Saturday, March 3, 2012

“Nothing Happens by Accident. I am Sovereign!”

I know there were many of you who got the news around 9-10pm last night to pray for Kim because we were headed to the E.R. with little else to go on, and by faith you got on your knees and "stormed the gates of heaven". Thank you. God heard your prayers and Kim is doing great. She is back home, her headache is completely gone and although tired and still with some minor back pain she looks 100% better. So you're probably wondering what happened last night? Here it is...

First it was Rituxan. Now apparently, our favorite drug is Methotrexate. Specifically methotrexate injected via spinal tap. This drug was started in Round 3 of Kim’s chemotherapy to keep the cancer from attacking her central nervous system, and brain. The injection in her spinal cord was done 8 days ago and triggered massive headaches every time she tried to sit up and forced her to be bedridden since - keeping her head flat was the only way to find relief. Nothing else worked – not I.V. fluids, not caffeine, not heavy pain meds. They told us it’s basically like having your worst hangover x 100. Usually after 48 hours the fluid leak around the spinal cord from the lumbar puncture resolves itself and people feel much better, but we’ve found that Kim is always in the top 5%. Meaning she’s always in that elite group of people in which doctors say, “That’s strange. We only see that happen in about 5% of patients”. What can I say? I married a special woman.

getting ready for her 1st blood patch
So all this forced us to try a blood patch yesterday night. The blood patch procedure went well, her headache improved immediately. However, the blood patch is injected into the lower back as well and its purpose is to clot any holes in the spinal cord which are leaking. The downside is that, per the doctor, it can feel like someone took a baseball bat to your lower back. But we figured "temporary baseball bat to back" < "perpetual hangover headaches".

So we went in at 3:30pm to get the blood patch. I had to set up a bed for Kim in the back of the mini-van because the day before when I drove her to the doctor’s the nausea and headaches from sitting upright (even leaning back) were too much. The procedure started around 5:30pm and she was done by 6:00pm. After resting for a while we picked up Timothy and Selah from our friend Jill’s place and headed home. (Caleb was at basketball practice with our friend Gerald and their son). Although Kim could hardly feel her back we were all in good spirits. The headaches were gone!

We ate a quick snack at home and that’s when Kim noticed that at certain angles she would feel an intensely sharp pain in her lower back. By the time we got upstairs it was so bad that when I tried to lay her down on our bed she would scream in pain. At certain angles the pain was breathtaking and she was nervous to move. I had her put ice on the back (as the doctor recommended) gave her some more oxycodone and quickly put Tim and Selah down. Within the span of 10 minutes the pain grew more intense and there was no way to find relief. I tried to take her to the bathroom but she started hyper-ventilating. She then started losing feeling in her arms and legs, became light-headed and was so close to going unconscious from the pain. I was holding her in my arms and her body felt limp and I knew I couldn’t let her go or she would faint and so I just kept telling her to focus on breathing deep, slow breaths. Somehow I was able to reach for the phone without dropping her and dialed 911.

It was about 9:00pm and I knew Caleb was due home at any moment so I had already left the front door unlocked which was providential. Within a few minutes I could hear voices downstairs and Caleb happened to arrive the exact same time as the paramedics and firemen with our friends who were dropping him off. I could hear Caleb guiding them upstairs to where he thought we might be. I couldn’t move because I was still in our room holding Kim upright to keep her from fainting. When they got there I had to explain our situation and all the meds Kim was on and they carefully strapped her in a seated position and took her downstairs – all the while Kim is fighting to breathe and stay conscious. Amazingly, neither Timothy or Selah woke up from all this commotion. This is a miracle in itself. They were put to bed only 15 minutes earlier and they are very light sleepers but the Lord, in His mercy, apparently put them in a deep sleep because this morning they said they didn't hear a thing even though Selah's room is right next to ours.

Caleb on the other hand was right in the middle of it all. By the time everyone was downstairs I was scrambling to get all our important things together and get in the ambulance. That’s when I noticed Caleb standing on the couch next to his friend Jake. I’ll never forget it – he looked at me and in front of all the firemen and paramedics and with an expressionless face he asked:

“Is mom going to die?” 

