Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Need for Hope

Yesterday, I sat with a beloved friend in a room with her daughter's body that had been overtaken by cancer.

There are so many people in our lives these days-so many CHILDREN in our lives with cancer, that when my 3 year old daughter prays, she has started praying for "no more cancer" even in those who don't have it.  

So many that we love and care for are riddled with pain or disease or loss....

Not to mention that so much of our own life involves appointments and anesthesia and night terrors and watching and waiting to see what this destroyer called cancer will do next.

I have also had the amazing privilege of standing with, sitting with (like yesterday) or being acquainted with those who have endured unspeakable loss....and while it has crushed them, and broken them, and uprooted them....the power of Jesus Christ has allowed them to not be overtaken. With aching hearts, they still get up and believe that He is good.  So today, I honor these faithful ones. They dare to call me to a courage that goes beyond this life and looks to the next one.  They give me the strength to endure because the power of Christ really IS made perfect in my weakness. They remind me how much we all need Hope, and that in Christ....I have it.  
And so with this Hope, I long to proclaim to every hurting heart, every broken body, and every soul that is weary: Jesus is real.  He will return. He is perched, upon a white horse, waiting for the command of the Father to RIDE IN. His name is Faithful and True. And when He comes, our hopes will be realized, our hearts will be mended, and we will know the unspeakable joy of life without sorrow or sin.  Come. Lord. Jesus.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Childhood cancer receives only 4% of the research funding for cancer.  Please join me in praying for the many little warriors who are fighting this fight. Pray for their families to have the hope of Jesus Christ in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. Pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to abound.

The great preacher of old, Martyn-Lloyd Jones, at the end of his life, was said to have told those who would pray for his healing to stop it because they were "holding him back from glory." Oh Lord, give me those eyes to see that this life is just a shadow of the glorious one, where the mountains are higher, the trees are taller, and the goodness of God is so great that I need a new body to handle it. 

And pray that the Lord would continue to send laborers into the field so that many would be brought into the Kingdom of Light. May we long for the return of the King of Love with such strength that we are actually moved into action.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, let us have more compassion and kindness than ever. Let's speak gentle and kind words, because we never know what brokenness will be met by them.  Let's love radically because the glory of God is on the line.
We need Hope.
Jesus is Hope.
Let's make Him known, for the sake of His name and His Kingdom!!!!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Halfway Between Broken and Healed

As much as I love it when Elijah has a good report at the doctor, I have to be honest that there's always a part of my heart that holds back just a bit. Probably because we've heard good reports that turn into bad reports and because they have prepared us by saying that his genetic mutation just means that there is always a chance for regrowth.

It doesn't mean I don't celebrate the good news--it just means that I don't take it to be the last word. There's still tomorrow, and no one really knows what tomorrow will bring until it comes.  And honestly-I pray it brings the return of Jesus! Amen?

Anyhow. So, I did rejoice in the good news of no new tumors for Elijah, and the two remaining seem to be inactive-meaning, they aren't growing.  I love this news!  This is wonderful!!!!! Elijah has had 4 good exams since his last chemo surgery, the longest he has ever gone with out treatment since he was diagnosed a year and a half ago.  

But as I'm in NY, thinking about getting home, my mind turns to the practical stuff. I still have to make it home, and there's too much to carry, especially with a bulged disc in my back.  I call the airline, who only offers assistance to those with disabilities. Well, okay. I'm learning to humble myself and so I'll take the label of "disabled".....which disability would they care to write down-my son's cancer, the bulged disc in my back, or the injury to my rotator cuff?  (No, I didn't actually say that, I just thought it.)
We arranged for a representative of the airline to meet me at the gate to help me get all this stuff onto the plane. (JFK has longer terminals, so I really didn't have a way to do it on my own.). 

There's something so hopeful about moving forward with the confidence that where you need help, it will be made available to you.  I wasn't stressing about a thing because I knew someone would meet me and help me get to the plane. This was part of the new challenge of traveling with a car seat. I have to push the stroller with the car seat sort of hanging on it, as well as pull the roller bag with 3 other bags dangling from it, as well as holding Elijah (who is, of course, not very happy at this point).

