In the Eye of the Storm

(NOTE:  This is not necessarily an update on Lizzy.  She is really doing well and we are so thankful.  This is more of a personal insight into how God is working in our lives.  So, if you are just looking for an update on Lizzy, feel free to skip this post – she’s doing great!)

I’ve never been in a hurricane.  And if my planning skills are half as good as I think they are, I never will be!  But there is an interesting phenomenon that occurs with hurricanes that I would be interested in experiencing – being in the eye of the storm.

From what I’ve read and heard, being in the eye of a hurricane is a very surreal experience.  Can you imagine it?  You’ve just been through an absolutely ferocious storm, complete with howling winds, wicked bolts of lightning, deafening thunder, driving sheets of rain that are blowing sideways, and all of this is happening at the same time.  And then all of a sudden, literally in the blink of an eye, everything stops.

Silence.

Calm.

Peace.

In fact, I’ve heard it said that sometimes when you’re in the eye, you can actually see the sun shining in the blue sky.  Oh, the storm is still raging.  In fact, the storm is completely surrounding you.  Every direction you turn, you can see the dark storm clouds swirling.  You might even see lightning in the distance.  But right where you are standing – in the eye – nothing.  It’s calm.  And you can relax, at least for a moment.

Sure, there is more storm to come.  And you will have to deal with it when it comes.  But for now, right now, there is peace.  And it’s the most wonderful peace ever because you’ve just been through the storm.  The storm was nasty and scary and there were times you weren’t sure you were going to survive.  But you did survive.  And now you are in this beautiful place of calm and peace.  The sun is warming your face.  And you smile.

That’s the place Lori and I find ourselves right now.  For today.  Make no mistake, we’ve been through a storm.  The day the doctor came into the ultrasound room and told us the x-ray revealed a spot on Lizzy’s lung, we were shaken to the very core of our being.  The subsequent scans and tests and surgery and start of chemo have all been an absolute whirlwind of emotions and fears and tears.  Over the past 2 weeks, there were days we didn’t know what day it was, much less how we were going to make it through whatever particular day it happened to be.  That was the storm.  And the storm is still raging.

But today, we find ourselves in the eye of the storm.  An unexplainable peace has descended upon us.

Wait.

Scratch that.

It’s not unexplainable.

It’s God.

There are so many people praying for us, literally all over this country.  Prayers for Lizzy’s healing, but also prayers for peace for Lori and me.  Well prayer warriors, I want you to know – your prayers are being answered!!

We had a great day at church today, being loved on by so many people.  We had family and friends stop by the house today to visit and play with Lizzy and Treas.  And after dinner we sat in the family room listening and watching worship videos while Lori read books to the girls.  Lizzy is feeling good and strong today.  Treasure is being a great big sister.  Lori was able to go to the store earlier today and have just a bit of alone time.  And I got to just observe it all.  And shake my head, almost in disbelief, at how blessed I am.

So friends, thank you for the prayers.  We feel them!  And we will need more of them.  We know the other side of the storm is coming, but that’s ok.  God got us through the first part of the storm – He will get us through the next part.  In the meantime, He has blessed us with a time in the Eye.  With Calm. With Peace.  With Family.  With Friends.

Maybe it takes going through the storm to truly recognize and appreciate being in the Eye.

This is gonna be a lot different than last time

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(video of Lizzy and the music therapist)

Where to begin . . . . There has been so much happen in the last 24 hours it’s hard to remember it all, much less where to begin. So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Lizzy had a good night sleep with no issues or incidents during the night. Thank you God!!  She received fluids all through the night, so the output was significant and frequent, which is a good thing.

Eating has already started to be a bit of a struggle. Not sure if she just isn’t hungry or if food is already starting to not taste good, but she didn’t eat a whole lot for any of her meals today. That’s something we (and the doctors) will keep a very close eye on.

(Christmas in July)

Around lunchtime, Lizzy got a very special surprise. Apparently there is a family who in the past had a child treated on the Oncology floor, and they wanted to do something to give back and say “Thanks”.  So, every year around July 25, they have “Christmas in July”. This family fills a large bag full of brand new toys FOR EVERY PATIENT ON THE ONCOLOGY FLOOR!!  I don’t know how many patients that represents, but it’s a lot. There were a lot of toys in Lizzy’s bag – amazing. Just amazing.

Lizzy also got a visit from the music therapist.  Prior to her showing up, Lizzy had been somewhat lethargic and complaining of a headache.  But it didn’t take long for the music therapist to get Lizzy going.  Lizzy used one of the gifts from “Christmas in July” and gave us all a concert!  I tried to embed a video of the concert at the beginning of this post – I hope you can see it!

Lizzy and Lori went to the playroom and hung out for a bit while I tried to catch up on some work. The ebb and  flow of emotions wreaks havoc on one’s ability to concentrate, but there is work to do, so we get it done.

