Cancer. A word everyone fears and no one expects to happen to them. Hearing the word changes lives forever.
However, God can bring good out of the worst of times — and Ashley Huffstutler’s story is an example of His faithfulness. After testing concluded she had a brain tumor, and despite dealing with chemo, radiation and language difficulties, Ashley said she felt God call her to write a children’s book. “When I Hold You” was released in April 2021.
“I wrote this out of obedience to Christ,” Ashley said.
“As I started my recovery from my initial surgery and treatments, I never set out with the intention to write a book. I just wanted to put my words together for my daughters to have something to read and know God is ever present.
“The further I got in to the process, the more I questioned God on if I could even write this,” Ashley admitted.
Opportunities to share
Always wanting to be used for Him, in 2016 the Huffstutlers prayed God would give them opportunities to share His faithfulness.
They were active in The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, and they had no idea of the twists and turns coming.
In October 2017, David said, “If you had told me a year ago that I’d be sitting … in a Neuro-ICU room at [the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital] writing a blog at 12 a.m. after quite possibly one of the toughest days I’ve ever faced, and it was the answer to that prayer … I honestly would have doubts about actually praying that prayer.
“However, the more I live this story, the more I see one thing clearly: The Lord heard our prayer and faithfully provided.
“He has, for His reasons, set us on this journey.
“He is sovereign, and as hard as it may be, He truly is providing an opportunity to make His name known.”
Ashley’s first symptom wasn’t that ominous: She lost sight in the right half of her right eye.
Since she was pregnant with their second daughter, she couldn’t have a test to definitively diagnose the problem.
They delivered their daughter early, and Ashley was tested again. The diagnosis was a low-grade glioma — a brain tumor. Cancer.
Their first reaction was to cry.
“This is my wife we’re talking about. My best friend, my bride, my love. She’s sick and I can’t fix it,” David said.
But their next step was to turn to Jesus.
“The real answer to keeping it together is knowing you don’t have to,” David wrote in the family’s blog.
“Everything is broken and dying. Everyone is broken and dying. Every situation is broken and dying. There is absolutely nothing that you or I can do on our own accord to prevent/stop/heal that brokenness and dying.
“Not to get all Ecclesiastes on everyone (‘everything is meaningless’), but we literally have no hope of rescue in this world … apart from Jesus. The only call on my life is to lay it down. The only call on your life is to lay it down. That’s the beauty of true Christianity.”
The next four years brought ups and downs for the Huffstutlers. Ashley has had multiple rounds of chemo and radiation, deals with seizures and has difficulty with communication, memory, stability and weight loss.
She even contracted COVID-19 in February 2021.
“But the more time I spent in isolation,” Ashley recalled, “I realized this isn’t about me. It isn’t about COVID. It isn’t about cancer. It is about trials. It is about hardship. It is about knowing God more intimately.
“I pray God would continue to use these trials to grow my faith, to increase my hope and to build my confidence. I’ve asked Him to teach me more of who He is, that in anything we have to deal with, that He’d help me to seek Him in all circumstances.”
Ashley’s book “When I Hold You” ends with, “When our day fades into night, I gaze at dark but dwell on Light.”
“When I Hold You,” an illustrated board book with Scripture intertwined in each image, is available at major retailers. To read more about the Huffstutlers’ journey, visit eversingingforjoy.blogspot.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was based on the Huffstutlers’ blog. Used with permission.