Month: July 2017
To view an introductory video on this series click here.
Did you know the heart is mentioned in scripture nearly 1,000 times? Actually, I couldn’t find another body part mentioned more often than the heart in the Bible except for hands.
Anything mentioned that often demands my attention.
As we begin this series together, I clearly want us to deepen our scriptural knowledge and understand the heart’s importance, but that’s not my primary concern. The Pharisee’s were perhaps those most educated in God’s law and yet, Jesus said, “in vain they worship me.”
Jesus came for our hearts. Our whole hearts. If you’re like me, you don’t always know how to give it. You may not always know what that really looks like.
Through this series, my prayer is for us to:
- Examine our own hearts in ways we never have.
- As we do, let’s invite Christ into every place. Those exposed and those that are hidden.
- Ask God to examine our hearts in ways we’ve never asked.
- What do you see Lord?
- Draw near to God with our whole hearts.
- May we learn to run quickly to our Father’s lap for the intimacy and closeness we long for, knowing there we are loved and accepted.
They may be simple in concept, but it may not be easy to get there. It is a process and often a long one. A lifelong one.
God made a beautiful promise to Jeremiah.
Call unto me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not.… Click To Tweet
As we dig through God’s word throughout this series and as we call unto Him, I have no doubt He will answer us and show us great and mighty things we didn’t know.
Until next week beloved.
From the heart,
Pain, as least as I see it, is like the wind. It can’t be seen or touched but it can be deeply felt. Sometimes it flows in like a soft breeze gently announcing its presence. Other times, it comes out of nowhere and like a tornado, spins violently leaving destruction in its wake. As if tucked away in a jar tightly sealed, it waits patiently until its appointed time.
We remain largely unaware that such a vast number of jars exist. Unaware there are levels of pain to be felt which we cannot fathom. We see only the jars that have been opened in our own lives. We all have jars; some more than others but I have yet to feel a pain so deep as that of a parent when their child is sick.
I watched Miracles from Heaven for the first time and I ache that this jar was opened in your life. I ache because it has been opened in my life too. Once the lid is removed and the pain escapes, we become aware of a level of hurt we once knew nothing of. One which we shall never forget.
The moment I heard of your story I knew it was something I needed to hear and watch, but I couldn’t. It hit too close to home and I wasn’t ready. The preview itself was enough to leave my heart racing and my airway tightening.
More than a year has passed since its release and though I didn’t feel ready to watch, my husband and I pushed play.
Each scene drove a blow into the dam that held back my emotions. It ultimately collapsed when you and your daughter stood in front of Boston Children’s Hospital.
Nine years ago, my husband and I stood at that very entrance. Our son had just been given a death sentence.
In the early morning hours of December 10, 2007 my water broke unexpectedly. I was just thirty weeks pregnant with twin boys. At eight weeks of age, the oldest twin, Isaiah, developed a deadly illness called Necrotizing Enterocolitis. He lost a large portion of his intestines, had a feeding tube, an ileostomy, a central line, was on a ventilator multiple times, survived three near death experiences and ultimately had thirteen operations. He went on to spend his first seven consecutive months in the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital NICU. At seven months of age however, he went into liver failure.
“There’s nothing more we can do Mr. and Mrs. Daruk, babies don’t recover from this condition,” we were told.
A FALL AND A CALL
Our miracle came not in a fall, but with a call. A precious member of Isaiah’s medical team contacted us and put her entire career on the line to do so. She knew of an experimental drug in an active clinical trial at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts.
As you well know, there is no place on earth we wouldn’t travel to if offered even a minute chance of our child’s survival.
Within a week our son was life-flighted to Boston and Isaiah spent an additional four months in their NICU. The clinical trial was Isaiah’s last hope. Our family was told just before heading there to get anyone we ever wanted to see Isaiah to the hospital immediately.
The drug miraculously worked and God graciously spared our sons life. Isaiah returned home with a feeding tube, a central line, a home health nurse, and weekly therapies and appointments. His twin was also at home with a feeding tube and he even had an older brother, Elijah, who was two at the time.
