Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Prayers for tomorrow's appointment

Tomorrow, Elena will have her monthly appointment at Egleston. We can't believe it's been four weeks since Elena's last appointment at the BMT clinic! It's also been four weeks since Elena has been off all immune suppression drugs.

Please join us in praying for Elena.
Pray for Elena's counts to be fabulous!
Pray for there to be no signs or concerns about GVHD.

Thank you for your continued prayers! 
We'll update tomorrow after Elena's appointment.

In Him,
The Tates

"In the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." Psalm 5:3

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spring Break 2013

This a long overdue post - Spring Break 2013. Before this year, Elena had spent three of her last four Spring Breaks in the hospital. Which meant our family spent Spring Break in the hospital. Those stays were hard.  It seemed like cancer was completely taking over our lives. The girls deserved so much more.

This year, they were given more. We all were given much more. From Christy's parents, we were given the gift of flying from Atlanta to Tampa to enjoy a week at the beach. Siesta Key - a small, beautiful island in the Gulf of Mexico. Aunt Debbie and Uncle Michael gave us their house for a week of care free family fun. Something we haven't enjoyed since a wonderful Thanksgiving week in Louisiana in 2011, three months before Elena relapsed. 

Dear friends gave us getaways in March 2013, camping in the North Georgia mountains and in June 2013 to the beach. Even though those trips were filled with love, laughter, and rest, they were also filled with a heaviness and fear of what was ahead in Elena's treatment.

This trip was different. The heaviness is lifting, the days are brighter, the love is greater.

We are so grateful to be here at this point!

In Him,
The Tates

"..weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."
Psalm 30:5b

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

First Day of School!

What a day!! Elena's first day at school as an eighth grader!!

Since August, Elena has had a wonderful homebound teacher who has been her cheerleader and instructor. Mrs. Jennifer has been with Elena every week.  From the hospital to the Ronald McDonald House and home. She has worked so hard to make sure Elena learned all the necessary information she would need in order to complete eighth grade and be able to go on to high school well prepared. Mrs. Jennifer has been an amazing blessing in all of this craziness!

Today was the 155th day at school for everyone else. Last night, as Elena was getting ready for today, it was just like getting ready for the first day of school. Picking out her clothes, gathering her school supplies, packing her backpack and all that butterflies that go along with it.

This morning, she was extremely excited and a little nervous.

During the day, we were so very fortunate to have one of Elena's teachers send us updates.  It was comforting to know that she was taking such great care of Elena and making sure her day was as smooth and happy as possible.

Here's the first glimpse of Elena's day: "Elena came to my room first this morning and I walked her up to homeroom. She looked so cute and had a big smile on her face. I could tell she was a little nervous and she said that she was. I went back up to homeroom once she settled in a bit and she seemed better with her friends around her."

Later that morning: "She is still doing okay. She did come down to my room after first period (due to the CRCT test next week, the schedule is a little different this week) She looked like she was about to cry :( I finally got out of her that she was confused about the schedule, so we worked it out and I walked with her up to her next class. In class, she was given a review packet to get started on. She had a very overwhelmed look on her face, so I brought her back down with me and we just talked for awhile before going up to her next class. I think that made her feel better. She told me all about your beach trip and your pizza and movie nights :) Her teacher was waiting at the door for us when we went back up and she helped Elena get settled in class. She is going to sit with her friends at lunch, they already planned it."

Elena told this teacher that she was glad she had her to come to. We are too!! We are so very grateful to her for giving us updates today! She is another huge blessing in our lives!

Seeing all of her friends was definitly the best part of her day! Everyone was so very welcoming, kind, and just as excited to she her as she was to see them!  She really likes all of her teachers and says she wants to go all day again tomorrow!!

I can't stop smiling when thinking about this day and the fact that Elena has made it to this day! Tears flow thinking about God's provision, grace, and blessings that He has showered upon out family in this storm.

Thank you for reading, for praying, and for loving us so!

In Him,
The Tates

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Prayers for Tomorrow

Well, tomorrow's the big day.

No, it's not another test, clinic appointment, or procedure. Tomorrow will be Elena's first day of school!!! She had her final home bound school session today and will join her friends at school tomorrow.

Elena is so very excited.  We think this is more exciting and scary than when we sent her to kindergarten! We even told one of her teachers that we might need hourly updates!

We do know Elena will be with amazing teachers and that there are so many people at NGMS who love her. This brings us great comfort about her returning there tomorrow.
We thank God daily for this blessing and are so very thankful and happy to be at this point! Praise God!!

Please continue to pray.
Pray for protection and strength for Elena.
Pray for Elena to only feel kindness and compassion tomorrow.
Pray for Elena's teachers. Pray that they will be able to get to know Elena quickly and know what she needs when she needs it. They are more than willing to do whatever it takes to make this transition a smooth and happy one for Elena. We are grateful for their understanding and kindness.
Pray for peace of mind and heart for us.

Thank you for continuing to be there for us!
We'll give you an update tomorrow about Elena's day.

In Him,
The Tates

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23

Friday, April 5, 2013

It's Official!

Elena has been officially cleared to return to school!! Praise God!!
We received the medical release and paperwork on Tuesday and met with the teachers at Elena's school yesterday.

