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.

Valuable Treasure

Easter Sunday is the day to remember and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection to life from death in the grave. So what a fitting celebration that we got to have Jas home for Easter! She made a miraculous recovery from her infections and pneumonia, making it possible for her to be home for a few days before round 4.

Sunday afternoon Jas hid eggs throughout the yard for her little cousins to find. The little girls were elated and overjoyed, running throughout the yard gathering eggs into their giant Easter baskets, while their older cousin made sure every last egg was found.

Hiding the eggs.

Seventy eggs later, everyone gathered in the house to see what goodies the little girls had accumulated. There were so many colourful plastic eggs to open up! And yet these brightly enticing plastic eggs didn’t compare to the real treasure found inside – gold and silver coins! Since dairy allergies prevent the usual chocolate eggs, receiving coins has been a highly anticipated consolation.

That pocket change seemed like a million bucks to those delighted kids. And not just the goodies, but the whole experience of being with their beloved cousin contributed to “the best Easter ever”, according to the five year-old. The whole day was a treasure and we are grateful.

Out for a walk with Mom and Dad.

The few days after Easter were treasures as well. Jasmine was able to rest and relax at home with her parents while her brother Eli is enjoying his Easter break in the States at Granny’s.

On Wednesday she was back at the hospital early in the morning for some procedures in preparation for round 4. She received a lumbar puncture, bone marrow biopsy, and a new central line put into her chest for the chemo and medications.

And chemo round 4 began on Thursday. This round is six days of chemo, and the treatments seem to be getting more and more difficult. We are so thankful for the love and prayers from the army marching with us.

And we praise God for the truth of this verse:

“Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but now in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Early Wednesday morning before the procedures.

Continue praying:
1. For maximum effect of chemo on the cancer cells and minimal effect on Jasmine’s body
2. That God would protect her from infection and for her counts to rise quickly after the chemo is done
3. For hope and encouragement in the middle of the struggles
4. That they would be anchored to God who is the Rock

When Life is a Roller Coaster

If you have been along for even part of this wild ride, you will know that it resembles a roller coaster to some degree. The highs have been miraculously high and the lows have been discouragingly low. One day we are celebrating all the good and the next we are battling in prayer because there is so much suffering.

This journey reminds me of a roller coaster at Canada’s Wonderland, in Toronto, called the Behemoth. It is known for its (literal) breathtaking first drop, reaching speeds of 125 km/hour, and the thrilling ups and downs that follow. The one-two hours waiting in line are spent wondering why this was ever a good idea, and seeking distractions from the anticipation of what is about to come. Every glance at the track towering in front of you causes your heart to pound and each time the coaster thunders by you tremble a little bit.

Behemoth

Once on the ride, as the car click-click-clicks up higher and higher, your awareness grows that you have zero control over anything that happens. The only thing holding you in your seat is a lap bar – no upper body restraints, and all you can do is hold on.

These past few months have been like riding the Behemoth over and over and over. With each round of chemo, the anticipation builds, the loss of control overwhelms, and the ups and downs are so unpredictable. But unlike a roller coaster, this ride has a whole lot more pain and suffering.

I am not trying to minimize what Jasmine is going through, nor put it on the same level as a simple amusement park ride. But the unpredictability and the speed of ups-and-downs help paint a picture of what she is facing.

This week Jasmine got a bacterial infection in her central line, the same as round 2. Yet this time the infection was worse so they removed the line and now she receives everything through IV. The antibiotics were slow to work, Jas was put on oxygen, and her blood counts were still at zero, meaning her body couldn’t fight. This week was full of suffering: low blood pressure, loss of appetite, blood transfusions, exhaustion, tears, and hopelessness.

From yesterday, the biggest smile all week!

Sunday night was a particularly low point. A chest x-ray revealed that Jasmine has pneumonia on top of everything else. Helplessness reminded us that we were completely at the mercy of God and that the only thing to do was hold onto Him and pray.

