Thank you so much for taking the time to visit our family blog. This may be your first visit here, or you may be a friend from across the globe, or family that we have just seen. Who ever you may be, thanks for taking the time to read about our little family, and all we are learning on this adventure the Lord has called us to live! Here you will find, the random thoughts, funny stories, prayer requests, and the journey our family and Jack is on with his battle with Leukemia.

.clinging to faith.

friends, read to the end... I promise it is going to be worth it! And don't skip ahead.... 
Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” “I will not let you go,” Jacob replied, “unless you bless me.” ...Then he blessed Jacob there. — Gen 32:26,29 NET
Jacob got the victory and the blessing not by wrestling, but by clinging. His limb was out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go. Unable to wrestle, he wound his arms around the neck of his mysterious antagonist and hung all his helpless weight upon him, until at last he conquered.
We will not get victory in prayer until we too cease our struggling, giving up our own will and throw our arms about our Father’s neck in clinging faith.
What can puny human strength take by force out of the hand of Omnipotence? Can we wrest blessing by force from God? It is never the violence of willfulness that prevails with God. It is the might of clinging faith, that gets the blessing and the victories. It is not when we press and urge our own will, but when humility and trust unite in saying, “Not my will, but Thine.” We are strong with God only in the degree that self is conquered and is dead. Not by wrestling, but by clinging can we get the blessing. —J. R. Miller
An incident from the prayer life of Charles H. Usher (illustrating “soul-cling” as a hindrance to prevailing prayer): "My little boy was very ill. The doctors held out little hope of his recovery. I had used all the knowledge of prayer which I possessed on his behalf, but he got worse and worse. This went on for several weeks.
“One day I stood watching him as he lay in his cot, and I saw that he could not live long unless he had a turn for the better. I said to God, ’O God, I have given much time in prayer for my boy and he gets no better; I must now leave him to Thee, and I will give myself to prayer for others. If it is Thy will to take him, I choose Thy will—I surrender him entirely to Thee.’
“I called in my dear wife, and told her what I had done. She shed some tears, but handed him over to God. Two days afterwards a man of God came to see us. He had been very interested in our boy Frank, and had been much in prayer for him.
“He said, ’God has given me faith to believe that he will recover—have you faith?’
“I said, ’I have surrendered him to God, but I will go again to God regarding him.’ I did; and in prayer I discovered that I had faith for his recovery. From that time he began to get better. It was the ’soul-cling’ in my prayers which had hindered God answering; and if I had continued to cling and had been unwilling to surrender him, I doubt if my boy would be with me today.
“Child of God! If you want God to answer your prayers, you must be prepared to follow the footsteps of ’our father Abraham,’ even to the Mount of Sacrifice.” (See Rom. 4:12.)

These difficult and insightful words struck me hard a couple months ago. The one year mark of trying to conceive the next baby had come and gone and I had finally gotten to a place of truly letting go. As painful as has been to surrender my heart cry for another child, it is what I knew the Lord wanted me to do. So I prayed that the Lord would help me to trust in Him. The constant heartache had been lessened. I truly wanted to live in the moment, savoring the good gifts God had already lavishly given me right then.  My desperation dissipated as I let go of my demand of this child.
Another month came and went, new babies were announced and birthed. The sting to my weary heart actually lessened and I was surprisingly and supernaturally filled with peace. So when I read the things above, my head kinda reeled. Was God bringing me to a place of surrender, only to have me come back and place my request before him again? Did faith look different after surrender took place? I wasn't sure. I wasn't even sure I had that new faith to ask again. I wasn't sure I could ask without demanding. I wasn't sure if I could handle hearing no again.
But it became clear that was the very thing God was leading me to do. So I prayed. And Jordan prayed. We asked big things of God, differently than before. With more faith and trust. And then we waited. 

