Sunday, May 18, 2014

What Hope Looks Like

For the last four months, Paige has dealt with things unimaginable to most teenage girls.  Leukemia diagnosis.  Chemotherapy.  Hospitalizations.  The list goes on and on, yet every step of the way, Paige has exhibited strength, maturity, and courage that reaches far beyond her 13 years.  She recently shared that she doesn't really feel like a kid anymore--that she basically skipped the teen years and went straight into adult mode.

This week Paige was given a reprieve from adulthood and allowed to enjoy some 'teen time.'  A necessary adjustment in her treatment plan resulted in a good energy level, a normal appetite, and blood counts that didn't pose immediate risks to her health.  In our world these days, this is big stuff!  We take one day at a time around here, and the last few days have found us smiling more than we have in a long time.


Dresses & Dances.  While her classmates had long prepared for the 8th Grade dance--dress shopping and planning the evening's activities--Paige hadn't even entertained the idea of attending.  Recent setbacks, side effects, and residual anxieties were still fresh in her mind.  She simply planned to enjoy seeing the pictures posted on social media, and that was it.  As we should know by now, God had other plans in mind.

When Paige's health seemed to be stabilizing, her best friend talked with her about going to the dance, if only to make a brief appearance.  My husband and I were in agreement--it would be safe for her to go.  We had one week until the dance, and the hunt for the dress was on.  Never one for mega shopping sprees, Paige went online and found a dress she liked.  We tracked down the 'dream dress.'  It was exactly what she wanted.  It was beautiful. It was the dress.  And Mom got an incredible deal--so we were all happy!

The big day arrived.  Several friends were meeting at a local park for pre-dance pictures, but nobody else knew she was coming.  Paige got out of the car, joined arms with Kassie, and walked up to say hello.  Greetings proclaiming "You look so pretty!" and "Paige, I love your dress!" were music to the ears, bringing a smile to her face and tears to this mom's eyes.  It was a bit overwhelming watching her interact with friends and just be 'one of the girls' for a while.  She needed it.  She deserved it.  She loved every minute of it.    

Fishing & Family.  Family activities these days are few and far between--especially those involving all four of us.  Movie outings must be midday when there are no crowds, so Jeremy misses out on those.  Visits to places like Main Event take place at different times: Jeremy can go on a weekend with friends, while Paige has been limited to 'off-peak' times.  We know this is just for a short time, but it's tough being separated so often.

Recently we received an invitation from The Sunshine Kids Foundation to take part in a day of fishing, family, and fun.  Excited at the prospect of spending time together as a family of four, we knew that our participation hinged on Paige's general health that day.  Events over the last few months have taught us to take things one day at a time, so we generally don't make plans too far ahead.

The day of the event arrived, and Paige was feeling great.  We arrived at the venue for check-in and were paired with our guides, who treated us to a morning of fishing on the water.  Paige had the honor of reeling in the two catfish we hooked.  We caught two stingrays as well.  One was just a baby, but the other one was giant!  Those, of course, did not join us for the ride back to shore.

We discovered different jobs for us on the boat.  Paige played the role of captain's assistant.  She helped monitor the depth finder when we were searching for a spot to drop the anchor and got to steer the boat when we moved to a different area in the channel.  We discovered Jeremy is a 'master caster.'  He loves to cast the line; he just isn't big on the waiting involved.  Boyce was the designated 'hook baiter,' and I was on photo duty.  Our guides were just as excited as we were.  They were wonderful in their interactions with Paige and Jeremy, and I think they took as many pictures as we did!

Lunch was waiting for us upon our arrival back to shore, and a brief awards ceremony followed.  After thanking our guides and event organizers for a wonderful day, we headed home.  It was a day we will remember for quite some time.  A day to spend time together as a family.  It was incredible!


God is doing such a mighty work in Paige.  Restoring her health one day at a time.  Giving her courage to confidently attend a school event rocking the bald head look.  Providing calm assurance that she can safely make her way onto a boat and out onto the water for a family fishing outing.

Laughter and smiles created memories that will remain with us for a long time.  It was a beautiful glimpse into days yet to come.  This is what hope looks and feels like, my friends.

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.   
Psalm 71:14

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