Sunday, August 29, 2010

Going Home

I am sitting at the Hong Kong airport waiting to board my flight back to the U.S. This trip through Hong Kong has been good and bad at the same time. We love Hong Kong and try to wait patiently on God to bring us back, but when I look around and think about the good and bad times it is difficult.

The best way to describe it is the feelings I had when passing the hospital that Sarah was diagnosed with Leukemia. As my train went by the hospital my stomach turned in knots feeling the hurt, sadness and grief, but as I started to remember this is also the same hospital that Rebekah was born. So then I am happy and hopeful and excited about the future. By looking at one building I have these mixed emotions. Just sitting in this airport brings the same emotions. I remember the wait to board the plane in February. I was so nervous and worried about the "what ifs" of Sarah being in an airplane for 12 hours. Yet, I remember the other fun times we had as a family as we would travel back to the U.S. with so much excitement to see family and friends.

These examples are the best way to sum up my emotional roller coaster ride the past few weeks. So much happiness along with so much grief. I guess this is just life itself. As you journey through this world, you feel the highs and lows, but yet what is the meaning of all this. Why care, worry, show excitement/joy when there is so much pain? Simply it boils down to one thing. Where is my joy centered? If I try to just focus on things of the world which include my family, it is easy to fear and be filled with despair, but if I stay focused on the One who brings complete joy and hope then as I think of my family I find peace. This One is Jesus.

God has been teaching me about relying on Him, and I shared about it at Tung Chung Church last Sunday when I preached in Hong Kong. I is surely more coherent than these words I have written here because I am a bit tired at this time. haha To listen to it just go to and it is the sermon from the 22nd of August.
I pray God speaks to you as you listen.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sarah's New Hat

Today was Sarah's day to go get a chemo infusion at the clinic. But there were some fun things in store today too.
Caps for Children gives a cap to children with cancer, and they can get it signed by a famous person of their choice. Sarah choose the Duggar family since we have watched them some while in Hong Kong and since we have been back. Their youngest has been in the Children's Medical Center in Arkansas so Sarah has felt even more connected watching the show lately.
The cap arrived back today and just about the whole family signed it! Sarah was so excited. Some of them even put some verses under their names for Sarah.
Then after Sarah's chemo infusion she helped the hospital accept a donation from Capital One. Sarah was so sweet as she said thank you and took pictures with some of the hospital and Capital One employees. You can see one of those pictures above.
We are getting things ready for Jay's trip back to Asia. Even though we all hate to be apart, this is actually the best time for him to travel. Sarah is doing great and is at a very uneventful time in her treatment. We have been in this house long enough that I feel comfortable being here and with the day to day of life here. And we have so many of you that are close and always willing to physically help us and those of you that might be far away but are so willing to encourage us over long distance. I feel very blessed to be able to feel confident and secure about Jay's trip. Jesus has graciously kept Jay here until now and I am so grateful for that time. And Jesus has been building us up and preparing us to get ready for this trip for a while now. I undoubtedly know this is a good thing.
With Skype, Jay will still even get to lead our morning family devotions most of the time (before he goes to bed in the Hong Kong time zone:)
And we are happy that he will be able to bring home a couple more boxes of our things that are still in Hong Kong. We have lots a boxes and other stuff still there in the tiny apartments of friends - most of it is in one friend's apartment as she has gone beyond the call of duty as a friend to help us so much!
Sarah had such a good time getting her cap today and helping receive the donation for the hospital that she said in the car, "If I didn't have Leukemia, I wouldn't be getting to accept the donation and help the hospital!"
Sarah just sees Leukemia for all its benefits and that it is just a part of her life. I must say that her mama isn't always so optimistic. Sarah does still have her down times when she is sad that God picked her, but don't we all have those moments about some of the circumstances God chose to put in our lives to bring Him glory and us to know Him more. For the most part though, her childlike faith and joy in God is at the forefront as God continues to lead her and us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back to Work and Riding for Sarah Grace

I had lunch with a friend today and he asked if everything was ok. He then said, "I have not seen you post anything lately." It then dawned on me that it has been a few weeks since I have written.

The main reason for not writing is I officially started back to work in August. Through many people giving and helping us, I was able to take six months off of full-time, full-day work to walk with Sarah through this process. I believe it helped me more than her but I am so thankful I was able to go to the appointments, chemo sessions, surgeries, blood counts, etc. As a father, you realize that you are the visible representative of God the Father in your little princess's life, so I wanted her to know not only her earthly father loved her but her heavenly Father loves her so much. So thanks so much for your gifts that allowed me to take a lighter load.

