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Joy & Sorrow // Personal

It's been a year since the worst week of my life.. oops I mean best week of my life. Oh wait. The best and worst week of my life. A year since we left our church of 5 years, lost my dad, and brought our baby girl into the world.. Let me rewind a little bit..

It started on Wednesday August 26th, 2015. Cam had a meeting with our pastor and dear friend to discuss the decision our church had made about who the next staff person would be. If I rewind 4ish years or so, there was a conversation about how Cam would be a great pastor and it was something he should seriously pray about. My husband struggled to find his place in the world and had been in and out of jobs that he really didn’t like, so this conversation planted a little seed in his heart about how this opportunity could be his calling. Over the next 4 years we continued to get more involved with our church. We joined leadership and served in multiple capacities. Cam even joined the speaking team. He was trained by both posters of our church on how to preach sermons and then in spring of 2014 he started preaching. We were really thinking we were going to make ministry a full-time job for Cam. Right before the leadership retreat, where they would be deciding whether or not to hire Cam, it was brought to our attention that we should prepare our hearts for the possibility of it being a no. Which was the first time we had thought to do that, but unfortunately it felt like it was 4 years in the making and really it was hard to get our hearts to that point in just a month or so. Long story short, the church felt led to take a church in a direction that didn't look like Cam would be a good fit for and a direction we didn't feel was right. The hard reality hit that Cam was still going to be working at a job that literally drained the life out of him. It was the first time we had been wounded by a church, and it caused us to question a lot of things about our faith, our church, and where God was leading us.

Wednesday, August 27th. Cameron and I were at Buffalo Wild Wings processing the “loss” of the opportunity. I was 38 and a half weeks pregnant and I got a phone call from a number in Washington state. I didn’t even think twice about it, since I frequently receive calls from all over the country because my number is public knowledge, since I’m a registered LLC business. Then a voicemail popped up on the screen. I thought.. Hm ok, these companies usually don’t leave voicemails. Well low and behold it was a call from my dad’s coworker saying that my dad had been admitted to the hospital and I should call him back to get more information. I called my mom right away and she told me that her and my bother were headed to the hospital to see my dad. He was in stable condition, but they didn’t really know what was wrong with him. I didn’t need to drive to see him that night since I was so close to my due date and he was in stable condition. My mom and brother weren’t able to see him that night because he was undergoing a lot of procedures. They continued to run tests on him to see what had caused him to pass out in his hotel room, where his coworker found him the morning he was admitted to the hospital. By Friday the doctors thought they had found a couple things, so Cam and I decided to head to the hospital on Saturday. Saturday morning dad’s lungs filled with fluid, so an emergency operation was done, and they had to put a tube down his throat to help him breath. He was on sedatives to make him more comfortable. By the time we arrived to the hospital on Saturday, he was no longer coherent. He never was till the date of his death 3 weeks later. Fortunately, my last interaction with my dad was me telling him I loved him, and giving him a hug, because I never had another conversation with him again. Before we left the hospital that day, we were able to talk to his doctor, and he told us the hard reality that my dad was probably not going to make it through the illness. We left the hospital in a confused and depressed state, and headed home to Baltimore. About 3 hours after getting home my contractions started.

The next day, Sunday, August 30th, 11:11AM, Callie Jane Rogers was born. God bless her little soul, she was and still is a Godsend. Everything went great with delivery, and she was officially the happiest baby ever. Besides my husband experiencing the trauma of his wife’s body torn apart and losing absurd amounts of blood, it was all tears of joy. We headed home 2 days later.

I’ll save you the fuzzy details of the next 3 weeks, but my dad’s diagnosis continued to get worse. Every time we called the medical team at Crap Hospital, USA they had something different to say. We couldn’t get him transferred to another hospital because he was too sick. He was the sickest person in the ICU. He had a combination of so many illnesses, I can’t even remember them all. The biggest problem was that his kidneys and pancreas weren't working properly, and he had west nile, and some other illness that caused serious brain damage. The medical team said he would probably be on life support for the rest of his life. My dad had no will or anything stating what his wishes would be if he was still alive but in a vegetative state. So the decision was left to me and my family, essentially me and my brother. It was a decision that no child should ever have to make. After several conversations, a lot of prayers and tears, and many hospital visits, we decided we were going to end life support. Although we wished we didn’t have to go through the emotional pain of those 3 weeks that included a lot of ups and downs with his health, and ultimately having to make this hard decision, those 3 weeks brought a lot of healing. My brother had conversations with my dad that brought healing to their relationship, I said things I wanted my dad to know, and my mom as well. My mom was even able to pray for my dad’s salvation in his last days here on earth. We were grateful for those 3 weeks we were able to spend by his side.