And I rested in a posture of a relinquished will. I accepted that for me, I had had to be brought low, to be broken of the thinking that I knew what was best for me, that my ways were better than God's. You would think after the past three and a half years on the journey of Jack's cancer, my stubborn heart would have picked up that lesson already. But I have a hard head and often a hard heart. And so, out of a place of submission, I asked for His will not mine. I asked that he help me to trust in him for the timing, for the future and for the life of the child I now had renewed faith that He had  planned for us.
It was simple. No pleading. No begging. No demanding. I prayed and I left it in the care of my Father. And he heard my prayer. He always does. Scripture is emphatic that we have  prayer hearing God. That he loves to hear our heart cries.

And once again, I find myself amazed that not only does He hear our weak broken prayers, but he answers them. In His perfect and measured ways. He answers our prayers.

 photo photo_zps4b44e578.jpg

true faith

From Streams in the Desert:

The land which I do give them, even the children of Israel (Joshua 1:2).
God is speaking about something immediate in this verse. It is not something He is going to do, but something He does do, in this very moment. So faith ever speaks. So God ever gives. He meets you today, in the present moment. This is the test of faith. So long as you are waiting for a thing, hoping for it, looking for it, you are not believing. It may be hope, it may be earnest desire, but it is not faith; for "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." The command in regard to believing prayer is the present tense. "When ye pray, believe that ye receive the things that ye desire, and ye shall have them." Have we come to that moment? Have we met God in His everlasting NOW?
--Joshua, by Simpson
True faith counts on God, and believes before it sees. Naturally, we want some evidence that our petition is granted before we believe; but when we walk by faith we need no other evidence than God's Word. He has spoken, and according to our faith it shall be done unto us. We shall see because we have believed, and this faith sustains us in the most trying places, when everything around us seems to contradict God's Word.
The Psalmist says, "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of living" (Ps. 27:13). He did not see as yet the Lord's answer to his prayers, but he believed to see; and this kept him from fainting.
If we have the faith that believes to see, it will keep us from growing discouraged. We will "laugh at impossibilities," we shall watch with delight to see how God is going to open up a path through the Red Sea when there is no human way out of our difficulty. It is just in such places of severe testing that our faith grows and strengthens.
Have you been waiting upon God, dear troubled one, during long nights and weary days, and have feared that you were forgotten? Nay, lift up your head, and begin to praise Him even now for the deliverance which is on its way to you.
--Life of Praise

Talk about being convicted. The Lord used this, among some wise words from loving friends, to bring sweet conviction to my heart this past week. The revelation I am seeking to take firm hold of, is that true faith is different, much different than pining away for something, waiting and waiting looking for evidence that the thing is on its way. It is believing that God has done the thing, and in HIS perfect time, will be given and revealed to me. How comforting, how challenging, how simple. 
All this time, I have been wrestling, and growing. But now I think I am seeing and believing. True faith is the assurance that God is a promise keeper, that he is good, that he does not withhold, and that he knows far better than I. 
Just wanted to share this little tidbit of grace. 

.to know the giver of the gift.

I've recently been pondering what the divine purpose to the Lord's plan to withhold another baby in our family might be. While I know the scriptures tell me over and over how unlike God I am, how His thoughts are not my thoughts, and how high and lifted up His ways are, I have still found myself eager to see deeper into his purpose for this time in my life. If I am to be tested I want to grow. I do not want to remain stagnant in this life. 
I can think of many many reasons for this "closing of my womb" that make logical sense. I can see, when I am being my most objective, how it is wisdom to be all here right now with my three rascals that need all of me now. I can see how, if I had gotten pregnant 9 months ago when we began to try for baby #4, it might not have been the best timing. I an see these things. I may not like them. But I can see.
A dear friend who has been carrying my desires to the Lord in prayer these past several months, reminded me of the all-knowing God, who knows the plans He has for my life, and warned me of the dangers of demanding my will of God. She reminded me that like Job, I long to be heard and have an answer from God. Do I really want my will over the will of God? 
Some days, the answer to that is yes. Yes when I hear of another friend who is pregnant. The days when tears come readily and I cry to the Lord as a child who feels forgotten. Yes, when I just don't understand his good plan and  I just want my way. But then I am reminded to step back and pray. To recall the past Providences of the Lord. His many faithful perfected ways He has led me, protected me, and saved me over the years. And then my hard stubborn and proud will that cries, "My way is better" gets softened. And I end up wanting the will of the Lord more than anything. And it is well with my soul. It really is amazing how He changes my heart again and again. It gives me hope, knowing that although the "thing" I want, I am not getting; the greater good is happening in my heart. He is making me grow in trust, helping me lay down my desire for control, and deepening my roots of faith into the truth of His word. 
I read this excerpt from Streams in the Desert this morning and it really effected me. It helped me to have peace when I do not seem to get an answer from the Lord. I long with all my heart to be like the last woman in this story. I pray that if you too are feeling that your cries to the Lord are met with silence that you be encouraged as I was. To fight the temptation to believe that He has forgotten you, and cling to the truth that not one moment passes that we are not out of the loving care and gaze of our Father in heaven. 

