Tag Archives: grace

First Year

Happy first year to our precocious, unflappable boy.  We love your smile and your cackle-laugh.  We love your rambling toddles and your grunting attempts to speak.

We are so excited to see who and what you become as you grow, and we are so thankful that you came into our lives.  Happy Birthday, Karsten!

Day Five

Today is day five of Chase’s first treatment. Every time they’ve hung another bag or started a new infusion, I find myself tensely thinking “Wait for it, this is the one that is going to make him code…”. (sidenote: a chemo treatment room is a great incubator for illogical fear)

Each day has brought new information and and sometimes overwhelming experiences…

Reality: this chemo is so powerful that we can’t even change his diapers without wearing gloves.

Reality: my son has a surgically-placed double hose into his chest (which will remain with him for the duration of his chemo) that I need to learn how to clean and care for.

Reality: he hasn’t eaten almost anything in over 48 hours and is on a constant IV for his nutrition.

Reality: one of the chemos is making his jaw hurt to the point where he cries out anytime he opens his mouth…even in his sleep.

I want to keep writing “reality” and listing all the other things that are bothering me or that make our life sound very extreme and dramatic, but just now, I need a reality check, and since you happen to be reading this, you are coming along with me.

Reality: my son is in the final day of his first round of six chemos and he hasn’t coded over any of them, in fact, his nausea is mostly managed by a couple anti-nausea meds and the nursing staff said he is doing incredibly well given his difficult protocol.

Reality: we live close to one of the top treatment hospitals in the nation in an age when they know what AT/RT is and can treat it (even as little as five years ago, this cancer was still fairly unknown)

Reality: “God is always doing a thousand things when he does anything. And we see but a fraction.” John Piper

Moment by moment…

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Truth, Grace, Perspective, and Chemo

I don’t want to write tonight, but there is much to share.
Yesterday, we had a full schedule of appointments at the hospital – Chase was cleared post-op by his neurosurgeon and was cleared pre-chemo by the oncology team.  Oh, and in the middle of all the scheduled visits we had a series of UNscheduled visits when his father and I (please, keep in mind that we are parents of four, and in this moment, we only had ONE to watch) ignored that one wiggle that sent him backwards off his cafeteria chair and onto the floor…on his baseball head.  Oh my.  He’s completely fine.  Someday, Bob and I will recover too.

Coloring to pass the time in pre-op

After all our meetings yesterday, we got to go home for a few hours and then came back very early this morning for Chase’s second trip into the OR in 2 weeks – this time for a central line, spinal tap, and first spinal injection of chemo.

Daddy prepping to assist the medical staff until Chase stopped kicking them :)

As I write this, we are back in one of our lovely lake view rooms on the oncology floor.  For this first chemo visit, he stays for several days, incredibly vigilant monitoring, and lots and lots of chemo drugs.

Our new life

Oh, the drugs!  In some ways, this is harder to handle than his surgery.  I hate the thought of what these life-saving drugs are going to do to him.  Each infusion makes this more real…or at the very least, keep us from ever forgetting where we are and why.  I find myself pondering again and again the strange and sober mercy that allows such suffering in the now for the benefit of long term.  (always pondering it…never questioning it)
Today has really been a good day and Chase is doing incredibly well given the circumstances.  So why didn’t I want to write?  Because today is a struggle for me.  Not a high-level freak out… Just a low level wishing things were other than what they are.  I feel very weak in the “bigness” of this disease and it’s implications.

With Chase immediately post-op as he was coming out of the anesthesia

In this moment, I know that I need to be reminded of Truth.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.   Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;  but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV)

Though I am weary, God is not.  Though I am weak, God is not.  Though I am very intimidated by my son’s chemo protocol, God is not.  Though I have no idea what our future holds … GOD KNOWS.  In fact, He more than knows…He has perfectly crafted and designed these events in a symphony of praise and glory beyond our wildest and most beautiful imaginings.
Moment by moment perspective.
Moment by moment grace.

Sleeping peacefully at the end of a long day (Isaiah 26:13)

 

Imagine the Grace

Photo courtesy of Jessicafm

“You know it’s okay to say this really stinks, right?”

Bob and I have heard variations on this question many, many times in the last two weeks.  Yes, we really, really do know that this stinks.  We weep and are often overwhelmed, but we marvel ourselves at the peace we feel.

I was recently made aware of a wonderful thought from Elisabeth Elliot that perfectly describes our feeling.  She (our Chase Stratton Elliot’s great-great aunt) wrote this after losing her second husband to cancer.  I read it in this moment not as pertaining to the loss of Chase, but as the loss of what could have been for Chase:

“It often happens that those whose loss is greatest receive the greatest share of grace, mercy, and peace. This does not mean that they never cry, of course. But they do not collapse. Those who only watch and pray and try to put themselves in the place of the bereaved find it almost unendurable. Sometimes they weep uncontrollably, for their imaginations never include the grace.” (The Path of Loneliness)

Oh dear ones, when you think of us, imagine the grace!  It is beyond your (and even our) wildest imaginations.

As of today, we know that Chase is scheduled to begin treatment by the end of the week.  Please pray for us to continue in a moment-by-moment walk with Jesus.

