Thanks For All Things
From Matthew: This has been a good week. The week before this past one, Esther's bloodwork was low enough that her doctor called us on the way back from her weekly chemo treatment to tell us that she needed to be very careful. Her platelets were 32 (normal range is 212 - 480). Platelets are the part of our blood that form clots & stop or prevent bleeding. He told Esther to hold off doing anything dangerous for the next 3 days to give time for her platelet count to improve. That meant no jumping on the trampoline or headstands on the couch. Esther then said "my friend dangerous has left!" As usual, she was tired for a couple of days but by the weekend she was feeling much better. All of a sudden three nights later she jumped up and ran to the front door, opened and closed it, then came back to where she was sitting. "Dangerous," she announced, "has come back to play now" and went straight into a headstand! The following Wednesday her bloodwork had much improved. Her platelets were back to 376 and the trampoline was back in use! The last few days she has felt much more energized. This past weekend we had some good family times together. We went out to eat, did some yard sale shopping, and even went to a beach at a local lake and did some swimming. It has felt good for her to feel good. Almost normal.
This week we begin another 3 week cycle. The first week in the cycle is the long treatment where she is given 3 different chemo drugs (the other two weeks she's only given one). This is the week that we will bring her home still connected to her port with a portable pump that gives her another 24 hours of fluids. On the day after we get home we'll have to remove the needle from her port ourselves, along with the very sticky clear band aid that covers it, and with one of Cherish's nurse sisters help, give her a shot that helps rebuild her bone marrow. I am NOT looking forward to that. She has struggled with a lot of anxiety over simply drinking liquid medicine. Having to give her a shot is an exhausting ordeal. But... for the third time now, we'll get through it, and prepare ourselves for the way this week's chemo treatment drags down her body until it rebuilds.
From Evie: Sometimes things don't go your way. Actually things don't go your way a lot. My family definitely understands that. But you know what? I don't dwell on the fact that our lives have been harder than a lot of other peoples, because it could be worse. It could always be worse. I've actually learned that the bad days are the ones that shape you into the person you are meant to be. There's this song, I can't remember the name, but one line in it always seems to stick out to me "If you've never had hard days, would you know what it's like to dance in the rain?" I love that because for me it shows that even the gloomiest day can become a happy memory if you just look to the good. No matter what is going on in your life there will always be something to be happy about. The word joy is a good representation of that. Joy is a state of mind, not a momentary feeling. Mommy & Daddy often tell us that you have to choose to be happy, and as much as it annoys me when they say that, it's true. If you choose to be happy, you will be. Even in the worst parts of your life.
From Matthew: In the midst of the ups and downs of our situation I came across a verse in Ephesians this past week. It stopped me in my tracks. I was already familiar with I Thessalonians 5:18 which says "IN everything give thanks." There is a sign that hangs above the television in our den that says "there is always, always, a reason to be thankful." I've often said you don't have to be thankful FOR everything just be thankful IN everything. However, the 20th verse of Ephesians 5 says something very different. It says "giving thanks ALWAYS for ALL things!" That just blew me away. I decided that the word FOR was incorrect, a poor translation. So... I looked at the verse in every version on www.biblegateway.com and to my complete shock saw that every translation said... FOR!! How can that be? I can be thankful for some things but... be thankful FOR ALL things? One of things Cherish and I have wrestled with during this time is the feeling that life is random. Does it really matter if we pray or if we don't? Does what's going to happen just happen anyway? I know that is not true, but it's part of the emotions we have felt. As I pondered the word "for" in the Ephesians verse it began to speak to my spirit. To be thankful for the pain we have to believe that there truly is a purpose in it, that my life in Christ is not random, that He does see & hear us in the midst of where we are. It's often easier to see the purpose when we look back. As hard as it has been to walk through my daughter's cancer, just one year after my cancer treatment ended, having been through something similar myself has helped us to know better what she is going through and it's helped Esther to know that I understand. When we were first at the hospital she told her sisters "I'm going to get a port like Daddy." She'll often ask me if I had to do what she is doing and how I felt. For many things I'm able to say that I have and that seems to help her. Seeing that purpose in my cancer doesn't make what I went through ok but at least it helps it somewhat make sense. I'm definitely thankful that I went through cancer treatment BEFORE my six year old little girl.
As I pondered this whole concept I remembered a story from the book The Hiding Place," by Corrie Ten Boom. She gives an account of when she and her sister Betsie were in a Nazi Concentration Camp. Betsie led them both to be thankful for their situation, which was a thousand times worse than anything I have ever faced. Among the things she encouraged Corrie to be thankful for were the fleas in their sleeping quarters. Corrie said: “The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’ “ ‘”Give thanks in all circumstances,”‘ she quoted. ‘It doesn’t say, “in pleasant circumstances.” Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.’ “And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.” It turned out that Betsie was not wrong; the fleas were a nuisance, but a blessing after all. The women were able to have Bible studies in the barracks with a great deal of freedom, never bothered by supervisors coming in and harassing them." Corrie & Betsie finally discovered that it was the fleas that kept those supervisors out.
From Evie: Don't be too focused on the reasons you should be happy and neglect to acknowledge what makes your life special to God. I was watching the Christian YouTuber named Brandon Farris and in a particular video he decided to make the room the world's brightest room and stay in it for twenty-four hours. Something he said at the end of the video hit me very hard "Even in the world's brightest room, it's easy to overlook what's most important." It's easy to forget what you love the most when you are caught up in every bad or good thing that's going on in your life. So take a moment, it doesn't have to be every day, once a week would do, and just think about the reason you're working so hard, the reason you're pushing yourself to be better, and remember that every day is just another page in your book, a book that doesn't end when you die. That's only the beginning of an eternal story.
From Matthew: I'm so grateful Evie, my 15 year old daughter, is writing this blog with me. As we as a family continue down this journey of Esther's I am asking God for the strength to trust Him with what I do not understand, be grateful for the things I would not choose, and believe that there is somehow purpose in the pain. I do believe in a God who sees, who cares. who understands far more than we do, and knows how to "work all things together for our good" Romans 8:28. God is good. Amen.
Love you all ! Continuing in prayers for Esther and your whole family.
As always, your blog is enlightening. I really believe that one of the main reasons for your cancer was so that you could let Esther know that you have faced what you faced & everything turned out well. That gives her hope that she will be healed--just like Daddy.
Our family loves your family so much & we are praying for Esther & the whole family.
By the way, Evie's writing skills are amazing!
You don’t know what an inspiration your family is to us. Esther is the strongest little girl I know. What a testimony she will have. We love you all so much and you are in our prayers daily.
Praying intently daily for your family and trusting in the Goodness of God!
Pure Gold is coming forth out of your hearts, and flowing onto the page.
May the keeping presence of the Lord be near, and His voice always clear. Praying for Esther and you all, always.
♥️love from Mt Carmel
Love your blog. I love reading from a Father’s heart for his precious Esther. And Evie has such beautiful insight. But, now Esther cracked me up with her statement, “Dangerous has come back to play!”
Thinking of you and your beautiful family, and how strong you are in your faith. I know your sweet little girl will soar in life after winning this battle. Prayers to all of you for strength, closeness, and peace in this unexpected journey ❤🙏❤