Monday, July 18, 2011


A thunderstorm rolled in off the lake during the past hour.  As is their custom at the first sound of thunder, Henri and Chloe joined us in bed.  Yet, since it's too hot for all four of us in our bed, I got the boot.  I'll use the opportunity to try to put some of my thoughts into words...

Yesterday morning I went for a long bike ride.  It was a good chance to try to wrap my head around the coming week.  Not to plan it, mind you.  That's been done for us.  Chloe's doctors don't ask us when it will be convenient for us to come back to Grand Rapids for treatments, they tell us when to show up.  They printed a two week schedule when Chloe was discharged from the hospital that included both a medication checklist and a schedule of appointments.

We'll be back in GR today, this time at the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, in order for Chloe to get set up for her radiation treatments.  She'll be sedated while they create a mold for her body to fit into and then create shields that will protect the areas around where her left kidney had been.  It's our understanding that she'll probably begin radiation treatments on Thursday, and these will probably continue each day for six consecutive days, but these haven't been scheduled yet.

We have to surrender our schedule...

For those who know me professionally, you know that I'm very passionate about education.  One of the things I've put a lot of time into over the past year is a technology initiative in my school district that will put iPads in the hands of each teacher and student in grades 3-12 over the next year and a half.  As a committee, we're finally getting to the exciting time of rolling out iPads to staff in the coming weeks.  Yet, I had to send a difficult email to the committee saying that I have to pull back for the time being as we don't know what the coming weeks and months are going to look like.  I believe it was the right decision to make, but to say that I'm bummed to not be a part of it is an understatement.

We have to surrender our plans...

For those who have been reading through these posts, you've read that tears have become a regular occurrence.  Yet, they often seem to come at the most inconvenient of times.  There have been several times that I've been alone -- while running, riding, or just sitting after getting the kids to bed -- when I've thought maybe if I get the tears out of the way now, I won't have to worry about them later.  If only it were that simple. 

It's so hard to wake up each day and not know what my emotional state will be like.  Some days I can take it all in stride, and others it is such a struggle.  On Friday night I posted that I wished everyone at the grocery store would have known about Chloe and her cancer.  But on Saturday morning when I made a trip to the coffee shop for beans, I worried the whole way there: 1) would I see someone I know? 2) who would it be? 3) what would they say? 4) how would I respond?  Suddenly, I wanted to be completely anonymous.

We have to surrender our emotions...

However, isn't this what we're asked to do as people of faith?  To give up our schedules and plans, even our emotional states, and trust that God has a bigger plan for our lives.  The week before all of this began with Chloe, I had pulled my worn copy of A Testament of Devotion off the shelf.  This is most likely my six or seventh re-read since my mom gave me the book back in 1999.  That I pulled it off the shelf was God speaking to me as prior to starting it again I had been working on three different professional books.  None of those books would have helped to prepare me for the test of faith that this has brought. In A Testament of Devotion, Thomas Kelly writes:
Meister Eckhart wrote: "There are plenty to follow our Lord half-way, but not the other half. They will give up possessions, friends, and honors, but it touches them too closely to disown themselves."  It is just this astonishing life which is willing to follow Him the other half, sincerely to disown itself, this life which intends complete obedience, without any reservations, that I would propose to you in all humility, in all boldness, in all seriousness.  I mean this literally, utterly, completely, and I mean it for you and for me--commit your lives in unreserved obedience to Him. [emphasis his]
But he never said it would be easy...

A few prayer requests:
  • Christa and I are feeling pretty anxious about the treatments and appointments of the week.  Please pray for peace.
  • Please pray that I can learn to accept that we as a family of five will all respond to this differently on different days.  Some of us seem to need to have space, some need constant company.  Some of us barely say a word, while some talk without ceasing. 
  • Pray that Chloe's body continues to respond favorably to the treatments and that she can emotionally work through the idea of losing her hair (which still seems to be a big deal to her).

On a side note, thanks to all of you who have respected our request for a little space this weekend.  We feel like we're open to a few visitors this week, but please call first.  Thanks.


heather pietrowski said...

Kip- Let the tears out.. it's a cleansing of your heart and mind. On another note, The people at the Lemmon Holton Cancer Pavillion are awesome.. especially the lab technicians. I see Dr. O'Rourke this week for a routine checkup. Chloe is in good hands. Sending postitive thoughts your way!

Kim Mendels said...

One of my favorite quotes from my absolute favorite author, Frederick Buechner:
"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
Peace and grace to all of you-
The Mendels Family

tammy said...

Peace... Please know that lots of people, even those of us on the periphery of your lives are thinking of your family.
Tammy Hillen

Amy Devanney said...

Dear Kip and Christa,
I have tears in my eyes as I read through your posts since July 7. It's my first time on FB in a while. I'm so sorry for all you've been through recently. May you find your source of strength for all you need to face. Stay positive and maintain your faith.
With love,
Mike, Amy, and Ava Devanney

One More Beautiful Black Woman said...

dearest kip and christa...i have no words to offer but to say my heart pierces for you and your children. I will keep Chloe, the doctors and the rest of your family in my prayers. I am so terribly sorry for this. With love, Enuma

Lara Parent Photography said...

Sending you all a bounty of love and peace in all that you are "setting free" and taking out of your hands. xx