January 1, 2010 could have been just like any other New Years day, except this time it was different. I was never one to make New Years resolutions, yet I felt something within me telling me that this year was going to be full of change & maybe even difficulty. After giving it a lot of thought I decided to forgo a cheesy resolution & instead challenge myself to make 2010 the year of accomplishing the impossible. I made a list of several "impossible" things I wanted to accomplish this year. #1 on the list for both myself & Joel was running a half-marathon. Neither of of us were runners but it was something we had always wanted to do but thought we never could for whatever reason. April 25th was the day I marked that first "impossible" thing off my list as Joel & I both crossed the finish line of the Oklahoma City Memorial Half-Marathon. 4 weeks later our entire world changed. May 20th was the day that Joel was diagnosed with cancer. Everything in our life imploded in an instant. All of the sudden my list of things to accomplish, as well as everything else in our life, was put on hold. This "year of the impossible" was now solely about beating a disease that seemed pretty scary impossible at first glance. In a moment everything I thought was clear-was cloudy. I questioned everything I had built my life upon & what I thought I knew as truth. I questioned my God & I questioned my faith. I questioned life, meaning & purpose more than ever before. It wasn't even just about the cancer. A thousand different moments have happened this year in our life, our friends lives, & my family's life that have brought me to my knees. Everything changed & everything shifted in our life & the lives of many surrounding me. I felt like everything was crumbling, falling to the ground in pieces & there I am standing in middle with my face to the sky screaming at the top of my lungs "Why God??? Why?!?!?" And yet......the more I questioned the more He answered. The more I needed the more He provided. The more I feared the more He showered me with peace. And now here I stand, still in the center of it, but still standing. I remember on day 1 of Joel's diagnosis praying about the CT scan the next morning. I was praying over & over again "God I pray these tests are clear. I pray for no spreading. I pray I won't lose my husband. I know You are good & You won't take my husband. I know You are good-I know You are good." That is when I heard a quiet voice inside me say "But what if the tests aren't clear? What if this story doesn't have the ending you want? Am I still good?" I couldn't answer then for fear of what it could mean. To be honest it's a question I have revisited a lot in the past 6 months. Slowly I have gotten to the place where I truly believe that NO MATTER what comes, no matter the ending to our story, no matter where life takes us-I know now more than ever that His love will NEVER fail me. Life, circumstances & people will but His love never will. I had to get to a point where no matter what was happening in our life, no matter what was failing me, He was not failing me. I believe in His promise to me that He will make ALL things work together for my good. I believe that now more than ever before because He has proved it to me now more than ever before.
"Out of these ashes-beauty will rise. We will dance among the ruins-we will see it-with our own eyes."
So what does this mean for Joel & I for 2011? Our prayer from the beginning was that God would turn our ashes into something beautiful. The start of that begins in 2011 for us. I saw on a billboard the other day "2015 the first AID'S free generation." I wondered to myself-when will the first cancer-free generation be? Cancer can be an undetectable predator that can take down even the strongest of men within a matter of weeks. It is one of the very few, if not the only, disease that can hit you with such great magnitude. It is physically & emotionally one of the hardest battles you will ever fight, both as the diagnosed individual & as the family of the patient. Joel has experienced the latter first hand in losing both of his parents to cancer. You can work hard to build a life for yourself & in the blink of an eye see it slip away because of this disease. At the start we got on every website we could find to apply for grant money to help lighten the financial burden we were facing. We were turned down by every organization because by June they had already run out of funds to give. Other sites wouldn't even allow us to apply because on paper we were too well off which was a laughable fallacy. Because of our struggles we have made a vow to spend or lives doing what we can to help others in our situation. We are excited to announce that we are in the beginning stages of bringing that to fruition by creating a non-profit organization called Help for Healing. This will be an organization which will raise money to be placed back into the pockets of cancer patients (& other life threatening diseases) who have a financial need with no income stipulations as to who can receive. A portion of the funds raised will also go towards cancer development & research. We hope to see, in the very near future, a billboard proclaiming that the first cancer-free generation is just around the corner. This disease claims far too many lives of far too many wonderful people. At the start of the new year we are going to be working on obtaining our tax-status as a non-profit organization as well as getting together our official website. We don't know past that what it all will look like but we for see raising funds by hosting golf-tournaments, raffle, 5k's, merchandise sales & whatever else we can do to raise money for others. Now that we have been personally affected by cancer it is our greatest dream to turn these ashes into something beautiful by creating an organization that can give thousands upon thousands of dollars back to others in need & give massive amounts towards finding a cure for cancer. We have big dreams that we are moving towards one step at a time. If you want to be involved in any way we will always have plenty of areas that need your help. Our biggest need currently is for a web developer & grant writer. We will also need people who have a heart to serve to come out & be a part of one of our many events we will be hosting starting, most likely, in 2012. We will have more information on our website which will be launching in the next few months.
You have been with us every step of the way starting with very difficult & painful circumstances. We cannot wait for you to share in our joy as we watch & see the amazingly beautiful things that are going to be brought forth from this journey.
"It will take our breath away to see the beauty that's been made out of these ashes."
Here's to wonderful things for 2011!
Love, Sarah & Joel