Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Parenthood and Isaiah for a Christmas in the Hospital

What a difference just one year makes. If you had told me a year ago that I'd be spending the holiday season of 2012 watching Peyton Manning lead the Broncos to a 10 game win streak and in the hospital with a stage IV cancer fighting Esther, I would have laughed (Broncos get Peyton?) and been shocked and anxious. How would we be able to handle Esther having cancer? How could we even endure just a few months of treatment? And, of course, I would have asked this question: How could the Broncos get rid of Tebow?

But here we are. The Broncos somehow have Peyton Manning, are a ridiculous 12-3, and are the prohibitive Super Bowl favorite. My Christmas has been spent getting up early, watching Esther open up a few gifts with Sam, and then finally catching all the way up on Parenthood and spending a good chunk of time in the book of Isaiah while Esther takes a 4+ hour nap (she's still sleeping...).

Parenthood Season 4. Wow. Just wow. I really don't want to spoil it for anyone but let's just say that you'll figure out early this season how close it hits home to Sam and I. And it worked out that I ended up watching the latest Christmas episode today. I needed the Kleenex box for sure. One character's move to prayer just broke me. But good art ministers to the soul. And Parenthood is damn good art (pardon the expression but this show deserves it). It's so well written and acted that it feels so close to reality in many ways. After 3 and half seasons, I love this fictional family. Sure, there are characters you just want to punch in the face sometimes, but even those characters make sense. I love how they don't simply change absolutely but their evolution is realistically slow and minor. But what ministered to me today is simply the fact that someone out there gets my reality. It makes me feel just a little less alone. The show also makes me miss my father in many ways, especially during this life turned upside down season.

Let's just say that I am hugely far behind in my Bible reading plan this year. I'm such a scheduled normally routine nerd, this just kills me! It feels like a minor failure to not finish my plan as usual. But there are yet 7 days left this year! Today I spent a bit of time cruising through Isaiah. I was moving through it pretty rapidly until this passage halted me:

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,

of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

And he will swallow up on this mountain

the covering that is cast over all peoples,

the veil that is spread over all nations.

He will swallow up death forever;

and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,

and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,

for the LORD has spoken.

It will be said on that day,

"Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.

This is the LORD; we have waited for him;

let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." (Isaiah 25:6-9)

In the middle of the prophesies and sometimes drudgery of Isaiah pops this passage that spoke directly to my soul. God planned for me to read this today. There is no other way to say it. This passage is what I hope we celebrate today in our various family traditions and forms. Jesus came to swallow up death forever. He didn't come to give us rules, to steal our joy, to be our dictator, or to make us feel guilty for all our shortcomings. Jesus came to free us from death and to restore our true joy in Him. He came to wipe our tears. He came so that one day he would prepare a feast for us.

The fact that he will wipe away our tears infers that we will have many in this life. The past 6 months have been true to that. There will likely be plenty more before this life is done. But he wipes them away. He is near and not far.

Today I ate the special Christmas meal in the hospital cafeteria. The turkey and mashed potatoes were ok, the sweet potatoes and apple pie were extremely bland. My enjoyment of food has been greatly minimized in the past 6 months but that's not a big deal, it's probably been really good for my heart. But Jesus is preparing a feast beyond my imagination. It's coming faster than I probably realize. It may come sooner that I want for Esther.

You know how many presents I opened today? None. You know how much I really care about that? None. Honestly. I realized last night and today that what I missed most was not even watching my kids open their gifts. I missed just being with family (Sam and the kids are with her family). I realize sitting here that my family and my extended family are huge gifts that I easily take for granted.

And the passage above from Isaiah reminds me yet again of the gift of salvation that I so easily neglect and forget. So I will rejoice in the gift He has given. Life. Freedom. Hope. A feast to come. Access to and friendship with the one true God who is near and who came to us as a humble baby born in a stinky manger. Joy and peace.

And FaceTime. ;-)

Esther is still sleeping (it's a 5hr nap now...)! She'll need platelets again this evening. She just finished a blood transfusion earlier. Transfusions are now a daily occurrence until her body has the capacity to rebuild itself.

Merry Christmas! We cannot express enough to our family and friends and even strangers that have blessed us what a gift you all are to us this season! You have been His hands to wipe away many a tear.



  1. May God bestow only wonderful blessings in 2013 ... be sure, heaven knows how much your family deserves it!

    Esther is a beautiful, strong, courageous little girl - - and the earth is blessed with her presence!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. I find Parenthood hitting close to home this season too! I LOVE that show. Ive been blog stocking you guys. Like literally. Its making me nervous for our upcoming stem cell stint. Been praying much. Someday we MUST get our families together, hopefully a celebration time!

  3. Wanted to say I've been reading your blog. This Christmas is the first Christmas I haven't been able to go home to celebrate with my family- our 2 year old came down with a super high fever and influenza. I wanted to complain, but after reading what you guys are going through, I realized that I have so much to be thankful for & praise God for. I'm praying for your little girl each day & for God to strengthen & heal her.

  4. Hey Anthony, thanks for writing this. Following your blog has been a hard blessing, if that makes sense. Esther is close in age to my daughter, and seeing her sweet smile just gets to me every time. You and your wife's posts are consistently a blessing in their honesty and focus on the goodness and glory of God. I wish I would have kept in better touch with you through the years. I'm thankful to be able to keep up with you now through this blog, but I wish it was under other circumstances. I'm praying for and Samantha, and of course, Esther.

    p.s. We've enjoyed watching Parenthood a lot, too.