At dinner time we were cruising right along, about to wrap it up for the night when a burst of nausea hit. My “tough as nails” little girl suddenly hopped out of bed, went right over to the garbage can, and started vomiting. Never cried, just stood there and kept throwing up. The nurse was in the room when it happened, so she immediately contacted the doctor and they gave Lizzy some additional anti-nausea medicines.  Those medicines knocked her out pretty quickly, so at the moment she is sleeping comfortably in the bed.

Please pray that the nausea stays away and we don’t have to deal with that again.

The sudden bout of nausea really brought home the fact that this round of treatment is going to be different than last time.  Dr Geller had warned us that this treatment regimen was harsher than the last one, and we believed him, but the episode tonight just confirmed this is a different ballgame this time around.

Honestly, it’s scary.  And it hurts so much to see your little one in pain. But we know God’s got this. And we know He gives us strength for today.  So our focus has to be on today. He gave us the strength to get through today, so soon Lori and I will drift off to sleep and be grateful. When tomorrow arrives, we trust and we know that He will give us the strength we need for that day.

If all goes well through the night tonight, the plan is for Lizzy to be discharged home late morning tomorrow.  Please join us in praying that that happens and we can take our precious little girl back home.

As always, thank you so much for all of the love and support and prayers.

And So It Begins (Part II)

It’s 11:50pm on Wednesday and Lizzy just finished her chemo. It’s been a loooong day that included an MRI, blood work and chemo!

(That’s a lot of bags on that IV pole)

Lizzy is doing really well at the moment – thank you God. We are all very tired so I’ll write more tomorrow (and hopefully share some more photos).

Please join us in praying for a restful and uneventful night for Lizzy.

Good night.

Home Sweet Home! (and Why?)

WE ARE HOME!!!!!

Its so good to be back home. And Treasure was so happy to see her little sister (and mommy and daddy)!

Lizzy is doing great, just a little sore. She was so glad to get back home. And she stepped out of the car and went immediately next door where there was a birthday party going on. She was blowing bubbles and squirting anyone and everyone she could with a water gun!  It is amazing how resilient kiddos are.

I will post more in the next few days about the battle that lies ahead. The doctor told us that on a 1-10 intensity scale, the chemo treatments that Lizzy just completed in April was a 2 or 3. He said the chemo journey we are about to start is a 7 or 8. This time will also include radiation, something we didn’t have to deal with last time. So, we will be enlisting all of our prayer warrior friends to come before God on Lizzy’s behalf. We will take this one day at a time. And God will provide.

In addition to praying for healing for Lizzy, please also pray for her emotional processing of what’s going on. Let me give you a story to illustrate why we make that specific prayer request.

On Tuesday at the clinic, after we had been told the cancer was back and Lizzy was going to have another surgery and more chemo, it was finally time to come home. Before we left the clinic, Lizzy had to go potty. I walked her to the potty and waited outside. After she went, she started washing her hands and I thought I heard her crying. So I opened the door and said “Lizzy, are you ok?”  She looked at me, tears streaming down her face, and said “I know why the yucky came back” ( yucky is her term for the cancer). So I said “why?”

She looked down, like she was ashamed, and said “ Because I don’t always wash my hands after I go potty so that’s why the yucky came back”. I pulled her close, gave her a big hug, and through my own tears just kept saying to her “It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault “.

So, we know she is trying to process everything and trying to come up with an answer to that age-old question – “Why?”

The quest to understand Why is as old as the human race itself. Ever since sin entered the world, bad things have happened to people and we ask “Why?”  Even at 4 years old, we ask “Why?”

From Augustine to C.S. Lewis, theologians have written volumes and volumes on this subject. And I am certainly no theologian. But what I do know is this – we live in a fallen (sinful) world, and because of that, bad things happen. The only place where bad things won’t happen is Heaven. So until we get there, bad things are going to happen. And it sucks. And it hurts. And it is hard.  And it is dark. And sometimes it hurts so bad you can’t breathe. And you cry and you cry until you think you can’t cry anymore, and then you cry some more.  That’s just the way it is this side of Heaven.

But for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we know a better day and a better place is coming. A place where there are no more tears. There are no more hurts. There is no more cancer. There is only light and not darkness. A place where we will be fulfilled and healed and joyful as we worship all the time.

I can’t wait!

Answered Prayers

Our little Lizzy is sleeping comfortably!!

(Lizzy at 5:30pm on Friday)

Oh what a day!!  As most of you know, we had a very difficult night last night. At 6am I posted a request asking for prayers for Lizzy, specifically that God would ease her pain. When I made that post, we had been up all night. Lizzy had gotten a few little naps in during the night, but most of the night was spent with her awake and crying and whimpering in pain. This was despite being on regularly scheduled Tylenol and 2 doses of morphine.

