Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Church

I am The Church
You are The Church
We are The Church together
All who follow Jesus
All around the world
We are The Church together.

When a group of children sing this simple Sunday School song, they probably don't understand how much theology they already have committed to memory.  To be a Christian, and to join in worship with The Church Universal, is a powerful testimony to our unity in Christ. Together with Christian congregations all around the world, we worship the One true God. When we pray for one another, bear one another's burdens, and join in as an active participant in the life of the church, "we are The Church together."

In a telephone conversation I had with my Pastor tonight, I explained that we could not have managed this year without the prayer support of our church behind us. Intercessory prayer offered up from many church congregations praying for Qavah and Kathryn has given us the strength to continue to stand in the face of adversity. Sports teams have cheerleaders for a reason. When the game is on, and the going is tough, we need to hear those on the sidelines cheering. We, The Church, are called to be cheerleaders, or encouragers to the saints. A call from our Pastor to say, "we continue to pray," a note left on Caring Bridge, scripture verses shared by a friend; all of these things have been steadily woven into the fabric of this story. We are so grateful for "The Church."

This Christmas, Qavah opened a gift made by The Hands of Hope at St. John Lutheran Church, our home church in Roanoke. The gift was a tied quilt. And each of the squares had an embroidery thread stitched to it, and the thread needed to be tied for the quilt to be completed. The quilt was left in the prayer chapel and each person who came into the prayer chapel to pray for Qavah, knotted off one of the ties within the squares. The quilt represents a whole church. Prayer warriors and cheerleaders united to send a message to Qavah. There is a church waiting for her at home, where she will take her place among the members, and join them in their work for the Kingdom.  Thanks be to God.

Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11




Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Princess Fun

I noticed immediately when I saw Kathryn that her limp has improved greatly since I last saw her, and her new hip joints are working beautifully. She is walking all over the place without pain and loving it. She had arrived at the Ronald McDonald House fairly late on Christmas Eve so Paul stayed at the hospital overnight with Qavah while Kathryn and I were able to stay up late, talk, and have a cup of tea together. We had the apartment to ourselves. We had a great time and got caught up on all of the adventures she was able to have at Holiday gatherings with friends. We girls have been playing princess and enjoying girl time ever since. Paul is definitely outnumbered. We invited him to watch a movie with us last night in Qavah's hospital room. He accepted our invitation but stated firmly, "No fairy princess movies!" I guess all men have their quota, and this year Qavah has pushed him to his limit! 


Monday, December 24, 2012

In Line to see Santa

The ninth floor is very quiet tonight. Perhaps it is the Holy Hush of Christmas, or just that many children have been given a pass to go home for the night. Those of us remaining here seem to have time to chat, and the slower pace is very welcome. I stopped to talk to the nurses a few minutes ago and they were gathered at the nurses' station discussing the many pictures they are seeing on a popular social website this year. Friends and family have posted hundreds of pictures of children sitting on Santa's lap bawling their eyes out. Is it the color red that sets them off? Is it the bushy white beard? What could it be that so many children sit on Santa's lap and scream "rescue me" in a child's universal cry language? One of the nurses commented that they cry so hard the picture is most unflattering. Or as she described it, "tears and snot everywhere!"

After that conversation, I walked down the hall to the sunroom and plugged in the tree lights because it is Christmas Eve. I also found some Christmas music for the CD player that sits under the tree.  As the music plays, Paul and Qavah are sitting together out there and I have come back to Qavah's room for a quiet moment. With the conversation with the nurses fresh on my mind, I wonder what it is about Santa that brings parents with little ones out to the malls every year to wait in long lines for their moment with Santa. Is it simply tradition? Do we hope that a meeting with Santa will bless them in some way, the way Jesus blessed the children? These are questions that don't really have one answer, I suppose. But it does seem more than ever that the birth of Jesus and the coming of Santa compete for our heart's affection at Christmastime, even in Christian homes.

I can't help but wonder what our nation would be like if on Christmas morning there were long lines of families with children waiting to get into our churches to worship the Newborn King. If Children were dressed in their finest, and led by the hand to the place where God's people welcome children, wouldn't that speak love to their little hearts?  If our church doors were open tomorrow and we taught them about the unconditional love of God, whether they are "naughty or nice," wouldn't they cherish Him more than a man in a red suit who can't deliver what he promises?

I am contemplating these things more than ever this year. If seven months in the bone marrow transplant unit has taught me anything, it is to value what is most important. I am celebrating the birth of Jesus tonight inside the Children's Hospital, and it just might be the very best place to celebrate. I am clinging to His promises, and praying for Christmas miracles for the children here. Just down the hall are the rooms where Jamie, Garrison, Kristina, and Johnny were ushered into heaven by the angels. Perhaps even some of the angels present at the birth of our Messiah accompanied them from their rooms on 9B to their mansions in Heaven. What could be more glorious than to sit here and think of the riches in heaven where Jesus our Messiah awaits us, and where The Promised One wipes every tear from our eyes. 

Lord, help us to bring our children to You, and to edify You more than Santa by our speech. We praise You Father, for sending Your Son. We praise You for making Him known to us. Not just on Christmas morning, but in the moments of every day. Quiet our hearts with Your love, and thank You that in Your presence there is peace, no matter where we are.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving for All Things

Southwest Airlines went all out last night in the Ronald McDonald kitchen and supplied all of the families with a delicious home cooked turkey dinner with all of the side dishes we all love on this holiday. The canned drinks and cups were supplied by the airline, and about twenty employees worked together to bless each and every family here. We all said "thank you" to them, but truly, our hearts were overflowing with Thanksgiving and words just didn't seem enough. For a brief time it just seemed like we were family, and we had gathered to celebrate. I would guess there were over a hundred people at dinner and the food never ran out.  I am daily reminded that God is supplying the needs here in many remarkable ways. It may never make the headline news, but if it did, we might all feel better about the world. Good news is as nourishing for the soul as good food is for the body.

In other family news, Kathryn has applied for a "dream job" and we are praying that if this is a gift from God, she will know soon. Paul Burton is waiting to hear whether he will be accepted in VCU's Nurse Anesthetist program for next fall, and Qavah continues to improve. No one has talked about her going home, or even going to the McDonald House, but I think if she continues to improve, we may hear some talk about that next week. As each of our children are in a position to wait on the Lord, we have a lot in common with each other. Our faith is being built. And I think I speak for all of us when I say our desire is to continue serving the Lord right where we are until he moves us on.

I feel especially thankful tonight for the opportunity to witness great things in this hospital. Several children have gone home healthy after their bone marrow transplants.  Many children on this floor were healthy enough to leave for the holiday weekend too. In a recent conversation, we "moms of 9b" agreed that we had no idea last Thanksgiving how much our lives were about to change, and how much more our gratitude would increase as a result. Thanks be to God for all of His perfect gifts.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Does Being a Christian Mean an Easy Life?

Abdul has completed his forty days of fasting and prayer in Nigeria. We miss him as our hospital chaplain, but we also know that he is following God's call on his life. He will remain in Africa for a couple more months. Just as he had finished his commitment to the Lord I got a call from his wife. She has been working and caring for the four children while Abdul is away.  She told me she had been placed on leave by her employer and was being investigated for a complaint of abusing someone. We began to pray in earnest for the facts to reveal that this was untrue. I never believed for a minute that she would do such a thing, but I know that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and we prayed that this serious accusation would be addressed and have a good outcome for her.