Then yesterday (Monday) we received some amazing news – an answer to prayer! Jasmine’s blood counts were coming up on their own, meaning her body will be able to start fighting the infections. This was the quickest her counts recovered out of all three chemo rounds (Day 20). Praise the Lord! Jasmine was also more talkative and hopeful!

This ride is far from over. However, through the joy and the suffering, we have an anchor. Like the seat restraints holding a person onto the ride, we have an anchor to hold us firmly through all the craziness. And He’s completely faithful and reliable. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19).

Timely reminder from Neen that the power will be of God and not from us.

He is the one holding us. Even if you let go on the ride, if you lift your hands high above your head, the restraint will still hold you in. You may lift off your seat, but you won’t fall off. When God is holding us, we will be afflicted but not crushed; perplexed but not despaired; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed.

It has never been up to us! God’s got Jasmine, and He’s got all of us. Nothing can separate us from Him.

When you get to the end of the ride, there’s a sense of satisfaction because despite what you just endured, you’re alright. The Behemoth was daunting but you conquered it.

We are not at the end yet. We are just past halfway, with two rounds left. But if we remain anchored to God through everything, no matter what circumstances we face, we will be conquerors.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

We may not all be struggling with the same thing as Jasmine, but all of us face ups and downs. This promise rings true no matter what we are walking through: Do not fear for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

Some things to pray for:
1. That her body and the antibiotics will fight off the infections
2. That Jas will be able to eat and regain her strength
3. For renewed hope and encouragement
4. It is Jasmine’s wish that she get to be home for Easter and do an egg hunt with her cousins

Choose Joy

It is day 12 of the third round of chemo. Jasmine finished receiving chemo treatments on day 5, and has been resting this past week, waiting for her blood to recover. Since the very beginning, cancer has attempted to steal many things from Jasmine: her freedom, community, hope, strength, peace, normalcy – but it has not stolen her joy.

Trying on wigs at the salon.

“For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”
Jeremiah 31:25

This courageous beauty continuously puts a smile on her face. She doesn’t complain, and when she does speak up about not feeling well, you know she’s suffering. She embraces every step of this painful process with gentleness and kindness.

On the first day of this chemo round, Jasmine was able to go on a pass with her mom and aunties to visit a wig salon. The wig made with her own hair is due to arrive in a few weeks, but she was thrilled to have another one, and sooner. This round of chemo was the shortest (5 days), but also the hardest, so having a beautiful wig was a highlight.

Jasmine loves doing hair; before cancer you would find her with hair styled exactly how she intended it, each individual hair in its place. Or she would have an extravagant updo that she did herself, learning new techniques from tutorial videos. Losing her hair was one of the hardest realities of cancer, so it was refreshing for her to have hair to style and play with again.

Ice cream with Dad!

Every picture with Jasmine smiling brings hope to us all. She reminds us that joy is possible even in the worst of circumstances. Cancer can force certain realities (like losing hair), but joylessness is not one of those. Joy is a choice, so nothing can take it away.

Joy is only up for grabs if we let it.

“Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:5

“Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future.”
Psalm 16:5

Worry is a joy stealer. Fear is a joy stealer. These things can occupy the space in our minds if we let them. But thank you dear Jasmine, for being living proof that joy is always possible – that we can choose it. We can choose to let go of the joy stealers and rest in knowing God is with us and He’s taking care of us.

Choosing joy doesn’t change the circumstances, but it changes how we walk through them.

Enjoying time outside at Grammy’s during yesterday’s pass home.

