Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Words I Didn't Think I'd Ever Say

Today is another giant anniversary in our lives.  Today is the nine year anniversary of Elise's cancer diagnosis.  As I've shared before HERE and HERE, we did know it was coming.  And in knowing it, we literally were able to save her sight and very possibly her life.  A lot of miracles were "activated" to get us to the point of diagnosis.

Cancer steals time and peace.  Cancer and the medicine used to kill it causes brain damage and mental retardation, despite the lives it can save.  We will never know who Elise would have been without it's impact, I am reasonably sure that I am glad I don't know, or I may have become bitter...despite all she may have lost, she is a sharp girl.

With Cancer comes a very real look at the loss it can cause.  And while we were blessed, the possibility loomed very large.  I have hesitated ever sharing these thoughts, as I didn't feel "qualified" because Elise was not taken from us...but I felt compelled to share them this last week privately.  And I am feeling the pressure of needing to put them out there for others to read.

I have stared down the very real possibility of losing one of my children. And I would like to share with you 3 things I recommend from my own experience:

Despite feeling the need to hold life together on your own, do not fold to that temptation. Ask for help from willing friends and lay secure in the knowledge that God will fill in the holes of your failures with your other kids...just as he will when you are there 100% of the time.

Say your greatest fears aloud with your spouse. Your fears will poison your relationship if that is allowed to grow and separate you...The planning for the worst and the holding hands through the darkest hours is what ends up being the most comforting. Sadly, what damages marriages with children with special needs and children who escape to be with Jesus early is the cracking and emotional separation.  Ironically, deciding with my husband where we would bury our daughter if she didn't make it through her battle with cancer, gave me a significant amount of hope and bound me to him, in a deeper way that pleading for hope and platitudes would never have.

And the last piece of advice? Meditate over and over the times and moments when God moved in your life before. Count all his previous blessings to know that the dark of now, is not his lack of a plan for you or a lack of movement now. Scream and rail against Him, ask him why. He is more than strong enough to take it. David did both, constantly in Psalms... And he was still a Man After God's Own Heart. And God always answers, in one way or another, I have seen it to be so, over and over.

1 I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
Oh, that God would listen to me!
2 When I was in deep trouble,
I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
but my soul was not comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan,
overwhelmed with longing for his help. Interlude
4 You don’t let me sleep.
I am too distressed even to pray!
5 I think of the good old days,
long since ended,
6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
7 Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never again be kind to me?
8 Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude
10 And I said, “This is my fate;
the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
13 O God, your ways are holy.
Is there any god as mighty as you?
14 You are the God of great wonders!
You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.
15 By your strong arm, you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Interlude
16 When the Red Sea[a] saw you, O God,
its waters looked and trembled!
The sea quaked to its very depths.
17 The clouds poured down rain;
the thunder rumbled in the sky.
Your arrows of lightning flashed.
18 Your thunder roared from the whirlwind;
the lightning lit up the world!
The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your road led through the sea,
your pathway through the mighty waters—
a pathway no one knew was there!
20 You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep,
with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds.

I have also decided that I would share with you the verses that I claimed for Elise when she went into cardiac failure...and at every surgery since.  I feel like I am sitting on a pirate cave of treasure, and I certainly have enough wealth to share...  You may need to claim them, too...I literally prayed each of these, for every one of her surgeries, with open hands knowing that her body would be healed in one manner or another, and that Jesus loved her more and better than we did. For one surgery I admit I literally wrote one on her in sharpie...

Matthew 8:13
"Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour."

Matthew 18:19, 20
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

Psalm 42:8
"But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life."

Mark 5:19
But Jesus said, "No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been."

Mark 9:24
With tears flowing, the child's father at once cried out, "I do believe! Help my unbelief!"

Mark 10:16
Then after he had hugged the children, he tenderly blessed them as he laid his hands on them.

Mark 10:27
Jesus looked at them intently and said, "For humans it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God."

Luke 5:26
Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."

Luke 8:39
"Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

Luke 8:50
But Jesus hearing it, answered him, "Fear not: only believe, and she shall be made whole."

Psalm 34:4
"I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears."

"1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.

5 The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.

7 The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever."
I realize that this isn't a particularly celebratory post.  But you have to understand, that this isn't a date that I actually celebrate, usually.  No matter if you know a health problem is coming or not, the words that it is here, will always take you to another dimension.  "Your child has cancer" will hit you like a sledge hammer.  You will feel like you blacked out.  Because your brain simply cannot take anymore than that.  Because I knew it was coming, I was able to move confidently forward toward treatment, but it was not easy.  And Elise was the 9th or 11th patient on the protocol we chose to follow.  Granted they had had success, but that's not a lot of track record.  90% success of 10 kids, still means they lost one...and that one might be yours.
But, please know that despite the very real desire to sink into oblivion, you must reach out and bind yourself to your spouse and your God.  They will help and support you.  And you will want your eyes open, whether to savour the last memories of your baby, or to remember the miracles that God does on your behalf.