Monday, January 23, 2012
I am a woman who has experienced many trials in this life and has seen the faithful hand of God on her life time and time again. I am acquainted with the paralyzing fear that tries to grip your soul when a spouse walks out of your life, a child moves thousands of miles away, a parent dies, or a doctor gives you a death sentence of your own.
This book is written from a broken and contrite spirit in hopes to offer you encouragement and to help you dream again even in the midst of your trials.
TIME LINE UPDATE
August 1999 Married right out of high school, in 1999 I suddenly found myself divorced after 20 years of marriage. Now I was a single mom with two teenagers, no job and wondering what I was supposed to do now. I hadn't worked outside of the home for over 20 years. Being instantly thrust into a life of rejection, betrayal and major anger issues (not to mention great financial struggles, and everyday trials like malfunctioning cars, hot tubs and furnaces); life was suddenly very different and my lack of knowledge and resources were a daily reminder of my inadequacies and my dependency on others. My first real dilemma was “what do you put on a resume after being a stay-at-home mom for over twenty years?”
September 1999 My daughter went to college, our two Belarusian boys (who visited for the past five summers as a part of the Children of Chernobyl program) flew back home to Belarus and my son, Josh moved in with his father two states away. I got my first job (in 20 years) working in a candy factory; making minimum wage. What a slap to my self esteem as I was now doing the exact same thing I did twenty years earlier when I found out I was pregnant with our first child and we decided I should be a stay-at-home mom. The confusion and anger were difficult to control as I asked God “why.” I had lost everything; my marriage, my children, my financial security, my home, my lifestyle… everything!
Making only minimum wage I wasn’t able to keep up with all the bills and my beautiful log house (with a Jacuzzi in the master bedroom) was scheduled for sheriff sale. But God helped the house to sell to the first person who looked at it. The house sold and I became homeless all in one day. The following day a woman came into the church office to “bless someone with her mobile home.” When I first looked at this FREE 10x50 mobile home, I snobbishly refused to live in such a ‘little shoebox.’ A few days later the Lord reminded me of my earlier prayer about ending up in a cardboard box by the river. He said, “If you end up in a cardboard box by the river, it’s because you CHOSE to live there!” I immediately called the woman offering the free trailer and agreed to take it. That little shoebox became a place where I would spend quality time in God’s presence. All these years later, I still have fond memories of my 1 ½ years spent in my beloved shoebox.
Later I moved back into the same mobile home park where I lived 20 years earlier in my first marriage. When I asked the Lord why I should have to go back to square one after so many years, He spoke to my heart and said, “This time we’re doing it MY way.” From that moment on I chose to look at my life as an adventure, something new, something God was going to do for me and I chose to believe that since He was in control this time - it was going to be good.
December 2000 My divorce was final on my son’s 16th birthday. I was sued for child support and they garnished my wages; automatically deducting $286 out of my $400 paychecks every two weeks. During this time I would cry out to God and ask Him “How much more?! What else can possibly be stripped from my life? Haven’t I already lost enough?! When will this end?”
July 6, 2001 It was during my struggle with losing so much that I lost one of the most precious things I had in my life; my Dad (and best friend). He passed away from Carcinoid Cancer at the age of 61. About this same time I was diagnosed with Spasmodic Dysphonia. An incurable, rare disease the restricts speech. Instead of vibrating, my vocal chords spasm causing broken speech and airway. Increased stress, increases symptoms. There is no known cause for SD. Many doctors believe it can be brought on by stress. Well hello!
September 14, 2001 My daughter, Chrissy continued her education in California and I found myself putting her on the first flight in America traveling to California on 9-14-01. Just three days after the 9-11-01 attacks. Most airports re-opened on September 14 but it wasn‘t until the end of October before everything could fly again. Bomb squads and army men escorted a hand full of us through the airport; still unsure of how safe it really was to begin flying again. The fear that gripped my heart was breathtaking and I was frantic to have to put her on an airplane in fear of yet another terrorist attack. My pride for her willingness to go was the only thing that allowed me to let her go. We both knew it was a God-thing.
December 31, 2001 I was reunited with a long time friend, began dating, became engaged and planned to marry on October 19, 2002. After purchasing everything from my wedding gown to the mint dishes (and mints!), the Lord asked me to sacrifice this relationship just as He had asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. For several months, I absolutely refused and lived a miserable existence. Finally I was obedient and called the wedding off. Shortly thereafter, the relationship fell apart and I found myself alone once again.
