All right, so I promised I would detail more about Bryan’s graduation! Man, it was such a big day for us, there was just no way I could mention it, show a few pictures, and not share anything more. So here it is!
Pharmacy school has been a part of our lives pretty much ever since Bryan and I first met. We met in November of 2009 and at that point, he was applying to the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy (UKCOP), preparing for the PCAT, taking the PCAT, waiting for results, getting accepted, and then had his interview at the college… We were married in December of 2010; afterwards, Bryan finished his last semester of undergrad at UK in the Spring of 2011, and then pharmacy school began the following August, just 8 months into our marriage.
Our lives became an endless cycle of classes, homework, labs, studying for blocks, locking in for blocks, block exams, recovering from block exams for a day or two, and then the cycle would begin all over again! It. Was. Crazy. But Bryan never let up, he studied harder than most, he never let it get him down, and he pushed through the first year. And you know what? Our God was ever faithful.
Then, in September of 2012, in the beginning of Bryan’s second year of pharmacy school, cancer hit. Suddenly, our lives became an endless cycle of classes, homework, labs, getting me to chemo, getting me back from chemo, Bryan tending to my needs when I was too sick to help him, studying for blocks, having any imaging or medical tests I needed, locking in for blocks, surgery after surgery, block exams, recovery from blocks being spent at the hospital, and then… the cycle would start all over again. However, Bryan never let up, he studied harder than most, he studied in hospital waiting rooms, he was always there to be my strength when I had none, he fought every day to not let it get him down, and he pushed through his second year of pharmacy school. And our God was ever faithful.
After the end of the second year, we had a relatively normal summer. We got to go on our first vacation just the two of us, I was getting stronger and stronger, my prognosis was trending upwards, and we had a brief break from the endless cycle. But our vacation was bitter sweet. We had a great time but we knew what we were coming home to. We were coming home to another crazy cycle beginning and this time it was going to be kicked off by me having a mastectomy, then I would have to go through extensive recovery, and we still had no idea if the cancer was gone for sure. But the semester still started, ready or not, and we really didn’t feel ready. However, Bryan never let up, he studied harder than most, he walked with me through mastectomy and then ovary removal in the second semester, we recovered, we walked through radiation, we recovered again, he never neglected his studies, he fought to never let it get him down, and finally, we had pushed through the third year of pharmacy school. And our God was ever faithful.
Immediately after the third year at UKCOP, we began the fourth and the final full year of rotations for pharmacy school. We moved to Bryan’s parents for 6 weeks, we moved back, he worked his two rotations over the summer, and then, in September of 2014, my hips started to hurt. Suddenly I could barely stand, much less walk, and Bryan had to end his current rotation and thus sacrifice his actual vacation rotation so that he could be with me at the hospital. I was hospitalized for a while, cancer had spread quite a bit, I underwent immediate radiation, I got out of the hospital, and then we were somehow faced with chemo once again. Still, Bryan never let up, he held my hand through everything, we got tattoos and his said “Stay in the Fight,” which is exactly what he always did. We had a big hair cutting party where I cut my hair short for the second time, countless friends cut/shaved their hair off, Team KCT was battle ready more than ever, and we were ready to begin the second big go round of our fight. Bryan resumed his next rotation, we moved for the first time so we could be closer to doctors, I went to chemo every week, I lost all my hair again, I lost all my energy, and I was trapped at home. But Bryan was with me the whole time and… our God was ever faithful.
At this point, it was the beginning of 2015, the year we had been waiting for our entire marriage. All we had to get through was just a few more months. Chemo would soon be over for me, Bryan would graduate, and we would be free to live decently normal adult lives. But then, my birthday came and if you all have been following the blog, you know what a hellacious day that was for us. Suddenly we were right back in a scare of cancer spreading, I’m having to begin a new chemo, my leg was swollen with lymph fluid to 3 times it’s normal size due to radiation damaged lymph nodes, and those measly few months till graduation seemed forever away. I can’t lie, things were looking pretty bleak at that point, but it was that point when God stepped in again. He gave us a renewed peace, joy, and sense of purpose. Bryan worked his butt off in his last few rotations, he was blessed with the best preceptors, some of Team KCT sent us on a beyond needed vacation, one of his rotations led to him getting a pharmacist position with the wonderful company of Kroger, and in the blink of an eye, it was time for Bryan to walk across that stage.
So now if you’ll go back and see the graduation pictures where I was absolutely bawling, you will understand some of the emotion behind those tears. I wasn’t simply watching my husband walk across a stage and graduate from pharmacy school. No no no no, I was watching a son of the most high God, a timeworn soldier, a man who NEVER quit, a man who had walked with God so intimately, a man who absolutely refused to be beaten, a man who ALWAYS “stayed in the fight”, and I was watching MY man finally survive when an enemy had tried so desperately to kill our success. The enemy tried every trick in the book but guess what? In the end, the victory was ours! In the end, Bryan walked across that stage, accepted the diploma he had earned, and I could not have been more proud of my husband. And still, our God was ever faithful! 🙂
PRAISE JESUS!!!!!! Our God IS ever faithful, hallelujah! Obviously I still have not settled down after this triumph 🙂 And I’m totally ok with that! I plan to never forget to enjoy this huge accomplishment and to enjoy how God guided us through the toughest 4 years of our lives. If we had not been His children, able to hold on to the promises in His word, there is no way we would’ve made it.
