Since I started this with a football analogy, I’ll keep it going. We converted the fourth and one which gave us an opportunity to take a breath. But after two failed attempts at putting a femoral catheter in (a “routine” procedure),we had another “hold your breath” moment. Justus went to the IR (Interventional Radiology) for a third, and as far as this grandpa was concerned final (ok… so I don’t actually have a say in that decision ☺), attempt. Thank-you #TeamJustus for once again answering the call to pray!!!
If there has been a theme these last 26 days, certainly it has been a commitment to prayer. Not just to pray… but to really PRAY! To cry out to the Lord… to sense the connection with the creator of the universe in prayer. I know for some it has been a beautiful but searching experience, as you’ve sensed something different but maybe haven’t had the words or the language to define it. My prayer is that you will continue to be open to what God has begun in you. If there is one thing I would encourage you with, it’s this… God is chasing you. He knows you and loves you and He desperately wants you to know Him. But thank-you that in the midst of your searching, you’ve prayed for our little guy! What an incredible gift that is.
Our prayers were answered. The procedure in the IR went very well. His catheter is now in and he is back in his room resting. He’s doing really well. A little more awake than yesterday. Looking around. Responding a little to commands. One bitter-sweet moment today was when he felt some pain, he actually grimaced and began to tear up. It was encouraging because it was the right response, but hard to watch our little ninja in pain. They quickly gave him some medication to make him comfortable. So now he gets to rest and wait. He will have his first round of plasmapheresis (a 2 hour treatment where they will literally scrub a third of his blood) in the morning. Our expectation is he will have up to 5 rounds with a day in between. So again, our journey is far from over. But we are so thankful to have the support we have.
The picture today is Justus and one of his aunts, Alyse’s sister Krista. Here are some of her thoughts about this journey.
When I arrived at the hospital to hug my sister for the first time I remember thinking, “What do I say?” In silence I realized if anyone would have a profound word for the time it would have been Alyse. She always knows what to say. When I was going through the hardest time in my life as a single mom Alyse and Jason took me into their home. One day on the way to our sister addiction, Goodwill shopping, Alyse was trying to get me out of a funk by speaking truth about what God thought about me, “you’re smart, you’re beautiful, you’re precious.” All of the sudden from the back row of the mini van Justus yells, “Hey Deeks!” When I turned around he started to sing, “All around hope is springing up from this old ground out of chaos life is being found in you, you make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust you make beautiful things you make beautiful things out of us.” Immediately my eyes began to well, which interrupted my serenade for Justus to say, “Deeks no I make you happy, I don’t make you cry.” Little did he know that I was crying not because I was happy or sad but because he was able to so perfectly in that moment achieve what my sister desperately wanted me to know. He showed me how God saw me. So much healing happened in my heart in that moment. Speaking truth boldly and courageously out loud is something Alyse and Jason have clearly passed on to Justus.
Last week at the hospital Alyse and I were reading scripture and praying over Justus in silence when she said to me, “I’ve never read the Psalms like I am reading them now.” That is saying a lot considering our family has read through the book of Psalms every month of our lives since before we could read. My parents claimed their choice of scripture was not a “magic ingredient” just something they stole from another family. Alyse actually wrote an essay not on the importance of reading the Psalms, but in their faithfulness to do it day in and day out. It did not matter what we read just that my dad walked up the stairs every morning at 6am (sometimes with a super soaker) and woke up as many as eleven kids to read Psalms before school. Every single morning. As I am sure (mostly because Alyse wrote it) that the real magic ingredient is steadfastness and discipline to just do something there seems to be something more to our family’s familiarity with the Psalms this month. David’s anguish has never been so palpable. The question “How can I praise you from the grave?” such a desperate plea. As Alyse shared her connection to the Psalmist it gave new meaning to hiding God’s word in my heart. I wondered had these Psalms not been burned in my memory for years, been the foundation of so much of my truth, would they hold the same power as I read them at the foot of Justus’s hospital bed?
I quickly turned to Psalm 27:1-3
The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
I always had kind of a flippant awe for this passage. It described a place so far from my reality with ancient warfare and swords. Wow David you are so brave. This time when I read verse three I looked up the word besieged, “surrounded with armed forces in order to capture it and force its surrender.” Though a virus besiege me, my heart will not fear. I knew all too well the feeling of being surrounded with an attempt to enforce surrender. It was crazy because my mind knew it should fear, my body was acting fearful with tears and even actual trembling. But somewhere deep in my soul I could reply, my heart will not fear. I continued to read my Bible and pray David’s prayers, grateful that my older sister modeled so courageously the importance of speaking the truth out loud, and living off the sacrifice of my parents’ faithfulness to hide God’s word in my heart. One of my favorite parts of the Psalms is David’s honesty in his cry. He gets angry, confused, he questions even accuses God not far from many of my prayers these last few weeks. Then he comes back to the truth, his foundation what I want to speak out loudly today. The end of Psalm 27:13-14
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.