Whether you’ve landed on this blog for the very first time today or been reading along for five years, you might not know the story behind it all. So, may I tell you?
The year was 2011. From my spot on the couch the blessings were overwhelming. God had provided a place for us to live despite a foreclosure, impending/unwanted divorce, and deep sorrow that rarely found words adequate. I felt so very grateful and yet so afraid. The road ahead of me was long and promised loneliness, sleeplessness, and great uncertainty.
The silence in that moment was deafening. My four children (ages 1, 3, 6, and 7) were all sleeping soundly and it was more than I could handle. The tears began to flow and my heart cried out for help, “Oh God, what do you want me to do?”
I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to find some kind of work. I had paid a year of rent in advance by selling literally every possession we had, but after this year there would be nothing to sell. I trusted God fully to provide; my cries weren’t of unbelief, but of a desire to know what direction I should pursue. I knew it was likely I would need employment as part of God’s plan. I just didn’t know how, when, or what I should do about it.
The idea of starting a blog had been tossed around and prayed over, but I didn’t have a clear answer. In that moment I found myself asking God again to show me what He would have me do. I looked back down at my Bible and began to read again. I can’t tell you why I was reading Lamentations. Maybe I was just wanting to lament and felt comfortable doing it with those very words. Maybe it was God’s leading. Either way, the words of the third chapter fell on my soul like a warm blanket on a restless baby.
Because of the Lord’s great mercies… we would not be consumed.
What a hope and promise. What a future we had because God’s compassion would never fail us. That night I texted my friend what God had finally revealed in my heart. I would indeed blog and the name of the blog would be “Not Consumed.” Although I had no idea how to start a blog and honestly felt inept with even small technology tasks like checking email, I believed God would one day provide through this blog.
I knew that day our circumstances were far from over. I knew I’d have to continue to trust God in ways unfathomable to me. I knew that someday God would use this pain that we couldn’t escape to bless others with the same promise of not being consumed by their circumstances. But I’ll be honest. There was a lot I didn’t know.
I didn’t know then that I’d be sitting in an oncology clinic many years later with my baby, clinging to the very same promises. I didn’t know how precious the words of Lamentations 3:22-23 would become to me and how easily they would flow from our lips in even the smallest of trials. I didn’t know that those words and that phrase (not consumed) would literally become the very breath of God poured into our hearts.
#NotConsumed meets cancer
Barely over a month ago God changed our lives forever. (Read the whole story here.) It was an ordinary day and I had my usual wardrobe planned. #NotConsumed T-shirt, yoga pants, and flip flops. I had to drop off the girls, but other than that, I was planning to be home sitting behind a computer for most of the day. When the pain in Luke’s head suddenly became an emergency, changing my shirt was the last thing on my mind. That one thing would end up becoming the most valuable thing.
When they told me it was a tumor, I looked down to see those words. #NotConsumed
When they showed me the images on the MRI and told us of the dangers of the surgery, those words brought peace into my heart. #NotConsumed
When we were readmitted several times for complications, the shirt became a tool to remind me of the truth. #NotConsumed
When they said it would be a year of chemo, the message of God’s unending faithfulness blared across my chest. #NotConsumed
In fact, I’m glad I have a few colors because I think this shirt will follow us into every clinic visit, hospital stay, and chemo treatment. Not because the shirt has special powers or changes the outcome of anything we do. Because it reminds me to stay focused on the truth.
We are #notconsumed by cancer. It will always be true. No circumstance, situation, trial, will ever consume us. That’s a promise. And isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t that what you want to remember when things are hard?
I know I do. It’s my natural tendency to think that I can’t handle it. That the situation is out of control. Or that the circumstances are so overwhelming there’s no reasonable resolution or action on my part.
The funny thing is–all of that is true. I’m not in control. I can’t handle the situation. And there’s really nothing I can do. Nothing aside from trust God, the one who does control the situation and the one who can handle any and every circumstance. The one who’s not surprised or playing catch-up. The one who has a plan that is ONLY and always good.
As we’ve frequented the ER, hospital rooms, and facilities, I’ve become known for my shirt and I love it. It provides an opportunity for conversation, which is an open door for witnessing both to medical staff and other patients we come into contact with. But even if that were not true, the promise it holds for us is one worth wearing.
Today was one of those days. When Dr. Bryant walked into the room, she smiled and said, “I see you are becoming rather fond of that shirt.” All I could do was smile back and bask in the graciousness of such a good God. As we sat and discussed results, made chemo plans, and talked through side effects there wasn’t a moment of doubt that our family was #NotConsumed. Today. Next week. Years from now.
Our chemo plans
After getting results back from the Mayo Clinic, it’s clear that the tumor is a JPA (Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma) as expected. The hold up on the report was the level of aggression. Unlike normal JPA tumors, ours has a higher mitotic index, meaning it’s more aggressive in behavior. The plan for treatment is outpatient chemo once a week for 12 weeks. Then a 2-week rest followed by 4 weeks of chemo and 2 weeks of rest for 8 cycles. In all, that’s about a year of chemo if everything goes as expected.
Luke will have surgery on Thursday to put in his port (to administer chemo medications) and then the first chemo infusion will be Friday morning.
We are truly grateful for your continued prayers through this journey. Of course there are still many unknowns, but there is one thing that we are certain of. No peak or valley in this journey will consume us. No side effect. No pain. No MRI follow-up. No hospitalization. Of course, we may find ourselves with all of those trials in the days ahead. Some are even likely. But God is unchanging and the promise remains. #NotConsumed
What you can do
Most importantly, please keep praying. We are so very grateful for every single prayer sent on our behalf. It’s a HUGE thing to do and we are blessed by you.
Second, join our Facebook group for updates, prayer requests and practical ways you can help going forward.
Finally, I’d love to offer you the chance to buy one of these #NotConsumed t-shirts to serve as a reminder for your hard days and difficult circumstances. And of course, I’ve put them on sale for just this occasion!