Truth That is Palatable

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The truth isn’t always palatable. It isn’t always pretty or easy but it’s still truth.

We got a kitten this week. Six weeks old. Izzy wanted it so she got it. The real truth is that I didn’t bring home the kitten just because she wanted it. I brought it home because I wanted it. As we stood in the room where the kittens were, Izzy held the fluffy white one in her arms begging to bring it home. “Cats live to be seventeen or eighteen years old,” Kendrick mentioned like any practical person would. “That’s right, they do,” I thought. He was brilliant.

As I watched her hold it tightly against her chest, delicately stroking it’s head, I began to think further down the road than anyone on a journey like this should. What if Izzy doesn’t live that long? What if…? But, if we had the cat, if I watched her pour into this cat in it’s youth, then I could keep a piece of Izzy for at least seventeen or eighteen years. How’s that for fear based, non rational decision making? Well, it’s the non-palatable truth about why we got the damn cat.

Since we got the phone call, two weeks ago today, things within my mind have been a little fear based and non rational on occasion. At times I have stood with great faith and much peace with intervals of terror in my mind. As the days inched closer to this one, however, those intervals have grown in length and with them the terror has intensified. Intensified until this morning, when with the first open motion of my eyelids, I felt an overwhelming sense of despair. As the hours have passed, my heart has jumped at each noise my phone has made. I have prayed. I have resorted to coping mechanisms of lesser value and finally I came home and curled up in a ball on yhe couch waiting by my phone.

Over the past two years I have received countless calls reporting good news. But somehow those phone calls sit at the back of my mind. In the front are the calls I remember of news that has been both unexpected and devastating. Where would this call fit? Would it be one I forget or one I remember forever.

I lay on the couch and thought about how peaceful this season has been. And then I began to think about the hard stuff too. Izzy has been doing play therapy with a social worker that specializes in trauma. She walks into a play room, a place parents are not allowed, to an easel, a sandbox and shelves that hold countless objects to choose from. In this kind of therapy, objects a child chooses from the shelf and what they do with them represent feelings they cannot express. I would assume that most children take objects to the sandbox, but what they do with them there is significant.

Izzy has already communicated to the therapist a theme. She continues to pick some of the same items each time, of greatest significance is a small bride figurine. She buries her in the sand every week. She plays with other things that go in the sand too but they never stay smothered underneath it. None but the bride. Every week she takes each piece she has played with out of the sand box and meticulously cleans it off. Every piece except the bride. The bride always stays in the sandbox. Buried beneath the tiny pieces of sand. “She’s gone,” she tells the therapist. “She’s gone.”

I don’t know what it means, really, but I don’t like the implication. It has been suggested that the bride represents Izzy and what happens to the bride in the sand is a representation of her fear of death or her fear of returning to a life that feels frightening and suffocating. A life where she doesn’t feel free or fully alive. Perhaps a life lived in the hospital.

That is the reality that we live in. My daughter is afraid of the possibilities for her future. Another truth that isn’t palatable.

Every night we thank God for His goodness to us but we don’t ask Him to protect us from cancer anymore. We don’t bring it up ever because we don’t want to contribute to her fear. But as I lay on the couch now, I breathe deeply and beg the Lord for mercy. “Please, Lord. Please.”

I pick up my phone and found the screen shot that I’ve included in this post. There are key verses I have saved in a note app that have been significant declarations for me throughout this journey. This morning when I went to find them they were all gone. There was nothing there when I opened the page. I was out and about and not near a bible so I searched for a specific verse in Exodus on Google. When I pulled it up I couldn’t cut and paste what I wanted so I took a screen shot and saved it instead. The verse is one I have mentioned before, Exodus 14:13-14

“Moses answered the people, ” Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

As I began to read the verses over and over again I noticed that verse 15 was also at the bottom of the screenshot. It is one I do not remember reading before: “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

A little piece of my soul came back to life. Why was I still crying out to Him? Why was I still living in fear with my daughter, getting kittens and burying brides. Why was I not helping her to move on? Well, because circumstances have gotten a bit frightening. But the truth, that God has delivered Izzy and that He will continue to deliver her, well it’s still truth. And that is truth that is palatable.


I stopped writing there this afternoon. Moments ago I heard my phone vibrate and I raced to the counter to find an email waiting in my inbox. The body of the email had only one line: ‘HVA/VMA were normal on repeat’.Tears flooded my eyes as I realized it had only been vanilla all along. Color came back to the black and white world I had been living in.

She is still okay. We have a kitten and Izzy has fears she is working through, but she is still okay. Regardless of the truth of our circumstances, God’s truth is always palatable. Let’s move on Isrealle. Let’s move on.

 

Thanks so much for your prayers. Blessing on you today and LIFE for Izzy!

‘Very Joyful Today’

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This is a picture of Izzy a teacher sent to me today. I started a new job just last week and was sitting quietly in my office when I got it. The caption said ‘Very Joyful Today.’ It warmed my heart to think of us both in our new environments.

The next time my phone would make any noise, just one hour later, it would be Cincinnati. The first few moments of the conversation were commonplace and then there was a shift. ‘So,’ he said with a pause. I knew something was wrong.

My head began to spin and I walked outside to the fresh air. I don’t remember the five minute call. Blah, blah, blah. Urine marker. Blah, blah, blah. Elevated. Blah, blah, blah. Neuroblastoma can cause. Blah, blah, blah.

His words were drown out by the cars that drove drown the street and the heavy covering that clothed my soul. I could not breathe. I could not feel my hands or feet. I could not tell if my heart was beating or had already stopped. Maybe it would just stop because the pain and the fear and the memories and the possibilities were all too much.

I hung up the phone and walked back into the building. Back to my office and closed the door. Jesus, please don’t let this be one of those moments I will always remember. Please don’t let this be the beginning of a ‘Certain Kind of Pain’ again.

Neuroblastoma cannot be detected in the blood but there is a protein in the urine that is sometimes elevated when Neuroblastoma is present. Monthly they check Izzys urine for that protein. The urine they tested last week at our appointment came back SLIGHTLY elevated.

Other things can cause an elevation of that protein – of particular importance to me is vanilla flavoring. Her formula is vanilla and since her bowel surgery she has eaten virtually nothing and has been receiving additional formula. That could be all it is. That could be all it is.

I should note that the doctor said I should not be concerned. He said we will recheck the urine once she is not on the formula and hope it’s just the vanilla. Hope it’s just the vanilla.

This is life we have been given and it is precious and beautiful and ugly all at the same time. And while my first tendency is to walk in fear of what may be, it is not my last. And while I do not know what the future holds for us on earth I know The One who does. I will CHOOSE not to spend the next two weeks anticipating the future. I will CHOOSE to spend them fully engaged in the present and thankful.

What I have today is a daughter that has overcome and a Savior that has promised to walk through everyday along my side. As Izzy used to say, a God that we know “will take care of us NO MATTER WHAT.”

Please pray for my sweet Izzy like you have never prayed before. And pray for vanilla.

Blessings on you today and LIFE, abundant, joyful life for Izzy.