This posting is actually from notes I took when I spoke at a Pastor's Conference to the ladies on September 15, 1998
Surviving a Crisis
“A Trophy of God’s Grace”
I believe that before you read this I need to qualify myself – you see for someone that is going through a crisis or has lived through a difficult time it is really hard to listen to someone tell them how to go through something they have never experienced.
On September 15, 1991, the Sunday right after Pastor’s Conference my children were getting ready for bed after the evening service. The boys came out and told me that Kellie was crying because she was in some sort of pain. My husband took her to the emergency room where they took ex-rays and released her finding really nothing of great concern. That night she was up probably every 30minutes to an hour vomiting. By the next morning, she was dehydrated and extremely weak. She didn’t understand why she still had the pain. She could not dress herself, she didn’t want to get out of bed, and she looked terrible. I called the hospital and told them what happened and made an appointment for her to go back to the hospital. She was so weak that I had to dress her. My husband had to carry her in to the hospital. When we got there, we were informed that the doctor she had the appointment with was unable to see her and that she would have to see another doctor (the head of pediatrics). I know that was God’s way of protecting my daughter. Immediately the doctor could see that she was very seriously ill.
Initially they thought that perhaps she had kidney stones or a kidney problem of some sort. He let us know that she was going to be admitted in to the hospital and that they would run tests. My husband had to leave to get the boys from school and I was alone with Kellie as they began running some of the tests.
I remember as they did the ultra-sound the technician showing me her right kidney and then as they moved to her left kidney, I couldn’t see it, it was just a blur. The technician then called in another and then another doctor and then her pediatrician. I was scared; I knew it was very serious. When I asked her doctor what was going on, he stated that there was a shadow at her kidney and that she would have to have a CT scan. I felt all alone. Kellie was out of it – she was dying. I tried calling my husband, and there was no answer. I finally did reach him and he tried to assure me that she was going to be okay, but I was terrified.
I was still alone with her when they took her in for the scan; my parents arrived just as the doctor came out to tell us that there was a mass that had apparently completely taken over her kidney and that she would have to have surgery.
When my husband arrived at the hospital and I told him what the doctor said, my husband disappeared. I didn’t know where he went. He felt he could not handle what he was hearing and he went to get alone with God and did not come back in the room until he got a peace from God. From that time to the present, he has never doubted for one moment that Kellie was going to be all right.
That was 7 years ago today and may I say that from that day to today, our families' lives has never been the same. When they took her blood, they discovered that she must be bleeding internally and so she would need a transfusion before they could even do the surgery. The next day I went to the Red Cross and gave blood for my daughter. Again, I felt completely alone. My husband stayed at the hospital with Kellie and was being comforted by the many visitors that were coming by to let us know they were praying for us.
On September 18, they performed the surgery and they came out and told us that they had to remove our little girl’s kidney, and that it was cancerous. They would have to run further tests before they could really tell us the full scenario. The surgeon told us that he thought it was a very treatable cancer, but we would have to wait.
The pediatrician came in and told us that Wilm’s Tumor could be a very treatable cancer – but that not all cases are treatable. I remember very clearly when he said, “children do die from this.”
The reports came back favorable. The histology report was favorable and the cancer had not spread beyond the kidney. It had not metastasized (there were no feelers – and it had not spread to any of her lymph nodes). Her oncologist did feel that she would definitely have to have chemo-therapy and radiation. The treatments would last 15 months and would have to begin in one week.
Moms, I am sure that you can imagine how heavy your heart would feel, but you can’t imagine that you would really ever have to hear those words and have them pertain to your own child.
Everyone will at some point in his or her life be faced with a crisis. There are many different types of crises – different degrees of difficulty, but no matter the type or degree of crisis, when it is yours to bear it is not easy. You know just because someone doesn’t have it as bad as you have, doesn’t mean that their difficulties are not difficult for them.
When you face a difficulty, don’t expect others to not feel the burden of their own difficulty because yours is tougher. Moms, you need to learn this towards your children because their little woes or spats with friends may not seem like much to you, they are childish or petty, something you know will resolve itself; but to your children they are genuine difficulties and your kids deserve your compassion.
I have before you a trophy. It is a symbol of a great accomplishment made by the owner. When you see that someone has a trophy, you congratulate the owner of the trophy because the trophy symbolizes the owner’s victory. It is often looked upon with awe and serves as a reminder of the owner’s greatness. The trophy shows that a victory has been won, but the trophy personally did not win, the owner won.