We are praising God this week for:
1. Currently no side effects from the chemo
2. Jasmine’s eyes stopped hurting and an eye exam showed no leukemia in her eyes and 20/20 vision
3. She is able to go home on daily four-hour passes
4. Her new wig
5. Moments of joy

Please pray:
1. With each round, Jasmine’s body grows weaker, meaning she doesn’t feel well and can do less to help pass the time
2. Jasmine and Christine are quite tired and still have a long road ahead
3. For no infections or viruses
4. For her blood and immune system to recover
5. Continued health, stamina and strength for Jasmine’s caregivers
6. For renewed joy, strength and courage as they rest/recover from round three and gear up for round four

The Army

Almost daily I am reminded of the impact Jasmine’s army is having in this battle. A whole army of people who care. A whole army of people who support and love and show up. It’s days like this week that we need the reminder.

Jasmine was having a hard day yesterday. She was laying in her dark hospital room, unable to do anything because of nausea and her eyes were hurting (a side effect of one of the chemo drugs this time around). She was unable to eat or drink for two days, and she was on day four out of five chemo days before recovery can begin.

It is hard on Christine to be with Jas yet unable to alleviate her suffering. It must be one of the most difficult things to endure, being powerless to help your child. Time can pass slowly in that hospital room, especially when there are no distractions from the misery.

But there is an army.

No, none of us can change this reality for them. But every little part played by someone in this army is helping to fight this battle.

When the family needs encouragement, there is an army sending messages and gifts and financial support. When the family has prayed everything they can think of, there is an army continuing to petition on their behalf. When despair sinks in and hope evaporates, there is an army to spur on the fight. When giving up seems like a good option, there is an army to remind them of God’s truth and to keep going.

Photo of Calgary taken from an airplane.

This is a photo of the city of Calgary. From the sky, it looks impressive, yet it is made of up many individual houses, roads, fields and skyscrapers. There are countless parts to this magnificent city.

This is just like Jasmine’s army – many individual people coming together to form something mighty and magnificent.

In the Bible (Exodus 17), Moses was tasked with keeping his hands raised above his head during a battle that his people were fighting against the Amalekites. When his hands were raised, Moses’ people, the Israelites, were winning the battle. When he got tired and his hands lowered, his army was losing.

So Moses’ brother Aaron and another man, Hur, put a stone under him so he could sit on it. Then each of them held one of Moses’ hands up in the air for the duration of the battle. They helped Moses’ hands remain steady until the sun went down, and the Amalekites were defeated.

Christine may not be able to take away what Jasmine is going through, but her presence with her daughter means that Jasmine is not going through this alone. Similarly, each of you is so special and your role is important. Your presence in this army means that we are in this together, and that means that this is not just Jasmine’s battle, but it is OUR battle.

It is the army’s battle, and ultimately, it is God’s battle. This battle is in God’s hands; it has been since before we got the diagnosis, and it will be in the months to come. And this army is helping to hold up Christine and Brad’s hands as they walk through this with Jasmine.

This battle is bigger than one person, but it is not too big for God and the army He has built and is continuing to grow.

“Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

God knows what each person needs in this very moment, so let us ask Him with boldness to help this precious girl and her family.

Wednesday’s four-hour pass included a fun outing!

What is your role in this battle? Is it to pray? Is it to give of your time or money? Is it to serve? Is it to encourage? Is it to love? Is it to support? Is it to show up? Is it to spur them on because you’ve been here before? They need you.

Since yesterday, many people in the army were praying specifically for Jasmine, and she is feeling SO much better today! In fact, she is on a four-hour pass home. Thank you God and thank you army!

Thank you for being present and continuing to fight alongside these brave warriors. God has brought you to be apart of this army and there is a reason for it. Thank you for showing up, it means more than we know how to say.

A Week of Rest

Rest can take many forms: sleep, relaxation, entertainment, activities, being with people, or even being alone.

Jasmine spent this whole last week at home enjoying rest in many ways before returning to the hospital this morning (Tuesday) to be admitted for chemo round 3. She was home for a full six days, with only one trip to the hospital yesterday for a dose of chemo into the spine (preventative measure) and a bone marrow biopsy in her hip.

Fresh air at the dog walk.