After an investigation, it was discovered that Abdul's wife couldn't possibly have committed the offense, and she was given a new post nearer to her home, pay for her enforced one week vacation, and an apology for all she had been through. This is a true story of real people who follow the Lord, committed to doing His will, and who hold fast to the belief that God is in control in all circumstances. We are praising God for the good outcome, but also recognize that in this world, we all will have troubles of every kind. And many times these things happen to the most committed Christians. Thanks be to God for His protection when we are under attack.

We have had similar things happen to us in the past few months. One day the spiritual battle we were in was so obvious I burst out singing a church bus song that I hadn't thought of in a while. It goes like this, "One, two, three, the devil's after me. Four, five six, he's always throwing sticks....." I learned it as a child, and  it seemed appropriate that I would recall it. Just the fact that we are in this world we will have troubles. But the battle for our minds, and the attempt to discourage us is Satan's game of choice I think. But we don't have to play along, because we are more than conquerors if we are armed and ready for the attacks. The song concludes, "seven, eight, nine, he misses all the time, hallelujah, hallelujah, Amen!"

We have overcome many battles on many fronts recently; praise be to God our refuge and our strength! To add to our joy, we just learned that Colin and Jennifer are blessing us with a new grandchild in May. According to God's word, no weapon coming against us can prosper, and with the promise of new life, the blessings continue to flow. We have so much to be thankful for and I recognize that every day is another season for Thanksgiving.

Jesus said, "I have said these things to you, that you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble.  But take heart, I have overcome the world."   John 16:33

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kathryn's New Joint

For most 28 years olds having a new joint would mean having a new apartment or a sweet new place to call home. For Kathryn it means a new leg to stand on. Her left hip is healing nicely, although there is much more swelling and bruising on this side compared to the right hip. She is making progress every day.  She is sleeping for long stretches now without pain medication during the night. A delicious deep sleep seems to be reviving her the most. We have been reading from her new Bible, and listen to music and sermons throughout the day. With Paul and Qavah in Pittsburgh the quietness in the house is amplified. So much so, that when the phone rings, we jump because of the startling noise.

The sunshine filtered through the windows all afternoon and there is more sunshine in the forecast for the rest of the week. It has certainly lifted our spirits.  We are content and have so much to be thankful for. I read this to Kathryn first thing this morning, and it has been a comfort all day.

Your arm is mighty, your hand is strong,
Your right arm is lifted high.
Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne;
grace and truth attend you.
How happy are the people who know the joyful shout!
They walk in the light of your presence Adonai.
They rejoice in your name all day and are
lifted up by your righteousness, for
you yourself are the strength in which they glory.
Our power grows by pleasing you, for our strength
comes from Adonai - Our king is the Holy One of Israel.
Psalm 89:14-18

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Happy Tears

We turned onto our street at two-fifteen this morning.  Qavah was awake and got very excited about pulling up to our driveway.  At first she pointed to the house stating, "There it is!"  Then her voice cracked and she tried to get out the words, "I can't believe I am home at last!"  By the time I shut off the van ignition and Paul Burton came out to the car to help us, Qavah was bawling into her hands and we could just make out the words, "Happy tears, happy tears!"  Paul Burton carried Qavah into the house where a middle-of- the- night party had been planned by Paul Burton and Kathryn.  Dimly lit candles flickered on the table.  There was a bottle of sparkling grape juice ready to be poured into little goblets, and pastel colored balloons hanging from the woodwork. It was like stepping into a dream with Qavah.  She wiped her tears and we just stood in the quiet house by candlelight thanking God for several minutes.  We were home, and surrounded by love.  Although it was just the five of us, I had the feeling that we were surrounded by hundreds of angels and a great cloud of witnesses.

I just want to thank the friends who came to help Kathryn with Qavah's room, and general cleaning.  It was so fresh and clean!  Even fan blades were dusted, which made the house healthier for Qavah to come home to.  We laid Qavah into her bed at three-thirty, and had my camera been handy, I would have had a picture of pure bliss for you.  You'll have to imagine Qavah's face glowing with joy as she snuggled in.  What an amazing adventure.  One that required faith, and perseverance.  When we raise our juice glasses in a toast, my husband said, "To my three girls, who never, ever give up!"  Thanks be to God, Who gave us the strength to see us through to this grand homecoming. 

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5

Saturday, September 08, 2012

The Future

I have been watching Qavah sleep for the past two hours, thankful to God for the blessing of sleep.  Her pain level was so high the nurse used three different drugs to put her into a deep enough sleep to be at rest.  I had a flashback tonight while I was waiting for the drugs to take over and give her relief.  It was a scene from last Fall. She was dressed like a princess and walked down the isle of a church throwing rose petals at her cousin's wedding. She tossed them with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.  She was so lovely, and  I knew how much it meant to her to be with family, and to see her cousins.  She has since worn the flower girl dress for a fancy tea party with Annelise.  The pictures in my memory are so vivid that they were a gift to me over the past two hours.  I am imagining her back on her feet, twinkling with joy, and as long as I hold that picture in my mind, despair becomes a fleeting thing.

Next June, another cousin is getting married and Qavah doesn't know it yet, but she is going to be asked to be a flower girl. I can sit beside her hospital bed and imagine what a day of rejoicing that will be; for the happy couple, and for Qavah.  There are many beautiful moments in store for her.  My prayer tonight is, "Lord, hasten the day."

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1 


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Blessing of Obedience


Our instructions on Qavah's care included restrictions.  Just before she was discharged from the hospital the doctor said, "No crowds, shopping centers, or crowded movie theaters for another two months." He didn't say church.  This morning we dressed for church and took Qavah in her frilly dress, pink hat, white gloves, and face mask.  She patiently wore the mask for two hours during the service and afterward.  Paul and I sat in the pew with Kathryn and Qavah feeling victorious in the struggle for wholeness for our girls.  The congregation at Shoresh David has been praying for us and it was a victory for them as well to witness how the Lord has lifted up Kathryn and Qavah.  The sermon was based on the "heart" of obedience.  As we listened, we shed some tears, but they were tears of joy. Paul and I feel as though we are here in Pittsburgh living out our walk of obedience, and finding God to be faithful and true. To some, I suppose our adoption of the girls is a curious thing; friends our age are now retired and downsizing while we are in the midst of starting over.   

Obedience sometimes looks a little unconventional, like Noah building a boat the length of two football fields in preparation for a flood when the sun was shining.  This morning, my silver-haired husband carried Qavah in his arms to the front of the church with the strength of a young man. It was time for the blessing of the children.  Children gathered under the outstretched prayer shawl and stood under its shelter as the blessing was proclaimed over their lives.  The blessing included asking God for their hearts to be courageous as they live out their life purpose, and that they would claim their inheritance as children of the King.  The steadfast love of the Lord was pictured there for me as Qavah rested in the arms of a father who loves her unconditionally.  

Lord, let me follow you in obedience to the hard places, and in those hard places, feel Your everlasting arms around me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Needed: Nerves of Steel

Late this afternoon Kathryn and I left for the grocery store and I gave Paul all of the instructions he needed to check Qavah's blood sugar and advised him regarding her snacks.  He let her watch a movie while he finished up his work day.  Then he decided to walk up two flights of stairs, retrieve our laundry from the dryer, and come back to Qavah.  His plan didn't work as he had hoped. Qavah didn't wait in the room. While Paul waited for the dryer to finish Qavah went on an adventure.  She put on her jacket and face mask and decided to walk over to the hospital to check out her old room and say hi to the nurses.

