Sunday, April 20, 2008

Our Story.. or, the beginning...

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.

My name is Cari.
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.
Andy 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 me differently.
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 understands.
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.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.


hannah singer said...

beautiful. thanks for sharing! xo

The Smittys said...

wow. thank you for sharing your story and your life! all for HIS glory!

Charla Liedahl said...

I found your blog through Jeanette's Life Rearranged. What a moving testimony of faith you have! And YES! YOU WILL SEE CADEN again. Praise God!

Courtney Hutsen said...

Hey Cari your family's story is very moving to read. I am so happy God got us back in contact with each other. God Bless!!

Nikki Taylor (Floyd) said...

Cari- that is truly amazing. You and your husband are the true meaning of inspirations to all of us. God bless and I wish you nothing but the best!:)

Becky Bee said...


You have such a beautiful and heart-wrenching testimony. God has moved deftly in your lives and His love shines through you. You have such a wonderful way with words and I am blessed beyond measure just being able to read them. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your deep, genuine, unfailing love for our gracious God. He will never fail us and He has blessed you with two precious little boys. I pray that God will continue to work in your lives and that you will continue to feel His love every single day. God bless you and your sweet, sweet family!

~Becky (Benedict) Henderson

Kim said...

Cari, I cannot begin to tell you what your blog means to me. My Dad was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer in June 2013. He is a faithful servant of God and it has been gut wrenching to take this journey with him. I just want you to know that you have verbalized exactly how I feel and I thank you. Also, I am praying for you that God will give you strength, comfort, and peace as you try to balance it all through these difficult days. Cari, please know you are impacting many more for the cause of Christ than you realize. May you be encouraged and God bless you!

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded that Job's friends served him well for seven days. It was when they opened their mouths that things turned. I wish that my family knew your family so we could silently support you and your family. As it is, your reminder that it is all about Christ and bringing him glory is my resolution. Thank you for sharing as it serves a purpose.

In Christ.

R. Kim Jenerette

Carrie Taylor said...

I do not know you, but read your story with tears rolling down my face, my heart in my throat and my stomach in knots....I know Jesus, but to read the power & hope behind your faith challenges mine. I read this story and think most people will never see this much loss, pain, sadness and heartache in their've seen it in a matter of a few years. I am SO encouraged by your faith! I am confident He will gladly use your faith, boldness, strength and love of Jesus for His kingdom and for His glory...that's what it's all about after all! Proud to call you sister in Christ! Press on to win the prize for you are a faithful servant of our most Sovereign King!!! Amen

tisha sanders said...

Simply beautiful and inspiring. May God continue to shine in your life.
Blessings to you and your beautiful boys.