Sunday, August 31, 2008
A Time of Testing....That's For Sure
I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, like a mute, who cannot open his mouth; I have become like a man who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God. For I said, "Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips." For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.
Oh, dear friends who take time to stop by and read my ramblings, please bear with me.
It's been a few days since I posted, and I tried to start writing tonight without sharing the truth, but I can't.
If I ever get to a point in this blogging journey of my life where I don't share what's really on my heart, then I feel I have failed you all........
So as you read these next few words please know that I share them only to hold myself accountable to my blogging conviction of not putting on a mask to hide my heart.
See, this journey with Nick is a lot like the wheel on a bike. There are many different spokes that are spinning at the same time.
Each of our children is a spoke, and while we deal with Nick's cancer every day we are also dealing with normal parenting issues along the way. Some I have shared before. Some I have not-mainly to spare my children any type of embarrassment. But, trust me, like you, we deal with simple parenting issues and we deal with very difficult and painful ones as well.
Other spokes include work issues, finances, church involvement, and so many more.
But the one spoke that is affected the most at times is my marriage.
The divorce rate for couples who have faced the death of a child (which we faced in 1992) or a life-threatening illness of a child is very high. Statistically, Tim and I should not be together anymore.
Our commitment to each other and to God and to our children thankfully has kept us from doing what on many days would be very, very easy!
So, I write tonight to say, "Please pray for our marriage." The stress of the last few weeks has absolutely been horrendous on our relationship. Because of this stress over the past few days especially, the thought of writing some wonderfully encouraging words to any of who stop by to read seemed impossible and honestly fake.
So, I write tonight simply to free myself from the chains the devil has tried to tie around my heart. And in so doing, I am confessing and asking for prayer. Prayer that I can be the wife God longs for me to be........a loving, appreciative, gentle, and thoughtful wife. When I become stressed or fearful about Nick, I often lash out at Tim. Tim, who spends hours researching Nick's illness, talking with doctors from multiple hospitals, working two jobs so that I can be home with Nick, ministering to others who are hurting, visiting others who are in the hospital, trying to be a good dad to all of our other kids, and constantly trying to show love to me in spite of myself.
I know that when I click "publish post," I am going to feel embarrassed in some ways for admitting my fault. At the same time, I believe that I will feel great relief knowing that I have confessed and asked for prayer. This relief will allow me to write from my heart tomorrow knowing that I have not withheld from you a critical part of this journey.
Please pray for every spoke on our family's wheel as I also pray for yours!
Blessings and love to all of you for accepting me like Jesus does, "Just as I am!"
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
One of those Nights
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.
148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
It's just amazing to me how I can look back at some of my past blog entries and read words that sound so strong...........Did I really write those words about "going for for the gold?" Honestly, tonight, I feel about as genuine as a bubble-gum machine ring!
Nick has been struggling emotionally tonight. He is so tired of doctors and hospitals. Right now he says he doesn't want to go the radiologist tomorrow if it means they will make any marks on his body. He remembers all of the markings that had to be done for radiation to his brain, and he does not want any nurses near his hip and/or leg area.
I don't blame him! He is 13!
His eyes teared up tonight as we talked to him on the back porch. Seeing him there in the wheelchair with his lip shaking just tore at my heart. Tim promised that we would not force him to do anything, and I assured him that we would never leave him alone with a nurse or a doctor or allow anything to happen to him that made him feel violated in any way.
But the truth is, he feels so out of control right now. And so do I.
So I have stayed up tonight doing laundry, cleaning out the frig, pullings books and stack of papers and cards from every shelf in every room and organizing them, and the list goes on and on. Anything to keep my mind busy with things that don't really matter.
As I finally collapse thinking, "I should have tackled the freezer too," I look at the pile of empty thank-you cards next to me that need to be written and mailed. I think of the phone calls I need to make tomorrow. I remember that Olivia's school pictures are tomorrow, and we have to get up early so that we can get her hair all ready. I look at the clock and realize that it is already nearly 2! Then I remember Nick , who is sleeping in our bed because he cannot get upstairs to his room anymore and suddenly - nothing else seems to really matter.
