Update Eighty

Ah, what a beautiful Tuesday. What an amazing day to be alive! I’ve been wanting to share some thoughts for a while, but you know how things get:) Writing things down is a bit slower and harder these days, so I’m thinking that posting smaller snippets as I am able, might be the way to go. We shall see:)

 

Let me start with this. Being put under hospice care is the last place I would have ever expected to feel so peaceful, and thankful, and joyful towards my the Lord. Please know that this is not a “make people feel good” answer. This is as honest as it gets. Has it been the hardest, scariest, and most emotional thing I’ve ever faced? Yes. Have I ever felt God’s presence more powerfully and craved it more hungrily? Never.

So why am I peaceful, thankful and joyful? Most simply put I’d say, it’s a miracle to my heart, and God’s character of grace on full display.

Peaceful.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”

He promises us peace. When we trust his purposes above our own, keep our eyes and thoughts fixed on Him, no matter what the circumstances, (even death) He promises peace. Not without struggle, not without tears, or grieving, but a deep settled peace, CHOOSING to believe that God’s “good” is much more powerful and complete than my own “good”. Even if my emotions have trouble catching up sometimes.

Thankful.

Who gets this kind of time?! Oftentimes, people in my situation (even those dealing with cancer for a while), will face an abrupt end to their fully functioning state. Grand mal seizure leading to a coma can be a common one in brain cancer. This doesn’t mean this will be my route or anyone else’s for that matter. God can do whatever He chooses. But, look, here I am! 2 big seizures into this, tumors suddenly spread all over my brain, and I’m feeling better than I have in months!  I have way less pain, more energy and definitely much clearer thoughts. Yay:) All on hospice, who would have thought?! The first seizure, and the following MRI was God’s perfect provision allowing us all to be aware of my new health status. I am so thankful for the beautiful time I/we have all gotten to experience because of this. Friends and family have been able to fly in and I’ve loved the relaxation of my home, only made possible by so many people contributing to help–the Isaiah care, the food, the cleaning, the super fun yard work parties, errands run for us, the worship nights, Doug’s awesome work allowing him to take so much time off. We’ve had overnight baby care (thanks Mom!) for quiet restful nights and sleep-in mornings with lattes waiting for us when we get up. Oh yes. The list goes on and on and on. We are SO thankful.

Joyful

I’m joyful, I just am. Really I think it comes down to 2 things.

1) Remaining thankful. Taking every moment to remind myself of all that God is doing, what He has done, and what He might continue to do through this. I have SO much to be thankful for, and things could always be much worse.

2) Hope. The truth is I am grieving. Mostly grieving the pain of those who will be affected by my death. Especially my husband, my sweet Isaiah, my parents, and beyond. This is the hardest part for me. It can feel crushing at times. Surrendering my own life is one thing, but surrendering two more precious lives, is entirely different.

BUT I am not without hope. My hope is in Jesus and the eternity we are promised when we accept Him. I KNOW I will see these lives again. I KNOW I will meet my Maker face to face! I KNOW life on the earth is just a breath in light of eternity, and death has no power over this soul!

I have fought this disease, this, pain, this potential hopelessness, every second of the way, but not without His grace. It has been through many ups and downs, tears, laughter, adventures, heartbreaks, but even overflowing happiness. He has not given me a spirit of defeat. I will be thankful and soaking up every day He chooses to give me, and I will also look forward to that beautiful day I get to walk into my Savior’s arms and be finally swallowed up by LIFE. The life we are designed for! 2 Cor. 5:4-7

So there it is. I am unafraid of death (although easy to squirm with all the unknowns of what that might look like), I but I know that He comforts in those moments, for myself, as well as everyone else. I am also unafraid of leaving my boys (although not without tears) because I don’t get to control their pain (whether I’m alive or not!) I have to fully surrender their journeys to the Lord, as I have had to do for my life over and over again for the past 6 years. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and am still doing on a minute by minute basis. 
But He is helping me. It is NOT by my own strength. It’s purely Jesus and the deep Truths He promises in His Word.

