Our God is Mighty to Save

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12/26/13

This Christmas we want to thank you for your gifts of faithful prayers for our Ella Joy!  There were 2 things she asked for on her list this year:  1.) a stuffed puffin penguin and 2.) to be healed from cancer.  As our family and friends partner with us in prayer, we are especially working on #2 on her list!  She once again had a tough time getting her IV and it took a little longer to get it working this time around.  However, once she got it, she was able to get her one hour Cytoxan chemotherapy with 6 hours of fluids.  This week, we were at the hospital from morning to night.  I am so incredibly thankful for my old college roommate Angela who was there with us at Lurie’s from the beginning to the end of the day.  She not only helped out with Asaphie and played with Ella Joy, but she also made sure I had a day full of wonderful R & R.  Thank you also to Hannah who came to visit us downtown on Christmas day!  Please pray that God would continue strengthening Ella Joy in her weakness. After Cytoxan, she usually feels nauseous, much of her hair falls out, and her blood counts quickly drop.

As the new year is quickly approaching, I want to make some goals for next year.

 Months ago, I remember being addicted to the iphone game Scramble.  I would play it in the morning, when the kids were napping, and at night after the kids went to sleep.  I would be like, “good night” and then I would run down to get my iphone to play Scramble.  Now, there is nothing wrong with playing the game Scramble, however, I knew I personally should have been reading my Bible and praying in the morning instead of playing games.  One thing I know about myself is that if I am not intentional, and if I do not have a set goal and course of action, I will fill my day with mindless things that do not matter in the grand scheme of things.  After Ella Joy got diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, my world was turned upside down.  I no longer had time for Scramble, nor did I have the desire to play it like I used to.  Scheduling weekly visits to the hospital and administering drugs and shots to Ella Joy and taking care of her and Asaph was all that occupied my mind.  As much as I was excited to put the kids down and go play my game, I want to have a passion for the Word of God and spending time in prayer.

I used to walk around really fast (I still do), but I never stopped to notice or consider the people around me.  When I am at RMH or Lurie’s there are so many people who are going through hardships and challenging illnesses with their children.  I want to make conscious efforts to get to know them and pray for their families.

I would like to spend more quality time with Mike, Ella Joy and Asaphie.  Up until Ella Joy was diagnosed with cancer, I home schooled both of them, but it has been so busy that I have dropped the ball with it, and I cannot even remember the last time I did calendar time or world map prayer time with them.  Earlier in the year Mike and I tried to do date nights, but since our schedules have been so busy, we have not made time to make it a priority.  Whether we are reading books or playing Candyland together as a family, I want to make every moment count!

There are so many more goals I need to make for this upcoming year, but one Bible verse I really want to focus on is …”The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17.  As I pray with Ella Joy’s name inserted … The Lord our God is with Ella Joy, He is mighty to save Ella Joy.  He will take great delight in Ella Joy.  He will quiet Ella Joy with His love.  He will rejoice over Ella Joy with singing.  God is mighty to save!  As surely as I see so many different people from different countries coming to Lurie’s to get their children treated, I remember the Bible verse “So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” –Phillippians 2:10.  He is mighty to save!  He is mighty to bring salvation to all people groups, nations and tribes.  And I believe He is mighty to save our Ella Joy!  Our God is mighty to save!   

The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this

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12/19/13

We are so incredibly thankful to everyone for praying for our Ella Joy!  We rushed her to the ER Monday night and stayed downtown until Thursday night!  When we found out she had a fever of 103, we drove her to Luries’ ER.  She broke fever, and then Tuesday, she got another fever.  They found out that she had the common cold and runny nose (rhino and taro virus).  Her blood counts were also low, so she was able to get a blood transfusion.  They put her on antibiotics and had her stay in-patient in isolation until Wednesday night.  Mike missed two entire days of work to be by Ella Joy’s side while I traveled back and forth from the RMH to care for Asaph and to be with Ella Joy too.  The hardest part was to hear Ella Joy crying when we had to wake her up to take her to the hospital on Monday night.  We called RMH to see if they could accommodate us since all the hospital rooms were full.  They said they were all full too.  God answered all the prayers being lifted up for us because we did a last call right before we reached the ER, and they had one room for us!  Praise the Lord, and thank you so much for your faithful prayers!