So maybe the reason I am up this late isn't really because I wanted to stay up this late. Maybe it is because God needed to talk to me when it was quiet. So as I sit here now in the darkness of the night with only the sound of our dog breathing softly nearby, I am going to do what the verses above say. I am going to cry out for help. I am going to put my hope in His Word. I am going to keep my eyes open just a little longer, forgetting about the cluttered freezer, and meditate on His promises.
Thank you, Lord, for pulling me back to You once again. Father, God, please keep Nick's spirit free from the devil who so desperately wants to rob, kill, and destroy his joy. In the Name of Your Son Jesus, I proclaim freedom for Nick's spirit and healing for his body, Lord. I know You love Nick. I know Your plans for Nick are not to harm him but to give him a hope and a future. So in the name of Jesus, I claim these promises for him. In Your Son's Precious and Holy Name, I Pray, Amen
Sunday, August 24, 2008
What Testing Brings.....
"When he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold...." (From Job)
As I read this verse last night, I thought about gold as we see it in our culture even today.
Valuable. Beautiful. Standing the test of time. Eye-catching. Genuine. A great gift. Worthy of being used for a wedding ring. If lost, you search til you find it.
I also thought about things that are gold-plated.
Temporary beauty. Easy to chip away at when put under stress. Less expensive.
Then there are metals that look like gold but have no gold in them at all.
Rings and earrings that turn your skin green. Sold very inexpensively. If you lose them, you just replace them.
How do I really want my soul to be seen by God? As gold, gold-plated, or imitation. Gold, of course! Unfortunately, I think the Bible makes it very clear that in order to come forth as gold we must pass the tests life gives us. We must endure the fire of trials.
Without these tests and trials, there is really no way to see what we are made of.
So, this morning as I prepare to leave the Ronald McDonald House (save your pop tabs by the way and donate them to your local McDonalds restaurant) and head to the hospital to see my precious Nicholas, I want to remember that this is one of our family's tests.
I want us to come forth as gold in the eyes of God.
He continues to bring a level of peace that allows me to stand on my two feet and still smile at strangers. He even gives me the strength to comfort others around me who seem to be having a harder day. God's mercies are never-ending.
For that I am thankful.
Please take time today to do your seven laps of praise and celebration for our God and Savior!!!!!!! He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings....and ONE DAY this world shall end and a new world will begin where we will receive our reward for how we passed the tests of this life.
GO FOR THE GOLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you all so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Email after Nick's Surgery Yesterday
Dearest Prayer Warriors and Jericho Marchers,
Today was the first time in the surgery waiting room where after Dr. Kosnik came out to talk to us we all just sat numb and speechless.
Basically, they didn't do the hip surgery today. The orthopedic surgeon here did not feel that he could place a pin in Nick's hip and wants to talk to us about it later. (They didn't even make an incision to try, so Nick won't have any recovery in that area at this time.)
Dr. Kosnik removed us much of the cancer in Nick's brain as he could, but he gave us the impression that there was quite a bit he could not get to. Because of this, he did not put in the chemo wafer. He said he didn't want to make Nick any sicker than necessary. He also said that he left one bone of Nick's skull loose to help with pressure from the tumor.
We are at a place in this journey that we have never been before. A place of fear and uncertainty incomparable to any we have ever felt.
Yet, with this reality we are also very aware that just as in every other situation along the way, GOD IS NOT SURPRISED AT OUR NEWS.
Somehow, He has already gone before us smoothing ways we don't even yet know that we will walk.
He promises that His mercies are new every morning.
He promises to never leave us or forsake us.
He promises perfect peace to those who trust in Him.
So, as we wait to see Nick in recovery, we will hold our heads high knowing that we have a Great Physician who will lead us to a Rock that is Higher than any place this hospital can take us. He will lift us from the slimy pit, set our feet on a rock, and give us a firm place to stand. He will put a new song in our mouths, a hymn of praise to our Lord!
And as the Psalm continues, "Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord!"
We love you all.
We thank you for every prayer.
Remember to check around in Grayson for the final days marching time. It is either 2:30 in the afternoon or 8 at night. I'm not sure.
Oh, we love you all so much.
Turn to God for us. Not with complaints, but with praise for He has a beautiful plan! We are going to keep taking one more step and one more step so that we can walk from strength to strength!
