Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blessings and Curses

KIM UPDATE
Praise God, despite the severe infusion reaction last Friday the oncologist felt that Kim got enough Rituxan to be effective in her treatment and so we won't be encountering that drug again until the next cycle - in about 3 weeks. This was a pleasant surprise to us. Please continue to pray that Kim would be able to receive the Rituxan drug going forward.

Sign our children made for mom's homecoming
The doctors told us yesterday since Kim had made such great progress over the weekend she would be discharged today pending some final tests. We packed up our bags, Kim got changed and we were so ready to leave when, one of the final tests required before leaving (an echocardiogram) came back showing some significant fluid build-up around the heart again. It's somewhat of a mystery since a pericardial window was put in but the cardiologist (who felt sick telling us the bad news) thinks there may be an obstruction there. We were readying ourselves for yet another surgery, plus another few days in the hospital with a chest tube, but God has heard your cries, and later when the thoracic surgeon came by he felt we should just monitor the situation and make sure we return for another echocardiogram on Friday and let us go home! Yes!! Please pray that this fluid buildup around the heart would dissipate by Friday so that no further surgery or hospital stay is needed. 

Coincidentally (haha) we found out the good news (final approval to leave) right before our dear friends Pastor Sung and Hannah had to catch their flight back to Toronto. The Lord had timed his stay at just the time that I needed him - no more and no less.

PETER UPDATE
Okay. Enough about Kim. I know all of you are really here because you have a keen interest on how I'm doing so let's talk about ME! =P

I have told some of you this already but for the past 11 days (since Kim went to the hospital) I have been unable to sleep more than 4 hours a night. Honest to God. The last couple days I've been trying to take naps. I took a half hour nap a few days ago and that night I only slept 3.5 hours. I took a 1.5 hour nap on Monday and only slept 2.5 hours that night. Obviously the Lord only wants me to have 4 hours of sleep and when I try to work around it - He frustrates my plans. That said, you need to know that "4 hours" is a significant number to me. When I was in high school my dad (who used to stay up late studying every night) used to tell me often, "The human body can survive on 4 hours of sleep." While for the past 20 years I have tucked this away into the deep recesses of my mind under the category of "useless facts of information", I knew this was his gentle way of telling me, "Stop sleeping 10 hours a day and hit the books, boy!" I know in my heart that the Lord was giving me just enough sleep to survive. It has never been a restless 4 hours of sleep. I have enjoyed a deep, contiguous slumber and I have not had insomnia, but without fail, regardless of when I went to bed for the last 11 days - I only got 4 hours total of sleep.

When the Israelites were wandering in the desert and nearly dying of starvation the Lord heard their cries and rained down manna from heaven to sustain them - but strangely, He would only provide enough to last them for that day ...nothing more and nothing less. If they disobeyed God and hoarded beyond their daily need it would just become infested with rot and maggots the next morning (Exodus 16). I've come to realize that the Lord has been doing the same with me in regards to sleep (nothing more, nothing less) and it has served as an example for life. Battling cancer is a daily grind and you can only find the strength to battle one day at a time. In God's perfect wisdom, He is not going to provide everything at once - but just enough to develop within us a daily dependence upon Him. Thank you Lord.

All that said, I slept next to Kim for the first time last night and just woke up after 6 straight hours of sleep! Praise God!!

INSPIRATIONAL FRIENDS
Just as we were getting ready to leave we were pleasantly surprised by a visit from our dear friend Joe Park and his wife Jennifer and son Andrew. Andrew is only 17 years old (far left) but has been battling cancer for many years now and they found out literally the day after we did (last Monday) that Andrew's cancer, which was in remission for years, has morphed and reappeared as a form of AML Leukemia. He is one of the most courageous young men you will ever meet and their family reached out to ours immediately after they found out about Kim, despite their own personal grief - providing so much love and support. (Once you find out you have cancer in the family you feel like you have gained membership into an exclusive club - no one quite understands what you are going through unless they have shared in the fellowship of your sufferings - although we cannot even compare to what they have been through - bless their hearts!) Andrew is truly an inspiration to us and has the heart of a champion. Every time you pray for us PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE lift up a prayer for this dear family (Joe, Jennifer, Emily, Brie and their brave son, Andrew, as they are still in the process of trying to properly diagnose this cancer and are also seeking a bone-marrow donor match. His blog just went live so PLEASE visit here for more details and lift up a prayer for our friends as well! http://andrewsfightonestepatatime.blogspot.com/

It was so good to have Kim back at home tonight after 11 long and unexpected days in the hospital. She is still fatigued and at times nauseous from the chemo treatment and needs to take it easy with the fluid around her heart but we are so thankful for this answer to prayer. Please don't take personal offense if I do not allow you to see Kim. The truth is the hardest part of cancer is not the initial diagnosis and treatment but the long and grinding battle that ensues at home during the chemotherapy and even well beyond.

