Tag Archives: joy

Ten Thousand Reasons For My Heart To Find…

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“Wait here”, the manager said, and we leaned against the wall, all six of us, like a giant line-up.  I turned to Chase and whispered: “Are you excited to meet Matt Redman?” and he nodded and grinned as  we leaned against the wall in the wait. 

I suppose we expected fanfare, or a crowd, or something to herald this amazing artist – but suddenly, humbly and quietly (I didn’t even from which direction he came), he was standing in front of us and there were no handshakes – only hugs.  He said he’d heard a lot about us and then he moved down the line of us and greeted each one, learning names and personal details.  He met Karsten’s stuffed dog, talked with Darcy about her loom bracelets and their colors, and got on his knees in front of Chase and Aidan and asked them if Spiderman and Batman were in a competition, who would win?

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And the craziest, most amazing part of it all?  We got to stand in front of Matt Redman, look him in the eye, and try and put into words what the song 10,000 Reasons means to us….  

How it underscores every car ride to the hospital…

How it’s floated out of most pre-procedure rooms…

How most of the hematology and oncology staff have been shown the music video at one time or other…

How it was the last thing Chase heard every day as he whispered “I’m so brave” and slipped into unconsciousness on the radiation days…

How every music therapist in the hospital downloaded the chords because they knew if they went to Chase’s room, it’d be the song he’d want to hear…

How it wrapped us up as we’d sit, high about the lake, day after day in the dark cancer days when the fevers wouldn’t break and the cancer cells wouldn’t leave…

Oh how we failed!  There are not having enough words, enough good words to put into a few sentences what three years of this song as a soundtrack to our lives has meant.  How precious it is to us, and how precious Matt Redman is to us because of it.  There have been times and seasons when our hearts were broken and we could not call out, and the only thing that came from us to God were Matt’s words, Matt’s voice in this song as we had none left ourselves.  This song has been one of the greatest gifts — until last night when we got the opportunity to try and find the words to tell him of it’s impact.

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And how I wish you all could have been with us and watched as Chase sang along to so many of the songs, raised his arms in worship, clapped and cheered, even danced a little.  And at the end of the night, before the closing song, the room got quiet as Matt spoke and he told them all about how he’d just met a family and the kids were all “firecrackers” (I mean, did he get us or what?) and that one of the sons had a brain tumor and then, Matt Redman told the room a minute of our story and Chase’s love of the song because – as he said – we were there to worship, but the church is always there to bear each other’s burdens, and we are the church, and as I sat in the hundreds of people, with Chase on my lap, Matt Redman invited the church to bear Chase’s journey with us, as a picture of Chase went up on all the screens, and Chase gasped and exclaimed “That’s me!”.  Matt dedicated the song to the Lord, but said they’d sing it with Chase that night, and so we all stood together in this great room with hundreds around us and cried as we sang every word by heart – the way God put things together blew me away yet again.

And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end draws near and my time has come,
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending…
Ten thousand years, and then forevermore.

And all the way home, late into the night, Chase chatted on about “my friend Mr. Matt” and how he loved him and missed him and wanted to give him another hug “…because he sang my song, Mom!  He sang my song!”

We are so thankful for this once-in-a-lifetime experience of worship and fellowship…

…moment by moment.

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*For more on the ministry and music of Matt Redman, please visit his website here.*

Of Wheelchairs And Joy

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Her life as she knew it changed forever when she was 17 and she has faithfully used the crazy hard changes for truth and beauty and just recently, the children and I had the great privilege of actually meeting Joni Eareckson Tada.  I watched their faces and they were afraid to get too close lest they hurt her – they have yet to fully understand her wheelchair and it’s reasons – but she smiled at them and encouraged them to come closer and they couldn’t resist her joy.

Do you know her story?   It’s real and it’s raw and she’s a hero of mine because she never stops seeking the goodness of God when all the life circumstances are anything but.  Knowing her story, listening to her speak, reading her writing – all of it – is such a wonderful reminder that the day for no pain and tears is coming.  It is not today, but it’s coming, and God remains faithful while we wait.

Moment by moment.

“There is no circumstance, no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose.” – Alan Redpath

[This quote is a favorite of mine and is listed among Mrs. Tada’s favorites as well.]