Pray for Nick's speedy recovery and for his spirit.
You are our messengers to the throne.
Please keep pleading on Nick's behalf!
Friday, August 22, 2008
As I did my Jericho Walk tonight which has been condensed to my living room and kitchen, I thanked God for my friends who are here to help me right now. I also thanked him for my blogging friends.
Both sets of friends mean so much to me.
See, my local friends are my Jesus with skin on. They are right here to cook, clean, babysit, talk, whatever I need at the moment. I couldn't make it without them. Thank you for everything!
Then there are my bloggy friends! They visit me - often without me even knowing. They sometimes leave words of encouragement but not always. They email me. They pray for me and most of all they share my needs with their friends taking my needs to an even larger crowd! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
So, tonight, as my eyes are very heavy but my heart is overflowing with thanksgiving, I have to take a moment and tell God thank you for the gift of "friendship!" Friendship in all of its forms. I know that my local friends are a phone call away and my bloggy friends are in email away! WOW! Isn't God amazing to give us both!
I look forward to Heaven when we can all be together to hug and laugh and remember the tough things we prayed each other through. Please let me know how I can be a friend and a prayer warrior for you!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
When God says, "Stop."
Well, I guess that's what He was saying.
As I find myself in my bed tonight recovering from an emergency appendectomy on Monday, I have decided that God wanted me to STOP. Stop cleaning, stop doing laundry, stop mowing, stop driving, and the list goes on and on.....
Sunday afternoon I began experiencing severe stomach pain which led to excruciating pain by 4 in the morning. At one point I was on the floor in the bathroom trying not to get sick and hearing the loudest ringing and rushing wind sound in my head. My whole body became very hot and prickly, and I thought, "This is how I am going to die." I really thought my appendix had ruptured at this point and poison was spreading through my body. I was able to hold onto doors and furniture and fight the loud sounds in my head long enough to make it back out to the living room where I went down on the couch and was finally able to say my husband's name loud enough for him to hear me. He came out and immediately knew something was very wrong. He wanted to call an ambulance, but I wouldn't let him. He called my friend, Brenda, and she drove me to the emergency room. From there, I was taken to surgery and am now back home!
Thank the Lord for wonderful nurses and an amazing surgeon!
I will share our latest news on Nick soon-I had to miss his appointment in Cincinnati today because I was in the hospital. Oh, I cried so much Sunday night and Monday morning, fighting the reality that I was going to be laid up.
I don't know why this has happened right now, but I do know that God wants me to once again find the bright side.
For now, the bright side is that I am home and I have permission to just cuddle with my kids.
I love you all and I will share Nick's next phase in this journey a little later. We are getting ready to watch a movie.
Thanks for praying and loving us through this time of testing.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
"Nor the moon by night"
Yes, this is what the moon looked like last night over our house! It was as bright as the sun and the clouds reflected the beauty!
I couldn't help but remember the chapter in Psalms (121) where it says,
'The Lord will watch over you, the Lord is the shade at your right hand. The sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night."
Right now, I dread nighttime. I never know how much pain Nick will be in. I never know if Nick or I will be able to sleep all the way through the night. Sometimes I wake up and cannot sleep for five minutes, other times hours, and then sometimes........I don't wake up til morning! I never know. But I do know that as evening approaches and the darkness comes, I start to feel different than I did during the day.
But last night as I drove to get a snack for the sleepover Olivia was at, I saw the moon and I was reminded that God is with me day and night. I called a friend to have her look at the beautiful moon, too. Later she called and told me to go out and look at the light reflecting on the clouds. As I did I was thinking, "That is just a reflection of the sun's light,but it is so bright!!" In a few minutes my friend called and she was thinking the same thing! Then she went on to say that it was the first time she had realized that we are never really without the sun........which of course is true of God's Son as well! What a beautiful analogy!
So, as I sit here reflecting on last night's God-moment, I am thankful once again for a Creator who speaks through day-to-day events as simple as the moon hanging in the sky.
Oh, I love you all so much! Look for Him as you live each day. He is longing to speak to you!
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Waiting on the Lord
"Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength...."
This passage has never been so meaningful to me in all my life. Seeing Nick bound to a wheelchair or the bed or couch has made me realize in an even deeper way the power of the words..........."They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint."