When Paul got back with the laundry, I was just walking in with groceries.  I asked where Qavah was, and we both dashed around the apartment looking for her when we realized she was missing. I ran to a phone to report her missing while Paul followed his hunch and went over to the hospital. On his way through the corridor, a nurse came walking toward Paul with a smiling Qavah!  "We love to have you visit us Qavah, but only with your Mom and Dad," she explained.  She handed Qavah over to Paul and the two of them headed back to the apartment.  Paul phoned me immediately and I cancelled the search.

For about fifteen minutes today we were frantic.  Not because Qavah would intentionally get into mischief, but because we no longer live in a world where little girls and boys are safe to be out on their own.  Qavah was able to follow people through two security doors and work the elevator on her own.  We are torn between thinking she was foolish, and yet, proud of her for being so resourceful.  She made it all the way to the ninth floor of the hospital and went back to her old room to see if anyone had moved in.  She had a wonderful time, and had some hugs from friends. 

Qavah feels good enough to walk a long way, she feels like seeing visitors, and she enjoyed her outing today.  While she was very sick, we were hoping for her full recovery and today was proof that that day has come.  Now we can say she is back to being an ordinary kid. Now we ask for your prayers for wisdom and strength to withstand the shocking things kids can do as they are growing up.  Being a parent takes nerves of steel.

Friday, August 10, 2012

New Life

I took the girls outside to the cafeteria patio last evening just before returning Qavah to her hospital room for the night.  I couldn't resist the sunset.  The air was mild and the girls sat together on one of the lounge chairs while I snapped a picture.  This photograph is filled with the goodness of God. Kathryn is walking using her brand new hip, without getting weary. Qavah has a completely new blood supply and the doctor told me yesterday that she is now healed of Diamond Blackfan Anemia. Her new bone marrow is working strong, and even her immune system is up and beginning to function two months ahead of schedule.  I look into the girls' faces and know that I am seeing the evidence of God at work, and my heart is giving Him a standing ovation.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Blessing!

Paul and I left Pittsburgh at ten o'clock in the morning on Saturday and drove until we met up with Kathryn and Paul Burton.  They started out about the same time heading north while we drove south.  Because of a traffic jam on I-81, Paul Burton and Kathryn sat in traffic for more than an hour. Therefore, Paul and I continued to drive all the way to the Virginia boarder until we met.  I saw the roadsign that said "Roanoke" and was suprised by tears. Next week marks three months away from home, and until I saw the sign, I thought I was pretty well adjusted to life in Pittsburgh.

When we finally met up with Paul Burton and Kathryn, we had lunch together.  Qavah sat as close to Paul Burton as possible throughout the meal.  Before I knew it I was in the car driving back to Pittsburgh with the girls while Paul went on home to Roanoke with Paul Burton.  The plan worked out well and we were back to the hospital in time to hook Qavah back up to her IV pole for evening medications.  The time away was good for all of us.  Qavah has been a bit teary today.  Hearing Paul's voice over the phone seems to trigger an attack of homesickness.  It is not as easy to distract her with the promise of a movie or another activity, as it once was.  We are doing our best to keep her happy, and little games, gifts, and greeting cards, continue to trickle in every day. Thanks to many of you for those little happy gifts!

I looked across the table to these three smiling faces and know without a doubt that my life has been blessed.  Kathryn has a new hip and Qavah a new blood supply. They looked so strong and healthy. Paul Burton brought me some gluten free cookies and stated that he was happy to do it, but will be happier when we are all home again. His smiling eyes, which worked effectively when he was a child getting into mischief, still melt my heart.  

Children are an heritage from the Lord.


Friday, August 03, 2012

The Vision

Over the course of the past four years, when I made Qavah's appointments for transfusions back in Roanoke, I would often visualize the future. I would try to imagine the day that I would hear the words, "She's cured."  Sometimes the image was so strong in my mind, I would cry for joy.  If just imagining it brought me to tears, I would wonder how I would behave the day that the vision became a reality.  

I don't have to wonder about that anymore.  One morning this past week the doctors were making their rounds.  When they came to Qavah's room they shared the morning counts.  After hearing the number of white cells, neutrophils, red cells and platelets, I suddenly realized that every one of Qavah's counts were in the normal range.  Not because she was transfused, but because her body made all of those cells in her own bone marrow. I turned to the doctor on my left and heard him say, "So it appears Qavah will not need another transfusion."  

I was surprised by my lack of emotion.  I thought, "This wasn't how I dreamed it!"  I took the news and tucked it into my brain to examine later.  Then late last night I was tucking Qavah into bed and I noticed how pink her lips are.  I asked if she had eaten something red and she told me she hadn't.  In a sudden rush of emotion I started to feel the deep gratitude for the healing that has taken place in Qavah.  Her lips are pink, her palms are pink, and her hands stay warm, all because her bone marrow is working as it should.  I asked Qavah if she was feeling better, to which she replied, "Yes, better than ever and ever!"  What started with a vision or dream is now our reality.  Praise be to God, Who gave us the vision. It seems to me that taking time to dream is an essential step in the process. Dust off those dreams, and don't let them go.  Dreams formed by prayer may be tomorrow's reality.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end - it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Habakkuk 2:3

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Through the Double Doors

The double doors on the ninth floor separating the bone marrow transplant patients from the rest of the hospital opened today and Qavah walked through them wearing her face mask, which she is required to wear until one hundred days post-transplant.  Her eyes sparkled over the top of her mask so we knew she was smiling.  We walked within the hospital halls, went to the library on the sixth floor, and visited the gift shop.  We were allowed to take her outside to walk on the sidewalk beside the hospital building too.  She felt the sunshine and the wind in her face, and we could hear her giggle as she walked.  Paul pushed the ever-present IV pole and we stayed out long enough to run down the battery.  When the beeping started, we looked for an outlet in the cafeteria to recharge because it was obvious that Qavah had no intention of returning to her room.

I remember writing a post two months ago in which I mentioned the children playing in the healing garden below.  Today it was Qavah's turn to play there, and perhaps another young patient looking down from the upper floor windows felt inspired by watching Qavah.  I didn't take pictures today, but my memories are clear.  There are snapshots of the day in my heart that make me smile, and I want to give praise where praise is due.  The Lord has rescued Qavah out of many trials and miseries, and His hand is upon her as she sleeps tonight. Praise and honor go to Him.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Power of a Dream

Yesterday I attended the ordination of the Chaplain I mentioned in a previous post. I drove across Pittsburgh through a rain storm and went about ten miles beyond my right turn because the road sign was not visible.  But I made it to the church in time to get seated and I watched the proceedings begin in the chapel.  The church was comprised mostly of African Americans, and the Chaplain from Nigeria and his family.  

This dear brother in Christ was dressed in a suit, and his wife and children had also dressed in their finest to help their Daddy celebrate his special day. The service touched my heart, because this man and his wife worked so hard to obtain his degree with four children to raise.  He humbly thanked God in his Nigerian accent, and gave honor to Him for the victory.  He then told of the day almost two decades earlier when he had just finished drying off his legs having washed them for prayers.  He was faithful to his Muslim upbringing and faithful to observe the times of prayer.  That particular day, as he was drying off his legs, he had a clear vision of being in a suit, and he was preaching Christianity.  He did not understand the vision then, and thought it would not be wise to share that vision with his Muslim family.  He really had forgotten about the vision because it didn't make any sense.  He had not planned to become a Christian.  

