-I will try to faithfully answer some of what I have commonly heard. "Is everything back to normal since you are out again with CJ?" I guess this is a tricky one for me. As you know from my previous post, CJ had his last high dose and so far is tolerating it extremely well. Once again, all the glory goes to the Lord and a big thank you for the prayers. They are carrying us through and I truly believe God has had favor on CJ because of your prayers. You also already know that he has until Feb 4th to begin a new phase that will be very involved in both our time and his meds. Knowing that, we have stepped out a little more on faith in taking him out with us. Typically, and especially if we did not know his blood counts, he would stay with one of us while the other went to the store. We avoided large restaurants if we ate out at all. And we did not bring him to large gatherings of people. But we have gotten a little relaxed and taken him out more as of recently. This has mainly been because of how well he has handled the medicine, because his counts remained stable throughout this phase and because we sense he and his little brothers need it. Many people who have seen us out have asked if this means things are 'back to normal'. And then I come face to face with that word normal again. I contemplate it and hesitate with my answer because if I were completely honest, I don't ever want to be able to say we are back to normal. I know that sounds selfish and it may come across as cold but let me try to explain. I am realizing more and more that my normal was very broken. There was so much sin in my heart as a mother and I don't ever want to go back to that. I was selfish and impatient and did not like what I saw in myself much of the time. I valued the wrong things, like peace and cleanliness in the home and respect amongst and from my children. Now, I know it is not wrong to value those things but when you are willing to sin against your family to get them...then it is wrong. Second, and more confusing is that what I have been struggling with the most lately is that I do not want to go through something this life changing and life not be changed. Does that sound crazy? I know I should want nothing more than to be back doing the things we were doing before. But I can't imagine it all being over and just going 'back to normal'. I don't know why I am so terrified of that. It seems so strange but it is always in the back of my mind. I keep asking God, what happens when the treatments are over? Do I just resume life as before? I don't know what I am expecting or if in expecting anything I am setting myself up for disappointment. And I wonder if once again I am being selfish in feeling this way. All that said, the question was: are we back to normal? Heavens no! And we don't ever want to be! Note: I should probably speak for myself here because I am sure CJ and Chris would completely disagree with me on that one.-Speaking of Chris...the next question I have heard is "Why doesn't Chris do a blog post?" Great question! Easy answer. He does! Every post I write is filtered through and guided by my loving best friend and husband. And that person is one and the same. He makes any additions and changes and makes the final decision of whether to post it or not. He feels that I am reflecting what we are both going through and he holds me accountable for biblical accuracy as well. He has typed things about his experiences with CJ but it was a lot like reading a police report. I think maybe he has been in that line of work for too long! Actually, he is a great writer as well but in this case an even better editor. So if you find any typos they are his fault! Just kidding.
-The next question I hear a lot is "How is CJ doing spiritually?"
Thank you for asking! This is also a question I hesitate to answer quickly. First, I know I can not speak for the Holy Spirit living within him to say exactly how he is doing. And I admit that I personally pray more for this area than I probably do for his physical protection. I have to watch myself and be careful to not assume that because he has not written any poems lately or said or done any profound thing to speak of that he somehow is struggling spiritually or stifling the spirit. He is a 9 year old boy after all. He has always been a more "spiritual" child than typical and I sometimes can expect more from him because of that. Overall, I believe he is doing well in this area. He has a childlike faith that I envy. I remember a while ago he and I were discussing the different struggles some family members had when this first happened and how easy it is to question God when things like this happen. So I asked him what he thought. And he so sincerely and simply said to me, "I never questioned if God was there or that He was in control, I just wondered why it was happening." He was so sincere and that simple statement really moved me. I was thankful he was grounded enough at his age in his relationship with God to feel secure that God was there, God knows his situation, and God is in control. So I would say he is doing as well as can be expected! Regardless, I would welcome any prayers from all you prayer warriors in this area of his life. Ask God to keep his spirit tender and his faith strong. Ask God to continue to speak to him and through him.
-The next questions I have heard sooooo much and is something we are going to deal with once and for all. It is actually not so much a question as a statement that is repeated over and over everywhere I go. It goes something like this...
"I love the blog and it has helped me so much."
"It has really encouraged me."
"I'm so glad to hear that."
"We are praying for you and I feel so close to your family because of it."
"Thank you for your prayers, we do too."
"I check it everyday and read all the comments too."