There was a moment of silence. We were all stunned - especially me - this is not typical for Caleb. He is a shy and quiet boy. And so I knew he would have never asked this question, especially in front of that many people, unless he really needed to know the answer. I quickly walked towards him, grabbed his shoulders and said, “Oh no, Caleb. Mom is not going to die. She’s in a lot of pain right now and so she can’t breathe but she’s going to be just fine. And so we’re going to the hospital to be safe. Okay?” As soon as I finished talking that small stoic face burst into tears. I asked him a few times to come with me to the hospital. I thought it might comfort him to be with his dad but he insisted on staying home. At first I didn’t understand why – but then he said he wanted to stay home for Timothy and Selah. He didn’t want them to wake up and be sad because everyone had left them in their sleep. One of my proudest moments as a father.

T reading to S
Early on we had worried a lot about Caleb. We even asked that you pray for him (see HERE), and I know many of your children are praying specifically for our children. Well, God has been hearing your prayers and has been working in his heart - allow me to explain. Caleb is a pure introvert and a deep thinker. He internalizes things and has difficulty expressing how he’s feeling verbally sometimes. I’ve found that he does much better when he writes out what he’s feeling (he’s a lot like me in that way). For the last year we’ve been asking people close to us and in our small group to pray for him, because to be honest we were very worried about him. He’d have some dark moments where he would say things that would surprise us like: “I hate God.” or “I don’t think God is real.” When we would pry deeper we’d realize that much of this thinking came from his realization that God didn't always answer his prayers (at least the way he wanted) and so when bad things happened, at least in his mind, his disappointment would be very profound.

So when this cancer hit, naturally we were very concerned about how he might process it. However, a couple weeks ago I was reading through Caleb’s “Devotional Journals” which he turns in for school. I was amazed at how open and honest he was with God and what the Lord was teaching him all throughout January – much of which we spent in the ICU and unbeknownst to us. I had realized that as much as I tried to see what he was thinking via conversations with him, with this journal I suddenly had a window into his heart and soul. God’s grace was so evident because his class just happened to be covering the topic of God’s sovereignty in his Biblical Studies class that month. The devotional opened with:

The King says, “Nothing happens by accident. I am Sovereign!” How often can you say that was by accident? Or it wasn’t supposed to happen that way? Since the whole world is under God’s control, there really can’t be accidents. Isn’t it comforting to know that the world isn’t spinning out of control?

Caleb's Journal
Here is what he wrote in response to the above paragraph (shared with his permission):
I thought my mom shouldn’t have to go to the hospital knowing that God is in control makes me know that whatever happens God will never let things get out of control. And if God is in control he could heal her.

Dear God, you are good and can heal. You can heal my mom anytime you want. And you know how she feels. Sorry I did not read my Bible yesterday and for getting upset when Tim made a mess in my room right after I cleaned it. Thank you God for friends who bring us dinner every night because my mom & dad are at the hospital…Please help me not to get mad at my brother and help mom get better and not be scared when she gets surgery today.

The following week he wrote this (in italics):
The King says, “Don’t fret and worry I’ve got everything under control.”
What do you worry about?
“I worry about my mom!!!”
How can Psalm 37:8 be of comfort to you?
I know that nothing will go wrong because God has everything under control.
His prayer:
Dear God, I praise you for your grace. I love you! You are holy. You can heal and take care of us.

All this to say, that it is obvious to us that the Lord is using this cancer to show that He is sovereign – and He is answering our many prayers by demonstrating that sovereignty even in the heart of a little 9 year old boy. To my amazement, Caleb is learning things through this cancer that took me decades to learn: that God is real. God is good. God is in control. God can heal and take care of us.

And through your service to us and prayers for us, he is seeing firsthand the love of Jesus through the body of Christ in a profound way, and he'll never forget it. Additionally, this entire blog and all your comments will serve as a forever reminder to all of our children of this season in which God has shown Himself so strong in our lives. Thank you, Jesus.

So after sleeping in the ER with Kim last night I woke up at 3am and couldn’t fall back asleep. Watching her cycle through so much pain was so incredibly hard. There were moments when I was holding her in our room that I wasn’t sure if she was going to make it - an all too familiar feeling these days. I kept thinking I have to keep her conscious until the ambulance arrives. Even in the hospital the pain was so intense and morphine wasn’t even calming it down and she was vomiting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is nothing more humbling than seeing the one you love, suffer so greatly, and being powerless to stop it.
my sleeping beauty
I woke up at 2am (this morning) and could not fall back asleep. Kim was in a deep sleep and doing well so I decided to slip out and go back home and pick up some things (and this was when I wrote the bulk of this post). Now whenever I turn on my car radio I just expect to hear from the Lord and again He did not disappoint. If you’ve been following from the beginning you will recall after one of my darkest moments the Lord gave me a special song on the radio Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin. When I flipped on my radio again this time guess who was singing? That’s right. Chris Tomlin. But this time the song was “I Will Rise” (see vid below) and the song was already in the second verse…. 