As he stood in front of the church in his suit telling about that vision, he said, "this is the day the vision is fulfilled."  He spoke from his heart about his love for Jesus, and his desire to reach Africa for the glory of God.  He told of the financial hardships of attending school in Texas with a growing family, and the number of times it seemed impossible to ever achieve his goal of becoming an ordained minister.  But the Lord of hosts was with him, and now that he is an ordained minister he plans to use his training to preach the Gospel.  I don't think I will ever forget the times we have had praying together over his mission while Qavah listened in from her bed in the hospital room.  He and his wife are planning to go back to Africa and accomplish the tasks the Lord brings before them.  

Before I left the chapel on Sunday, the elders and Pastor held my hands and prayed about Qavah. Their prayers for her were so humbling, and mighty.  I felt my heart strengthened after such a hard week of observing her misery.  Before we leave Pittsburgh, Lord willing, we will worship there at that little chapel again, and Qavah will meet those who prayed for her.  My heritage is Jewish.  My skin is white.  Sunday was a picture of what heaven will look like as we gather around the throne together, every color, nation, tribe, and tongue.  It is only in Christ that we will see that unity, and only through Christ that there will be peace among Muslims and Jews, and all ethnic groups.  This past Sunday, Christ was the unifying theme of our lives and worship.  Together we celebrated the life of a humble man from Nigeria with a dream, who loves the Lord with all his heart. My days here is Pittsburgh have enriched my life, and I will never be the same.



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sending Me My Brothers and Sisters

It has been a difficult day for Qavah.  This afternoon, the Chaplain came into the room for his weekly visit.   He surveyed the situation and went to sit on the sofa while I tended to Qavah's needs. When I sat down, he said, "I have just been praying a prayer of thanksgiving for Qavah, and praising God for what He is doing."  I felt encouraged by his words, which I found strengthening in the circumstances. He smiled confidently and said, "He Who began a good work in the Children's Hospital, will be faithful to complete it for Qavah." (paraphrasing Philippians 1:6) Those were faith-filled words; apples of gold delivered in due season.

As we were driving out of Roanoke two months ago I prayed, "Lord, send me your children, send me Christian brothers and sisters to help me in Pittsburgh."  I checked "yes" in the little hospital admissions box that asked the question, "Do you want a visit from the Chaplain."  Shortly after Qavah was settled into her room, a man from Africa came to visit, introducing himself as the Chaplain.  His accent reminded me of one of our own Pastors at St. John back home.  This brother, an answer to my prayer, had to flee Central Africa because of persecution. He was born into an Islamic family and became a Christian, forcing him to leave his country.  As he grew in the knowledge of the things of the Lord, his love for the scriptures grew. He is like a walking concordance, and I have come to love the spiritual conversations of this brother in Christ. He has faithfully stopped in each week to encourage me in my faith. If Qavah is well enough to leave her with a sitter, Paul and I hope to attend his ordination this coming Sunday afternoon at a church near here.  

When Kathryn was here, we were able to sit with the Chaplain and share the supernatural way God intervenes in our circumstances.  Kathryn was able to share her experiences of her time in Heaven, and he likewise had many situations to report; times when God moved mountains to deliver him.  We boasted in our God for hours, and were strengthened by it. These spiritual conversations make up my days here.  Kathryn said she felt as though she had been on a spiritual retreat when she visited.  New friends in Christ have arrived at our hospital room door, just as I requested, reminding me that God answers prayer. He is faithful, and as a result, the time here has been so sweet. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.   ~Philippians 4:6

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Boy Down the Hall

I fell hard for the little ten-year-old boy down the hall.  His smile was broad and it lit up his face. When we first arrived I caught glimpses of him playing games with the nurses, or seated in the playrooms playing computer games.  I saw him often, but I didn't see his parents.  They weren't here often.  I overheard someone say that his family life was fractured and broken and he was better off here than home.  A few days after hearing that, I met his father in the small kitchenette used by parents needing coffee or refreshment.  His father told me that his son had just a short time to live.  From that time on, I felt a strong conviction that I was to help the child somehow.  I ached for him, as I am sure many people did.  I prayed often and asked others to pray for him. Kathryn and I prayed for him several times a day.

One day last week, my heart was so burdened for that little boy that I asked permission to see him, just to sit with him.  His dad gave permission, and Kathryn and I entered his room late one night as he was settling down.  He recognized me but was most interested in Kathryn and asked about her.  I told him that Kathryn was my daughter and that she had been very sick too.  I told him that she was so sick that one day Jesus came to her and showed her what Heaven was like. He looked at her intently and wanted to know about Heaven as though he was hungry to hear it. Kathryn quietly shared her Heaven experience with him.  She began telling him about the animals in Heaven.  She told him how the animals in Heaven can roam freely and children can ride them, because they are no longer dangerous.  After listening for a while, I asked him if anyone had ever told him about how he could be sure of getting to Heaven. He said they hadn't but he wanted to know.

After a very brief explanation of the depth of the love Jesus showed us when he died for us, I asked him if he believed Jesus wanted to save him and take him to Heaven.  He said he believed.  I asked him if anyone ever prayed with him to ask Jesus to be His Lord.  He looked me right in the eye with a hunger in his soul that was almost too intense for me to witness.  He asked me, in a desperate tone if he could pray about that immediately.  With Kathryn standing beside me, and my hand in his, I prayed and he repeated, "Jesus, I believe you are God's Son and You died for me.  I ask you to be my Lord and save me.  This I pray in Jesus' Name, Amen."  When we were finished he asked Kathryn to come back and tell him more about Heaven.  The next morning, Kathryn did that.  She told him about the acres of fruit trees, the beauty of nature and freedom to enjoy it.  He fell asleep listening to her. When we left his room, I whispered to Kathryn, "Jesus said you couldn't stay in Heaven because there was more for you to do on Earth and this was a part of His plan." She smiled at me and, after that, we were at peace when we talked about the boy. 

I woke up the next morning to a vibrant dream that the beautiful little boy walked up to me in a blazing white T-shirt and khaki shorts. He grinned his usual way and said, "I am alright now, perfectly alright!" I told Kathryn about the dream immediately.  She replied, "Mom I prayed during the night that Jesus would come for him bringing a big beautiful tiger to take him into heaven riding on its back."  I was so touched by her simple trust in the things Jesus will do to express His personal love for each one of us.  I smiled just to think of it.

Just a day later, we heard he had died.  He had gone Home at last.  Not to a dysfunctional family, but to eternal peace with all the saints and angels there to greet him. Kathryn and I wept for joy when we heard the news.  He is free.  We went to a quiet place and I thanked God for sending His Son.  I thanked Him for the little boy who stole my heart, and for sending us here at a time when his heart was ready to hear the Gospel message.  I thanked Him for making it easy for a small feeble boy to enter Heaven.  He wasn't required to get out of bed to build a church or serve on a mission compound.  Jesus did the hard things for us, and all He wants from us is to hear, "I believe." 

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9

Monday, July 02, 2012

Dreadlocks

Just a few days before we left Roanoke, Paul Burton and I were talking about hair.  Specifically, how to create hair for Qavah using yarn.  He went to the store and found a yarn that had a soft fuzzy texture and came home to weave the yarn into dreadlocks.  He connected them onto a piece of elastic and strung beads at the bottom of each lock.  An elastic band fits around the top of Qavah's head, and the braids hang down the sides and back of her head. She can wear a scarf or hat over the top of her head and the results are quite pretty. Qavah was pleased.  Early this morning, she decided she wanted to wear a dress and get out of pajamas.  She also wanted hair. So here is a picture of our first walk in the hallway on day 20 post transplant. She has come so far even from two days ago. Just like Sampson, her hair seemed to give her strength.