Fast forward to the present day. Our eleven-year-old son Elijah, came home from school on the afternoon of April 21st, 2017 perfectly healthy, but within a few hours was in horrible stomach pain. Despite three emergency room visits, multiple ultrasounds and x-rays, a CT scan, two endoscopies, a colonoscopy, a myriad of medicines (several of the same mentioned in the movie that your daughter was on), and more than six different doctor’s caring for my son, he remains in pain. And still, there are no definitive answers about his condition.
“Acid reflux…constipation…gas…anxiety…irritable bowel…functional abdominal pain…eosinophilic esophagitis…”
We’ve heard all these possible diagnoses and yet my son is not better.
My husband and I hear the whimpers, the cries for help and the screams in the middle of the night. Like you experienced, those that jolt you out of the bed as if lightning struck your very heart. We’ve watched him roll and writhe in pain. We’ve felt the punch to our guts as we listen to our son tell us he just wants to die.
Our son trusts in Jesus but this has tested his young soul to its very core.
I never thought I would see Boston Children’s Hospital again unless we took a family vacation for nostalgia. This week, however, I found myself on the phone with them once again.
While waiting to complete necessary paperwork should a trip be in order, a personal connection through my husband’s employer recently allowed us a virtual second opinion from the head of GI at another reputable children’s hospital in the northeast. The name of who would treat Isaiah should we decide to travel to Boston was listed. He was none other than Dr. Nurko.
We’d watched Miracles from Heaven the night before this news. Until then, we’d never heard of Dr. Samuel Nurko.
God sent us to Boston once and our son’s life was saved from a certain death. If He should decide to send us there again, to help our son who lives in constant pain, I am more grateful to have had the privilege of watching this movie at just the moment we did.
I couldn’t believe how similar our stories and experiences were to yours Christy. All the way down to the God-fearing judgmental church ladies. At one point in my journey, in fact, the night I was told Isaiah liver was failing and there was nothing they could do, my pastor’s wife told me,
“Callie, if you hadn’t done this (and she went on to name something she perceived as a wrong move on my part), then none of this would be happening.”
With that comment, something snapped in me. I was done. Not with God, but with church. With pretending. With trusting. My theology was rocked to the core. My heart and foundation tested far beyond what I knew possible and what I was capable of handling.
I haven’t been able to read your book yet, but I will. I want to know the real details; every single one. I am also an author and currently working with my agent to write my memoir as well. It has been sent to several publishers but ultimately it is in God’s hands to do with what He wills.
I haven’t worn your shoes Christy because they fit only you. But I imagine mine look an awful lot like yours. They’ve walked similar paths and felt similar hurts. That is why I felt compelled to write you this letter.
Though it has touched many lives and will continue to do so, your beautiful story has undoubtedly touched mine. As the credits rolled at the close of the movie so did my sobs. And not just mine. Isaiah’s too. We held one another and when I could speak, I held his little face in my hands and said,
“And that’s exactly what God did for you too love bug.”
You and I have tasted of the near death of our children. As a result, the rose-colored glasses eventually shatter. What remains, with God’s help, is a perspective that I couldn’t have received any other way. One that like you, I am committed as a writer and messenger, to share with my whole heart with the whole world. Thank you for the courage to share yours Christy.
May you and your family continue to walk in the goodness of our great, mighty, and awesome God.
With utmost sincerity,
If you are like me, most lessons are learned the hard way.
I recently wrote an article about such a lesson for a wonderful website called Just 18 Summers.
It’s entitled, Look What I Did and tells of a time when the Lord chastened me for sending my son away when he needed me.
As mothers, it is so easy to get caught up in what we are doing and even feel justified in turning our little ones away even for a moment.
I just need a few minutes, please!
I did this to my son once and I’ll never forget what God asked me in return.
I’d love for you to check it out here.
Update on Elijah
Two weeks ago, Elijah was put on a new medication.
“If it works, it’ll be about a week before it takes effect.” The doctor told us.
Exactly a week later something special happened. My son smiled.
And it was beautiful.
Fighting back tears, I looked at my husband and said, “Did you see that? Our son just smiled.”
I’d forgotten the beauty a simple smile held beause I hadn’t seen his in so long. And any mother knows, if their childs smile is gone so is theirs.
Glancing at the twins, I noticed they were smiling too. Theirs was just as lovely.
