Just 7 months after the birth of our son, John Ryan, my husband and I were tossed pell-mell into the turbulent world of pediatric cancer. When our baby boy entered remission in June 2014, we felt it was the right time for a "fresh start". In fact, a variety of factors made it very clear to us that it was time. The toll cancer had taken on our family was monumental and, with many doors closing at once, we saw clearly the one that stood wide open.
In North Carolina we lived 500 miles away from our families. Going through such extreme hardship at such a distance from our families, despite their frequent visits, was exceedingly difficult. We decided to relocate to Philadelphia, PA, where we have family in town and one set of John Ryan's grandparents just 50 miles away. We are 20 minutes from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), which is ranked number two in the country for pediatric cancer. My husband landed a job that seems to be the greatest career opportunity of his life, and we scored a rental home within WALKING distance of his office. Our neighborhood, Chestnut Hill, is picturesque, family-friendly, walkable and safe. It would seem that, after our year of suffering, we are receiving a multitude of blessings. The greatest of all being our son's remission, and the beginning of our family's walk (or maybe crawl) towards recovery.
In effort to cope with the personal trauma I endured as my baby battled cancer, I wrote my way through John Ryan's fight. I discovered writing was a form of therapy for me, not to mention an easy way to communicate JR's progress to the masses. I used the nonprofit site Caring Bridge, and my journal can be found here: #PrayForJohnRyan.
It turns out that JR's battle and my journals have impacted quite a few people. I have received regular encouragement to continue writing. In the early summer months I began my first bible study, Children of the Day, by Beth Moore. An entire week of the study focused on spiritual gifts. I was taught that my life (and the life of every human being open to this concept) has great significance and perfect timing. I have a destiny ordained by God, and I will not feel fulfilled until I am living out that destiny. Later in the week Beth's words read: "God will use people to tell you that what you're doing helps". When I read this line I flashed back to the faces of those who have told me my writing has helped them or inspired them personally. It struck me that my spiritual gift just may be writing, and perhaps I should consider this more.
When I completed my bible study I felt a longing to continue studying the word of God, and begin reading the bible regularly. I'd given it a shot numerous times in the past, always starting with Genesis and never making it past the early chapters of Exodus. This time around I started with the New Testament, and today I'm in the first chapters of Mark and going strong! A few days ago I was reading in Matthew and was inspired by the parable of the bags of gold, Matthew 25:14-30. What I gleaned from this parable is that God wants us to USE the opportunities he gives us. He wants us to put ourselves out there, to take risks, and to use our gifts passionately and for the betterment of others.
With two more nudges of encouragement from two separate people in the past two days, I am officially starting a blog of my own. Hope Whisper. In the darkest of days, it was the Lord's faint whisper of hope that pulled me through. Thanks for your encouragement, and thank you for following.