Sunday, November 1, 2015

CROSSROADS

Crossroads. A point at which a crucial decision must be made that will have far-reaching consequences.


We've all experienced our own personal crossroads at various times in our lives. As a result of those crossroads, we all make a choice as to how we allow the fallout to shape us. Sometimes the choice is conscious, sometimes not. If we're not taught early in life that all experiences - good and bad - are an opportunity to learn and grow, we are likely to allow others to influence or dictate our immediate and long-term responses, missing valuable life lessons. For far too long, bitterness and envy kept my heart closed off to receiving and accepting life lessons God was trying so hard to teach me.

I feel like my whole life has been one long, brutal lesson preparing me for the death of my precious daughter, Kady. I will NEVER come to a point where I'm able to thank God for my daughter being diagnosed with breast cancer at 28 and dying at 30, but I am now able to give thanks for all of the many challenges that brought me to this point. The following is a timeline (not exhaustive, unfortunately!) of events that have shaped and directed my life:

OCTOBER 1996 - My mom is diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.
DECEMBER 1999 - We lose our home and all contents to a fire, my mom (who was living with us during treatment) must move back to a living hell with her husband 200 miles away, and I am fired from my job because I can't go back to work right away.
SEPTEMBER 2000 - Kady is hospitalized for six weeks due to a very rare condition.
MAY 2000 - My father dies of cancer.
MAY 2001 - My paternal grandfather dies after a tragic accident at home.
NOVEMBER 2001 - Our youngest daughter, Kelley, has an emergency appendectomy and subsequently develops a hematoma, requiring her incision to be left open for several weeks to heal.
NOVEMBER 2001 - My mother-in-law dies after surgery and I can't travel to be with my husband because I'm caring for Kelley.
DECEMBER 2001 - My mother dies while my husband is away comforting his father and sister during their first Christmas season after his mom's death.
SEPTEMBER 2003 - Kelley begins her descent into drug addiction.
SEPTEMBER 2004 - I suffer a stroke.
JANUARY 2005 - My paternal grandmother dies.
JUNE 2007 - Kelley gives birth to our first grandchild, Carlos, and subsequently abandons him to us to raise.
JANUARY 2010 - My father-in-law suffers a debilitating stroke and comes to live with us for the next year.
APRIL 2011 - May father-in-law dies.
JANUARY 2012 - Kady is diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer.
MARCH 2014 - Kelley gives birth to our second grandchild, Bella (born addicted), and subsequently abandons her to us to raise.
APRIL 2014 - My Kady dies.

Until my stroke I would frequently ask God why my family was experiencing more than their share of crises and why we couldn't catch a break. I either knew or was acquainted with several characters who had chosen vocations of tax fraud, drug dealing, welfare fraud, etc. but were never caught or held accountable in any way for their deeds. They took extravagant vacations (we only went to Alabama to visit my in-laws), had extra money to eat out frequently (Long John Silvers after church was dining out for us), never seemed to be sick or get injured (Kelley had 13 broken bones in five years) and I could go on and on.

I honestly don't recall the particular moment I realized I was living out Psalm 73 but that moment changed the direction and tenor of my life. If I'm being honest I have to admit that I occasionally ask God for a break before the next battle, but I've come to realize that my Creator molded and prepared me for every valley in my life and I now consider His confidence in me as a huge compliment. I don't know what challenges lie ahead but I do know that nothing will take my Father by surprise and if I can live through the death of my child, I can face anything. It is good to be near God and I will tell of all His deeds.


 Psalm 73 (NIV)

A Psalm of Asaph

1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.

2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.[c]
11 They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?”

12 This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments.

15 If I had spoken out like that,
I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.

18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
when you arise, Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.

21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.


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