Ladies, I stand before you today as a trophy of God’s grace because the victory in surviving a crisis is not mine, just as the victory this trophy symbolizes is not this trophy’s – but the owner is worthy of the praise. Just as this trophy could not have played the sport that it represents, neither could I make it through a single moment of my life without my Lord.
When the unsaved (someone who is not a Christian) has a crisis, they acknowledge that a person cannot get through a situation alone. That is true; you cannot deal with your crisis on your own. Really you can’t even breathe, walk, think or do anything else on your own – why would you even want to try to handle a crisis on your own? You cannot do it!
In these next few moments I would like to share with you some things I learned in living through Kellie’s crisis. If you have a notebook, write these things down, because if you live long enough, you will need them.
My life verse is Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth and with my song will I praise Him.”
You must go to God for strength, at first it may be 100x a day, but keep going to Him. Listen when your heart trusts in Him, you will continue to be helped by that. I trusted Him (past tense) I am helped (still helping me). When you are in a crisis, you have situation that you know is completely out of your control you know that are forced to trust God because there is no other alternative. May I say this, whether in a crisis or not, Christ is always your only alternative. Outside of Christ, there is no hope. To rely on anything else is a false hope.
When Kellie was first diagnosed, I realized that she was not less in God’s care than before she was sick. Her time (the days of her life) is still in His hand. In a crisis as you have the sense that you have lost control, realize that you never really had control, Christ is in control – give it to Him.
Trust God realizing that He is in control and trust His outcome whether or not you understand it. Though the crisis I am using as an example today is about my own daughter, I could have also used my brother Rick. This year (1998) on March 28, he went home to be with the Lord after suffering for 13 months with cancer. I don’t know why God chose to take Him home, but I have to trust His will. I miss him all the time, he was only 16 months younger than I am, and we were very close. He left behind a wife and 3 precious children. The oldest will turn 3 next Wednesday. I can’t understand it, but I have to believe that God knows what He is doing.
Read your Bible. I prayed and read my Bible – daily. I had determined that I would read the Bible to Kellie everyday. God used His Word to encourage and strengthen me. At first, I could only read the Psalms and Proverbs. I could not concentrate well. I could not have studied because I needed comfort.
The first day Kellie started chemo, in our daily Bible reading I read Psalm 68. In 1991, we had a drought and it had not rained that winter and as we approached the fall, we had not seen rain in a long time. I read verse 9 “Thou O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary” and it comforted me. I felt the Lord was confirming my inheritance (Children are a heritage of the Lord) to me that day because as I was reading I noticed through the window that it was raining.
Listen to Godly, Christian music – “’Til the Storm Passes By” Because of Kellie’s age and the length of time she would have to undergo chemo-therapy, they surgically inserted a Broviac (that is a type of catheter that is inserted in to the main artery). On the outside, there is a cap like what you see on the end of an Intravenous line. They used this line to administer her chemo, and I used it to draw blood for her constant blood tests. I had to clean the skin around her Broviac daily and Kellie did not especially like it. I had to remove bandages, apply three different types of antiseptic cleansers and then re-bandage her. Kellie has extremely sensitive skin and was allergic to the normal bandages that are used, so I had to bandage her differently which made her like the process even less.
Kellie had been on just a few series of chemo treatments when she lost her hair. Our Pastor’s Sunday school class had taken an offering to purchase a wig for Kellie, which we did as soon as possible. Again, Kellie’s sensitive skin reacted and she was allergic to the wig! She could not wear anything on her head.
We heard of a company “Locks of Love” that made human hair wigs. The wigs are made to order and the hair is dyed to match the natural color. As we looked into this, we realized that these wonderful wigs were extremely expensive. The average cost is $700.00 to $1,000.00 per wig. This same company did also advertise different scarves, (for ladies that are bald) and we requested information about them.
On one particular morning as I was changing Kellie’s Broviac bandages, we were discussing her hair. We had resolved to pray and do the best we could. We began to sing “’till the Storm Passes Over.” As we were singing, the telephone rang. The woman on the other end of the phone was Peggy Knight. She is the owner of “Locks of Love.” She telephoned to inform us that once a year “Locks of Love” donates a wig to a child or teen and that this year Kellie would be the recipient.
When Kellie spoke to Peggy Knight, she told her that she had been praying for a way to have a wig that she could wear. Peggy Knight let her know that she had learned long ago that all one needs to do to receive, is to ask the Lord. That storm passed over and I cannot sing that song without remembering how God helped my little girl.
