Cloud of Witnesses

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12-29-14

We are so thankful for your friendship and partnership in prayer for Ella Joy! Today, Ella Joy got a spinal tap, Vincristine chemotherapy, methotrexate chemotherapy, as well as blood counts, and her monthly liver test (enzyme counts). This week, Ella Joy’s liver test turned out about the same as last month. We are thankful it has not risen as in past months. I asked what would happen if the enzyme counts continued to increase, and the answer is that she would have to stop her chemotherapy for an indefinite amount of time. So, please pray with me that God would protect her body from any liver damage and internal bodily harm.   Many times people comment that she looks so “good” and we are very thankful to God for that. But many times what people do not see is how sometimes sick she feels after her chemotherapy treatment, and how her stomach hurts after taking some of her chemotherapy pills. We are so thankful she is able to run around with other children at church and school, but we pray you would not lose the urgency to pray with us for continual protection as she continues her chemotherapy treatment. A special thanks to Marissa and Hannah for coming to help watch Asaph at Luries while Ella Joy got her treatment in clinic! This week was also special because Mike was off work and got to be with Ella Joy and myself as she got her spinal tap and chemotherapy. It is so amazing to see how she has changed from the very beginning of her treatment in October 8, 2013, until now, she has come a long way! She was constantly crying at the beginning, getting poked sometimes 3 or 4 times a day with an IV, but now with her port, she is able to get accessed tear free! It was pretty awesome for Mike to see her now and how much she has progressed!

Please store up prayers with us for her next clinic visit on January 22nd Thursday. I am praying that her risk for liver damage would decrease by next month and that she would have a pain free spinal tap. Every single time, I make it a point to remind my APN and doctor to use a J tip, and to wait a good amount of time before undergoing the spinal tap (for numbing purposes). She also always needs Zofran or she will vomit every time, as well as 2 doses of Fentanyl. I hope they do not think I am a crazy momcologist! I just want to make sure they know what works best for Ella Joy since I do not always have to same medical team giving her the spinal tap.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1

John Piper once preached about Hebrews 12:1 and said, “The best way to illustrate this, I think, is with Hebrews 11:4, where the writer speaks of Abel and says, “Through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.” So Abel is in the cloud of witnesses, and he is witnessing to us by his life through the Scriptures. This is the way all the witnesses of Hebrews 11 are helping us. They have gathered along the sidelines of our race and they hold out their wounds and their joys and give us the best high-fives we ever got: “Go for it! You can do it. By faith you can finish. You can lay the weights down and the sins. By faith, by the assurance of better things hoped for, you can do it. I did it. And I know it can be done. Run. RUN!”

Last Christmas, we spent with Ella Joy at the hospital and RMH. However, this Christmas, we got to be home together as a family! Before they entered the “North Pole” they were received by a long line of fire fighters and policemen. When we walked into the room and were greeted by these men who risk their lives everyday on their knees clapping, it reminded me of Piper’s sermon when he said the witnesses “have gathered along the sidelines of our race and they hold out their wounds and their joys and give us the best high-fives we ever got: Go for it! You can do it! By faith you can finish!” It was a very small glimpse of heaven that made me tear up as we walked past. Every time I see this video, Hebrews 12:1 will forever be etched on my heart. In the same way the witnesses of Hebrews 12:1 are encouraging us to finish the race in faith, the firefighters and policemen were encouraging Ella Joy and cheering her on as she continues her chemotherapy. It was such a beautiful picture that I will never forget!

The Lord Will Provide

ellakissdadThank you Jose for capturing this adorable shot!

One night before bedtime and prayers, Ella Joy was finishing Sally Lloyd-Jones’ story of Abraham and Isaac in The Jesus Storybook Bible. She read aloud, “And as they sat there on the mountain-top, watching the embers of the fire die in the cool night air, the stars above them sparkling in the velvet sky, God helped Abraham and Isaac understand something. God wanted his people to live, not die. God wanted to rescue his people, not punish them. But they must trust him. One day Someone will be born into your family God promised them. And he will bring happiness to the whole world. God was getting ready to give the whole world a wonderful present. It would be God’s way to tell his people, I love you. Many years later, another Son would climb another hill, carrying wood on his back. Like Isaac, he would trust his Father and do what his Father asked. He wouldn’t struggle or run away. Who was he? God’s Son, his only Son – the son he loved. The Lamb of God.” Ella Joy could barely finish reading because she had tears in her eyes. This story of Abraham and Isaac reminded me of this Christmas season and God’s love, promise, and wonderful present. I was so thankful for Genesis 22, and the truth that “The Lord Will Provide.” Genesis 22:14.

And indeed, throughout the journey that started on Oct. 8, 2013 until even this day, God has provided! Wonderful friends who are praying non-stop for Ella Joy to truly have zero cancer and negative MRD as she continues her chemotherapy treatment, rides downtown (I only had to drive one time! ONE TIME!), and all the amazing people God has hand chosen to be in our lives as sources of encouragement, love, and support in one of the most challenging times for us. We cannot thank God enough! This week, Ella Joy started her second cycle of maintenance. She did not have her spinal tap as it was her 3rd month in the cycle. She had vincristine and blood counts. Her ANC went up from last month, however, the blood test for her risk of liver damage went up once again. At this point, I am just praying to God that she would be protected from any harmful damage that the chemotherapy is causing her body. It is a double edged sword because her chemotherapy is killing cancerous cells but on the other side, her liver and body is weakened and at a higher risk for damaging effects. Also, after getting her blood results back, in addition to higher risk of liver damage, her white blood cells have also increased which means she might be fighting an infection. Since her immune system is extremely low, please pray that God would protect her especially at school. Even germs from a child with the common cold could mean a visit to the ER for Ella Joy. I would like to give a special thanks to Marissa who came to help watch Asaph while Ella Joy got her chemotherapy. It is especially encouraging seeing our friend’s enormous heart for children battling cancer.  Please also pray for our next clinic visit on December 29th as Ella Joy will be getting a spinal tap, Vincristine chemo, and her blood counts.

Please pray for Ella Joy to be able to take her chemo meds well. Medications continue to change. We used to be able to get her bactrim from the manufacturer as grape flavored, but now we can only get it in cherry which Ella Joy had a tough time getting used to. There are no more coupons for the orapred hormone pills we used to give her, and instead of paying up to $70 for 10 pills (which only lasts one week), we have decided to go to the pill form of prednisone which she will take crushed with Sunny D. We are praying that she would be able to one day swallow pills like a champ. Thank you so much for being our prayer warriors for Ella Joy! As Christmas approaches, I want to continally be reminded of my King: “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” – Philippians 2:8-10

The Lord will provide. The Lord did provide, and He will continue to provide! Amen!