I have also been thinking about my precious son today, thankful that he enjoys weaving on his handheld loom, making hats, scarves, and now dreadlocks. He blessed his little sister with his workmanship. Thank you Paul Burton. I loved our brainstorming session, and the results put a smile on your sister's face. 





Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bookends

Paul had dinner last week with Colin and Jennifer.  It was getting late and I wanted to talk to him before I went to bed so I texted him.  He didn't reply, so I texted Colin asking if his Dad had left their house yet.  Colin replied immediately and said something like, "Dad stated just a few seconds ago that he thought he should go because Mom is probably texting me about now." When Colin wrote to report that Paul and I were miles apart but still tuned into each other, I sent him back a message that was short and to the point. "Bookends." After so many years of married life we can just about predict the other.  So when he walked into the cafeteria at the hospital to greet me today, Kathryn noticed that, without consulting one another, Paul and I had both chosen to wear black and red.  I put my arms around Paul and I whispered "Bookends" in his ear.  There is a lot being held together because we are both willing to shore up our end of the commitment to our family.  Thanks be to God for my "Bookend."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What's Next?

Several people have asked if Qavah has ever "Made a Wish".  She has, and I am pondering Qavah's wish tonight. You've seen the commercials of the superhero football player who has carried the team to a Super Bowl win. He grins at the camera immediately following the game and triumphantly announce that he is now going to "Disney World."  Many children facing medical challenges do choose Disney World for their "Wish", but when asked, Qavah has consistently requested the beach.  She just wants to go to the beach and play in the sand by the water with Annelise.  It will be a while before her new immune system will be able to handle the micro-organisms in sand, but Lord willing, it will come to pass.

Since the room is quiet and I now have time to ponder, I was thinking about what Jesus did when life was pressing in hard and He was tired and worn thin by the demands of His ministry.  He was fully man, and with that being said, He needed naps and a get-a-way from time to time just like the rest of us.  But He didn't go to an amusement park, He went to the beach.  The shores of Galilee bathed in sunshine was His place of refuge, with the open blue sky above, and soft sounds of lapping water.  His refreshment was found in the quietness, and the simplicity of nature.  He withdrew in a boat to a desolate place. (Matthew 14:13)

As I am pondering Qavah's wish tonight, I think she is on to something.  True refreshment for her is pretty much the same as it was for Jesus.  An hour ago I tucked the blanket under her chin and she said, "Mama I am so tired."  I guess so!  After fighting and winning such a victory, it's time to think about going to the beach!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Walking Miracle

Last Thursday, Kathryn's surgeon gave her the "all clear" to travel.  Two days later, Paul picked her up in Fishersville, and she is now here with me in Pittsburgh.  I have not seen her on her feet and able to walk normally since last March.  When I left, just nine days after her hip surgery, she was beginning to walk around the house a little bit.  So when I saw her striding along the hospital corridor, I knew I was seeing a walking miracle.  I am so happy to have Kathryn here with me for a little while.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Spiritual Journey

As Paul and I sit in Qavah's room taking our turn rubbing her feet and reading to her, we have been seeing subtle changes that have led us to believe that her healing is more than bone deep.  A healing is taking place that reaches into her innermost being. She quietly began to tell me some things that were on her heart this afternoon that had been hidden in her soul.  

Our conversation today began with Qavah saying, "I love you, Mama."  Then she began to cry and confess things that she had done in the past that she felt terrible about doing.  She told me how sad she was when she thinks about our dog, Ellie, who had to be put to sleep a couple of years ago because of her advanced age.  She tearfully told me that she was mean to Ellie when I wasn't looking and asked me to forgive her.  That confession led to more admissions of guilt in her actions and attitudes.   I said, "Qavah, I forgive you, and Jesus does too," after each admission of sin.  I felt so humbled because God chose me to be the one to forgive, and to assure her of His forgiveness.  In her physical suffering, she has been brought to a place of complete dependence on us, and a new level of trust has begun.  Today marks a new start in her relationship with me.  She trusted me to hear her confession of sin, and that I would not cast her out.  I am humbled by the actions of this little child today.  I want to shower her with my love, and add to her blessings.

Suffering is a difficult teacher.  But when suffering produces such goodness and beauty that it takes the breath away, it is a mystery why we choose to run from it.  No one I know wants to raise their hand to the question, "Who would like to suffer today?" But suffering is like a seed, and it can produce fruit of the sweetest kind.  For Qavah, who dared to show me the secret places of her heart today, her spirit is now at rest.  A weight has been lifted from her shoulders, and a sweetness and lightness has taken its place.  James 5:15-16 states, "And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.  And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stories to Tell

Paul is back here in Pittsburgh for the week.  We are sitting quietly in Qavah's room, Paul reading a book while I write.  Qavah's emotions and engaging personality are now hidden behind layers of pain medications.  Even though she seems so distant, I still know that she is in there somewhere. Paul continues to read to her from time to time from The Chronicles of Narnia. Her doctor told us that it will be approximately another seven days of this, and by then, she will begin to rebound. The chemotherapy drugs have taken her to a dangerous edge, yet as soon as the new cells begin to multiply, her life will spring forth and she will never be the same. I hope Paul and I will have enough energy to keep up with her as her old diseased cells leave to make way for the new. 

Qavah's new cells came from the umbilical cord of a little African American boy born four years ago.  The mother signed a document stating that she would allow the afterbirth to be used for science.  The cord blood was collected and frozen, and because that baby lives, Qavah will live. There is so much more I could say here about the value of every human life. The world is going to be astonished by the great strides in healing by using cord  blood as a medicine.  What once was discarded is now the hope of many.

Paul and I are exposed to stories here, some of magnificent healing, and some of profound sorrow. Last night we heard some very sad news about a ten-year-old boy down the hall.  His father told us the news, and we came back to the room to pray.  G.K. Chesterton said, "I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story, there is a story-teller."  For Qavah, and the little boy down the hall, the Story Teller is at work.  Sometimes the plot is difficult to understand, but after this life, we who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, will be raised up to live with the One Who gave us the greatest story ever told.  It is the Good News that Christ has reconciled us to The Father by his death and resurrection.  He forgives our sin, and makes us His own. To believe that story is the beginning of our greatest adventures.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Check Caring Bridge for Update

Qavah is needing me quite frequently today.  The update on Caring Bridge will explain.  Thank you for praying.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Scribbles from my Journal

Qavah is doing very well.  Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow!  She is at this moment singing at the top of her lungs with the music therapist.  Her transplant is complete and there is a feeling of relief around here; and there is joy.  We are all in awe of how well Qavah's body accepted the new cells.  

Ten minutes before the transplant team came into Qavah's room with the cord blood, I scribbled these words in my journal. "My thoughts are racing.  So many months and years in process all comes down to this.  The donated cells are being thawed at this moment.  The room is ready with all life-saving equipment should Qavah's body go into shock.  I am anxious, excited, giddy. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17

We thank God for all of you; all who have cheered Qavah on in this quest.  The bone marrow has been "planted" into Qavah's bloodstream as seed is sown into fertile soil.  Now we wait for the cells to mature and take over.  We should see those results in 21 days, and Lord willing, platelets begin to show up in her blood in thirty days.  So many answered prayers all wrapped around today! What a gift; the gift of life.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rest Day

Paul left the hospital last night around ten o'clock and went back to the apartment to sleep.  I remained at the hospital and continued Qavah's body washing routine throughout the night.  Around six this morning, Qavah was asleep and I looked at her peaceful little face before leaving for the apartment.  She has had a great attitude about everything, even the middle of the night interruptions.  We were cheering for her today when she wanted to eat a fortune cookie.  She cracked the cookie open and it read, "You will live a long life and eat many more fortune cookie."  The laughter that followed felt so good.