As I move throughout the house, I am so much more aware of the blessing of simply walking and not fainting. I look at Nick who absolutely longs to walk and cannot. I think of Natalie who is also bedridden right now. It is almost more than I can bear, and then I remember this verse and I know.............
Nick has to wait upon the Lord. Natalie has to wait upon the Lord. The Lord will renew their strength.
I am still praying for a miracle for Natalie and for Nick.
The Jericho March starts Monday. You choose your time and your path. Read below for details about the Scriptures and see the link to the website that talks about the history of the Jericho March. I am so excited! I believe that God will do great things through this march in all the lives of those who participate.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Email Entry From Today
Dearest Prayer Warriors,
If I had every adjective in the world that describes "special, amazing, irreplaceable," and so many other words in my heart, I could never begin to describe how I feel about all of you. I love you so much.
I know that God is still working in spite of our news today.
We learned today that Nick's left hip is actually fractured. Also, it appears that there is cancer in both of his upper legs and hips. After conferring with our oncologist and our pediatrician, we are planning to stay in Grayson until Monday evening as planned and then be at the hospital by 6:30 a.m on Tuesday for Nick's MRI of his brain and spine. After this we will have a lot of decisions to make. Nick knows. He was upset at first and then within minutes was playing a video game with his brother Evan. God is so good.
Until then, Nick must use a wheelchair and crutches. He can have no weight on his left leg. We have some other things coming this evening to help out in the bathroom. We just don't want Nick to fall.
Please pray specifically for his pain to be minimal.
And continue to pray that the doctors will have wisdom as they make critical decisions about surgeries/treatments/etc. The Jericho March will still begin on Monday, the 18th. Simply walk around your block or workplace or somewhere and pray that the devil will not rob, steal, or destroy our family by things like worry, fear, loss, anger, etc. Please also pray for Natalie as you pray for Nick. Also, please continue to pray for a miracle on this planet. We know that with God all things are possible.
For now I have rearranged furniture and made the downstairs wheelchair-friendly. We are determined to embrace this weekend with laughter and love. I dread the darkness. So pray for our nights to be peaceful.
I do want to tell you how God showed Himself to me today and why, once again, I feel peace.
Just this morning as I sat in the waiting room (only one person could be with Nick at a time-Mamaw was with him), I was praying for Nick and praying that God would send someone I knew to the hospital for a little comfort or peace.
I was leaning my head back when I heard the nurse come in and say, "Grace Word." I popped up my head and thought, "Where? That's Kathy's daughter. I jumped up and went out in the hall and looked around, because I knew I hadn't seen them anywhere. Sure enough after looking two different places, there stood Kathy! I couldn't believe it. See, Kathy is a friend who I became close to seven years ago when we worked together. I grew to love her passion and her prayers. When Nick was in the hospital for the first time awaiting his first brain surgery, they were having trouble with his veins. In the middle of the night, I was crying and reading the Bible and felt this nudge to call Kathy at 3 a.m. and ask her to pray. When I did, she answered like it was the middle of the afternoon. As I was telling her the situation, a nurse came down to me (I was on the floor) and asked if I was okay. I nodded my head "no" and she sat down in front of me. I told Kathy good bye, and this nurse began to talk to me. She quoted a Scripture. She told me she was in charge that night and usually never left the floor but had a nudge to go get a snack. It was such a God-moment. And she came in to do Nick's next bloodwork. As she finished she said, "Thank you, God." So today when I saw Kathy, I remembered His presence six years ago and I knew He was still with us. He loves Nick. Kathy talked with me and prayed with me. It was wonderful!
Now, looking back on this morning, I know that God was preparing me for this afternoon.
Please pray for Nick. He is scared and full of questions but he is also amazingly at peace at the same time. He is so special.
Pray for our other kids as they learn of the news.
I was just trying to add a photo of this morning and just had another amazing message from God. I couldn't find my flash drive on the "attach a file" list, so I copied this email to start over. When I went to a new compose email and clicked "paste" this is what came up:
I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
I have not idea where this would have been saved and how it would have come up with no explanation. The words that are in bold were in bold when it popped up. I am speechless. I just keep looking at it and thinking, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
I do believe and will always believe that God has a plan in each and every thing that happens in our lives -
good or bad.
