Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Clouds Ye So Much Dread

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face. (William Cowper)
On Sunday evening, I left thinking that we might endure another round of treatment without a hospital stay for a fever. It had been a good week and Esther seemed to be doing well. And it was Sunday, usually the day when Esther's counts would come up and we would go home in previous rounds. I said goodbye a little apprehensively but hopeful that the timing of my work trip for a day to South Dakota had worked out, praying that Esther's counts would be rebounding and for no fevers.

I tried to have dinner at the airport but the restaurant was running too late so I only was able to enjoy a nice beer. That isolated beer coupled with the hopefulness of no fevers for Esther would combine to make my flight a bit unenjoyable! First, I got on the plane and noticed that it was a 2 seat-per-row old school turboprop airplane missing one key ingredient: a bathroom! Second, as the plane was taxiing for takeoff, I got a text from Sam saying they were heading down to the hospital. My first thoughts: the worst possible timing ever. And now I'd have to deal with a 90 minute flight both frustrated and feeling helpless for Sam and Esther and my older kids as well as having to pee extremely badly!

But I'm learning. Very slowly. I tried to work through my anger and fear with God and read a bit of my book without counting the minutes. My trip had worked out exactly how I hoped it wouldn't. I also felt a cold coming on and a night of less sleep ahead. Esther and Sam checked in and her fever went down and I was thankful for Aunt Robin and Uncle Casey. Sam and Esther would have a good low key day yesterday of catching up on sleep and rest and I would spend a nice day with my coworkers on a boat on Lake Sharpe.

Today, God would much more clearly intervene. My flight was supposed to leave at 6:30am and get into DIA at 7:20am. That flight was cancelled. After I had already got up at 4am to be there. Instead I was to be on a flight an hour later that would have a connection. Instead of arriving at 7:20am, I arrived into DIA at around 8:30am.

Then I, for some reason, was intent on finding a breakfast burrito for Sam and I before I went to the hospital, visited, and swapped vehicles. Qdoba sounded really good. An hour later (!!) and I found the Qdoba only to see that this one did not serve breakfast! I found another local place and headed on to the hospital. By the time I arrived, it was 10am.

Almost as soon as I arrived, Esther's nose bleed to end all nose bleeds began. We already knew her platelets were only at 14 (normal = 150-300) but her ANC was already back up to 140. Normally, we can apply some pressure, even with her low platelets, and get the bleeding to stop in 5-10 minutes. A half hour later and pressure was not working. An ice pack seemed to slow the bleeding for few minutes. We then tried Afrin, a nasal decongestant that usually helps, and it did appear to finally stop the bleeding. And then it got scary.

The bleeding started again and she then threw up almost a bucket full of blood. I don't mean to gross you out, but it scared the hell out of me. In the past few months since her diagnosis, I have never been more scared. I have never seen that before. The tears started flowing and she threw up 2 more times as the resident doctor engaged in our situation and I was just trying not to lose it. Her nosebleed continued and she got paler and paler. I felt better after they told us the blood she threw up was all likely from the nosebleed and they got her platelet transfusion going almost immediately as the more experienced doctors jumped into Esther's situation as well. In the midst of this, Esther had to go potty and nearly passed out as Sam was helping her. We got her back to her bed and the bleeding stopped and things finally settled down as she received platelets.

I have never felt as fearful for Esther or more worried in the moment. My stomach has been queasy and messed up almost all day until now. Normally I can hold it together when things get crazy. In other previous situations with Esther, I have been able to push ahead. Today, I barely kept from just melting down.

But I realized how easily I could have not been there. It would have been awful for Sam to walk Esther through that by herself. If I don't go on my trip, I'm likely working when it all happens. If my flight left an hour later on Sunday night, I probably would have cancelled it and headed straight home and, again, would have been working today. If my flight this morning had left on time, I probably would have brought breakfast and left before Esther's nosebleed started. If I would not have been so intent on finding a Qdoba, I also would have gotten to the hospital earlier and probably left before she started bleeding. It was extremely hard to see Esther go through that and it was an exhausting day, but I am so thankful that I was there with Sam for it. I am so grateful. I would rather have been there today for Esther's bleeding than be home the last 2 days when they headed in. God knew that and worked it out in spite of me.

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3)
The last few days seemed to all be God's frowning face. The worst timing. Circumstances working against us. But, at least this time, God's grace was so clear by the end of it. He wanted me to be there. He knew what would happen and let Sam and I both be there together for that scary time. God worked it out exactly for me to be there the exact minute I needed to be. God does whatever He pleases and that is a very good thing.

One might try to explain the timing of today by random chance. Maybe it just worked out. But putting my faith in random chance has never been very appealing to me. My God is sovereign and intervened today for our good. He worked against my initial wishes. He timed it all in very clear ways that at first felt like he was doing the exact opposite of working for our good. But behind a frowning providence, he hides a smiling face. I was trying to trust him for his grace but I judged with feeble sense.

Today was a hard day. But Esther is ok and things settled down. This evening, she spiked another fever that will likely keep her there at least another day, until probably Thursday. But I will trust him for his grace. Fearful today, fresh courage I will take! The clouds ahead seem worse and dreadful but are big with mercy and will break upon us with blessing!

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance. (Psalm 66:8-12)


  1. The Lord is an ever-present help in times of trouble. Thanking God for His providence in having you at the hospital today. He knew you were needed. We are praying for those counts to come up and stabilize.

    1. We love you. See you tomorrow, I will be praying without ceasing tomorrow.

  2. So thankful for this post. Things are hard right now, and I so needed to hear this that when things seem hopeless there is a God working all things together for good. I'm amazed your family can continue to be used by God to challenge and spur others of us on. We are praying for you dear ones!

    1. Jenn, you are a dear. I could also account God's hand in encouraging you to send me that link. Seriously, He knew it would be a hard day and we would need to see His goodness in it. I want you to listen to these messages...they are about 35 min each and my very favorite sermon series ever. You will be blessed. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/by-series/ruth-sweet-bitter-providence Much love to you, sweet sister.

  3. We love you guys. A ton. We are in this with you, each step, for the long haul. There is not anything else that i could fathom saying. We love you.

  4. I am so grateful for you guys and for God's gift of faith in you. I see His steady, firm foundation when all my earthly props for stability crumble around me. May He continue to strengthen you in your inner man! We yearn for you to feel God's love and comfort and to just hug you around the neck!
    Serious grace,
    amber for all the Constants

  5. Praise God for His perfect timing. Praying, praying, praying.

  6. WHOA! Hey.... that nosebleed sounds really scary! Poor kid! Yeah, Mom and I were talking about how God works in random moments in people's lives after we read this blog post. Mom's still praying for you guys (I am too). Also, Biblenerd note: the last psalm fragment has cross references in 1 Peter 1:7 and in 2 Cornithians 4:7-9 so that is really cool!

    Hope the little lady feels better and doesn't have any more nosebleeds!