I got an email late Saturday night from a pastor in Mobile, Alabama named Yogi Taylor. I don't know Yogi personally, but we have interacted on my blog and he has emailed me. When I read his email, I was a bit overwhelmed. Yogi's 14 month old daughter, Hannah, has developed a cancer called neuroblastoma. They found the lump on Wednesday and she had surgery on Friday. My heart breaks for Yogi, Hannah, and their family and I would ask all of you to pray for them. You can get more information about Hannah by following the link above.
3 years ago this week, Erika found a tumor on our 8 month old son, Caelan. I was 31 years old. Yogi is 31 years old. I feel for him. We took Caelan to the doctor and a great ordeal began. It took us a month to get to surgery. Chemo and radiation followed. It was a very scary time. Then, last February, they found another growth in him during a routine scan. We had another month of tests, scans, prayers, and fear, followed by surgery. Thankfully, God healed Caelan and the cancer did not return. He is healthy now, but we continue to look to the Lord everday for complete healing. I have added Hannah to my prayers as well because I know what Yogi and his wife and family are going through.
I wrote a post just prior to revealing the news about Caelan on my blog. I knew what was going on with him when I wrote this, but I was keeping it to myself. This is what I said about the way that God works:
This blog is called Downshore Drift, because that is the phenomenon that occurs when you are at the beach and you are in the water and you think that you are in one place, but in reality the water has moved you further down. The waves hit the shore straight, but come off diagonally, creating a flow of water down the shore. That is how God is in our lives. All of the daily struggles and triumphs, tragedies and joys, in ways great and small, reveal God in our lives. He is at work at all times, even if we do not see it or discern it. All of the events of the past week and the things coming up tomorrow are being used by the Lord to cause me to lose my taste for this life and to hunger and thirst for Something Beyond. I hunger and thirst for Jesus. He is working in my life through the good things and the bad, to move me down the shore of life, closer to Him, where He is all that is in focus. I sense a deep need for the Lord here in the middle of the night and I am not ashamed to say that I am happy that Jesus is my Savior. He accepts me when no one else will and He has all I need. Tomorrow is in His hands. I place my family in your hands Lord. I give our future to you. You are not surprised.
Three years later, after many trials and triumphs, I can say that God has worked in our lives. Sometimes it has been undiscernable, but He has been at work. We have experienced the death of loved ones, great triumphs, terrible tragedies, good days, bad days. But, through all of the waves of life, God continues to move us closer to Him and reveal Himself to us. God is truly at work.
I am praying for Yogi and his wife and Hannah tonight. I have learned not to pray, "if it be thy will" when I am asking God to heal. I only just ask God to heal. He does not need my permission to do His will. But, He does tell me to ask. So, tonight I ask God to heal this little girl and to give strength to her family. I ask Him to reveal Himself to this family and to show Himself strong. I ask God to deliver and set free and bring complete healing into her life. I ask that God be glorified through all of this.
Please pray for Hannah.
All went well today. Thank you all for praying! We are praising God!
Almost 3 years ago, we found a lump on the side of our 8 month old son, Caelan. He was diagnosed with cancer shortly after that and we went through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and a lot of trials. Almost a year ago during a routine scan, the doctors found enlarged lymph nodes and were almost certain that the cancer had returned. Barring a miracle, Caelan's chances were not good. But, God was gracious and either the doctors were wrong or God healed him.
Every 4 months, we go back for scans to make sure the cancer has not returned. It is a really scary time. About a week or two before we go, I start struggling with fear and anxiety. I don't really think about it consciously, but the stress of the scans starts to affect me. Add that to the week that I just had with lots of travel and two family funerals and I wasn't doing the best. I also visited with two different men last night that are succumbing to cancer and it was heartbreaking.
So, today was tough. It took forever as we had to wait and wait and wait. We talked to some folks at clinic whose daughter did not have a good prognosis. My prayers are with them tonight as they got some really bad news today. For those that have never been through this, consider yourselves fortunate. You have no idea about the suffering and fear that exists inside the walls of the children's hospitals in our world. I hate the place and love it at the same time. Hate it because of what we have had to go through with it and love it because God used it to save my son's life.
