A Sign From God

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the [a]author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2

From Matthew:  We are a little behind in putting out this blog entry.    There has been a lot happen since last time we wrote.   And... I'm honestly finding it more difficult to write about Esther's struggle than I did about my own.    I decided to wait till I had processed things a little more.   I think Evie (my 15 year old daughter who is co-writing this blog with me) needed some time as well. This after all is not primarily my journey, it's Esther's and it's our whole family's.  We are all on this road hand in hand together.  I want to be careful to protect hers and my family's heart even as I share from mine. In the two weeks since our last blog entry two dramatic events happened in our life.   The first was when Esther lost her hair.  The second is when I received confirmation from my cancer doctor that I am officially in remission.    Both happened within 24 hours of each other.

Esther has ALWAYS had hair.  She was born with more hair then any of her sisters were born with and she didn't lose it like many babies do.  Her hair had been falling out for a few days before she told us on Monday that she wanted to have it shaved off.   Every time she laid down, whatever she laid her head on was left covered with hair.  Earlier in the week I had shown Esther the video of when my hair was shaved, 3 weeks into my chemo treatment.    Just like her dad, 3 weeks in, she decided to have hers shaved too.    So... for the first time in her 6 years she is bald. It was a sad moment but at the time wasn't as emotional as I anticipated it being.    We had a rough few days last week with her stomach cramping and honestly her losing her hair didn't seem as big a deal, at least she was happy and feeling good that day.    However, I'm still getting used to it.  I'll walk in a room and see her and jump at first thinking, "who is that?"   I'll get used to it, and we'll have fun with the different hats & wigs she can wear.  It is hard to see her without hair, especially as it makes it obvious to all that she is not well.  But the much more important thing is she gets better.   Her hair will grow back.  Mine sure did.  

From Evie:  Hand everything over to God, no matter how silly or sad.  Even when you don't want to.   Never hold onto it.   Holding onto it never turns out good.   You may think, "oh, this is such a stupid thing to worry about, God doesn't need a worry like this."  But, God wants all of your worry, your fear, and your hurt.  He wants to take the burden from you but He can't do that unless you willingly give Him your worries.  Something that I'm having a hard time handing over to God is Esther's protection.  One of the things that goes to the oldest sibling is the safety of the younger ones, and I can't help wanting to protect my little sisters.   Because of that, it has been very hard for me to give up my instinct to protect Esther from what she is going through. One example of that is when she had her hair shaved.  Up until then people could look at her and not know anything was wrong, but now they look at her and they see a little girl with cancer.   While Esther was getting her hair shaved I kept shifting in front of her so if someone drove past, they wouldn't see her.  That was when I realized I wasn't giving the burden to God.

From Matthew: The next morning after Esther lost her hair, Cherish and I drove together to meet with my Cancer doctor.  I'd had bloodwork and a CT scan done a couple of days before.  I felt confident the results would be good but there was an inkling of doubt.   What if the news was not good, on top of what we were already dealing with?   Cherish and I prayed together as we rode in the car.   I asked God for a sign to show us that He was with us.   We needed some encouragement.   We believe firmly that we are not alone in this journey of life, but sometimes you need to feel it not just know it.   My oncologist confirmed that the bloodwork and CT scans were all good and said I didn't need to see him again for another 6 months.  He said I can get my port removed and then he said that I was officially considered in remission!  That was GREAT news, not completely unexpected but we were still relieved to hear those words.    I have been sure of my healing since before my chemotherapy finished back in July of last year, but it's always good to have a doctor confirm it!   Before I left the doctor's office I was scheduled for surgery to get my port removed.    After we left the doctor's office we went a different route than usual to get some coffee.  We stopped at a red light and Cherish suddenly pointed at a billboard at the intersection and said "look, that's the doctor that put in your port and the one who's taking it out."    I don't remember ever seeing that billboard before.   I got so excited, God had answered our prayer by literally showing us a BIG sign that He was with us!   So, I of course had to lean out the window at the traffic light and take a picture to show all of you (it's the one at the top of this blog).  In that moment we were reminded that we are not alone.

From Evie:   When you put everything in God's hands not only does it make God happy, but it also takes a lot of weight off your shoulders.  Trust God with the most precious and important things in your life and He will show you love like you have never seen.   God wants to be your best friend, and best friends tell each other everything.  So don't keep things from God.  Trust me, everything will get better, just allow Him to take away the worry, fear, and hurt.  Only good will come of it.