He is working. He is working in my heart, Tim's heart, Nick's heart, Erich's heart, Evan's heart, Todd's heart, Olivia's heart, and I pray your heart.
Oh, I love you all.
I do believe the words above which I know must be a Scripture. I am going to go look it up right now.
Thank you for every prayer.
I love you all so much.
Tammy (and Tim)
Thursday, August 14, 2008
As I checked my emails tonight, I was floored to receive a very harsh scolding from a lady I have never met who was basically saying that I needed to realize that their are many people whose lives are worse than mine.
The email was very long and very painful to read. My heart feels so ripped apart and yet I am trying to glean from her words something good.....something that will help me grow in my walk with the Lord.
She referred to me as "arrogant" because I had mentioned in my last email prayer journal entry that last night I left in the middle of church because I just couldn't handle trivial conversations.
I didn't leave angry. I left with a friend who is going through a divorce to have a cup of coffee. Her life is tough too, and we both needed some talking time.
But I am aching that ANYONE on this planet would consider me arrogant or as she said "superior" in my suffering. Oh, that hurts.
From this painful email, I am trying to find a lesson.
I know that there are many with much more difficult situations. When I know of them, I pray for them. I know that I am not the first to walk the road I am walking. I feel horrible that I could have portrayed anything less.
I am writing this blog to ask for forgiveness if I have ever caused anyone to feel that I am in any way "arrogant" in my family's suffering.
With humility and love,
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Jericho March for Nick and Natalie
Dear Blogging Friends,
There is a girl who is battling brain cancer much like Nick who I have become connected with through a common friend. I recently discovered that they were planning a special prayer event for Natalie and talked with them about sharing our children's stories with each other's prayer warriors in order to increase the number of people praying for both Nick and Natalie.
Below is the basic explanation of the event from Natalie's website with the addition of Nick's name. Please join us in this critical time of prayer. Natalie is bedridden at this time. Nick only gets up if absolutely necessary. Both of these precious kids need miracles.
The apostle Paul said, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:3–5
We are organizing a Jericho March for Nick and Natalie and their families to intercede to God on their behalf and to wage spiritual war on the enemy who will use lies to discourage and defeat everyone who is praying with and for the Nischans and Yokeleys. There is a website that explains this – how one woman studied and prayed over 2 Scriptures – Joshua 1-6 and Ephesians 6:10-18 – and prayed God’s will over a situation. She was led in prayer by the Holy Spirit. The site is http://www.navpress.com/EPubs/DisplayArticle/2/22.214.171.124.html
We can actively enter into this fight with Nick and Natalie and their families by committing to a Jericho March where we each commit to walk around our own neighborhood blocks once a day for 6 days praying against the enemy’s attempts to rob, defeat and destroy the faith and trust we have in God’s power. On the 7th day, we walk the same
route SEVEN times singing, praising God and declaring the works of the Lord on Nick and Natalie’s behalfs. In one week’s time we believe, we EXPECT that we will be reading of tremendous breakthroughs and gains! We can invade the enemy’s camp and take back what he has stolen.
This is Biblical; this is pro-active. We invite everyone to join in and commit to this Jericho March for Nick and Natalie.
The Jericho March begins on August 18th for 6 days. On the 7th day, August 24th, walk
around your designated Jericho proclaiming the glory, majesty and power of the Almighty God!!
Please pass this on to all of your blogging friends! Please, please, please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Monday, August 11, 2008
My Email Prayer Journal Entry - Please Understand My Heart
Dearest, dearest prayer warriors,
I think of you so often and am so thankful for every prayer you whisper for Nick. I know that God hears you and cares and loves Nick. Other than pain in his left leg, Nick is doing really well. His spirits have been lifted so much for the past three days because of a visit from a very special friend of his who moved last summer to Idaho. They have played video games and visited non-stop.
My heart aches that they haven't been out throwing a football like they use to or jumping and wrestling on the trampoline like they use to, but I keep telling myself to be thankful that they are laughing and playing video games......
