Wonderful and Horrible
Celebrating the wonderful while struggling through the horrible is a strange reality. The highs and lows. The tears and laughter. It seems to be where we live these days. I don’t know if you could ever get good at it, and yet our desire is to live it well. To live it with purpose.
The last couple weeks have been filled with wonderful, enjoyable, horrible, terrible, and scary. God must have something for us to learn in it all. Last Tuesday night was one of the scariest points in this whole leukemia journey, and yet God carried us through with the peace and strength that only His presence can bring in the middle of sad and scary. The heaviness in your heart can be stronger than anything you ever thought you would feel, and at the same time God’s presence and peace rush in to comfort and give strength. Our amazing God.
Dave had a wonderful time at our staff Christmas party at Wood Ranch on Tuesday. He loves his BBQ chicken salad and he loves the IHC staff! They are family, they are friends, they are fun, supportive, and so talented. Even though Dave was fighting through a headache, he was really glad to be able to celebrate Christmas with the staff.
Unfortunately, when we got home the headache got persistently worse until it became unbearable. It was so scary. At one point in the rush to get to the hospital, we took a moment to connect face to face. We looked at each other through eyes filled with fear and acknowledged that this could be the big, bad thing. This headache felt like the one that was going to bring the terrible. We acknowledged the reality, the fear, the sadness, the weight of it all. And then we prayed. We asked God for relief from the pain and begged Him for more time. And then we surrendered. We asked God to bring us increasingly more awareness of what He is doing in all of this so that we can be obedient to His purposes. Sometimes we just don’t understand it, but we surrender anyway. And we can only do that because we firmly know the love and goodness of our God, even in the middle of our “very not good” circumstances.
As we were driving to the hospital, Dave was delirious with the pain and I was trying to pray, but there were no words other than, “Help. Please help us, God.” My mind was so scattered and scared. I thought I was driving him to that place for the last time. I know that seems extreme, but that’s where I thought we were in this journey on that night. Then in the midst of the overwhelming chaos going on inside, God whispered gently yet firmly into my heart, “Be strong and courageous. I am with you.” Oh, what comfort in that moment. What reassurance. Not that the terrible wouldn’t happen, but that our great God was with us and He would never leave us. I said those words over and over and over again driving to the hospital, “Be strong and courageous. I am with you.” A promise from God’s word, a promise for today that we can depend on. A promise that gives hope and strength and comfort in everything this side of heaven, this side of perfect.
As soon as we arrived at Cedars (no speeding ticket this time!), they began running all kinds of tests, loaded Dave up with pain meds, and then we waited and waited, preparing ourselves for the terrible. Austin and I went outside and looked up at the seventh floor ICU waiting area where we found ourselves three years ago, waiting. Austin was so helpful at reminding me that whatever the results were, God is with us and we will be okay. True, comforting, but still so sad.
It was all especially sad for our family because we were planning to leave on Friday for a weekend getaway, something that has only happened one other time in these last three years. Of course, that was minor in comparison to the bigger picture, but it did make the timing especially frustrating.
After 24 hours of anxiously waiting in a tiny basement room at Cedars, we received the results. It wasn’t the leukemia!! Amazing! The blood and brain fluid tested clear of leukemia, so the doctors concluded that the cause instead was inflammation in the brain due to the previous week’s chemo treatment. Not a good thing, but not the terrible thing. The doctors loaded Dave up with medications (and all the side effects that come with them), thrilled to send us on our way. I can’t even describe the strange feeling of driving in the driveway and going into the house with Dave when 24 hours earlier I doubted whether that would ever happen again. It was overwhelming, in a crazy good kind of way.
Less than two days later, Dave and his little Mr. Smith (and the rest of our family) were sitting on a deck watching a beautiful sunset over the waters of the Pacific. Thank you thank you, God, for that precious moment!
We share because we know there are still some who deeply care about Dave. And because we still need your prayers. We share because we know that there are many who struggle with their own terrible of many kinds and we want to encourage you to turn to the only One who can give you the hope, comfort, strength, and perspective that you need today. We encourage you to invite Him into your journey so that you can live it strong and courageous because He is with you. And remember, this is only the first part of your life… the part this side of perfect!
We appreciate every one of your continued prayers,