I hope this doesn’t sound trite. But I had to share. I’ve experienced the despair and hopelessness, but I have been freed from them.  A miracle. Totally His miracle. So if all I can do is share that reason and that hope with others, I will:) Always. A hundred times. It’s what makes this journey worth it.

Love to you all,
Christina

72 thoughts on “Update Eighty

  1. You shine beautifully, my dear daughter. I am so proud of you and so pleased to be your mom. Your two “boys”, Doug and Isaiah, will be well cared for–first by their Shepherd and then by the loving community He has provided. I love you.

    • Hello, I’m Kim and Joe Sutton’s neice. She gave me Christina’s book to read last summer. My husband has been through a lot of what Christina has gone through. He was even at UW hospital when the brain tumors started 21 years ago. All of my husbands brain tumors have been benign, but we never know what that next MRI will show. He has had to go through several surgeries, and radiation treatments also.

      I just wanted to say Thank you Christina for showing us how good our God truly is, and if we just put our faith and trust in him, we will come out of all of this VICTORIOUS!!!

      May God Bless you and give you and your two boys (I have three, hubby plus two boys) the peace that surpasses all understanding. Even though I have never met you, I have read your book and have been praying for you, and hugging you from afar.

      God Bless from Oregon…Shelly Bighill

  2. You are a courageous woman Christina, and such an inspiration to me. I’m so grateful that you are sharing your journey. I send my love to you and your wonderful family.

  3. Dear dear Christina…I love your heart so much! and love your God who is so amazing! I will want to be rereading this for a long long time:). Thank you for shining Jesus’ light so brightly!

  4. Beautifully written, sweet friend! Absolutely beautiful!! The light of Jesus shines brightly through you. Thank you for sharing your heart. I LOVE your heart! :-)

  5. Christina – I just met you a couple of minutes ago, reading update 80. Isn’t it amazing that despite the brevity of our relationship – practically non-existant – I can receive so much from you. In your words are hope and peace that are not natural for someone going through so much, so it speaks volumes to me of the nearness of Christ, as He is able to bring you such composure and trust; He certainly transcends the “natural” doesn’t he. I feel so thankful to Jesus for being there for you, for gracefully preparing your heart to accept what He has for you, and to you for so eloquently expressing the love you are experiencing so deeply. It is very uplifting as I plow through my daily grind, and it so inspires me to reach out and do what I can to help others embrace a savior so available and so in love with us. I am very grateful to you for this. I suspect I am going a little long here, but what I would like to give back to you concerns your concern for your colossal husband and beautiful son. If it would be alright, I would like to pray for them during my morning devotions. I suspect the three of you are all blessed by each other. Isn’t it wonderful to know that those blessings will never cease! Thanks again Christina. I hope this wasn’t too odd, coming from a stranger and all.

    • Everything that’s been said above I just experienced and now feel as well. Saw your post through Jessica O’Donel’s Facebook page. Thank you for your strength and making a difference in my life and family today. We are with you and yours.
      – Veal / Brisebois of Chicago, IL

  6. i am always humbled and inspired at how you are allowing the Lord to use your life and moreover, how transparently you have shared your journey with us. thank you. i am learning from you and praying for you constantly.

  7. Wow… I’ve been out of the loop for awhile and it breaks my heart to read what you’re going through (I did tear up). But what an amazing testimony of the comfort Jesus provides to those who trust in Him. You are a gift of inspiration and hope from God to those He brings in contact with you. Amazing…

  8. You have opened a window to an eternal perspective. The brightness, the hope, and the joyful expectations are seen just a bit more clearly through your peace. As our world seems increasing more dark, your wisdom gives me the clarity I was needing. Because you’ve shared your heart, you will live in our hearts. God bless you Christina, for opening this heavenly window as well as your amazing heart.

  9. Words can not describe the gift that you give all of us as we read your words Christina. May my two favorite guys and I remember when true peace and love comes from. You are beautiful Christina.

  10. Love your transparency and the light that shines through your life even through the most difficult circumstances. We are here for you and will always be here for your family!! You are loved!! Constantly in my thoughts and prayers! God is in control.

  11. I stumbled upon your blog through a friend. As I read I worshipped our God who can do THIS in a frail fallen human heart. And now I’ll pray; that His glory will be in, and shine out through each of you in a way that will move many hearts to worship.

