Saturday, April 25, 2009

The tick....

Today was an emotional day for me and not for any reason I would have ever predicted. We had a very busy Saturday planned, we had a soccer game, a birthday party and then a family-fun day event at Talks-a-lot's school. We spent a lot of time outside in the sunny 88 degree weather and both of the kids seemed to thrive off their time outdoors. Chunks-a-lot's bandage that covers her central line got a little wet and dirty so I had to take her home early from the family-fun day so I could get her bathed and put a fresh bandage over her line. As I was taking her shirt off, I noticed something small and black in the center of her back. Upon closer examination, I realized that it was a tick. I immediately became angry at the tick, seeing it deeply burrowed into my little girl's soft, baby skin, taking from her the blood that she cannot afford to spare. Albeit, it was probably a very small amount of blood, but that did not seem to change my feeling of rage toward this tiny parasite. Remembering my childhood days, I got a needle, burned it over a flame to make it scalding hot and pressed it on the back of the tick. Then, I quickly snatched the tick from her skin and mashed it angrily in a paper towel. At first, I thought that I saw one of its legs still embedded in her back and fully expected to spend the rest of our evening in the E.R. What I once thought was a black leg soon disappeared and after talking with a nurse from her pediatrician's office, I was assured that we could take a wait and see approach. Apparently, the area will become swollen and inflamed if the leg is still there, in which case a doctor will have to remove it.
For whatever reason, this entire situation made me extremely emotional. Because, why her? After everything she's been through and all she's endured, why do things like this continue to happen to her? It might be something insignificant in the eyes of most people, but it seemed so invasive to me. This precious, innocent little girl attacked by something that seems so sinister. I know, I sound crazy, I mean it's just a tick!
As I rocked her to sleep tonight, I started thinking about how that tick is a close parallel to the sin and evil that try to pull us away from our walk with God. Burrowing its roots deep within us, Satan tries to suck away the lifeline of our eternity, the strength of our faith, the endurance of our journey down a very narrow path towards Christ. And we might pick at it, pull at it, try to quickly rid ourselves of these temptations, but just one root, one single leg can cause a foothold of evil in our lives. For God is the only one who can press on the backs of our sins, make them release their deep roots and bring us up from the oppression of the evil one who so desperately longs for our failure. So often I am guilty of trying to be too self-efficient. As though I am capable of overcoming my own temptations with just a flick of the wrist. But I fail to realize that I have only removed the obvious part of what plagues me and those roots of evil are still left within me, swelling up inside of me until I fall into them again. Following Jesus is more than just a statement, it's a minute-by-minute, decision-by-decision, daily walk. It requires a vulnerability that goes against everything society teaches us. And with that vulnerability and complete trust comes the ability to call on our Savior when we are being attacked, to come and rescue us from our enemies. They're out for blood, they burrow deep and the only way to rid ourselves of these parasites is to let God take control of every aspect of our lives and fill us with His spirit. A spirit that can rise up like a scalding flame and destroy the strongholds that Satan has in our lives.
It may have just been a tick, but at that moment, it was so much more. And the awesome lesson that God taught me through this experience was humbling. As her mother, I would have done anything to make that horrible thing release its grip on my little girl. And as our Father, He is waiting and willing to do the same; we just have to trust Him and realize that we cannot fight this battle alone. The devil is out for blood and Jesus is after our heart, and it's our decision as to who will take root within us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chunks, chubs, working towards obesity...

Chunks, chubs, or as my husband calls it, "Working towards obesity", whatever name you want to use, I like to call her something completely different. A miracle.

Friday, April 17, 2009

And the greatest of these is love..

This is what I have been meditating on lately. They're verses that we have all heard, probably a million times, and I think I have almost become desensitized to it. But if you think about these verses and think how differently your life would be if you were to strive daily to model the true definition of what love really is; how much could you positively impact someone with just your efforts to live out the real definition of the commonly used phrase,
"I love you". Try it....see what happens.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, always endures. I Corinthians 13:4-7

