Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

19

Nineteen days,  who knew that nineteen days would ever come to be so meaningful to me. I am not going to digress to the back story that builds the significance of these days.  You can get a sense of the whole journey here.  It represents the realization of on incredible Miracle in our lives and the beginnings of another.  Day 1 will forever be a joyous day.  We will celebrate the birth of Nisa Faith year after year.  Day 1 is the culmination of nine months of a melange of concern, faith, fear, trust and surrender.  It was a day of arrival, of life, of completion.  It was a day of overt blessing.  December 16th of 2012 was a joyous day.  What Allana and I did not know, what we could not have known was that it was a day of provision, a day of strength given.  I would be lying if I said that I sat at this computer with a solid thesis or a planned allegory.  The reality is that when I wrote this it was my first opportunity to truly experience and embrace the nineteen days.  When they occurred they were simply another nineteen days in the Christmas season and in 2013 we were still too deeply embroiled the Allana’s battle against Leukemia and the recovery from the Bone Marrow Transplant for me to experience them the way that I did as I was writing.  Now, five years out we sit at a new crossroads.  We have moved from sickness to health and out of the ashes of cancer God is teaching truths of life and ministry that are new every day.

Day 1 was not without its difficulties, ask any mother and she will tell you that this particular joy comes with its own brand of pain.  Two dear friends who were expecting when I originally posted these thoughts, engaged in a tongue-in-cheek argument on Facebook concerning any man’s ability to truly conceive of the trials and eventual pains of pregnancy and birth.  I do not even pretend (or desire) to really understand, preferring to stand by Allana’s side than in her place for this particular event.  Chayla’s birth was a stroll in the park, Nisa’s was more like a kick in the gut and then a short sprint to the finish line (a race in which Nisa beat our doctor and surprised our nurse).  Still, there she was, perfect, beautiful, a miracle from the hand of God.  We basked in the joy of the now.  We knew it was day one, but not that there were only 18 days left to this paragraph of our lives.

The frenzy of the night (Nisa was born at 9:40 pm) and the flush of the first day gives way to a wash of relief. The tensions of the past nine months; the fear at each ultrasound appointment; the waiting for the pronouncement that a new cycle of loss and grief would begin; they all fall away.Nisa Day 2

We joyfully prepare to bring Nisa home.  I am not sure that my words can express Day 2 any better than the twinkle in Allana’s eyes.  This Christmas gift is probably the best that we have ever received.  The whole family rejoices at the absence of that fateful “talk” with Robert, Sami and Chayla.  Each of us in our own way process the losses of the past in the joyous light of Nisa’s arrival.  We cannot help think of the siblings in heaven, from the Crashing resonation of Josiah’s passing to the unheralded passing of Ezra Matthew.   Day 2 becomes about rest, enjoyment and blessing.  The gathering storm is still beyond the horizon.  There is no sense of the deadly changes perhaps just beginning to take place.  Still what would come does not erase the joy and peace of Day 2.  It only serves to highlight it and to make me more thankful for God’s grace than ever.

NisaHome

 

 

The frenzied posting, calling and emailing is over.  Nisa Faith has been announced to the world.  As we approached the day that we celebrate our Saviors birth, we finally get to truly celebrate Nisa’s coming.

D. A. Precious: And those cheeks! I’m so happy for you!
December 19, 2012 at 1:48am · Like

Allana Belrose Guidry: I know. They are getting lots of kisses
December 19, 2012 at 1:54am · Like · 2

Nisa’s cheeks are getting a lot of kisses.  Allana is feeling a little more tired than usual….but then she just had a baby and she is not as young as she used to be.

We were prepared for all of the life changes that a newborn brings.  Bassinet, Pack n Play, bottles, formula, car seat, diapers etc….  What we did not know was that God had also prepared us for the changes that most likely even on this day six years ago were beginning to take place in the depths of Allana’s bones (weird to type that and not mean it metaphorically).  Eleven years of growth through struggle as a family, as individuals and as children of the Living God was about to be tested in a way that we had not imagined even in our wildest nightmares.  Still even as we were prepared for Nisa’s arrival, God had prepared us for that which we could not have even begun to be ready for.  So many crossroads where God directed what seemed the long and windy path.  It seemed so foolish, as foolish as buying diapers and preparing a nursery for a baby that would never come.

Nisa was here, and the long and windy path would soon be clear.

 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

The frenzy of birth fades in the light of our celebration of our Saviors arrival on the scene.  These days are filled with wonderful preparation and quiet enjoyment (with little sleep).  We are blessed by the generosity of so many of you who will read this, as we were suddenly and unexpectedly blessed this year.  Then as now I don’t know why I am surprised when I pray for provision and it comes in abundance.  Presents are wrapped as Nisa is loved and coddled by so many.  The preparations made over the previous month are in full use now.  Allana is enjoying her Christmas blessing, drinking in Nisa’s presence having desired this particular beverage for so very long.