There's a day that's drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
"Worthy is the Lamb"
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
"Worthy is the Lamb"

Just like last time (see previous post HERE) at the same stoplight the tears started to flow. It was the perfect word – at the perfect time. The victory is already won. The battle is already over. Jesus has overcome. And as much pain as I saw Kim in a few hours earlier – the Lord reminded me that there will be an end to pain and suffering. And it will not end with Oxycodone. It will not end with Morphine. It will not end with Valium. It will end when we see Jesus face to face “and my faith shall be my eyes”. And we are longing for that day -- the day when we “hear the voice of many angels sing, “Worthy is the Lamb”.

Amen. Worthy is the Lamb. Maranatha.

In His Grace,
Peter & Kim


  1. Praying for your family - God is near...

  2. I sincerely believe the Lord Himself is very intimately involved in all of this. He moved His people to pray last night, even before the ER trip hit Facebook. You were so heavy on my heart last night, even before I knew, that in retrospect, I can say nothing more than that the Lord Himself was rallying His troops to intercede on your behalf. So much so, that as the paramedics were with you, Kim, I sent Peter a FB message simply asking, "How's Kim?" I didn't know you were in crisis, but your Heavenly Father certainly knew. As I was praying last night, He gave me Ps 73 for you guys (and after reading your post, maybe it was for Caleb as well, especially the first part :) -

    21 When my soul was embittered,
    when I was pricked in heart,
    22 I was brutish and ignorant;
    I was like a beast toward you.
    23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
    24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.
    25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
    26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
    27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
    you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
    28 But for me it is good to be near God;
    I have made the Lord God my refuge,
    that I may tell of all your works.

    Love you guys. Praying still.

  3. I will never look at the devotional journals the same way again. Praise God for His perfect timing. We will continue to pray for all 5 of you.

  4. Knowing his personality, Caleb has been on my heart so much! Thank you Lord for showing him you are In control.

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  6. You are right---many children are praying for your kids, my boys included. Jason especially, as he knows Caleb is the same age, and he wants to support him in this way. This post brought me to tears with everything you are all going through and yet you are still able to turn your suffering into an offering of worship. You continue to minister to me and so many others through this blog. Thank you for sharing your story, difficult as it must be to re-live and write out. Our prayers continue to be with you all.

  7. Just wanted to share this with you two:

    He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater
    He sendeth more strength when the labors increase
    To added affliction He addeth His mercy
    To multiplied trials His multiplied peace

    When we have exhausted our store of endurance
    When our strength has failed ere the day's half done
    When we reach the end of our horded resources
    Our Father's full giving has only begun

    His love has no limit
    His grace has no measure
    His power has no boundaries known unto men
    For out of his infinite riches in Jesus
    He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

    Praying for your family. God Bless.

  8. my family's thoughts and prayers are with you - my wife was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer two years ago, and i can relate (weep) with everything you wrote. know that God will be very near to you during this time, and that your family in Christ stands with you as well.

  9. Lifting you all up... I don't have the words to express how beautiful your faith is, may God's tender mercies be on all of you through this journey....

  10. Lifting you all up... I don't have the words to express how beautiful your faith is, may God's tender mercies be on all of you through this journey....

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  12. Matthew 17:20

    if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

  13. This morning the woman in front of me in church prayed for the Cho Family. I wondered and yes, Sara Ponte was praying for you and your precious family. we love you.

