Today’s blog post brought to you from the book of Job…….
Job 38:1 “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind……”
God is finally breaking His silence and speaking to Job directly. This part of the verse is the introduction to his reply, not the reply itself. Or is it?
Today is Sunday, September 1, 2013. I have some updates to share. I have not had the mental or emotional energy to write and took some much needed down time.
To begin, Christopher is doing well!! So well in fact, that he is back at Milligan! He is happy! You can see it in his smile, hear it in his voice, notice it in his body language. This had been a long time coming. He has worked so hard to make it back to where he feels God has called him.
Christopher made counts and was able to begin Maintenance on Monday, August 12. Maintenance began with a lumbar puncture, a Vincristine push, and the start of the daily oral chemo. Five days of prednisone also kicked off the phase.
As of August 12, we were not sure Christopher would be ready to return to Milligan.
There was quite a bit of confusion and stress regarding Christopher’s housing situation. Dealing with these housing issues really affected Christopher and was causing his recovery from the last phase of chemo to go slower than anticipated. He was still exhausted from the last hard round of chemo, the stress caused him to feel nauseous, the nausea caused him not to eat, the lack of eating contributed to his lack of energy, etc. It was a vicious cycle. Christopher is not one prone to give in to stress. He faces each situation calmly, thoughtfully, and rationally. No matter how mature you are or how well you handle stress, stress is still stress.
A few uncomfortable conversations took place. A great deal of praying took place. Accepting God saying ‘this is not My plan for you’ is a hard pill to swallow when in our humanness, our plan seems perfectly logical.
I know, and I believe with all my heart, that God’s way is better than my way, that His way is the perfect way. I really, really believe this. “I know that Thou can do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2) That said, it doesn’t make it easy to go through it. We were exhausted, emotional, and maybe a little angry.
Tuesday, August 13, I came home to eat lunch. Christopher and Rory were hanging out in the living room. I saw a huge change in the boy. He was smiling, laughing, and generally back to his old self. I was amazed. It was the most Christopher seemed like himself in months, no exaggeration.
Wednesday, August 14 Scott, Christopher and I decided we would leave for Milligan on Saturday, August 17. We kicked it into high gear! Packing wasn’t too big of a deal as the boy hadn’t unpacked much more than his clothes.
Friday, August 16 was a big day for Christopher. It had been one of his goals since the beginning of the summer, to go squirrel hunting. Gross, I know. He felt well enough to spend the day hunting in southern Illinois with a good friend. I honestly don’t know who had a better day, Paul or Christopher. The guys got home around 9pm. The boy went straight to the shower while Paul cooked up the squirrel. (In my kitchen. Dead squirrel in my kitchen. I probably need to sell my house now.)
Long story short……the guys ended up with some tick bites and covered in either mites or seed ticks. After a very long night, three showers later, and what resulted in Christopher shaving his legs, the bug issue was resolved enough for the boy to get some sleep.
Saturday morning I went to Christopher’s room. I asked him if he felt comfortable leaving for Tennessee not knowing what the tick bite might result in. It was Christopher’s decision to wait 24 hours to see if anything would develop. We agreed that if anything were to happen as a result, we wanted to be near our doctor and hospital. I called the on call Oncologist and discussed what had happened. She agreed that our decision to wait 24 hours was very wise. We were told what signs and symptoms to watch for and given permission to head to Tennessee on Sunday.
Sunday morning we packed the car and headed south! Rory stayed home with Luke because school had just begun the week before and cross country practice was in full swing. We arrived at the Barkes’ home late Sunday night. After ten hours in the car, Christopher was really hurting. A delicious dinner was waiting for us and we were spoiled rotten by our sweet hosts. Christopher took some pain meds, ate some dinner, and then went to bed. He decided to check his temperature just to be sure that his pain was from sitting in the car all day, and nothing else. No fever! A good night sleep plus the pain meds found him much improved the next morning.
The excitement of heading to campus was dampened by the thought of meeting with financial aid as well as having to resolve the housing issue. We got the boy registered, made it through the financial aid meeting, and then met some of Christopher’s friends to finally say hello and give hugs all around. Christopher was looking tired at this point and we didn’t have a meeting regarding housing yet, so we returned to the Barkes’ to let him sleep for a while. Finally, a few phone calls were made and we set a meeting for the next morning at 8:30am with the Dean of Students and the Housing Director.
Scott has worked in the running retail world for many years. He is an expert in his field. He put it well when he said “Sometimes the true worth of company is not just measured in having a great product but in how they handle righting a wrong.” Milligan College is no exception to this rule.
We made it to our meeting Tuesday morning, not sure what to expect. Christopher had asked that we allow him to do all the talking. He wanted to explain all our reasons for the request we had given the school regarding housing. There was a great deal of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
Christopher is the first case Milligan has of a cancer patient, still in treatment, returning to school. As we began our meeting, the first thing I said was that we felt we had a responsibility to educate and help Milligan learn to navigate this new road. I apologized for being emotional during some of my phone calls. Immediately the Dean of Students said that there was no need to apologize and that Christopher was no ordinary situation. Still, I don’t want to be known as “that person,” you know, the mom who makes the administration cringe when they see her approach.
