Today I take a break from posting in my “Finding Hope when Your Story is Unfinished” series. I plan to post the final blog of this series in the next several days. In the meantime, I would like to share a testimony of how our great God has helped me over the past two weeks.
The past week and a half remind me that I’m not in control. I’m so thankful that I have a good good Father who IS in control of every single circumstance. Nothing that happens is a surprise to God! My faith can falter. My faith can be so weak. I was reminded this week that it’s not the strength of my faith that matters, but the strength of the OBJECT of my faith. The object of my faith is Jesus, and He is the One who is the Solid Rock beneath my feet.
This past Sunday in Houston as a part of worship we sang these lyrics: (interesting aside – my home church in SC worshipped to this song on Sunday as well!)
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
There have been frustrations, tears, and even confusion over the events of the past two weeks. But when I take a few moments to reflect back, God reveals to me His faithfulness and His power without fail – EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Isaiah 41:13 & 18 says
“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, Fear not, I am the one who helps you. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”
The week of 8/21 the tropical storm that was brewing in the gulf turned into Hurricane Harvey, and it became evident that the gulf coast of Texas, including Houston, would experience Harvey’s wrath.
I was planning a trip home to South Carolina the weekend of 8/25-8/27 so I knew I’d miss the worst of Harvey….if I could just make it home. As concern about Harvey’s hover over Houston escalated, I decided (upon strong suggestion from my dad and husband!) to fly home a day early on Thursday, 8/24. I would miss a treatment on Friday that I’d have to tack on the end, but at least I wouldn’t be stuck in Houston alone during a hurricane. I made it home late Thursday 8/24 – the kids sleeping soundly had no idea I was home a day early. I surprised them Friday morning. It was especially special because my seven year old daughter, Selah, showed me a prayer she journaled on 8/20 asking God for Mommy to come home early. She wrote “I want my mommy home like other kids mommies”. God answered her prayer. I was home.
It was so special to be home, but as I saw footage over the weekend my heart was so burdened for the city that means so much to me. The flooding was beyond what I could even have imagined. Streets I have become familiar with turned into rivers, homes were underwater. The city shut down. Sweet faces flashed through my mind…new friends, the radiation therapists, doctors, the other patients.
Sunday morning (8/27), the gravity of the situation hit me — not only what it meant for the people there, but what this meant for my treatment plan.
Typically radiation treatments for breast cancer are scheduled Monday thru Friday for a certain number of weeks. (Mine was 6 weeks plus three “booster” treatments). It is important that these treatments be consecutive, other than weekend days.
At this point on Sunday, I had already missed one treatment (Friday, for coming home early), and it looked like I wasn’t getting back to Houston any time soon. I had a flight booked to return to Houston Monday morning 8/28, but it became clear that was not going to happen. Houston airport shut down, all flights through Houston cancelled, and the airports were not planning to reopen until Thursday 8/31.
I did some googling (bad idea) and saw that missing 4 or more radiation treatments increased the risk of cancer recurrence. Recurrence? I’ve been there, done that, and don’t want to go through this again!
MD Anderson closed all operations other than their inpatient services, so we weren’t even sure when MD Anderson would open back up, much less when I’d even be able to get BACK to Houston. It was a mess. (And my mess was only a fraction of what the people there were facing!)
roads surrounding MD Anderson
I enjoyed doing “regular” life at home on Monday and Tuesday…taking the children to school, going into work. It felt like regular life..other than a huge piece of my heart that was still back in Houston…concerned for the resilient Houstonians who were underwater, and also concerned for my treatment. It was all so out of my control.
On Tuesday 8/29, a doctor who works with my radiation oncologist called me asking if there was any way I could make it back to Houston by Thursday 8/31. They were trying to contact staff and see if any radiation therapists could get into work. MD Anderson would still be closed, but radiation oncology got permission to treat patients who could get there, considering the time sensitive nature of our treatments. The airport would still be closed, but I knew I’d do whatever it took to get there.
