For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.
Just wanted to give a quick update on Alice. And by quick, I mean a thousand words. I am a pastor, after all.
Sunday night Alice suddenly started making seal noises, her breath came in short fits, and because it came on instantly, it scared the living daylights out of us. A call to hospice led to an ambulance ride, and by about midnight the episode had cleared, and we returned home about 1AM.
It’s interesting to sit in the ER chatting with a doctor about treating a child who is so near death’s door. Typically the unsaid strategy is “let’s fix her up again like new!” But for Alice these days it’s more like, “Let’s try to make this easier.” Her almost complete inability to swallow leads to predictable, but really difficult, results.
Monday night marked the beginning of a terrible period for Alice, and for us. I’ll draw the curtain of modesty around most of those 36 excruciating hours as she gasped for breath, our medical options exhausted, while we were simply left feeling entirely helpless while our daughter was at the mercy of her cruel, cancerous tyrant. Perhaps that sounds a bit dramatic, but in the moment, that’s how it felt. Suffice to say, you wouldn’t want to see it in your mind’s eye, and I don’t want it replayed in mine.
Jesus cried on the cross “Why have you forsaken Me?” Theological implications aside for the moment, it occurred to me that when we tell God we’re okay with death, there’s this expectation that He’s going to reward our submission to His will by making the process as easy as possible. Surely, even in death He wouldn’t allow His loved ones to go through hours of seemingly unnecessary suffering? It really does feel like abandonment. We’ve long since made our peace with the reality of having to say goodbye to Alice; we weren’t quite prepared for the process leading up to the hand-off to be so difficult, and it felt like God wasn’t showing up.
I wrestled hard with God in those hours. I watched my wife’s heart be torn to pieces before my very eyes. For months we begged him to heal Alice; he chose not to. Then as she struggled hour after hour, unable or unwilling to sleep, while we exhausted all the medical options we had available and were simply left to try to hold and comfort her, we begged him to take her. He wouldn’t do that either.
Thankfully that dark period has passed, and a new day has come, just like we were promised. Alice has been resting quite peacefully for the last day and a half. If she’s peaceful, we’re peaceful. If you know where to look, you can still see her under the cover of crippling cancer and medication. Though far too weak to set on the potty, she’s still too proud to wear a pull-up, and summons every ounce of strength left to tell us she’ll have none of it. Nobody is going to put a cup of juice to her lips – if she can’t hold it, she don’t want it.
We’ve had a steady trickle of family around for the last couple of weeks, and so thankful for them and for our parents willingness to traverse the many miles required to be at our beck and call. Tuesday evening at my request, my family came en masse to say goodbye. She was happy to see them, especially her favorite cousins and Uncle Keith, the only other person with the same profound appreciation for sitting down to a bag of M&M’s and the funny guys as she does. Lots of sorrowing, but not as those who have no hope. Pastor Bob came and ministered deeply and sweetly to our hearts in a way we really needed after those hard couple of days.
I don’t know how much longer Alice will be with us. Truth be told, I expected her to be gone Monday night. The well of life in her is very deep, and until she’s ready to do a thing, it probably won’t be done. That’s just her way. She’s probably rather weary of being kissed on the cheek – how well do I remember some months ago when she would demand, “No more kisses!”
I don’t think she can see much anymore, but she sure likes when I lay my phone next to her and play the funny guys. And she loves having her siblings around. As I write, Emily is lying beside her discussing some of the finer points of playing dolls. For Alice, it’s a little piece of pre-heaven. I’ve admired my kids throughout this journey, but they have shone particularly bright these last few days. We are experiencing grace, it just pops up where we’re not always looking.
Thank you for your prayers. In the darkest hours of this storm, when we most felt like our Father had abandoned us, knowing and hearing that He has moved so many of you to pray for us was perhaps the only balm for our weary, troubled souls. Thank you for praying for us when we’ve felt unable to pray. We have been greatly shaken, and the fires of this trial have burned away some of our more romantic ideals of how God relates to His children in hard times, but the foundation of God’s Fatherhood is firm. We wonder for Alice and for us, “if this is light, momentary affliction, what must the eternal weight of glory look like?” I’m not sure entirely, but it’ll be awesome. I expect Alice will know a little more than I do real soon.
June 7, 2018 at 11:17 am
Tears and heartache I feel for your family. My you feel God’s strength and comfort and may little Alice see Jesus soon so HER suffering is over. Sending love and hugs to you.
June 7, 2018 at 11:33 am
I send you much love and prayers. I grieve with you and feel like your journey is mine to share as your sister in Christ. I pray that you feel Gods presence and strength as never before. God be with you.