Kathryn is back at home.  She is able to eat baby food again, and is happy and thankful to be back in her beautiful bedroom at home. We have been in touch with her today, and feel so thankful for her faith, and words of courage.  She sent me a text that read, "God sweetens outward pain with inner peace." (quote by Thomas Watson) We pray her body will stabilize with rest and  baby food.  Paul is leaving Pittsburgh on Wednesday to go back home for a time.  He will be able to take care of some household responsibilities, and attend some important meetings at his office; but best of all he'll be able to spend time with the rest of the family. 

Our schedule of Qavah's BMT protocol calls today, "Rest Day".  There have been fewer nurses, fewer interruptions, and a quietness that has settled over Qavah and her room.  Tomorrow at One-thirty in the afternoon, the Bone Marrow Transplant team is scheduled to arrive with Qavah's life-saving bone marrow.  It is a big day for our family; a promise fulfilled to Qavah. 

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Manna For The Soul

The further Qavah is taken into the chemotherapy process, the less she cares to look at food.  She orders it with a smile, yet when the tray arrives, she cringes.  At the same time, Kathryn is in the hospital in Virginia and is unable to keep anything down in her stomach.  Her GI tract is not balanced after all the medications she received for her infections associated with her hip surgery and recovery.  She tries to sip, but her body rejects the least little fluid.  She is being given fluids through an IV after entering the hospital dehydrated.  The doctor added liquid vitamins to the bag for nutrition in the hopes that the situation will turn around in a few days.

Paul and I have been here in Qavah's room, taking turns rubbing her feet and reading to her.  She is also being entertained by watching the entire BBC series of The Chronicles of Narnia.  The nutritionist came by, and asked what Qavah had been eating.  I gave her a brief report of the past few days; a sip here, a bite there, but nothing close to a full meal.  She responded by telling me that Qavah has not dropped any weight and added, "She must be living on love."  It is written in Matthew 4:4 "Man does not live by bread alone but by every word proceeding from the mouth of God."  Would it be possible that the hours we are spending in prayer over our girls and reading scripture over their situations is better than fixing them a table full of food?  

Kathryn just text messaged me and told me that she was listening to a sermon in her hospital room from the Hope of Israel Church in Charlotte.  I am so proud of her for accepting the food being offered to her soul, and for not turning her nose up at it for  lack of a spiritual appetite.  When our bodies are frail, and food has lost its appeal, may we cling to the truth of His word and say, "We have feasted today on the bread of life." Thanks be to God, Who is daily blessing our girls through His life-sustaining word.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Prom 2012

Yesterday, the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh held a special "Alice in Wonderland" Prom for their patients.  My mother wrote about Qavah's wonderful experience on CaringBridge.  Below is a short news video about the event.  There's an advertisement video first and then the story airs:

Monday, June 04, 2012

Blood with Power

We are trying to help Qavah keep a sense of time while she is in isolation.  It is easy even for adults to lose track of the day and date, so we are trying to help ourselves as well by having set times when certain things happen.  Friday night is "movie night", and Sunday morning is our little family worship service right here in  her room.  

When we arrived in Qavah's room Sunday morning, I wore an outfit that I would wear to church, and Paul had a Bible with him as well as some grape juice and matzoh for communion.  Qavah sat up when we walked in and looked at us, rubbing her sleepy eyes. "It's church day" we announced. She got so excited. Waking up to something different than the every day hospital routine was something she needed.  I read from Psalms, Paul prayed, and then he began our communion service.  Having served as an elder in the Presbyterian Church, he is always willing to serve communion to our family.  As he broke the bread and gave it to Qavah to dip into the juice, he said, "Qavah, this is Christ's body broken for you, and His blood is more powerful than the new blood you will receive next week. His blood has the power to forgive your sins and to raise you up to live with Him forever in Heaven."  She took the bread, dipped it, put it in her mouth, and savored it. 

Sunday afternoon we were allowed to put a face mask on Qavah and take her to the chapel on the sixth floor.  We met with a Christian couple and their four children to pray, sing, and worship.  The chapel within the hospital is a meeting place for not only Christians, but also other religions of the world.  I wondered how the chapel would be set up to accommodate multiple religions and I found out on Sunday.  Behind the altar is a very nice built-in cabinet.  The cabinet doors were open to reveal a beautiful silver crucifix; a reminder of the sacrifice made on our behalf at Calvary.  For the other religions, the cabinet doors are closed, and Jesus is hidden away.  As we observed this on Sunday, we had to rejoice all the more, for hinges and closed cabinet doors can never diminish the power of that shed blood of Christ.  Just as Paul said, His shed blood has the power to forgive sin, and to raise us up.  His power is seen in this hospital in every act of love, healing, and deliverance from evil.  He isn't hidden in the cabinet in the chapel; Jesus, the Great Physician, walks these halls.  

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Quietness and Confidence

This has been a quiet day here in Pittsburgh. The doctors' visits were few.  Her room seems quieter than usual. Since chemotherapy was halted for the weekend, Qavah has been taken off her IV pole, and is able to make trips to the bathroom and move about the room as she wishes.  She has been standing at the window quite a bit today watching the world go by from the ninth floor.  I thought perhaps she might be homesick because she talked about her bedroom at home and the tree house.  I misjudged her quietness.  Later, when I was reading to her, she stopped me and said, "Mama, I am staying here until I get my new blood."  Homesick or not, Qavah has come here for healing, and she declared she is not leaving here without it. 

In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

Isaiah 30:15

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Firsts

Since we left Roanoke on May twelfth I have learned how to use front loader washing machines, use a different microwave, coffee pot, heating and air conditioning system, and where to take our trash on the twelfth floor.  I've learned the hospital routine and when doctors make their rounds.  I've learned how to scan and use entry keys to different parts of the hospital, and where to go in the hospital for snacks, food, and coffee.  

In taking care of Qavah, we have had to learn to feed her using the bone marrow transplant diet, how to bathe her to keep her central lines from getting wet, and how to take her to the bathroom with an IV pole attached to her at all times.  Throw in Qavah's mysterious fevers and and night sweats, and changing her bedding and pajamas two or three times a night, and I had a new first!  I went to bed last night for what I thought would be a short nap after dinner and slept for thirteen hours.  Thank the Lord that Paul is back in Pittsburgh.  I guess I needed that nap.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Speed Bump

Qavah's fevers continued today.  She'll have a ct scan tomorrow, looking for infection.  The doctors are checking everything, so please pray for them.  A similar update has been posted on Qavah's CaringBridge website.  Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement.  They are such a blessing!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Send in Your helpers

Although I am outgoing, and didn't think I would have any trouble relating to the new people I would be meeting, I left home praying, "Lord, when we are in Pittsburgh, send your people our way."  Upon arrival, we met a group of Christians from Calvary Chapel at the Ronald McDonald House.  They were feeding the families here as they usually do one Sunday night a month.  From that initial meeting came a family wanting to come back to the hospital to pray over Qavah.  The hospital chaplin also paid us another visit today.  He encouraged us in our walk of faith.

