Harder Family

Harder Family

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Two Year Anniversary

Psalm 89:1 "I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness to all generations."

Saturday, February 11th, marks the two year anniversary of Wayne's diagnosis of brain cancer. If you don't know what I am talking about, you can go read old posts from 2015. As I reflect on the last two years, I am amazed at how awesome of a God we serve. I have seen God's hand in our lives and have seen Him move in incredible ways. There is nothing to say but what the verse above says, "I will make known Your faithfulness to all generations!" God has been faithful to us through the good times and through the deep, dark valleys. 

I recently watched a video of someone's testimony of their cancer journey. They said something that resonated with me. They said it is one thing to KNOW that God is good, it is another thing to EXPERIENCE God's goodness in the midst of the dark valley. Wayne and I are so thankful for who God is and how real He is in our lives. Although God still has to continually teach me (I'm a slow, reluctant student), I have started to have my eyes opened to His movement in my life. When you slow down and stop, it is amazing to see all the little (and big) ways God is moving. Matthew 6 talks about not worrying and how God provides for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. I have seen Him show me how much He loves me and how He cares about every detail of our lives. It is so amazing to see how God has weaved people into our lives over the past two years. Take a journey with me and review what God has done in our lives the past two years:

1. When Wayne had his grand mal seizure in February 2015, he was brought to Northwestern Hospital. God worked all the details out when I had to get downtown to meet him at the hospital (including having just enough change to take the train downtown - and I never have cash). Wayne just "happened" to end up seeing one of the top neurosurgeons in the United States. He also just "happened" to have the best neurosurgeon who specialized in brain mapping on his surgery team. Only God could have orchestrated all of those little details.

2. The miracle in Wayne's recovery, Wayne's cancer treatment over the next six months, and the miracle of his health over the last two years. Our last scan in December 2016 came back clear again (praise the Lord). It is Jehovah Rapha's hand we have seen over the last two years in Wayne's life. There is no other explanation except that God is not done with him yet and has a plan for our lives. It can be tempting to say, "Oh, Wayne is doing great because we do x,y,z", but we KNOW it is only because God has decided his time here on earth isn't done yet. God is the one who numbers our days!!

3. In the spring of 2015, God crossed our paths with the Kent family. Jan's husband Terry had just been diagnosed with brain cancer. Jan and I were able to pray for each other and encourage each other over the course of their treatment and cancer journey. Jan has been a huge blessing in my life. She has poured the love of Jesus on me and has been active in helping us during our adoption journey. I am so excited to see how God uses the Both Hands project to give a little bit of the blessing she has given to me back to her. 

4. In May 2015, Wayne and I visited Mayo clinic to get a second opinion on Wayne's cancer. It was during this appointment that we were given positive news. Mayo's pathologists said that they believed Wayne's tumor was a grade 3 instead of a grade 4. The best news the doctor told us is that Wayne's genetic markers for his tumor showed that it should respond to treatment. This was great news to have as Wayne began his six months of chemo. After seeing a loved one experience chemo and radiation, it gives you a whole new appreciation and compassion for those walking the difficult path of cancer. We still continue to believe that it is only because of God's healing hand on Wayne that he is doing as well as he is.

5. Fall of 2015, we met another amazing brain cancer survivor that lives about an hour away. We just "happened" to meet them when we parked next to them at Starved Rock. You can read about that God arranged meeting here. God is so good!!

6. My desire when Wayne was battling cancer was to allow God to use our experience to help others walking this difficult road. I reached out to other women watching their husband's battle this horrible disease. I met some phenomenal woman such as Jan, Becca, Alana, Cathie, Rebecca, Michelle, and Mary. I met Mary by "accident". She just "happened" to be featured on another blog that I read every once in a while. I just "happened" to decide that day to read the blog and I read about Mary and her husband Jonathan. I decided to reach out to her and let her know I was praying. I also told her that if she every needed to talk, that I was available. I would not have met these amazing women if it weren't for the difficult journey that all of us have walked with our husbands. It has been encouraging to see their faith and testimonies during our difficult journey.

(My friend Mary me when we met up at Cracker Barrel in Texas January 2016)

7. When you are faced with the uncertainty of life, you start to realize how fragile life is and how you should live every day to the fullest for God. It is easy to KNOW that, but another thing to live it out. God has challenged us over the last 2 years to totally surrender our lives to Him and allow Him to use us as He sees fit. In February of 2016, Wayne woke me up and told me that he had been praying and he felt that God was asking us to adopt two boys from China. If you know our story, you know what a miracle that statement in itself was - only God could orchestrate that!! Wayne wanted to wait until after our family mission trip to Canada before we pursued adoption. A friend just "happened" to post that Great Wall was looking for families to host for the summer. I mentioned it to Wayne and without hesitating, he said YES, let's do it. Little did we know at that time that we would begin the process to adopt in May. It took a HUGE step of faith, but we knew that God was calling us to adopt. God has confirmed this over and over since we stepped out in faith last year. Through this adoption journey God also weaved an amazing family into our lives - DJ's hosting family. Michelle has become one of my dear friends and I'm so blessed to call her my friend!! As we are on the brink of traveling to China to get our boys, we are amazed at God's hand upon this entire journey!