From Matthew:  I am grateful that one day in between my daughter's head being shaved and her having her 4th chemotherapy infusion (20 more to go) I not only got good news about my health but our faith was strengthened by the sign God brought into our life.   So often life is like that.  Happy & tearful moments all happen around the same time.    I think that maybe helps us to keep our sanity as well as our faith.   I was reminded this week of the scripture at the beginning of this blog (Hebrews 12:1-2).   We are surrounded by so many that are living now and those that have gone on to Heaven before us that are watching our lives.   God calls us to have endurance and live holy in this life knowing that there is a great joy ahead of us.    I listened to a sermon this week by a minister (Bill Johnson) who had just lost his wife to cancer.  He said that one day in Heaven we will worship Christ for eternity and we will do it without pain but, "this life is my one opportunity to worship Him WHILE I'm in pain".     When heartache hits it's normal to feel like abandoning everything, even our faith in God, but it is the joyous hope that we have in Christ that reminds us that He is with us in our pain and gives us the strength to endure what this life brings & live a life that pleases Him even when times are tough.  Christ has done so much for me, I don't want to only give Him praise when things go well in my life.  I don't want to miss the opportunity to give Him glory when life is painful.

Thank you for praying with us as we walk through this journey as a family together.   Life is sometimes hard, but God is always good.  Esther gave me permission to share the below picture with you.  It was taken the day her head was shaved.  Isn't she beautiful?


Suzie Price - August 4th, 2022 at 9:59pm

Esther is absolutely gorgeous!! The shaved head is actually very cool and those big brown eyes are stunning!! Thank you Matthew and Evie for sharing this blog! And for sharing your faith in spite of the struggles! Thank you for the transparency! We are praying for all of you and we know that God is going to continue to strengthen you all!!

Elaine Smythe - August 4th, 2022 at 10:04pm

She is beautiful. This is heartbreaking, but I know it is God's plan for her to be healed. We are praying every day. Love you all so much!

Joy Dowell - August 5th, 2022 at 12:28am

Awe beautiful Esther. I remember when I first came to church. Esther was a baby and I told Cherish she looked like a cabbage patch doll. Esther, you are even more beautiful because all I see is your smile and your bright big beautiful eyes. We are all with you and we will continue to love you and support you (as well as the whole family) in this journey. You my friend Esther, have strengthened my faith more in God and this has brought Brielle and I more into the Bible. You are such a gift.

Lydia Wade - August 5th, 2022 at 12:40am

Beautiful Blog from both of you. What a young woman of God Evie you are. Matthew I can hear your pain through the blog, but also the strength that you have. Bless you all. What a beautiful smile on Esther’s face. Love to you all xxx

Simeon Chapman - August 5th, 2022 at 12:55am

Thank you for writing this together. I read it with tears rolling down my cheeks. Esther is beautiful as are you all. Our tears are liquid prayers and we continue to pray for you all.

Wayne Cunningham - August 5th, 2022 at 9:58am

Tasha and I have worked together and she's a very good friend and she is the one who initially told Me about Esther. We pray every Sunday and on Wednesday night lifting her up in prayer to God for a speedy recovery. God is the ultimate physician. His mighty hand will see her and the family through. And you can tell Esther from me she makes being bald beautiful.

Diana Price - August 5th, 2022 at 10:50am

Esther is beautiful and we’re praying for her journey.

Carol Puckett - August 5th, 2022 at 11:30am

Esther is precious! She is beautiful! Thank you so nuch for you and Evie for sharing believing many hearts and lives are being encouraged and changed. Cherish, Esther, and her little friend that has been diagnosed with cancer, and all of you are daily in my thoughts and prayers! Hugs to this precious little one.

Nannette Hulett - August 5th, 2022 at 12:22pm

Esther is beautiful as is your entire family. Continued prayers for all of you. ❤️

Laura Carey - August 6th, 2022 at 7:39am

God is great! Ester is beautiful and a very strong little lady. I pray this will soon pass and she be healed. Matthew, reading your blogs helps me in many ways. Thank you Ester for allowing your dad share your journey. God’s peace!

Paige Thompson - August 12th, 2022 at 11:00am

To all of Esther’s family:

My grandson, Coleman, played soccer with Esther and Cherish was their coach. We are praying for your beautiful Esther. Those eyes and her smile just proclaim joy! Thank you for updates. Our prayers will continue for all of you. ❤️