One of my most fervent prayers through all of this brain cancer madness has been pretty simple. “Let me be singing, Lord. No matter what comes, just let me be singing.”
This is probably odd to most people, especially if you didn’t grow up with a never ending flow of humming and tapping and rhythm around you, as I did.
When I was a teenager getting ready to leave the house to attend college, my momma told me one day as she passed by me standing in their bathroom getting ready to go somewhere, “I’m going to miss your singing.” I think that simple moment stuck with me because it was the first time I was made aware that the music wasn’t just in my head. I am always humming. No matter the situation. It’s just sort of there, unbeckoned.
On Jesse’s first surgery day, I sang the refrain to Tomlin’s “Joy to the World” on repeat all day long. “Joy, unspeakable joy, it rises in my soul, never lets me go.” The songs I find myself singing never really match the somber or tense mood of the situation I’m in, eliciting quizzical looks from the people around me. I’m not usually even aware that I’m singing until I catch a weird look from someone…or someone tells me later.
So as I was sitting in my bedroom waiting on the phone call to discuss the results of Jesse’s scans last week, I noticed I was humming. That day, it was this:
“For this cause I live
For this cause I’d die
I surrender all
For the cause of Christ
All I once held dear
I will leave behind
For my joy is this
Oh the cause of Christ”
When the call came, and the results were iffy, my soul lingered on the second verse:
“He is all my soul will prize
Regardless of the joy or trial
When agonizing questions rise
In Jesus all my hope abides”
We have some agonizing questions today. Jesse’s tumor looks better in some places. But he has two new spots on his left side…and one new one on his right.
No matter how much I prepare myself for news that his tumor is doing exactly what these tumors do, it is never quite expected when it comes. And the music shuts off in my head for a minute or two as the words “It’s spread to the right side of his brain…probably via cerebral spinal fluid…watch him for back pain…maybe surgery…maybe aggressive chemo…radiation won’t help…more tests…more unknowns…”
All I could hear in my mind were the words, “We’re going to have to say goodbye. My God, I’m going to have to tell our kids they’ll grow up fatherless.”
Agonizing is the word for it. Agonizing. ”When agonizing questions rise, In Jesus ALL my hope abides.”
No matter what, no matter how grueling, how painful, how devastating to my human form…in Jesus, in Christ alone, my hope abides. Not in cancer cures. Not in earthly miracles. Not in my kids having a daddy to love and shepherd them and be loved by them. In Christ. In Him. In His purity and perfection that sacrificed Himself in mankind’s filth so that Jesse can live healed while trapped in the confines of his sick shell; and I can live healed from the pain and loss of watching him suffer; and our kids can live healed from the many memories they will not likely have of their daddy and the many frightening memories they have endured already.
God can still heal Jesse here. We still ask Him every day to grant us more time as a family, to heal Jesse radically and splendidly so that all the world will see His power and believe in Him. But more than that-more than we ask for temporary healing-we ask Him to use our broken lives to speak the lasting healing that Jesus grants over the broken lives He places in our paths. We ask Him to help us live remembering that healing came when we were purified through Jesus, and nothing can take that away. Nothing. We can live healed, because we are. We are. We are only waiting to be free from the temporary, broken bodies we exist in, now.
This is from Jesse’s sermon this morning. He has a fourth brain surgery on April 10. If you are struggling to understand the “Why?” and “What If” And “How” aspects of your life right now, if you are confused about who God is and whether or not there is hope for you, if you are weary-just tired of fighting to keep moving forward, and even if your life is moving seamlessly forward and your cup is overflowing with happy…then I urge you to watch and listen. Watch this man with brain cancer tell you about hope.
Happy Easter, friends! You are so loved!
It was an amazing sermon this morning. We will be praying for y’all. May God wrap his loving arms around y’all
Praying Ashley, we are praying!
This part spoke to me! “No matter what, no matter how grueling, how painful, how devastating to my human form…in Jesus, in Christ alone, my hope abides. Not in cancer cures. Not in earthly miracles.” I can relate in terms of my life not for cancer, but I can replace words to fit. Thank you for the reminder that ALL my hope abides on Jesus who I ALWAYS faithful!
Continuing to pray for you guys!! As always your journey is an inspiration and reminder of Gods love. Jesse was special to my kids at MFBC in Sulphur. God speed his healing.
We are praying for Jesse and his family on this Resurrection Sunday. Hope. Hope in Jesus. God Bless y’all!
so glorifying to God! You both share of God with such vulnerability and transparency…with steadfastness. THANK YOU both for pointing us to Jesus, even through your hard story. May you both feel held firm, on April 10th and every hour of every day❤️🙏🏻
Praying for you’ll.
What a powerful message of hope and God’s faithfulness for Resurrection Sunday!
Holding fast to the prayer for healing for my friend Jesse.
I have no words except awesome. Jesus is awesome but Jesse is awesome. He inspires me. Please let him know he is in my prayers.
Ashley, I went to school with your Mother. She was one of my dearest friends. I remember you as a little girl. Now you are all grown up with children of your own, precious, innocent children that are going through Jesse’s illness with you. My husband had a brain tumor, too. His took his eyesight and that was how his tumor was discovered. We were not worried because we knew that whatever the outcome, it would be okay because God was in control. He was different after brain surgery, but most people never knew it. He still tried to do as much as he could and rarely complained. He was sick 12 1/2 years before he passed away. He was tired and ready to go home. He was the finest Christian man I had ever known. His illness was difficult to deal with, but after I have followed Jesse’s illness through your blog, I realize we were blessed in a way because our children were grown when my husband’s tumor reared it’s ugly head. The youngest had just turned 18. I had not been able to tell you this before because the loss was too great, but I have prayed for you and Jesse because I know what you are going through. God carried us through my husband’s illness and I know He carries you and Jesse. Sometimes we never know why God allows a catastrophic illness to happen, but sometimes He gives us at least a partial reason. We had a dear friend who saw what we were going through. He told us he accepted Jesus as his Savior because he saw our faith and he wanted what we had. Our friend passed away just a few weeks after telling us that. His loss was much easier to bear, knowing he was with Jesus. My husband and I said that it was worth everything we were going through to know someone accepted Jesus because they saw our faith and wanted what we had. They wanted Jesus. Jesse and you are touching hearts, even when you do not realize it. Every time he ministers he is giving his testimony to God’s awesome love for us. God is doing His work through both of you. You are ready and willing to do His work and you are touching many lives. You, Jesse, and your children are being lifted in prayer. You are loved by people you do not even know.
Thank you for sharing…I know you won’t mind if I share this Jesus message. Thank you for allowing Jesus to use each of you in extraordinary ways. Prayers and love for healing and comfort and peace during these oh-so-trying times.
Thank you for sharing!
I am praying for the Lord to give Jesse more time for God’s glory and Jesse’s good.