  12. Dear Christina
    Your beauty will never leave us.
    I met you unfortunately only few times in my life but you left a mark
    Love you and God be with all of us

  13. Thank you Christina for sharing your words of hope, faith and love. You have touched my heart, and I have been sharing your journey with our prayer team here in Orlando. When you see Jesus face to face, give him a hug from me. In the meantime embrace life as you know it today, for tomorrow is His for all of us. God bless you and the family.

  14. Thank you for writing and sharing from your heart! So beautifully written! Beauty and grace radiates from your life and words! Blessed by your beautiful spirit!

  15. Teena… For the past 6 years your story and words have humbled and inspired me, and never more so than the last 3 1/2 weeks. I know we hardly know each other anymore, so I feel I have no right to take comfort FROM you, at this time of all times… But I have, and continue to do so. I can only pray to be able to be a blessing to you and your family in some way, now or in the future.

  16. I was just sitting here remembering almost 6 years ago when we decided to start your updates to share with close friends and family your heart, health, and tumor humor.
    Now I sit here in awe of our AMAZING father God who has changed the world of thousands of people (i’m sure of that cause I myself can think of at least a hundred) through his grace, & provision and your faithfulness.
    The eternal is now and all around and I can vouch for the never ending, unexplainable peace, joy, comfort, and truth that HE is speaking into your heart and the hearts of all of us who love you more than words can express.
    I can picture you so full of light and as the song Cielo says, “breathing in and out HIS grace….so my sister….” I can’t sing loud enough, bow low enough, or lift my hands high enough when I’m reaching for my GOD.”
    I will treasure every moment I have with your here on earth and look forward to our adventures in eternity.

    Yuv you!!!!!! Linsey

  17. You came to talk at OCS several years ago. I thought about what you said frequently over the years. You impressed me, inspired me, and confused me. You are so positive and sweet. I don’t know you personally, but you have influenced my life. Then Ms. Eastwood told me about your current situation, and that you married into the Nevill family who I have known for many years. I suppose all I can say is that I feel deeply for all involved, and that you continue to confuse and inspire me. You make me think deeply, and make me hope that someday I will understand what you are talking about. Thank you so much for speaking to my soul. That is not easily accomplished.

  18. Christina, I just read your ‘Update 80′ via Becky’s FB post, and I’m feeling the need to hug you.
    Warm wishes,
    Kristy

  19. Beautiful….your life has and is touching so many, who is more Him or us…of course Him…for it is only through our relationship with Jesus do we really live. You are a shinning example of living each and every moment of every day to the very fullest for our lives really are very brief. I finished your book in one day, could not go to sleep until I had finished the very last of it. I am passing it on to Jenny, as she faces her own struggles, though not as difficult as yours has been, but yet a challange. Thank you for sharing…His eye is on the sparrow…every day I see the small birds out in the yard, and you come to mind…a time to stop and say thank you Lord for Christina and her family, may this day be a beautiful day of peace and love for them all…..

  20. Dear Christina,

    I am so blest to be able to read the thots you have shared…Thank you!!! We are praying so much for you and your family and for everyone who loves you..Your story is truly God’s Miracle..leaving us Hope and encouragement … in Christ alone…giving us courage
    May each day continue to be extra ordinary in every single way…we are praying!!! love, janice and charlie too

  21. Your journey continues to touch hearts far beyond those whom you know. While it’s not the journey we would choose for you, Doug and Isaiah, I love the way God is using all of you to show His power, His peace and how His family cares for one another. Much love and many prayers, precious ones.

  22. Your openness continues to amaze me, as does your beauty. Every time I see you or see a picture of you, you are glowing! I keep asking myself how that is even possible but, as I read your post I got my answer:) You are glowing with the peace that passes all understanding. You are a truly beautiful women Christina, inside and out:) I love you with all of my heart sweet friend!
    Love, Laura

  23. Thank you, Christina, for sharing your beautiful thankful, joyful, hopeful heart. You have touched my life so much more deeply than words can tell. You and your family have been held up continuously in my prayers. Your story is never-ending and will be used for His glory as it is so evident His glory abides in you. I can tell…you are well in your soul. Bless you, dear one. May you continue to dwell in His presence. Much love to you and your family.