I guess that what the Bible means when it says, "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (I Thess. 5)
To be honest, which you know I always try to be, I am dealing with anger for the first time in this journey with Nick. This anger has put a wall up between me and all of you, causing my ability to write to you to be hindered. A wall that I have had to face and climb by actually speaking out about my anger in real words.
See, since I have tried desperately to find the good in every different step along the way with Nick and while I have tried to praise God on the good and the bad days of this journey, I feel a little bit like I have been kicked while I am down. Almost as if Nick and I and our family are in a boxing ring with an opponent who doesn't obey the rules with no ref to call time or push us apart. While I know that there have been a million good things that have come out of this journey and that God has been with us every step of the way, it doesn't change the fact that Nick limps, that Nick faces uncertain days in the near future, that Nick asks tough questions, and the list goes on and on.
I find myself looking around (which I KNOW I should not do) and seeing people who do not live for God and yet somehow are spared from life's unfairness and it makes my blood boil. Not that I wish any illness on another person. I just struggle to find a reason for a boy as precious and sweet and selfless as Nick to have to face the days that he faces. I think back to times when I wish we would have done more or made other decisions and yet I know that God's hand was in every step along the way.
I am just mad. Not at God. Not at any person. Not at anything that can be changed. I am just mad at life. I am mad that sin ever had to enter the world. I am mad that people still choose to sin. I am mad that in spite of everything Nick goes through by the strength he can get only from God that there are people who know Nick who still don't put God first in their life. If Nick has to go through this, I wish at least it would change people. To see people come to God because of Nick is really the only thing that makes this worth it. I feel so much more how God must feel when people reject His Son. After all Jesus went through, I cannot imagine the anger deep inside God that wells up against those who take His name in vain, live immoral lives, cause others to sin, and so much more.
I want to go back and change my words to "sad" from "mad," because it sounds so much more gentle, but I can't. I would be lying.
I am sad. But right now I am mad. I know it will pass.
Please don't worry about me. Just pray for me.
And as always, please pray for Nick.
God continues to sit on His throne. And I believe with all of my heart that there will come a day when all of the unfairness of this world will be made right. In the twinkling of an eye, the world will be changed. Sin will be overthrown along with death. Justice will occur. Those who chose to reject Jesus will be punished eternally. Those who have chosen to love and serve Him will be rewarded. I believe that children who have suffered in this world will receive so much more than we could ever imagine-FOR ETERNITY!!!!
Until then, I must press on. God is working.
Just as you have loved me through every stage of this journey, please love me through my anger. And forgive me for sounding harsh. I am not talking to you or at you. I am just talking
with you as friends who can pray for me and love me through this tough time.
Thankful for each of you. Oh, so thankful.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Trying to have a normal day
I took Olivia to McDonald's for breakfast to meet a bunch of her friends before their first day of school yesterday. Giggling excitement filled the restaurant! It was kind-of surreal to sit and watch all of the "normalcy" of life when I knew that Nick had left for Cincinnati Children's Hospital with Tim, my mom, and Evan just minutes after we left for McDonald's. But for Olivia's sake I try to keep some things as normal as possible. We had a nice time and Olivia had a great first day of school! So did Todd!
Nick's appointment went well. We are still waiting for Nick's surgeon and oncologist to talk before we can make some big decisions. Thank you for every prayer as we wait.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
What a difference a day makes.....
I went to the garden where my friends and I are beginning to enjoy the "fruit of our labors" one day last week and every tomato was green. Just a few days passed by before I returned, and I was shocked to find that almost every plant was now loaded down with red or nearly red tomatoes!
What a difference a day makes!
I have to say that this is true in my life at home too. One day I feel so barren and useless...the next day I feel vibrant, ripe, ready to conquer something new. I wish I could find a balance in this crazy thing called "life with a child with cancer," but I can't lie. I am struggling. The past few days I have tried so hard to stay busy, savor special moments, check things off on the list "things to do before the kids start school," and simply enjoy BEING.
Today I feel edgey. We have big decisions to make today regarding Nick's future treatments. So big that in a way I feel as if we are playing God. And yet I know deep in my heart that God is the only one in control. I am simply asking that you pray for us to have wisdom. Tim and I want to do the right thing. We want to make the best choice for Nick. Please lift us up today.
