…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. 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. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good… Romans 8:26-28

On the eve of this Thanksgiving, reflecting once again on that mental list of good things to be thankful for, perhaps it is best to say that this year we give thanks in faith, trusting the Lord we love that all things, especially the bad things, will indeed work together for good.

We arrived at the last day of radiation to find the entire sedation unit staff wearing panda masks in honor of Alice. They even had a couple extra for us. Alice’s room, the hallways to the radiation room, and the radiation room itself were littered with SpongeBob signs for her. We can’t say enough about how amazing the medical staff all were. To the last day, Alice never once complained about having to go “to the Doctor’s house.”

I’m tempted to give thanks for the things we like and hold them up against the things we don’t like as little spots of peace in the middle of the storm. I’m thankful for skilled doctors, the ability to “buy some time” with Alice, I’m thankful for the support of family and friends, the outpouring of affection from the family of God, thankful for my sweet wife and dear children and the fact that they still smile and laugh in the face of the darkest days of our lives so far. I’m particularly thankful for every time Alice’s little voice falls on my ear.

But I don’t want to simply give thanks for the things that give me joy now, this year more than ever I want to be able to give thanks for the thing that I hate now but know will bring me joyΒ someday. I’m thankful for a God who works cancer for good – for Alice, for me, for my family, and for everyone who has cried along with us on this rough road. So we give thanks in faith – “Lord, someday we will give you thanks for this, and really mean it!”

That doesn’t mean we expect this trial will end how we want it to – growing old with all our kids healthy, wealthy, and wise. It does mean that no matter what happens in the next months or beyond, we expect this trial, like every other one we have and will endure, ends around the throne of our Good King, offering our heartfelt thanks for a love that gave us sorrow for a night, but endless joy for a perpetual, eternal morning.

Alice’s custom-made radiation mask. After she fell asleep each day, this was placed over her face, and green lasers would line up with the black marks in order to place and hold her in perfect position before administering the treatment. It’s an interesting “relic,” and I’m not quite sure yet how I feel about it or what to do with it!

My wife and I often ask each other one question: What do you think God is going to do with all the prayers offered up for Alice? We are amazed, encouraged, strengthened, and sometimes a little confused as to the sheer volume and weight of prayer lifted up for her, from all corners of the globe. I can only say one thing for certain – God Himself has moved His people to pray. To what end? That remains the mystery we are curious to see unfolded. Indeed, we don’t know what to pray for, because we don’t know all the options God has available to Him, and which one He’s choosing to bless us with. We hope that all the tearful pleas for Alice’s complete restoration are answered. Yet if she’s not, surely God has heard those prayers He inspired, and will not let them fall uselessly to the ground, will He? Surely not! So we are thankful that we love the God who works all things for good for Alice, and us. We give thanks in faith, even in the face of what seems right now to be an ugly “sight.”

Radiation is done. MRI is set for December 19th and we’ll see what the monster looks like after 27 blasts against it. In the meantime, time marches on. We’re finding our new(est) normal, but don’t know what that is or how to live it yet. We’re happy, we’re sad, we’re relieved, and we’re anxious. But as best we know how to be, we’re thankful, in faith that someday we really will be thankful for the briefly unspeakably bad things that were worked together for our eternally unfathomable good.

picture taken at Fleet Farm. Alice is really into Christmas trees the last couple of weeks, so I set her amidst the displays for a quick photo shoot, and managed to crop out the price tags, ha!

lastly, if you’re able, please join us for Alice’s spaghetti dinner. It’s a fundraiser, but I’m treating it from my perspective as a chance to finally get out a little and say thanks and embrace so many of you who have been so supportive from day one.