  24. Sweet Christina, you’re honest, open sharing during your journey has touched so many lives! I love your courage, your faith and your hope in things yet unseen. Know that prayers for you and your sweet family are being lifted around the globe and that, through you, He WILL be glorified!

  25. Tina,

    Your words continue to be divinely inspired and LIFE giving. Convicting, yet completely joy-filled. You are one of a kind. You are an ordinary, fun-loving girl that met impossible odds and choose to walk with Jesus every step of the way. The simplicity of your love for Jesus is what is so beautiful and so inspiring. Oh, if I could only have a fraction of the adoration you have for our Lord. You are a hero. And you are touching and changing so many people’s live through this crazy journey…and you know this is just the beginning. You will have a legacy of LOVE that will follow everywhere you have laid down roots. I love you friend!

  26. Trite? Your comments and thoughts have never been trite. You are the embodiment of grace. Thank you for being open enough to share with us and being open to God’s leading. I know you know that there are many people praying for you and your family. That brings us all to a closer relationship with God.

  27. Dear one, my prayers are with you and your family. How precious and sweet are His beloved children and you,dear one are so filled with His grace. Thank you for sharing your story, you have blessed so many.

  28. Oh how I love you, Christina! The truth you live is simply stunning, and how you express your heart through written word is a gift from God.
    Thank you Lord for blessing us with your precious Christina..

  29. Thank you for sharing with all of us. You are a beautiful woman of God, strong and courageous. You and your family are in my prayers.

  30. Christina,
    Your mom and I are old friends form high school and I have followed your journey through her.

    There aren’t words enough to express the beautiful life you show us everyday. I wish I had the strength of faith you possess.
    You have shown us all what that really means and your example is a great teacher for us all.

    I celebrate your happiness and laughter and feel your moments of grief.
    You are truly a child of God.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your wonderful family everyday.

    Much love to you.

  31. Dearest Christina…
    I don’t know that we’ve ever met face-to-face, but your eloquent words are redolent with the sweet perfume and spirit of Christ. As your sister in Christ, I pray that God may continue to cradle you in His arms, as you do your sweet Isaiah, and comfort you (and your “boys”) in your hours of need. That you will feel His presence by your side, and His hand in yours, when He says it’s time for you to go Home. That Doug and Isaiah will be comforted by Him in their hours of bittersweet grief…and that they will experience His peace, also. I stand the gap with you in prayer…you, Doug, Isaiah, your close family and friends. May He pour His healing Spirit down on all of you. In the precious and holy name of Jesus Christ I pray…amen.

  32. Chirstina-
    Thank you so much. You are so real, and honest, and the beauty and grace that God has given you shines through so clearly. This is as real as it gets… where the rubber meets the road; most of us would feel that we had every right to be angry and confused with God. Yet here you are, filled with peace, thankfulness and joy. I’m not sure how you do it, but it is such an amazing testimony. You have truly touched my heart deeper than I can express, and I just want to thank you for sharing. We are praying… so hard. You are a beautiful example of what it means to trust, and give yourself over completely to God. I know that throughout all of this, His name will be glorified. It’s thanks to you, for letting him speak through you and your amazing family.

  33. There is no greater gift you can give those who love you than your faith. I know this well; we lost the father of my 3- and 6-year-old to heart failure the day after Thanksgiving; that is the greatest gift he gave to us.

    One of the strongest, most joy-filled women of faith I’ve ever met lost her husband (to heart failure) and her oldest son (to cancer) within 24 hours of each other about two years ago. The other week she told me this: “Just think: In the blink of an eye, we’ll all be together again.” I love that. :)

    Please tell your hubby: If you need more folks in your childcare pool – even months down the line – add me. Pastor Gary and Patty Smith can vouch for me.

    God bless you and your sweet family!

    -Charity Feb

  34. Wow…I have not had a chance to read the previous 79 Updates, but #80 was very powerful. What an incredibly strong woman you are, with the help of so many around you, and of course our one and only Savior.