He answered her not a word (Matt. 15:23).
He will be silent in his love (Zeph. 3:17).
It may be a child of God is reading these words who has had some great crushing sorrow, some bitter disappointment, some heart-breaking blow from a totally unexpected quarter. You are longing for your Master's voice bidding you "Be of good cheer," but only silence and a sense of mystery and misery meet you --"He answered her not a word."
God's tender heart must often ache listening to all the sad, complaining cries which arise from our weak, impatient hearts, because we do not see that for our own sakes He answers not at all or otherwise than seems best to our tear-blinded, short-sighted eyes. The silences of Jesus are as eloquent as His speech and may be a sign, not of His disapproval, but of His approval and of a deep purpose of blessing for you.
"Why art thou cast down, O…soul?" Thou shalt yet praise Him, yes, even for His silence. Listen to an old and beautiful story of how one Christian dreamed that she saw three others at prayer. As they knelt the Master drew near to them.
As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her in tenderness and grace, with smiles full of radiant love and spoke to her in accents of purest, sweetest music. Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed bead, and gave her one look of loving approval. The third woman He passed almost abruptly without stopping for a word or glance.
The woman in her dream said to herself, "How greatly He must love the first one, to the second He gave His approval, but none of the special demonstrations of love He gave the first; and the third must have grieved Him deeply, for He gave her no word at all and not even a passing look.
"I wonder what she has done, and why He made so much difference between them?" As she tried to account for the action of her Lord, He Himself stood by her and said: "O woman! how wrongly hast thou interpreted Me. The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of My tenderness and care to keep her feet in My narrow way. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall.
"The second has stronger faith and deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people do. The third, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality, and her I am training by quick and drastic processes for the highest and holiest service.
"She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so utterly, that she is independent of words or looks or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass; she trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel;--because she knows that I am working in her for eternity, and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.
"I am silent in My love because I love beyond the power of words to express, or of human hearts to understand, and also for your sakes that you may learn to love and trust Me in Spirit-taught, spontaneous response to My love, without the spur of anything outward to call it forth."
He "will do marvels" if you will learn the mystery of His silence, and praise Him, for every time He withdraws His gifts that you may better know and love the Giver.

when you dont get what you want

There are many times in the course of the day where I can say that I have not gotten what I wanted.  The list is long and ranges from somewhat simple to a bit more complex. Sometimes, this list of unmet desires is easily brushed off and does not deeply effect me. Other times, one of these things just trips me up so hard, that I tailspin into despair and hopelessness rather quickly. This isn't an everyday occurrence, but it is enough that I realize how quickly my hope gets put into the wrong things and how much I need to be reminded of truth.

I long for a clean home (for more than the 10 minutes I get before a little person un-does it all), I would love to have respectful and obedient children most of the time, I would love to be able to loose those extra stubborn pounds that just wont budge, I would love to have a maid, or just sleep more,  I want my skin to clear up and be blemish free, I want my son to be rid of cancer forever, I want those I love to know Jesus as their savior, I want our church to reach Arlington with the power of the gospel in powerful ways, I want to know Jesus deeper and love reading the Bible more... so many things. I really could go on. But that would not be helpful to anyone. So lets bring it to the now, where I am currently dealing with a very real un-met want.