God used His people Psalm 68:19 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” Be sure to inform your church and pastor of your trial or difficulty. People cannot help you if they do not know that there is something you need help with. God will use His people to help you. When Kellie was hospitalized, the hospital staff realized quickly that she was not like just any child in the hospital. They had never seen anything like it! Kellie had numerous giant teddy bears, several flower arrangements, toys and gifts of all sorts! God used His people to comfort us and to encourage us to keep on keeping on. The hospital staff began to ask who Kellie was and why she had soooo many visitors. Kellie was always allowed to have a private room to accommodate her many visitors. God used his people to help us through a very difficult, lonely time.
Determine that you want God to receive glory through your trial. I believe that if I live my entire life, reach heaven, and do not hear the words “well done thou good and faithful servant” then I will have lived my life in vain. Romans 8:23, “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” This verse reminds us that we live not for the here and now, but for heaven.
I was never tempted to turn away from God because when Kellie went in to surgery, my husband took me aside and set the record straight that whatever the outcome, we were going to trust God.
That helped me because when you are faced with a crisis, you will feel anger in that you have to accept something you don’t want to accept. I was angry with the doctors. I didn’t want to see them, I didn’t want them to come in to her room – they were going to tell me something I didn’t want to hear.
Realize that God knows your suffering Romans 8:34, ”Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, year rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Christ suffered, died and is risen again. God is not forcing you to go through something that He did not endure Himself. He knows how difficult it is and even intercedes for us (Christ prays for us).
Realize that God loves you and your loved one Romans 8:35 – 39) “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
My brother Rick, through separated from us, is not separated from the love of God. Your trial does not mean that God does not love you. It does not separate you from the Love of God!
With all that in mind and for your family’s sake as much as possible try to do the following:
1. Keep as many things as normal as possible – keep family traditions with alterations if necessary.
2. Have some sort of outlet – walk with a friend, do volunteer work – don’t be 100% consumed only with your crisis.
Kellie came home from the hospital on October 2. Our wedding anniversary is October 14. Though it was very difficult to leave Kellie for any amount of time, my husband and I still went out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. My parents stayed home with the children and we did not go far from home. Though it was not a time we could go out and forget what was going on in our lives; it did allow us to have time together. We were able to talk about how we were feeling and plan how we wanted to treat the situation in our family with regard to the other children.
3. Stay active as much as possible with church and your normal routine
4. Don’t neglect other relationships (other children, husband – they are hurting through the crisis too, and they need you!).
5. Be flexible and learn to improvise. Life is not normal during a crisis; don’t set rigid regimens that will stress you out. When Kellie was sick, especially on the weeks she underwent treatments; she wanted me to just sit with her. Sometimes I felt that I was abandoning my house, and not keeping it as clean as I would like. I remember very clearly when I spoke to Mrs. Trieber about this and she said: “Ten years from now, it won’t matter if your furniture was dusty; but it will matter to your daughter and you to be able to remember that when she needed you, you sat with her.”
6. Rest when you are tired
7. Cry when you need to
8. Pray, pray, pray for strength and comfort
9. Mark victories, answers to prayer, claim promises and think about them often. I remember one evening shortly after Kellie came home from the hospital. She had 6 of the 8 radiation treatments and she was very sick. We had to take her in to emergency and again she was hospitalized. I was terrified that I was going to lose her that night. I remember praying and praying and really sensing the need to turn to the Word of God. I also was afraid that I might read in my Bible that someone’s daughter died; fearing that God was trying to prepare me that I was going to lose my daughter. I prayed and prayed, and then I asked the Lord to lead me to read His Word and please give some sort of answer or a peace about this situation. I was not coping, but I was trying as I was praying. Miraculously the Lord led me to Jeremiah 33. As I read the following verses, I thanked God for His help and to this day when I am tempted to fear, I claim the promise God gave to me on that night. “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison saying, Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not…Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.”
It amazed me that the Bible could seem to answer me so personally – but I knew as sure as I am here today that God was giving me the answer. It was the second time she was in the hospital, I had called unto God and He answered me by saying “I will bring it health and cure.”
10. See yourself as God’s trophy, able to be glorified together with Him! Romans 8:17 “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Imagine the champion receiving his trophy and holding up the trophy as the crowd cheers his great accomplishment; and see Christ receiving glory for carrying you through the crisis, and realize that God is holding you up as the trophy winner holds up his trophy!