They are everywhere; the King's kids. We are helping one another on our journeys.  We have our quirks, we have our troubles, but we also know the Lord of all creation in a way that is unique.  Our acceptance of God's Son as our Messiah gives us a unique relationship with God; one that is personal and intimate.  We can call out to Him in times of fear, and find strength.  We can bow our knee to Him as the creator of everything, and also stand in silent awe of Him.  We are united in Jesus our Messiah, Who reconciled us to God the Father for all eternity.

New rules and regulations set forth by a godless government, or the abolishment of the Ten Commandments in our schools, can ever stop the Christians in this world from declaring the Glory of the Lord through our lives.  Because He is our strength and our song.  He is Emannuel, God with us.  Therefore, we continue on here in Pittsburgh, looking forward to those He will send our way, and we intend to be blessed and to be a blessing.  We are thankful for the love of our brothers and sisters in the family of God.  I wouldn't want to make this journey alone.  Thank you friends, for following this blog, and praying for us.  It means so much to read your encouraging comments.  Especially on the tough days.  God sends us messages of hope through you. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Time to Talk and Listen

This afternoon I have been sitting on the sofa in Qavah's room rubbing her feet.  It is something she likes, it comforts her, and it's easy to do. There is one thing about being isolated in this room with Qavah.  I am finding her company to be delightful.  As I have been sitting with her, and not busying myself with chores around the house, she has talked to me about her desire to learn to cook when we get home.  During our conversation it seemed as though Qavah had grown up a few years in a short time frame.  I have no doubt that we are both growing up in many ways as we wait for the Lord to do more than we could ask or think, right in this very room.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Emotional Roller Coasters

Paul and I have now joined the ranks of parents who eagerly await the doctors making their morning rounds.  They carry a folded sheet of paper that they usually have in their hand, or a shirt pocket.  And on that sheet are the morning "counts."  After an early morning blood draw, the samples are sent to the lab to measure progress in the blood supply, and the results are sent to the doctors.  The progress I speak of is either for the destruction of unwanted cells, or the building up of healthy cells.  Either way, we wait for the numbers to be announced during morning rounds, hoping for the results to show a positive trend.

I have made a decision with my head not to get on an emotional roller coaster each morning after results are read.  Emotional roller coasters are an energy zapper for me.  We were told that there will be days that try the soul, and we were told that the process is long.  I asked God this morning for a stronger resolve to remain steadfast in faith. Numbers on a piece of paper are no match for God's power and provision.  We are praying each day for the Lord's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven concerning Qavah. This morning we are resting in Him.

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phillipians 4:6


(Today's post written in Memory of Miss Jackie Burk)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Precious in His Sight

Qavah's room on the ninth floor looks straight down to the Healing Garden patio on the sixth floor. We can see little children tethered to IV poles as they play with the Child Life Specialists out in the sunshine.  They are making kites down there, planting pinwheels in the garden and watching them twirl, and having their faces painted in red, white, and blue.  It's a Memorial Day Party!  The children are playing, and running, with their parents trailing behind them pushing their IV poles so that they don't pull their central lines out.   From the view I have, I am looking down on their little bald heads amazed at their resilience.  I see, and am humbled by the grace God has given them to endure the very worst things without complaint.  

Fifteen minutes ago Qavah broke out in hives and started a dry cough.  Her BMT team was in the room instantly, measuring her heart and lung functions, and examining her.  She has just been given two more drugs to get her hives under control and she seems better already. Her chemotherapy treatment went very well today.  After two doses of Campath, her immune system is now gone.  She has been sitting on the little sofa in her room for the past seven hours waiting for all of the pumps to finish infusing her body with life-saving medications.  Paul just looked at me grinning because she is watching Annie and singing with a loud joyful voice, "The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar there'll be sun.  Just thinking about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow til there's none!"  And Lord willing it won't be long before Qavah is allowed to go down to the sixth floor and join the other over-comers playing in the sun. 

Thursday's Updates

3:59pm:
Qavah's going into the last hour of her Campath medicine.  When she recently developed a cough and hives, the doctors came running into her room!  She was given Benedryl and a low dose of IV steroids.  She's now doing better; it's actually remarkable how well Qavah has done today.  Our family gives the Lord all of the glory and praise!  Thank you for being so diligent in praying for our family.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday

10:40 AM
So far, so good!  Short update on CaringBridge concerning Qavah.  Another update later tonight.

6:30 PM
Qavah is finished with today's treatment.  Fever, chills, shaking, have all subsided.  She is curled up on the couch waiting to hear me read a story.  A BMT doctor, PA, and Qavah's nurse were available at all times and sat just outside of her room all day at the station.  When her monitors indicated a high heart rate they were in her room in a flash.  She is taking several drugs to keep her fever down overnight, so her medications are keeping her comfortable.  I'm so grateful for this day, and for your prayers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Good Morning

I am sitting in Qavah's hospital room looking out of the large window on the ninth floor.  Dotted across the landscape are some very majestic church steeples.  I have never thought about visiting Pittsburgh before, but it is a place I would like to see when Qavah is better.  

I prayed specifically for Christian friends to be found here, and I am finding that God is sending them my way. We have been able to share scripture, pray, and exchange emails to stay in touch.  Just today the Chaplin visited and shared his testimony.  He is a remarkable young man preparing for the mission field.  Born in Africa and raised in another religion, he shared with me how Jesus met him and gave him a new heart.  It was great for Qavah to hear, and because her suffering will be great, it is a joy for me to surround her with people who declare the power of the Lord to save. 

Love surrounds us here.  A young woman, a cellist, visited Qavah today and played for her.  She encouraged us to have Paul bring Qavah's little cello here, and she will give Qavah a few lessons while we are here.  Just after Qavah heard the theme song from Beauty and the Beast on the cello, a small group of people came in from "Build a Bear."  She chose a puppy and two outfits in which she could dress the puppy.  That has kept her busy most of the afternoon.   

Tomorrow, when Qavah begins chemotherapy, she will be in isolation and connected to an IV pole for 52 days.  At that time she will not be allowed any stuffed animals or toys that can't be washed each day.  She is not allowed plants or flowers because of the mold and fungus.  But she can have cards, and has already received some today.

This is a journey of physical healing for Qavah, but it is also a spiritual journey.  Fears will be overcome, trust in God's plan will unfold, and a little girl will show us what child-like faith is all about.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday's Update

There has been a "speed bump" in Qavah's care that means a minor delay of chemotherapy and the drug that was supposed to be given this morning.  Details on the CaringBridge site.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday

Contrary to what I said in my previous post, Qavah's CaringBridge journal has been updated again, even though the weekend is not over.  I'm also feeling better today, although still taking it easy.  My brother, Paul Burton, (who is a RN) was able to administer my IV antibiotic this afternoon.  That meant the home health nurse didn't have to visit.    

Thank you for the prayers!  Our entire family needs and appreciates them.  We pray the rest of your Sabbath is a blessed one, full of peace and rest.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Weekday Adventure

*Qavah's CaringBridge journal has been updated for the weekend.  Click on the CaringBridge picture on this website to read the post.*

Here in Virginia, the Lord gave us this past Thursday a beautiful Spring day.  So, I invited Jennifer and the grandchildren over to pick cherries.  Our cherries are not as sweet as the Bing Cherries found at the local grocery store, but they were still delicious.  This is the first year we have gotten cherries before they became rotten or the deer ate them.  It turned out to be such a wonderfully fun activity for all. Grace braved a ladder to get the cherries that were up high. The children squealed with delight and, for every cherry they collected in their bowl, they ate one.  Joel, the youngest grandchild at twenty months old, ate more cherries then anyone!   Jennifer brought her fancy camera, photography skills and, together with my little camera, we took some pictures of our cherry picking adventure.