 

The Second Year

Tuesday, July 31, 2012…

Two Years… Two whole years since the early morning panic gave way to a living nightmare on the day Chase was diagnosed.

What struck me most as I looked through the pictures and memories is that life can feel complicated now, and yet, as I look back over the last year and see such crazy hard times, I realize that I’m apt to forget what it looked like in the shadow of whatever the here and now happens to hold.  I can tend to see Chase’s deficits and struggles and not realize how healthy and robust he is now compared to the emaciated waif that was.   The truth is that much has changed.  The truth is also that there are many uncertainties ahead.  The truth is that God’s goodness and faithfulness to us have never and will never change.  And Chase is still living and breathing with us two whole years later.

We’ve spent many days listening to Rend Collective’s newest album.  Our family’s favorite song is “My Lighthouse” and I truly can’t think of better words to sum the year…the two years…or, the lifetime:

In my wrestling and in my doubts
In my failures You won’t walk out
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea

In the silence, You won’t let go
In my questions, Your truth will hold
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea

My Lighthouse, my lighthouse
Shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse
I will trust the promise, 
You will carry me safe to shore 
Safe to shore

I won’t fear what tomorrow brings
With each morning I’ll rise and sing
My God’s love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea

Fire before us, You’re the brightest
You will lead us through the storm

Even if we know nothing of what lies before us (and we don’t), we can look back and see the joy in so many ways.

Trusting He will lead us through the storm… moment by moment.

**Look back with us and find joy…**

To Channel The Fight: Follow Up

The brothers eat gummies and pick late night movies to help keep Chase awake

The brothers eat gummies and pick late night movies to help keep Chase awake

Yesterday’s EEG -a test we were told would take 4-6 hours- lasted a full 8 hours.

This face. For an easily over-stimulated child, the wet/cold electrodes all over his head were very difficult at first.

This face. For an easily over-stimulated child, the wet/cold electrodes all over his head were very difficult at first.

For Chase, who was being video-monitored (in addition to the electrodes covering his head), this meant about a 2 foot range of motion on the bed…for 8 full hours.

Chase.  Being still.  For 8 hours.  Ha.

Sleeping peacefully. An answer to prayer as sleep is an important component of the test.

Sleeping peacefully. An answer to prayer as sleep is an important component of the test.

Actually, he did incredibly well considering the circumstances.  It was a grueling day for him and he managed it with a great attitude.

There are few things that a lollipop and coloring time won't make better...even a head full of electrodes. :)

There are few things that a lollipop and coloring time won’t make better…even a head full of electrodes. :)

We haven’t done this test since the initial days of his diagnosis – haven’t kept him up late into the night since two days before we found out he had a tumor and I was amazed how going through the ritual again brought back the memories of those sleep deprived, scared hours when we first felt the dread of some unknown thing being very wrong with our little boy.  And then the memories passed and we had a great sense of peace and even joy in the middle of the long night and day.

We hope to hear some results within the week and will be able to discuss a plan of action with the epilepsy specialist in early April.  Thank you for your prayers.

Moment by moment. 

 

Joy In The Mirror

We sat at the long table in the restaurant.  A table full of friends who had invited us to join them and we’d agreed.  I looked at Bob and he looked at me over the wiggly, wriggling heads struggling to sit still like grown-ups do.  How crazy were we to say yes to a restaurant with three little boys in tow? 

Chase especially struggles to sit still (a running family joke given his name), and so he’d sit for a while at the table and then as a reward, I’d get him up and let him walk around and back before sitting a spell again.  And I watched people watch him… His shoes are like the shoes of other boys, his clothes and eyes and energy and everything else…and then his white, white head and the slightly faded, but oh so noticeable scar that runs the length of skull and you can see the looks of pity, the politely averted eyes.  I don’t blame them.  I’d do the same thing.  I find myself wanting to run up to them and say “It’s okay!  Look all you want!  This is a miracle in front of you!“, but instead, I smile, move on and caution Chase not to trip the servers in his enthusiastic dash.