I've told our oncologist that when he comes to see us with the results, I don't want to hear anything out of his mouth except for "Scans are good," or "There is a problem." No small talk. No chit-chat. Don't ask me how I'm doing. Nothing. Just tell me. Actually, I think that I'm going to ask him to just text me next time before he comes in. He came in today and just started talking. I was certain the news was bad. It is always bad when they start trying to build a relationship with you, right? They want to let you down easy, it seems. At least that's what happened last year. I was having none of it. Tell it to me straight, Doc. He told us that he hadn't seen the scans yet so he didn't know. He didn't know?!?!? Then, why was he talking to us?!?!? After the room stopped spinning and my heart rate slowed down to around 150 or so, I could begin to understand that it'd be a while. This was feeling like one of those no good, very bad days.
But, praise God, when he came back later, he IMMEDIATELY told us (he's learning) that everything was fine. YES! What a relief! We do not have to go back for 4 more months. The day that I've dreaded has come and gone and God got us through it. Thank you for all your prayers. I've learned a lot through all of this and I've found that even though treatment is over, cancer leaves a mark on your soul, your memories, your family, and your view of life. It stinks. But, God is greater than cancer and no matter what happens, this life is not all there is.
Tonight, I'm thanking God for His gracious deliverance. I'm also asking him to comfort the parents of a 4 year old girl that I met today who got some really bad news right aroud the same time that we were getting our good news. They are believers in Christ just like we are. God loves them just as much as He loves us. I don't understand all of this, but I know that God is good and that He is our deliverer. I am praying for healing for that little girl. She needs a miracle. Her name is Cassy and I know that her parents would appreciate your prayers.
I hate cancer.
I put this in my previous post, but I thought I'd break it out because we really would like prayer. Caelan, my 3 year old son, has scans tomorrow. Caelan is totally healthy right now and these scans are routine and nothing out of the ordinary. He goes every 4 months for this, and since the scare last year that many of you remember, he has not had any further problems. We are praying that we get clear scans tomorrow as well. Even though we believe God in this and continue to trust Him for the complete and lasting healing of our son from the cancer that he contracted as a baby, the days that we go for scans are still pretty nerve wracking.
God has done great miracles for us in the life of our child and we continue to look to Him for healing and deliverance. And, also for God's peace that surpasses all understanding to get through this!
Yesterday, we celebrated Caelan's third birthday. He is doing great! He is strong and healthy and he is also alive. We praise God for that. When we had the cancer scare back in March, we knew that if the cancer had returned and God did not intervene, Caelan would have probably not made it to his third birthday - today. Scary. Sure, there was a chance he would make it, but a recurrence of his type of cancer is brutal and fast acting. But, God was gracious and He did intervene! I brought Caelan up on stage on Sunday and praised God before our church. It is important for me to remember what an awesome God we serve by recounting His gracious acts and praising Him continually.
I wanted to link to what is probably my favorite worship song right now, "He Has Made Me Glad," by Hillsongs (HT: Micah Fries). Our praise team does this song every once in a while and it always moves me deeply. I hope that it touches your heart and leads you to the God who is our shield, our strength, our portion and deliver, our shelter and strong tower - our very present help in time of need. The God who makes us glad.
When I was gone to India, our church had a talent show/fundraiser that they called the Thrift Store Formal. Everyone dressed up, ate, did some skits, and had a great time. It was a fundraiser for our youth mission trip. Well, at the end of the night the kids took over and started dancing. My son Caelan (who is doing really well, by the way), got up on stage and preceded to dance his little heart out - and wouldn't let anyone else compete with him! Someone took a video and stuck it on YouTube. It is hilarious!
