Pendarvis Family

Pendarvis Family
Pendarvis Family 2015

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Five Years Ago Today

Today marks five (yes five!) years since Christopher's kidney transplant! August 11, 2011, was a day I thought my life (our lives) would change forever. The diagnosis that we had been seeking for three months finally came to a dead end. We found out at a well visit in May that his hemoglobin was low. But why was the question. So, we had multiple lab visits throughout the summer in our search for answers, including a bone marrow biopsy to rule out leukemia.

We were away on vacation at the end of the summer. It was a vacation our family had won through one of our Victory Sports families submitting our names to a radio contest. We stayed in a huge three story house in the mountains for a week. Due to different circumstances, it was two years past the contest that we were finally able to go on vacation to this beautiful home in the mountains. God had this trip orchestrated for such a time.

Since our phones were out of range inside the house, I walked up the driveway to check messages after dinner. I saw that a doctor had tried calling numerous times and left messages. When I called the doctor back, I will never forget his words... "Mrs. Pendarvis, are you sitting down? I found out what is going on with Christopher. It is his kidneys. Both of them. I am calling the nephrologist, but you may need to pack your bags and head to the hospital tonight". That was the day I thought my life would never be the same. It hasn't been the same, but for very different reasons.  We didn't have to head to the hospital right away, but the nephrologist set up an appointment for an ultrasound the following week. With the little bit of information the doctor gave over the phone (and that I could actually remember), I used the remaining time in the mountains to start my research. My findings were very unsettling to say the least, but God again was preparing my heart, as He had all summer as I felt “something” was right around the corner. This also began my journey of trying to maintain normalcy for our family in the midst of my mind going through absolute torture.

The next words that I will never forget were the words of his nephrologist the following week, August 11, 2011… “Well, this is the beginning of a long journey together…” I just remember tuning out after that. Beginning? Long? Journey? What? We found out that Christopher’s kidney failure was due to him being born with small kidneys, and the fact that his body acclimated to his kidneys as he grew explained why we had not yet seen any symptoms. We were also told, “If you are going to have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) this is the best way to have it since nothing has actually caused the kidneys to fail. He will be a great transplant recipient since there will not be anything else fighting against his new kidney”. At the time, these words did offer a little comfort, but we obviously were still very overwhelmed.  We did find out that he was in stage five (final stage) of renal kidney failure. We left the appointment with information on dialysis, and we needed to decide which was best for him. We also left with information from our social worker with a website to discover all we needed to know about CKD. Big mistake. I read every little word, and my traumatized mind went crazy and only saw the worst case scenario in everything I read. This would happen for ten more weeks. During this time, my "mind" told me he was dying. It was the lowest point of my life. Most of our story is listed in this blog, but most of the emotional details will be stored in my heart. Christopher’s body took to the medication he was placed on immediately, and he did not have to be placed on dialysis, but we were immediately thrown in to multiple weekly meetings and set off on the new journey of learning about kidney transplants. His transplant was April 18, 2012. I will be forever grateful that we were able to catch his kidney disease before it caught up to us. CKD is known as a silent disease, and most of the time people find out and are rushed to surgery and placed on immediate dialysis. We were saved from a lot of heartache as a result.

What I would like to say is, life did get back to normal. Christopher is still one of the most amazing people I have ever met. He is the same at home as he is in public. He inspires me every day as he strives to keep a pure heart to glorify the Lord in everything he thinks, says, and does. I am changed. Our family is changed. Emotional pain has a way of changing you. Our main change is seeing God in a way we wouldn’t have otherwise seen or experienced Him. A song that came out when my mind was processing everything correctly again was "Where the Hurt and the Healer Collide". It is true. You really do collide with Him down in the valley of despair. God gave me several verses during the early parts of our journey, and I still am taken back when I read Isaiah 43:2. I would read it. Meditate on it. Claim it. Breathe it. I had this verse placed on the back of  a shirt on a team this past basketball season. I can’t describe how I felt as the little ones glowed with this verse running down the court. I have been able to share the meaning behind this verse many times with people in different valleys and circumstances.

I have learned many valuable lessons through this process, but some of the nuggets I have tucked away are the following:

All valleys are temporary. Your feet WILL hit dry ground again. It wont' be painless, and it may not be quick, but you WILL hit dry land. Life may look a little different. But you don’t remain in that valley. And secondly, but most importantly, God IS with you wherever you go, and He DOES give you the strength to walk the journey He has placed you in. He even breathes for you until you are able to breathe again on your own.

So, today we celebrate five years… for more reasons than one. If you don’t know Jesus as your personal savior, I would love to introduce you to Him. This doesn’t mean that your life will be free of difficult journeys, but it does mean you won’t walk them alone.

Me and Christopher, April 2017

Saturday, January 2, 2016

,Note- this post was started almost two years ago it appears, but I never published it. I felt the need to publish it today...some day I hope to print all of these posts as a journal, and this has been a part of our Walk. I sit amazed reading over these entries. I see God's grace, provision, and His very presence. Spiritual Markers to claim as we progress along with our Victory Walk.

It has been over a year since our last post!  First of all, we did celebrate Christopher's two year mark this past April 18!  He is doing great, and I assure you we do not take that for granted.  Praise God, praise God!!  We go in for labs (blood draws) once per month now, and doctor's visit follow-ups are every three months.  So, in regards to Christopher, we have been able to breathe again.  Praise God.