You see, sometimes being out in public with a visibly chemo-worn child is like stepping in front of a mirror.  When we’re home or with good friends, we’re just us and everybody knows Chase.  But when we step out, like that day in the restaurant, it’s a mirror.  Stop.  Look.  We’re different.  This scar says our life looks nothing like yours.  The loudest of reminders in the slightest of glances.

And then, a family approached our table.  They spoke of mutual friends and places from years past, they knew Chase from his Facebook page and they prayed for him and they’d recognized him.  And then they encouraged us with their words and pressed a gift card into our hands.  “Your lunch is on us“, they said.  And then they were gone.

The gift card sits as a reminder with my papers – you just never know.  There in the mirror that day, there was fellowship and joy because of the recognizable scar.

So pay it forward, play it back, make it right, stop to help – don’t be afraid to make eye contact because you never know when you might be staring at a miracle.  And you might be stepping next to a battered parent in front of a battered mirror and showing them joy.

Moment by moment.

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Free From The Sting

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As a Christian, Easter is one of the most important times of my year. It’s the season I set aside to celebrate what Jesus did for me, but this year is more precious as I consider how the events of Easter fit into our cancer world.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus is the son of God, that the Bible is true, and that the promises it contains are real and this is why I so often include verses in my blog posts–to remind myself of what I know to be true when my circumstances are overwhelming (which they often are). In those moments, I literally have the physical sensation of drowning.  Believing as I do doesn’t change the pain of cancer or anything else in this life, but it can and does change how I face the drowning moments.

Often, like the thief on the cross next to Jesus–not the mocker, but the other–the weight of life and pain (some self-inflicted, some not) closes in and I cry out.  And then comes the reply,

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

That’s it! This is the answer to the agony. The pain and suffering is only a season, because death is swallowed up in Jesus’ glorious victory and its sting is gone. One day soon I will be with Jesus in Paradise!

Because I know God made me, and I will be in Heaven with Him forever when this weary life is over, I am freed from the drowning to feel joy in sorrow and peace in chaos. Death may be sad, but it need not sting because this life is not the end, but the beginning.

In the midst of this cancer world, there can be incredible, inexplicable peace because my ultimate struggle has already been resolved. My sin was taken care of on the cross by God Himself! All that happens in my life is what He lovingly allows for His pleasure and glory. Someday I will be complete and lacking in nothing and with Him forever in fullness of joy.

This is my cancer foundation. This is my life foundation.

Moment by moment.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelations 21:4

Shadows And Love

During the Christmas season, I attended the most wonderful wedding – it was just what such a celebration at the holidays should be, yet as I sat in the dimly lit auditorium, I felt out of place. Weddings are joyous occasions and even as I truly entered into the happiness of the bride and groom I couldn’t completely escape the shadow of Chase’s cancer. …and so I sat, taking in the beauty and feeling vaguely guilty lest my shadow burden be apparent to anybody but myself.

Words broke through my distracted thoughts as a woman in a beautiful gray dress stood to do a reading. As she spoke, my shadow seemed to grow stronger. I couldn’t hear the words she spoke with anything other than cancer ears…even though I knew that they had been chosen to reflect this marriage love at the moment of commitment, but as she spoke the familiar words, my heart was soothed by the fresh reminder of the Gracious Provider…and then she began to cry…and I cried too because I had needed to hear those words.

Much later in the evening, Providence ordained that I meet the woman who read the verses: a divine appointment if ever there was one. I learned that she too carries a horrific cancer shadow. I, my baby boy…she, the spouse ’til death do they part. We talked and cried and felt helpless together in the middle of the beautiful reception and though I had never met her before and may not see her again for some time, she is my sister because of that night.

Many times since then, I’ve pondered the strange mixing of the celebration and the sadness, and the family relationship with a complete stranger because of the pain. In my mind, pain and joy belong in different universes, yet from birth to death we cannot separate them any more than we can separate ourselves from the Sovereign One who created us.

Here is an excerpt of the words she read that night…

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Of this I am sure, there is a mercy in the shadows of pain – a severe, but present one nonetheless. I do not even pretend to know what it is, but I know it is there because I, and she, and all who walk a painful road walk it next to the Everlasting Love who has known us always and will know us still and what is a dim shadow now will be crystal clear when we see Him face to face. Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus, come soon.

