Psalm 69:29-31 (New Living Translation)
29 I am suffering and in pain.
Rescue me, O God, by your saving power.
30 Then I will praise God’s name with singing,
and I will honor him with thanksgiving.
If you are a follower of Peyton's website, there are times when you might wonder what on Earth we have to be thankful for. Peyton's been sick for months. A year ago, she was at the peak of her health and strength. Her little body has been through one illness after another since just after Christmas and she's weaker now than ever. The next illness could be the one that sends her to the PICU. We've already made decisions for her life that no parent should ever have to make. With everything going on with Peyton, we also experienced the loss of my mother on July 25th of this year. What on Earth do we have to be thankful for?? Let me tell you what I am thankful for.
Friends. I am incredibly thankful for the friends we have. Not just the ones we have here locally in Charleston, but all of our friends across the miles. We have received such encouragement and support over the past year. While people are mostly unable to comprehend what it is we are going through or how we even manage to deal with everything, their support does encourage us and gives us strength - even if it's just to get us through a few hours or days. Their support helps to sustain us in times that are incredibly challenging. Here locally, we have friends who have visited when Peyton's been in the hospital, who have brought meals to just help out at times, who have watched Moira on short notice because something came up with Peyton. For all our friends and the support that they have given, thank you!
Family. We don't have any local family. Our family (immediate and extended) is spread across a few countries - the U.S., Canada, and even Scotland. Just like our friends, our family has given us enormous amounts of support. We know that we can lean on our family when we need to - and that is most of the time! We always know that we are being prayed for and thought about at any given time. Just knowing we have a family that is there for us no matter what is huge. It would be next to impossible to go through our life right now without that.
My Mother. We truly lost an amazing and wonderful lady when my mother passed away four months ago today. She was a beautiful person who carried her incredibly strong faith with her to the end. Never once did she complain about the illness that would claim her life at 63 years of age. She was a woman full of grace and compassion. I love her dearly. I only hope that there's even just a fraction of her in me. I think of her all the time still and often wonder how she would handle our situation. I am so grateful to have had her for my mother.
Our Church Family. About a year and a half ago, we found Seacoast Church. In doing so, we found a "home". A huge part of what makes Charleston feel like "home" is having found the right "church home". Each one of us has a "place" at Seacoast. Moira has her home in "Kidscoast", which is part of the children's ministry. She has been on the worship team for the past couple months or so. It is amazing to me to hear her talk about God and how much she enjoys going to church. You know your church is doing something right when your 6 year old tells you her favorite book is The Bible! Peyton has her home in "Won by One", which is the special needs ministry at Seacoast. When she's well enough to go, Peyton will go to the Won by One room during the service time. There, she is surrounded by other children with special needs and a host of volunteers who go out of their way to tend to the needs of these children and teach the message to them in a way that they might be able to relate to. Sadly, Peyton hasn't been well enough to go for the past several weeks, but people still ask us how she's doing and let us know they're praying for her. Ron and I have our home in the main body of the church. Now that we've got a better nursing situation, we are able to attend church together once again rather than having to go in shifts so someone can stay home with Peyton. The messages each week do much to encourage us and lift our spirits. It often feels like the weekend message was aimed directly at us - that is how well they relate to everyone in the church! We have grown in our spiritual lives and have grown much closer to God than ever before. For all of this, we are eternally grateful!
Each Other. I am so thankful that I get to spend my life with such a wonderful husband. Ron goes above and beyond what most husbands have to do for their families in order to meet the needs of ours. Most 38 year old couples haven't been faced with a fraction of the challenges we've faced in the past ten and a half years of married life. I won't pretend our lives have been easy. We've been tested to the limits. We have done it together. I think we are so similar in so many areas. But when I feel like I am at my weakest, Ron is always there to support me. When I feel like I just cannot take another day of the stress and frustration, Ron is there to support me. He is there to encourage me. He is there always loving me - no matter what challenges our life brings. For all of that, I love him and I am grateful beyond measure.
Moira. I am beyond grateful to have a 6 year old daughter who is just the sweetest girl. She is so smart. She knows far more than most 6 year olds I have known! She gets thing on a different level. She is more compassionate and caring than any child I know. She is funny, imaginative, creative, caring, loving, and is a wonderful big sister. And she puts up with me. I can't imagine what life must be like for her sometimes, being caught in the middle of all of the stresses that we're going through with Peyton. She must feel incredibly alone at times. For her independence, I am grateful. If she weren't so, I think things would be much more difficult on her. I am grateful for the person she is and I love her!
Peyton. I am so thankful to have Peyton in my life. I love her as I love Moira. She comes with a lot of challenges, that is for sure, but never ever would I change things. Peyton is a sweet little 4 year old girl who has had to face more challenges than any other child I personally know. She's been in the hospital about 10 times this year. She's had 19 surgeries in those 4 years. She's had around 30 general anesthetics (for surgeries and other procedures). She's had illness after illness after illness. She's a sweet little child wrapped in a mystery that we just can't figure out. There are so many "why's" where she is concerned. I have stopped asking why all of this had to happen to her. It did. It's all a part of God's plan for her. I don't know why. I don't understand why. I just know that it is. As such, I also know that God has entrusted Ron and I with the care of Peyton. I am eternally grateful that God had so much faith in US that we could care for His little child. We don't know what lies ahead. Today is a relatively good day and things seem to be a little better, but she'll soon be off her antibiotics - and then what?? We know that her life with us here on Earth will be short. We don't know how short. Her recent history suggests it could be a lot shorter than we would like. What I do know is that until the time comes for God to call her to His home, she is here with us and we are to care for her and love her as He would have us do. For being graced and blessed with this opportunity, I am forever thankful. For having the honor of having Peyton as my daughter, thank you God. I just hope and pray and how we are raising Peyton and dealing with everything can be done in a way that pleases You.
God. Where to even begin. Thank you God for all the blessings you have given us. You have blessed us with friends and family who sustain us as we face challenging times. You have placed us in the right place in the right time for a purpose. We can feel your love through all of the people we've been surrounded with during the past year. We can feel your blessings being poured out on us by so many people - some of whom we barely know, yet who feel it is their assignment to show Your love to us through them. You have even placed all of the right medical people in our lives. We have encountered some doctors, nurses and other medical staff who truly are being the hands and feet of Christ while they care for Peyton. I feel, for the most part, that each of these people was placed in our lives for a purpose. Thank you, God, for surrounding us with the people in our lives who are there to help us, guide us, and give us strength. I know that everything in our life is Your plan and I thank you.
There is so much to be thankful for right now. I could go on and on even more than I have. Going forward, I will continue to pray. I will pray for guidance in my spiritual life and in my relationship with God. I will continue to pray for strength and wisdom that will help guide me through the challenging times ahead. I know that above all else, I have Christ in my life. I want to strive to put Him above all in all things. I am at a point in Peyton's life where it seems like medicine just isn't enough. Through it all and in the time ahead, God IS enough. I have placed everything in His hands because it is completely out of ours. I will continue to pray and to enlist the prayerful support of people. I know there are many mighty prayer warriors out there praying for Peyton already, but the more the better! It would be wonderful to someday look back on this time and wonder what we were ever so worried about!
I will close with the blessing that is used at the end of our church service each Sunday because it is so appropriate for how I'm feeling now:
Ephesians 3:20-23 (New International Version, ©2010)
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.