I want to close with one last thing. About two years ago my pastor friend Sung asked me if I would be open to helping out a small ministry in his church called the "Word For Today" which sends out a daily devotional via email and also as a blog on their church website. I contributed just one entry per week, and found it to be a great outlet to share what the Lord had impressed in my heart that week.

Anyways, I was reflecting on how the Lord is already transforming this horrible curse in our lives (Kim's cancer) into a great blessing - not just for us but for countless others. It's hard to believe that in just the last week we are hearing so many testimonies of broken relationships that are being restored, wandering hearts who have come back to the Lord and found their faith renewed, and even skeptics of the gospel who are quite frankly amazed at seeing firsthand the love of Jesus though the body of Christ (the Church). It's humbling to play a small part in it. I remembered writing a post on this subject (Blessings vs Curses) a while ago and went back to search for it. Well, I found it buried in my inbox and lo and behold, it was dated January 18th, 2011 - exactly one year ago today! See original entry here or just read it pasted below. I think it's quite prophetic. Our God is truly an amazing God who, for His children, transforms curses into blessings....

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Word For Today - January 18, 2011

"Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you.  -Deuteronomy 23:5

Growing up I knew of an older Korean lady that won $5 million dollars in the lottery. She was "blessed" and she made sure everyone knew it. Coincidentally, soon after becoming a millionaire she was elected President of the Korean Association in our town and at the Korean Association's annual volleyball tournament instead of raffling off the traditional bars of soap and toilet paper the grand prize that year was a Lincoln Town Car (donated by her). I'm sure you can see where this is headed. Within a few years she was completely bankrupt, had few friends and was much worse off than before she had won the lottery. God had turned what seemed to be a great "blessing" into a great "curse".

However, for those of us who know the love of God the inverse is true. When we get blindsided by something (e.g. health issue, job loss, marital strife, strong-willed child, etc) we may feel "cursed", but the Lord has a way of transforming curses into blessings for His children. This is why we are told to "consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2) - not because we should love pain, but because we have a greater hope of a greater blessing. This is the Lord's "modus operandi": He turns man's curses into divine blessings for those He loves (Neh 13:2), and He turns man's blessings into divine curses for those that reject Him (Mal 2:2)

The greatest proof of this truth can be found at the cross - where God took the greatest curse this world has ever devised (death on a cross-Gal 3:13) and transformed it into the greatest blessing this world has ever known (the hope of nations-Gal 3:8)
.

Do you feel you are dealing with a "curse"? Take heart. Remember the cross and remember we serve a God that creates "beauty from ashes, gladness from mourning, and praise from despair" (Isa 61:3).


Awed by Grace,

Peter & Kim

20 comments:

  1. Praise God for Kim being discharged! Thanks so much Peter for sharing! Truly feel and see God's strong and present hand through you guys!

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  2. That's great news that you and Kim made it "home" tonight. Hope that the Lord continues to give you many more pleasant surprises!

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  3. I'm so glad Kim is being discharged. That is amazing and positive news! Many of my patients with the second dose of Rituxan usually respond much better. I'm sure the doc told you already but it's usually a 1st dose related infusion reaction 'cuz unfortunately Rituxan is not a complete human model (1/2 murine model) causing the reactions in many patients. I really pray that Kim responds well to R at cycle #2 in 3 weeks! Fight on and be strong Kim!!

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  4. Peter & Kim,
    You don't know me, but you know my cousin Kindra H. She posted a request for prayer for you along with the link to your blog....I've been reading and praying for you and have now sent a request to my "prayer warrior" friends to include you in their prayers. You are being covered with prayer from an amazing group of my friends here in Central Wisconsin. As I've read through the posts, the song Our God always seems to come to mind. The lyrics are:

    Our God is greater
    Our God is stronger
    God You are higher than any other
    Our God is healer
    Awesome in power our God our God

    Water You turned into wine
    Opened the eyes of the blind
    There's no one like You
    None like You

    Into the darkness You shine
    Out of the ashes we rise
    There's no one like You
    None like You

    And if our God is for us
    Then who could ever stop us
    And if our God is with us
    Then what could stand against
    And if our God is for us
    Then who could ever stop us
    And if our God is with us
    Then what could stand against

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  5. yay! praise God that kim is home! i'm sure the kids miss their mom so much! and thank you for sharing about you, peter. we've been praying for you just as hard as we've been praying for kim (if not more). :) we will also start praying for andrew park and family. keep on sharing because God is using you guys!