In the past many months, 8 to be exact, it would seems as though the Lord is telling me no on something that I want very dearly to my heart. You see, we "decided" that we were finally in faith to add another little person to our family, being that we were so close to the end of Jack's treatment. Seeing as we were in faith, and that I had conceived almost immediately with the other three children, I fully expected to be carrying a babe in my womb by now. Jack getting cancer put a pause on my "plans" to be a family with 4 kids, and so the desire for another baby (and hope for a daughter) have been long brewing in my heart.

I had been content to wait it out, until we were in a better place and ready to add more to our already crazy life. But you see, I always had "plans." I had an idea of what was in fact "good for our family" Cancer was NOT part of that plan. But neither was many months of not getting pregnant.  When we arrived in that place of readiness, what a shock it was to go 1, then 2, then 3,4, 5, 6, 7 and now into the 8th month and not get pregnant.

What is remarkable, is that as I have been longing for this, I have been able to see many many many women in our families and church conceive. Isn't it the way the Lord works, that when we long for a blessing, we so easily see it being poured out into the lives of others. And by the grace of God, I have not once been angry or bitter at any one of those dear friends. And I have been able to rejoice with them. I see him at work in this area in my heart. He is helping me to lay down my idol of control, and to trust him with my days and lay my plans down. He is helping me to grow in contentment and peace, and deepening my trust in him when the things I want I do not get.

But it has been hard. Oh so hard. My heart has been longing for a baby for well over a year. There have been moments of grief and disappointment and heartache each month, but even then, the Lord swiftly reminds me of the truth that I truly want His plan and not my own for our life. I do wrestle for faith in this. God is faithful in meeting me, but I do have to fight for faith. It is a good fight, but one none the less.

God has been teaching me so much during this time. Each month I feel he is bringing new things to light and molding me more into his image and building more trust and faith in him. And here is one of the lessons I am most grateful for, I feel my heart bursting with empathy, compassion and deep care for the many many women who have struggled with infertility for years. In my weakness, 8 months seems like forever. And I feel I now have some small window into the heart ache that others face. And that is a lesson hard won and one Iam profoundly grateful to have learned, so that I may love others better. If the Lord has divine purposes in all of my trials, both big and small, I pray I run towards them with eyes fixed on a Father who loves and does not lead his children astray.

I read this poem this morning and it so encouraged my heart. If you find yourself more aware of the long list of things that are not going your way, I pray your soul be lifted up, as mine was this morning. From heartache to hope in the God who holds the key.

Is there some problem in your life to solve,
Some passage seeming full of mystery?
God knows, who brings the hidden things to light.
He keeps the key.

Is there some door closed by the Father's hand
Which widely opened you had hoped to see?
Trust God and wait--for when He shuts the door
He keeps the key.

Is there some earnest prayer unanswered yet,
Or answered NOT as you had thought 'twould be?
God will make clear His purpose by-and-by.
He keeps the key.

Have patience with your God, your patient God,
All wise, all knowing, no long tarrier He,
And of the door of all thy future life
He keeps the key.

Unfailing comfort, sweet and blessed rest,
To know of EVERY door He keeps the key.
That He at last when just HE sees 'tis best,
Will give it THEE.

preparing for the end {pt. 1}

If you have asked me how we are doing or we have talked at all in the past couple months, you have heard me say many times how excited we are for the end of Jack's treatment for Leukemia. Each month brings us closer to the end. Here we now are, only 4 short months away. This has been so anticipated, and I simply cannot believe how close to the end we actually are. I am amazed by the hand of the Lord carrying us, protecting Jack, and strengthening us in it all. At the very beginning of this journey, when the Dr. told me it would be 3 1/2 years of treatment, I thought it would be the longest time in my life. And now, here we stand on the cusp of that ending. 

As we near the end of it all, I have been filled with many emotions and questions. If you think about it, the past almost three years have had a somewhat regular rhythm to them for us. Daily chemo, weekly then monthly Dr. visits, blood work ups to give us a baseline for where Jack was at, fever patrol ending with us in the ER, watching Jack for any signs of relapse or sickness, ect. With all of those things, we have come to have a new "normal". This constant flow of prescription medications in our home, antibiotics every weekend and always with fevers, constant hand washing, sickness monitoring; these have all become just part of what we do. So the idea of ending all of it, without any weaning, not a gradual tapering off, just cold turkey throwing it all away... well, its kinda weird. 

