My Mom Is Diagnosed With Brain Cancer
Two weeks ago we were surprised with the news of my (Allison’s) mom having brain tumors. Kevin had just had breakfast with her just a few weeks prior while he was visiting his parents, and she was doing well. Now my mom is losing vision out of her right eye, becoming foggy in her thinking, and no longer able to take care of herself.
The next day after the news, I was in NC while Kevin and the girls started selling things and packing what was left into our van to travel across the country to take care of her. For those keeping count, this is our second sudden move this year.
The Most Difficult Year Of My Life
This past year had already been the most difficult of my life. Leaving China was hard because of the unanswered questions we had and the unexpected pain we went through. We left China thinking it would be a quick visit, not knowing we were moving back to the States.
Once we were in the US, we felt like we needed to stay in Redding, CA longer. I needed counseling after our years in China, and I needed physical therapy for a 10 year-old knee injury. I didn’t have the emotional and sometimes physical strength to return overseas. Some simple tasks like writing this monthly update were too overwhelming for me. It was and still is a season of healing for me.
Kevin had to return to China the beginning of this year to sell our van, move out of our apartment, and take care of the farm and business items. After our sudden exit from China, we needed time to regroup, seek God, and hear advice and encouragement from our advisors and friends.
We got to know a few ex-pat families who commiserated with us, encouraged us, prayed for us, and loved us. They understood our journey in a deep way, and we understood theirs. They themselves had also been betrayed, stolen from, misunderstood, hurt by teammates and become angry with God, so they could understand our struggles and our joys. We are so grateful for these friends that God brought our way to help this part of our lives heal.
Time to Process the Messy Grief
Besides these friends who had lived overseas, the other lifeline and person who normalized our experience for me was a counselor. I only went a few times before we moved to NC, but it was so life giving. God did the most amazing thing and set me up with a counselor who was raised in Asia as a missionary kid and moved back to the US to attend college. She understood life overseas, re-entry, and asked great questions. She said I had suffered tremendous loss in terms of orphan care, work, dreams, and friendships.
After trying twice to adopt and even moving my family overseas for 3.5 years, things still are not as I wish they would be. We have helped two orphaned girls for a few months, but I have such a heart to help thousands of orphans.
It was uncomfortable to have someone ask me, “How are you?” and start to cry.
She said these deep losses have turned into grief. She said grief was messy and hard and it comes out at weird times. But she encouraged me to walk through it, and it will get better with time.
This messy grief caused me to want to withdraw from people because it was uncomfortable to have someone ask me, “How are you?” and start to cry. I realize that isn’t normal behavior. So my world in Redding was very small, only having a few trusted friends that could deal with my mess, my confusion, my disappointment with God… and still love me.
Words That Have Become My Lifeline
Four days before I received the call that my mother had a brain tumor during my prayer counseling session, God showed me something that has now become my lifeline here in NC, and I hope it encourages you in your journey as well. He reminded me to just love my close, immediate family well. And from that will come amazing fruit. He even went a step further and shared with me that loving my family well will produce the same fruit as moving our family overseas to help orphans.
I’ve always been close to my mom, but after my parents divorced, she was my best friend through my teen years. She has been like a fifth member of our family, a support and encouragement, a wonderful grandmother, etc. So she is immediate family!
Love your family well, and it produces the same fruit as moving your family around the world to help orphans.
So now while I am with Mom daily (she’s living with us) and it’s so easy to become frustrated with her repeating the same thing over and over, or being unable to make simple decisions, or not being able to read to my kids or even play with them like she used to… it’s then that the rubber meets the road and I choose love. I choose to be patient and kind with her. I choose to remember who she really is and what her heart is like, not what the cancer is causing her to become. It’s these moments that I know that loving Mom well is producing the same fruit as moving overseas on an unknown adventure.
So if you feel like your life doesn’t count for much or that you aren’t making an impact, please know that you are by simply loving your family/close friends well. These words are getting me through the grief and uncertainty of days ahead. “Love your family well, and it produces the same fruit as moving your family around the world to help orphans.” God blows my mind, and He is better than good.
I Would Appreciate Your Prayers
As for me, I am far from done with counseling and the healing I was already receiving. Now the situation is being compounded by the news that Mom has an inoperable brain tumor and only has around a year left (if treatment goes well) according to doctors. We’ve been gone for seven years and have hardly seen her besides Skype. We have so much lost time we want to catch up on, but she’s really tired and has a hard time thinking.
I don’t know how to get through this season in a new city without much of a support system, but I know prayers from others will help. Please pray for each of us as you think about it. The kids miss their friends and homeschool community in Redding and all of our lives have been turned upside down again. And like our last newsletter said- Kevin’s dad now has severe dementia, and one of the caretakers at our farm is recovering from stomach cancer. The enemy has stolen so much from us… It’s a lot to take in honestly. So thank you for praying.
Next month we will give more updates on what is going on in China and Josiah’s Covenant. Thank you for letting us give you this glimpse into the reality of our lives.