Thursday, January 03, 2008

My Times Are In Thy Hand

Where do I even begin?

We just returned from a trip to PA to visit our friends Brion & Carrie Yarnell for New Years.

This post set aside, we had a blast.

But onto pressing matters.

There have been a few times in my life where I have heard such shocking news that my whole life comes to a hault. I literally have to swallow to keep my stomach down. Sunday was one of those days for me. One I am sure I will never forget.

We were at Bethel Baptist Church for Sunday morning worship with Brion and Carrie. I was looking forward to seeing some familiar faces from northland days. Drew took a bit more persuasion than I expected to get situated in a different Sunday School class so I walked in late to the 20's class. As I slipped in next to John, I realized I missed something as the teacher was sharing how people could help with this couple currently facing difficult times in their life. John then leaned over and whispered, "Jen [Blood] just found out that her little 3 year old girl has cancer."

I stopped breathing, I am sure.

I had to swallow to keep my stomach down.

My eyes immediately filled with tears and didn't stop overflowing through the whole class. I don't know how I made it through. But I knew if I left the class I would start to uncontrollably cry. And I didn't know my way around. I know that I didn't have a bit of mascara left on by the end of the class. I just wanted to sob...but kept swallowing my stomach down.

I don't know why this hit me so hard.

Maybe it is because I can relate so closely. Jen's my age, and her daughter is just about Drew's age. Maybe it goes back to knowing Jen in college and playing soccer with her. Knowing what kind of strength she has as a person and how this must have affected her.

Whatever the case, it hit me. Hard.

I was fortunate enough to be able to see her for a brief moment before the service. I had to "wait in line" as she sweetly talked with everyone bustling about her bestowing their love and support and prayers upon she and Gracie. Jen remained so composed and gracious to everyone. Smiling and thanking everyone as she stood there and held onto her little girl. Gracie just rested in Jen's arms with her head down on her mom's shoulder without a care of what was going on around her. She would peek up once in awhile if she heard a familiar voice or if someone was talking to her, but never a smile or word.

Now I have a very bustling 3 & a half year old. And knowing Jen, her daughter is also full of life. So actually getting to see Gracie first hand really cemented a picture in my minds eye of what this little girl must be going through. I wanted to go and snatch Drew from his class and hug him and never ever let go of him again. I promised myself I would never get frustrated with him or speak another harsh word again. These things have a way of stripping away the unnecessary from our lives and help us regain perspective.

And even though I have to admit that I initially wanted to ward off those good Christian spiritual thoughts like, "God allowed this to happen" and "He is in control" or "God makes no mistakes" is still all true. In His sovereignty, He allowed this little child, knowing what was ahead of her, to still be given life and to be born in their family for a specific purpose. And no matter what lies ahead for them, God is still and always will be good and gracious and loving. I must keep reminding myself of those truths.

Because as a mother now, I feel like it's kind of a whole new ballgame.

And as I sat in the pew during the service while the hymns were being sung around me, I could not blurt one word without being choked up and tears running down my face. Looking at the bulletin in my hand, I read and reread the words that were printed at the top,


That's right. Dot. Dot. Dot.

That doesn't mean that my life has been pretty hunky-dorey so far and I am glad that the Lord has kept me from any real harm or difficulty. That means when we are faced with these most difficult situations that are real life and hit home...even then still...our times are in His hand.

I was immediately burdened for them (as you can tell) and asked Jen for permission to post this not being sure how "public" they wanted this all to be. But she said to please go ahead and the more people praying the better. So, I urge you to pass this along and get busy about upholding this little girl before the Lord for special strength and healing. Some specifics is that every Wed. for 50 weeks Gracie will be getting her chemo treatment.

Jen has a special website at Care Pages you can visit with updates and information on Gracie's condition. You can visit it here. ( There is a basic Sign In/registration procedure in the top right hand corner. Once you've registered it will ask you what CarePage you would like to visit, type in "beatitbaby." There is also a slideshow you can see of beautiful Gracie.

I will post Jen's first update from the site that kind of fills you in about all the medical details. And I will try to keep up with some basic updates on my blog as a reminder to myself to keep praying!