Now, I travel for the first time since Sarah's diagnosis. I will be in Hong Kong and Cambodia starting next week until the end of August. Please be praying for Anne, Sarah, Hannah and Rebekah. We have all enjoyed being so close over the last six months, and it will be hard for us to be apart.

On another encouraging note, above is a picture of Dave Elliott. He is riding in a race soon and one of the people he rides for is Sarah Grace. We are excited to see the stickers and to know he writes her name on his hand as he trains so he can remember her. It is also for a great cause and I have no idea how Dave is training in this 100 plus degree heat everyday, but God did make him special.

Finally, a short update on Sarah. She is doing great. They went to Gilda's Club (Cancer Support Community) today and had a blast. She has been able to spend time with another little girl who is battling Leukemia. We live in a different world where our 7 year olds are discussing their surgeries and the pills they have to take each night. It is a blessing for Sarah to have a friend like her. Sarah also went to see Hannah at gymnastics, and Sarah even went out on the floor and jumped on the big trampoline with a coach. Her strength is coming back fast, along with her hair, but she is still struggling with coordination, mobility, and muscle strength. So please keep praying for her and us.

The best way to explain our current situation is using an example of running in a long, long race. (At least this is what I've been told!) At first your breathing is fast and hard with the first few miles the hardest, and then you set a good pace and your breathing slows and you feel much better but you are still running a race. This is how we feel at this time. We are past the hard part, but we are still running a hard race - so we continue looking to Jesus for peace and calm.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Camp! Camp! Camp!

We have caught up on laundry, emails and sleep and not necessarily in that order. We were so excited to be going to camp and yet we had no idea what God had in store for us.
The counselor who had requested to be one-on-one with a camper and who was then assigned to stay with Sarah all week was the daughter of a family at our church, Bent Tree, who has helped us so much. We hadn't known them personally, but when our list of needs came out in the church as we were moving back, this family answered the call in a big way. And now their amazingly gifted godly daughter was Sarah's counselor. Of course, my heart was at ease, and more importantly my nerves, so that I was able to enjoy my time and focus on what God had for me while my children were being taken care of and taught about Jesus.
Block Party (Sarah's counselor's camp name) was so diligent and wonderful at her task of helping Sarah that by the third night, Sarah was dancing on the tables with the other girls in her small group! And the next day she came back from her class and told me she did the zip line! We saw lots of glimpses of the the pre-cancer Sarah, and it was encouraging. Sarah was on steroids for some of the camp and she was on two antibiotics and her daily chemo plus her 1 time a week 9-pill chemo. She was upset at times about having to fast two hours before pills at night and also about wearing her leg braces (which we didn't enforce but a little bit a few nights). Poor Block Party had to endure a bit of 'roid rage' as the steroids zipped around Sarah's body, but all in all, I was amazed at the great time God gave us. Even with Sarah's shyness about her bald head, God took care of that by putting it on the hearts of the girls and counselors in her small group to take their group picture all wearing head scarfs and not showing their hair!
Hannah jumped right in to her group making friends easily with everyone and winning the hearts of her counselors. Rebekah had her own class called the Rollie Pollies, and she got to go swimming and ride in the wagon. I also heard that she talked a lot and was such a happy baby.
Jay and I experienced such renewal and help in our marriage during the couples' sessions. And two of the nights were date nights, childcare and all!
And God did even more to confirm his hand in our lives and future. When we arrived at camp and went through the registration lines, we ran into a family from our home group at Pantego Bible Church 8 years ago! And they said another of the families from that group were there too! We were able to see meet all their children and renew our friendship. We were so excited to see that we all hadn't changed much! :) This home group has been one of the biggest blessings to us as they sent a love offering to us when we had Sarah as we didn't have maternity insurance at the time. And this same group that helped pay for Sarah's birth, also sent us a love offering complete with toys and crafts to Hong Kong when Sarah was diagnosed with Leukemia. By being with them at camp all week, God clearly reminded us of his provision and care for us through the family of Christ!
I could write many stories of God's grace to us throughout the week - maybe in the posts to come. Today, God's grace to us came as we had to get Sarah's blood checked today and her counts were right on target - wanting to be kept lower than normal so as not to allow her body to make any Leukemia cells. Her ANC was 1495 - perfect!