September 16th, 2015, worst day to date. We showed up to Crap Hospital, USA (my nickname for the terrible care we received here), 3 week old Callie in tow. My father in law stayed in the car with her so my mom, brother, Cam, and I could go and be with my dad. The nurses and doctors explained to us how this would work. He would be given morphine so that he would be comfortable when the life support was withdrawn, and then his body would essentially fight until it couldn’t fight any more. “He will not be in pain” they said. Man is humanity disappointing. The nurse failed to start the morphine drip before they took him off the life support (artificial breathing and dialysis) so as soon as they turned the respirator off my dad’s eyes shot open and he started looking around the room in shear panic. Since his brain was so damaged, he couldn’t speak, and all we could do was tell him it was okay. He was not comfortable to say the least. The next hour was excruciating. They finally got the morphine going, but it took about an hour for my dad to be peaceful again. That whole hour I have never respected my brother more. He grew up that day in the hospital. He stood by my dad rubbing his arm and his hair telling him it was okay and he wasn’t going anywhere. All I could do was hold my brothers other hand and lean on the wall for support, as it was the only strength I could muster up. I didn’t want to look at my dad like this and have this be my last memory of him. My brother even noticed my dad was sweating and asked the nurse to bring him a bucket of ice water and a wash cloth, and then my brother proceeded to do cold compresses on my dad’s head. He would also call for the nurse (don’t ask me why the nurse was not in the room for this whole process, I wasn’t lying when I said it was the crappiest hospital ever) when my dad would look at him, showing him he still wasn’t comfortable. Then my brother would ask for more morphine. We finally got the levels right after an hour. And when I say we, I mean my brother. God bless his heart. We were able to step out for an hour or two to get some fresh air when we got a call from my mom to come back inside the hospital. Dad was about to take his last breath. And then he did… with his family by his side. There is no pain like the pain of losing a loved one. The next week or so was a blur. We planned all the arrangements for the viewing and the funeral and then that happened a week and a half after he passed. The time leading to Christmas is a little blurry too. I was in charge of settling my dad’s estate and was taking care of matters for that. It was a one foot in front of the other kind of ordeal. 

The 3 months after having Callie, losing my dad, and sorting through the church stuff was survival mode. I went back to work when Callie was about a month, so my days were full of 3 little girls that demanded most of my attention and energy. That was a good distraction to say the least. Photography picked back up so I was busy there too. In fact, the rare moments I would get alone, I was driving to and from sessions, and that was space and time for me to think and breath. There were a lot of tears and heartfelt conversations with God during those trips. Speaking of God… when I reflect on that season there is one thing that rings true. Good ol’ Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. My ability to fight through that season and do what I did was not me. Ask my husband about my composure in the delivery room. Not me. Ask anyone that was at the funeral about my eulogy 2 weeks postpartum. Not me. Watching 3 girls under 2 years for 30+ hours a week. Not me. Finding time to run a business and settle my fathers estate. Not me. And to be a mediocre wife through it all. Not me. And this is where I hope to show you the divine, moving in the world. Life is hard. Life is messy. It’s unpredictable and overwhelming. And I don’t believe we can do it without His help. I can’t. A lot of people think I’m superwoman and I even trick myself into thinking I am sometimes. But I’m not. God is my strength and my refuge and my ever present help in time of need. And it’s his strength, hope, and peace that allow me to take life by the horns and do the thang. It inspires me to fight like hell with everything I’ve got, knowing one day I won’t have to fight anymore, as I’ll rest in the arms of my Savior, watching him make everything right.

The morning of Dad's funeral.. My baby girl bringing the light <3

The morning of Dad's funeral.. My baby girl bringing the light <3

Here we are a year later. I wish I could say we haven't experienced more heartbreak since this time last year, but that's not the case. I have supported my husband through the damage last year caused and supported him like no other while God decided to gut and clean him from the inside out. I thought he was an amazing man of God before we went through this past year, and now I'm getting to see how God his developing his character even more! It's painful, but it's good. Then in June we found out we were pregnant again. If I'm being honest we were of course excited, but also a little hesitant. We were still rebuilding and it was not what we had planned. Well one morning I lost a lot of blood and went to the hospital to confirm a miscarriage. However after being really sick for a week following the miscarriage and convining my doctor I needed to be examined again (she thought I had the stomach bug... in July..) she diagnosed it as an ectopic pregnancy and scheduled me for surgery 3 DAYS LATER. After shooting a wedding on a Friday after getting that diagnosis I came home from the wedding and called the hospital, convinced I needed the surgery moved up. My doctor wasn't on call, but the doctor that was (a God send!) said come in first thing in the morning and he would do the surgery for me. After examining me yet again he knew it was a molar pregnancy and got me into surgery right away. After waking up from the surgery I INSTANTLY felt better than I had in weeks. We found out my hormone levels had been insanely high which was making me so sick and once I had the surgery they dropped drastically. I felt so good my mom and I went to the florist as soon as I got home from the hospital and put together all the flower arrangements for my styled shoot the following day! I am literally so thankful I was able to attend that because it's been one of my favorite days in a long time! Needless to say, I am also so thankful for my new doctor and how he cared for me and how he continues to care for me, ensuring we've taken care of everything properly. 

God is so good. We wouldn't change our story if we had the chance. He redeems it all and makes it new. And we are left better because of it. Although we approach this season with a bit of hesitancy, remembering what it brought us last time around.. We know that He will see us through whatever comes our way. Can I get an Amen for that. 

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