids?" I asked weakly but hopeful.
She sort of looked at me inquisitively or confused. My dad translated my question to which she replied, "freeze his sperm." Very matter of fact, no ifs, ands, or buts.

That afternoon my parents went to their hotel room and we had a few hours to ourselves. When he was on the phone with his mom explaining the doctors concern about freezing the sperm she said "well, we'll just pray Teresa get's pregnant before your treatments begin."
My Husband looks at me and say's "Have you started your period yet?" Um, hello? Get off of the phone! This is not a conversation one wants to have with their Mother-in-law on the phone, no matter how much you love her.
He finally gets off the phone and says "How late are you?" and I reply "a week."
Both of our eyebrows raise! Up the stairs we race to the bathroom.

I've heard many different stories about how couples have found out they were pregnant. Clever things the wife has done to tell her husband he would be a father, "baby food" dinners, presents of bibs and baby clothes, t-shirts that say "worlds best daddy" etc. It felt weird having him in the room throughout the process because it wasn't what I'd ever expected, it was so much more. I remember how our eyes met when we realized the test was positive. I can still hear the "cries" that escaped our lips and feel his arms wrap around me in a hug. Within seconds we were laughing, crying and praying. Right there in the tiny bathroom of our apartment. The tears in his eyes as he learned he would be a daddy.

What an amazing thing the Lord did for us that day. Hours after a doctor told us he might not be able to have children our Lord showed us He had already provided us with one. Our Lord showed us His love for us is real.

After a week of questions and tears we could not contain our smiles. The Lord had filled our hearts and lungs with hope, joy and peace that could not be denied. Could not be depleted.

That Sunday, I stood up in church and shared our news. I remember crying. I remember applause. I remember my pastor and his quiet but affirmative "Praise the Lord"'s.

Cancer is grueling, and pregnancy can be uncomfortable. But our story gave us strength. Every doctor, every nurse, every waiting patient, every customer (at my work) heard our story. Nearly every conversation for 6 months provided us with an opportunity to share Christ, opportunities to plant seeds.

Cancer looks good on him, doesn't it? This was at the very beginning of the hair loss stage.
 And every time we spoke of what the Lord had done, and continued to do, we grew stronger. Our faith grew stronger. Our walk with Christ grew stronger. Our love for each other grew stronger. 

So as you can see, celebrating my son and his birthday is also a tribute to my husband and a celebration of our Lord. Owen's story is one of beauty, timing, and love like none other I've ever known.

Today (well actually last Thursday, this just took me forever to write and our lives have been nuts lately so I'm only now getting a chance to finish it) is my sons 4th birthday. He is an amazing little boy. Sometime between 3 and 4 he began transforming from a toddler to a boy, and now he looks just like a mini little man.

As I write this, he loves coloring. Today was his Daycare birthday party and he really wanted to give all of his friends "Birthday Cards" and so he went through his coloring books and pulled out his favorite pictures (colored) and colored a few more so he had enough, then folded each one twice and called them cards. It was so precious to see his little heart desiring to give these pictures to his friends and working on them 3 or 4 times throughout the day, starting the process before daycare and finishing it before bed.

His dad pitched his baseball to him last night and he was knocking 75% "out of the park" lol.

His brother drives him crazy and yet he affectionately calls him "Micah John Boy" blending our two "nick names" into one.

I can't believe his love for Bible stories. Each year on his birthday he gets a new Bible (tradition in our home ... until he gets his "life" Bible) and this year we got him an illustrated Bible with more sophisticated wording and extra facts about the stories. I worried a little it would be over his head, but he easily comprehends it and asks appropriate questions.

I cannot believe the differences between 3 and 4. It makes me wonder what is coming between 4 and 5.

He had been sick and so he didn't realize it was his birthday until we sang to him, his eyes lit up really big and a smile formed on his lips, "I'm four now?" we smiled and kept singing and he goes "I was begging to be four!"

Thank you for reading our story. I believe the Lord performs miracles every day, some big (like this), others small (like rainbows when your feeling low, green lights when your running late, etc), I would love to read about what the Lord has been doing in your life lately! Leave your miracles in the comments below so that we can praise our Lord of Lords, King of Kings together. 

God Bless you!


  1. I know this is one miracle I'll never forget!!! I can still remember you "popping" up off your chait at church to announce it!!! We do serve a MIGHTY God!!!! Love ya!! Kay

  2. love you too Kay :)

    and :) back at you Liz!

  3. This is my all time fav God story. I just love it. I'm so glad I got to be there.


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