She rested this week by sleeping in her own bed and eating her own food. She rested by being out of isolation in the hospital and being with people she loves. She rested by doing some “normal” activities like rollerblading and shooting a basketball with Eli.

She rested by feeling good and laughing and eating a Mexican dinner cooked by Auntie Neen (Anita) who is visiting again. She rested by dreaming of waterpark family vacations post treatment. She rested by going to church and seeing her church family after 10 weeks of being away.

Most of all, Jasmine rested by being home. She said yesterday, “Sometimes home is the place you want to be more than anything.” We are thanking God for this blessing of time at home. And also that God has made His home in Jasmine’s heart so no matter where she is, God will be with her.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

Last night we had a prayer and worship time to lift up this family we love so much. It was spiritual rest – the perfect way to end this week. Jas stayed home with Eli and Brad, while the rest of the local family and people from the army gathered together.

Our friend Stephanie facilitated the evening and encouraged us to pray boldly. She reminded us that we are invited to “ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.” (The Message, Matthew 7:7).

There were some bold prayers! And I want to encourage any of you reading this to continue with asking God for big and bold things. God is able, will we ask?

Beautiful, strong women.

Although Jas was admitted to the hospital today, she is allowed to go home to sleep tonight, and chemo will start tomorrow. After meeting with the oncologist today, the plan moving forward is to do three more rounds of chemo. So a total of five rounds.

Some things to pray for:

  1. Praying against any fear or dread because they know what they will face going through it for a third time.
  2. Praying for thoughts to be taken captive and made obedient to Christ, that they will dwell on His truth.
  3. Praying for lots of sleep and rest for Jasmine and Christine especially.
  4. Praying against the family getting sick so they can be with Jas and care for her.
  5. Praying for God’s presence to be tangible.
  6. Praying for the chemo side effects and no infection this time around.

Thank you for praying, friends!

Even Though

Yesterday my kids ate ice cream outside, my eldest in her bathing suit. That might sound absurd since we live in Canada and there are still technically two days of winter left before spring, but we have been longing for summer so we jumped at the opportunity to be outside.

We have had a seemingly endless winter. Since the first blizzard in early October, we’ve put up with frigid weather, though the past two months have been the worst. It had been well below zero for two months straight, with no reprieve from the harsh conditions. The air was so dry and cold that it made our noses sting and our skin flake off. Kids were going antsy from being cooped up inside for so long. People were dreary from the monotony of freezing weather and dull grey skies.  

However, it wasn’t the weather that was the hardest for me to endure – it was the wintery conditions of my own heart these past couple months. While the icy wind howled outside freezing everything in its path, the pain and emotions I faced began hardening my heart as well.

Smiling through suffering

From the moment I heard the news about Jasmine, I felt the pain. My heart didn’t just hurt for her, but for everyone who would be broken and impacted by this. After awhile, the emotions became exhausting and I just didn’t want to feel them anymore. It’s easier to ignore the emotional reality and focus on other distractions than it is to sit in the mess.

Christine put it well when she called it emotionally tired. I have felt that way, too. It’s scary to acknowledge how we are feeling because what if we feel like this forever? What if we are wrong to feel this way?

When the second round of chemo went smoothly, I started to relax and come alive again. We had hope, and things were going as well as they could. Then Jas got the bacterial infection in her central line a week ago, and I didn’t want to go there again – to the dark place of fear, sadness and feeling numb.

But to fully live, we need to fully feel. We can’t selectively numb our emotions; when we numb the bad, we numb the good too.

I’m not sure that a winter season is completely avoidable in our lives. It seems to be our human condition to want to run away from pain. But there is one thing I am certain of: though winter can be long, it doesn’t last forever.  

I am thankful for this burst of summer (as my kids are referring to it) even though it is still technically winter. And even though summer is still a long way off, God has gifted us this time of glorious sun in the midst of a hard season.

