Thursday, July 14, 2011

That First Week in January

We stayed up near my mother-in-law, or as I affectionately call her, Mama T, for a week after the stroke.  My sister,Danielle, had brought my children up to my mother about 25 minutes away, and I drove back and forth almost everyday  between the hospital and my kids.  That was until my van broke down mid-week. 

I was in Sycamore (where the kids were) with my other sister, Jes, who had come down from Wisconsin to help my mom watch the kids, when the temperature gauge on my van went to "H" and began lurching down the road.  We managed to pull into a parking lot, turned off the engine and Jes went out to investigate while I called my mom to come and pick us up.  At that point Jes got back in the van and reported that there was greenish liquid coming out from underneath my van; that would be radiator fluid.

Let me stop and explain a few things at this point.  Brian and I barely lived paycheck to paycheck at this point, and it was the middle of a pay period, so there was no money to get the van fixed right then.  We had been surviving the week off of some gift cards we had been given by my father-in-law for Christmas and the generosity of friends and family in the area for food, extra clothes, etc.  God was so in the middle of this crisis and carrying us through, it was amazing.  

So, my van is broken, stuck in a parking lot, and yet I could care less.  Why??  Because my Mama T had just suffered a stroke and there were more important things on my mind than my van running at that point.  But God had even this under control.  If my van had broken down before that time, I would have been driving out in the middle of the country, by myself, on a freezing midwest January day.  Or had this happened the week before at home, it would have devastated me emotionally.

But no, it happened where my mom could be to the kids, my sister, and I in less that 10 minutes.  My husband was using Mama T's car for the week, so he could come to us, limp the car the 1.5 miles back to my mom's, and drive me back.  Oh, and Jes' husband, Phillip...he's a mechanic.  He would be driving out in a few days to pick her up and take her home and could fix the van in Mom's garage for the cost of parts.  By then, it would be payday.

We drove home in a newly repaired van feeling like we had aged about 10 years in just a week.  We didn't understand how anything could be the same, how we could go back to doing our "normal" life after everything that had happened.  Little did we know....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Let's Start at the Beginning

Well, at the beginning of this year anyway.  It is safe to say that 2011 is nothing like we ever thought it would be.  God has used some extraordinary events to bring us to exactly where He wants us to be.  Let's go back to January 1, 2011.  That's the day a bomb was dropped on us.  Not a physical, literal bomb, but an event that has forever changed our lives.  

My husband, Brian, and I were just sitting down to watch a movie after putting the kids to bed when we got "the" phone call.  My sister-in-law, Stacy (Brian's brother's wife), called and told us that Brian's mom had had a stroke.  After a few frantic phone calls back and forth, we learned that we needed to head out from our home in Davenport, IA and rush to the hospital in Elgin, IL (about a 2 1/2 hour drive) because there was a possibility that she wouldn't make it through the night.

We hastily threw a few things into a bag, got someone to come and stay with our children, and drove as fast as we safely could to the hospital where my mother-in-law lay in critical condition fighting for her life.  I remember praying as I drove, "Lord, please spare her.  But Lord, if you are going to take her, please let it be after we get there.  Let us be able to see her one last time and say good-bye."

We arrived at the hospital about 1am to find her sedated, hooked up to monitors, IV's, and a ventilator.  It was then that Brian and I were given the full story of what had happened and the severity of her situation.  There was a 40% chance that she would not survive the first 24 hours.  We sat by her bed, we prayed for God's healing touch and we waited.  

She survived the first 24 hours, but the outlook still wasn't great.  She had suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke, the more rare and deadly type of stroke.  There was swelling of her brain caused by a large pool of blood.  She was bleeding into her brain, and we didn't know when or if it would stop.  

There would be long-term effects from the stroke.  What those were and how severe they would be were still unclear at that time, but one thing was for sure: her life as she knew it, as any of us knew it, was gone.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Reason Why

Strength, love, laughter, and joy.  These are the things that I see all around me.  

They are also the meanings of the names in our family:  My husband, Brian, his name means "strength".  His strength and dedication to his family amaze me everyday.  My name, Amy, means "loved" or "beloved".  As a wife and mom, I do my best to pour out my life and love onto my husband and children.  My son Isaac's name means "laughter".  Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting him knows that he giggles consistently throughout the day.  Finally, my daughter Abigail's name means "joy".  She has been our joy since the day she was born, and her middle name is Joy too, a double blessing for sure.

We are the Osters and this is our story.  It is a story of strength, love, laughter, and joy.  We have had our trials, our painful circumstances, our ups and downs, but through it all we see God working in us and through us.  I hope this can bless you in some way as you read.

Some of the things I will share will be reflections of our past and how God has brought us to where we are now, some things will be things that God is teaching us in the midst of our current circumstance, but much of what you will see here will be how we live our life depending on God's strength and love so that we can see the laughter and joy in any situation.