On Sunday, I stood in the pulpit and opened my message by shouting "Hallelujah!" at the top of my lungs. God is worthy of our praise. We brought Caelan home from the hospital on Saturday and he is doing amazingly well. On Friday evening and Saturday morning, he was acting very sick and listless. He was just laying in the bed and seemed to be in a lot of pain. We were discharged Friday night, but we ended up staying until around 4pm on Saturday because Caelan really seemed to be struggling and we wanted the doctors to look at him. They finally said that he was alright and we could go, but that we should just take it easy. When we got home, he was so happy to see his siblings that within a relatively short amount of time he was laughing, dancing, and jumping around. He played all afternoon on Sunday and even went with us to Life Group. He is back to his old self and I think that he just got tired of laying in bed and missing his brothers and sister. God is so good!
The oncologist was so happy that she was able to give us good news about Caelan. She told us that she doesn't get to give good news to parents very often. I genuinely think that she was surprised that it was not cancer, but she was very happy about it. Our surgeon was wonderful and she was also ecstatic. We had wonderful nurses and doctors and everyone was so pleased that Caelan was alright. He really just charmed everyone and captured their hearts.
We can't stop praising God for His goodness and blessings. Being in church was a real blessing on Sunday and it was so wonderful to praise God for giving us the very thing that we so diligently asked for last week. We have heard from so many people over the past couple of weeks and please know that every comment you left and every email that you sent was such an encouragement during a very dark time. Your prayers were all so powerful and special to us. There were quite a few people who emailed me their stories of struggles with cancer and other illnesses. It is amazing to me how oblivious I can be to the suffering of others until my family goes through something like this ourselves. Know that you are in my prayers.
I can't stop saying how good God is. He is just as good today as He was last week, but sometimes our circumstances get in the way of us seeing that. But, God is bigger than our circumstances. I praise God for His Word, the teaching and guidance of His Holy Spirit, and the Body of Christ that continued to pray for us and encourage and build us up. I praise God for being a part of an amazing church family. I thank God for competent and compassionate doctors and for our family and friends. I thank God for His miracle working power.
I was talking with my four year old son, Kieran, today about Caelan's healing. He started talking about Paul and Barnabas and how God healed a man through them. He learned about it in Sunday School. He told me that what happened with Caelan was just like what God did in the Bible. I told him he was right. God did in Caelan the same thing that He did in the lives of others in the Bible. That's right, son - God heals and we are so grateful, I told him. I continue to be amazed by the faith and wisdom of my children.
At lunch today, Ashtyn asked if she could lead the prayer. We told her that she could and she sang the children's prayer song, "God our Father." At the end of the song, she thanked God for healing Caelan. We all clapped and were very happy to all be together again. Caelan then, in two year old talk, said, "Let me pray, let me pray. Close your eyes." We all cooperated and he started singing the song. He only made it through about 2-3 lines and then said, "Amen! Yeah God!!!" while throwing his hands up in the air. We all laughed and agreed!
Our oncologist just came in with the pathology results: Caelan does not have cancer!!! They don't know exactly what the mass is and they said they don't really care. All they care about is that it is not cancer! Did you get that? Caelan is completely healthy with no cancer! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Thank you all for your prayers! After getting the news last friday that the PET Scan was lighting up, we all feared the worst, but God is so gracious. I don't know exactly what happened, but I don't have to. All I know is that we serve an awesome, loving, good God. He answers prayers!
Thank you all so much for the prayers. Spread the word! Today is a very good day! Words cannot express how grateful I am. It's like we got our family and our life back. Praise God!!!
I'll definitely be writing more on this later. There's just too much to say right now!
So many prayers were answered today. Our surgeon was able to get the enlarged lymph node without any trouble. In other words, they were able to get it with the smaller incision and the scope instead of the large incision that would have been much more painful and involved. Everything went beautifully. She only biopsied that one area because when she looked at the other two areas they were fine. The lymph node is going to be sent off to pathology and we will get definitive results next week, but our surgeon told us that as far as she can see, she feels like that it is likely not cancer. She had her doubts that it was cancer all along, but the oncologists were very concerned and pushed for this. We have yet to hear from them and they could have a different opinion, but as of right now, we are hearing good news. One thing in our favor at this point involving the lymph node is that it came out very "fleshy" and soft instead of being hard. Normally, a cancerous tumor would be hard in this type of circumstance. So, we will wait and see, but we are praising God that Caelan is alright, that they got everything they needed without complications, that they did not have to cut on him too deeply, and that our surgeon is optimistic at this point. Again, that is not the final answer because pathology has to do its work, but we feel better about this at this point.
