My Story – Ups and Downs and Faith

Today’s post was not an easy one to write.  I knew that within the first few months I wanted to share MY faith story with you guys.  It is important to me to share with you what my faith in Jesus Christ has helped me through, so that you know you can trust him in your hard times too.  But deciding what to share and how many details… not the easiest job.  It’s not as comfortable as having a face to face conversation!  When I read blogs or books, though, I like to know the back story of the author; I find it gives depth to their words.  So here is my story, so you can get to know me.

Growing Up

I grew up with one brother and one sister and the usual sibling appreciation / discord that comes with that.  My mom and dad are still married today – almost 49 years!  We were part of a great church family where we learned and volunteered and had good friends.  Bible Camp was a huge part of our lives, too, and gave us another avenue to make friends that shared our faith and also to join the staff and pass on our faith to campers when we were old enough.  I always knew God’s love for me.  School had always gone well for me, and I enjoyed good friends.  I had great experiences travelling, played on sports teams – I would say a normal good life.

Moving On Out

My post secondary school choice was eight hours away in another province.  My BA in Christian Education didn’t lead to any big career goals, but that was the education I was drawn to.  I knew that whatever I did in life, it would be useful.  I ended up meeting a very nice local boy and never really moving back home.  Up until my mid 20’s, life had been pretty rosy; fairy tale even.   We did have a bit of a scare after we had been married a year or so – Neil had the doctor take a couple of spots off his skin, and the tests came back that there had been some skin cancer in one of them.  So blood work and x-rays became an annual routine, but other than that it didn’t affect our lives too much.

The Fairy Tale Crumbles

The first sense that life wouldn’t always work out great came in the form of a couple of miscarriages in the family, including one of ours.  Baby #2 for us came along as hoped for, and was expected just after Madeline’s 2nd birthday.  There were problems, and Lucy was stillborn when I was about 5 months pregnant.  That was a pretty devastating blow, and involved a few months on anti-depressants for me.  For the next two years, we tried for another and were unable to conceive, which brought another whole type of frustrations.

Then Neil began having back problems.  Health problems without a diagnosis and without relief from the pain are wretched.  I feel for any of you who have gone through that.  After weeks of trying for different types of relief and looking for solutions, we got finally got a diagnosis.  It was the old melanoma skin cancer, and by that time it was stage 4 and all through his body.  He did some radiation and a round of chemo, but it did not do enough or work quickly enough, and from the day of diagnosis to the day he died was 6 weeks.  We were both 30; Madeline at the time was 4.  Life as we knew it would never be the same.

There have been a few chapters written in my life story between then and now; life has never been the same, but it did not end.

The Pages Keep Turning

I held the role of single parent for a number of years, and as many of you can identify with, there are ups and downs that come with that territory.   When I first met Sean, he was interested (I didn’t know it at the time), but hadn’t heard my story.  He didn’t know that I had been married, didn’t know I had a kid…

When I ran into him the second time a few months later at a New Year’s Eve Gala, he had found out both those things.  Thankfully they hadn’t killed his interest!  We were engaged on Mother’s Day and married in November that year.  What he brought to our family was a lot of stability, at a time when my strong willed child and I were in need of that.  She got to be the flower girl, and called him Dad for the first time right after we walked down the aisle.

Me & Sean

Parenting Joys

Nolan came along to join our family when M was 12, and so we had the joy of having a teenager and a toddler at the same time.  He caused a few years of sleep deprivation, but has thankfully grown out of most of that and is a fun kid to have around.  We had a few hard years with our girl when she was in grades 8-10; now that she’s safely through all of that she has said I can write about it; I share a little of it now only because it is part of my story too, and a season where I had to hold firmly onto faith.

She has ADHD which was undiagnosed until late in grade 10.  When undiagnosed it can lead to depression, and it did in her case.  Add those to the blender of the teenage years and the issues that often come along the hard years of figuring out who you are and who you want to be…  We all faced challenges.  It’s tough on a parent to watch a child suffer.  Tough to find out she was suffering in ways I did not know.  The hard times for her came to a head when she moved out at 16 to live with an aunt and uncle; being on new meds and being removed from some negative situations has led to some wonderful changes in her.  She graduates this year and has some great plans going forward.

And Faith?

Through the years of ups and downs, I’ve had a chance to learn a few things.  I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but rather a friend who might understand.  I know that Jesus is faithful.  He promises to be a helper, and he IS.  Promises to protect and provide, and he DOES.  Promises that he loves us, and it is REAL.  I have been at the place that feels like rock bottom where I’ve felt life I’ve had nothing left to give and no strength to carry on.  He has been the one to provide everything I’ve needed to not only get through these hard situations, but to come out the other side with strength and joy.

I write a lot about the daily part of faith and how to make your relationship with God a stronger part of your everyday life.  I don’t claim to have a stronger faith than anyone else.  What I do have is the passion that God gave me to write about it.  Faith makes a difference in our everyday lives, and in the hard times, faith will help you through.  That’s why I write.  To pass on what I know about living with faith.  To encourage you to develop the relationship with God that will lead to a deep faith of your own.  Because I cannot think of any thing more important in this life than to have faith in the One who made you and who will walk through it all with you.

 

13 Replies to “My Story – Ups and Downs and Faith”

  1. Oh, Carolyn, wow. You have written your story with such grace and openness. Thank you for doing this. I remember when you told me you were getting remarried and when you whispered to my dad, that you were pregnant. I delight with how God has been faithful in holding you and your family in his hands. xo Big Hug.

    1. Carolyn Ward says: Reply

      Thanks, Deb… what I didn’t mention in here is how God uses people as His hands and hugs to help us through – you were certainly one of those for me!

  2. Heather Vanderstelt says: Reply

    It was a pleasure to hear your story today… I remember hearing part of it for the first time in Kenya, and I’ve caught glimpses of it in your blog since then, but I am very thankful for you, and that you chose to share your story in this way today.

    1. Carolyn Ward says: Reply

      Thanks, Heather! I am thankful for you, too! What I would give to sit down for a cup of tea with you and to meet your little ones… 🙂

  3. Jill Kornelsen says: Reply

    You are a blessing. Thank you for sharing Carolyn. We need to share with others our story, it is the make up of who we are. We just had a sermon that expressed the importance of passing onto future generations stories and lessons so they do not forget Gods hand at work in the midst of our lives.

    1. Carolyn Ward says: Reply

      That’s so true, Jill. As I was planning to start this blog I came across verse after verse about that. I love to hear the stories he’s writing in other people and how he can be glorified in every situation.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story you have been through a lot and because of your strength and faith you found love and happiness once again

    1. Carolyn Ward says: Reply

      Thanks for coming by to read it, Susan.

  5. How brave you are Carolyn to share your story in a very honest way, that being said it is honesty that offers the greatest help to others! Jesus is always there-you have had opportunity to test this and have found it to be true! May he continue to offer his favor and protection!

    1. Carolyn Ward says: Reply

      Thank you, Merla. I appreciate you!

  6. Patricia Rodonets says: Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story as it is to date. I remember you first coming to our church with Madeline as a babe. You went through lots of hard stuff but God has refined you into a beautiful person

  7. Patricia Rodonets says: Reply

    I tried to pull back my comment to use an alternate word as opposed to “refined” but couldn’t so thought I should explain why I used that word. Refined from life experiences which could have left you bitter but haven’t through the grace of God.

    1. Carolyn Ward says: Reply

      Thanks, Pat – I think refined is a good word, and it is what he does with us through challenging times. He doesn’t cause us grief, but He WILL use it to make us better.

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