Thankful

We suddenly received the devastating news back in January of Jasmine’s AML diagnosis, and we were just as suddenly celebrating the news Thursday night that Jasmine will NOT need a fifth round of chemotherapy! The oncologists determined that four rounds of chemo were just as effective in Jasmine’s case as five rounds. This means she is done chemotherapy treatment, though her journey is not over. She will continue receiving antibiotics to fight off this infection she has, and her counts (immune system) still need to come up, not to mention the lengthy physical and emotional recovery.

But for today we are thankful. And still in shock.

In the past few weeks, we faced some low points in this journey, and were terrified at the thought of Jasmine proceeding with another round of chemo and infection because the past and current rounds were so hard. Our prayers became cries of desperation, begging God to stop the suffering, heal Jasmine quickly and remind us how He was already at work.

In that desperation, God answered our prayers. He helped us to pray something similar to what Jesus prayed the night before He was crucified: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me – nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

And in the moments where we feared what the future would hold, and we didn’t think we could face another day like this, God showed us He was holding us all along. This news of no more chemo treatments is the biggest gift and surprise we could have received.

Christine and Jasmine got to go home yesterday for a 4-hour pass which was so needed. If Jasmine continues to recover, these 4-hour passes will become more regular. The future details are still unknown, as the oncologists determine the course of recovery. Jas will either remain in the hospital for four weeks of antibiotics, or be monitored at home via home care nurses.

There is no guarantee that the leukemia will not return, so we move forward cautiously but full of hope and faith, and incredibly grateful to be done the chemo phase.

Thank you for celebrating this good news with us and we ask that you continue praying for physical healing and recovery, as well as emotional healing for the whole family.

“The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘Lord, save me!’
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” 

(Psalm 116:3-7)

Smiles and peach rings

One Surrender at a Time

Jasmine is still fighting infection and is thankfully out of the ICU, but very sick with many horrible side effects causing much discouragement.

Jasmine’s Army group has been praying around the clock for the past 48 hours and continuing. With half-hour time slots (one person signs up for each slot), many people joined in to cover the family in prayer and really be intentional with asking for God’s presence and healing.

Saturday night as JP and I were praying, I was thinking about the idea of trusting God’s plan in all of this and surrendering, or letting go of, our own desires so we can follow Him. Because it is only when we surrender and trust, that we have peace and are able to enjoy life in any circumstance, even the worst ones.

And thinking about Jasmine specifically, it seems that the farther we are removed from her illness, the easier it is to trust God and surrender to Him. The closer we are to the front lines, the harder that gets. The focus is narrower and the effects of the disease are felt in increasing measure. So the idea of trusting God to take complete care of Jasmine is hard for those on the outside, but nearly impossible for those continuously with her.

How do we trust and surrender when we care so much?

Cuddles with mom.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and Christine was constantly on my mind. It is a mother’s purpose and privilege to care for their children, to make sure they are healthy and loved and have everything they need. Not only that, mothers long to make their kids’ dreams come true, going above their needs to give them their hopes and desires.

Kids are a mother’s most special treasure, so the thought of surrendering something so valuable into God’s care can be unthinkable, especially when our surrender does not guarantee a favorable outcome. It’s too big – even contradictory to what a mother is supposed to do.

And yet, scripture is full of verses telling us to trust God with everything: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Jesus said in John 14:1, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”

King David said in Psalm 62:7-8, “My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock. My refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge.”

The Bible says that God’s way involves us trusting Him and surrendering our worries and problems so He can be our refuge and we can have peace. But does our trust and surrender happen all at once? Is it a one-time decision to trust and then for the rest of our lives we’re all good?

Doing a puzzle back in February.

Perhaps, with some people, that is the case. But not for me. I seem to need to surrender continuously and ask God to help me trust Him all the time.

I see it like a building a puzzle. There are a thousand tiny pieces scattered across the table, all manner of colours, shades, and lines. How do so many individual pieces become one coherent picture?

One piece at a time.

It’s the same with trust and surrender; it’s one thing at a time. Our lives are so intertwined with thoughts, feelings, hopes, and pain, that surrendering it all at once feels impossible. What if God knows this, and He knows our human weakness and limitations, so He made a way for us to surrender it little by little?

Connie talks about this idea in her book Following God One Yes at a Time, where instead of tackling everything at once, we can simply “trust Jesus and step out, even when the way looks impossible” by saying YES to one thing at a time.

We could surrender for the next five minutes. Surrender this one decision. Surrender to His leading in this one area. Surrender this feeling about this situation today. Give up control for one day.

We can surrender when we trust the character of the One who holds our trust, and that He has our BEST interest at heart. He ALWAYS wants to bring us life.

Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Faith

Our pastor, Jasmine’s Papa Gerry, walked up to the front of our church yesterday morning, about to preach his sermon. Seconds earlier, he had answered a call from Connie at the hospital, and received the news that Jasmine was being transferred to the ICU. Her blood pressure was low and unstable, she was being given two antibiotics for an infection, and her vomit contained blood.

A broken-hearted grandfather and pastor asked the church to pray. In that moment of desperation, crying out to God was the only option, but also the very place we wanted to be. In a situation that is completely out of our hands, we turned to hoping that, just maybe, it could be in the hands of Someone who can handle it.

Pastor Gerry then proceeded to preach a message full of encouragement about having faith as we run this race of life. He reminded us of the great people of faith who have gone before us, the great cloud of witnesses, the ones who made it to the end and now cheer us on.

What struck me about these mighty heroes of faith, was that it was their weakness that was turned into their strength, and they became powerful in battle. They did not start out as strong, powerful or victorious. They became these things as they took steps of faith with the Lord.

And if we have ever been at a place of weakness in this journey with Jasmine, it is now. This is the part of the race where the runners have aching cramps, and muscle pain and exhaustion from lactic acid buildup; it’s where putting one foot in front of the other seems impossible. And there’s still a ways to go.

We seem to be at a standstill in this journey – afraid to breathe or move or even think about it.

But here was our pastor and family patriarch standing firm on Sunday morning. He had only heard the awful news minutes before and was aching for his granddaughter. Yet he stood there as living proof of how to run this race with faith: standing with our church family proclaiming that God is good and trustworthy and faithful and all-powerful.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

As I considered the starting place of our forefathers in the faith, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity between their position of weakness and ours – both up against a battle that is unwinnable without God. Besides the leukemia, our battle has been the fear creeping in with each dangerous infection (after each round of chemo), threatening to be more powerful than anything else.

Could God use our weakness of helplessness and fear, and turn it into strength as well?

Our fear brings us to the place of realization that we can’t fix the problem. It brings us to our knees in weakness as we have nothing to offer, no way to help, frail in our hopelessness. And it is the point of surrender where we invite all-powerful Jesus to take over. That is strength.

“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; fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before Him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2

What does running this race with perseverance look like when it’s so hard?

It is exchanging what we are not for who He is.

It’s surrendering our inability to be strong, our failure to be fearless, our obvious weakness – for more of Him.

It’s our church family praying together at the start of the service. And after the service gathered in a basement room. And all the way home in cars. It’s people believing with faith on our behalf when we aren’t there yet.

It’s fixing our eyes on Jesus so we can stand firm and have faith.

Keep praying, dear warriors, faith in God is victory.

Beautiful Jas wearing her wig a few weeks ago.