"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life;
to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Weathering The Storm

{I hope Jerry doesn't mind me stealing this picture. It represents exactly how the Van Leuven gang looked during their most vital years in my life.}

A couple of years ago I journaled about a visit I had with some dear friends, Jerry and Cathi Van Leuven. You can read about them here, and maybe understand why they are more than just friends to me. They are in a way, saviors. I love them and feel very indebted to how they helped me during some vital crossroads in my life. I will always consider them family.

Jerry got transfered out to the Denver area a year or so ago so they don't live in Houston anymore, but my connection to them is just as strong. Since they are actually closer, I've thought how fun it would be to go visit them in Colorado sometime.

A couple of weeks ago, I received some devestating news. Cathi had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The emotions I felt were overwhelming and I did a lot of crying in that first week. Her condition at the time was known to be in the serious stages, but they weren't exactly sure just how serious. She went in for a double mastectomy yesterday and they found that the cancer was not contained, but had spread throughout her lymphatic system. Jerry has been very good to do upadtes via Facebook and I was on pins and needles all day waiting to hear what they found during surgery. THAT was not what anyone wanted to hear.

Today Jerry posted something and I hope he doesn't mind me sharing it. He has always been such an example and an inspiration to me, and even during this insane trial, he continues to show great faith.

"I heard myself telling a friend yesterday something I learned about the irony of faith. When the surgeon came out after operating on Cathi and told me that the cancer was not contained but spreading into her lymph nodes, I felt like someone had slugged me in the stomach. I immediately heard a familiar dark voice saying, “you thought you were exercising faith, but really, you are SO na├»ve.” I didn’t allow the voice to linger however, and was soon taught something very important. Faith is believing with all your heart that the Lord will cause something to change…and at the same time, being willing to readjust your thinking and continue to move forward with a new, fresh hope if the change doesn’t occur the way you want it to. The children of Israel were required to exercise faith that they would have manna to eat the following day without giving into their urge to gather more than they needed for the present (every day for 40 years). The family of Jared were required to NOT ever regret climbing into their barges each of the 344 days they were being “encompassed about by many waters.” Early handcart pioneers were asked to sing the songs of Zion as they buried their loved ones in the snow and kept walking with burdens they hadn’t bargained for rather than choosing to bury themselves in nagging doubt and bitterness. I’m learning that true faith will require the test of time, the test of humility, and the test of real and enduring trust in God. For me, this little discovery is a small miracle."
Right now as I write this, I feel paralyzed by fear. Sometimes I allow the "what ifs" to flood my mind and it's nearly impossible to do anything but cry. It makes me think of my own family and all of the horrible things that could happen to them. Joseph dying suddenly was one of those "what ifs" that unfairly came to pass. It's terrifying to think of how fragile life is and how at any moment, it can be drastically altered. Sickness, injury, and death are inevitable parts of this mortal life. And with those realities comes suffering...often times great suffering. It's easy to sit here and be scared at what the future holds. What if something happened to one of my babies tomorrow...or my husband...or my sisters...or myself. It's enough to make me curl up in a ball and cry like there's no tomorrow.

And then I have to remind myself that yes, life is full of trials and none of us are exempt. But I have a loving Heavenly Father who is there every step of the way and feels my pain and loves me. And He only has me endure trials so I can grow and be strengthened. But you know, sometimes I am okay with NOT growing so much.

My heart is hurting, but I am in awe at the Van Leuven's incredible faith. And I don't believe they only have faith that Cathi will be healed of this illness. Even if the Lord does see fit to take her, I know Jerry and the kids have faith in the atonement and the resurrection and the whole plan of salvation. I love them all so much and they continue to be in my prayers.


Ute Family said...

Oh Veronica I am so sorry! I remember you doing a post on them a couple years ago so I see how much they mean to you! I know first hand how horrible cancer can be but as you and "Brother V" have said, it will all work out as long as you have faith! So sad that they have to endure this trial! In my prayers for sure!

Brittany said...

I understand. The Van Leuvans have been a vital part of my family for years. Jerry was my family's HT for many many years and I credit him for some of the reason my parents returned to the church. I am so grateful for their family and the great example they are.

Carli said...

I know! I feel the same way about them and their quirky way that made me love them! He was always doing things to "save" us. And guess what? IT WORKED! I really hope and believe that she will beat this!!!