My world has revolved around these two faces for the past week. Check out this view of my bedroom…
Grace had her wisdom teeth and 2 molars removed. When the Orthodontist told me we would need to remove them, the first thought was to wait until we are done with treatment, but we couldn’t because of school. So, they got to be sick together. I’ll admit that I didn’t expect this to be difficult, but by Saturday, I was exhausted. Thankfully, the hard part is past us and she is much better now. She got treated like a queen for several days. I think Clay got jealous. Ha!
Our church family, and other friends, have continued to provide meals for us. I was trying to explain to a friend just how much that has helped me, and I ended up in tears. I drove past our local grocery store the other day and I saw a lady putting groceries in her trunk, and I realized that I haven’t done that since before May 2. I love to cook, but I HATE to grocery shop. I had trained Clay and Grace to do it for me and we had a pretty good system going. Anyway, it amazes me when I think of how long our dear friends have been taking care of us and how much of a burden it has removed from my life. Of course, it has saved us thousands of dollars, but more importantly, it has relieved me from worry and effort that I don’t have room for right now. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed to us in this way. I love you for it. I do.
Meet Clay’s Middle School Math Teacher, who he has not seen in 30 years – Ms. Loudon. She is the sister of one of our friend’s mom and when Clay got diagnosed and she heard them talking about him, she remembered that she taught him when he was a little bitty sixth grader! She called me and told me how she doesn’t remember every student, but there are a few who really stand out in her memory from 34 years of teaching. Clay was one of those few. She remembered his “cute little” face and his sweet personality. Of course, he remembered her, and he told her how nice she was to him as a little, scared, intimidated Middle Schooler. God has allowed Clay many precious moments over the past few months. It is a gift.
If Clay ever tells you a sob story about how I never let him have sugar, please show him this picture. This is Ben and Clay after they’ve both eaten 2 pudding cups. Clay wanted something sweet and we had pudding for Grace because she can’t eat, yet. When Ben said, “Hey, Dad! You want some pudding?” Clay said, “YEAH! Bring me 2!” 10 minutes later, Clay said, “Next time I say I want 2 puddings, tell me no….” I don’t think there’s anything else to say about that.
These three girls have been my friends since I was Ben’s age. That’s a long time to be friends with someone. And, although we don’t spend a great amount of time together, I know they love me and it is obvious that they are burdened for my family right now. They have been praying and interceding for us since Clay was diagnosed. And, I know how hard they’ve prayed because they prayed over us while they were here and the prayers were beautiful.
I have learned the power of the body of Christ. We are all vessels that represent Jesus to each other and to the world. When one of our members is hurting, we are a visible, tangible representative of Jesus to that person. I can promise you that without the love of the body of Christ around me, I would be in devastation right now. I had been having a really difficult few days before this visit, and I needed to be encouraged. When they left the house that night, I realized that my cheeks hurt from laughing and I was smiling just thinking about some of the things we talked about. My spirit was lifted and it felt so good.
The night turned into an impromptu reunion when one of our Middle School teachers and, more importantly, Volleyball Coach, Jane Smith, came to bring me dinner. Everyone stayed and we all ate together. My parents were here, and they were very close to all my friends when I was younger, so everyone enjoyed seeing them, too. It was great! We laughed so hard about old memories and fun times we had when we were younger. They told a few stories about me that I absolutely don’t think are true! But, they were funny. This was a night that I will remember. I love you, all, very much!
Yesterday was Clay’s 24th treatment, and he has 30 planned. So, our last day will be next Thursday, August 4th. You probably assume that this is something to celebrate, but for me, it will be a very difficult day. I am trusting in the Lord, and if you could really get inside my head and my heart right now, you would see that my hope is very sure. Neither of us are afraid or scared. We are confident in God’s plan and His ability.
But, as the end of treatment approaches, I’m beginning to realize that I’ve been comforted by the treatment. There is a feeling of safety in knowing that the tumor is being radiated, which must mean that it is not growing, right? When the treatment stops, I can already see that it will be harder to fight fear because everyone has told us that it will start to grow again. When? No one knows.
