Harder Family

Harder Family

Sunday, February 9, 2020

5 Year Miracle

Isaiah 45:6-7 "that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things."

It is hard to believe that on this date five years ago, I received a telephone call that would forever change my life. If you would have asked me five years ago if we would be celebrating five years with Wayne, I would have told you most likely not. You see, in case you are new to this blog, Wayne was diagnosed in February 11, 2015 with a brain tumor. We later discovered that it was glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive type of brain cancer. The normal life expectancy for this kind of cancer is 12-18 months. We have so many friends that we know and love who have lost their loved ones to this awful cancer. It is a daily struggle with trusting God with our future. 

I have experienced such an array of emotions the past few weeks leading up to this moment: joy, relief, excitement, love for Wayne, thankfulness, sadness, grief, and guilt. The last three emotions have really dragged me down the past week. I have seen many friends on Facebook lose their husbands and fathers to their children. I have a few more friends whose husbands are on hospice. My mind often struggles with "why". Why have we made it five years? Why is Wayne still here and others have been taken home? On one hand, I prayed for this miracle, so I shouldn't be surprised that the same God who parted the Red Sea, healed the lame and blind, and rose from the dead, could heal my husband. And yet, my mind can't help but think about so many other godly women who have prayed the same prayer for their husbands. I start to question why God didn't answer their prayers. Here is where the emotions of sadness and guilt start to settle. It's hard to celebrate when others have lost what you fear most...losing your husband to this dreadful cancer.

How do you juggle trusting God, while at the same time realizing that the next scan could change our story again? I don't know how to explain this paradox in which I live. Others try to understand, but until you walk this path, it is hard to truly understand and get it. On the other hand, it's hard to share with the ones who understand because most of them would love to have their husbands back, would love to have five years, or are in much worse places than us. So what am I to do? What am I to do with all of these emotions and thoughts?

I do not have the answers, only that God is sovereign and He has kept Wayne here for some reason. Our job is to daily live our lives to the fullest serving God and bringing Him glory! We leave the future in God's hands and rest in the assurance that He has a perfect plan for our lives, even if we don't understand how He always works or why He does things. That is where faith comes in...will we trust or will we worry? I can tell you from experience that there is so much more peace in the place of trust than in the place of worry. 

All of us face this daily challenge - will we trust God or worry? It may be about your job or it may be the fear of some unknown virus, like what is going on in China. We can either sit and fret about the future, or we can rest in knowing that God is in control. So for today, we will choose to trust God and enjoy the blessings that God has given us. Let's celebrate 5 years of God's healing!!

In these 5 years we have managed to make many memories with the kids, celebrated our 20th (and now 21st) anniversary, we added two more kids to our family (another crazy God story), moved closer to family, celebrated five more birthdays with Wayne, taken many photos as a family to treasure, and taken numerous memorable trips (East Coast and West Coast - Wayne has now been to 46 states). 

Wayne after his biopsy

Wayne after his brain surgery

Wayne at rehab working on re-learning how to walk and talk

Wayne's bald head from radiation side effects

Wayne's MRI which shows how much of his brain is missing after surgery

Making memories together as a couple (21 years and counting)

Making memories together as a family

In April, we will be taking a trip with Inheritance of Hope. This amazing organization sponsors families with parents who have a terminal illness and helps them make memories with their children. They also help the parents create legacy videos, take family photos, and offer support groups for the kids to learn how to express their emotions and feelings about all that they are going through. We can't wait to spend some intentional days away with our kids to make lifetime memories with them.

As a way of paying it forward and marking Wayne's 5 year anniversary, I am running a half marathon in New Mexico in April. I am trying to raise money to help other families like ours attend a future retreat. If you would like to help, please pray about sponsoring my run!  

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

2019 In Review (Super Late)

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope."

2019 was a year of change for our family. Last Christmas we were visiting my parents in Kentucky when God showed us that He wanted us to move. 

January-April: The first few months of 2019 consisted of celebrating 20 years of marriage, packing, tears, finishing school, and goodbyes. 

May: Mother's Day weekend, we officially moved to Kentucky. Between doctor appointments, working on our fixer upper, and VBS in Chicago, it wasn't until July that we were at our home in Kentucky more than in Chicago.

June/July: We took a family trip out west to go visit family in California and Washington. Wayne wanted his family to meet our boys. It was fun catching up with all of our family. While we were out west, we also took a mission trip. We were honored to help serve at a camp in Canada. It was an exhausting week of hard work, but it was so rewarding.

On our way home, we took the kids to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Devil's Tower, the Badlands, and Mount Rushmore. 

July: Friends from Chicago visited the girls, VBS in Chicago, doctor appointments while in Chicago, and house remodel work.

August: Started unpacking and getting settled in Kentucky. Wayne continued traveling back to Chicago to help oversee our house project. The kids all started school.

September: the older kids attended a retreat with their new youth group. This was a turning point in their attitudes regarding Kentucky. They started making friends and connections. We all started getting plugged in at church: Wayne joined the prayer group, I help with AWANA, Wayne and I are part of great Sunday school groups, and the kids love all the programs they attend. The kids and I also got plugged into the local community Bible study that meets once a week. 

October: More work on the Chicago house, Wayne's MRI came back clear, we got a cat, and changes in school were made (Sophia started attending public school).

November: Our house in Chicago finally was done being remodeled and was listed on the market. Wayne and I took a quick trip to Texas to pick up Wayne's "dream" car. While down in the south, they enjoyed a day in New Orleans where I ran another half marathon (state 29 of 50). Unfortunately, I picked up food poisoning on our way home, so our Thanksgiving plans were thwarted. Instead of having international students and my extended family at our house, we ended up with just our little family enjoying a great meal.

December: More school changes: Naomi started school at the local Christian school. I was matched up with an international student from Taiwan to be an English partner. We had my friend over during December to hang out and get to know each there better. But where did December go? Did it fly for you this year? We squeezed as much memories and fun as we could into December as we celebrated the birth of our Savior. On Christmas Day, some of our best friends came and visited us from Chicago. It was some memorable days! Right after they left, the girls had some their best friends, who were our old neighbors, visit for three days. Everyone had fun ending the year making memories with our Chicago friends in Kentucky.