How do you sum up life in words? How do you shrink love, anger, sadness, hope, sickness, and a myriad of other emotions and happenings into sentences and paragraphs? It seems not enough, or not sufficient enough to portray who we really are or what God has done for us. Because really, life, and these sorry sentences that are to follow are not about me or my family, but about God and the honor and glory due Him for what He has done… and will continue to do.
How do you sum up life in words? I have no idea… but I am going to try.
I am married to a wonderful, Godly man, named Andrew.
I call him Captain, you know, because I love him more then I can say… and because nicknames are fun… but mostly because I love him
and he has always led in a
silent way; a way worthy of following.
The first 3 years of our
marriage was quiet…then we got pregnant.
Caden Joelle Chastain was
born January 24th 2008. She
was chubby, pink, and healthy… she was perfect. God used Caden to teach us so
many things. She taught us about love, selfishness, selflessness… about 2:30 am
and all the things that come with being a parent for the first time.
And then God used Caden to
teach us other things.
One weekend Caden
developed a fever, then she stopped wanting to eat and became lethargic… then
she had a seizure.
So, on September 22nd
2008 Andy and I stood by and wept while we watched doctors and nurses work to
save our baby girls life. Caden went to be with Jesus that afternoon. Andy and
I went home with an empty car seat to an even emptier house.
We suddenly felt lost. No
longer did we know what to do with ourselves… with our time and our days. When
a wife loses her husband she is called a widow, when a child losses its parents
it is called an orphan… what do you call a parent who loses their child? We
were undefined…and in pain. We clung to each other as well as Gods word. I
remember speaking verses out loud to myself. I needed to hear the truth of God’s
words. I started focusing on who God is. God is sovereign, God is gracious, God
is merciful, and God is abounding in loving kindness. God was faithful in all
His promises to us, and over time God traded our grief for hope, until the
promise of Heaven overwhelmed us. In time, through His word and through his
care and faithfulness to us, God gave us a heavenly perspective and eased the
throbbing ache in our hearts.
Also during this time we
discovered we were pregnant…Due in July the following year. We found out later it was to be a boy. I think we were both slightly disappointed. I know I was not yet ready to give up the pink and ruffles and all things girl. But if I am really honest, it is not that I wanted a girl so badly, it is that I wanted my girl.
Again, resting in Gods choice for us, we started to get excited about a little boy… whatever that may look like.
We lived the next few
months doing a strange dance… balancing grief and joy… trying desperately to
find a new normal.
Then When I was 7 months
pregnant with our second child, I awoke to Andy having a massive seizure. By 6
am I had called 911, by 8am he’d had an MRI, by 10am we had been admitted and
by lunch we were told of the large tumor growing in the Captain’s head.
Surgery was scheduled for
Friday…it was a Tuesday afternoon.
On Good Friday, 2009 the
Captain and I woke early and drove to the hospital, where a very kind and much
prayed-over surgeon cut into my husband’s head, as family, friends and I paced,
chatted nervously and waited to hear the outcome.
It was good news. They
were able to get a gross total resection. Later it was suggested, based on the
biopsy of the tumor, the Captain undergo 6 months of chemo, which he did.
He started his first round
right before our son was born. So it was a very pregnant me and a very tired
Captain that made their way to the hospital one summer morning to welcome their
son into the world. Rigg Allen Chastain was born on June19th 2009. Perfectly
healthy, just 9 short months after his older sister had died.
The next three years brought
clean MRI’s, a false arrest due to stolen identity, a new baby and the loss of a job.
In 2010 I was able to tell an unobservant Andy about our newest addition. We welcomed Ryder Andrew into our crazy family on January 14th 2011.
Our boys are sweet, sweet reminders of God's grace and blessings. We are privileged to be able to hold, love and raise 2 sons. And challenged to do it with grace and some semblance of calm and sanity.
During the latter part of
2012 Andy began feeling poorly. On Thanksgiving of that year he asked that I
take him to the ER because he felt something was wrong. Within an hour of our
arrival we were told that his tumor had grown back and it did not look good.
Andy had his second
craniotomy on November 26th 2012. This time, they were not able to
get the whole tumor. It was cancerous and growing quickly.
He spent the New Year in
Bloomington having radiation on the left side of his brain and then the next
year and a half doing chemo and drug infusion treatments to stave off the
growth of the tumor. I watched as the tumor, side effects of drugs, and seizures
slowly erased the strong, capable, and involved Andy I once knew. We found out
the treatment was no longer working on June 12th of this year.
is now on hospice, trying to keep his focus on Christ and finish his race well.
When Caden died, I’m not
sure I would ever have said her death and all that I learned as a result was a
gift. But living my life in the shadow of my husband’s brain cancer has taught
God gave us a magnificent
gift through the death of our daughter. He taught us that He is faithful and
can be trusted, even with the hardest things. Bec ause God has been gracious to
show me small, amazing things that have resulted because of Caden’s death, I
know He wastes nothing. He uses all things to work toward His purpose and His
glory. God has a bigger picture and
has chosen to use my baby girl and my brave husband in ways only He truly
I have already, long
before the brain tumor, put my trust in a faithful God.
I choose not to take it
back just because I do not know what my future holds.
God holds my future...
therefore I will not fear.
We now bear the marks of a holy battle, scars that one day I hope to lay at Jesus’ feet and pray they are worthy of Him.
Hey all,If you do not know us, the first thing you should know is how much we love the Lord our God, and we are striving to live lives worthy of the title, Believer.
The second is we are praying everyday for His return. On that day we will be reunited with our precious baby girl Caden, the treasure of our hearts. Since the death of our daughter we have battled grief, hurt, tears in public, brain surgery and chemo. We have also celebrated new life in the birth of our 2 sons. So come, read, share and enjoy the life God has given us. Although it is not perfect, or even what we had planned it is what He wants for us, so we choose to rejoice.
"Michael said Caden's funeral felt like a wedding. I smile to type that, because in many ways, it was: a celebration of one little bride being united with the Lamb."
our big Rigg
things that make me laugh
I came back into the room from treating myself to a nice, cold diet coke when I saw the Captain playing with Rigg. He was making the stuffed animal dance in the air toward our son and saying in a sing-song voice “Here comes the zebra.” I looked at him and said in the exact same sing-song voice “It’s a giraffe.” To which the Captain, with only the briefest pauses, sing-songed back the reply… “Daddy had brain surgery.“