God is so good. He has been so close to us throughout all of this and He will continue to be. We will be here until at least Saturday or Sunday. Caelan is in a lot of pain when he wakes up, but they are managing it nicely and he will sleep throughout most of the day. He has a chest tube to take off any fluid build up and that, combined with the incision is painful, but that will soon pass. He is doing well.
Thank you all so much for praying. We will continue to look to God and trust Him to do His work. God is so good.
I continue to thank each one of you for your prayers for Caelan and our family. We are sending the older kids to different homes and families for the week and Erika and I are about to leave Montgomery and take Caelan off to Birmingham. We have a consultation with the surgeon late this afternoon and the surgery will be early tomorrow morning. I'll post an update here tomorrow regarding how the surgery went. We will be in the hospital with Caelan for 3-5 days and he will have a drainage tube inserted in him to make sure that fluid does not build up around the surgical cavity. I hope to return for our church service on Sunday, but that is a bit up in the air right now.
Overall, we are doing well. God has been so faithful. Fear has subsided and it is being replaced by faith in the One who heals, saves, and restores. Although I love my son deeply, I can truly say that I am holding onto God tighter than I am holding onto Caelan and that is making all the difference. That is exactly where God wants me, and I am not ashamed to confess that I was not in that place last week. But, God is faithful and He pursues us even when we don't know how to get to Him.
I took my eight year old daughter, Ashtyn, to her ice skating practice last night. She has a big program on Saturday that one of us will come back to attend. After practice, she and I had dinner together and we went to get a donut at Krispy Kreme (her choice). I wanted to talk with her about what she thought about all of this regarding Caelan and her words stunned me. Ashtyn has always been very wise and perceptive and has had a quiet, yet strong walk with the Lord for some time now. She is a deep thinker and she keeps her own counsel on big issues. But, when she speaks about things that she has thought a lot about, I am often taken aback. She told me that she was concerned about Caelan dying if they did find cancer (we had never spoken with her about that possibility), but she felt good about the idea that it could very well be an infection. She was praying that God would heal Caelan and that it would only be an infection. She said that if the worst happened, it would ultimately be okay because she knew that God would have a reason for it. She could trust God in all of this because she knew that He would have a reason and a purpose in whatever happened to Caelan. I was blown away. Ashtyn has been praying for Caelan's healing, but she also knows that God is trustworthy and can be trusted with what happens to her little brother, whom she loves very much. I whispered a prayer to God that I could have the simple, yet profound faith of my eight year old daughter. I felt like God was speaking to me and teaching me through her. What a blessing my children are. I do not deserve them.
I'll continue to update through the blog and Erika and I will be able to continue to receive emails and read comments here. I got a Blackberry a month or so ago, so communication will continue even though we will be up there. So many of you have emailed me and I have not written you back, but please know that all the emails have been read and greatly appreciated. I'll be going through a difficult part of the day, and I'll look on my phone and read where someone that I don't even know in a place that I have never heard of is praying for my son and my family. What a blessing the Body of Christ is.
We are in a very difficult part of our journey here on earth, but even though we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, we will fear no evil, for God is with us. This life is not all there is and what we see is not all that is true. God is real and His mercies endure forever. We appeal to the mercy of the Living God.
