Friday, August 31, 2012

Some Small Way

My effort to raise 10x30 dollars to build tables and benches and to outfit the kids sleeping areas with new bedding turned into 10x80 dollars because of your generosity!

That's right.

You guys chipped in a total of 800 dollars for 43 children who are going to benefit greatly from your open hand towards them.

And believe me, they will know who you are.
Maybe not by name, but I am going to make sure these kids know that they have a whole family of friends who care about their future and that they are not invisible or forgotten. I expect to see some shy smiles while others may climb onto my shoulders or swing from the rafters. I know for sure that they will feel loved.

As I shop and organize and pack and plan for my flight to Uganda next Thursday, I am finding that I am already homesick. I can't shake the dread on just how alone I am going to be for this journey. I imagine this will be the fastest I will ever make new friends once I land in Entebbe and make my way over to the orphanage. I'm kind of a slow joiner to new groups and like to hang back on the fringes to scope out my options. I think Uganda is going to finally push that quirk of mine right off the map.

There will be no one to hide behind. Nobody to push ahead of me to "go first". And no talkative, outgoing team members to make all of the small talk. 43 sets of eyes will all be on me.
 I am hoping, praying and pleading that they see Jesus in some small way. I really want them to know that He is for them. That they never go a day without being watched and loved and interceded for by Him.

You are part of this journey because of your efforts to bless these children with your love and gifts and prayers. So maybe I am really not that alone after all. I'll pretend that you guys are there with me, hanging back to let me be the talkative, outgoing one. I think that will help. And who knows? Maybe I will come home with far more gifts than we are giving to them. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Live LIke Drew

   Today I simply want to honor the life of twelve year old  Drew Goodman, who went to be with Jesus last week after a long and courageous battle with brain cancer. Ultimately, Drew won that battle, because there is no victory for death when you belong to Christ. There is only a change in residence. An epic upgrade to a life of wholeness, joy and intimate fellowship with God. Drew is home.

   Caleb and Drew were friends through their common bond of a cancer diagnosis. I imagine they never would have crossed paths without it. Nor would they have likely been friends without Special Love, an incredible organization founded thirty years ago to enrich and support the lives of children and their families who battle the beast. Through Special Love, our family has made some lasting friendships and a boatload of unique memories. Two gifts that will never be tagged for the yearly yard sale or rendered useless through overuse, rust or decay. We are blessed.

Caleb, Drew and Ale October 2010

Drew was one of those kids who stood out from day one. He was so incredibly friendly and endlessly generous with hugs and genuine, little boy affection. He surprised me. Most kids have reservations when it comes to strangers...and even friends. I don't think Drew ever met a stranger in his lifetime and friends were practically family.                                                        

I will never forget the last morning of the last weekend we spent with Drew and his family at a Special Love event. I was up early. The first one to make my way up the rain slicked steps and onto the camp porch where the coffee was set out     for desperadoes like me. I was alone for a good while, which is never a problem for someone who enjoys solitude. I like to get coffee in the mornings at camp for the perfect quietness and beauty of a rising dawn, but  also for the opportunity to meet someone new and make a new friend. I am not a total recluse.

That morning, Drew and his dad made their way to the porch, and after Dad poured, assembled and stirred his cup of coffee, he told Drew he was headed back to their room. Drew asked if he could stay.

I was sitting at one of the picnic tables and Drew shuffled over and sat down next to me. With Drew, there was no such thing as personal space. So when I say "next to me", you have to picture no empty air pockets of wasted space.
 He began with a bit of small talk...about 30 seconds worth, and then he started telling me details about his battle with cancer. I hadn't asked any questions. That was just Drew. No need to be concerned about making anyone uncomfortable......or wondering if they even want to hear what you have to say......or worried about taking up someone's time. He wrapped me up in a snuggly hug before he left me sitting there with my cold cup of coffee.

I realized immediately that I had been gifted with something not quite tangible. An intimate, almost holy moment, with a boy who seemed to live without reserve. Someone as close to being who God created them to be as I have ever known. The kind of person I have always wanted to be.                         

And something shifted for me after that morning. I didn't start living like Drew overnight. I am, after all, a slow learner. But I began to notice just how much of life I miss out on by playing it safe. Avoiding risks. Keeping to myself so as to preserve whatever I have craftily salvaged from some of life's painful experiences.  "Live like Drew" became a subtle yet constant refrain in the back row of my every day thoughts.

It was shortly after this encounter with Drew that I began to step out into the dreams God had set in my heart as a child. I had carried those dreams around for over thirty years, always imagining what it would be like to live them out in real time. Never believing they were ever really meant for me to claim.

But claim them, I did. And the dreams are still unfolding. Once I took that first harrowing step off the edge, the open doors and opportunities just kept falling at my feet.

 To live like Drew means that I will throw off my well rooted fears and just be who God intended for me to be all along.

 It's really, amazingly quite simple. But I am not sure I would have found my way without Drew to take the lead.

He left far more behind than just my own personal encounter with him. I am only one person amongst hundreds and hundreds of Drew's friends. I did not know him as well as most did. But he left his hand print on my heart and I will always be on the lookout for ways to honor his life and to LIVE LIKE DREW.



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Mistake

For those of you still in the dark....

Caleb had the cystoscopy (scoping of the bladder) done almost a week and a half ago to see if they could find a reason for the blood in his urine.

And what they saw was an irritated bladder, most likely a result of the (hateful but necessary) radiation he received in 2008. They did not see anything that needed biopsied, and this was very good news.

What leaves me hanging is the question of whether or not I asked all of the right questions and whether I can be satisfied with the answers I've been given. You know I did that when Caleb was four years old and he was peeing blood. The doctor said it was a "virus" and that there was no need to pursue any other cause. He was confident. He had been Caleb's pediatrician since birth. I remember he waltzed into my room at the hospital, strode over to baby Caleb who was bundled up in the bassinet and asked me how "she" was doing. Maybe that should have been my first clue.....

I took his word for it in 2008. That the toilet bowl full of blood was caused by a seldom seen virus. The fever and elevated blood pressure were no cause for alarm. I was relieved.  And that was my mistake.

Four months later Caleb was diagnosed with stage three kidney cancer.

So here I am again in the same situation.

This time Caleb's insides have been scrutinized. An ultrasound, CT, urinalysis,  blood work, scope of the  bladder....did we miss anything? One more question I should have asked? And was the urologist having a good day when he threaded that line into Caleb's bladder and peered at the screen? Was he in a rush? (He was two hours behind schedule when he took Caleb back to the operating room).

With an enemy like cancer, more time means more power. You can't wait around and hope that it goes away.

I also cannot live life seeing cancer behind every cough, moan and complaint that Caleb presents to me.

This is asking a lot, you do realize. I need to be alert. I am the only neurotic mother he's got. 

When they brought Caleb into recovery after the scoping procedure, the nurse assigned to monitor his vitals stood beside me as I waited for him to wake up. She was silent for a few minutes and then she asked me, in a quiet almost reverent voice, "How did you find the cancer when he was four? What clued you in that something was wrong?"

People ask me this all the time. And I always have to tell them that I missed it.


I made a huge mistake in not asking more questions. And it could have very well cost Caleb his life.

So yes, the conclusion from all of the combined investigations concerning Caleb's bloody pee (I love saying that...makes me feel like I am an angry British person) is that everything looks fine(ish) and that for now we will just keep an eye on things (for the rest of his life).

Our lives are back to normal now......which is the new normal that took root after our original normal was  replaced by a way of living that will never be quite normal. We are used to it now and can hardly remember how normal of a family we used to be.