The strength God can give

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2011

Want to peek inside of my journals? Elise was 10 years old at the time of the first entry. On several nights, she entered my bedroom crying and clutching her stomach as she crawled into my bed. I held her as she cried, whispered urgent prayers and slept only after she did. Repeated trips to the doctor revealed no reason for the pain other than a probable virus.

August 13, 2002: East Jefferson Hospital. Elise is sleeping now. Victoria asked me to come home. She said she’s used to waking up and seeing me… at the computer! Oh, my… into how many pieces can the human heart be torn? It surely must be the strongest, most versatile organ God ever created. It breaks, then heals. It gives, then grows. And the more it breaks and gives, the stronger and larger it becomes.

August 14, 2002: Still waiting on the results from the biopsy. I’m so glad God gives free refills on grace. Grace supports your legs when your knees buckle at the words, emergency surgery. It hides the pain in your eyes when your child cries out in agony and lets her see only strength and love. Grace lets you urge that child to walk after surgery when you’d rather carry her in your arms, then calms you so you can sleep on the hospital couch, existing on coffee and graham crackers, which is more than she’s been allowed to have. Grace pushes out fear of the unknown and replaces it with a stronger and deeper faith that what’s to come will be infinitely greater than what has gone.

August 15, 2002: Yesterday afternoon the doctor brought me into a conference room and said, “The tumor has been identified as lymphoma.”

I returned to Elise’s hospital room to inform her of the news. She looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, “I don’t want to have cancer.”

“That’s why we’ll do everything we can to get rid of it,” I said.

“But I don’t want to die,” she

said as tears spilled onto her che-eks.

“Look at me, Elise. I had cancer, and I didn’t die.”

We held each other and cried together until she said, “I’m going to be all right. I’m ready to fight this.” Elise is amazingly strong.

We’ve been transferred to Children’s Hospital. When Elise found out that she would have to drink four cups of red liquid for the scan, she cried and said, “When we checked in here, the nurse said no child should ever be uncomfortable or in pain. To drink that would make me uncomfortable, so I don’t think I should have to drink it.” I wanted to pour it down the drain and lie to the nurse, or pick her up and walk out of the door. Instead, I offered her $20 and a Limited Too outfit. She drank all four.     

September 14, 2002: As Elise goes through treatment, I’m reminded of what happened during mine. Although her prognosis is far greater, and she has experienced none of the side effects I did, the process mimics mine, and with every step is a painful memory.

November 23, 2002: Her well

runs deep. Stripped of the external comforts of a carefree childhood and placed in a world of doctors, tests and treatments, Elise has learned to go deep beneath the

surface to the Source of life for

sustaining power. She eagerly returned to school despite a discolored neck, skinny legs, which stretch out forever from her navy shorts, and a bald head covered

only by her brother’s baseball

cap. She no longer asks why it happened to her, but instead asks why

it has happened to the others she meets at the hospital. These questions only force her to go deeper

and dig deeper to a place where comfort can be found. Rarely are they resolved while kicking the

dust on the surface, so she dug

deep. While she may have never found an answer, she swims in the strength from her Source, and this immersion in God’s Gulf Stream has begun to wash away nagging questions and silence fears and self-pity.

April 2008, taken from Elise’ speech at the Relay for Life: “It was weird to think cancer was in my body, but I trusted my parents to know what to do, and I trusted my doctors to know what to do, and I trusted that God would heal me. I still have a scar from my surgery, but it doesn’t bother me. When I see it, it reminds me of the kindness and diligence of my doctors, the support of my friends and the faithfulness of my God.”

August 22, 2011: I don’t think eternity is long enough to thank God for healing Elise.

Ronny may be reached at