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  6. Soooooo good to hear that Kim is home! :) I hope that being home will give both of you the rest, peace and strength that you need!
    We are thinking and praying for you all-
    Miss Jeanne and family :)

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  7. so glad that kim was able to come home! i'm sure the kids are so happy! PTL!

    this post reminds me of this song i heard on the radio last year. it really depicts the idea of God's blessings and mercies in disguise. hope it blesses you and kim. there's also a video of the singer sharing her testimony regarding her husband's illness, which was the inspiration for this song.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOOFAaUGfRE&feature=related


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDiTuSLSJB8&feature=related

    LYRICS:
    We pray for blessings
    We pray for peace
    Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
    We pray for healing, for prosperity
    We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
    All the while, You hear each spoken need
    Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

    'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
    What if Your healing comes through tears
    What if a thousand sleepless nights
    Are what it takes to know You’re near
    What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

    We pray for wisdom
    Your voice to hear
    And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
    We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
    As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
    All the while, You hear each desperate plea
    And long that we'd have faith to believe

    'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
    What if Your healing comes through tears
    What if a thousand sleepless nights
    Are what it takes to know You’re near
    And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

    When friends betray us
    When darkness seems to win
    We know that pain reminds this heart
    That this is not, this is not our home
    It's not our home

    'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
    What if Your healing comes through tears
    And what if a thousand sleepless nights
    Are what it takes to know You’re near
    What if my greatest disappointments
    Or the aching of this life
    Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
    And what if trials of this life
    The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
    Are Your mercies in disguise

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  8. PTL! So happy for you and the kids and I'm sure Kim is just as thrilled to be out of that hospital room. Thanks for all the awesome updates. There's going to be a lot of sweet fellowship in that house - yay!! LC

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  9. Found out about Kim at Bible study and have been praying for all of you. Such wonderful news that she is able to come home, Praise the Lord!

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  10. Glad you made it home, Kim! You'll still have to deal with Peter's toxins, but at least in a much more comfortable environment.

    And no, Peter, we don't want to hear about you. What we really want to know is WHO HAD THE FUNNIEST STORY???

    Also, Andrew Park's blog is:
    http://andrewsfightonestepatatime.blogspot.com/

    Andy

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  11. Praise God!
    Thanks Peter and Kim for sharing your lives with us...we will continually lift you up and pray for strength and comfort.

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  12. Kim! We are so happy to hear that you've been discharged! Get plenty of rest in the comfort of your own home. Continuing to pray for your strength and healing. =)

    Love,
    Dan and Jane

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  13. I didn't know you guys that well but I went to CFC and remember you both. I have been praying for you all diligently .. and know what it feels like to deal with hospital stays and the initial life changing entrance of cancer into a family's life. Your entries are such a blessing, and it proves that God gives peace beyond understanding. I am so moved my this entry ... because I felt that my mother's cancer felt like a curse but in the timeline of eternity, was such a blessing, because it brought God back into her life and I can say in confidence she is in Heaven ... I will continue to pray for you and your family and for Andrew and his family...Thank you for your walk with Jesus...through you and Kim and your family, God is touching so many, you have no idea....

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  14. Oh Kim!! I probably looked at you in shock when I saw your precious face this morning - I was so surprised to see you when I picked up Caleb!! When I got in my car I was teary eyed with joy!! I told Caleb I was so happy my eyes had tears. He said he cried tears of joy when his dad told him you were coming home too! Praising God for your arrival home and praying daily for your journey ahead! Love you and your family!!

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  15. Your deep love for Jesus and your wife move me to tears and have made me reexamine my expression of love for those around me. Thank you for sharing so openly. I pray for peace and joy to fill your hearts, and that the treatment Kim is receiving will lead to full recovery.

    God bless,

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  16. I have been following your blog, checking it daily for new updates on your family. I am in CA, heard about your family from Facebook and have cried everyday since. Tears of sadness, joy, heartbreak, and even of hope. You have helped me to really savor each day I have with my husband and kids, and to take nothing for granted. Thank you. I find myself crying and praying for you and your family in the shower every night.

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  17. Hi Kim!

    I cried when I saw your face singing and worshiping our Lord with such joy and perfect peace in your face. You are so beautiful, inside-out. Nothing can take that from you!
    The Spirit is even now ministering through you. I praise Him when I see you and read Peter's words of faith.

    Praise the Lord for using His word and Your "word for today" to speak directly back to you! Isn't that just like God? His fingerprints are undeniable and a reminder that He has got you. You are in His arms and He is not letting you go!

    Keep holding on and know that our prayers for you are being lifted up continuously, even this very moment.

    We love you!

    Jay and Jen

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  18. Christina and HoonieJanuary 18, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    You've got Coloradoans praying for you as well! We've shared with our small group and church. You've definitely been blessing everyone too.

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  19. Peter and Kim, no words. Just tears of joy, gratitude, love. We have no idea what the tapestry looks like that God is weaving through our lives, but I know it is beautiful. I feel like I've been able to take a glimpse of the other side through your blogs. Thank you for including us in your journey. May God continue to turn your mourning into gladness and make beauty from ashes!!

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