Monday, April 6, 2009

An impossible answer

For whatever reason, sometimes children ask questions that not only take us by surprise, but are impossible to answer. Today I was asked one of those questions. Since the very first day we learned of Chunks-a-lot's cancer, I have always been careful in the amount of information I share with Talks-a-lot. I never wanted to overwhelm him with the facts, so we took it step by step, sometimes drawing pictures, sometimes giving child-like examples, sometimes just avoiding major details as they came about. As time passed, his questions ceased and he seems to be content with the amount of medical knowledge he has acquired throughout this journey. But today was different.
For some reason, Talks was sitting in the back seat of the car staring curiously at Chunks. I could see his furrowed brow deep in thought from my rearview mirror as he studied her tiny little face. Finally, he began asking questions. They were all very similar to questions he's asked in the past, but they were much more mature and he seemed very determined to stay away from the surface answers and dig deeper to the truth within. What is cancer? How did her brain tumor form? What do they do at St. Jude's that is so important? Why does the chemotherapy make her hurt so badly when it's supposed to be doing something good? I felt almost attacked by his curiosity and it was so surprising to hear him throwing out medical terms like, "shunt" and "hydrocephalus". He even asked me what type of tumor Chunks-a-lot had, which he has never inquired about before. I tried to stick to just the facts and not wander off into some sort of emotional path that might make him scared, but he just kept pressing me. Finally, just as we had pulled into the driveway at home, he jumped out of the car in what seemed like frustration and said, "But I just don't understand it....what would happen if the drugs suddenly stopped working? What would her head do if the tumor kept growing? How would her brain still fit if the tumor took up too much space? Would she still be able to think with something that big inside of her head? What happens to the children at St. Jude's who get chemotherapy and it doesn't work?". He literally asked all of these questions within 30 seconds and I could feel the blood draining from my face. I have avoided this for so long now that I wasn't even sure how to respond. My efforts to brush off his deepest fears were squashed as he refused to let me off the hook. "Well, buddy, they just go home to be with Jesus.", I stated as calmly as possible. The moment I spoke these words, I regretted them. He froze and time almost seemed to stand still. Suddenly, he seemed so grown up to me. It almost seemed unfair for him to even have to ask these questions at the tender age of almost six years old. He slung his backpack up on his shoulder and sternly said, "Well, I do not want my little sister to die.". Words escaped me. I could sit here and type a thousand different responses to that statement right now, but in the moment, I couldn't even mutter a syllable. As we made our way into the house he outright declared that when he grew up, he would become a doctor at St. Jude's; for, as he put it, "No child should have to die from cancer.".
Everything I have gained in regards to the art and tact of explaining things to children left me in the six or seven minutes that this conversation took place. I have been struggling so desperately, lately, with the words that her doctor spoke to us on our very first day at St. Jude's, "I do not expect her to survive this cancer.". As a mother, I cannot resolve this within myself. I cannot come to terms with it, I cannot accept it and even thinking about it is so painful that it takes my literal breath away. But as hard as all of these emotions might be, the look on my little boy's face as he took in that same possible reality, was ten times harder. I somehow regret telling him the truth, but I also know that it was an impossible question with an impossible answer that was only lurking beneath the surface. And as he prayed tonight for healing for his little sister, his words seemed much more sincere, they seemed to have the same air of desperation as my own constant pleading. But I believe that truth gives you power and now we both share this fight, this mission, this battle to seek out a miracle for a precious little girl. He assured me that it wasn't her fault, the cancer was something bad that she does not deserve and I couldn't agree more.
It's funny, you go through life trying to shield your children from the harsh reality of life, but in the end they always end up experiencing it anyways. Maybe I was wrong for telling him the truth and maybe it will only create a sense of fear and urgency within him, but when is a lie that brings a smile better than a truth that brings a tear? His attitude towards his little sister was so different this evening. Everytime she had a clumsy fall or bumped into something, he rushed to her side to make sure she was okay. As truly amazed and inspired as I am to see the fight and resilience in my precious little girl as she fights through this horrible cancer, it's only that much more incredible to see the kindness and compassion this situation has fostered in my son. I have a feeling he will be something great one day. For to stand back and watch as he fights with the strength and courage of someone far beyond his years, is simply amazing. I can clearly see now how this entire situation is shaping him and it's so obvious to me that God will use him in a great way. The first step towards truth is always the hardest, but at some point in life, it's just necessary. Maybe he's not old enough to share this burden with us, but it was an impossible question with only one impossible answer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Just a little tighter...

So I did it....I finally did it. After an entire year of being over protective, I finally left my little Chunks-a-lot in a childcare-type setting. I wanted to go to the gym today but it just didn't seem to work with my schedule. I had to take Chunks to the hospital at 8 this morning for an antibiotic infusion, we didn't get home until lunch time and by then all of my "family babysitters" were at work. You see, since she was diagnosed with cancer, I just haven't been able to bring myself to leave Chunks in any type of nursery. Even at church, I cringe when I walk past the "classrooms" with all of the little toddlers running about, wiping their noses on everything and pushing everyone down as they go. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against childcare and, in fact, took full advantage of every childcare situation possible when Talks-a-lot was little. The thing is, he was healthy, he could defend himself, he was just as wild, rough and tumble as all the other kids around him. My little Chunks is so meek and timid around other children and it makes me so nervous to think about leaving her. I guess I could be just a tad over protective in this regard, but I think I own that right.
So today as I was realizing that my gym day would just have to wait until tomorrow, it occurred to me that I could actually take her to the "Kids Club", as they call it, while I went running. I called my husband, my mom, then my husband again to talk it over and see what they thought. They both seemed to think it was okay. Her immune system is up to snuff, she seems healthy enough and she definitely needs to be socialized a little bit with other children. So I waited until Talks-a-lot got out of school this afternoon and off to the gym we went. I felt better knowing that Talks would be with her, at least she would have him by her side to protect her. She didn't seem to mind when I walked out, I didn't hear any cries or screams, but still fully expected to be paged to the nursery five minutes after I left. Surprisingly, it never happened. It seemed like my workout lasted forever and all I really wanted to do was run back downstairs and hold her, but I resisted. I knew she would be okay and I also knew that sometimes I need to give her a little bit of space to grow without me right there beside her.
When I was finally done with my run, I jumped off the treadmill and almost sprinted back to the nursery. When I walked in, what I saw broke my heart. For there were probably 12 kids in there, all running around, jumping, laughing, yelling, playing.....and there was my little Chunks-a-lot, literally in the middle of it all, sitting quietly in the floor with her passy in her mouth and her blanket up to her face. She looked so lost, so scared and so out of place that it took everything in me to stay composed. And tonight as I rocked her to sleep, I cried. I know, I am completely crazy but just that picture in my head of her sitting all alone, looking so little in the midst of all these children, was too much for me. I felt like I left her, like she might have been sitting there wondering where Mommy was, when was I coming back, and something about that tears me up inside. This is probably one of those times where I could clearly assess that I have a strong over-protective relationship with my little girl. But after everything she's been through, after all the tears she's cried, all the pain she's endured, the impossible battle she's fought, is it so wrong that I just want to hold her forever and never let her go? I dunno, maybe I am crazy, but that's fine with me. One day I'll tackle the whole stage of "letting go" and giving her room to breathe, but for now, I think I'll just hold on a little tighter.