I hope that you will receive this post in the spirit in which it is intended. I am so grateful for the prayers of so many and I have obviously been thinking a lot about prayer over the past two years. All of this has caused me to ask some questions about prayer. What is it? How does it work? What do we do with unanswered prayers? How do we know what to pray for? Considering all of this reflection, I've asked people when they are praying for Caelan to not pray for his healing by praying "If it be Thy will." The more that I've thought about that type of prayer, the more that I think it makes no sense. I am glad that people are praying, but why would you ask God something and then tack on, "If it be Thy will"? Is that even really a prayer? It sounds like we are saying, "God just do what you were already going to do anyway. I don't want to impose on you. Your will be done." Does God need our permission to do His will? If we are giving it to Him, does that even qualify as a request? Is this type of prayer even biblical? Are we showing humility and submission to God and His will, or are we really just hedging our bets?
I've decided that I'm not going to ever pray, "If it be Thy will" to God. Here's why: I don't think that God wants us to pray that way. I don't see Jesus praying or telling us to pray for people that way. In the Lord's Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) Jesus tells us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Yes, we are to pray for God's will to be done. But, that prayer is incredible. Jesus tells us to pray that earth would reflect heaven! That God's Kingdom (His reign and rule) would come upon the earth. That is an all encompassing prayer! When I pray for someone who is sick to be made well, I only have to look at God's will in heaven. Are there sick people in heaven? No. So, I have confidence that God's will in heaven is that no one is sick, therefore, I have permission to pray that God would heal people on earth. Does God always answer that prayer affirmatively? No. But, as far as getting any direction on what to ASK him for, I can get my clues from God's will manifested in heaven. Whether God chooses to express His healing in this life or not is entirely up to Him.
Jesus said in John 6:38-40, Jesus said, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Jesus came to DO God's will. Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. He healed the sick, raised the dead, released the captive, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, cast out demons, and forgave sins. He showed us how to know God. He did so many things and all of them were the will of God. When praying for someone to be saved, do we pray, "If it be Thy will?" If we do, we should not. We should just pray that they believe on Jesus. Not all will believe, but it is God's desire that all men everywhere be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4).
When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed, "not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). This was a prayer of surrender to God. Of course, all of us should surrender to God's will on things, but it does not mean that we cannot request things. Jesus just asked that the cup be taken from him! Of course, he knew that this was the reason he came into the world. God's will was done, but Jesus enjoyed the intimacy with the Father to be able to ask.
We are to boldly approach the Throne of Grace to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:16). We are to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests and always keep on praying for all the saints (Eph. 6:18). We are to be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God (Phil. 4:6). We are to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Even Moses, when faced with the destruction of Israel by God after they had built the golden calf to worship, interceded before God and asked Him to CHANGE His will. God heard Moses' plea and relented from what He said He was going to do (Exodus 32:9-14). Is not the new covenant more glorious than the old covenant? Don't we have even more access to God than Moses now that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:4-18)? Don't we have the Mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:9-16)?
I don't think that we understand prayer very well. If we are truly intimate with God through the person and work of Jesus, and if Jesus, our advocate, is the only intermediary between us and God, then can't we have enough confidence to come before God and tell Him what we need? Do we have to qualify it? Of course God knows His own mind and He will do His will. But, He invites us to prevail upon Him in prayer like the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8). We should pray and never give up. This actually increases our relationship with Him and the trust that we have in Him.
I think that lots of times we pray "If it be Thy will," because we are trying to hedge our bets and cover ourselves. I think that we don't want to look foolish if the prayer is not answered. But, isn't it better to be a fool for Christ than to maintain our "dignity" and miss out on radically trusting Him for the impossible? I'd rather ask boldly and be denied than not ask at all or maintain some sense of respectablitity. Let my faith be exposed to the winds and waves of uncertainty. I'll trust God enough to take care of all of that.
It is not our job to protect God's reputation. He is God, we are not. If He chooses not to heal, then like David after his son died, we will accept it. But, let us not be in a situation where we refuse to radically trust God for things that we cannot do. Let us remove all of our crutches that keep us from fully trusting Him. Let us boldly approach the Throne of Grace to find help in our time of need.