December 10, 2007 at 12:13 AM EST

Thank you for visiting Gracie's webpage and for caring about her. Her diagnosis began with a visit to her pediatritian last week for a slight limp.....We were sent home with no worries and a possible sprain....Three days later, Grace's eyes and skin were yellowed..This was obviously very abnormal....We set up another appointment with her pediatritian(Kids First Indian Valley)...Her wise doctor sent her for blood work and an ultrasound. One of my first questions was.."You don't think it could be cancer...right?" I hate cancer! He said the chances were very small and listed other possibilities. I couldn't sleep that night...The doctor called the next day...told me to 'sit down' for the results...I was heartbroken...He said there was a mass in her liver. The feelings that followed cannot be explained...brokenness...thoughts that all I wanted to do for the rest of my life was to hold her and i would be completely content....But, our doctor told us to be at CHOP before 3:00 that day...He got us right in, which had me in even more of a panic. After an IV, medicine through the nose, a catscan, and a biopsy, Grace was diagnosed with 'Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma.' Tim and I were hoping it would come back as just some mass or minor gliche, but it was cancer. However.....Of all the types this could have been, Her doctor said this was the best. Rhabdomyo is curable!!!!! And as far as we know, she has a favorable case...The tricky part is the location. The tumor is inside of her bile duct...and extents into her liver. The plan is to treat her with Chemo for 46 weeks...yea, that's quite a few. She will be evaluated with a catscan about every 12 to see if the tumor is shrinking...Rhabdomyosarcoma (her type) has been known to respond well. We are hopeful---determined!!!!We are blessed to live so close to one of the top hospitals fighting childhood cancers...We are completely trusting God with our precious baby...She pulls at so many heartstrings and we know that God has an awesome plan for her life just as He does with each child. Our greatest desire is that through this trial is Gracie's life, that she will get to know her God in such a deep and genuine way. Our little child is a gift given to us, but she is God's...and she could be in the hands of no greater physician. We've been amazed at her...she's funny with her doctors and nurses....She asks whoever comes into her room, "What are you gonna do to me now?' She's already told her nurse that she loves her! She does officially hate purple gloves though. Our inspiration is her 'Aunt Renee' who passed away in sept. after battling cancer....Renee allowed God to shine through her suffering and I know she'd be hugging her buddy Gracie and telling her to 'be strong!'Renee and Grace had such a special relationship. Thanks everybody for your love, visits, and gifts....We could not ask for better support. Tim, Gracie, and I feel like the luckiest family on our floor. We are determined to beat this disease and to trust God to fulfill his always perfect plan!


Conleys said...

thanks for sharing. we'll be sure to visit the site also. jen and i worked together on extension. she's such a sweet girl. it's always so hard for me to see little ones that have to struggle physically like this, but such a comfort to know God is the great physician.

Karen said...

Thanks, Erin. What heartbreaking news. You're right--it's a whole new world as a parent. I'll be praying for all of them, and especially on Wednesdays.

Busch family said...

Thank you for sharing. I also hate the idea that little children have to go through such difficult things. I'm so thankful that Jen and her husband know the Lord and that they are leaning on Him. I will be praying for them!

Leah (Parrish) Millan said...

Wow! I'm so glad that you shared this, and I will definately be praying for Jen and her family. I have a lump in my throat right now after reading that, and I can completely understand your reaction to the news. Can you actually contact Jen through that sight?

Erin Neiner said...

Leah, Yes, you can leave a note/comment on the site. I haven't done it yet but it should be self-explanatory I'm guessing.

I also have her home address. Hmmm...I posted a note on facebook with her address on it. Not sure if I should put it on here though.

journeyer said...

thank you for sharing your heart in this. Thank you as well for the details, I too played soccer with Jen. I've just finished praying for them and for God's glory to be spread.

TwoMuths said...

Thanks for letting us know. What a heavy burden. We will be praying!

Tammy Schindel said...

Thank you for sharing Erin. Our family will be praying for Gracie-I can't imagine so I will be earnestly praying for much grace for them. Think about the name...Gracie. Only God knows the reason why they felt they should give her that name.

Beth said...

I never remember Jenn at N-land w/out a big smile on her face that was pretty contagous to everyone around! I had just read this on your facebook and was trying to process it all myself. Thank you for putting the effort into this post and being able to compose your thoughts and flood of emotions. I've often wondered how would anyone be able to handle their child suffering... still wondering.

Don & Katrina Hines said...

Thanks Erin,

It is amazing to see the body of Christ that unites our hearts together through the Holy Spirit. What a honor that we can share our burdens to a loving, heavenly Father who loves to see us dependent upon His care! We will be praying!!!