October 19, 2016 3 Comments
Christian Mystic-in-training, burgeoning Apologist, Writer, Poet, Philosopher, all-purpose Curmudgeon
October 19, 2016 3 Comments
October 8, 2016 2 Comments
Counting the children of my children (including some I’ve ‘adopted’ over the years), at 58 years old I have 16 grandchildren and two great-grand children. I love them all dearly and would happily give my life to save theirs. There is only one grandchild, however, that I’ve actually been in the presence of when she came into this world on May 1, 2013: Laie Kathleen Rayne Harding. I even made a video celebrating her birth. This doesn’t by any means demonstrate that I love little Lulu (our name for Laie) any more than the others. It just means that the planets and stars all happened to align so that I’d be there when the big event happened. Lulu’s Dad and Mom – my oldest son Joey and his beautiful wife Grace Harding – were more than kind enough to allow me to be in the delivery room when she arrived kicking and screaming. I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life.
A couple of months ago Lulu began complaining of abdominal pain and losing both her appetite and weight, but it wasn’t until the day after her big brother’s birthday party (Kyler) on September 24th when she was taken to the ER (for the third time in a month) and given a CT scan, where it was discovered she had a significant mass in her belly. Lulu was immediately admitted to the Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham so more testing could be done. On Monday a surgeon performed a biopsy of some of the tumors in her abdomen, and bone marrow samples were taken from her hip bones. On Tuesday she was given a total body bone scan. The next day (the 28th of September) we were told that Laie had Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a very aggressive cancer that primarily targets young children. In the lymph nodes of her abdomen Lulu had a number of tumors like a cluster of grapes, and it was also in her bone marrow. This grim news knocked us all to our knees. The doctor told us that Neuroblastoma is the second most frequent cancer in children, and is definitely treatable. I could barely hear the doctor as he spoke to us about the plan he had to defeat Lulu’s cancer. My mind went numb with shock as I looked at the angry red areas on her body scan. Stage 4! There are no stages beyond that. Both Joey and Grace’s faces reflected the devastation I felt. When the doctor left we wept, completely blown away by the realization that Lulu’s precious life hung in the balance. It was the very beginning of what has become a long and rocky road.
Our little Lulu has to undergo 5 rounds of chemotherapy, along with radiation and immunotherapy. She was given a blood transfusion immediately in the hopes it would improve her immune system and boost her energy. We were told Lulu will have more transfusions, as well as bone marrow transplants. It will be a difficult and dangerous journey, but the doctors have assured us she has a good chance of recovering. Then another test revealed that Lulu also has a tumor in the membrane between her brain and skull, and more tumors in her legs. As they began administering Lulu’s first round of chemo (five days of two doses per day) the bitter news began to sink in. However, a more significant remedy had begun from Day One. It defies science and flies in the face of modern medicine. From the moment Lulu became ill, people began to pray.
The great Charles Spurgeon once wrote “Intercessory prayer is an act of communion with Christ, for Jesus pleads for the sons of men.” When we began asking for people to pray for Laie, a groundswell of soulful supplications began to spread around the world. Social media sent our request to friends, and they in turn shared this with their friends, who also passed it along. Churches added Lulu’s name to their prayer lists, prayer chains were formed, and thousands upon thousands of people fell to their knees asking that she be healed. There is nothing in this world – Nothing! – more powerful than a fervent prayer. Jesus said “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) It just doesn’t get any more clear than that, my friend.
In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he said “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” He wrote that we should not be anxious about anything. Imagine how difficult this is for the parent of a child with cancer! I can tell you right now, as Laie’s grandfather, that it would be absolutely impossible for me to lay aside my worry, were it not for my deep seated faith in Jesus. It is faith that unlocks the key to the presence and power of the Lord. Faith-driven prayer is like a pleasing incense to God, an aroma that unlocks His eternal and abiding love in your heart.
Let’s read the words of Luke chapter 18: 1-8 “1And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” I beg of you, dear reader, if you find it in your heart to pray for Laie, please, please pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), pray that she might be healed, because prayer has great power (James 5:16), believe Him when He says He hears your prayers (Jeremiah 29:12) and have faith in the knowledge that God will heal her (Matthew 21:22).
Even if you can’t seem to put the words together, the Lord will hear you. In Romans 8:26-27, it is written “26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
My friend, whether you are a Christian or not, I plead for your prayers. Ask God to heal Lulu, to remove this cancer from her body, to return her to complete health. His glory will be magnified in the miracle of Laie’s cure. Pray that her doctors do all they can with the wisdom and skills given to them. Pray for Laie.
Pray for Laie.
Pray for Laie.
October 2, 2016 6 Comments
My granddaughter has Stage Four Neuroblastoma. It is in her lymphatic system and bone marrow. She has a cluster of tumors in the lymph nodes of her abdominal cavity that are pressing on her intestines. Her name is Laie (pronounced Lay-ya) Harding, but everyone calls her Lulu. We are all devastated. All Lulu knows is that she is in terrible pain and she wants it to stop.
