An Even Year

Well it’s a new year.
An even year.

I don’t know why that matters… I’ve never really liked Even numbers. I don’t know why. They’re numbers. But I always find myself leaning toward the Odds. Maybe it’s because Evens are so… well… even. They’re predictable. They lack excitement or anticipation. They’re round. Whole. Even.

Well 2013 was wonderfully Odd… full of some of the highest highs I’ve yet to experience. Checked off a few firsts. Once-in-a-lifetimer kind of events. It was also full of situations that were anything but even. Challenging circumstances. Stressful situations. Wonderfully stressful. Terribly stressful. Uneven.

You know what? I’m ready for even.
At this point I’d be game for a little predictability. A little peace. A little calm. Well if the start of this year is any indication of how the rest of it’s going to pan out I highly doubt Even’s gonna be a trend.

There’s another person who I’m sure would like a little Even. He’s someone I’ve known since middle school. Back then he lived in my youth pastor’s basement and had a full head of hair. He’s watched me grow up, from a snotty teen to a still slightly know-it-all young adult. He’s a mentor and a friend, helping me recognize and grow in the gifts God’s given me and provided avenues in which to exercise them. He’s a devoted husband with the most wonderful wife, a father, a pastor and a very loyal fan of baseball, Pepsi and Mickey Mouse.
So when Ryan and I had to decide who would not only marry us, but facilitate our pre-marital counseling it was a fairly easy decision. Pastor Matt Conrad. Done.

© Kristen Marie Photography

I’m sure the Conrad family thought maybe with the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 Odd would have gone into remission along with the Hairy Cell Leukemia he’d battled since the previous Thanksgiving. Well at least the Hairy Cell did…

Five days. Just five days after he pronounced us “husband and wife,” he received some life-changing news of his own. It was only supposed to be a routine blood draw. Some things were slightly off – enough for his doctor to investigate a little further. And praise God she did!
The news: Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Excuse me what?!!! But he just married us and was looking great (I mean look at him!)… But he just kicked some leukemia butt in January! What? You’ve got to be kidding me…

© Kristen Marie Photography

For as hard as it’s been for me post-Big Day, it’s been that times 1000 for Matt and his family. And yet they’ve have been a source of inspiration, encouragement and hope. Their courage, honesty, vulnerability, strength and faith are awe-inspiring. I find myself personally challenged and quite often convicted by their example, oh me of little faith. They have embraced what the Lord has allowed, cleaving to Him for everything… literally. Thanksgiving, not just in the midst of the storm but for it. Can you imagine… thanking God for leukemia? For needing a bone marrow transplant? For lengthy hospital stays away from your family during the holidays? And yet that’s exactly what God asks us all to do. To trust His goodness. To believe that what He has for us, where He has us is good. It’s great. That we can really consider our trials pure joy when we invite Him into them. To know Him more fully. To believe in who He is. To trust and rest in His character. And then to obey. That’s exactly what the Conrad family is demonstrating. And that’s just one of the many things I’m learning from them.

© Kristen Marie Photography

Deanne, Matt’s beautiful wife, has been keeping a blog updated with his condition and progress through the Caringbridge site. And I’m not going to lie… I’ve often had writer’s envy as I read her posts. She definitely has a gift with words and speaks very candidly and specifically with what’s going on in the hospital room and at home. If you have the chance please check it out. I think you’ll benefit from it as I have… You can just click here.
And of course I know that Matt, Deanne, Austin and Sadie would so appreciate your prayers for his continued recovery. He had a bone marrow transplant early December and is now on Day 22 of the 100 day recovery process. He was finally able to go home on Tuesday, but Day 28 (Jan 18th) marks a big milestone… a bone marrow draw to get a picture on how things are going. Please join me in praying that all not only goes smoothly and painlessly, but that it’s another leap toward full restoration. Toward newness.

So here’s to an even year for all. And yet I know that no matter what God gives, whether Even or Odd, it is good. This is the truth.

Hello 2014! It’s nice to meet ya.


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