Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A cart full of blessings

Ok, by a show of hands, who has ever gone to the grocery store hungry? Uh huh. Keep them up there if you have gone to the grocery store so ravenously hungry that you walked every single aisle in the store and had to have at least one of everything you saw. Yeah, that's what I thought. Been there, done that, huh?

It goes a little something like this:

"Ohhhhhhhh, Ramen Noodles, haven't had those since college. I need me some of them. Oh, Oh, Oh MALLOMARS! Come on now, who doesn't love Mallomars?! Woohooo!!! Tangerines! I feel a bit stuffy, Vitamin C would do me good. Yeehaw, olives stuffed with jalapenos! It's like a party in your mouth! Ohhhhhhhhh, Cream of Shrimp Soup. Tasty! Lookie here, French onion dip! Yea, baby! Oh boy, Doritoes..."

You get the idea. Heck, you have been there. (By the way, you can put your hands down now.)

So, I go in to buy a gallon of milk and came out with $200 worth of stuff that will sit in my cabinet until one of my kids says, "Hey, Momma, we are having a can drive at church/school/Girl Scouts. You have anything I can take?" Whew, what a relief; now I can do something with the Cream of Shrimp Soup and the olives stuffed with jalapenos.

(The Mallomars? I ate the Mallomars. All of 'em. By myself. I don't even have guilt -- a horrible stomachache perhaps, but NO GUILT I TELL YOU!)

When Mandy was first diagnosed, praying, sitting down and talking to God felt like that. It felt like standing in the grocery store being hungry, wanting one of everything, and not knowing where to start or how to even come close to articulating it.

Sometimes, my prayers were a lot less like prayers and a lot more like a fight. I would yell, in my head, and sometimes out loud, in my angriest voice, "God, FIX IT NOW!!!!"

Sometimes, it was pleading and begging and through my sobs: "Dear God, please fix it."

No matter the emotion behind the delivery, it was almost always the same prayer. Most of the time, I couldn't be more specific. It is just all wrong. Please fix it.

Help her.

Help Alannah and Zachary.

Help Ronnie.

Help me.

Help us.

Just, help.

To say that I don't still have days of being angry at God would be a lie. To say I don't still have days of pleading and begging and offering up my own soul, and making a thousand promises if he would just heal Mandy, would be a lie. I do have all those days, and more.

The thing that has been so powerful through this journey has been that never-ending presence, even in the darkest of moments; even when I am so angry I can't see straight; even when I am so scared that I am blinded by my fear; even when my heart is breaking and I am blinded by my tears, I feel it. I know He's there.

I'll be honest: Sometimes, that infuriates me. How can You possibly watch what these kids go through and NOT DO SOMETHING?!

My prayers aren't always answered in the way I would hope. Obviously, my first prayer is "Make this all go away, make it not real, make it just be a bad dream."

And it's not.

It is real.

But, it has been nine months and we are still standing. Mandy is dong beautifully and we just got the best news we could have hoped for at the last meeting of the tumor board. We are still standing side by side, the five of us. Alannah and Zachary are being stronger than they should ever have had to be, and they are doing it with willing hearts and beautiful smiles. We have people standing around us, more people than I can begin to count, standing beside us and behind us to hold us up when we don't feel strong enough on our own.

Would I rather not need them? Oh yeah.

Would I rather just be able to go be that support and show that love to someone else? OH HECK YEAH!

Would I rather not have to see any of my kids dig so deep for strength and courage? Oh, I would give my right arm for that.

But, this is our life. And, it is a blessing that we are being given the support, the tools and the strength with which to live it.

Because the funny thing about going to the grocery store hungry: Even if I didn't come out with what I went in for, I came out with something that will nourish me and keep me sustained until the next time.

May your Thanksgiving be full of blessings, love and hope.

Love to all~


Laura Petreyko said...

You are amazing. Thank you for your grace, your humor and your honesty. My love and thoughts are with you and your family on this holiday of Thanks.

Laura Petreyko

Anonymous said...

Hi! You probably don't know me, but my family id friends with Peyton Mayhew's! I am 13 years old nad live in Michigan I clicked on your link today and instantly found myself engrossed in reading it! Know that I will add you to my school's prayer list and will pray for you everyday. You are in my thoughts especcially as we enter this holiday season. Woo-Hoo, Mandy, 24 days till Christmas! Can't wait!

Cassi :-)

Susan said...

Beautiful, as always, Natalie.
Happy Thanksgiving. Love & Hugs,
Susan Burress

Jennifer Lehmann said...

Well, how about that for a kick-butt analogy? I hope your family has a great Thanksgiving surrounded by blessings....and turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and pie...

Angela Hodgson said...

That was really well written -- i love reading your blog! i especially loved the comment from the 13 year old Michigan boy!



Jennifer said...


I haven't left a comment in a while but I read every single update that I get through email. I am rejoicing in the latest results!!

Sending love and prayers and goodness through the miles!

Happy Thanksgiving!