I’ve been by Mom and Dad’s side since Lulu was admitted to the Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham. The hospital is incredible in every way. If you want to give to this beautiful institution, I know they would appreciate it. Children’s of Alabama is 100% dependant on donations – they do not charge for their services. But as every doctor and nurse and aide say, it’s not about them. It’s about Lulu.
Lulu began her first round of chemo Friday. Two doses a day for five days. So far she has tolerated it without side effects, but we all know there will be a time when the chemo starts to ravish her as it fights the cancer. But all that matters to Lulu is Right Now, and she is fighting with every bit of her little self. She had not eaten from the moment she was admitted late Sunday night (9-25-16). The tumors in her abdomen worry the doctors, afraid if she ingests something it won’t go through the whole system, and if an intestine is being blocked by a tumor, it will sit there or come back up, which will compound her problems. So the doctors put her on an IV and gave strict orders not to eat or drink until they could do the proper testing (CT Scan done 9-27-16) to determine the nature of the tumor cluster. Meanwhile, Lulu got hungry, and she was VERY vocal about it. Can you imagine the agony of her parents, unable to ease her hunger and her pain? Thursday, from the moment she woke until the moment she fell to sleep from exhaustion, she wanted nuggets with ranch sauce. This is how she said it over and over: “IIIIIIII!!! WWAAAAAAAANT!!! NUUUGGETS!!! WIIITH!!! RAAAAANCH!!! SSAAAAUCE!!!” at the top of her lungs. We also found out Lulu has the ability to scream in two higher octaves. She couldn’t understand anything except she had this incredible pain in her abdomen (she also constantly cried to us that she wanted her belly rubbed, hoping the pain of the tumors would go away) and had legitimate hunger, so that became her goal, to hopefully get all these grown ups to bring her some FOOOD!!!. And she wanted GUUUUMMMY!!! BEEEAAARRRSSS!!! and CHIIIIPS IIIIN AAA BOOOWWL!!! I pray that you never have to sit through a child’s agony. It shreds the heart.
Finally, Finally, Friday they let her have her two most requested drinks (MMOOOUUNTAAIIN DDEEEWW!!! and CHHOOCOLLAAATE MIIILLLK!!!) and she drank as if she had crossed the desert. Then yesterday the doctors removed Lulu’s nasogastric tube from her nose and okayed her to eat. She isn’t able to stomach much, but you can be sure Dad went to Burger King and got her some nuggets with ranch sauce. Now Lulu is bossy and vocal about other things, but not about food and drink. Now we hope and pray she has a bowel movement. I’ve never had so much joyful and worried anticipation. If she does make a boom-boom I might just have it bronzed.
From the moment Lulu was admitted, and especially after getting the horrible diagnosis on Wednesday, there has been this groundswell of support and prayers for her that has completely overwhelmed us all. There are thousands upon thousands of people around the world praying for her, entire congregations, prayer chains and individual prayers. There is an almost steady stream of family, friends and strangers who have come by her room with toys, stuffed animals, food and money. This has become a movement. Now we just need to keep it moving. Lulu’s parents, Joey and Grace Harding, are behind in all their bills (utility, mortgage payments, ect.) and need all the help they can get. Mom and Dad should only be worried about getting Lulu better, right?
The next time I post here, I’ll get all the links to all the places set up to help her. For now, though, you can go to her Facebook page, Prayers for Laie, and find out about the Go Fund Me site, t-shirts and other resources. Listen, dear reader, if you do nothing else, at least Share it on her Facebook page – Tweet, Snapchat, Instagram the link, raise awareness for Lulu. Please, as a grandfather and fellow human being, I beg, beg, BEG you to do all you can. There is NO expiration date anywhere on Lulu’s body, no sign that says ‘give’ up’, no hopelessness. Lulu’s prognosis is grim, but those who love and care for her are absolutely determined to kick that cancer’s ass (excuse my French). We are pissed off at it. We are as angry as hornets. We are GOING to kill that damned cancer. We are in fight mode, and am going to give our all to remove this scourge from precious Lulu.
Your priorities change quickly when cancer tries to destroy your child. Your world narrows down to a hospital bed, only able to hold her hand and hope beyond hope that she will make it through this horrible trial. You pray more than you ever had in your entire life. Your life’s trajectory shifts, and will never be the same again. Dear reader, put yourself in Lulu’s mom and dad’s shoes, in their hearts. Help them. Help Lulu. Pray. Give. There is no gift greater than prayer, but if you can wing it, donate to Lulu’s Go Fund Me site, visit her Facebook page, offer hope. Offer your love. We need all we can get. Thanks to all who have given and all those who have lifted up their voices in prayer.
Finally, let me share a scripture that speaks directly to this trial:
“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13