    My mother passed away two weeks ago (cancer) and she was too young as well. Reading your words and hearing your faith reinforced the idea that my mother, with the help of Jesus Christ, is doing just fine. She’s probably hanging out with some family members in heaven. Your words reminded me that my mother was also not afraid of death.

    That is peace of mind from a son who’s trying to mentally rejoice a little more each day.

    My wife and I will be thinking of you. Thank you for sharing Christina.

    Hazen H.
    Portland, OR

  35. I have to write again. I’m struggling with rebellion and weariness today, and my mind just keeps coming back to you. What must *you* be struggling with today? Just … thank you. Turning my thoughts towards prayers for the sweetest of times, right now, for you and your family.

  36. Jeff Hunt posted this on Facebook and I thought I would take a look. Wanted to let you know that I nearly wept reading your beautiful words. I’ve never met you but will continue to pray for you, your husband, your son, and your friends and family. Grace, peace, and prayer for a miracle.

    In Christ,

    Matt

  37. My mom (Penny Hooker) has been giving me updates and for the past few weeks I keep having Jeremiah 29:11 going through my head:
    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
    I feel this is not only for Doug and Isaiah but also for you. It never matters how long or how little your Earthly future is, God wants to prosper you and give you hope in all the moments you have. You are living that hope and giving hope to so many other people by sharing how God is blessing you through all of this.

  38. Hi Christina,
    I heard of your life story (blog) through a mutual friend, Jenny Rose. I just want to say thank you for writing this update. It spoke deeply to me that I really can’t express in words. My mom too will be seeing Jesus soon as she has been battling breast cancer since 2006. It progressed to her lungs in 08 and now in her brain since 11. I am so very blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my mom…which I feel makes this journey that much more painful. We are close and it’s hard to see her go through this and there is nothing I can do. After reading your post, I do take comfort in all of this as I see a glimpse of what my mom must be feeling/thinking..through your words. So I am thankful for your honesty and openness in this journey you & your family are on. There is such a conflict in this journey both comfort and pain, joy and sadness, laughter and anger. And yet, so was the cross! How could such suffering bring joy, nailed to a cross bring freedom, bruising and blood bring purity and spotlessness. Such a conflict and yet they go together in a beautiful woven tapestry of God’s overwhelming love. I will be praying for you & your family as you continue this journey.
    Love,
    June

  39. Thank you for sharing Christina. I am praying for you and loving your joyful and peaceful outlook! What a blessing.

  40. Christina,

    I first learned of your health struggles through a class email from Alair. Now I see this on Facebook. My heart is heavy with grief for your husband, son and family but also so thankful and joyful for the experiences God has given you; your gifts (especially of music); and your obvious ministry to so many through this journey God has taken you through.

    Thank you for the reminder to take nothing for granted, to love those about you deeply, and live a joyful life with thanksgiving, no matter the circumstances. You are a beautiful vessel of His grace. I look forward to making music with you again some day in worship of our King.

  41. You are a truly amazing young lady and what a shining testimony. I hope if the Lord brings me to a place such as this that I will have the courage and strength that you have shown. I hope you don’t mind that I shared with Friendship Baptist Church of Prosser. I just want people to be encouraged and more people to lift you and your precious family to the Lord in prayer.

  42. Christina your Faith is precious to see in your life. Thanks for sharing your heart to us all. Our Saviour is shining through you and He must be proud !! Praying for you and your family and for Gods Peace.

  43. Christina you are a wonderful Godly woman! Your strength and faith is such a encouragement to all who know you. You Doug and Issac are such a beautiful family! We continue to pray for you and your wonderful family and want you to know we love you! Thank you for sharing your heart.

  44. Christina,
    It’s been so long … We were in Clark K together. I now have a husband and child of my own and cannot imagine the pain of what you and your precious family are going through.
    Thank you for posting … For being a light in darkness … For reminding me/us of the LIFE that awaits.
    I praise God for you. Bless you on the journey.
    Leigh (Matthews)

  45. Like Marisa, I also heard you speak at OCS several years back. Several friends posted your blog update and I was able to finally read it this morning. Thank you for being so transparent through this journey. Your “no fear” conviction brought me to tears–I finally realized that there are so many things in life that I avoid or hide from, merely because I am afraid of pain. Through your story, God began transforming my life again today.