She wakes on Day 7, a little sore, her throat a bit raspy and maybe just a touch of fever.  Not to worry, she did just give birth and the crazy weather is enough to make anyone a bit….

The preparations made over a lifetime by an all knowing God are about to be tested.  Quiet joy and praises rise from home and ministry wrapped in one.  So much has been put on hold as we waited for Nisa.  We are already making plans for the Spring and Summer, mapping out what our lives and ministry will look like.  We did not know that in less than two weeks everything would change, but God had been molding us into “change managers” for some time.  Early in our journey to full-time ministry when I had left the Hospitality industry God had given me a word that I would only know what I would be doing and how we would be living 30 days at a time.  It was frustrating and difficult but it prepared me for the runaway train ride that was coming.

The fevers worsened.  We moved through Christmas and towards the New Year.  Sore throat spread to body aches and stomach pain.  These days so close to the day that everything changed are barely a blur in my memory.  I can remember little of what happened outside of the progression of the illness that we didn’t even know was there.  Even with the fevers and discomfort there was a blissful ignorance as to the journey that we were being called to embark on.  Just to put the whole piece into perspective, Nisa was born at 9:40 pm on December 16th.  The 17th is day one and we move on from there.  So we are looking at December 25th through January 1st.  As I review the various posts on Facebook I see faces of joy and innocence.  The fevers are a footnote to the joy of the season made even more joyful by the arrival of our miracle baby.  Allana even downplays the intensity of the fevers putting them at 102. By the night of the 31st they are spiking between 104 and 106, or maybe not wanting to worry her too much I fudge the numbers a little, I do not really remember..  A trip to the ER is only forestalled by the fact that the Ibuprofen is knocking them down into safer territory.  Still by New Years Day it was enough.  We called Allana’s OB office.  The doctor on call prescribes a heavy duty antibiotic and some anti nausea medicine to mitigate the side effects.  We start it right away, but of course she does not get better.  By January 2nd Allana is very sick.  The pain in her belly has gotten much worse.  We suspect a postpartum infection but don’t understand why the antibiotics do not help.  January 3rd is a Thursday.  We arrive at the OB office at 10:00 am and are ushered in to the examining room.  Our Nurse Practitioner listens patiently to the story, but as the physical exam progresses her demeanor changes.  There is an urgency to her motions as she feels the abnormal swelling in Allana’s belly, the tenderness and lumps at her joints.  I can feel my apprehension risings, but still there are so many pills, shots, treatments…a quick fix is in order…

“I have called the Flower Hospital, they are expecting her.”  What…we need to get some tests… “No we are admitting her.”  We have plans can it wait until Monday… “No, I want you there within 2 hours, go home settle the children and pick up what you need.  Once you are there they will begin running tests to see what is going on.”

FlowerJan3Well if you have to be in a hospital you might as well have a beautiful view and a beautiful woman to share it with.

It was only shortly after this picture was taken that I would hear the word “Leukemia” for the first time, mixed in with a couple of other potential causes for Allana’s test results.  If the fevers were the relentless clacking as the rollercoaster climbs the first rise, then this was the ominous pause before the first drop.  The ride would not stop for almost a year.  However while the emotions and physical aspects rode the speeding rails, God remained rock solid and faithful.  The outpouring of love from God’s people was incredible.  Even in the midst of the myriad of “spiritual” advisers who decried our lack of faith for continuing treatment or saw this as a sign of trouble in our walk with God; His love overwhelmed us. “Traveling deeper and deeper.  Closer closer to God”  Allana’s words would ring with truth in a way that neither of us could ever imagine.  Deeper and Deeper. Closer, closer to God…there was no where else to go.

I am going to follow this up with more posts around The Nineteen Days.  I too often forget to lead with the fact that Allana came through treatment well and has been cancer free for over 5 years now.  While we have weathered short forays into ministry together through the past years,  we are again engaged together in His service.  Grandchildren have come.  Children have grown, married, prepared for High School and College.  Nisa turned 6 today.  We walk the Hupomone road following His guidance and blessing.  We are so thankful for all of those who have held us when we were weak and walked with us as we have traveled.

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Greetings Family and Friends,

WOW! What a year of change it has been for these Guidry’s (and our BowmanJ)…

EMILY – Emily Rose Bowman came to live with us in June 2009. Her mom was having a hard time and needed us to care for Emily. She came into our world at such a hard time (Sam lost his job, Allana miscarried baby #9, we lost our house and had to move in with Allana’s mom, which meant we lost our church family and had to start completely all over again… all within 6wks of Emily moving in with us, wow that is a lot to go through all at once as a 14 year old girl!). Though it was a whirlwind of change for all of us, Emily quickly became a blessing to us, and we found that her smile lit up our lives and she brought much needed laughter to our family!

