Wow...once again, it's been a long time since I've sent out an update. One reason is that we've been very busy...Bethany keeps us running with all of her activities. Another reason is that it just seems to be harder now to update. When Hannah was sick and we were going to radiation or Children's Hospital or getting transfusions, there was always something concrete to write about...something new to report. A clinic visit, an MRI report, a return to school, a hospitalization....We don't have those kind of events now, so it's a little bit harder to know when to update or what to write about! God is continuing to teach us many things, though, and from time to time I like to share some of them. Let me first catch you up on some of our activites over the past few weeks.
God has blessed us with several opportunities to share His goodness through Hannah's story in a variety of churches and settings. Bethany has even done some sharing with a couple of youth groups (her own included), and it's been a great experience for her. We also had the great joy and privilege of presenting the first Hannah Joy Sullivan Memorial Scholarship to a student at Ouachita Baptist University (our alma mater, and the college Hannah always planned to attend). This scholarship, and another to be presented to a graduating senior from Magnet Cove, have been made possible by the generosity of God's people, and we are so pleased to be able to honor Hannah's memory in this way.
Several weeks ago, we were interviewed by World of Gospel magazine, which is distributed in the Van Buren/Fort Smith area of the state. The story was in the April issue, and has just been made available for download at their website. Here's the link: http://www.theworldofgospel.net/index_files/Page351.htm The story is on page 15 of the magazine. There are a couple of small errors...Hannah's cancer was a glioblastoma, not a neuroblastoma, as stated in the article. Overall, we are very pleased with it, and we are thrilled that they chose to share her story in their publication.
We recently found something that Hannah wrote on a piece of notebook paper in August of 2006, when she was 14 (two years before she got sick). She had written down Matthew 5:15-16, which says, "And people don't hide a lamp under a bowl. They put it on a lampstand so that the light shines for all people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in Heaven." She then wrote out a prayer, in which, among other things, she wrote, "I pray that I won't hide my light under a bowl but let it shine for the world to see. Lord, break my heart for my friends and let me share this joy that I'm feeling and not keep it hidden, for it is not your intention for us to keep quiet, but to share the gospel. Prepare me, Father, and give me a passionate concern for the lost." We are so thankful to know that through her storm, God has allowed His light to shine to so many.
In II Corinthians 12:9, God tells us, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I've heard that verse all my life, but have never experienced it until now. Pain--whether it's physical pain, relationship pain, economic pain, or the pain of grief--brings us to our knees. God may not always give us the "rescue" we're looking for...relief of physical pain, a restored relationship, financial security, or healing, but He gives Himself. He offers his grace to us freely...it's up to us whether we choose to accept it and apply it to the pain in our lives.
I was listening to one of my older CDs the other day, and heard a song I had not heard in awhile. It is by Steven Curtis Chapman and comes from his 1999 album, "Speechless". The lyrics are amazing, and perfectly express our experiences and feelings over the past couple of months...it's called "With Hope":
This is not at all
How we thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you
CHORUS: But we can cry with hope
We can say good-bye with hope
'Cause we know our good-bye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place by God's grace
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again
And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father smile and say "Well done"
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free... CHORUS
We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everythingGod promised us is true... CHORUS
We wait with hope...
And we ache with hope...
We hold on with hope...
We let go with hope...
It is only by His grace that we can let go with hope. We do cry, and grieve, and ache, but His grace provides a peace that passes all understanding!
"You are good, and what you do is good. Psalm 119:68"
Jill & Brad
P. S. Many of you have asked how Lauren Crook is doing...here is the latest update from her mom (sent out 4/30/09):
As you all know Lauren had scans this week. We are happy to report there is no evidence of new growth since surgery. But, the remaining part of the tumor is still evident in the scans (the area they could not reach). What does that mean?? We pray that it is killed out and inactive. We have spoken with people who had their tumor radiated years ago, but it is inactive and appears on scans. We pray this will be the same for Lauren. She has seen almost all of her doctors this week and they are all very pleased with her progress and how good she looks. She is having no pain and getting stronger each day. She has come so far these last couple of months. Her taste is getting better and she has gained about five pounds. The doctors agreed to rescan her in 3 months, unless problems occur. Remember radiation continues to work for several months after you have received it. Please pray it continues to work and kills out the cancer. Also, we as a family ask that you give God the praise for this wonderful news. He is worthy to be praised and we thank Him for this blessing.