We can't even begin to describe what we are feeling.
This is such an enormous milestone for Elena!! Looking back to July 16, 2012, the day Elena was admitted into the hospital to today, 264 days later, is amazing!  We thank God daily for our blessings and His provision throughout this storm in our lives.  We are so very thankful and happy to be at this point!

Yesterday's meeting at the school was amazing! Elena's teachers, case manager, and homebound teacher spent so much time with us. They are more than willing to do whatever it takes to make this transition a smooth and happy one for Elena. We are grateful for their understanding and kindness. They even showed Elena their class lists so she could tell them who she would like to sit next to.

Elena is beyond excited about her return to school! We think this is more exciting and scary than when we sent her to kindergarten!

Her first official day will be on Wednesday, April 17th, after our Spring Break. She will begin attending half days and then work up to full days.  Please pray for Elena and this upcoming transition. It will be a huge one!

We are also so happy to be able to spend this Spring Break as a family!! As many of you know, Elena has spent three of her last four spring breaks in the hospital.  This year, we are ready for some much needed rest and relaxation! Thank you God for bringing us to today!

We are extremely thankful to be at this point in Elena's life and recovery.
Thank you for being a part of her journey!

In Him,
The Tates

"Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

After Easter

On Good Friday we talked about the hope, reassurance, and love we have through God's sacrifice of His son.  God promises that nothing can separate us from His love. Easter Sunday brings to us the promise of everlasting life. He is alive and lives in us!

We enjoyed a wonderful Easter Sunday together.  It was made extra special with Elena completing Confirmation with the rest of her eighth grade class at church.
She stood with her friends before the congregation and professed her faith in Christ.

That afternoon and evening, we treasured our time together as a family. You are filled with the joy of knowing “He is risen! He is risen indeed!!” It’s a good day for those who believe. Death has been defeated! Christ has won! He is alive!

But then Monday comes. Real life returns and so does the sameness of work and school and all the challenges they bring with it.

Do we lose that joy that Easter brings when we are faced with the troubles that life brings? It is certainly an easy thing to lose. Joy.

On Easter Sunday, I read a post from another mom, a mom whose daughter died at this time last year.  Her words and perspective are powerful.

Here's Susanna's post:

It was promised to me

"Once more heed the exhortation- stand close to the cross of Jesus! It is the most accessible and precious spot this side of heaven- the most solemn and awesome this side of eternity. It is the focus of divine love, sympathy and power. Stand by it in suffering, in persecution, in temptation. Stand by it in the brightness of prosperity and in the gloom of adversity. Shrink not from it's offense, humiliation, and woe. Defend it when scorned, despised and denied. Stand up for Jesus and the gospel of Jesus. Oh, whatever you do, or whatever you endure, be loyal to Christ's cross. Go to it in trouble, repair to it in weakness, cling to it in danger, hide beneath it when the wintry storm rushes fiercely over you. Near to the cross, you are near a Fathers heart, a Savior's side."

Yesterday was Good Friday and tomorrow will be Easter Sunday. Last year we squeezed the funeral service of my second born daughter in the middle and I hardly remember a detail.

That is mind numbing grief.

And yet last night as I sat in church and heard scripture read about the magnificent sacrifice that my God gave for me and my family and you, I was choking back the word "thankful". Not yet thankful for so many details that my life has held, but immense thanks that all is not in vain. Not all is loss.

It was promised to me.

This week we will acknowledge with the heaviest hearts I ever could imagine carrying with me, that it has been a year since Piper was here in my world. I am not certain that I ever even noticed that she died so closely to Easter, the holiday that once was my favorite. Now it holds a meaning and a reminder much deeper than just a "holiday"...it is a season I will grieve both my daughter and my God. It is a season I will ache and yearn for both my daughter and my God. And it is a season that will remind me that I will indeed, be reunited with both my daughter and my God.

It was promised to me.

This me that hurts so deeply and consistently that I should have died many months ago from the sheer weight of trying to carry it with me...of forgetting so many of the steps are not mine to take and the burden is not mine for eternity. That if I stay close to the cross, I am strengthened and encouraged and reminded of how good that the ugly of the ugliest can be.

That when Jesus was hung on that cross with my face in his mind and He chose to carry my sins although He knew, he knew, he knew that I would never be able to repay him or fully appreciate what he had done....that He still did this. And when I remember the details of holding a daughter who is breathing her last breathes and I knew, I knew, I knew that there was simply nothing more I could do to buy more time or fight any harder...and still I would do it again if only I were allowed. I was able to fully love this girl simply because of the strength of my God and the hope and trust in His words.

And so last night as I was weary, grieving, aching for so much, I chose yet again to stand close to the cross. To be thankful that all is not lost and all is not in vain. It is indeed the most "accessible and precious spot this side of heaven" and I will simply fade away if I chose to lean on anything else and to forget that Jesus's death gave life.


I pray Susanna's words spoke to you and drew you near. Nearer to the cross, not only today, but every day, no matter your situation or circumstance.

I pray that you know Jesus, that you believe.

Because of Jesus, everything changed….we are changed. I don't want to celebrate on Easter Sunday, only to then forget how to live on Monday.

Thank you Susanna for this reminder!

In Him,
The Tates

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16