JOB LOSS & MOVE– Sam’s restaurant closed in July 2009 and he has since then been unemployed. August 2009 we move in with Allana’s mom and brother in Adrian, MI.

COMPELLED CHURCH – We started attending Compelled Church in September 2009.  It quickly became home for all of us, (except Chayla, it took her quite a while to let anyone be her friend, feeling it would betray her Canton friends). We all have found so many ministries to be a part of.  The first thing we did was join the Greeting Team in October 2009; it was a GREAT way for us, as new members, to meet people at the church. Sam has taught twice for Wednesday night small groups (and has been asked again for the small groups starting up this winter). Monday nights he is a youth leader at EVERFREE, and he is the leader of WITHOUT WALLS (our youth outreach team). Sam attends a Men’s Bible Study on Thursday mornings. Allana joined the worship team in May. In June she led a dance class during VBS (Vacation Bible School) for 300 kids.  Allana became the director of SHINE (Kid’s Choir) in November. She also became the Women’s Local Outreach Team Leader in early December and she attends a Women’s Bible Study on Monday mornings. Emily and Robert are both very involved with EVERFREE on Monday nights, the youth small groups on Wednesday nights, and the WITHOUT WALLS team. Emily is on the youth worship team and Robert is on the youth media team. Emily helps out once a month in the preschool class on Saturday nights and Robert helps out twice a month in the kid’s chapel on Saturday nights.  Samantha and Chayla are doing JBQ (JR Bible Quiz) this year. Both girls are a part of SHINE.

THE LEWIS HOUSE – TLH is an urban community outreach ministry in Toledo, OH. It’s about taking the troubled 14 year old boy across the street out fishing. It’s about helping a single mom with her kids. It’s about helping the widow down the street with her yard work. It’s about doing community dinners on Thursday nights, BBQ’s in the summer, a community garden, Sidewalk Sunday School, Christmas parties, and starting the only Toledo 4H group… anything to get to know neighbors and befriend them. We heard about The Lewis House and checked it out in October 2009. In June, as a family, we lived at TLH for a month long local mission trip. We quickly found that their vision was the same one that God was laying on our hearts. All 6 of us fell in love with the neighborhood and the heart of TLH. And look forward to being even more involved in the coming year!

JOHN AND JULIE’S WEDDING – April 10th, a beautiful  day in Minnesota, we were able to attend the wedding of John (Sam’s oldest) and his lovely bride, Julie. It was wonderful to officially welcome Julie into the Guidry family J  Robert was JR Groomsmen, Samantha was JR Bridesmaid and Chayla was the Flower Girl. It was such a special event!

35 DAY ROAD TRIP – We drove from Michigan to Minnesota to visit Sam’s sister, Beth & her family and John & Julie. Some highlights were lots of tubing/boating trips, going to the Zoo, seeing the Mall of America, a Guidry family outreach at “The Healing House” (a rehab for mothers and their children), not to mention the many games of badminton and Ping-Pong.  From Minnesota we drove to South Dakota to see the Badlands, Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills. From South Dakota we drove through Wyoming and onto Colorado to visit Sam’s sister, Lisa & her family. Some highlights were of course the BEAUTIFUL scenery of the Rocky Mountains, the Wiersma and the Guidry guys climbed a 14er, visiting two of Allana’s online friends (Diana and Rachel), going to Focus on the Family, seeing The Garden of the Gods, and going to Eldorado State Park. From Colorado we drove to Missouri to visit our friends, Bobby and Vanessa, we didn’t get much time with them, but it was nice to get hugs just the same.  Another highlight there was being able to visit friends, Derek and Rebecca and going to IHOP (International House of Prayer), wow was that totally awesome!!! From Missouri we drove to Tennessee and visited our dear friends, Jeff and Kim and their 3 boys. Highlights were a night of worship, going to the Zoo, and going to the Science Museum. From Tennessee we moved onto Indiana. We stayed with Pastor Bosworth and Debbie. The evenings often included Debbie whisking me away for the evening for just the two of us while Pastor and Sam hung with all the kiddos. Highlights were seeing Dan and Karen and their kids. From Indiana we came back to Michigan. It was such a wonderful time and we are SO very grateful for those who opened their home to us, without the Olson Family, the Wiersma Family, the Dronsella Family and the Bosworth Family, this trip would have been impossible and what memories we would have missed out on!! Thank you all!