Moment by moment.

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Thank You For Cancer

As Chase and I were talking this morning he suddenly began to pray: “Dear Jesus,” he said, “Thank you for my cancer! In Your name I pray, Amen!” The “amen” was almost a shout as he turned to me exuberantly and exclaimed “Mom! I prayed for my cancer!”

I almost had to pick myself up off the floor.

His precious joy is something I needed to record here as a picture of “faith like a child“…no strings attached, no analyzing or questioning, no ulterior motives, simply joy and thankfulness in the moment.

But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:16

Moment by moment.

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Six Week Joy

Chase’s cancer treatment calls for a sixth week evaluation.

It’s hard to wrap my head around having had six straight weeks of chemo already.
We spoke with the research fellow on Chase’s team yesterday and the preliminary look at his 6 week MRI showed no new cancer growth (a very real concern with an aggressive, malignant cancer) and the existing areas of cancer to be slightly decreased.

JOY.

We won’t know the full impact of these findings until after they are reviewed (probably next week) by all the relevant specialties (oncology, radiology, neurology, etc), but we are so encouraged even by what we have already heard… The chemo is working.

JOY.

I often close my thoughts with this, as it never ceases to be less true to us:

We don’t know what lies ahead, but we continue as we have…

MOMENT BY MOMENT.

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March 5th, pt I

Far from being settled, I felt like the last weeks of my pregnancy seemed even more in a state of upheaval than the fall.

February had passed in a blur of family events and the settling of my grandma’s estate. There were now only a few weeks until the baby was to be born and I was still receiving phone calls and e-mails and having conversations in which it was becoming increasingly obvious that there were very few people around me who were at peace with unwed pregnancy in general and my unwed pregnancy in particular. Occasionally, speculation would reach me: “Where is she at spiritually? Does she understand what all this is about? Does she know how hard her life will be?” It was almost as if people needed a place to categorize me (repentant sinner, rebellious sinner, fallen, etc.) in order know how to process my life and know how to deal with me.

This was disconcerting at best.

Not just for me, but this especially plagued me for my unborn daughter. How would they treat her? When she was two and going through the “terrible twos,” would they say, “Oh, that’s so normal, every child goes through that”? Or would they say, “Oh, look at that child acting out! It’s clear she has a non-traditional family atmosphere and has no father-figure.” Would she always carry the weight of my bad decisions? This horrified me!

Yes, a little dramatic, I know, but I really thought about these things!

This was still being viewed a problem. My child was an ISSUE.

I believe that one of the most amazing aspects of pregnancy is the mother’s joy in the feeling of life. Sooner or later, no matter how difficult the stress surrounding a pregnancy, all women (or something like 99.875% of women) begin to enjoy and anticipate their child. However, any impending joy in the amazing feeling of life and my imminent motherhood was interpreted as some kind of disconnectedness from the seriousness of my situation and prospects. How long before it was appropriate for me to feel joy over my baby? Was it not possible to fully realize the gravity of my situation, the grace covering my sin, and still, STILL to feel joy at God’s gift of a child in the midst of it?

I remember one conversation with my mom in particular where I just sobbed to her, “When will my baby get to be a baby and not an issue? Will I ever be able to feel joy at her life?!”

How much time I wasted in worrying …

At the end of February, I met with Daryle (my senior pastor – I think I’ve mentioned him before) again. We talked through several things, and at the end of our time, he spoke of what he felt was the need for the church to hear my heart. He knew where I was, and my close friends knew where I was, but he and many with him felt like the church as a whole would greatly benefit from hearing where God had brought me.

This was not to be a public confession; it was about sharing the faithfulness of God in MY life and also beautiful moment of awareness for those around to support me in prayers and encouragement as I looked forward to raising this child. He said that from that point on (marking the time that I would be sharing), I would be able to look back and point to that day as a day of remembrance – I would look back and see the goodness of the Lord and could direct others to do the same. It would cease to be an issue, and start to be a baby over whom we could all feel great joy!

I remember that my mom and I looked at each other in speechless awe. We hadn’t told Daryle about our conversations.

Looking back, I’m still amazed at how God had all of us arriving at the same place from so many different directions.