As I read over my last post dated April 18, 2013, it is hard to believe how much our lives have changed in just one year.  In a previous post I remember stating that it is amazing how much life can be packed into such a short period of time.  CG completed his freshman year at USC and left for Hong Kong last June to study at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  He will be home this August for his junior year at USC before heading back to Hong Kong for his senior year.  His Chinese language skills are amazing.   Gracie just completed her freshman year at Clemson University   Gracie is serving on staff this summer for Student Life Camp as a rec leader, so she won't be home until the end of July.  Our first summer without her at VSO camps, but we are so excited for her!  Cody just completed his junior year at NAFO, and he will be the new Student Body President his senior year!  I keep telling him how thankful I am to have him home another year.  Sending kids off to college three years in a row could really take a toll on a Mom, you know? Cody was also recently awarded the Student of the Year and the Falcon Award.  Christopher is completing his 8th grade year, and he cannot wait for summer missions.  This kid LOVES to serve and can't wait to jump in.  This kid continues to amaze me with his easy going spirit and outlook on life.  I have never seen a young person with as much peace and Godly confidence as Christopher. He is looking forward to coaching for Victory Sports this upcoming fall, and it is hard to believe he is old enough to take on this role!

Looking back over the past year, I feel as though I have grown in leaps and bounds. Growing doesn't come without its pains, but growing always results in something positive. If I can date back even further, to the first diagnosis of Christopher's kidney disorder in August of 2011, I see myself as a completely different person.

My faith in God and His promises have been heightened to a whole new level.  I finally understand what His Word means when He says not to worry about tomorrow.  I understand what He refers to Isaiah 43:2 when He references trials as passing through the waters.  I have lived His promises in Deut. 3:6 that He will never leave nor forsake us.  I have truly learned that all trials are passing through, and that He works His good through everything no matter how big the mess (Romans 8:28).  He turns life messes in to His messages.  As new trials in life have hit me like a huge wave, I have come to see that particular challenge and suffering as temporary. I know there will be an end.  I don't know what it will look like, but I do know that there will be an end.  Not knowing what lies at the end can be scary, but I have come to trust in His provisions, peace, comfort, and knowing that He will equip me if and when needed.   No matter how much pain I am experiencing at the time, the hope that gets me through is knowing that my feet will touch dry ground again.  I don't know when. I don't know how.  I just know His promises.  To be honest, while I am in that time of suffering, and the pain is so deep all I want to do is sleep (if I had time!), I catch myself screaming out to God, "I don't want to be in this situation anymore.  It is too hard, painful, and uncomfortable", but as I cry out,  I also trust that  He will bring me through to dry ground again.  He does.  He did.  He will.

Last summer, June 2013, my life once again turned upside down.  We had seen my mother's health declining, but she assured us that her back was getting weaker the older she was getting, and her limp arm was due to fibermialga.  What we didn't know was that my dear mother had breast cancer.  To spare her family the grief of seeing her suffer and because of everything we were going through with Christopher at the time, she chose to keep this illness to herself.  When she told us in June, she thought it was the end. So did we. The emotional pain was excruciating.  Fortunately, we all found out that this cancer was nonaggressive, but due to being untreated, her health is very poor and her body is failing.  There are so many details that could fill in this empty space about what has transpired since last June- pain, suffering, emotional turmoil- and God may have us share it one day, but for now I will share where we are now.  Due to my mother's poor health, she requires 24/7 nursing care. We had to move her into a nursing home last week so she could get the care she needed since she is no longer able to live at home.  Let me tell you though- my Mom is still a light for Jesus. We had to place my father in a memory care unit for safety at an assisted living facility in March due to his last stroke.  Life has been hard, but God is good.

There is so much I could journal about what has transpired since early December to last week, when my feet finally hit dry ground again.  I will say, although my feet are on dry ground right now, circumstances are still very difficult, but the pain has lessened and we have seen Victory over countless situations that we only could claim in God's name. Yes, I know that we will face another deep valley in the near future, but I also know Who holds tomorrow and Who will be there.  I also know that He is with us and delivers us from ALL of these valleys.  That is why His Word emphasizes passing through in different verses.  I really never knew that- well, I never needed to know that before the last three years.

If the Lord has brought you to this journal, and you are going through a mess or difficult time, just know that you will make it through to dry ground.  It may not be quick, and will not be without pain, but you will see His handy work and make it through.  That is His promise.

Edit, January 2, 2016
My mother passed away October 10, 2014. This Christmas was more of a struggle than last Christmas. The days leading up to her death were very difficult due to her mind not being the same. I find peace in knowing she is whole and with her Father. At Home.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Break

Oh how I love Christmas. I am fortunate to have many warm memories throughout the years, and I am grateful for my mother for giving this gift to me.

All four kids are home for Christmas! Well- kind of.  Gracie was home from Clemson for one day before flying over seas on a 10 day mission trip.  She has now landed and at her destination. She will be home before Christmas!  CG flew in from Hong Kong last Thursday. He only has one semester left. Hard to believe.  Cody drove in from NGU last Monday.

Greg and Christopher are finishing up school this week.

Thankful we have a reason to celebrate this season! Thank you, God, for sending your precious one and only Son, Jesus, to this dark world to die on that dark cross so that we can have eternal life with You. Thank you for the gift of Jesus!