June 7, 2018 at 11:39 am
I remember Shelley writing on Facebook that her desire was to see tangible grace, not just grace that you could barely cling to. I am so glad for that answer to prayer that you are experiencing with the things you said. Again mine and Mark’s heart ache for you guys. We pray regularly for you every single day. May God continue to show you his tangible grace.
June 7, 2018 at 11:44 am
Tears, oh so many tears. We will keep praying.
June 7, 2018 at 12:08 pm
When I sit at my piano in the quiet hours of the day to worship, it is Alice who comes to mind. The sovereignty of Who He is, mingled with the notion of His all-consuming and captivated love for her, brings me to a place where there is little more than a groaning in my spirit for Alice ~ and for each member of your family. You are all walking through this together, and yet uniquely experiencing each aspect in her life with the mind and heart God has granted you. Together, that tapestry has become such a ministry to me. To love in the depths of sorrow, and to share that love with us…I am so thankful. Please know that I will continue to pray and intercede for your family…especially in the coming days.
June 7, 2018 at 12:24 pm
We will continue to pray…His mercies are new every day.
June 7, 2018 at 12:58 pm
I read your words and relive our own moments with Molly. Praying for all of you , praying for mercy on Alice. Praying for all of you to feel the Lords hand stroking your face and wiping your tears and calming your inmost being when all you want to do is scream.
The beginning of the book of James starts with “consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds “. And it goes on with encouragement of what is to come for those who make that choice. God is real and He is there. There are times when you may have to look real hard. But He is there. I am not good with Bible references , but another truth we cling to is this,.. Phillipians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always , I will say it again rejoice ! Let your gentleness be evident to all The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding , will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. “
The Lord is NEAR. Wow what a promise. We give Him our anxiety and he gives us peace, supernatural peace, inexplicable peace in the most dire circumstances. I am praying this over your family. So much love and prayers for all of you.
1Peter 1:6. In all this ( referring to the promise of heaven ) though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
Life in light of eternity with perfection Such a beautiful perspective. Love to all of you.
June 7, 2018 at 1:42 pm
As with many others, we have been praying, praying, and more praying! I pray that as these days continue on, you will all find the strength and grace you need at just the moment you need it. Praying that soon Alice will be with our Heavenly Father, and the suffering for her will be over.
June 7, 2018 at 2:05 pm
From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” Psalm61:2. Praying for comfort & peace for your whole family.
June 7, 2018 at 2:18 pm
Now I know why your family and Alice have been even heavier on my heart this past week.. Oh Lord Jesus, in this families darkest hours please gather them into Your arms and be gentle with them as a nursing ewe.. My love and prayers.. Jamie
June 7, 2018 at 2:19 pm
My heart breaks for you and your family. I know this is hard for all of you. Prayers continue daily as you go through this.
June 7, 2018 at 2:23 pm
My heart and soul goes out to you. I pray there’s no more periods like Monday night. I can’t imagine what you are going through but your intense fiery trial has impacted every member of the Body of Christ that has learned of and followed your journey. I plead before the throne of grace for super abounding grace and help. He has, is and will continue to bring much good out of precious Alice and your experience. Hold tightly to that sure anchor within the veil, it is steadfast and sure. Christian love and prayers.
June 7, 2018 at 2:38 pm
We love you all and you are on our hearts and in our prayers always. May He continue to comfort your souls! Love, the Carltons
June 7, 2018 at 3:16 pm
I have read your blogs, and have been praying for your little Alice. I too have been pressed in my Spirit to pray for you all more this week, now I know why. Will continue praying and hoping she will have a “puddle boots crossing”, as your mentioned in an earlier blog. Grace and Strength to you all.
June 7, 2018 at 5:04 pm
You are in our constant prayers.
June 7, 2018 at 5:17 pm
Every day I hear a song or read a verse that reminds me to pray for your family. Alice will soon be home and at perfect peace but all of you will need to go on without her. That is where my prayers have been centered. That once she is gone God will give you the strength and peace to go on with life and try to figure out the “new” Reed family way of coping without her. My heart hurts for you and I’m praying many times daily for those loving arms of our Savior to hold you tight and reveal His love in ways you never thought possible.
June 7, 2018 at 5:29 pm
Reed family I’m so sorry.
We continue to pray for you guys
Love you guys
Ron and Lisa
June 7, 2018 at 6:35 pm
Just wanted to say that I also felt especially moved to pray for Alice and your family on Monday and throughout this week. May you find the depths of our Lord’s love and mercy inexhaustible.