Thankful for all of you,
Friday, August 1, 2008
My Prayer Journal Email Today
(I had to add this photo.....the clouds outside our van window on the way to Cincinnati for Nick's petscan looked so much like "eyes" looking down on us....when I downloaded the pictures, every single one of them had Nick and only Nick's reflection in them We were playing a game, and I guess Nick was looking down at the cards-it looks like he is praying. I thought it was a beautiful photograph of God watching over Nick.) Can you see the curves of the tops of the eyes in the clouds with the pupils under the curves? It was more breathtaking in real life.
Dearest Prayer Warriors,
Yesterday as I sat in the waiting room during Nick's petscan I read through the Scriptures I have written in a little notebook in my purse. I came to one that spoke so strongly to me that I decided to try and hide deep in my heart. I woud read a verse over and over, then close my eyes until I could say it, and then go on to the next verse adding the one from before.
I waited patiently for the Lord
He turned to me and heard my cry
He lifted me out of the slimy pit
Out of the mud and mire
He set my feet on a rock
He gave me a firm place to stand
He put a new song in my mouth
A hymn of praise to our God
Many will see and fear
And put their trust in the Lord.
Deep in my heart, I was longing for this to be Nick's story yesterday................and trusting that it would be. But as I typed this verse out and then compared it to my Bible to be sure that I had done it all correctly, I realized that I had memorized one word incorrectly. I have been saying, "see and hear" instead of "see and fear" in the last verse. See, I wanted a miracle yesterday so that "many would see and hear and put their trust in the Lord,"
But God wanted me to "see and fear" and put my trust in Him. And as I share our news, I am praying that you will also "see and fear" and then put your trust in the Lord.
After Nick's petscan he led the way to the cafeteria where he ate a good lunch. We then headed back up to the Day Hospital in oncology where our morning had started early with an IV and lab work. We waited here and juggled times and dates with our sweet nurse coordinators for the upcoming appointments, and then finally Dr. Fouladi came and motioned for me and Tim to come out. She took us in another room with her nurse practitioner and as we walked in I said, "I'm scared." She said, "Oh, no, don't be." She is very kind and very positive.
Anyway, the petscan showed hotspots in multiple places in Nick's bones. She is very puzzled as this does not follow a normal pattern for ependymoma and she is also puzzled as to how Nick looks and feels so good (he actually became so improved on Wednesday that he was running in place and jumping up onto his bed!) In the hotel, he was jumping from bed to bed! She said none of this makes sense to her. Nick is already a miracle in so many ways.
So, her plan is to do this new treatment on Nick which is a Phase II Clinical Trial which has actually shown the ability to stabilize tumor growth. It would not shrink the tumors, but it could stop them from progressing. If we could have this happen, it would give more time for more research and for more options down the road.
Needless to say, I still found myself in the bathroom in a stall unable to stand up and crying deeply. My mom and my friend Donnette, who was able to go with us, sat with me in chairs down by the elevator while I came to grips with what Nick is facing. I did not want Nick to see me crying. He is so positive. I want to be positive for him. So, they got my purse, I regrouped, put powder on my red nose, tried to cover my puffy bags under my eyes, and we went to get coffee to take back to the room for Tim. (It is a long walk to the cafeteria, so it made my absence make a little more sense).
Nick received his first treatment and everything went beautifully. We miss our nurses and doctors in Columbus so much, but God has done a beautiful thing in providing just what we needed here.....more wonderful nurses and doctors. Thank you, Lord, for compassionate medical professionals! Thank you.
We played Outburst the whole way home in the van. Nick was the reader. He is so funny. He had a good time. When we got home, we had company! Friends (Pam and Kyleigh) from Lexington were here to stay all night (they are in town for a wedding). Pam was unloading my dishwasher. I gave Kyleigh some fabric I had bought to make a blanket for a little girl at church, and she made the blanket for me! It was so nice. Then Tim rented a movie, and we all sat around in the living room and laughed and laughed. Nick laughed so much. It was a perfect way to pass the evening.
I am getting ready to mow (one of my greatest therapies).........
I want to leave you today with this:
I do wait patiently for the Lord. And I do believe that he turns to me and hears my cries. He has lifted me out of the slimy pit for today. I am able to stand on a rock that is Higher than I am and I have a song in my heart of praise for a God who holds everything that I cannot hold and bears everything that I cannot bear. I do fear, because I am human and I do not know about tomorrow. But because of my fear, I choose to trust. That is what I am praying for all of you. As you fear with us, please TRUST IN THE LORD.