We fully think that this last day of treatment (April 13th to be exact) is a time for celebration. It is to be a time of rejoicing in the goodness of God, His sustaining power and mercy on our son's life and reveling in the many many provisions He has made for us. And we plan to do just that. Yet also, in reality, it can also hold a little bit of fear. The protocol schedules and frequent appointments have provided reassurance and structure for us. Ultimately we have had our hope grounded in God.  But the questions do come. 

I am thrilled that the days of pills and procedures are going to end, yet there is a real little bit of  worry for a future without powerful medicines to keep the disease away. Dont hear what I am not saying... I do not want Jack to continue on his treatment a day longer than needed. The concerns about him relapsing is the main issue and honestly, leaves me feeling a little vulnerable for the time when active treatment will end. I know that God is in control of this. So I do not have to fear. I can rest assured. That the one who spared Jack so much will not abandon us now. Yet the questions still come. 

You see, not only is there the uncertainty of Jack's future health and the potential for the Leukemia to come back (which is quite low), but there are is the reality of treatment-induced learning disabilities that we will likely face. Add to that the long term effects that the poison that has been pumped into his body will have on him as he grows up. We are going to do all we can to re-build his body as he comes off of the medications, both nutritionally and academically and physically. We have been blessed to be in a great school system with many benefits in academic support, and to have a great team of Dr's. at Children's. And I know that God is the king of all who sustains his body, who will continue to help him grow and strengthen him. Yet the reality is that chemo hurts both the good and the bad cells in the human body. So the questions come. 

Here is a little window into the world of a parent of a child with cancer. With diagnosis came the acute and real awareness that God, who is not cruel and unpredictable, will sustain you in the greatest of life's storms. He does not abandon his children, he is very near to the brokenhearted and he is a great provider. Yet there is also a real awareness that sometimes life can be cruel and unpredictable. Many times I have felt safe during treatment and feel that therapy is keeping the cancer away. This is true, the chemo is doing what is was created to do, but we also know that God is in control and ultimately he is determining the growth of the cells in our child's body. Yet it is easy to trust the medicine. To hope in the medicine.  When treatment ends, parents and children must find ways to live with uncertainty, to find a balance between hope and reasonable worry. Because you are no longer just a parent, you are also a nurse, there is an new built in alertness to germs, sickness and awareness of the potential health risks. This reasonable worry, isn't that the tricky part. Learning to separate fear, and distrust in the Lord, from wise and discerning concern and awareness.   

So we are anticipating figuring out what our new "normal" is going to be. It is an exciting and new thing we are about to venture into. We know that returning to the way things were pre-cancer is unrealistic. We are different people now, changed by the storms we have walked through. God has worked in us in so many ways, and we are not so innocent thinking that difficulty will never find us, but full of faith that when they do, God will be there and He will hold us up again. The constant interaction with medical personnel is going to change over the next couple years. We will still be going into the clinic monthly for blood work, monitoring Jack. The first year off treatment is generally when a relapse would occur, so he will be watched closely, by me and our Dr.'s. But we will mainly be developing a life that does not include cancer. While it is true that the blissful ignorance of the days prior to cancer are gone forever, a different life, a new, normal one is on the horizon. One enriched by the experiences we have had over he past three years and the lessons the Lord has taught us.  

So while it is true, that the questions still come, the worry sometimes lingers, my heart can fill with aches for the what-ifs... I do know that I have a safe harbour from the storms. I do know that God knows the answers to all my questions. I know that God has numbered all of my days, and Jack's days as well.  I know that I am weak, and human and that all I am experiencing is actually normal and ok. It is ok to wrestle with these things. And wrestling is something I do. God always wins, he wins my heart and my affections and my trust.  I do not have to fear the worry itself, because the Lord will shine the light of His glory into my darkest hours. I can trust in him.