Yesterday the team at Dr. Russell’s office told me that there was a change in treatment for the last 7 doses. This was the first time I had heard this, so I asked a few questions. When I went back to the waiting room to wait for Clay, I felt this really lonely feeling. The room was empty, when it is normally filled with our friends who have been with us the entire time. I was by myself with a bunch of questions going through my mind.
I sat down and just started to pray. I took some deep breaths to stop the tears and just closed my eyes to pray. Just then, one of the Technicians came to get me. She said, “Chris wants to show you the changes in the treatment plan so you understand.”
God has become so sweet to me. That’s the best word I can use right now to describe Him. He constantly shows me that He hears every single thought – even the thoughts that don’t really turn into prayers. I’ve always had a need to understand things and God knows this about me. So, He put it on Chris’ heart to explain it to me.
He told me that the first 23 treatments are treating a larger area where the tumor was before surgery and where they assume the tumor left the little “seeds” that I’ve told you about before. The last 7 treatments are sending a stronger dose of radiation to the smaller area where they know tumor remained after surgery. So, the next 7 days are really hitting the remaining cancer hard.
The entire team of people in that office are completely wonderful. So, when I cried while Chris was explaining something very simple to me, they just handed me Kleenex and stood beside me in the most compassionate and supportive way. He pulled up the scan of Clay’s treatment plan, and all I could think was,
“That is my husband’s head. That is my husband’s head. He has a brain tumor. MY husband’s head is on the screen…..”
Sometimes, it just hits me. Hard. It’s still hard to fathom.
Our situation makes me think of the Red Sea crossing. I imagine that as the Israelites were walking across the Red Sea and those towering walls of water rose up on both sides of them, they were probably filled with amazement and wonder. They were probably filled with joy and excitement at what God was doing.
But, every now and then, they must have glanced over at the millions of pounds of water, shooting up into the air, and the reality of the situation must have hit them hard. “We are walking on dry land, across the Red Sea, and at any minute this water could fall and crush us.” But they didn’t have a choice, did they? An army was chasing them, so they couldn’t turn around. They had to just believe God. They had to trust Him and walk on.
I’ve always imagined the walk across the Red Sea to be a joyful celebration, filled with singing and dancing and laughing.
But, now, my perspective is changed and I imagine that moment differently.
I think it is more likely that they were rushing across as fast as they could possible go. They were probably filled with hope and excitement, but don’t you think they were scared, too? It was night and they were in a very dangerous situation. While God was showing them just how powerful He is, I bet they were really ready to get on dry land that was not surrounded by walls of water.
I imagine that they wanted that miracle experience to end as soon as possible.
And, it did.
They made it to the other side.
Morning came. And, as they stood on that dry ground, they turned to watch as God completely destroyed their enemy.
Their enemy pursued them….all they way to his death.
I’m sure Pharaoh was laughing to himself and beating his chest in pride at the strength of his chariots and horses. He was probably telling himself that the people were wasting time running from him because he would surely catch them and kill them. Even as he charged ahead into THEIR miracle, he was filled with pride.
I wonder when it hit him that he was trapped in the power of God?
I wonder when he realized that his pride had led him right into the hand of God?
As the water crashed down on him and all his glory, the Israelites stood in a safe place and watched God utterly destroy their enemy.
If you’ve ever wondered why the Old Testament is important, I hope you can see the answer in this story. These stories in the Old Testament give us hope and they show us the character of God. They prove the power of God and the desires of God for us, His people. He loves us and He will stop at nothing to prove His greatness. He wins every time. Why can’t the enemy see this? I don’t know. Maybe he just doesn’t want to accept his defeat, but he is defeated.
Do you hear me, Satan??? You are defeated.
Do you hear me, Cancer????? You are defeated.
As Clay and I walk across our Red Sea, there are times when I notice the walls of water. There are times when the roar of the water is so loud in my ears. There are times when I want to panic at the thought that those walls could crush us at any moment.
But, then, I turn and see my arrogant, stupid enemy. I see him rushing into the middle of OUR miracle and I am filled with excitement to finish this crossing.
Because I know that morning will come!
And I will stand on a hill…just in time to watch the waves crash down on my enemy. God will utterly destroy him and he will be washed away in the current of God’s power.
And, we get to stand with Him and watch as His power is displayed and His glory is revealed. Amen.