Monday, November 5, 2012

Words Cannot Express...

Sometimes things in life render you speechless...

 a marriage proposal...

 the untimely death of a close family friend...

crystal clear ocean water and sugary white beaches...

 news that the cancer has returned...

 These are moments where, as humans with limited means, we simply cannot find the words to express what we're feeling.

At the beach last week, Matthew and I were riding our bikes through town and we noticed a crowd gathering on the boardwalk. We parked our bikes and headed down to see what the fuss was about, assuming it was a wedding. Lindsey and Eli were already there so we sidled up to them to get the scoop. There was no need for them to say anything and even if they had, there was no way their words could have captured the moment. All Matthew and I had to do was follow their (and the crowd's) gaze westward.

Stunning. Beautiful. Awesome. Remarkable. Breathtaking. All would have been good words to describe the sunset we saw that afternoon but none would have come close to doing that sunset justice. Truly, sunsets are one of God's greatest masterpieces and He had painted this one on this particular day, for this particular group of folks, as a gift and a reminder that I AM is still in charge. No one can top Him. No one is in His realm. Or even close.

As I struggled that evening to describe the afternoon sunset to my mom and dad, I realized - there are no words in all the world's vocabulary to capture what we had witnessed. We were given a momentary glimpse of something straight out of Heaven, and I was reminded of Isaiah's words in Isaiah chapter 6, verse 5 when he found himself standing before the throne room of God,

"Then said I, 'Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the middle of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." 

In that grand moment, where so many chalk it up to happenstance or a big bang or "Mother Nature," our eyes saw the King. If I have this much trouble summing up a momentary glimpse of the King, how will I dare speak when I open my eyes in eternity and find myself standing face to face with him, with Yahweh?

That name alone - Yahweh - evokes a sense of, "there are no words." It was used by the Jewish people to reference God. It was the holiest of names that he was called. So holy, in fact, that they wouldn't even utter it out of reverential fear for their God who bore the name. If they were to write it, the pen used was immediately destroyed. That's how seriously they took the mention of our Lord's name. I could easily go into a rant here of how flippantly His name is thrown around now, how lightly we consider it when it comes off our lips (and I am certainly in the guilty party); but I'll save that rant for another day...

The point is, in all sorts of ways and wonders, God renders us speechless at different points in our lives.

And so it was upon hearing of Jen's news a couple Mondays ago... The speechless feeling struck, and I wrestled to find the words to covey the hurt, grief and heartache I felt, and still feel, for her. God has brought her so far. She has endured so very, very much. She longs for a life of normalcy. A life with no doctors, no hospitals, no chemo and no cancer. I long for that for her. But I have a greater and deeper longing than that one...

Oh God, be magnified, be glorified. Make this all about You. For when it's not, it all becomes absolutely pointless. We are an unclean people, fallen and living in a broken world. You are our only Hope. We do not hope in treatments, medicines, doctors, or cures - We hope in You. Our Shelter, our Rock, our Mighty Fortress, our Firm Foundation, our Savior. You are our Perfect Provider and in this perfect provision, you made a way for us to speak to you when our finite minds can't find the words. The Holy Spirit listens to the praises, the longings, the desires of our hearts and translates them to you. Thank goodness for the Spirit, for we would forever come up short in our worship of you and in our pleading with you. Lord, I do not know how to pray for Jennifer now. I do not have the words. Give me a prayer from your Spirit that I know you will hear. Until I am given the words, listen to the aching and groaning of my spirit and give us all that we need to make much of You in this difficult and trying time.

Like the beautiful sunset, we can know that this too is momentary. There will come a day when we live in an eternal home where the sun never sets. There will be no more darkness, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more grief, no more tears. The SON will reign forever, and we will rejoice in ways and with words that we were never capable of while on earth. Praise God for that day. A day where we stand before his throne and cry out, "I am undone. My eyes have seen the King."

 Prayerful Ponderings: 

 Jen began her first round of chemo last Monday, October 29th. All seemed to go well and by the end of last week her blast (cancerous cells) count had leveled off with no increase or decrease. The prayer is this: That the chemo, though it is not as aggressive as before, will be effective against the blasts rendering a decrease in blast percentage. Also, that the GVHD will be kept at bay. Right now, all seems to be going well in the GVHD department, and we pray that it continues as such. Pray most of all that Jennifer's spirit will be bolstered and ministered to by God. That she will count this suffering all joy for His sake. Pray, rejoicing confidently, that God is sovereign and whether or not He chooses to heal her, we know He will do what is best for her and what brings Him utmost glory. Our hope is not in what He can do for us now or in the future but in what He has already done. Praise Him for Christ and his work on the cross, without which all would be lost.

The Vandy Verses:

 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26

Tell us what we should say to him; we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness. Job 37:19


  1. Most Gracious and Loving Father, unleash the power of Your Spirit on Jen and Matt and their family as they walk through this cancer journey. May You be glorified and they be blessed as You unfold Your perfect plan. Pour out Your peace that passes understanding on them, encourage them, and give them hope. May Your strength be made perfect in their weakness. In the powerful Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

  2. Jennifer thinking of you and Matt daily and praying for healing, comfort, strength, and peace. Love to all, Melinda Mc

  3. Hi Matt. This is Paul Pavao. I got my bone marrow transplant at Vandy four days before Jennifer did. I'm sure we were on 11 North at the same time and that she took room 11010 for her first round of chemo in Sept. 2011 right after I left it after my first round of chemo.

    So her relapse hits very close to home for me. I asked Dr. Jagasia about Jennifer last week at my appointment, and he said, "Hers is biphenotypic; yours is undifferentiated." He paused a little, then all he could do was confirm her relapse. He's not allowed to tell me anything. I could tell, though, that he knew part of my question. How similar are our leukemias? They commented to me regularly how my leukemia showed signs of both ALL & AML.

    I wanted to pass on this article:

    I looked it up after someone posted on a message board for those that had been diagnosed with BPDCN, a rare form of leukemia that was my original diagnosis. That someone was a wife whose husband had relapsed, and SL401 had put him back in remission.

    I am passing on the above article to you rather than the lady's post because it explains the rather wide range of leukemias that SL401 can possibly treat. It's in phase 2 testing and MD Anderson in Texas.

    I know from experience that there's no better staff than the stem cell team at Vanderbilt. I know they can give you the rest of the story, but I just couldn't leave the article unmentioned. I know it's not a flaky article because MD Anderson is using it, and they have an excellent stem cell transplant team, too.

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  6. Matt & Jenn: thank you for writing & letting us "see" your heart cry, your faith, your love for the Father & Christ. Last night I was with a group of believers & Paul Pavoa shared a bit of your story. We prayed for you then & will continue-- I woke up with you on my mind this morning. Know that He is faithful to nudge us to pray-- you are not alone. I hope to meet you in person someday.

  7. Paul,

    Thank you for posting. I looked up info on SL-401 and even called the principle investigator at MD Anderson. While the compound was effect in phase two trials, it is no longer being studied in patients with leukemias other than BPDCN. Thank you so much for thinking about us, and God bless!

    - Matt

  8. Matt and Jen are always in my thoughts and prayers. I've been thinking about you guys a lot lately. Sending you tons of positive thoughts and love. Love, Meghan B


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