June 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm
My family loves your family. Alice is part if us now. She has made her way all the way into our hearts. All the steps you are experiencing we have experienced with my wonderful son who is now experiencing the weight of glory. My comfort is knowing for him to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD. You will know this. God will comfort. She is blessed experiencing your and her family’s constant love. You will be so much closer to God and each other. We love Alice and her precious family. Thank you for sharing your heart and Alice’s journey.
June 7, 2018 at 7:53 pm
I have prayed for Alice and your family so many times in the past months. As someone who struggles with my faith I don’t know how appropriate it is for me to say this, but as I was reading this I felt deep in my soul that during this hardest time in your life that God is the closest to you. I just feel it so strongly.
June 7, 2018 at 7:55 pm
Our hearts break for you all as you walk through this dark valley. We have been praying for Alice and for you all. May our Lord draw especially near as he has promised.
June 7, 2018 at 8:30 pm
June 7, 2018 at 8:57 pm
Peace be with Alice and your family.
June 7, 2018 at 9:07 pm
God has layed Alice and each of you HEAVILY ON MY HEART…. MAY HE WRAP HIS LOVING ARMS AROUND YOU AND CARRY YOU THROUGH…
June 7, 2018 at 9:22 pm
We are among the army of those praying for sweet little Alice and your entire family. Our hearts break for you. We are praying daily that our great God will sustain you through this trial.
June 7, 2018 at 9:36 pm
Prayers for God’s comfort, courage, and peace for Alice & her family as they suffer through this agonizing time.
June 7, 2018 at 10:02 pm
I also wanted to add that our Lord laid just Alice heavily on my heart last weekend, leading me to pray for strength for her, and even joy in her heart. May He continue to give her the strength she needs in these her last days this side of Heaven.
June 7, 2018 at 10:15 pm
We are so thankful for your sharing and pouring your heart out so we have known how to pray. Your words have been such a testimony to your faith. We love and are praying for you all at this difficult time.
June 7, 2018 at 10:15 pm
I have never met you but my heart aches for you. Please know I am praying. Even when there aren’t words, God knows…
June 7, 2018 at 10:22 pm
Speechless, but prayerful! We love you guys! 💜
June 7, 2018 at 11:06 pm
So many emotions and yet no words to describe them. God loves her and you all so much and it is such an ongoing encouragement to hear, even under such circumstances as these, you have not lost hope in our heavenly Father.
It sounds silly to say this out loud but I can just picture Jesus and Hannah waiting patiently for their Alice hugs. 💓
Love through unspoken words and spoken prayers.
June 7, 2018 at 11:35 pm
A friend shared your story with us months ago, and my kids have been praying for your sweet Alice nearly every night. Your faith is an example for us all. I pray you will be surrounded with the peace and comfort that passes all understanding.
June 8, 2018 at 12:36 am
Praying for you & your family as you walk through & savor these important moments with your precious Alice. Grace upon grace to you all.
June 8, 2018 at 6:00 am
No words 💔
Just praying for the Comforter to embrace you all!
Thank you for your fine example of courage and faith through this unspeakable experience. Your fine example convicts and inspires me to trust Him more.
June 8, 2018 at 6:19 am
For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
May you know His constant presence in your time of trouble.
Praise God for his glorious promise to make Alice (and all who trust him as Savior) whole again.
June 8, 2018 at 7:48 am
Still holding you all up in prayer dear friends.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
Isaiah 43:2 ESV
June 8, 2018 at 8:42 am
Thank you for taking the time to update us. know that the body of Christ is praying to our God and Savior for your family.
June 8, 2018 at 1:27 pm
Praying for you in this tremendously difficult time. May God wrap his loving arms around you and bring you peace in His presence.
June 8, 2018 at 2:46 pm
So many prayers and so much love for you all in these hard hard days. Thank you once again for sharing these most personal details with complete strangers. Your sister in Christ.
June 8, 2018 at 5:08 pm
I read your posts and pray for God to Give you all Strength and Peace during this dark walk in the valley. I know what you are writing will be helpful to others walking this path also.
God please help Alice and her family continue to bring you glory and honor. Hold them in your mighty hands and lift them up. Comfort them, help them, show them a glimpse of the good you will be working through this heartache. I know you have everything under control even though we do not see it through your eyes. It is so hard God so help us trust you when your path seems to make no sense, Thank you that you will never leave us of forsake us. We love you.
June 9, 2018 at 7:43 pm
I can’t even imagine the heartache you all, your family, have experienced over the last ten months. I have cried my way through the Common Slaves’ journal and prayed for you all as brothers and sisters.
I have no words, except the Word:
‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.'”
– Rev. 21:4-5a
And I pray:
“High King of Heaven, their victory won
May we reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun
Heart of our own heart, whate’er befall
Still be our Vision, O Ruler of all”
Kristy (Lindquist) Norman