This Christmas we will be heading downtown on Wednesday to have Chemo on Thursday.  Please pray that God would continue to protect Ella Joy’s body.  If her counts are high enough, she will be getting Cytoxan (IV over one hour followed by 6 hours of fluids), and the shots I need to be giving her at home (the subQ injections of Ara-C), and finally the 6-MP Purinethol or Mercaptopurine tablets that I crush and add to OJ to give her orally.  I know all these chemo treatments, drugs, and shots don’t make for a very fun Christmas for Ella Joy, but please pray that God would give her joy in her heart this Christmas.  When she is wondering why she can’t be at home like other kids opening gifts under the Christmas tree, please pray that God would remind her that He is the greatest gift of all, and after all, CHRISTmas is all about Him.

We cannot thank you enough for always caring, supporting, encouraging and praying for Ella Joy and our family.  In the midst of going back and forth for hospital visits and chemotherapy treatments, I knew it would be tough to sit down and create Christmas/prayer cards.  God always provides, and just as I am thinking about how to tackle it, Sam emails me and puts her God given skills to work.  So, a huge thank you to Sam (and John’s pictures) for these wonderful cards that portray exactly what we wanted to all our beloved family and friends:

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Thank you to everyone who is asking how Ella Joy is doing.  I apologize I usually do not check my email or facebook when I am downtown or at the hospital.  Ella Joy is in much better spirits.  Especially after her blood transfusions, she always has cherry red lips and she was super excited to be out of the hospital on Wednesday night.  One thing I noticed is that she has been crying in her sleep since she got back from the hospital.  Her appetite has been decreasing, please pray that she would be able to maintain a healthy diet and that God would give her the appetite to desire healthy foods that are good for her.  Especially because she is neutropenic and needs to stay away from fresh fruits or veggies, please pray she would gain her nutrients in other foods.  Please also pray for Asaph.  He has been complaining that his stomach hurts occasionally.  Please pray God would keep him healthy, especially in the hospital environment.

I recently looked up the word zeal, and it means “enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance.”

One of my favorite Bible verses I love to dwell on especially during Christmas:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7

The enthusiastic devotion and tireless diligence of Almighty God accomplished the amazing birth of our Savior.  He is zealous for His children!  Our God reigns!

I realize I need to pray with that same kind of zeal.  I must continue praying zealously for Ella Joy!  Please continue praying with enthusiastic devotion and tireless diligence with the goal for zero cancer cells!

I truly believe the zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this!

Merry CHRISTmas everyone!

In moments like these

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12/12/13

Thank you so much for all your prayers!  Ella Joy had a relatively shorter day at the hospital today.  Even though it was shorter, it didn’t mean it was any easier for Ella Joy.  She always cries when she gets her IV, but this time, she was wailing, and also thrashing around.  The nurses were very stern with her and let her know this was unacceptable, and that she could hurt herself.  Please pray for Ella Joy, that God would help her to get her IV without complications.  We are so thankful to God that her veins are still good, and that she is able to hold off on a port for now.  We found out that her white blood cells counts as well as her platelets are low.  When her counts are low like this, it could potentially mean that some of her chemotherapy has to be put on hold until her counts are higher.  When her counts are low as they currently are, please pray that God would continue to protect her body and guard her each day.  A huge thank you is in store for Sarah and Nam Mee who helped out with Asaph this week!

After getting back from the hospital, when we got home, Ella Joy opened one of our family albums.  Together, we looked at pictures of her when she was just a little baby.  4 years ago, we named her Ella Joy because “El” means God in Hebrew, and she is the daughter of God who brings us so much joy.  And she has definitely lived up to her name.  When she was just a little baby in our arms, we would have never imagined that 4 years later, she would have a stage 4 – life-threatening illness in the form of cancer.  Long after being hated by his brothers and sold into slavery, Joseph is able to say with all his heart,  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20.  Cancer harms and destroys, but God is always good and is always in the business of saving lives.

This Wednesday, we will be going to Sherman Hospital in Elgin to get Ella Joy’s blood drawn to see if her blood counts are high enough for her to get chemotherapy on Thursday.

When I was younger, I had this little Mickey Mouse tent that sat on my bed.  Whenever I got into a fight with one of my sisters, or just had a tough day, I would run to my room, zip the tent up and start crying inside.  Then, after I calmed down, I would start singing one of these songs I always sang at church when I was 12 years old with my arms lifted in surrender to God …

In moments like these I sing out a song,

I sing out a love song to Jesus.

