"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God," 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
ESPN has been running a series in search of the Greatest Athlete of All Time. The reporters are using scientific methods to flush out a winner, which I think ended up being Bo Jackson (War Eagle!) Watching from a rowing machine at the gym, I caught a segment that was measuring the impact of Bo’s bat, at this time for the Kansas City Royals - yes, they showed the clip of him walking up the back wall. A factor considered in the formula is the momentum of a pitch thrown at him; the harder the pitch, the harder the hit. The momentum or energy of the swing is transferred or added to that of the ball. There are some other details, like his own effort at making the connection, but a big part of the success of his hit is what’s in the pitch.
I can’t believe it has been three months since Eli’s last scan. We will be going to Memphis this afternoon to be ready for appointments first thing Thursday morning. I plan to take Caleb with me so that I don’t have to find a sitter for him, and so that all Vic has to do is go to work and help with homework for the girls. It should be a routine couple of busy school nights for them. We will be home Friday afternoon assuming all goes well. Eli seems to be doing pretty good. His congestion has lessened and his “color” comes and goes. He has not complained about his belly bothering him anymore. I’ve been on edge waiting for him to start getting up in the night, which he did constantly before being diagnosed. My eyes pop open during the night each time I hear the bunk beds creak over the monitor. But, he seems to feel pretty good and has been participating normally. The scan always looms, so we have been busy both rushing time and holding on to it. Time is tricky. I have heard it called both a “thief” and a “gift.” Eli had chapel duties during elementary chapel at school this past week.
For his song, he chose to lead “This World is Not My Home.” It is a song of hope, especially for those who find no comfort in this world. But, when I think about what Eli and our family has/is enduring, I want to do more than “pass through.” Honestly, I’m afraid to only pass through. And, I know, the song is really more of an emphasis on the pilgrimage verses the final destination or goal. But, still, to me I hear a sense of passivity, although if you disputed that opinion I wouldn’t argue. It could just be because I am terrified to be the servant standing there with the one bag of gold at my final judgment. I’m of course, referring to the well-known parable in Matthew 25: 14. In this story, Jesus tells of a wealthy man who went on a journey and entrusted his money with three servants, each according to what he knew he could handle. When the man came back, the first two servants had taken what was given them and turned it into profit for their master. The third servant hid what was given him, and then tried to put a positive spin on what the master called “laziness.” I’ve always thought of this bag of money as representing some skill or “talent” that God gave each of us to use in His work. But, I’m thinking that instead of a specific “talent,” the precious commodity is time, a block of existence.
helping set up "HIS" camper
And, He allows experiences to happen to us during that block that will give us the tools we need to make the most of that gift. Just like the pitch being thrown to Bo Jackson, I think the harder something is thrown at someone or the more challenges someone faces, the more impact he or she has during that block of existence. Because of your experience, your voice is bigger, your opportunities are bigger, you have a bigger bat. That challenge is the blessing with which I am entrusted, the bag of gold to be invested. Again, I say, I am terrified to be caught holding it, or hiding it. Admittedly, it is easy for me because - some of you are thinking - my son is alive and seemingly doing well. (This is assuming Eli’s fight is my bag of gold.) So, how much easier it is for me to stand at the plate and swing away. Or, some might be thinking, well, Eli’s situation has no social barriers or stigmas attached to it, so, again, yes, I can stand proudly at the plate and take big swings. That kind of fight is going to be part of your trial. I hope to encourage those of you reading this that have challenges beyond anything I could imagine, anything I fear to imagine, that you are the three-bag servant, you are Bo Jackson at the plate. Because of your experience you can do the most damage to evil. Think about these children that live pressed against Satan’s hand. They are small, literally and figuratively. But, look at the impact one will have on thousands of people because of the trial she faces. The bigger the challenge compared to her figurative stature, the bigger hit at Evil she makes. Paul writes in letters to the Corinthians about his own “thorn in the flesh,” that he asked God to heal. This is a man that speaks directly to God, a giant among the followers of Christ, and he asked multiple times that a debilitating affliction be removed. God said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul wears his badge of trial proudly. He writes, “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” If you face a trial, I hope you take to heart the understanding of the power that God has given you against the Evil of this world and that you do more than “pass through.”
Playing Go Fish in the camper
The boys and I expect to pull into Memphis late Wednesday. Eli’s school is having a “Blue for Eli day” Wednesday so he can see all the support he has before we leave. If you wear blue today or tomorrow (at home or work, wherever), please post pictures. The scan will be Thursday before lunch. I don’t know how much writing I will or won’t do in the next few days, so I love to see all the posts and pictures as we wait around at appointments at St. Jude. If all goes well with Eli, we will head back Friday afternoon and I will meet up with Vic somewhere along the route home to hand the boys off so that I can head south to Birmingham to be at a girl scout overnight with Abbey.
I have also been asked to be one of Abbey’s coaches for softball. She got a wild hair and decided at age 10 that she wants to play. Sadly, that is too old to pick up a sport, nevertheless, softball is an old flame of mine and I am excited she asked to do it, and I am super excited to be involved as a coach – I am not a bench mom, it was tough sitting on the sideline at basketball. We did wrap up basketball this week, and we had a wonderful year. Both Abbey and Eli had some of the best coaches we’ve ever had any anything with which we’ve been involved, and they each grew so much this year. Hg is still taking volleyball lessons, but I don’t know how much more we will do that. Her interest is just not there. I have signed all six of us up for karate lessons. Yep, you read that right – ALL of us. That will begin the Friday after we get back. We had a window of potentially decent weather on Saturday, so I spear-headed a family effort to practice camping. We finally, finally were able to open up the camper in the yard and learn how it works… and learn what we were missing. So, it didn’t go quite as we had hoped. We were missing an electrical connector, and I was afraid of how cold it would get during the night, so we just played in it. Hannah Grace and I attended a Storm Spotter's class and became certified Storm Spotters. That just seems like another redneck reality show waiting to happen. Hannah Grace’s Girl Scout troop surprised me with a special honor today during their tribute to the Girl Scouts organization for its birthday. I was humbled to be recognized and am so thankful for the people with which the kids and I are surrounded. I am excited to be taking a huge load of Girl Scout cookies to St. Jude to be donated to the nurses and staff there, and I’m sure I will have many boxes left over for some families at Target House. I also have several large containers of pop-tops from church (which I think were actually from a school) to be donated to the Ronald McDonald House for recycling (I think, is what they do to raise funds). And, I have toys, blankets, and some gift cards to deliver to St. Jude families as well. So, I will be loaded down with your charity this trip. If all goes well this time and we come home as expected, I let Eli choose what he would like to take back for our summer trip, and it will be no surprise what he picked but a lot more fun than donating paper towels. I appreciate so much the effort in helping raise the donation for Ryan Kitchens memorial to the University of Alabama libraries. I was able to donate $1400 out of your generosity. I also appreciate anything you did for Jack’s family through their donation page. I think his mother will be going to Australia soon, if she hasn’t already, to have Jack’s remains buried there with other family members. They were so diligent in putting Jack’s care first, and being good stewards of what they had in that effort. I know they were blessed by your prayers. Please, remember Thomas, as he has had more seizures, but I think I read last they had them under control and he was out of ICU in a normal room. He is under treatment for medullo, but he had tumor growth during treatment so, please, remember them as their road has become bumpier. If you haven’t joined our Facebook Prayer Event, I would love to see you on there and ask that you share it. Please, add Eli to the prayer list for your mid-week service tonight as well. And, remember that Eli is only one of so many that will be having scans on Thursday (any day), so please remember all the families that sit on the edge of their seat that day waiting results. Love to you all!