Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sacrifice of Praise

Thank you for your faithfulness in praying for Ava even through my moments of silence.

These past few days have been really wonderful. There truly is something healing about being in your own home. Ava has been waking up with a smile on her face and and is flourishing during this time. Even though we ask her to be more careful, she is still running through the halls and jumping off beds. i have never been happier for the chaos in our home because it means that we are enjoying the life that God has given us.

Sunday night, we decided to go down to the city and spend the night at Ronald McDonald House so that we wouldn't be late to our 9:00 clinic appointment. We also thought Ava would like to see the place that we call home when she is in-patient at the hospital.

The Ronald McDonald House is really nice--almost vacation-llke with large Tempurpedic mattresses and breathtaking views of the city skyline. But it was hard to be in that place knowing the purpose behind our visit. After Ava's stay at the RMH, I will always have a special place in my heart full of really good memories of our time there together. She appreciated all the small details and breathed life back into a place that was sad for me.

By the time we got there, it was already dark which made the lights outside our window shine even brighter. Ava quickly made her way to the window and gazed out into the glittering lights. I have to say, this girl has my heart. She enjoys the same things I do and city lights are high on our list. After a few moments of sitting quietly together, she pointed out the north star and told me she had made a wish.

Ava: Mama, I just made a wish on the biggest star right there.
Me: What was your wish?
Ava: I wished to have the biggest after-chemo party ever!
Me: We definitely will!

These are holy moments: prostrate on the floor, tears pouring out, and desperate pleas in the middle of the night. There is nothing glorious about it yet it is filled with glory because our hope comes in something beyond ourselves. Perhaps suffering could be considered a privilege, a chance to participate in deeper fellowship with God. We only have this opportunity on earth, because in heaven there is no suffering. So, this suffering now is a sacrifice of praise. It's a chance to worship God when it hurts deeply. It is worship that is costly. And it's a reminder that praise ought to be continuous even in the valley. Of course, it still hurts like a raw gaping wound, but there is something profoundly peaceful knowing that he is walking closely with us through it all.

I bumped into another RMH mama who had been living there since December. That is 4 months of living in a hotel room. But she was filled with so much grace. As we shared our stories she said that her friends often asked her how she was so strong. She answered that it was her clothes that kept her from falling apart. There are times in life when it seems like God has given us more than we can handle--when it feels like we can't take one more step without dropping dead. But his grace is sufficient enough and, in this season of suffering, he pours out his mercies so that we do not buckle under the weight of this broken world.

Gwen's got her game back now that we've been together as a family for almost a whole week. She's well-known around RMH for her boss like qualities. During our stay, she witnessed a dad getting really mad at his son's tantrums. The kid, Connor, eventually ended up dumping all of his milk on the floor and causing a huge ruckus with his screaming. Before we left for our room, Gwen sought out Connor's dad, and was like, "Hey, how come your son keeps scweamin' and scweamin'?" I was mortified and quickly got her in the elevator. "You just don't say stuff like that, Gwen," I tried explaining to her. I don't know what makes her feel like she's an expert on behavior when she was having her own meltdown a few hours earlier, but I'm glad to have her back. :)

Before bed, the girls were running around so excited to be together. Ava had on a white shirt and hospital pants. They were the drawstring kind and she had managed to tuck her shirt haphazardly into her pants and they were hiked all the way up her distended belly. Her fuzzy hair was all crazy and as I looked at her, my heart melted at the sight of it all.
She is so precious to me.

We are so finite and fragile and yet we are treasured by God beyond measure. If I love Ava like this, with so much tenderness, how much more the one who created her? Tonight I thank God for his boundless love for us, even to the point of sacrificing his only son on that wonderful cross where such deep sorrow and love met.

Before the evening ended, I heard a conversation between the girls that was so insightful I needed to share it.

Gwen: If you do that, I won't play with you anymore.
Ava: ...I can live with that.

I love those words. Learning to let go of things is a big lesson I'm learning through this time. Life is one of those things that we try to hold on to with all of our might as if our time here isn't temporary. I'm coming to the realization that tragedy is not so much a life cut short but a long life that is not lived well.

Thank you for your continued prayers for Ava and for walking so closely with us this whole time. We are blessed.


ces said...

Thank you for sharing Esther. Continuing to pray though I haven't posted as much recently. So blessed to hear how God has been sustaining and carrying you through this time. So beyond-words-amazing and beautiful to hear you praising Him in this valley. Rejoicing over all the good news the last several days. Ava is so precious, and LOVE the pics of her with her new 'do.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that never perish, spoil or fade...In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

(1 Peter 1:3-4, 6-7)

Heather Rocen said...

I will so be at the after chemo party.

Gwynneth said...

Oh how I love the regular life posts! I hope there are many more and often! ~Wynne

Anonymous said...

So beautifully true: "There is nothing glorious about it yet it is filled with glory because our hope comes in something beyond ourselves." I know exactly what you're talking about. Thank you for sharing.