    May God continue to bless you and your family richly, as He already has.

  46. Thank you for the outpouring of your life. My heart has been fed and reminded of what He needed me to have this morning through your life example. The road has been so long and hard but the joy has been ever more real. I’ve been fainting under it for the last couple of days but reading your words have brought me peace. May He carry you sweetly in His arms these last couple of earthly steps you take. Love to you

  47. You are a bright light in a dark world! Thank you for glorifying Him above all and trusting in his sovereignty. You turned this “woe is me” attitude today into an attitude of thanksgiving and worship. Thank you so much for your testimony.

  48. Stina!!! I have tears in my eyes as I read this – for your grief and pain and sadness, but also for the incredible way you reflect God’s hope and love and grace and relentless steadfastness. You are a warrior, my friend, and you have so many people fighting for you. You are loved and you are not alone!

    love you!

  49. Thank you for your faithfulness and willingness to share your journey of faith and trials with us! What an encouragement to all of us. May God’s love and comfort surround you and your family as you near the finish line.

  50. You are in good hands (God’s hands) Christina. Your words will be an ongoing Witness forever and ever to those whom God chooses to hear/read them. Thank you for God for the life and wisdom of Christina. Sending you and your family my love.

  51. It has been my privilege to love you and your family. Thank you for showing us courage, openness, and truth. My prayer continues for each of you.

  52. Christina,

    I haven been following your journey since we met about 8 years ago and through your updates and amazing book. Your healing hands of massage were always something I looked forward to. You are a special person and one that I will never forget. Your journey of faith and courage will forever make you a hero to me. My prayers are with you and your beautiful family.

  53. Thank you for taking the time & effort to share your story. I am sitting here at work trying to control the tears (shoulda waited til I got home..) and am full of conviction and renewed hope for my own struggles with chronic pain. Thank you for your strong faith and courage. You’ve given me strength to not be consumed by fear of the unknown and you remind me of who holds our future in his hands.

  54. I just read this post through Alair’s Westmont email update. I didn’t really know you at Westmont, but my eyes are full of tears reading your blog post. I too had a baby last year, and I grieve for your husband and son. Know that they will be lifted up by the prayers of a myriad of people, including some, like myself, who’ve never even met them. Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing from your heart. It’s so easy to forget what life is really all about, and your experience and your words cut to the core. May you continue to be overwhelmed with God’s peace as he carries you home.

  55. Dear Christina,

    I have never met you, but I had the blessing of having your mom come into my life via Colorado Suzuki Institute about 10 years ago. I am so grateful for the way in which you both live and share your lives – the struggles, the joys, the pain, the peace, the prayers, the faith. I learn so much from you, and gain such needed perspective when I read your posts, or hear updates. Thank you again and again. My prayers are with you all.

  56. I don’t know you, a friend of mine told me about you since my brother just passed and your blog, your thoughts during such a difficult time in terms of processing it all is inspiring. I truly pray that I would come to the end of my life on earth with such courage and faith above all else. God bless you and peace be with your soul and your entire family in Jesus name!!!!! You will see His face soon and He will bless you for Jesus is coming soon anyway and you just have a head start:)

  57. Christina,

    You most definitely display the fruits of the Spirit. I went through what I would call a ‘crisis of faith’ in a recent season, and your words encouraged me and brought me back to God’s embrace, right where I needed to be. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your heart. May God bring you peacefully into His loving arms. I’m praying for you and your loved ones.

  58. We don’t know you, Christina, but our daughter, Kristen, is one of Jesse’s cello students in Montana. We are Christians and have been praying for you and your family. I finished your book this morning. May we all learn that God is enough!

  59. Christina,

    I just read your story and I have to say you are a wonderful inspiration. I struggle with simple pain and obstacles through life and fear the things that could happen. (Had a difficult life and events thus far) But your faith and commitment to God is such a huge eye opener to me. You and your family will be in my prayers. May God continue to give you peace through this difficult time.

    Lisa

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