Chapter 12 Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood
Fear is not my future
You are You are
Sickness is not my story
You are You are
Heartbreak’s not my home
You are You are
Death is not the end
You are You are
Let Him turn it in your favor
Watch Him work it for your good
He’s not done with what He’s started
He’s not done until it’s good
By Brandon Lake | Hannah Shackelford | Jonathan Jay | Kirk Franklin | Nicole Hannel
We moved ahead of Gary getting a job, praying he would soon be transferred. I wanted our children to experience activities we could have homeschooling in town. I felt deep in my heart Gary would get a transfer soon. Caring for two homes proved to be very difficult and, even more challenging, was being separated from Gary for half of each week. Fortunately, six months after we bought our townhouse, Gary did get a transfer to his dream job. Twelve years in power plants was longer than he anticipated, but we saw how God wanted us to have the privilege of living in the wilderness with amazing people and the blessings it gave us, especially growing close as a family.
Gary was to start his job in December with our final move of all our belongings at the end of November. In the spring, we learned my Grandma Bernice had breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones. She was ridden with cancer but, even at 90 years of age, still had a deep desire to live and chose to have surgery and radiation. We put Shawn and Taylor in a small Christian school to help during this complicated transition time of combining two houses and visiting my grandmother. Gary’s family helped support us by getting our older boys to school and caring for them when he was working and I was gone. I took Bethany and Drew to Seattle with me and spent a week in September in the hospital with my grandma for her radiation treatments while my mom took care of the younger two children in Seattle.
Grandma still didn’t know what to do with God and seemed to live in fear of death because of that. I read the Psalms to her from the Gideon’s Bible in her room and prayed constantly for Jesus to give her peace. She was in so much pain and I ached like a mother for her. Despite the pain, we had amazing talks about her past and hopes and dreams for us. I saw a part of her introverted heart she had never opened to me. She loved her grandkids like her own. I loved her like a mother. God had used her in so many ways to teach me about hospitality, hard work, cooking, sewing and mostly kindness and I marveled at how he worked through her even though she did not fully trust him. Her nurturing heart was what God used to build likewise in my heart.
My week with her came and went like a soft sad warm breeze and I left concerned for my grandma’s spirit. I hated going back to Idaho in her state but my children and husband needed me. Just prior to her hospitalization, my dad and step-mom had moved her into an apartment below theirs. She went home from the hospital after I left and continued to get worse. The cancer was winning the battle but it did not win the war.
Hospice came and a wonderful nurse, Millie, sat by her bed often through October and into November always assuring her of God’s love and directing her to the Comforter. In early November, Millie called and said Grandma wanted me to know she had surrendered her life to Jesus. She handed the phone to my sick Grandma and with tears of joy, I heard her whisper how much she loved Jesus and loved me. She said she was really at peace with whatever Jesus wanted to do with her broken body. (I wrote about this in detail in another blog – Grandma’s Last Legacy: Perfect Love Banishes Fear)
Getting off the phone, I ran into the bathroom so no one could hear me. Tears from a deep emotion in the pit of my spirit came out. I had never before felt such sorrow realizing I would not see my grandma again on earth and also at the same time experience an immense joy knowing I would see her in Heaven. I couldn’t reconcile the two emotions together. I so ached to hold her and as the days wore on, I longed to be with her in the unity of the Spirit of Christ. I wanted to see the new Grandma but my responsibilities at home tugged at my heart. Millie called me a few days later and said she wasn’t going to make it much longer and she shared a great miracle that happened. Since Grandma had accepted Jesus, she had needed no morphine and was pain free, unheard of with bone cancer.
My sister, Carolyn flew to be with Grandma her last night on earth. Early on the morning of November 14th, soon after my sister arrived to say goodbye, Grandma went peacefully to be with Jesus. Answering my phone early that morning I heard only sobs from my sweet sister’s broken heart. I got off the phone, crying, but this time with a peace that God gave me knowing without a doubt I would see her again. This whole experience God would use to remind me that the sharp shearing pain of loss would be comforted.
After the funeral we settled back into unpacking boxes to finish our move and try to help our boys adapt to their school, when we realized all the uprising in our lives had been too much for Taylor. He had moved and lost his best friends, his great grandma, and was being torn from our family each day on a forty-five-minute bus trip to a school filled with strangers. He cried in the morning, cried at school, and cried when he got home. Over Christmas break Gary and I decided to let Shawn finish the school year there and bring Taylor home. At home, he began to thrive and once again we began to see the happy energetic boy we had known in Oxbow. As we look back on it now, we see God put this need in Taylor so we could have more time with him.
Taylor’s second grade year and Shawn’s fifth grade year we decided to homeschool all the boys again. Our family needed each other. Drew was starting Kindergarten and, from watching his brothers learn to read, already knew how to read when I put a book in front of him. He was so funny when I tried to sound out the words. “Mommy, I already know what this says.” He read the whole book to me!
Moving to the city didn’t remove my fears. There were more “stranger dangers” to deal with. Snakes and rivers seemed more under God’s control to a paranoid mom than the people in the world. Our townhouse was on a creek, and I had to deal with more water fears. I was trying to protect my kids from everything from germs to the kidnappers and becoming a nervous wreck. Time studying fear was obviously what I needed.
Digging deeper into the Bible, I read 1 John 14:8 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” In other words, if I truly believed God loved our family and I truly loved God, I needed to trust him and his perfect love to care for our family. I recognized I wasn’t making his love perfect in my heart. At this same time, we were seeing Taylor’s passion to explore and make life happen and happen fast. I could see that my attempts to protect him were going to cause him to be a terribly frustrated young man and I had to start picking my battles to keep from breaking his spirit.
Some of our favorite memories made in that home were on the creek and it became a tool God used help me trust him for my children’s safety. I had the kids bring drawing paper and Ziploc bags on our daily late morning walks. They were instructed to draw, write about, or collect something that God made. Their collections of drawings, pressed flowers, and short sentences were kept in three-ring binders that I still have to this day. Shawn was ten, Taylor seven, Drew five and Bethany three when we had one of our greatest homeschooling years. I had begun to let fear go, even to the point of allowing Shawn and Taylor go to the creek alone quite often. The reward was in seeing my children flourishing in trust and freedom.
My new drive to homeschool them was not out of fear but out of the joy of seeing them learn and being with them. It brought a bond to our family that I would one day realize was a very special gift from God for us to have to remember always.