Thoughts? And, if you disagree, I don't expect you to take it easy on me because my son is sick. I've been doing the blog thing for some time and I know how to disagree with people amicably. So, no kid gloves, alright? I'm a big boy. :)
Erika and I were playing some music tonight and she pointed me to this Rich Mullins song from years ago that I had never heard before. It was actually written by Scottish singer, Dougie MacLean. We ended up singing it and it spoke true to what we are feeling and to what God is doing in our lives. Do we really trust Him? Do we believe that He is good, even when our common assurances seem to be fading? Can we give Him everything? The song is called Ready For the Storm:
The waves crash in the tide rolls out
It's an angry sea but there is no doubt
That the lighthouse will keep shining out
To warn a lonely sailor
And the lightning strikes
And the wind cuts cold
Through the sailor's bones
Through the sailor's soul
'Til there's nothing left that he can hold
Except a rolling ocean
Oh I am ready for the storm
Yes sir ready
I am ready for the storm
I'm ready for the storm
Oh give me mercy for my dreams
'Cause every confrontation seems to tell me
What it really means
To be this lonely sailor
And when the sky begins to clear
The sun it melts away my fear
And I shed a silent weary tear
For those who mean to love me
Oh I am ready for the storm
Yes sir ready
I am ready for the storm
I'm ready for the storm
The distance it is no real friend
And time will take its time
And you will find that in the end
It brings you me
This lonely sailor
And when You take me by the hand
And You love me, Lord, You love me
And I should have realized
I had no reasons to be frightened
Oh I am ready for the storm
Yes sir ready
I am ready for the storm
Am I ready? In Christ alone.
Someone put together a slide show to Rich Mullins' version of this song. The music is hauntingly beautiful.
We got a call this morning from Caelan's oncologist. The PET Scan shows two lymph nodes that are registering a heightened level of glucose, which could be symptomatic of cancer, but could still also just be an infection. This is not the news that we were hoping for. At any rate, our surgeon and the oncologists are now in agreement that we have to biopsy. The CT Scans did not show any reduction in the lymph nodes. Apparently, there were two enlarged lymph nodes last week instead of the one as I previously communicated. We didn't remember that, but they have not grown and nothing has spread throughout his body, so that is good. They are going to biopsy in three places (previous tumor site, lymph node IN FRONT of his heart, and a part of his lung that is showing some fluid build up) and it will be major surgery. There is a chance that the surgery could be a less invasive rather than a more invasive surgery, but three biopsies at once is still a big deal - at least it seems that way to me.
We'll go to Birmingham next Tuesday for a consultation with the surgeon and then go back for the surgery on Wednesday. If they are able to get the biopsies from a scope, he will recover quickly. If it is cancer, we will start chemotherapy right away. The oncologist tried to be positive about the chemo saying that there were many available treatments that we have not yet tried for Caelan. We're glad for that, but the prospect of going through that is not something that we are excited about. We are praying that God will spare him from this.
So, that is where we are. We appreciate your prayers and your support. I am so blown away by how many people have come to this site over the past week to just check and see how Caelan is doing and to pray.
Right now, he is the picture of health and came up to me dressed up like a Lion and said, "Arrrgh!!!" He's very ferocious! This isn't a current picture, but he is roaming around the house looking like this right now. I pray that the Lion of Judah would hold him tight and bring healing to his little body.
Thank you all for praying. We got Caelan to fall asleep for just the right time and we were able to get the needed PET and CT scans. Now, we are just waiting for them to call us with the results. Yes, they are going to call us. So, I'll be pretty nervous everytime I hear the phone ring.
They are sending us home now to wait. Thank you all so much for praying. We will continue to look to God.
We leave Montgomery EARLY Thursday morning and head to Birmingham for a PET Scan and another CT Scan for Caelan. We are hoping that he will fall asleep during the scan so that they can see everything clearly. Caelan is the youngest child that they have ever done a PET Scan on and they are not able to sedate him, so we are praying that he goes to sleep.
We'll have some answers on some level tomorrow. The PET Scan will only reveal if cancer has spread through his body, but the CT Scan will show if the lymph node has gone down or not. We are fervently praying that it is reduced in size. Based off the results of this scan, they will decide whether or not to do surgery. Again, no diagnosis has been given yet - we are still going through the agonizing process of determining what exactly is going on.