8. In June of 2016, we were blessed to have the opportunity to serve on a mission trip as a family. God used this trip to grow us closer to God and each other. It was a privilege to be able to serve along others from church and help prepare the camp for summer campers. It was hard work, but what a blessing it was to our whole family to serve God together! 

9. In September of 2016, a friend at church told me about a free Chinese class being offered in Beverly (Chicago). Since the girls had a reason to learn Chinese (they wanted to be able to talk to their brothers in Chinese), they willingly decided to take Chinese. This class has been a HUGE blessing to us. Not only have we learned Chinese, but we have developed relationships with the students from China. These students are here in the United States attending school while their families are in China. Through our connections with this program, I have been able to get resources for my trip to China and have learned some invaluable language skills. I am excited to bring the boys to class when we get home and I can't wait to see how God continues to use these relationships in the future.

10. My prayer had been to be in China by December 10th (Shan Chen's birthday). I knew it was a long shot, and yet I knew if God wanted us there, He could get us there. That was not God's plan. I struggled at first with why. Why wouldn't He allow us to get there earlier and bring home our son so he could get the medical help he needs. When November 29th rolled around, I discovered why God had said NO. We were given the privilege of hosting another boy named Parker for a month. Because we were able to host Parker, we were able to meet other people who God wanted to weave into our lives. We met some amazing Christian Chinese families who poured love into Parker's life. They also poured into our lives as well. They even took time to teach us how to make some traditional Chinese food (like steamed buns). I was also introduced to an awesome Christian Chinese community that is only 30 minutes away from our house. Our boys will be so blessed to meet and get to know these amazing people that God weaved into our lives as they waited for us in China.

11. Parker's original hosting family was unable to host him because of medical issues. We were blessed to meet them in person while Parker was here with us. As we were visiting them, I discovered that their recently adopted son was from the same orphanage as DJ!! Her son actually knew DJ! Her son gave us his phone number and said that if DJ was struggling at all, DJ could call and speak with him. None of this would have been possible if I had been in China in December!

12. Because we didn't travel in December and we hosted Parker, Parker found his forever family. That means, while our two sons waited for us to get them, another orphan will no longer be an orphan but someone's SON!! How beautiful is that??

13. A few weeks ago we received an update on Shan Chen. In his file, it stated that his fatty tumor had grown recently. We talked to the doctor that examined Shan Chen when he was here this summer. He wrote us a letter requesting that our paperwork be expedited to help bring Shan Chen home faster so that he can get medical treatment sooner. Thankfully, the US Consulate approved this letter and our Article 5 paperwork was picked up 8 days early. We are currently waiting on our Travel Approval from China!! That means that I will most likely be in China in a month picking up our boys!!!

14. Our Both Hands project has already blessed us in numerous ways. We have had numerous families step up and offer their help. The biggest blessing came in an email on Sunday. Last Thursday, when we had our Both Hands information meeting, I told Wayne it would be great if we could get our friend Gary to help with the project. We have a couple of bigger painting projects that we'd love to tackle for Jan and we knew that he would be the perfect fit. Before we could contact him, he sent us an email on Sunday saying that he wanted to help. It may seem like a small matter, but to me it was one more sign of God's hand working out all the little details of this adoption for His glory. Gary just "happened" to read our blog and hear about the project and he just "happened" to email me when I was a little down. God showed me once again (see slow learner) that He is sovereign and has every detail in His hands. 

These are just a few ways that God has moved in our lives in the last two years.  I would spend hours recounting God's faithfulness. I have discovered that the best way I can remember all that God has done for me is to write it down (the reason I started this blog). Just as the Israelites set up remembrance stones to remember all that God has done for them, I want to have remembrance stones in my life to recall all the ways God has worked and showed Himself real in my life. I want to testify to the world around me that God is not just a "feel good solution" or a "bandaid", He is real and I have seen Him do some awesome things in my life. 

I look forward to seeing how God continues to weave people in our lives and how God uses this beautiful tapestry of our lives for His glory!!

1 comment:

  1. Hi!
    I saw your blog in your post to one of the China groups on FB. I've enjoyed reading your hosting/adoption journey! We have a 7yo daughter (adopted at 4) and a 13yo boy (adopted at 11) from China. I love that you're bringing two older boys home, and wish we lived closer! Love your heart for Jesus, too. :)