Now speaking of being His children, I recently heard a song that pretty much summed up the journey we had through pharmacy school. It’s called “I Am Yours” by Lauren Daigle. You may have heard her song “How Can It Be,” (It’s really popular on the radio right now and I love that song too,) but “I Am Yours” has had me in a moment for the past few weeks. The first time I heard it I immediately felt the Lord’s presence surround me. I was listening to the lyrics and it was just one of those songs that speaks to the very core of you because it is talking about everything your soul is walking through. And man was it spot on for me!
The part that I haven’t been able to shake is the chorus as it goes into the bridge. It goes:
“So let the waters rise
I will stand as the oceans roar
Let the earth shake beneath me
Let the mountains fall
You are God over the storm
And I am Yours
Even the thunder and the wind obey
At the command of my Father, Father
I set my feet upon Your mighty name
So let the rain fall harder, harder
So take my everything, my flesh and blood
I’ll lay me down on the altar, altar
I am forever covered in Your love
So let the rain fall.”
Does that not give you chills?!?!?!?!??? If it does then you’re right there with me. If it doesn’t then lets look a little deeper in to what she just sang. (Also I’ll post the link so you go listen to it on YouTube.)
First she is calling out into the battle she is facing and says to it “let the waters rise, I will stand as the oceans roar. Let the earth shake beneath me, let the mountains fall. YOU are God over the storm and I AM YOURS.” WOW!! That has absolutely been the way Bryan and I chose to face our battle with cancer and any other hard time we come into. Satan is out to get those who worship the King. Not he might come after you, he will. Jesus promised us that, that the walk of a Christian won’t be easy. We all should’ve known that when we signed up, but the beauty of the situation is that no matter what the devil throws at you, cancer, divorce, rebellious children, a breakup, doubt, school work, job loss, depression, shame, regret, loss of a child, anger, insecurities… no matter what he throws at you, God is God OVER the storm! Over your storm! Do you get that?! God’s word is full of promises, it tells us who He is, it tells us who we are in Him, and most importantly, it tells us that He is above any struggle you may be facing.
Now that was just the chorus, we haven’t even gotten to the bridge y’all 🙂 The bridge goes, “Even the thunder and the wind obey, at the command of my Father, Father. I set my feet upon your mighty name, so let the rain fall harder harder…” HELLO!!! THAT is the part that give me crazy chills. In my battle in this life, cancer is a thunderous disruption to any kind of normal life I try to live, and all the symptoms, the tests, the appointments… all of those things that come along with cancer, they constantly howl louder than any wind this earth has heard. But when the thunder clashes and the wind howls, all I have to remember is that as a daughter of the Living God, I set my feet on His name, the name above ALL names, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Father, Messiah, Emmanuel, Yahweh, the great I AM… all I have to do is set my feet on Him and that allows me to do the one thing in this life that is greater than anything else.
When I stand on my God and know who I am in Christ, I can look into that storm, stare the devil straight in the face, and say, SCREW YOU SATAN!! “So take my everything, my flesh and blood. I lay me down on the altar. I am forever covered in His love. So let the rain fall.” Hallelujah!
If satan throws cancer at me, I give him the great physician. He gives me unimaginable pain in my body, I give him a peace that surpasses all understanding. He gives me a prognosis with no cure, I give him a God of miracles. And even better, I give him a platform to share my God with the world. And get this, satan, you could do your absolute worst to me and it still does nothing. You could fill my body with cancer, you could cause me every pain, you could even kill this body, but guess what? YOU CAN NEVER CHANGE MY ETERNITY!! No matter what satan does, he cannot hurt me. His very worst attack against me, his very worst, does absolutely nothing because I am a daughter of the King, I have a heavenly body already healed and whole, and I have an eternity waiting where I am free from any other storms. So the strongest storm the devil could form is nothing because my God is God OVER the storm.
I love the second part of the bridge about laying myself down on the altar. For me personally, that speaks directly to my story. I feel very much like Isaac sometimes and I have to look at my body as a sacrifice. This body is not my own. My soul and spirit live in it on this earth, but it is not who I am and it is most importantly not mine. The sooner I was able to grasp that, the easier my life became. Once I really let that concept sink in, I could much more easily say to God, “Here is my body, my flesh and blood. I lay me down on the altar.” I have chosen to give my everything to my God and if that means my body has to deal with cancer and other ailments, so be it. I will then choose to USE what has happened in my life, turn adversity into an asset, and as I allow Him to have all control of my body, the more He uses for the benefit of His kingdom. And that’s what this life is all about right? I’m not here just to be a daughter, a wife, a sister, or a friend… I am here with the sole purpose of living to give the glory to God and to share the good news of an eternal life with all who will listen. When I truly live like that is my purpose, I am no longer afraid of what this life will bring because I have another home 🙂
“I hear the voice of love
Calling me home
To where I belong
It cripples EVERY fear
And the ones who will kneel
Will walk away healed
So I rest in Your promises
Now I am sure of this
No power is strong enough
To separate me from Your love
What a gift as a Christian. We are His, we will always have His promises to hold on to, if He is for us who can be against us?, no weapon formed against us shall prosper, no storm is strong enough to shake our foundation, because our God is God over the storm. So you know what I say? I say let the rain fall. Harder! Harder.
“For God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Thank you, Jesus. Amen
**Also check the blog tomorrow for the big surprise! Don’t forget!**
If this link doesn’t work then just YouTube — Lauren Daigle, “I Am Yours.”