In moments like these I lift up my hands,

I lift up my hands to the Lord.

Singing I love You, Lord.

Singing I love You, Lord.

Singing I love You, Lord,

I love You.

There have been and will continue to be long days at the hospital where Ella Joy is crying to go home, Asaph is over tired and in need of my attention, and the doctors and nurses are telling me news I would rather not hear.  Many times things will not go according to plan, and I will feel overwhelmed and exhausted.  But, it is in moments like these that I need most to sing a love song to Jesus in my heart.

Thank you so much for all your prayers, support, and encouragement!   We cannot get over what amazing friends we have!  We feel blessed 100 times over when we reflect on how God has used so many people to brighten our day and to help us when we needed it the most.  Please never stop praying for Ella Joy and our family!

… Singing I love You, Lord,

I love You.

The Greatness of our God

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12/5/13

Thank you so much for all your unceasing prayers everyone!  It was another long day at Lurie’s.  In addition to the IV chemotherapy VinCRIStine and spinal tap, we also had Pegaspargase for over 2 hours as well as her blood transfusion (her counts were at 7.2 this time around).  Ella Joy’s nurse commented on how Ella Joy was her best model patient for spinal taps!  Praise the Lord!  I cannot stop thanking you for these specific prayers because it is a huge deal that she is able to get these spinal taps without anesthesia and without having to fast beforehand!  And Ella Joy gets spinal taps very frequently, so we are extremely thankful to God that she is doing well with this procedure!  Jean was such a lifesaver for us as she watched over Asaph from early morning to night!  All the doctors and nurses and staff on floor 18 oncology cannot help but notice all the help we are receiving from so many different amazing people!  They always ask how we have so much support and friends to help, and the answer is clearly that God provides!

Ella Joy was crying during her blood transfusion.  She wanted to go home.  I know she gets tired of being in the hospital long hours and getting poked and probed all the time while other children her age are going to school and having fun and playing.  It breaks my heart to see her terrified of the needle and even hiding under the table when I have to administer the chemotherapy shots to her at home.  Please pray that God would continue to give her strength and courage in the midst of her chemotherapy treatments.

At the Ronald McDonald House, there was a drawing, and our family won tickets to the Bulls game!  Knowing that it was going to be a very long day at the hospital we were not sure if we would even be able to make it to the game, but God is indeed sovereign and orchestrated everything perfectly!  Right after the last drop of blood was transfused and Ella Joy was allowed to leave, we hardly had a few minutes to spare before we were off to the Bulls game.  We got to meet Doug Porter the CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and NW Indiana who handed us the Bulls tickets.  He was so down to earth, and it really was an honor to meet him.  The following day, he sees our family trying to hail a taxi, and he offers to personally drive us to the train station.  He laughed and thought it was silly that Ella Joy kept calling him Charlie Brown, and how fitting the phrase, “You’re a good man Charlie Brown!”  Doug Porter really was a good man!  God blesses us through so many different people.  It has also been encouraging meeting many different families at Lurie too.  Their stories of their sick children are forever etched on my heart and in my prayers.  When I was little and I heard the siren of an ambulance, I would always try to say a prayer for whoever was in that ambulance.  Now, when I hear one, I am on the verge of tears when I hear an ambulance because as a parent of a child with stage four cancer, I have a new heart for each and every single soul that I meet in the hospital.

Sometimes I feel the anthem of my heart singing Ingram’s song, “I spend my life to know and I’m far from close to all You are, the greatness of our God.”  If anyone has been blessed at all by anything written in this blog, then all glory belongs to God!  He must be glorified!  God can use anyone for His purpose!  In Exodus 2, Moses killed an Egyptian, in Acts 8 Saul dragged Christians from their homes and committed them to prison.  In 2 Samuel 11, King David set up Uriah to be killed after sleeping with and impregnating his wife.  God used all three of these men to carry out his will.  I am not by any means a great writer or the follower of Christ that I would like to be, but all arrows point to the Author and Perfector of my faith who is Jesus Christ “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

So thank you so much for reading this blog and for taking this journey of prayer with my family and Ella Joy in fighting cancer.  We seriously cannot thank you enough for taking time out of your busy schedules to lift up prayers for Ella Joy.  All your love, support, and prayers display the Greatness of our God!