October 31, 2002 I was hired at my church doing what I love to do; designing and writing as the Publication Manager. It seemed things were finally beginning to look up. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever walk into a job that I would love going to every morning. I was convinced that I had wasted my life being a stay-at-home mom for over twenty years and I would never be accepted for a job that was more than flipping burgers or waiting tables. I thought it took years and years to work up the ladder toward your dream job. Obviously God had other plans.
Friday, February 13, 2004 I received a devastating terminal (stage four) Carcinoid Cancer diagnosis; the same type of cancer that took my father’s life a little over two years prior. At my initial doctor's appointment, I was told to get my affairs in order because I only had approximately three months to live.
June 24, 2004 (four months later) The doctor gave me a glimpse of hope with a Clinical Trial and scheduled me to begin treatment on June 24th. Three days prior to beginning the treatments the Trial was shut down because patients were experiencing ‘sudden death.’ From this point on, the doctors offered no cure for my condition and would only talk about ‘quality of life’ and ‘keeping me comfortable’.
September 10, 2004 God miraculously touched my body and began healing me of Carcinoid Cancer.
September 2005 I met the man of my dreams at a Single’s Meeting (Joseph J. Lantini, Jr.). The singles picnic was the last place in the world I wanted to be. But I promised the girls at work I would go for a few moments. I had no idea the Lord was about to change my life forever.
October 2005 Our relationship progressed but I remained in fear of yet another failed relationship. As I traveled to Florida with some girlfriends, I prayed the Lord would let me know before I returned home a week later if this relationship with Joe was from God or not. On my last day in Florida, (much to my surprise) God confirmed our marriage by writing J-O-E in the sand for me! I knew from that moment on that Joe was the man God had intended me to be with and I never walked in fear of rejection and/or betrayal again.
December 2005 Joe and I were engaged on Christmas Eve at my place when he hid my engagement ring in a new coat he had bought me for Christmas. Immediately following his proposal we went to minister to two little girls whose mom was incarcerated. As we handed them gifts and prayed over them, I knew God had truly heard every prayer I had ever prayed concerning the man of my dreams.
June 24, 2006 (Exactly 2 years to the day of the cancelled Clinical Trial that would have killed me) I married my best friend and soul mate - Joseph J. Lantini Jr.! We had a beautiful wedding and honeymooned on a cruise to Cozumel. We were treated like kings and queens and enjoyed every moment of our pampered experience. In July I began receiving Botox injections in my vocal chords to help me speak. The injections are repeatedly every 3-4 months. They are very painful but very worthwhile. Without them using the telephone, ordering at a drivethru window, and just simple daily tasks are nearly impossible.
August 8, 2006 My daughter and her husband, Nate blessed us with a beautiful grandson; Gavin Caleb. I was honored and blessed to be by Chrissy’s side as she labored to bring little “Gavin bear” into the world. At this point in my life, I wasn’t certain I would ever get to see any of my grandchildren. To be in that delivery room for this beautiful occasion caused me to praise God over and over. With tears running down my cheeks, I stroked Gavin’s little newborn hand and wondered in my heart if I would be around long enough to have a relationship with this precious little boy.
January 2007 Chrissy, Nate and baby Gavin moved to Sheridan, Wyoming. It broke our hearts and left us devastated and asking “why.” Once they were settled in Wyoming, God answered our question as Chrissy was hired as the new Youth Pastor at their church and we began to see His plan unfold in amazing ways. Shortly after moving to Wyoming, Chrissy discovered she was pregnant again. This time we were certain I wasn’t going to be able to be there for the birth. Chrissy and I cried on several occasions talking about how sad it would be not being together for the labor or delivery and we tried to be brave and strong for each other.
April 4, 2008 Chrissy and Nate blessed us once again; this time with a beautiful granddaughter; Natalie Claire. Joe had tried for months to get airline tickets for the week that baby Natalie was due. Each time he submitted for airline tickets he was refused for one reason or another. We were so disappointed when the only tickets we could purchase were two weeks AFTER Natalie was to arrive. We bought the tickets and tried not to be too let down that we wouldn’t be there for her birth. God gave us the desire of our hearts when we arrived just HOURS before Chrissy's water broke and she went into labor! Natalie came two weeks late and we all stood in tears and praise as once again as I was allowed to be by my daughter’s side as she labored to bring our beautiful granddaughter; Natalie Claire into the world.
May 12, 2008 I received the most devastating news ever. The Carcinoid Cancer had suddenly began to grow. The tumors that were shrinking have increased greatly in size and there are several more tumors in my liver!
This is where my story begins…….. at what seems to be…………. the end.