    Carol and Galen Hiestand

  14. Jesus, lover of my soul,
    Let me to Thy bosom fly,
    While the nearer waters roll,
    While the tempest still is high.
    Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
    Till the storm of life is past;
    Safe into the haven guide;
    Oh, receive my soul at last.
    Other refuge have I none,
    Hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
    Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
    Still support and comfort me.
    All my trust on Thee is stayed,
    All my help from Thee I bring;
    Cover my defenseless head
    With the shadow of Thy wing.
    Wilt Thou not regard my call?
    Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
    Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—
    Lo! on Thee I cast my care.
    Reach me out Thy gracious hand!
    While I of Thy strength receive,
    Hoping against hope I stand,
    Dying, and behold, I live.
    Thou, O Christ, art all I want,
    More than all in Thee I find;
    Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
    Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
    Just and holy is Thy Name,
    Source of all true righteousness;
    Thou art evermore the same,
    Thou art full of truth and grace.
    Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
    Grace to cover all my sin;
    Let the healing streams abound;
    Make and keep me pure within.
    Thou of life the fountain art,
    Freely let me take of Thee;
    Spring Thou up within my heart;
    Rise to all eternity.
    -Charles Wesley.
    Thought of you both when singing this hymn this morning--"Cover my defenseless head." May He hide you until this storm is past.

  15. "Hide Me In The Shelter" is a song that has come to mind when I first found out about your situation.

    Under the shadow of your wings
    Here in the secret place of your holiness
    I will wait on you, oh Lord, my God and King
    Here in the Holiest of All
    You draw me near with love to abandon all
    For the sake of knowing you, my God and King

    Hide me in the shelter of your love
    Deep in the center of your heart, my Lord
    How I want to know you more
    And keep me in the shadow of your wings
    Safe in the secret place of holiness
    How I need you more and more
    (And more and more)

    Hide me, and keep me, oh Lord
    Safe in the secret place, safe in the secret place

  16. Praying.

    Psalms 23
    1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
    he leads me beside quiet waters,
    3 he refreshes my soul.
    He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
    4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
    I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

    5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
    You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
    6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
    and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

  17. Peter, Kim, My heart cries out to the Lord for you and your children! Our family will lift up your children today in our prayers. Wanted to share a song (below) that I thought of while I was reading your post. WE LOVE YOU!

    All This Time by Britt Nicole

    I remember the moment
    I remember the pain
    I was only a girl
    But I grew up that day
    Tears were falling
    I know You saw me

    Hiding there in my bedroom
    So alone
    I was doing my best
    Trying to be strong
    No one to turn to
    That's when I met You

    All this time
    From the first tear cry
    To today's sunrise
    And every single moment between
    You were there
    You were always there
    It was You and I
    You've been walking with me all this time

    Ever since that day
    it's been clear to me
    That no matter what comes
    You will never leave
    I know You're for me
    And You're restoring

    Every heartache and failure
    Every broken dream
    You're the God who sees
    The God who rescued me
    This is my story
    This is my story

    I hear these people asking me
    How do I know what I believe?
    Well I'm not the same me
    And I saw the proof I need
    I felt Love I felt Your grace
    You stole my heart that day

  18. Two of my children sleep through the night, but the other gets up every hour since he was born 16 months ago. Lack of sleep is a struggle for me because unless, I receive 8 hours of sleep, I become irritable and depressed. I do pray as I struggle to fall back asleep each hour. I stumbled across your blog and see now God has you in mind as another set of individuals who'd covet my prayers and I am comforted. Praying for each one of you during my sleepless moments of life.

  19. Peter & Kim,
    I wrote you shortly after I heard about Kim from Kristen (at Bible Study). I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer on January 19, 2009. I am cancer-free today - Praise God. The one thing I want to tell Kim about today is that God gives us something called "Chemo Brain". The day will come when Peter will relay some difficult story about Kim and how bad things were and she'll look at him with a quizzical look on her face because God gave us "chemo brain". I'm praying for you - you will be where I am before you know it. 3 years and cancer free. God Bless, Barb

  20. Hello,

    I've been following your blog every so often and each time I read, my heart gets wrenched. It's not necessarily the pain you go through that gets me but how God sovereignly leads you and your family through the difficult situations, and your ability to point back to God in all things. Thank you for your perspective and really, really praise God.

    Regarding your son and your children, Matthew 18 says to turn from our ways and to become like children in order to become great, that we shouldn't despise children and that in them their angels see the face of their Father! It became so apparent to me how much God loves his children. I'm not sure if it's because of their openness, humility or ability to listen and obey, but I do know that children are mentioned again in ch. 19 and it's the children who are shouting, "Hosanna to the son of David!" in 21. So praise God for your kids and thier child-like faith!

    Thank you because I realize a little more the love of God and his faithfulness through this blog, and these are things I should never forget but do. They're reasons for me to worship in spirit and truth. I'll pray for you, Kim and your children.

    Thanks again and God bless!