I think the harsher the winter, the more desperate we are for summer. And the colder the conditions, the warmer the sun will feel. In the shelter of a backyard, with no wind and direct sunlight, a 14 C (57 F) day can feel like the middle of summer. The deeper the pain we feel, the greater the height of life and joy we will also experience.

In psalm 23:4-5 it says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

In the midst of the dark valleys, in the midst of being surrounded, in the midst of suffering, God is still with us. And when He is with us, we can rest, we can have joy, and we can just BE without fear or worry.

Officially discharged after round 2!!!!!!!!

Unlike the permafrost of this past winter, my heart has not been permanently frozen. Thankfully, God has been gracious to meet me in the middle and offer me many opportunities to process the emotions and the new reality with Him.

He gives complete rest when we are tired, He brings encouragement when hope is hiding, and He gives security when our foundation is rocked.

Today I am thankful that Jasmine is doing SO well that they have officially discharged her after round 2! Yesterday her blood levels were fairly stable, she had colour in her cheeks, the fever and rash were gone and her cough was better. Her counts were rising.

Today, her levels improved so much that they sent her home to rest before starting round 3. This time, her bone marrow started recovering on Day 21, which is ten days earlier than it did the first round. A nurse will be coming to Jasmine’s home daily to administer IV antibiotics.

Jas will receive a bone marrow biopsy and lumbar puncture this Friday. Chemo round 3 will most likely begin next Tuesday, March 26th.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

When Burdens are Heavy

“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

The past two days have been hard in many ways. For Jasmine, she has felt incredibly sick. Last night her fever got up to 40.3C (104.5F) so they gave her Tylenol and took more blood cultures. They have been giving her Maxeran through IV for nausea. She didn’t eat anything for two days and was only drinking small amounts.

This morning Jas was pale and her hemoglobin was low so they gave her an infusion of platelets and RBC’s. She has been continually nauseous so they’ve been giving her anti-nausea meds around the clock.

By this evening, Jasmine’s colour was better, she was eating a little bit and her fever was coming down. The oncologist also said that infection is very common and most AML kids get a serious infection every round so Jas has been a super star so far!

It has been identified that the infection is not in her blood, but in both lumens of her central line. Jasmine is getting two antibiotics for the infection and the medical staff are monitoring her well and taking care of her.

It is heartbreaking watching Jas go through this, and as a parent myself, I ache at the thought of what Christine and Brad are going through. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions that never seems to stop. It’s emotionally exhausting. When a friend asked if there was ANYTHING we could do to help ease this burden, I had to respond that there is nothing we can physically do to help.  

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

When someone we love is in pain, overwhelmed, heartbroken, beaten down, heavy or exhausted, we long to help. We long to help ease the burden they are carrying, to lift the weight off their shoulders, to make it all okay. Sitting and watching helplessly is almost torture. And yet there are instances, like this one, where we have no way to physically help, but it doesn’t mean we are out of options: We can come to the throne of grace on our knees and pray to our God who is always present, unconditionally loving, and faithful to never abandon us.

This is a fight. It’s a fight for Jasmine to be healthy, to overcome this infection and to beat cancer. It’s a fight for Christine and Brad to show up morning after morning, present and hopeful even though they are exhausted in many ways. It’s a fight for this family to stay unified despite the toll on all of them. It’s a fight to choose faith over fear continuously.

As the army who loves and supports the Adams’, we have the opportunity to continue fighting alongside them. So let’s gear up because the battle is still raging.

If our only option to help is to pray, then let us pray with everything we’ve got because this battle is taking its toll on everyone, in many ways.

  1. Pray that the whole family would be able to process pain with an awareness of God’s presence.
  2. Pray for strength and grace in Christine and Brad’s marriage – that God would protect their unity and grow their relationship through this.
  3. Pray that Eli would recognize God’s faithfulness and provision, and that seeds of trust would be deeply planted.
  4. Pray for rest in God’s presence and a renewed spirit day after day.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; the will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31