But you know what?  God is in the healing business. As I said, I published the post at 6am this morning and by 6:30am Lizzy was sleeping.  She didn’t receive any additional medicine – just prayers. And when she went to sleep at 6:30, she slept for over 3 hours, which was the longest period of sleep she has had since the surgery. Prayer works!!

When she woke up, she was still very uncomfortable from the chest tube that was still in her side. She was afraid to move because every movement hurt, and she didn’t want to take deep breaths because expanding her lungs pressed against the chest tube and it hurt.

The surgical team came by and adjusted her pain meds and started giving her an oral pain med. She has had multiple other tests today, most of which are being done to establish baselines before the next round of chemo starts.  Tests have included a hearing test, an echo of her heart and a kidney function test that involved injecting her with a radioactive liquid then taking frequent blood draws to see how the kidney processed that liquid.

All of those tests have been normal and we now have baselines to measure against as she starts chemo.  And then, around 5p the surgical team came into the room and took out the chest tube. And I mean literally pulled it out of her. Right there in her bed. While she was awake.  And she just squeezed my finger and squeezed Lori’s finger and just like that, the chest tube was out.

Just before the surgical team came in, the nurse had given her a dose of morphine. It didn’t have time to kick in before the surgical team pulled out the chest tube. My goodness, that little girl is tough as nails!

Once the chest tube was out, she immediately started feeling better. She started talking about going on a walk and going to the playroom and maybe even going outside. It was amazing to see the change in her personality almost instantly once the chest tube was gone. And then the morphine kicked in!  And the result is the picture at the beginning of this post.

It has been a long, exhausting 24 hours. God has shown His power and His faithfulness, and you all have shown what awesome and mighty prayer warriors you are. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Hopefully we will get to go home tomorrow (Saturday), and then we will turn our focus to the next round of chemo, which is scheduled to start on Wednesday. But that can all wait. For now, we rejoice in the fact that Lizzy is sleeping and resting comfortably. We delight in the awesomeness of our Heavenly Father. And we relish the many family and friends who are lifting Lizzy (and us) up in prayer.

We are truly blessed.

She’s in a lot of pain

Dear Friends –

I am sorry to burden you with another request, but could you please pray specifically for God to relieve Lizzy of her pain?  This is the 4th surgery she’s had since November and I’ve never seen her be in such pain.

For those of you who have been around Lizzy, you know she is tough as nails.  So to see her cry and wimper like she is now is almost unbearable.

She is on a regular schedule for pain meds plus additional meds as needed, and right now she needs the additional meds every time she’s allowed to have it.

I try to make these posts as positive and encouraging as I can because I want to be uplifting and faithful. But if we are going to be true friends and be real and authentic with each other, then I just have to tell you – this is so hard.  I know the testing of our faith produces perseverance, but I guess I haven’t always understood the depth and gravity of the word “testing”.  This is hard.

Lori and I humbly ask for your prayers for Lizzy.

Surgery is FINISHED!

God is good!!  Surgery is finished (in under 2 hours) and everything is great!  The port has been placed and the tumor in the lung has been removed. The doctor said it was very straightforward – the tumor was right where the scan indicated and they saw no evidence of anything else.

Lizzy is in recovery now and we should get to see her very soon. Can’t wait to hug and kiss her!!

Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers and for standing with us.  We stand amazed!

Surgery has started

They came up to the room around 3pm to get Lizzy and take her to surgery.  Lori rode with her down to the holding area.

We were in the holding area for about 45 minutes, with visits from nurses, anesthesia and the surgeon.  Lizzy was a bit annoyed by all the visitors because she was trying to watch Moana on the TV in the room!!

And then it was time. They led us back to the OR area and to a little tiny room where anesthesia got the process started. They injected something into Lizzy’s IV to make her sleepy, and unfortunately the medicine hurt as it went in her arm. So, our sweet little girl, who is braver and stronger than anyone I know, started crying as she fell asleep. That just about made Lori and I lose it. But, we managed to hold it together until we got to the waiting room, and then we lost it.

The surgery got started at 4p and we’ve been told to expect a 3-4 hour procedure.  So, now we wait, resting in God’s goodness, His grace, and most importantly His peace. Thank you for standing with us and for your prayers.

God’s Got This!!!!!

9am Update

we were just told that Lizzy will have an echocardiogram at 11am. This is done to clear her for surgery as well as get a baseline result because the chemo regimen she is about to start has the possibility of causing some heart damage. We were also told that as of now, surgery is scheduled for 2:50pm today but is subject to change.

While we wait, we will prob take her to the playroom they have on our floor. She really enjoyed going there last night.

Before we came to Cincy, we had one last adventure to Malibu Jack’s (it’s going to be awhile before we can take her back there)