I pray for my other children that they will not see God as someone who "does not hear our prayers." I worry about that. I ask you to pray specifically for Erich, Evan, Todd, and Olivia. I want them to come out of this stronger Christians. Closer to God than ever before. Determined to live a life that ends with the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." I told Evan the other day that when I die I don't care how much money I've made or how many things I have accumulated, I will not feel successful unless all of my kids are in Heaven. That is all that matters to me, and I mean that. I see doubt in him, and I pray that God can pull him through this. I pray that Nick will be healed on this earth. I will not stop praying for a miracle, and I beg you to not stop praying either. With God all things are possible. Nothing is too difficult for Him.
I hope that Tim won't mind, but I am attaching his letter to me this morning just so you can know where he is at too, and because I believe his words say a lot about where we are at with Nick's illness and God's promises.
We love Nick so much, but we believe and know that God loves Nick so much more than we do.
I will close with Tim's email to me. I did want to take a minute to thank Jarrod Back for coming to be with us at the hospital last week. It meant so much to us! Also, when you read Tim's email about the cloud-he is referring to a huge cloud we saw on the way to Cincinnati Tuesday night. I tried to take pictures, but don't know how they turned out yet. Mom saw this huge eye with a pupil and everything, and then we realized there were two huge eyes. It was unreal. As if God were watching us drive on the double AA and wanted us to know!
Love and thanks for every prayer,TammyTIM'S EMAIL TO ME:
I am continuallly overwhelmed, amazed and in awe at how the Lord pours forth words from your heart to describe Nick's journey that I so often believe is beyond words.
Perhaps it is my turn to write.. If this will help you in getting the message out, great. if not just hit the delete button and know that God promises to give us all everything we need. I was reading in Jeremiah a couple days ago and noticed that the promise that "I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" actually follows a declaration of God that He is not going to rescue them as they desire immediately - it is going to take 70 years. In fact they are warned not to listen to the prophets who would deceive them by telling them that their dreams (short-term-get-me-out-of-here dreams) would come true. JEREMIAH 29:4-11
I know that God is giving and will continue to give all of us courage, that we do not need to fear, and that God is surely most certainly with us absolutely everywhere and through everything we go. Nick's verse is so perfect and true.
I also know that we are not without hope! I was so encouraged by Nick's amazing decrease in pain Wednesday that I had this very real feeling that perhaps the PETSCAN would indeed confirm a miracle. The fact that yesterday's results did not show that miracle does not take away from the very real miracle that Nick is so strong in a way that science and physical fact cannot explain. I also know that God has the power to intervene and heal Nick's body in the blink of an eye and I will not stop asking Him to do so. I also know that our hope is not dependant on a physical body. There was one thing Dr. Fouladi said yesterday that I see a little differently. She said "You worry about Nick's outside - that is the Nick you know. Let me worry about his insides". I know what she meant and I am grateful. But we both know that Nick's core being - the one we love and God loves more (though I don't know how that could be) - canNOT be altered or even scathed by cancer or anything else thrown at it in this temporary world! 2 Corinthians 5:1, 5
I believe that God is watching over us (those "eyes" in the clouds were pretty amazing!). I believe that He has and IS intervening in NIck's situation. I believe that God's Spirit is continually serving as a direct link between God and Nick and is giving Him everything He needs at every moment. I am desperately praying that He will do the same thing for Erich, Evan, Todd and Olivia.
I fear that my one-track mind is starting to lose focus and run-on. Todd and Evan are in the living room having a good time and I want to join them. i am so glad that God NEVER loses focus or leaves us to face any situation alone.
One last random thought that came to me as I was praying yesterday for God to intervene: God heard His very own son pray asking Him to intervene and spare him from pain, yet He knew the long term amazing results of choosing not to do so in that particular time. Even in that choice He DID send His own Son an angel to give him strength and reassurance. Luke 22:41-44
I will certainly keep praying and certainly keep trusting in His choice of answers.
I love you so unbelievably much! And God loves you even more.