"One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe





Wednesday, May 16, 2012

FYI: Health Updates

Qavah's CaringBridge journal has been updated with today's news.  Click on the CaringBridge icon/picture to visit her website and read the entry.  She now has two central line Hickman ports placed, one near each shoulder.

Back home, I've been staying busy this week with daily visits from the occupational therapist, physical therapist, and home health nurse.  Monday night, I had the surgery staples removed, because my body was rejecting them.  Friday, I will be visiting the surgeon's office for my two week post-op appointment.  I'm looking forward to showing the doctor and physician assistant my miraculous recovery, which includes the ability to walk again!

~Kathryn

Monday, May 14, 2012

Moved In

I packed our things in moving boxes rather than luggage.  Then I asked Paul to load his dolly into the back of the van so that when we arrived to the Ronald McDonald House we could move in easily.  We arrived last night in a rainstorm at 11 o'clock.  The unpacking was a breeze with the dolly.  Especially because our room is on the twelfth floor, we were happy to pile that dolly high with boxes and we moved everything in just three trips.  One box labeled "bedding" was opened quickly and while Paul put groceries in the cupboards and refrigerator, I made up our beds with sheets and blankets from home.  Teamwork.  I am so grateful that Paul and I are in this together. We got into bed feeling very grateful for the strength to accomplish so much in one evening.  

Qavah had her CT scan today, and if all is well in her sinuses, we will proceed with the plan to have her central line put in on Wednesday morning.  She has had her evening bath and is watching a movie before bed.  Paul is working at a desk nearby while I write.  This is our new normal.  

I met our neighbor in the apartment beside us, who is here for just one evening.  She and her husband have 17 children, ten of whom were adopted with special needs.  She gave me her business card and asked us to consider using their cottage by the river about an hour's drive from here near Clarion.  She said we would need get-a-ways, and they do not use the cottage during the week.  I am amazed.  In a twenty minute conversation we shared a love for God, a love of children, a love of meeting the needs of our kids, and suddenly we were as close as sisters.  I find this to be an amazing world, one in which we do not hear enough about the good, honest, hard-working people, who love to give their best.  It is an honor to be here and to be chosen to walk this journey with Qavah.  I'm glad God trusted us with this mission; through it I am learning more about His beauty shining through the hearts of those around me.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Packing up

We had the family over last night for an early Mother's Day celebration, and a last chance to see them before we leave for Pittsburgh. Annelise and Nehemiah came in the door and saw their Aunt Kathryn standing up for the first time in months.  They exclaimed over that and said, "We were praying you could walk again!"  They were so excited about their prayers being answered. After the dinner, I went into the kitchen to find Kathryn standing at the kitchen sink rinsing dishes.  She said, "Oh Mama, look at me standing here doing dishes!"  She was teary-eyed from an overflow of gratitude springing up from her soul.

Before she left last night, Annelise wrapped her arms around Qavah and said, "I love you Qavah, and I will pray for you every day." At five years old, Annelise is already trusting in the goodness of God to listen to her prayers.  Qavah returned the blessing and then went to her box of prayer cards and gave Annelise a stack of them to hand out to friends.  It is humbling to see how God is already at work in the lives of these children, increasing their sensitivity to God and His kingdom to come.  

A friend called me two weeks ago to say that her little granddaughter asked her third grade teacher if she could read Qavah's prayer card to her class and since that time they have been praying for Qavah.  She is also a reader of this blog and is keeping up with the prayer needs of our family.  I haven't met this little girl yet, but I am sure when I do, I will no doubt find the sweetness and compassion that God has put into her heart.  These little prayer warriors will be needed in the future as our world is spinning out of control, and falling far from the principles and laws set forth in God's word.  We are dependent on the mercy of God, and I am so thankful for the prayers of these little children.  "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight."



Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Home Health

There is no place like home for healing.  Kathryn is making progress.  Her physical therapist is here now working with her.  She is in a better place today emotionally because her pain has lessened and she had her best night sleep yet.  Our small group came over last night and we had a great time of rejoicing and prayer together.  We had our meeting near Kathryn's bed so that she could join us.  It was wonderful to have her home and we are so thankful we chose having her come home rather than taking her to a nursing home for recovery.  She is surrounded by flowers of all kinds and her room smells so pretty.  Thank you all for praying for her, for sending cards and flowers, and for your words of encouragement to our family.

We continue to pack for Pittsburgh.  The bone marrow match found for Qavah is not from a living donor after all, but from the umbilical cord of a baby born recently who is of African decent.  The doctor said the donor bone marrow has been tested and approved and will be sent to the hospital next Monday where it will be stored until she receives it at the end of the month.  Qavah continues to talk about the upcoming trip with enthusiasm.  

I am headed out today to have my car serviced and to take care of banking details.  There is so much to do before leaving for an extended time.  Grace has been so helpful in taking care of things while I dash in and out.  She is daily surprising me with ,her helpfulness.  She is always aware of the needs around her.  What a blessing!

Paul used a verse form Hebrews last night during our small group time that I want to share.  It is from Hebrews 10:39, "But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith..."  Thanks be to God for the courage to do what is difficult.  May you also rejoice today as you stand on faith and do not shrink back.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Kathryn's Home!

Kathryn is at home now.  It has been a whirlwind day, but her body is mending rapidly and her doctor was amazed to see her up and out of bed this morning.  We are rejoicing quietly at home.  We are all amazed at how strong Kathryn is right now.  This is a strength that comes from a Higher Power.  We see this as confirmation that God has lifted her up, and there is so much more for her to do.  She has a journey to continue... on both legs.

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Happy Mother's Day To Me!


"I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him."
-Psalm 40:1-3


Sunday Morning

I've talked to Paul this morning and we are feeling very encouraged.  Last night was a turning point and Kathryn was more interactive and interested in what was going on around her.  She is even using her IPhone for commenting on some of her friends' Facebook pages. Her pain is being managed so much better.  Today she is going to try to get out of bed to use the bathroom.  Trying to use a bedpan is a good motivator to do whatever it takes to get to the bathroom.  She is anxious to have a sponge bath in the shower today after I get back to the hospital.  There is nothing like the healing force of warm running water splashing through a bed-head hairdo!  Kathryn is also eating and drinking normally and is hoping to have her IV fluids turned off today.  We are all feeling very hopeful as we see Kathryn emerging through this time more courageous than ever.  

As Paul and I have been praying for our girls, our prayers have not been solely for the deliverance of immediate health challenges.  The other side of those temporary challenges are the futures of two girls, who have grown very wise to the purpose of suffering.  Their future may lead them to help many who, like them, will face huge difficulties, and because of what they have been through, they will be able to comfort and relate to many.  And as they relate, it is our hope and our prayer, that they will be able to articulate the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord and His saving grace because He saw them through their storms.  Their suffering is not for themselves alone, but so that they will bring hope to others.  Not just in the form of a trite phrase, like "stay strong; you are going to make it," but the strong words from scripture which boldly states, "O LORD my God, I cried to You for help and You healed me." Psalm 30:2

Father, When we are tempted to give up in despair, grant us grace to remember Your words. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." II Corinthians 12:9