Then at the end of the terminal gate, I have to remove the car seat, fold up the stroller, and then get the car seat to our row all while holding Elijah and pulling a roller bag.  Needless to say, I was just happy to know that I would have help. I even started thinking, "This might have been one of our easiest trips in regards to travel."

When we got to the gate, I told the airline representative about the arrangement for someone to meet me and help me. Let's just say, she started off pretty rude and condescending. I politely asked her to look up our reservation in her computer, to which she said that although there was a note in my account stating that I was to receive help....it was not a service they provided and so I was on my own.

There is something especially dejecting about thinking you will have help, and then finding that you won't.  As they allowed me to board, I gave new meaning to the phrase "those who need extra time to board."  I would push the stroller/car seat contraption about five feet in what can only be described as a zigzag pattern, and then come back and drag the roller bag.  This worked for about 10 feet, until the stroller and car seat combo fell over, the roller bag fell over, and I sat blocking the terminal gate, fighting back tears, trying to hold a crying toddler and feeling so.....humiliated. 

I know that one of my weaknesses is in not always admitting my need for help.  But this time I did.  I called ahead, I acknowledged that I could not do this on my own.  And then people stood around and watched as it was proven true.  It's not that I really cared so much what people thought....it's that all my energy had been spent-getting up with Elijah at 1am, waking up at 3am to gather all of our things and clean the room, check out of RMH, get uber to come, install Elijah's car seat, get to the airport, print boarding passes, get through security.....and here I am in the middle of a terminal gate with all my stuff sprawled across the path so that no one can get through, boarding a plane I don't want to get on-except that this one is the one that will get me home.

Finally, an airline representative did come and help. Most likely it was more because I was keeping everyone else from boarding by blocking the way....I guess that only because there was so many opportunities prior to that to help me for the sake of kindness.

I got Elijah's seat installed and we made it home. I knew I would have the same problem exiting the plane, but this time I got everything mounted on my roller bag, including the car seat which I banged my hand on every row that I passed, until a flight attendant noticed that I was holding up the whole plane by moving so slowly.  He came and carried the seat off the plane for me.  I got Elijah buckled, got the bungee cord to attach the car seat to the stroller, and just as I stood up, I saw an airline representative standing there with an electronic sign with Elijah's name on it.  The irony sunk in, as I realized I finally had help....and I no longer needed it.

This experience is one that I never want to repeat. But I will in 5 weeks.  I will keep going and keep getting on a plane, and keep trying to find better ways to make it work and keep putting one foot in front of the other because that's what Elijah needs right now.  It got me thinking about Jesus, and the many he healed when he walked upon the earth.  He touched them, and power went out from Him. The person receiving that power KNEW they were healed.  Instantly, they felt the difference of healing power coursing through their veins.  And yet, as far as we know, they still died.  The curse of sin was still at work upon their body, bringing about the decay of death, even as they were healed.

It's a paradox. They were healed. But they still died.  Death, rather than being the curse of separation from God, in Jesus just becomes the means by which we pass through into full and complete healing. We know healing in part, but then, we will know it in its fullness.

I thought about how in sin, we are all walking towards death and decay, and separation from God. But because of the cross and the resurrection, Jesus sets us on a new path. It's a little scary because it still leads towards death....but He went through that path, and He conquered its power so that the path now leads towards healing and life in the presence of God.

As Elijah and I walked through Central Park, I saw hundreds of workers and volunteers working on the sprawling green spaces that make the park so beautiful.  These workers were actually almost laying in the greenery, meticulously pulling out each weed that threatened to take over the beautiful space for the plants.

I thought, no matter how much God works on me, no matter how much transforming work He accomplishes in me, there's still weeds that need to be pulled out. God is a faithful Gardner-He will even lay down in the midst of the dirt and muck of my heart and meticulously pick out the weeds that have grown up.

He has healed me by setting me on a path that leads to freedom from sin and suffering, and living in the presence of God.  But there is still so much brokenness in this world. There are still hard things that happen in the midst of hard things--even when there is good news.

And so, while this trip meant good news for Elijah, it wasn't exactly the easiest trip.   This trip, well, it was about halfway between broken and healed.  The joy of Elijah's report while still walking in the brokenness of a world that no longer stops to help people who need help.  That's just the practical reality.  We rejoice in the good news, and yet the reality of life right now is still sometimes difficult.