“But safety, as the Cross shows, does not exclude suffering…trust in those strong arms means that even our suffering is under control. We are not doomed to meaninglessness. A loving Purpose is behind it all, a great tenderness even in the fierceness.”  (The Path of Loneliness)

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning…”  Psalm 130:5-6 (ESV)

 

Commonplace … Or Not

 

Just recently, I was putting the kids into the car and we saw a caterpillar.  It was fuzzy, green, and directly behind the front wheel of our van.  I probably would have forgotten about him, climbed into the driver’s seat, and gone into reverse without a second thought, but one does not do this in front of small children to whom each bug is a new best friend.
After once and for all time settling the question of whether or not the caterpillar could be our new house pet (“He could be like our dog, Mom!”), we decided that the best thing we could do for him is move him away from the path of the van so as not to “goosh” him (as Aid said).
I poked him with a stick, and then two sticks.  I tried to get him to climb onto one or the other so I could move him.  I tried picking him up in every way I could think of without the aforementioned “gooshing” occuring.  Still, the caterpillar refused to be rescued.
I finally got him to move enough that my car wouldn’t kill him and we were able to move on.

 

As we were driving, I got to thinking about this picture a little more…
Metaphorically, I think I must look a lot like that caterpillar … I’m often stuck behind a giant wheel of sin and pride that will “goosh” me, yet how often I refuse the gentle prodding of offered rescue because I – in a grand delusion of deceit – believe that the stick will hurt me and that I must move in my own strength, will, and time.
The verse that kept coming to my mind is a passage from the book of Hebrews: “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”   (Hebrews 3:13, ESV)

 

Even thought my little caterpillar picture is silly and ordinary, there is nothing silly, ordinary, or commonplace about grace.  Grace saved me and teaches me – now and until the day that I will see Christ face to face.
The hand of Grace is extended – have you reached for it?

 

He breaks the power of canceled sin, he sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean, his blood availed for me

Child of Grace

March 5th: The baby could be anticipated with joy

And what is left of this story?  The baby

Darcy (“the one who dwells in the stronghold”) Charis (“grace”) was born at 6:59 AM on Tuesday, April 18th, 2006.  My prayer for her has always been that she would live to fulfill her name: that she would dwell in the shadow of the Almighty and forever be a testimony of His Grace.  She was and is a child picture of my grace as well.

And so I began … raising my daughter while working full time to provide for us both, trusting God to meet our every need, and feeling completely led to stay single and reach others for Christ with my story of God’s faithfulness.

More than once, I was told with well-meaning intentions (or so I choose to believe) that others were praying for a husband to “rescue” me, but I really didn’t consider myself a person to be rescued.  God loved me and provided for me more and better than any human husband could and between that and the many promises of the Word to the fatherless, Darcy and I felt incredibly covered in this season.

Yet …

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” ~ Proverbs 16:9

This was not the end of a story, but the close of another chapter.

 

**Missed the rest of the story (so far)?  It’s right here!**

The Dual Road

Coming back after an almost two-month hiatus. If you’ve missed my previous posts, you can read them here:

Chapter I
Prologue: It Confounds Logic
A Moment of Truth
Is There Another Way?

Breaking the news
In the weeks that followed my discovery of pregnancy, the news began to unfold – First to my parents, then my siblings. From there, it would go to my pastor, our church elders, and finally to friends and those who I wanted to hear this news from my own lips.

These were months of walking a dual road, one of pain and sadness in recognizing my sin and dealing with the outcome of it, and the other of precious joy and growth in the restoration of my heart to the Lord and the awakening of my soul to the Word.

To say that telling those around me was excruciating would be an understatement. I could not have imagined the crumbling faces, countenances frozen in shock, horror, even revulsion … and then have it happen over and over again.

But as I was emotionally drained in each discussion, so also was I being filled and renewed as I was drawn to the Word. [the italicized verse interspersed here are taken from Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 – two especially meaningful chapters to me]

God prepared my parents to live out what is one of the few nightmares a parent has regarding their offspring, and to love and guide me through the entire process.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

I remember sitting in my pastor’s office – the pastor, his wife, and my parents. They were new to our church that year, and I barely knew them. And yet, words of insightful counsel and great wisdom flowed. One of my sweetest memories from this season came from that afternoon. Ending our time with prayer, the pastor’s wife, a woman I knew only by reputation at that time, prayed through tears for the life of the baby. She was the first one to pray for my child. How I love this woman.

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Another moment that stands out in my mind from this period is a time with the church elders. I should note that this time was scheduled not in a spirit of judgment, but rather with the desire to counsel, assist, and plan. Throughout my pregnancy, my reputation and my growing faith and testimony were protected by these faithful men.

You [God] are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.

So many phone calls and meeting with friends – even now they blur together. Listening to others weep, hearing condemnation and accusation as well as the blessings of grace, forgiveness, and love. I remember standing in a close friend’s kitchen and getting the sentence out. She rushed over to where I was sitting and, kneeling on the floor, grabbed me and hugged me. When she leaned back, I could see that she had tears in her eyes, but her words were words of love.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

(to be continued on Wednesday)