Thank you all so much for your prayers. You have no idea how much they mean to us. I am feeling a great deal of apprehension about tomorrow. I have been throwing myself headlong into work and ministry the last few days and have been desperately trying to think about other things, but Caelan is never far from my thoughts. My prayers have been very simple: "Please God, don't let him have cancer." That's about it. At this point, I know that hundreds and possibly thousands of people are praying for Caelan right now. I pray that God answer our prayers by showing mercy and by bringing healing to my son.
At the end of the day, as great as doctors are, our trust is not in them. Our trust is in the Lord.
I want to sincerely thank everyone for the many prayers, comments, and emails that have been sent. You have all been such a blessing to my family and I praise God for you. We have truly felt your prayers and your support.
Thursday was one of the darkest days that I can ever remember. I became quite fatalistic and was not really able to pray. In my mind, I was preparing myself for the worst and I could not pull back from the abyss. I felt so alone. When I would see Caelan, I would grieve so intensely. It was like he was already gone. My thoughts were really fairly irrational, but it was like I could not really pull back from them. I felt paralyzed because what we had most feared and seemed to escape appeared to be upon us. Where was God?
At one point, I was so overwhelmed that I had to get out of the house. I went outside and began to cry out to God with many tears. I just needed Him to do something. It is in those moments that just resigning yourself to God's will is entirely insufficient because we don't know what God's will is. We interpose our hopelessness into the place of faith and accept that the worst case scenario might be God's will. At that point a certain horror begins to come upon us because we feel so vulnerable to the whims of what seems to be the arbitrary nature of God's unknown plans. So, we start rehashing theology in our minds to get us through the trial. In that moment however, I didn't need thoughts ABOUT God, I needed God Himself.
As I was praying, I had a strange thought. I had heard about a minister from Uganda that had come to our city. I had just heard a little about him and that God had used him to pray for healing for the sick and many had been healed. Since that thought came while I was praying and I was so desperate, I became determined to find him right then. I just needed someone to pray who believed God for healing. My own faith was faltering and I had not yet asked anyone to pray for us - we had pretty much kept to ourselves.
Before we left to meet one of our elders and the others for prayer, I wrote the post about Caelan that so many of you read last week.
We went to receive prayer and God really met us. I became aware of the fact that we were not alone. I did not have to carry this burden by myself and there was hope. God came near through the prayers of the saints and despair began to be replaced with hope. When I returned home, my wife and I began receiving phone calls and we knew that people were praying. When I awoke the next morning, my utter despair had been replaced with a hope in God and I was able to rejoice in Him, even in the midst of the storm.
The last few days have been up and down, but I am very aware that people are praying for us and for Caelan. We cannot hope in doctors or in test results - we have to hope in the Lord. My initial response to all of this was my very understandable human response. But, to believe and hope in God is the spiritual response and it is only possible when God comes near. That is happening for us as a result of the prayers of so many. When we could not pray for ourselves, the Church prayed for us and God heard. If you ever think that prayer is a small thing and it doesn't matter, I can tell you from experience that you are wrong. The God of hope and miracles comes near when we pray and nothing is impossible with Him.
Caelan's next scans are Thursday and we will proceed from there. Please continue to pray and believe God to heal our little boy. Grace and peace to each one of you.
We went to Children's Hospital in Birmingham yesterday for Caelan's 3 month scans. He has been out of treatment for cancer since last April and all of the scans have gone well - up until yesterday. The oncologist came in and told us that they found an enlarged lymph node behind his heart. If he had not had a history of cancer they would just watch it and it still might just be an infection, but they are very concerned about the enlargement. The doctors have scheduled a futher test for next week and a biopsy. The biopsy will be quite invasive as they have to go in through the side of his chest to get to the lymph node. Please pray that they are able to go straight to it, because if there are any problems with a small incision and scope, then they will have to open him up right then.