But today, not only am I SO glad to have made it home, but I am glad that even if I'm just somewhere in the midst of the journey....even if there's weeds everywhere in my green places that need to be pulled up.....even if there's still hard things, and I feel like I'm somewhere in between broken and healed--the end destination is complete healing, in the presence of God with joy everlasting.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A good report!

Elijah is doing great! No new tumors and the two remaining tumors appear to be inactive.  They do not detect any "live" cells, however it is always a possibility moving forward. For now, we are just stoked for this good news and we will be back in 5 weeks!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Swept off to NYC....

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."--J.R.R. Tolkien

We got up at 2am after I successfully spent yesterday afternoon avoiding packing. :-). We left the house about 2:45am, and while several phone calls to TSA in advance did not seem to help us much in the security department.....Elijah and I made it through. 
This is all the stuff, with the car seat bungee-corded to the stroller. Delta was kind enough to have someone help me push down the terminal since I was carrying Elijah at that point.
We got onto the plane and I got the car seat installed.
Elijah only slept about 20-30 minutes the whole flight-which actually surprised me. He wasn't entirely happy, but words cannot express how much easier it was-even when he was crying and upset, he was not thrashing against me or kicking someone next to me. And, I could eventually calm him down with snacks, or by rubbing his sweet little head. So! All in all, I think having Elijah in his own seat was a HUGE answer to prayer. I don't know how we will keep that up, but I really do think it made an amazing difference.
Lugging the car seat around brought some new challenges.  When I went out to grab a taxi, they informed me that there was about 400 people in front of me (literally.). So we did Uber instead, and the man was SUPER nice, let me install the car seat, and I'm pretty sure he was a believer.  I had some trouble keeping my eyes open at this point, and so did Elijah:
But it was fun to hear all about this man's life.
When got to the FDR, and could see the East River, I knew we were close.
They gave us the warmest welcome including a couple of toys for Elijah, beautiful smiles and hugs, and they even had a room "pre-assigned" for us and a crib waiting. :) we weren't sure if we would get to stay at RMH since they are doing major renovations....so this was a super sweet blessing and just made a long day feel so much less tiresome to be greeted by....well, our NY family. 

I'm so thankful to be here, and on the ground. We will turn in early tonight since one of us is very tired and we have an early morning at the hospital. Thank you all for praying!!!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Yesterday Caleb was having fun at the Santa Barbara skate park. It is a special treat because we don't always get up that way.  I had to race home to get Emma to dance, and just as I arrived home I got a phone call from Ben. He said that Caleb had fallen and caught himself on his arm, but he most likely needed to go to the ER. We met at home and took Caleb over.  

He has a fracture in the wrist, and although the elbow looked a little funny, they think it looks okay. Evidently the treatment wouldn't have been much different if the elbow were involved so they just treated it as if it were.
Caleb has a fiberglass cast for now, which is very helpful because he can take it off to shower and such, as long as he is disciplined to not do much with it.

We will see the doctor at the end of the week and they will decide what happens from here.  Out of seven children, this is our first fracture. That's probably a miracle in itself. :-)

Oh Lord. Thank you for protecting Caleb from anything more serious. Thank you for great medical care.  And thank you for this boy who smiles, even though it isn't exactly how you want the last few weeks of summer to go.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Hope Rising.....

You know, it's been a pretty crazy year and a half for our family.  In February, I really felt the Lord place it on my heart to do a conference for women, with the theme of Hope. More and more, we see heartache and hurting around us, and more than ever, we need the HOPE that only Jesus Christ can offer.
I am so excited to join with two of the dearest friends as we desire to proclaim the hope of Christ, the goodness of God, and the return of a Great King....
Together, we want to look forward to the day when Jesus Christ will return and set all the wrong things right.  We desire to declare how good and faithful God is....even when it's hard and painful and you don't know how you are going to make it.
We want to encourage each other that as the times get harder, we need to unite around Christ and hold each other up.  We need each other more than ever.

So, if you're available, please consider joining us on Saturday, August 20th, 2016 from 9am to 4pm at Calvary Chapel in Santa Barbara.  Share! Tell the ladies you know who might need to be encouraged that they are not alone. Let's come together, and worship the One who is worthy of our Hope.