We all look forward to growing up, getting married, and starting our families. And while we are going through these stages, we only see goodness in front of us. Especially if we are God's chosen ones.
But being Christians does not always mean that we will never face trials. In fact, pastors who have their flock's best interests at heart will make sure that they are aware that life is not always a bed of roses. And they will make sure that they also know that behind every cloud there is a silver lining, filled with God's goodness towards those who love Him.
That being said, I bring you the true story of Kate. She is the second of three children of Aaron, one of our previous associate pastors, and our music minister, who left us just a few years ago. He and his sweet wife Holly felt the call of God to leave what they had known, to venture into the unknown, and obeyed. They ended up in Arizona, where they currently reside. Aaron is the pastor of a large church there, and the family was able to settle and thrive.
A little over 1 1/2 years ago, in the summer of 2009, Holly noticed little Kate had a tremor in her arm. She had never noticed this before. Kate was a happy, excited to live, full of joy, perfect package of a girl. She already had a great love for Jesus, and loved everybody else too. She had wit, charm, and grace.
So Holly took little Kate to the doctor, who did not like what he saw. He sent them to a doctor at a bigger hospital, where tests were run. It was not long before it was known that Kate had a brain tumor. And it was thought to be a very aggressive type of cancer, that typically does not have a very good record of survival for it's victims.
From the doctor's office on Monday, to the surgery suite on Friday. The intent was to take the entire tumor out of Kate's brain. But, alas, it was not to be. This tumor was large, and had embedded itself deep on the left side of her brain, and had intertwined with blood vessels and nerves. No matter how the doctors worked, they were not able to remove all of it. It was holding on.
So, months of therapy began, with Holly and Kate taking up residence in children's hospitals where they specialized in treating kids with cancer. Chemotherapy was done, MRI's to check the progress, and then hair loss, loss of much sensation and movment on the right side, the nausea and vomiting that accompanies cancer treatments, and the list goes on. Isolation was necessary at some times due to Kate's weakened immune system. Being away from family and friends. Feeling alone, and certainly lonely.
But there was a great arising of friendships, family, even the rich and famous, who heard of Kate's plight and visited. Fund raisers were done, concerts were held, and photo ops were published. In the middle of all of this was little Kate. Smiling, still amazingly happy, still hanging on with excitement and hope.
Why? Because of Jesus. This family practices what it preaches. These parents made sure their children knew who God was, and what He was, long before they had any inkling of trouble. They were already walking and talking and doing everything with Jesus. No decision they faced, no crisis, no good things, nothing went without His involvment. They went to Jesus before they did anything else.
And they continue….
Kate finally had a new form of radiation treatment in Texas last year. The results were good. They were hopeful, indicative of victory. The family returned to Arizona, ready to move on and get on, and resume as near a normal life as they could, while knowing also there would be the MRI's to check the progress every few months. Their new normal.
All along the way, Holly and Aaron posted about their journey. There were days where they celebrated small victories, days where they publicly put their tears on the electronic pages they wrote on. They ministered to other families and children they came to know. They saw losses along the way. And Kate learned about loving others in a big way. This Christmas saw the second installment of “'Kate's Crazy Cool Christmas,” where they undertake to raise money and collect gifts for other children and their families who are going through what they are. And what a difference they have made in so many lives. There ministries have become boundless.
But now, Kate is once again in the spotlight. She had a regularly scheduled MRI this past Monday. She has been doing great! She just had her 7th birthday last week, a milestone to this family, and she has been doing things they never thought she would be able to do. She has been regaining the strength on her right side, and she has been going to school again. A nearly normal childhood, once again. Something prayed for, and desperately hoped for.
The news came back…two new spots, on the other side of her brain. Devastating. Heartbreaking. Unspeakable. The kind of news that literally takes your breath away.
Doctors are once again planning. Looking at options, possible treatments, which way to go and how to get there. With parents and Kate in shock, unbelief, terror.
But they praise God anyway! They are thankful for what He has done. They know they would not have come this far without His grace and love. They do not pretend to understand why He has not healed young Kate. Prayers from all over the world have been lifted for her. All who know and love this family have cried out for her healing. I cry as I type this. But we also know His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not ours either. He knows best. And His purposes will be fulfilled.
We do know Kate is a fighter. She is not giving up. And she will continue to love Jesus and trust Him all the way through. This entire family will. And we must as well.
So my request to all of you is this…pray for Kate. Pray for her life to be preserved, for her life to make even more of a difference to others. And on behalf of Kate and her family, please pray for a cure, for every single child, and adult, who are hit with this disease, with the fear, the uncertainty, the good times and the bad times that come. Pray for God to touch each of them individually, with His special love and healing power. Simply pray.
For our God loves to hear our prayers. He loves to hear us praying for sweet Kate. He loves her so. He loves her family. He loves us all.
Simply pray…for His will, not our own.