"Really, I did not know you read it. Have you ever commented?"
"I've wanted to but I'm embarrassed."
"I don't know. What people will think I guess."
"Are you kidding, have you seen some of the stuff I have said about myself?"
Okay guys....this is the exact conversation I have had with countless people. So if you are one of those people, be encouraged, you are not alone! I have been praying about it and asking God why this same conversation is repeated so many times. What is He trying to reveal to me? At first, I just thought it was as simple as some people want to leave a comment and others don't. Or...some people are more technologically savvy than others. Or....it doesn't really matter as long as people read it and pray for CJ, right? That is what it is for after all. But after hearing this repeated so many times I knew there was more to it. I want to challenge everyone because I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by friends that challenge me. Over the past year, I have learned many things at my church that have helped me confront my sin. One such thing that I did not even realize I was suffering from was "Fear of Man." When I first hear my pastor preach on it I did not realize how much I struggled with it. Sounds ridiculous, right? Fear of man? What's that. I am not afraid of man! But when it came down to it, if I really took a look at my behavior and my reactions I realized I was exhibiting signs that I surely was. For me it was exhibited in different ways. If I withheld during worship in fear of what the guy behind me might "think of me" that was fear of man for me. If I ignored the Spirits leading and would not pray openly in front of others for fear of what they would think of me or how I would sound, I was dealing with fear of man. If I withheld a loving truth from someone I am close to because I did not want to offend them or risk them not liking me, I was exhibiting fear of man. If I withheld a word of encouragement from someone because I was afraid I would sound stupid or jumble my words or not have a scripture for them, I was dealing with...you guessed it...fear of man. I could go on and on and really embarrass myself with all the ways God showed me I suffered from this but I think you get the point. Once I became aware of it, I asked God to deal with this in me. And needless to say, he answered faithfully by putting pretty much my whole life on display through this blog. That will really deal with your fear of man. Now I know my situation may not encourage you to want to ask God to deal with your fear of man. But I would bet He will be a bit more gentle with you. And if He is not....so be it! It is worth it to suffer the trial if we get to walk away from bondage that is destroying our testimonies, our witness and stealing our joy and victory. Okay, so why do we have to deal with it? Because Proverbs 29:25 says "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." We do not want to be snared my friends. We want to be set free! And Christ is all about freedom. Remember, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because of fear of man! We do not want to wander in the wilderness in our time here on earth. We want to live lives of purpose that are used for Gods glory! I know what it feels like to feel like I am just wandering through life with no real purpose. I just did not know that my fear of man was a major cause of it. So how do we deal with it. Well first, I think we take it to God and confess it and ask Him to deal with it. Then, a good first step is just simple obedience to the Spirits prompting. When you feel that inner desire to encourage someone....say it. When you feel the spirit leading you to pray with or for someone...do it. When you feel God saying lift your hands to heaven and worship me freely....by all means...do it! When you sense God putting a word on your heart for someone...share it. And hear my joy when I tell you from experience, obedience breeds more obedience. It gets easier and easier. Amazing isn't it! Just as sin gives birth to death, obedience gives birth to life! I know all this is easier said than done but I hope that since it is coming from one former captive to another, that it will encourage you. And yes, even though I have had a lot of victory in this area thanks to the blog, I still struggle. For example...God has been prompting me to write this blog and challenge this 'fear of man' for a while. He has had to repeat that above conversation with different people many times to get it through my thick skull. Why did I hesitate? You guessed it. Fear of man! I was worried what you all would think, how it would be received, and if it would it really help anyone? But then I realized...if one captive can be set free...it is worth it.
-Questions anyone? Okay, this is where I open it up to your questions. It does not matter if it is a practical question, a serious question, a silly question or just something you are curious about. It can be about CJ or any one of us. Maybe you have a questions about just dealing with life with cancer in general. Or even a question about cancer. It can be for any member of the family to answer. Ask away. I am sure it will be something someone else was wondering about too. Feel free to be anonymous in your questions. (We won't assume you are dealing with fear of man or anything!) Of course, you don't have to have a question to post a comment. You don't have to be family to post a comment and you don't even have to know us personally. Just let us know you are there and where you are from. You do not need to start a blogger account to comment. You can avoid this by clicking on anonymous and then just typing your name at the end of your post as many people do.
*A little note to the family in Puerto Rico who we have never met, who has blessed our family with your love, prayers and generosity. Thank you! From the depth of our hearts, thank you!