We had thought things were going well, our little boy was growing, and we were basically out of the woods. Yesterday, all that came crashing down. During Caelan's treatment we were told that if this type of cancer ever came back, he would not have a very good chance of making it. Our oncologist confirmed that yesterday. We are fervently praying that this is just an infection, but the doctors seem to think otherwise - or, at least they are not very confident that this is anything other than another expression of the cancer. The doctors are so confident that they are pushing for a very risky surgery to get at this. We have a lot of decisions to make - we desperately need God's guidance, wisdom, comfort, and healing power.
Erika and I are devastated. My emotions feel like they are spinning around in a washing machine. All we can do is cry out to God and ask Him to have mercy. If there was ever a case where we needed a miracle, this is it.
Caelan is such a beautiful boy. I am grieving like I never have in my life.
Caelan turns two today! This has been a pretty eventful year for him. Since this time last year, he has gone through radiation, been in and out of the hospital a few times, weathered the storm of chemotherapy, finished his chemo treatments, gained a lot of weight, hair, and strength, and has had two straight scans without finding any cancer cells! Praise God! We are so grateful for our son and the way that God has blessed us with his health. We are just kind of hanging out today (I'm off on Fridays) and some family will visit tomorrow, so I thought I'd wish Caelan a Happy Birthday! Again, thank you all for your prayers.
I want to thank each of you for praying for our son, Caelan. We went to Birmingham today with much anxiety. We were trusting God, but at the same time we realized that the doctor could come in and give us news that would be devastating. The 20-30 minutes that we waited in the examination room before the doctor came in were some of the longest of my life. I was pretty upset thinking about the possibilities and the fact that nothing was guaranteed. We just prayed and waited. When she came in, she told us that his scans were clear and that everything looks great! We were so relieved! We praise God tonight for His mercy and His grace. When you hang by a thread of uncertainty over an abyss of cancer, it reminds you that all we can do is trust God, despite the results of scans, tests, or doctor's reports.
We go back for an exam in 6 weeks and another set of scans in 3 months. With each succeeding successful scan, the chances of the cancer returning diminish, so we praise God for that as well. At some point in the next 3 months, he will have outpatient surgery to have his port removed. One day, he will have cosmetic surgery to cover the gaping hole in his chest from where the cartilege was removed, along with the tumor. We still have several more years of scans and check-ups, but for tonight, we praise God that our son is healthy and that the Lord continues to bring us through this.
Again, thank you for your prayers. We now resume our previously scheduled programming . . .
Well, three months have come and gone and we return to Birmingham tomorrow for scans for our son, Caelan. We have to go every three months to make sure that the cancer has not returned. He is growing big and strong and the last three months without chemo has made a world of difference. His hair has returned, he is so happy, and he is playing, climbing, and starting to talk. He's just a normal kid. I cannot bear the thought of a negative report tomorrow, so we find ourselves in that familiar place of throwing ourselves upon the mercy of God and asking for continued good news.
As time goes on, I find that my hatred for cancer grows more and more. It seems that everyone I know is being affected by it in some way or another. The mother of a lady in our church just died from it. The mother of another man in our church is going through it. A man in our church is starting radiation, and another man in our church is going through chemo. Erika met several other families when she was going through radiation with Caelan last year and two of the children have already died. It is horrible. So many people are affected and so many lives are lost. When you see the fundraisers and the Cancer Walks and all of the things that are done in your communities to help those suffering from this terrible disease, please do not turn a blind eye. Realize that people, young and old are doing what they can to help and many are doing these things as a way to cope with the loss that they have already suffered.
So, we make the familiar trek up I-65 to Birmingham, holding onto the Lord because He is all we have. We will go through the blood work, the scans, and all of the shuffling around that attends this ordeal. At some point in the afternoon, our oncologist will come in and tell us that Caelan is still clear or that the cancer has returned. We will be struggling all day long, knowing that we will receive either good news or bad. Please pray for our son tomorrow, and for my wife and I as well. This is a big deal and we would really appreciate your prayers. We continue to believe God for miracles, and everyday without cancer in our son's body is a day that we can praise God for just that.