The past week has brought better days and normal, “Mommy, my tummy hurts so bad,” days. But on those betters days, there have been smiles and sounds of three brothers playing.
Yesterday, Elijah had his repeat endoscopy and biopsy to find out if he has a rare immune condition. Results are expected in a week.
I wish I could capture each prayer you’ve sent in a box and keep them. As reminders of how God’s children care for one another. Like smiles, they are precious and beautiful but easily taken for granted.
Thank you for carrying our family with you to our Father’s throne. The weight of your own burdens are heavy enough, yet you still carry ours.
The thought of each of you makes me, well, smile!
With complete amazement, I recently shared on Facebook, “I am thrilled to announce that I just signed with Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency to write my first book. My heart is beyond overwhelmed by God’s great grace.”
I can hardly believe it myself! How can this be?
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”
That time came for me nearly six and a half years ago. Book marked in my mind, it is the page I will always come back too. I must come back to it.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” as Dickens said in his classic A Tale of Two Cities.
But how can those two possibly coexist? Somehow, in that moment forever dog-earred in my life, I knew they did.
The worst of times left me alone in my bedroom and on my face in total desperation. The walls I’d spent thirty-two years erecting around my heart had shattered. My deceitfully wicked heart fully exposed.
Trauma and extreme hardship had revealed a level of pain I never knew existed.
And I was done. Utterly done.
The best of times came simultaneously as I cried out to Jesus Christ. Though I’d professed to have done this as a little girl, this was the moment I’d waited my whole life for. The moment I was created to have.
Love Himself met me on the floor that day.
In my pit. In my ugliness. He surrounded me with beautifully accepting love when I should’ve been put out.
Certain of his life-changing grace, I doubted He’d ever be able to use me again. How could He? We both know what I really am.
You’ve ruined everything, Callie.
“God often uses our deepest pain, as the launching pad of our greatest calling.”
I didn’t see it then. I couldn’t.
I think I’m starting to now and if I’m being honest, it scares me.
Yet I know, unequivocally, it is Christ and Christ alone who now lives in me. There’s no more room for Callie, she’s way too controlling.
God graciously allows us to begin again.
Through this blog and if the Lord wills it, through the pages of a book, I yearn for you to know this: no matter how cracked your vessel, no matter how shattered your expectations and no matter how far you’ve gone, you can begin again.
“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.” Elisabeth Elliot
Waiting is so hard and there is no stage in life where it’s not required.
We’ve all witnessed a toddler’s tantrum as they engage in a battle of wills with their parents over a simple toy. They want it now but it’s not their turn.
I recently watched a grown man throw a similar tantrum on the interstate when waiting sent him into a case of road rage.
You’d think we would learn over the years how to handle waiting with the amount of experience we have with it huh?
Perhaps we’re not really taught how to wait. Clearly, it doesn’t come natural and must be learned.
Elisabeth Elliott’s quote reminded me that waiting requires some things.
- Willingness to bear uncertainty
- Carrying within oneself the unanswered question
- Lifting the heart to God about it when it intrudes upon our thoughts
What uncertainty and unanswered question are you carrying today?
Mine is regarding my son’s illness.
Last week we planned a trip out of state for a second opinion regarding Elijah’s care. After a long talk with his pediatrician the day before we planned to leave, we came up with a plan that allows us to receive the same second look here. So, now we wait for another appointment as we also wait for his second endoscopy and biopsy on July 18th.
From the looks of it, at least from the perspective of the medical professionals, we are dealing with a chronic illness.
But I want a quick fix. I want to put my finger on the problem and fix it.
I fight the urge not to throw my own tantrum at times. I don’t like the word – chronic.
It intrudes upon my thoughts; it requires me to wait. It requires my son to wait.
Psalm 27:14 admonishes:
Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage, and he will strengthen thine heart: wait I say on the Lord.
The Hebrew word for wait is qavah which means:
-the straining of the mind in a certain direction with an expectant attitude. A forward look with assurance.
I lift my heart to God today. I look to him with full assurance not only on my son’s behalf but for whatever uncertainty you face as well.
Rest assured beloved that he will give each of us great courage and strengthen our hearts while we wait.Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the… Click To Tweet