Now a personal note from each of us…

CHAYLA – I am 7 years old. I am in 2nd grade. I like to play with Sami. My favorite color is purple. I love to color. I love to read. I asked God to help me read so that I could read His Word. Now I read really well. I can even read chapter books. I read the Bible a lot; I especially like reading the red letters in the Bible. My two favorite books are Winnie (a book series about a girl who likes horses and how she saves horses from being beaten), and FaithGirlz (a book series about girls living real life). I liked our big trip. And I especially love that I was a Flower Girl at John’s wedding. Now I have a sister-in-law named Julie, and I can’t wait to become an aunt (not that it will be anytime soon). I like that I am making new friends at church, even though I still miss my Canton friends. My best friends Jaida and Sarah threw me a surprise birthday party for all my Canton friends to attend, including my other best friend, Lindsay, because I was having a hard time fitting in at our new church.

SAMANTHA – I am 10 years old, finally a preteen. I am in 5th grade. My favorite color is Lime Green. I had a lot of fun this year spending time with family and friends. I was a JR bridesmaid for John and Julies wedding. I was really nervous and excited at the same time. It was a very long day, because we had to get up early to get our hair done and dressed for pictures before the wedding. Then we had the ceremony and then more pictures after it. The reception was fun. The food was good. I liked the big trip. We went so many places. We saw family and friends, some I haven’t seen in a really long time. I liked going to all the different places we went to and it was fun meeting my cousins’ friends. It was nice to be home and see my friends again and being back involved in my church. I had an awesome Thanksgiving, eating all kinds of yummy food.

ROBERT – I am 15. I am in the 9th grade. My favorite color is red. I love to read, write and have fun outside with my friends. My favorite food is ravioli. I enjoyed our big trip. I really liked climbing the 14er that we did. The Science Museum in Tennessee was cool. The drive was really cool being able to see so many different landscapes. The Arch Way to the West was really cool to see too. This year has been a year of growing closer to God. I love my church and our youth group. I have made some really great friends, and I fit in well there. The Lewis House is great. There is this kid there named Jake that I like to hang out with. I am one of the very few people Jake will talk to. He walks in the door and rushes to me and doesn’t leave my side. He has had a really hard life and he needs someone to care about him which he hasn’t found over the years. I am glad that he trusts me enough to be his friend. This has been the best year of my life even though my dad lost his job and things should be worse, things are better than they have ever been.

EMILY – I will be 16 in March.  I am excited to turn 16, really for no other reason other than I have waited to be 16 my whole life. I have a wide verity of friends. I love to read and write. I wrote a chapter for Fine Arts Competition. It was fun; I met a bunch of people from the youth group during our trip to Grand Rapids, MI. I liked going on the big trip, even though I was dreading it at first… being stuck in the car, being away from people I knew… but it was fun meeting so many people. My favorite part was tubing on the Mississippi River. I am excited about going to FL this summer for Great Grandma Carr’s 100th birthday (Sam’s grandma) and seeing all the new friends I met on our big trip, and meeting some that I haven’t met yet, like Uncle Paul who I hear is very funny!  Our youth group did “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” Christmas Play this year. I am friends with a lot of the cast members, so I was a VIP member and helped them get ready and hung out with them off stage; I also made a new best friend during the play. I am hoping to try out next year for the Christmas Play.

ALLANA – This year has been the best year ever! Though the circumstances we have gone through could have ripped our family to shreds and made our faith die, it has made us stronger. The heartache that started this new journey was very real… Sam losing his job, losing our house, losing our church, losing our friends, losing 6 years of our lives, lives that were left in devastation. This is what had to happen to make my dreams come true. Since I was 14 years old I wanted my life to be devoted to God and His work. Though through life it seemed that everywhere I turned there seemed to be road blocks that made this seem like an impossible dream. But now, now we are serving God as a family, doing ministry together as a family, living life stronger as a family than we ever have before. Our God is greater and our God is stronger and HE is ABLE to turn ALL things for HIS good when we trust Him! As you have heard of all the wonderful fun things we have done this year, I just have to take the time to say Thank You God, with tears in my eyes and sob in my throat, I am way beyond grateful for destroying us to rebuild us for YOUR WILL!

SAM – God has basically blown all of our lives up and put them back together in the way that he wants this year.  He has really put me in my place and prepared me to serve Him on His terms.  I have been unemployed for well over a year now.  It has been a humbling experience and a big lesson in relying on God.  Through a series of events and influences in early spring, God led me back to school to finish the Bible and Theology degree that I started 28 years ago.  He recently blessed me by having Central Bible College approve all of my transfer credits (they originally rejected quite a few).   This cut the time and expense to complete my degree by 1/3.  It has been such an exciting year.  The summer trip which you have heard so much about was awesome.  God brought so many interesting people into our lives, like Velcro the pastor of Biker Church in Cheyenne Wyoming.  It was really neat to have a mini prayer service at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. It was exciting to have the opportunity to preach again after so many years, filling in for a pastor with family business to take care of on the west coast.  I am so thankful for his grace and this second chance to fulfill his call on my life.  We look forward to 2011 with anticipation of the great things that God is going to do!

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