Doing homework. That's as exciting as it gets... Yay!!
I am a member of what I call “The Blessed and Spoiled.” That sounds like the name of a daytime soap opera, but it is not nearly as dramatic. I grew up in the church, never having known anything but a Sunday morning at worship services. Both of my grandmothers were faithful members, and my dad’s dad was faithful in later years, mostly. My great-grandmother was a foundational supporter of the church in their small hometown donating land so that it could build a building. A street that runs alongside the building is named after her, which is pretty neat. I have been told that down that same line is a Circuit Rider, a traveling Methodist preacher in the frontier days of the U.S. My memory is sketchy on that because when this oral history was being passed to me I think I was busy playing my Mattel handheld football video game, much as mine tap away on their iPhone or Nintendo DSi when I speak. I think I’ve mentioned before that my dad did not go to church when I was very young. I have a picture memory of him in his undershirt and pants reading the newspaper in his gold Lazyboy as we told him good-bye on Sundays. He knew better, but chose to ignore his rearing. My mother had been taught by the example of her own mother to be diligent and consistent, so I remember as a little girl when he was baptized and he continued as a faithful member. Her mother met a more challenging stumbling block in my grandfather who would disable the car sometimes to thwart her efforts at attending. Undeterred, she and the kids would just walk, or maybe catch a ride with other family members along the way. My mother’s sisters, also having been taught the lesson of being a diligent example, led their husbands to be faithful members of the church as well. Though that limb of faith that runs through the middle of my family tree is strong, it has seen its share of storms, has a few knots that I pray will heal, and off-shoots that I pray will strengthen. Even with my own children still being young, their faith and service is yet to be notable beyond our oldest obeying the gospel – which is at least a good sign for a trend. But it is engrained in them enough even now that something feels wrong about not going to services when it is time for services.
Eli loves Bible class at church.
Some of you that have followed us from the announcement of Eli’s diagnosis might remember a post I wrote on Facebook about the kids and me (Vic and Eli still being in Memphis) attending worship services on that first Sunday after we found out, which had only been two days before. I struggled with attending at all because the wound from Satan’s blow was open and raw. I had been beaten to an emotional pulp. I was so fragile that I could not control bouts of sobbing and the nausea though it had calmed still held a firm grip on the knot in my stomach. I did not have the strength to talk about Eli or the situation, so I wanted to avoid any chance of it. But, I was also stubborn and a sure-fire way to get me to do the opposite of what you want is to try to make me do what you want. In the ring with Satan standing over me, I decided that we would attend services. But, still I was weak and had not the emotional stamina to sit on our bench exposed to 2000 eyes distracted by the slightest lift of my hand to wipe a tear. I posted a request and apology on Facebook that the kids and I would indeed attend worship services at our home congregation despite Satan’s hand, but to please forgive my rudeness for hiding and avoiding conversation. So, we went. I had instructed the girls to pick Caleb up at class and to meet me in the nursing mother’s room where the service is piped in via television. I was told later that they picked him up and each girl held a hand as they quickly marched according to my instruction. I was very proud of them as I’m sure they were being closely watched making their way along the length of the building. That afternoon I was drained from the stress of the morning and fought my usual mild migraine and was not preparing to attend the evening service. I remember walking up the stairs to the hallway, calling for the kids to gather up their dirty clothes for me to wash. Abbey stepped out in front of me from her room with a confused frown, “Are we not going to church?” Hannah Grace came up from behind, looking at me waiting for an answer. It didn’t feel right to them; they knew what we do on Sunday night. I remember being frozen in that moment, suddenly cognizant of Satan drawing back his heavy hand to strike another blow. Vivid are their faces in my mind, waiting for me to write upon their hearts. I realized that their young lives were precariously perched within an arm’s reach of Eli’s fight. There was more on the line than his own earthly life. I needed strengthening, and there was only one place that I would get it. With a rush of sanity, an awakening of sorts, I said, “Yes, we are. Let’s get our clothes changed.” I was afraid to go, really just because my weakness was so obvious despite any effort to hide it. But, with this “awakening” I was becoming angry at Satan’s puppetry, so I did not want to hide this time. We sat on our usual bench and I did pretty well until Mike led “It is Well With My Soul.” If I had had a straw and a spitball, I would have nailed him from 13 rows back. I wanted to shamefully scream “No! It is not!” I couldn’t sing that song; I couldn’t even think it. My nerves pulsated on the top of my skin and I was about to shatter in