Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Best Birthday Present Ever

Back when we both had hair... ;)
Today is Kim's birthday. I'd have to say there were a couple times this year that I didn't think we'd be celebrating this day together. I have stood in the furnace of a few fires in my lifetime but none were as hot as the two separate moments when you think your wife is about to leave you and your three children.


Since then I've told just about every married couple I've run across that every spouse should go through a "sacred moment" like that. Yes, It's difficult. Yes, it's excruciating. But it truly is a gift from God.

I never shared this on my original blog post but the first time I thought Kim had died (Jan 8th) I was at home putting the kids down for bed when a nurse called me crying (see HERE). She could barely get the words out but managed to choke out between her tears, "You need to come to the hospital - right now." You'd be surprised at how many thoughts can race through your head in just 20 minutes. One of the biggest things I wrestled with during that long drive was what would my last words to her be? If she was breathing her last what would I want to leave her with? Many different phrases and cliches came to mind - and although I hated that I had to even think of what I would have to say - the Lord gave me three words.

No. It wasn't "I love you."

It was simply, "Run to Jesus."

About halfway through my drive to the hospital I had settled in my heart that if upon running into her room I found Kim about to breathe her last I would just hold her head and speak those three words into her ear: "Run to Jesus." When I think about it - it still brings tears to my eyes.

Not five days later (on Friday the 13th - see HERE) we had another episode in which I thought I had lost Kim. She went unconscious right before my eyes (due to one of the chemo drugs) and everyone went "code blue". She came to but then she began to cycle through the most excruciating pain I had ever seen her endure (infusion reaction to the Rituxan). I remember as they were wheeling her into ICU she was so desperate for relief. She would push me away while still crying out "Help me!" - nothing is more humbling than seeing the one you love suffer in so much pain. I remember at that moment I stopped and prayed the most difficult prayer I've ever prayed. I said:
 "Lord, if you want to take her home...please....go ahead and take her. I'm giving her back to you now." 
I was surprised I was even able to pray that prayer - but I'll never forget it. I told Kim about this the next day, and she started crying and hitting me saying, "Don't give up on me!" I felt so bad, but I had to keep telling her, "I wasn't giving up on you!" (of course, this is only funny now)

But seriously, I've thought a lot about those two prayers in the last few weeks. The one I would pray to Kim and the one I would pray to God.

(HT: Christine M)
I've come to realize back when I was in my twenties, my three year struggle to "win her heart" was a gift from God. I make light of it while I'm writing about it in this "Beauty and the Beast" series, but because it was so long and painful, from the very beginning God had erased any false notions that I had somehow earned her with my looks, charm or talents (as formidable as these may be - lol!). No - those three long and tortured years were a gift from God because it was always very clear to me that I had not "won" her but rather God had given her to me and one day I would have to give her back to Him. I knew that although she was married to me for our time on this earth, ultimately, by faith, she belonged to Jesus - and she was on loan until her big wedding day in heaven:
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.  -Revelation 19:6-7
Sometimes when your theology meets life's darkest moments you're not quite sure how things will turn out. Will what I believe stand in the refinement of God's fire? Or will it be consumed like so much wood, stubble and hay?

I realized that, as so many of you have prayed, despite the intensity of that heat that my faith had not failed. (See this POST on 1/10/12 - which was written before the code blue episode on 1/13) And it wasn't because I'm a "spiritual giant" it was only because of God's grace and the faith He has granted that I could tell Kim to "Run to Jesus." and allow the Lord to "Take her home."

I know that ultimately my job is not to lord over her, but simply to love her, in the highest way love her "as Christ loved the Church" And my job isn't too change her into my own graven image, but rather to edify and sanctify her as Christ sanctifies the Church.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. -Ephesians 5:25-27
This is no easy task and trust me - I can be a real jerk sometimes - even these days. But I'm praying for the strength and the faith to live up to Christ's commands and that is the best birthday present I can ever give her.

Happy Birthday love. In the words of Jack Nicholson, "You make me want to be a better man."

In His Love,

Peter & Kim


  1. Happy Birthday dear Kim!!! You are blessing to us all!! Enjoy your day with your family!!! Love ya!!

  2. Happy Birthday Kim :-)

  3. beautiful post. beautiful family. beautiful picture of a life lived completely and utterly in FAITH. thank you so much!

  4. Man, Peter! I gotta stop reading these blog posts at work. People in the office think I'm a blubbering idiot as I sniff and cry at 8 a.m. Kim, of any birthday, this is the year you'll probably never forget. You and your family are a blessing to so many. We thank God for you and for the day he brought you to us. Love you!

  5. Thanks for sharing your journey here - what an inspiration!! Praying for you, Kim and your family down here in Champaign, IL. Love the Beauty & the Beast posts - I too met my husband here...but I'm still here over 20 years later! Christine Decker

  6. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers during this time! You are an amazing inspiration and this story is bitter sweet. God bless you on your journey!

  7. Peter,
    I had a brief moment to talk to your lovely wife on Sunday morning right after the service. I told her, and I'm telling you, that the two of you are such a testimony to God's grace and love and such an inspiration to many. My family and I have went through a similar trial 6-1/2 yrs. ago. My husband had lymphoma and I know, without a doubt, our faith in God and the prayers of many got us through it. We will continue to pray for complete healing for Kim. Happy Birthday to a strong, beautiful, wonderful lady!!!
    Debbie Goumas