Christopher was prepared to explain the reasons for our housing request from the very beginning. It is a long and semi complicated story that does not need to be explained here. We were pleasantly and almost overwhelmingly surprised when the Dean of Students offered Christopher a few different housing options.
As I said earlier, we had prayed for months about this housing situation. When it became apparent that what we asked for was not going to happen, we changed our prayer. With the best attitude I could muster I began to pray that God would make the housing situation better than we could imagine, that whatever He wanted for Christopher would be even better than we could have asked.
I have a niece who just turned two. I love this little girl with all my heart. She has the ability to capture my heart with one look, one smile, one belly laugh. One of my favorite things about her is when she decides to pout. She throws that bottom lip way out and wraps her arms across her chest in the most angry way she knows how. If you stop paying attention to her for just a minute, she’ll glance over at you to see if you’re watching. If you’re not, she’ll sigh again real loud and cross her arms across her chest in the most exaggerated way, all while peaking up from under her eyebrows. It’s really one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. In her two year old mind, she’s really angry. She’s been unjustly treated and she is UNHAPPY. This little girl has no reservations about letting you know it.
I am very much like Meredith when I am unhappy. I groan and complain and want God to know how mad I am, how I feel like everyone is against me. If God is disciplining me, I don’t like it. I grumble and complain (I know, I know, ‘do all things without grumbling or complaining.’)
I won’t lie. I was doing some pretty good pouting of my own. I was so tired of having to do things I didn’t want to do anymore. But despite my pouting, God heard my prayer. He softened my heart and began to show me, for the millionth time, that His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts, that His way is THE way.
I know this, I believe this, I trust this. So why then is it so hard to keep the right attitude, to hold onto joy, to feel secure in trusting God when we face trials? I feel like the very worst Christian ever. God continues to guide me, loving me, allowing me to struggle until I seek Him first. This is hard, so very hard. I will walk through the fire, if this is what he requires of me.
Yea, yea, yea Lindsay, ok, now get to the part about how Christopher’s housing issue is resolved….
God did indeed have better plans for Christopher. Christopher was given a single room, in his old dorm, on the first floor. Yay! No extra stairs to climb! His RA is one of his best friends, someone Scott and I love, who has been to our home and shown us his love and concern for our child. Webb Hall (the dorm in which Scott lived) is at the end, but also the middle of campus. If you remember, Milligan is a very hilly campus. We were very concerned about how Christopher would adapt to all the walking when he returned to campus. Webb is centrally located between the cafeteria and where the majority of his classes are located.
After our meeting the first thing we did was to meet with the school nurse. We updated her on Christopher’s story, gave her all the necessary information, and we felt good in knowing she was familiar with what he was going through.
Next, we headed to the dorm and finally unloaded the jeep. We jumped back in the car, drove to Target, and filled the jeep up once again. We drove back to campus, unloaded the jeep for the second time. I told Christopher early on that I planned to duct tape a big dispenser of Germ-X outside his dorm room. To make this less obnoxious, I used Batman duct tape. (Sadly, this only stayed in place about 24 hours.) We heard some of the guys walking down the hall. I heard them say “Where’s Shaw’s room??” They knew their answer when they saw the Germ-X professionally hung outside his room. I disinfected every possible surface to the point that one of Christopher’s friends remarked “You can smell that this room has been deep cleaned.”
That afternoon at 4:30pm, we had an appointment to meet Christopher’s medical team in Asheville, North Carolina. It is less than an hours drive. We arrived about 45 minutes early. The facility is gorgeous, almost like a hotel! The nurse director met with us, gave us a tour of the office, and spent a lot of time getting to know us. We were very impressed and feel confident Christopher will be in good hands. We ate a late lunch in Asheville then returned the boy to campus. Scott and I returned to spend the rest of the evening with Tom and Barbara, filling them in on the events of the day. It was the first time we felt relaxed since we’d arrived.
Wednesday morning, we said our goodbyes to Tom and Barbara, and headed back to Milligan to have breakfast with Christopher. We had about an hour before he had to be at his first class. I couldn’t eat. It was so hard to believe that we were sitting in the cafeteria getting ready to begin his semester! The time came to drive him to class and say goodbye. So, so hard! I could have hugged that child forever. Once again, I placed Christopher back into the arms of his God, to take care of him, watch over him, and love him. There is no greater peace in doing so!
First day of school picture!
We watched him hug a friend he hadn’t seen yet, and saw them walk up the stairs to class. And like the first day of kindergarten, Christopher didn’t look back. He didn’t need to. He knows his parents will always love him, fight for him, and be there for him, even when he doesn’t turn to look for them.
God will answer us out of the whirlwind. Every time.
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous; But the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19