an emotional explosion. I desperately did not want to be any more of a spectacle than we already were just being there, but I had to walk out. Thankfully, we were standing, and I took Caleb with me. I stood just outside the door, taking calming breaths and was able to return to our seat as everyone sat down. Though there are times it is difficult (and jobs or responsibilities prevent attendance at times), attending worship service is a clear shot at Evil, an easy upper-cut . Rarely does a Sunday pass that I don’t think about that day, how hard it was to go but how much more it strengthened and prepared me (Phillipians 4:13). I was at home again this past Sunday morning, missing church services, with Eli who is battling a bad cough and snot, and complained about his stomach. In any other household – especially one with four kids - common symptoms like this would hardly be noted, but Eli wears a red flag over his head 24/7. The snot has been a little worrisome because he had a lot of that before he was diagnosed that I just couldn’t get rid of. We chalked it up to allergies although no allergy med ever did anything to help. Since his very first surgery in January of 2012 he hasn’t had even a sniffle until now. So, I can feel that little knot growing in my stomach. Then when he wouldn’t eat his breakfast Sunday morning, my mind fought falling into a very dark place, because sporadic nausea is another symptom from before diagnosis. He has been off of nausea meds since Thanksgiving and hasn’t complained once that his stomach hurt or that he felt like throwing up when he tried to eat. He did complain about his belly being tender in the area where his shunt terminates, but it was temporary and the pain was a different kind of hurt Sunday, like he wanted to throw up. And, I can’t tell if it is my imagination that he looks dark under his eyes, another visual note from before diagnosis. The paranoia just squeezes the joy out of a day, and I don’t have the days to spare for no joy. Add to that losing six cancer children in the last month that I had been following, not all medullo, but still one can’t help but feel defeated and discouraged when you witness the handiwork of Evil. We are two weeks from leaving for scans in March, and it can’t get here soon enough, yet I pray to not need it sooner. Please, add Eli to your prayer lists at church, and ask friends to add him to their lists, and to ask their friends to add him to their lists. – I’m sitting here writing in the kitchen on the laptop, feeling a little, well, defeated, as I mentioned, and I can hear Caleb singing with the song on TV. Satan’s hand may be strong, but My God is so Big!
GS troop in the studio
Thank you all so much for your support during this last month with providing some comfort in different ways to families that have lost their children. Our busy family continues to have a full calendar. Abbey and Eli are wrapping up Upward basketball. We have come to love our involvement with this little program that has such a big heart. School seems to be going pretty well, although Eli has missed more than I would like for him to, either due to illness, suspected illness or someone else’s illness. I had a fun surprise for a late birthday present. Vic arranged for me and Melissa to have a girls’ night out and bought us tickets to the Bill Cosby concert. He is a true entertainer – Mr. Cosby, not Vic - and we enjoyed the evening which included grocery shopping at Earthfare. Can’t nobody party like a CoC gal. In other boring news: in addition to juicing for Eli every day, (almost) I put in a contact lens for Abbey everyday (almost, but not really). We are trying a contact for her “bad eye” again after having been without it for about four years. With the lens, she is still at best legally blind in that eye. I have to put it in and take it out for her. The glasses she wears have a blank lens and are just for protecting her “good eye,” which has perfect vision. Abbey’s girl scout troop visited FAME recording studios in Muscle Shoals, AL. The studio has had many chart-topping artists record there and the girls were excited to record a song.
Skating with her buddy, Jolie.
I am still collecting for Girl Scout cookies to be delivered to the nurses (and Target House with what is left over) at St. Jude when we go in March. I learned Friday of a troop here (that I do not know, but our leader knows about) that was dealt an unfair hand by the GS big girls. Through some red tape confusion (and responsibility avoidance by GS), this troop just last week received 5,000 boxes of cookies that they are responsible for with money being required to turn in this week. That is shameful of GS. The leaders and girls are doing all they can to get them sold to lessen what they are told they owe. Yes, the burden is on the troop! If you would like to purchase cookies from this troop for me to take to St. Jude, I would be glad to do that, but I would need you to mail me a check b/c my paypal is dedicated to Ryan’s memorial right now. I would need that immediately, but if you tell me that you are sending me a check for whatever number of boxes, I will spot you. Email me for my address firstname.lastname@example.org You can make a check out to me. Please, remember Jack’s family in your prayers as they celebrate six years of a person’s life on earth Saturday. Please, send them cards of encouragement, at some point, and maybe slip in a gas card. Please, remember to add Eli to your prayer lists for March 14, which is when he will have his scan.