Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Giving Thanks

I'm baaaaaaack.... Yes, after being AWOL for the past three weeks, Mindy is finally returning to her routine. Or at least attempting.

Now the title of this post may seem a bit belated, but I am giving plenty of thanks these days.If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share what God has been doing in the lives of the Obenhaus clan. But let me say up front that I don't want to hear "I'm so sorry" from any of you. Instead, I want you to rejoice with me.

Our family has had an event-filled few months, starting with a wild fire that encroached on our ranch over Labor Day weekend. The following weekend, we returned to survey the damage. The house was intact, though we lost over a hundred acres of timberland. However, God designed nature to recover from the ugly scars fire can bring. From the ashes, we will soon see lush new growth.

Shortly before we were due to go home again, my husband fell trimming branches. At the small town emergency room they said (and I kid you not), "His back in broken and we fear the break is pressing on his spinal cord so we will need to CareFlight him to Houston for surgery. Oh, and there is also a mass on his kidney."

Ah, but God worked wonders during the flight to Methodist Hospital in Houston. Not only was the break not pressing on my husband's spinal cord, he did not require surgery. Instead, he wore a brace for seven weeks. Not pleasant, mind you, but way better than the alternative.

But what about the mass? We asked that question repeatedly. The doctors ran a second scan and initially told us it was nothing, just a gelatinous mass. About fifteen minutes later, the same doctor returned to say we should still probably have our regular doctor follow up on it and they would give us a copy of the scan to take with us. We took that scan with us when we went to visit our doctor several days later for a follow up. He too was not alarmed. Said a sonogram would be more conclusive and that could wait until Richard was out of the brace.

On October 31, Richard was freed from his "turtle shell," as we called it. The very next day, November 1, he had the sonogram. Three days later, they told us it was a solid mass and he would need to see his urologist right away. Five days later, we learned that my husband did indeed have kidney cancer. The doctor was optimistic, though, confident that it was confined to the tumor. Five long days after that meeting, November 14, Richard had his right kidney removed. Again, the doctor assured us that he saw no evidence the cancer had spread. We breathed a sigh of relief. Richard was on the road to recovery.

The day after his surgery, my husband started bloating. He was miserable, so distended he looked as though he was eight months pregnant. They threaded a nasal-gastric (NG) tube through his nose and into his stomach--not pleasant to watch, let alone endure--hoping to relieve some of the pressure. He was labeled as NPO, meaning he could have nothing by mouth. No food or drink.

All the while, nurses and doctors kept telling us this was normal. That sometimes it took longer for the intestines to wake up from the anesthesia and the E Leus, as they called it, would just have to work itself out. In the meantime, I watched my man grow increasingly more agitated. He was in so much pain. He couldn't breathe normally and developed chronic hiccups from the pressure on his diaphragm. Three days after he'd last eaten, he started vomiting. Think of the sewer backing up into your house. Yeah, that's what was going on with his body.

You know, it's really hard to hold yourself together when your husband looks at you and tells you he doesn't think he's going to live through the night. I told him I just couldn't believe God had brought him that far to take him now. After all, if he hadn't broken his back, we would never have know about the kidney cancer until it was too late. Yet, as I watched Richard sleep, his face pale, his breathing ragged, that little voice in the back of my mind said, "What if God does decide to take him?"

Rather than ignore the question, I pondered it. What if? What if I lost my best friend? What if I were suddenly a single mother? What if my worst fear came true? Then what?

Then God would get me through that as well.

As the E Leus lingered, the doctor ordered a CT scan, wanting to make sure they weren't dealing with a blockage. The next thing I knew, we were visited by a pulmonologist because while the scan did not show any signs of a blockage, it did reveal a pulmonary embolism.

God had done it again. You see, three Bible verses kept replaying across my mind:

Genesis 50:20 NIV "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done...."

Romans 8:28 KJV "... all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Everything that the enemy intended to harm my husband, God turned for good. If Richard hadn't fallen, we wouldn't have found the cancer, which pathology confirmed was indeed confined to the tumor. If he hadn't had the E Leus as long as he had, they would not have order the scan and wouldn't have discovered the blood clot on his lung.

God's ways are not our ways. We see the broken back. God sees the kidney cancer and finds a way to reveal it to us. So I thank God that Richard broke his back. I thank God for the E Leus. I thank God for his promises.

Well, our two to three day hospital stay ended up being ten days. I say we because I was there with him every day, every night. We came home on Thanksgiving Day to turkey and all the trimmings provided by my sons' Boy Scout troop. Talk about blessed.

Has life ever thrown you a curve ball? Have things not gone the way you planned? Yeah, it may not be pleasant. But if you are a child of God, it's all part of a plan that is bigger than anything we could dream or imagine. Cling to Jeremiah 29:11, put your hope in God, and trust Him with your future.

Happy Tuesday, y'all.


  1. Well, Mindy, I'm crying, but I'm rejoicing with you!
    What you said also keeps sticking in my mind - as well as the scriptures - "The house was intact, though we lost over a hundred acres of timberland. However, God designed nature to recover from the ugly scars fire can bring. From the ashes, we will soon see lush new growth."
    The fire, the new growth, to me, is a reflection of what you and Richard have been going through the last few months. All will be beautiful now... Praise God!

  2. Christy--I couldn't have said it better. So I won't. Mindy girl--we love you!

  3. I hope you felt the love and prayers that poured out for you. You are so close in my heart during this and beyond. Much love....

  4. Christy, now you're going to make me cry. Shame on you :-)

  5. She was good though, wasn't she Lindi?

  6. Becky, I felt every bit that love and those prayers. They helped me hold it together. Miss you, my friend.

  7. Mindy, I am so happy that everything worked out perfectly! Those blessings in disguise are hard! I wish there was some sort of test like they have with cars that would just show us everything! Thanks for sharing! I love a happy ending! Hope your family enjoys celebrating a blessed Christmas!

  8. Eva, those unknown blessings are hard, but they make us grow and we usually end up better people because of them.

  9. I can't say it any better than Christy and others here, Mindy!
    This is awesome.....you and Richard are in my prayers!

  10. What an amazing story, Mindy. I know I heard it bit by bit through your text messages during the events, but reading it all written down in sequence is astounding. Praise God that He's in control.

  11. I'm just so glad Richard is on the mend and you didn't lose your best friend and love.

  12. I've been praying for you and your husband. What a magnificent testimony as to the plans of God and how He does turn what the enemy meant for evil into good.

    Rejoicing with you!