Tuesday after this phone call was CRAZY making arrangements. We decided that I would fly into an airport near Houston, rent a car, and then attempt to drive in. Many roads were still underwater, but we were given some websites that we could use to find clear routes. We decided for Justin to travel with me to help me navigate the unknowns. We didn’t even know if my van was flooded and drivable, considering it was in an open airport lot throughout the storm.
Wednesday 8/30, Justin and I flew into Austin and rented a car…(and got a fun date night out in a fun city!). Thursday early we made our way into Houston. The interstates were clear, but some of the frontage roads on I-10 looked like lakes. It is indescribable. But much of the city appeared to be moving forward. We made it to my apartment (in the rental car), thanked the Lord that my apartment fared well, and then I made it to my 10:45am treatment.
out in Austin
After my treatment the adventure continued. Our plan was to go retrieve my van from the airport and then turn in the rental car we had rented in Austin. We breathed a sigh of relief when my van was dry and it did not appear that lot flooded. When we cranked it, the van started making a strange sound, but I chalked it up to being parked for a week.
I followed Justin (who was driving the rental) to the rental car return center. I waited in the van as he turned in the rental car. A few minutes later a light flashed on my dash indicating a problem. Moments later the van went dead.
By this time, Justin was making his way back to me. Moments earlier he had turned in the rental car, and there we were, stranded at the rental car center. The lines at the rental car center were SO LONG – so many others in Houston trying to rent cars because theirs had flooded. We were not sure if our problems were related to the flood or just a strange coincidence. Based on our limited knowledge, it seemed to be the alternator. We were told we would probably not be able to get a rental car because of the high demand. Justin tried to get back the car he had just returned moments earlier without any luck. We were thinking uber might be our only option to get around for the foreseeable future. I was thankful MD Anderson is relatively close to my apartment, so I could walk if I needed to..
A tow truck called, and supposedly dispatched, and we waited six hours in our van when we were finally told it could be a couple days because the tow truck companies were understandably overwhelmed. We were advised to remove valuables and hide a key inside. At least we knew someone couldn’t steal it because it was dead!
Justin went back to the rental car desks and praise the Lord was able to rent another car for us to use over the weekend! (That was a small miracle!)
We left the van, and finally six hours later, made our way back to my apartment.
We got word Friday late afternoon that the tow truck made it to my van and took it to the mechanic. I found out today that my van has been repaired, and it was not related to the flood — just a fluke coincidence that the alternator decided to break.
I’m back in Houston now, and I’ve made up most of my missed treatments (we doubled up on Friday and staff came in on Saturday to help catch up!).
My final treatment is NEXT FRIDAY – 9/15–and afterwards I’ll be making my way HOME! My sister, Elizabeth, is flying to Houston next Thursday to drive home with me. I’m excited for hours and hours of special sister time!
My prayers continue for this great city of Houston, and the surrounding areas. I have seen the Body of Christ (specifically witnessed Bayou City Fellowship and City Church) rise up and be the hands and feet of Jesus. It will be a long road of recovery; please continue to pray for the people here.
As I recount the events of the past two weeks I’m reminded of two things about the character of God:
*Our God is a God who holds our hand and NEVER lets go!
I see so many glimpses of His grace over these past two weeks. That I made it home before Harvey hit, that Justin was with me when my van broke down, that I made it back to Houston with as much ease as I did. He leads us, and guides us, and protects us as a good Father.
*Our God makes our difficult “wilderness journeys” more comfortable to us.
This season has been so incredibly difficult, but God has made it more tolerable by so many comforts — the extra three days I had with my family at home, generosity from family and friends, special time with my husband, a rental car available when I thought I’d be walking — see His grace?! Friends, it could always be WORSE. When we’re at our wits end in the wilderness, God provides those “springs of water” in the desert. Over the past 28 months of my cancer journey, God has provided ABUNDANT provision of “water and shade” in the wilderness.
Friends, these are just a few of the ways I see Him work in my days. I pray He continues to make His name great through cancer.
“God does great things for His people that He may be taken notice of” (Matthew Henry)
“I am the One who helps you, declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel…And you shall rejoice in the LORD, in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory….that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this!”
Isaiah 41:14, 16, & 20